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Aleppo has been liberated, so why isn’t anyone talking about it?

Suspension of disbelief: a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.

After 4 years of brutal occupation by Western backed terrorists, the ancient city of Aleppo has finally been liberated, thanks to the tireless work of the Syrian Arab Army with support from its Russian allies, and no thanks at all to the US and its partners in crime who have supported the rebels at every turn, whether materially through directly and indirectly supplying them with weapons, or logistically by helping to precisely coordinate strikes on enemy positions and providing air cover.

The Old City of Aleppo was occupied by terrorists in 2012, and some of the most important historical sites of the ancient world looted and destroyed, including the Ommayad Mosque and the ancient soukh which was razed by rebels (contrary to Western media reports which state it was bombed by the Syrian army.) Up to 150 000 Syrians who have been held hostage by rebels in the Old City are finally being reunited with their loved ones. The scenes on the ground are as you would expect.

Of course none of this is being reported by the Western corporate media. “A Complete Meltdown of Humanity: Civilians die in fight for Eastern Aleppo” reports the NY Times. “Death of a revolution: Aleppo’s civilians ‘massacred’ as Assad forces take back city” reports The Independent. “Executions reported in Aleppo as Syrian army closes in” reports CNN. The propaganda is being laid on thick and fast with usual outlets like Washington Post, the New York Times, and The Guardian now accusing the Syrian army of slaughtering civilians en masse. No doubt we will soon be hearing talk of “genocide” and the Bush era R2P (responsibility to protect) doctrine being invoked at the UN level.

As with previous war efforts, reporting in the West has been tightly controlled by governments and intelligence agencies. But where western presstitutes sit in their comfortable office chairs in London and New York obediently parroting “news” handed down from above, eyewitness accounts from civilians and independent citizen journalists tell a very different story. Reporters such as Eva Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley and others have reported fearlessly from the front lines of this conflict since it began. Reputable journalists and academics such as Craig Murray, former British diplomat, and Prof. Tim Anderson have provided informed commentary and scholarly articles, while Wikileaks has produced mountains of evidence substantiating their claims and refuting the mainstream media narrative. A recent press briefing by the US Peace Council Representatives on Syria also makes for essential viewing. For those prepared to engage with disturbing facts rather than comforting fiction, evidence of this ‘dirty war’ is abundant and incontrovertible.

The truth, as any Syrian will tell you, is that that the crisis in Syria is not the result of a ‘civil war’ or ‘popular uprising’, but rather a planned operation by the West and its client states, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, to remodel Syria in the image of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan – that is, to turn it into a failed state for purposes of resource and rent extraction. The last truly independent Arab country; the last secular democracy in the Middle East; the last socialist Arab republic to champion noble ideas such as free education and healthcare for all its citizens; one of the few remaining countries in the world without any external debt – currently stands as a roadblock to the march of global corporate capitalism and an impediment to neo-colonialism.

The fact that any of this is controversial is worrying in itself. This is a topic which has been written about at great length by journalists and academics far more qualified than myself, and yet even among ‘alternate media’ readership I have encountered constant opposition when expressing honest and fact-based commentary. This speaks at best to a willing suspension of disbelief; at worst to Stockholm Syndrome on a global scale.

The West now acknowledges that the disastrous war in Iraq led directly to the rise of ISIS, and leaked documents show that Western powers have directly and indirectly supported this terrorist group with the objective of isolating the Syrian ‘regime’ and establishing a Salafist principality, i.e., an actual Islamic State in the Levant.

Recent polling shows that 60% of Britons will never forgive Tony Blair for the Iraq War, while just 8% think he did nothing wrong. In 10 years time the same will doubtless be said of Syria. Of course 10 years will be too late for the millions of Syrians who will die if the West decides on a path of “humanitarian intervention”.

The only thing which can positively sway this outcome at the present time is a massive change in public opinion. It therefore falls on all of us to reject the blatant and hollow lies of the mainstream corporate media and demand truthful, factual reporting. Additionally, it goes without saying that those who identify as left-leaning in their politics have a moral duty always to oppose war. With the US congress currently debating a bill which will legitimise the supply of arms to terrorist groups, there has never been a more important time to make our voices heard.

 

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220 comments

  1. economicreform

    Truth is the first casualty of every war. And warfare does not merely embrace the use of military hardware, it also embraces the use of propaganda. The world is in the grip of a propaganda war, and has been for a considerable time. Every historian with an interest in warfare is well aware of these realities.

  2. Zathras

    The dilemma for the West in general (and Israel in particular) is that they want to see Assad removed so the “victory” for Government forces in Aleppo is a political and strategic “defeat” for us.

    The news seems entirely centred on civilian casualties and atrocities plus the role of Iran and Russia but not on the legitimacy of either side of the conflict nor any mention of ISIS at all.

    Thus the price paid by civilians in Aleppo is reported as being horrifically tragic while the earlier liberation of Mosul by our forces seemed to report nothing about significant civilian losses at all.

  3. king1394

    But, but, but, if you are liberated by the Russians, then you haven’t been liberated. Only the West, led by the USA, can liberate anyone.

  4. supermundane

    The neocons who have been spoiling for regime change in Syria since the 1950’s, realised after the invasion of Iraq that they could no longer sell an open invasion of a sovereign nation and so they’ve inundated daily us with an unprecedented propaganda campaign coordinated by Western, Qatari, Turkish and Saudi-funded NGO’s. Journalists the world over included the ABC’s Sophie McNeill have ’embedded’ themselves, becoming open advocates for regime-change. These journalists and the gormless liberals (in the classical sense) that have bought the lie have learned nothing from Iraq and from the dodgy dossiers on WMD.

    I find it absolutely disgraceful that the likes of McNeill, shill for Al Qaeda and associated groups, and for warmongering Neocons. Fake news indeed. They need to be called out and held to account.

    Here is a French documentary 8with English subtitles) of Syrian women in Damascus speaking about the so-called civil war. These are voices that our media never shares, choosing instead to broadcast the coordinated propaganda of known Al Nusra and Al Zinki terrorists. I recommend sharing this far and wide:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhL8D0wYevo

  5. paulwalter

    I think Sean Stinson presents a balanced take. .

    As Stan Grant said last night (my take also) it’s been another episode in a long standing proxy war between two competing blocs with control of oil geography and trade routes up for grabs and whether that would entail “collateral damage” has not mattered a jot to the competing groups, as millions have died over decades and even generations.

    But to celebrate, no hope, not after looking at yet another big city in ruins.

    God help us if Trump turns out to be as daft as he seems, because Putin won’t care either.

  6. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Sean Stinson,

    I respect your take on the Syrian War. I accept my earlier ignorance and appreciate your informed contradictions to US, Israeli and Qatar propaganda.

    I’m also interested in your argument that they pursue the Syrian War agenda to further exact their own state supremacies over the Middle East in the ever ugly, repellent, rapacious gluttony of globalisation.

    Unfortunately, I remain non-convinced when I consider Putin’s part in the gameplay and what authoritarian Russia expects to reap out of the misery. What can you answer to that?

  7. paulwalter

    I understand you are addressing Sean Stinson, JMS, but I think because of geography the Russians are afraid of being cut off and isolated.

    The US is anxious that its own declining power may leave it out a controlling position re the Sunni bloc led by the Saudis as well as the obvious factor of growing Russian influence that prompts its policies.

    Its all classic Big Game stuff, but is getting more explosive as to possible consequences when large competing local powers are also involved.

  8. Kaye Lee

    I agree with Miriam. No-one has clean hands in any of this and there are no winners in Aleppo where both government and rebel forces are killing civilians.

    And when we talk about geopolitical interference due to oil, I would suggest the arms manufacturers and the governments that enable them bear a huge part of the blame in these continuing tragedies. They are all guilty of greed

    The world’s five biggest arms exporters are the US, Russia, China, France, and Germany.

    Canada has become the world’s second-largest exporter of arms to the Middle East, behind the United States.

    The country leapfrogged Britain, France, Germany and Russia into second place, with US$2.7 billion in sales in 2015.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/06/15/canada-arms-exports-middle-east-saudi-arabia_n_10481662.html

    Saudi imports up 275% in five years, with UK firms estimated to have sold £5.6bn of arms to the country, while imports by European states down 41%

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/22/saudi-arabia-surge-arms-imports-middle-east

    Russia and Saudi Arabia Reach $10 Billion Arms Deal

    http://www.uawire.org/news/russia-and-saudi-arabia-reach-10-billion-arms-deal

    In addition to gaining access to Chinese weapons, Saudi Arabia is tightening its security cooperation with China with an eye toward weakening Beijing’s long-standing economic and defense partnership with Iran. Even though China recently announced its decision to coordinate with Iran in the development of a $6 billion gas deal in the Persian Gulf and Beijing shares Tehran’s pro-Assad position in Syria, latent strains in the China-Iran relationship have also emerged.

    http://thediplomat.com/2016/11/china-and-saudi-arabias-burgeoning-defense-ties/

    Obama wants to stop sales of “some” weapons to the Saudis because their aim is crap (read they are slaughtering civilians in Yemen). It will be one of the first issues Trump has to face.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/13/us-to-halt-planned-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia-over-yemen-airstrikes

  9. supermundane

    Chaos is a form of control. I strongly suspect that far from being failures of policy, the current chaotic and fractured states of Iraq and Libya are examples of a US geopolitical policy working as intended. A broken country can be readily denuded of its resources, it cannot pursue a foreign policy independent of the US, it helps to undermine regional powers (such as Iran) and Islamic extremism serves as a useful tool in maintaining a state of perpetual chaos at the status quo as well as a convenient bogeyman to frighten and control domestic populations in western nations.

    The western coalition’s actions against ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Libya appear consistent with a policy of containment and control. Let ISIS loose to wreak havoc but never to pose a real threat to the US or western Europe. A blind eye is turned to Saudi, Turkish and Qatari funding and arming.

  10. paulwalter

    Heartening stuff, isn’t it, Kaye Lee (IA).

  11. Kyran

    “It therefore falls on all of us to reject the blatant and hollow lies of the mainstream corporate media and demand truthful, factual reporting.”
    From all of the reports that I have read (or heard), Aleppo hasn’t been liberated. It has been obliterated.
    My opposition to war is not because of my morals, not because of my ‘leftist’ leanings, not because of the legality of the wars we embark upon. However dodgy any of them may be.
    My objection to war is that it is lethal.
    Not to the politicians, who commence them. Not to the military command, who enable them. Not to the media, who form a ‘cheer squad’ for whoever’s bomb’s they think may be better.
    None of them will ever be a casualty of war. Whilst all of them are causality’s of war, and the only beneficiaries.
    As Edwin Starr iterated,
    “War, I despise ’cause it means destruction of innocent lives
    War, means tears to thousands of mothers how
    When their sons go off to fight and lose their lives”
    “The truth, as any Syrian will tell you, is that that the crisis in Syria is not the result of a ‘civil war’ or ‘popular uprising’, ….”
    The truth, as I understand it, is that Syrian’s are dying, in their thousands. Most of those Syrian’s, just like the Afghani’s, Libyan’s, Iraqi’s, Yemeni’s, etcetera, who predeceased them, don’t seem to care whose bomb killed them.
    The destruction of their innocent lives is no more than an epitaph. It is no more acceptable as an excuse than it is acceptable as an explanation of the morals, legality, or leanings, of those that promote war.
    Whilst those, who’s very existence is predicated on a ‘war-on-something’, are in charge, we all lose.
    Can you remind me again, Mr Stinson. Who’s bombs are better?
    Thanks for the post. I’m off to listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival. ‘Fortunate Son’ may be the starting track. Take care

  12. supermundane

    I should add that it also provides an excuse to maintained a perpetual military presence with a perpetual threat that helps maintain the military funding and the centrality of the CIA in directing policy.

  13. Angry Old Man

    @Sean Stinson

    A fine and timely article.

    Of course, the propaganda is flying thick and fast. There are some “touching” videos on Facefook from Syrians cowering in their homes as they wait for the forces of the evil Assad to storm in and kill them. In reality, as one might adduce from alternative news sources and Facefook feeds from Syria, the citizens of Aleppo are taking to the streets and chanting praise for the SAA while holding up photos of the Bashar. They also seem to be quite fond of their Russian friends, who have stood by them and are now bringing in supplies of food and mobile hospitals.

    I won’t go into the CIA agitprop, sorry, I mean “news” from our old friends in the MSM. The reason I won’t do this is because I’m just too old and tired. I mean angry. Angry and tired. There are far too many people who don’t know who the (relatively) good guys are.

    I’ll leave it to you to answer Jennifer’s question, because…..old and tired. Best wishes, Sean.

  14. Kaye Lee

    This one-eyed demonisation of the US is dangerous. The Saudis surely bear some responsibility? No criticism for Russia? No criticism for Isis? No wondering why truckloads of men drive about shooting guns in the air for fun? No recognition of cruelty from Assad?

    I am under no illusions about the involvement by the US but I am also very aware of the misinformation that paints Assad and Russia purely as heroes. This has been a very convenient deflection for Putin.

  15. Roswell

    Putin’s only interested in one thing: Putin. What’s his bank balance again?

  16. Jaquix

    Kyran – Im with you on this one. Not convinced by Sean Stinson. I think I will put on some Credence Clearwater too…

  17. supermundane

    Neocons realised that that couldn’t sell armed invasion to their domestic populations after the clusterfluck that was Iraq but they could tug on the emotions of gormless liberals to sell a proxy war conducted by so-called moderates.

    As the fog of war dies in Aleppo we will begin to see more clarity of what really went on in Aleppo and just how much the MSM sold us a lie just as they did in Iraq. Already ample evidence is emerging that ISIS, Al Qaeda and affiliates were the principle forces in eastern Aleppo. The testimony of those trapped in Eastern Aleppo (this testimony is largely being ignored by the MSM but is out there if you look) has given almost uniform accounts of how the population was held captive, deprived of the food aid by their captors, tortured and summarily executed. Those freed also attest to how the so-called White Helmets were little more than the propaganda wing of Al Nusra (A Qaeda), western and Saudi-funded no less as some journalists such as Vanessa Beeley who has actually visited Syria during the course of the war over a number of occasions has long argued.

    Journalists siting in London, New York have either been unwittingly or wittingly relying solely on information fed to them by Western and Saudi-backed NGO’s and Think Tanks. One has to wonder, if as they argued, these were moderate and secular forces in Eastern Aleppo, just why they wouldn’t be on the ground with them? Did the likes of Sophie McNeill fear losing their head?

  18. Kaye Lee

    I get really worried when multiple people quote the same few names as sources. It’s like the climate change debate when you hear the same names coming up over and over.

    I’m also with Kyran. I don’t really care who did what to whom. We have to stop killing people. It solves NOTHING. The blame game is endless. How far back do we go? What we need are strategies to rebuild, not to further foment hatred.

  19. supermundane

    Sources that have been there on the ground Kaye rather than relying on a British funded Syrian exile in Coventry. But as I said, the truth is being revealed, piece by piece. The footage coming out of Aleppo but not broadcast on our media is of civilians speaking with cameras, the food and medical stores, the torture chambers and the weapons factories (including chemical weapons) are being revealled. The footage exists of black Al Nusra and ISIS flying over Eastern Aleppo. All ignored by our MSM.

    Most of the footage our media relied upon was provided by the so-called moderate rebels of Eastern Aleppo. They had no presence on the ground there or in Western Aleppo (with 80 percent of Aleppo’s population lived incidentally and suffered constant shelling, which largely went unreported by our media.)

    What we’ve been sold is a greater and more sophisticated lie than the WMD.

    Here are a few other voices: https://youtu.be/ebE3GJfGhfA

    Worth seeing the entire video but from 14:05 shows the black flags over East Aleppo: https://youtu.be/jLYofF9QHM8 Unlike our media, this is reportage from the front-line before you dismiss it.

  20. supermundane

    Watch the French documentary with interviews with Syrian women in Damascus that I supplied above and tell me that these women would’ve been better off under the rule of those who have held Eastern Aleppo hostage.

  21. supermundane

    And the killing would’ve stopped far sooner in Aleppo if the terrorists weren’t being armed by Turkey, by our dear friends the Saudis (a model of progressivism if ever there was one) and by Qatar, and who used every cease-fire as a means to rearm and regroup. The killing will stop now that Al Nusra and their allies have been defeated.

  22. Kaye Lee

    And who armed Turkey and the Saudis and Qatar? EVERYONE!!!! That is my point. You want to apportion blame. I want to start rebuilding. You want to foment hatred between groups. I want them all to throw away the guns and start rebuilding a country.

    Stop wasting the world’s resources on war toys for testosterone-filled men to run around using to screw the world up!

  23. Kaye Lee

    Kommersant newspaper reported on Monday that the “marketing effect” from the Syrian campaign could lead to contracts worth $6bn-$7bn, quoting sources in the Russian government, military and arms export structures. Algeria, Indonesia, Vietnam and even Pakistan, which has long purchased military aircraft from China and the US, intend to buy Sukhoi fighter and bomber jets, it reported.

    Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said the Syria operation had affected Russian arms sales “extremely positively” by showing Moscow has effective weapons and can challenge western influence. “Russia basically proved it has political will, it has balls, because normally people don’t buy weapons from losers,” he said.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/29/russias-campaign-in-syria-leads-to-arms-sale-windfall

  24. jim

    It’s clear that the US government was encouraging an anti-Assad uprising for years. It’s also clear that they were unsure what the consequences of their actions would be, but that they didn’t seem to care. Now they’ve got the instability they wanted and it hasn’t gone their way, so naturally, everyone else is to blame and we’re supposed to believe hearts are breaking in Washington for the children of Aleppo.

    Spare us.

    Skeptical? Just take a look at documents released by WikiLeaks that prove in black and white how determined the US was to spark unrest in the Middle Eastern country from as early as 2006. One cable listed a number of steps the US could take to weaken Assad and strengthen the opposition against him. Some of the suggestions included encouraging rumors of external plotting to weaken the government, discouraging FDI to hurt the economy and highlighting the failures of some of the country’s reform efforts.

    The cable also admitted that “anti-regime Syrian Islamists” were a threat to Assad’s power. Fast forward to the present day and these “anti-regime Syrian Islamists” are Washington’s “moderate” rebel friends. It makes for a truly sickening read in light of what has happened in that country.

    UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015

    RELEASE IN FULL

    The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of
    Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.

    Negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program will not solve Israel’s security dilemma. Nor will
    they stop Iran from improving the crucial part of any nuclear weapons program — the capability

    to enrich uranium. At best, the talks between the world’s major powers and Iran that began in
    Istanbul this April and will continue in Baghdad in May will enable Israel to postpone by a few
    months a decision whether to launch an attack on Iran that could provoke a major Mideast war.

    Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli
    leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader
    launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of
    both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about — but cannot talk about — is

    losing their nuclear monopoly. An Iranian nuclear weapons capability would not only end that
    nuclear monopoly but could also prompt other adversaries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to go
    nuclear as well. The result would be a precarious nuclear balance in which Israel could not
    respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today.
    If Iran were to reach the threshold of a nuclear weapons state, Tehran would find it much easier

    to call on its allies in Syria and Hezbollah to strike Israel, knowing that its nuclear weapons
    would serve as a deterrent to Israel responding against Iran itself.

    Back to Syria. It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in
    Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel’s security — not through a direct attack,
    which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its
    proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The
    end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel’s leadership understands well

    why defeating Assad is now in its interests. Speaking on CNN’s Amanpour show last week,
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak argued that “the toppling down of Assad will be a major blow to
    the radical axis, major blow to Iran…. It’s the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the
    Arab world…and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic
    Jihad in Gaza.”

    Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease
    Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly. Then, Israel and the United States

    might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that
    military action could be warranted. Right now, it is the combination of Iran’s strategic alliance
    with Syria and the steady progress in Iran’s nuclear enrichment program that has led Israeli
    leaders to contemplate a surprise attack — if necessary over the objections of Washington. With
    Assad gone, and Iran no longer able to threaten Israel through its, proxies, it is possible that the

    United States and Israel can agree on red lines for when Iran’s program has crossed an
    unacceptable threshold. In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with
    Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria.

    The rebellion in Syria has now lasted more than a year. The opposition is not going away, nor is
    the regime going to accept a diplomatic solution from the outside. With his life and his family at
    risk, only the threat or use of force will change the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s mind.

    UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015

    The Obama administration has been understandably wary of engaging in an air operation in
    Syria like the one conducted in Libya for three main reasons. Unlike the Libyan opposition
    forces, the Syrian rebels are not unified and do not hold territory. The Arab League has not
    called for outside military intervention as it did in Libya. And the Russians are opposed.

    Libya was an easier case. But other than the laudable purpose of saving Libyan civilians from

    likely attacks by Qaddafi’s regime, the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for
    the region. Syria is harder. But success in Syria would be a transformative event for the Middle
    East. Not only would another ruthless dictator succumb to mass opposition on the streets, but the
    region would be changed for the better as Iran would no longer have a foothold in the Middle
    East from which to threaten Israel and undermine stability in the region.

    Unlike in Libya, a successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and
    military leadership from the United States. Washington should start by expressing its

    willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train
    and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause
    substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly
    Jordan, U.S. diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition. It will take
    time. But the rebellion is going to go on for a long time, with or without U.S. involvement.

    The second step is to develop international support for a coalition air operation. Russia will

    never support such a mission, so there is no point operating through the UN Security Council.
    Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example
    shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which
    don’t exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain.
    Russian officials have already acknowledged they won’t stand in the way if intervention comes.

    Arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and
    airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach. As long as Washington’s political leaders stay firm

    that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed, as they did in both Kosovo and Libya, the costs to
    the United States will be limited. Victory may not come quickly or easily, but it will come. And
    the payoff will be substantial. Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence
    in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an
    enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab
    world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran’s
    nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action

    on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian
    sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and
    missiles. All these strategic benefits and the prospect of saving thousands of civilians from
    murder at the hands of the Assad regime (10,000 have already been killed in this first year of
    civil war).

    With the veil of fear lifted from the Syrian people, they seem determine to fight for their

    freedom. America can and should help them — and by doing so help Israel and help reduce the
    risk of a wider war.

    -wealth- like income and taxes, is highly concentrated; the richest 10% of the adult population possess 72% of the country’s household wealth, while the bottom half claim only 2%.[447] Between June 2007 and November 2008 theglobal recession led to falling asset prices around the world. Assets owned by Americans lost about a quarter of their value.[448] Since peaking in the second quarter of 2007, household wealth was down $14 trillion, but has since increased $14 trillion over 2006 levels.[449][450] At the end of 2014, household debt amounted to $11.8 trillion,[451] down from $13.8 trillion at the end of 2008.[452]
    There were about 578,424 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in the U.S. in January 2014, with almost two-thirds staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.[453] In 2011 16.7 million children lived in food-insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels, though only 1.1% of U.S. children, or 845,000, saw reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns at some point during the year, and most cases were not chronic.[454] According to a 2014 report by the Census Bureau, one in five young adults lives inpoverty today, up from one in seven in 1980.[455]………………
    Issues that affect water supply in the United States include droughts in the West, water scarcity,pollution, a backlog of investment, concerns about the affordability of water for the poorest, and a rapidly retiring workforce. Increased variability and intensity of rainfall as a result of climate change is expected to produce both more severe droughts and flooding, with potentially serious consequences for water supply and for pollution from combined sewer overflows.[480][481][fn 8]
    ………..The biggest lie on both sides of the Atlantic was that the invasion and destruction of Iraq was the result of “faulty intelligence.” The Bush and Blair camps and the U.S. and British media keep pushing this absurd line.
    This writer, who had covered Iraq since 1976, was one of the first to assert that Baghdad had no so-called weapons of mass destruction, and no means of delivering them even if it did. For this I was dropped and black-listed by the leading U.S. TV cable news network and leading U.S. newspapers.

    I had no love for the brutal Saddam Hussein, whose secret police threatened to hang me as a spy. But I could not abide the intense war propaganda coming from Washington and London, served up by the servile, mendacious U.S. and British media. The planned invasion of Iraq was not about nuclear weapons or democracy, as Bush claimed.

    Two powerful factions in Washington were beating the war drums: ardently pro-Israel neoconservatives who yearned to see an enemy of Israel destroyed, and a cabal of conservative oil men and imperialists around Vice President Dick Cheney who sought to grab Iraq’s huge oil reserves at a time they believed oil was running out. They engineered the Iraq War, as blatant and illegal an aggression as Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

    Britain’s smarmy Tony Blair tagged along with the war boosters in hopes that the U.K. could pick up the crumbs from the invasion and reassert its former economic and political power in the Arab world. Blair had long been a favorite of British neoconservatives. The silver-tongued Blair became point man for the war in preference to the tongue-twisted, stumbling George Bush. But the real warlord was VP Dick Cheney.

    There was no “flawed intelligence.” There were intelligence agencies bullied into reporting a fake narrative to suit their political masters. And a lot of fake reports concocted by our Mideast allies like Israel and Kuwait.

    After the even mild Chilcot report, Blair’s reputation is in tatters, as it should be. How such an intelligent, worldly man could have allowed himself to be led around by the doltish, swaggering Bush is hard to fathom.

    Europe’s leaders and Canada refused to join the Anglo-American aggression. France, which warned Bush of the disaster he would inflict, was slandered and smeared by U.S. Republicans as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.” In the event, the real monkeys were the Bush and Blair governments.

    Saddam Hussain, a former U.S. ally, was deposed and lynched. Iraq, the most advanced Arab nation, was almost totally destroyed. Up to one million Iraqis may have been killed, though the Chilcot report claimed only a risible 150,000.

    President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)
    President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)
    As Saddam had predicted, the Bush-Blair invasion opened the gates of hell, and out came Al Qaeda and then ISIS. The U.S. and British media, supposedly the bulwark of democracy, rolled over and became an organ of government war propaganda. Blair had the august BBC purged for failing to fully support his drive for war. BBC has never recovered.

    Interestingly, last week’s news of the Chilcot investigation was buried deep inside The New York Times on Thursday. The Times was a key partisan of the war. So too the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and the big TV networks. Without their shameful connivance, the Iraq War might not have happened.

    Bush and Blair have the deaths of nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers on their heads, the devastation of Iraq, our $1 trillion war, the ever-expanding mess in the Mideast, and the violence what we wrongly blame on “terrorism” and so-called “radical Islam.”

    The men and women responsible for this biggest disaster in our era should be brought to account. As long as Bush and Blair swan around and collect speaking fees, we have no right to lecture other nations, including Russia and China, on how to run a democracy or rule of law. Bush and Blair should be facing trial for war crime at the Hague Court.

    Eric S. Margolis was a contributing editor to the Toronto Sun chain of newspapers, writing mainly about the Middle East, South Asia and Islam. He contributes to the Huffington Post and appears frequently on Canadian television broadcasts. Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2016. [Re-posted with the author’s permission.]

    Take care all, a great truthful post Sean.

  25. supermundane

    The Qataris have already declared quite openly that they’ll continue to arm and fund ‘the insurgency’ in Syria regardless. Our media has been complicit in what has transpired in Iraq, Libya and now Syria (and we can go back much further). I want them to be held to account to ensure that this will never happen again, and to report the news truthfully and with an adversarial approach to authority as opposed to being its mouthpiece.

    For without holding them to account and ‘apportioning blame’, they will continue to get away with it again and again, and many more people will die Syria and elsewhere for geopolitical games and strategems devised by an alliance of military and oil-funded Neocon think-tanks and genocidal Wahhabists.

    And for all the testosterone, Hilary Clinton was as Hawkish as they come.

    Regarding your

  26. Kaye Lee

    Hawkish is the stance du jour..

    Speaking to workers at the shipyards in Cherbourg, France, Defence Industry Minister Mr Pyne said Australia needed to increase defence spending and double its submarine capability so it could project force in the region and uphold Australia’s “value-based” foreign policy.

    “We are a wealthy country and as a consequence we have a responsibility to do our part to, as Donald Trump says, not be strategic bludgers but actually lift our percentage of spending to 2 per cent, which we’ll do by 2020/21,” Mr Pyne said.

    http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/christopher-pyne-invokes-donald-trump-in-hawkish-foreign-policy-speech-defending-50b-submarine-spend-20161214-gtbe7i.html

    I understand and agree about the geopolitical games and propaganda fed through complicit media. As I have said time and time again, you call for honesty but only from one side. Until I see any sort of admission that all sides are engaging in propaganda, that all arms manufacturing countries are profiteering, I will continue to doubt.

    Until I see some wish to move forward, some hope offered, I will continue to doubt motives. Why keep talking about who we must hate? By doing that you don’t help, as you claim to be doing. You keep it going.

  27. paulwalter

    Disagree slightly on emphasis, re Kaye Lee and the Saudis, earlier.

    Whoever else also arms them, they have basically been a client state of the US and to a lesser extent the Brits, who are more closely involved re Kuwait, their share of the historical spoils apart from infrastructure/arms sales. Theyare more powerful now and maybe the tail wags the dog, a little.

    My pet theory is that the US, Russians and others are coming to a sort of tacit understanding as to the divvying up the spolls of war, as against going to war when so much easy money is available anyway, simlilar to what happened after the Iraq war half a dozen years ago.

  28. Kyran

    “tell me that these women would’ve been better off under the rule of those who have held Eastern Aleppo hostage.”
    Isn’t that the point of your furious agreement, supermundane? ‘These women’, grandmother’s, mother’s, sister’s, daughter’s, should have to decide their fate, when having no control over their fate. Is that how this goes? Can they possibly chose the manner of their demise?
    “As the fog of war dies in Aleppo”
    There can be no greater nonsense than the fog of war. There is no fog. There is only war.
    Take care, as best you can, supermundane. A luxury, not afforded to the victims of war.

  29. Kaye Lee

    I think the days of client state may be past/passing?

    We talk of modern day US interference (and rightly so) but the Sykes-Picot agreement is also a significant factor in the historical problems of the area and is very relevant to your theory about divvying up the spoils which makes some sense. Arms manufacturers are making a fortune while schmucks like Pyne are spending a fortune – to bomb schools and hospitals instead of build them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sykes%E2%80%93Picot_Agreement

  30. Kaye Lee

    And just so we don’t feel left out…..

    Mr Pyne has this week been in Britain and France and will on Friday travel to Saudi Arabia to spruik Australia’s defence exports.

  31. jim

    And we never see inside the capital Damascus where they currently run four universities, where health care and education is supplied free and where freedom of religion is allowed by the elected Assad government.

    And don’t ever mention that “bad Russia” put four million German invaders six foot under in WW2 hell no! the USA didn’t want war with Germany thats why they stood back and watched and then only helped after two very long years of watching their “allies” being bombed and killed by the millions in Europe. But then only the winner gets to write the history of the events don’t they.

  32. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I’m with Kyran @ 9.01 pm last night.

    Human lives are too precious to be slaughtered by anybody. Any State jockeying for geopolitical status and power with guns, is guilty of human rights abuses and thus they all have Syrian People’s blood on their hands.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4flAZEgtjs

  33. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think anyone in war is blameless. I don’t think anyone ever wins a war. I really wish I heard one suggestion about how to move forward rather than this continual Russia good US bad stuff.

  34. Sean Stinson

    @ Kaye Lee

    Was going to refrain from getting involved int he comments because it just raises my blood pressure.

    It is infuriating that you contradict the central tenet of my argument with every comment.

    I am not naively saying Russia = good, US = bad, but the bottom line is that Syria is a sovereign nation, recognised by the UN as such, and is under attack by a coalition of regional/US/NATO forces – the same forces which DESTROYED Libya and Iraq. Syria has INVITED its ally, Russia, and its neighbour Iran, to render assistance, which they are doing.

    NO OTHER COUNTRY HAS A RIGHT TO BE IN SYRIA.

    This is the simple right and wrong of the matter. No agonised nuance, no shades of grey. IT IS BLACK AND WHITE.

    The evidence has been laid bare. Read Jim’s post above including the full text of declassified documents, if you can get through them without feeling sick. The US is destroying Syria for Israel’s benefit. The US is the aggressor here, NOT Russia. DEAL WITH IT.

    I am so tired of this “no one is blameless, both sides have blood on their hands” nonsense. Russia and Syria are as much to blame as a Saudi woman is for getting herself raped.

    What is with this generation of brainwashed ‘liberals’ (in the traditional sense) who have lost their capacity for judgement?

  35. John Brame

    War is f*cked.

  36. Miriam English

    Sean, You’re not seeing what we’re saying. I don’t know what is obscuring your vision, but it isn’t that progressives have lost the ability to judge. It is that they don’t shield repellent actions by pointing to one side and saying “He started it.”

    Progressives have no problem agreeing that the USA and other Western nations have done something deeply evil in waging this bullshit war using lies and violent immoral proxies. But progressives are also alert to the fact that Assad is repellent in the ways he reacts now and in the ways he treated dissidents in his own society beforehand. That he happily bombs his own people when murderers try to use them as human shields genuinely says something about him.

    Yes, Syria was a secular, modern country that worked surprisingly well before the West decided to betray Assad (who, like Saddam Hussein, was previously the West’s best friend). Yes, the West violated all their agreements and sent thugs in to create chaos for frankly lunatic ends. All that is easily acknowledged. What you don’t notice is that progressives see that Assad and Putin are not lily-white in all this either. They’ve exploited all this for their own ends too. Assad has used it as an excuse to go on murderous rampages to cleanse Syria of people who don’t like his rule. Putin is slyly looking to advance arms sales and to build military alliances in the region and get access to further resources.

    All sides have agendas that don’t include the poor damn actual civilians.

  37. Kaye Lee

    ^^^^ What she said. Afghanistan was doing pretty well before everyone interfered too.

    I still think the arms industry of every country is complicit in this for profit not ideology.

  38. Kaye Lee

    Sean,

    I am aware of our spurious reasons for involvement….to help our dear friend and neighbour? Iraq was the official line I believe. And I have always thought ISIS dupes in all of this.

  39. paulwalter

    Sorry, am afraid I tend to Sean’s take.

  40. jimhaz

    [Human lives are too precious to be slaughtered by anybody]

    lol. The entire history of the human race would say otherwise. It is nonsense anyway when there are 7b of us. The purpose of a herd based species is to sacrifice some for the good of the many and to breed a large enough herd so those sacrifices don’t lead to the end of the species.

    Stop putting humans above animals – it is a false viewpoint, every problem we currently have relates to our animal natures, including that of our submission to “authoritarinism” – we are clearly no different to the ape kingdom, other than in terms of complexity.

    In due course, future Australians will be facing the same dilemma’s once the resource wars – to join in the killing lead by the superpowers or to not, will be the main personal issue your kids kids will face. The individuals within superpowers will not accept a decline and will resort to conventional war rather than take steep declines in living standards due to resource scarcity. Even though the shit wont hit the fan for another 3 decades, the election of “Strongman” Trump is an early example of the direction we are heading.

  41. Kaye Lee

    Or we could educate and empower women and lift people out of poverty which, of its own accord, sends the birth rate below replacement levels. We could reject the dictates of religions that are designed to build up the tribe and tell politicians to f*ck off with their reproductive and end of life laws. We could put more money into research and make a lot more effort to reduce waste, reuse and recycle. We could invest more into community support and mental health initiatives. We could share a shit load better.

    And we could stop being duped by those who think guns solve anything.

  42. Kaye Lee

    “Syria is a sovereign nation, recognised by the UN as such, and is under attack by a coalition of regional/US/NATO forces – the same forces which DESTROYED Libya and Iraq. Syria has INVITED its ally, Russia, and its neighbour Iran, to render assistance, which they are doing.

    NO OTHER COUNTRY HAS A RIGHT TO BE IN SYRIA.”

    I agree with you Sean though I am not sure the assistance is all that healthy.

  43. Miriam English

    Okay, jimhaz, I choose you to killed horribly.
    Oops. Suddenly slaughter doesn’t seem so okay anymore.

  44. Kaye Lee

    And next year we face this ridiculous position….

    “The US will begin flying its deadliest fighter plane, the F-22 Raptor, out of northern Australia next year, the most senior American commander in the Pacific has revealed as he warned of a need to show strength to deter aggression in the region.

    20 minutes’ drive from the Darwin airport, a Chinese company with undisputed links to the Chinese military is settling in to run the Darwin port over which it has received a 99-year lease from the Giles Government without any prior notice to the people of the Northern Territory. The Chinese military is currently undertaking activities which present a significant risk of conflict in the South China Sea.”

  45. Miriam English

    Goddamn delinquent boys boasting who has the biggest dick.

  46. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    jimhaz,

    thanks for quoting me. It shows you’re awake. Don’t make presumptions about what I think or don’t think.

    Kaye Lee and Miriam English aptly responded to your comment. I won’t be bothered with saying more to that.

  47. Michael Taylor

    Stop putting humans above animals

    Gosh there’s a lot of assuming going on here lately. I can’t seem to find where Jennifer said that she did.

  48. Sheila Newman

    Glad someone else in Australia is writing about Syria, Sean Stinson. You put it well: “Aleppo has been liberated, so why isn’t anyone talking about it?” Although I have been writing about Syria since 2012 when the whole thing really started to get to me, in the past few days I have been shocked as never before by the western media take on Aleppo’s ‘falling’. The current US regime is doubling and redoubling its efforts to destroy and depopulate Syria before Trump comes in by unleashing more weapons to the terrorists and promoting the most astounding lies about the Syrian Government. It is hard for me to understand how people can be taken in by the illusion of authority that the so-called ‘mainstream’ propaganda press holds around itself like a tattered veil when anyone can watch so many detailed and revealing interviews with Putin and Assad on youtube. Interviews far more revealing and candid than any that Australian leaders would subject themselves to. Can I recommend that people watch the latest interviews with Bashar al-Assad or read the transcript here: https://candobetter.net/node/5078 “President Bashar al-Assad : “[The ]West is telling Russia that Syrian Army went too far in defeating terrorists … Daesh could only attack Palmyra the way it did with supervision of U.S. alliance”. President Obama’s announcement of a waiver for arming unspecified rebel groups in Syria came shortly before the terrorist group Islamic State launched a massive attack on Palmyra. Syrian President Bashar Assad believes it was no coincidence, he told RussiaToday. In the interview, the Syrian leader explained how his approach to fighting terrorism differs from that of the US, why he believes the military success of his forces in Aleppo was taken so negatively in the West, and what he expects from US President-elect Donald Trump.”

  49. Kaye Lee

    Gee we’re going full propaganda now. That website is blocked by my comp with a “threat blocked” message.

  50. Miriam English

    Thanks for that video + transcript Sheila. Assad certainly gives a good interview. He’s definitely not the innocent he pretends to be, however he makes many very good points.

    I can’t help thinking this evil little adventure by the West is going to blow up very badly in our faces. First the USA and allies betray Saddam Hussein who had a privileged friendship with the West, invade his country then hunt him down and kill him. Now they betray Assad who also had an excellent relationship with the West and unleash a proxy war arming and equipping bloodthirsty fanatics and mercenaries to do their dirty work.

    All the lies of the first Iraq war messed badly with the credibility of the West and its media. Now this war in Syria will destroy what little credibility remains.

    How many small countries will now be wondering if they are the next ones to be betrayed by the West and destroyed for the sake of some lunatic aim of controlling through chaos? How few remain to trust USA, UK, France, Australia, etc.?

    It almost looks like the angry, white control-freaks have a death-wish. Even their own populations no longer trust them after the Snowden, Manning, Wikileaks, and other revelations.

  51. Miriam English

    What browser are you using Kaye? I was able to view it with an old version of Mozilla’s Seamonkey (it’s basically Firefox web browser, plus Composer web editor, Thunderbird email, and a couple more things in a single program). I tried also with a fairly recent version of Firefox and it worked fine too.

    The direct link to the youtube video is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn1QNppXsvM
    You might have better luck with it.

  52. Sheila Newman

    To Miriam English, Thanks for checking it out. Shows open mindedness. With regard to your perception of Assad as pretending innocence, I am wondering what you feel is his main guilt. A propos, I filmed three interviews by Bruce Petty (the cartoonist) of Jeremy Salt, one time journo and long-time Australian resident of Turkey and Middle East history academic. In these interviews Bruce aimed to ask obvious questions based on the mainstream media story and Salt’s answers were frequently funny as well as perceptive and informed. One of these films is entitled, “Has Syrian President killed more than ISIS and other questions” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKxu-Rx5bXw and another was entitled, “Does Bashar al Assad really have to go?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNZ0aAxuEDM Bruce visited Syria to do political interviews in, I think, 2011, before the war. One should also, of course, concentrate on the need to preserve the Syrian state, apart from just defending Assad. The Syrian people need their government. A point I understood from Jeremy Salt was how the colonial and neo-colonial political environment in the Middle East meant that leaders cannot relax.

  53. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I watched your link too, Sheila.

    Assad speaks sense no doubt.

    Good that RT interviewer asked about innocent children’s lives lost. Must be confronted. Would be interesting to ask the same of Putin and Obama or more interestingly Trump.

    Assad has to play chess with multiple opponents and on the balance of probabilities, he’s probably going to be judged as having done OK when we have the benefit of hindsight.

    Forward thinking prediction however: Syria must NOT become another Iraq or Afghanistan where Super Powers have Arrived, Purged, Ransacked, Destroyed and then Blamed their victims.

  54. Sheila Newman

    Thanks, Jennifer. I most definitely agree. Syria, the last secular state in the Middle East, must not fall. What was done to Libya was a crime unimaginable.

  55. Sean Stinson

    Thanks Sheila, agree with all the points you’ve raised. You’ve saved me a headache, which i tend to get from beating my head against a brick wall.

    I’ve also written at length on the Syrian war, and usually get the same response – but Assad murders his political opponents and drops barrel bombs on his own people!!! All I can say is show me evidence.

    Was considering writing a little piece titled 10 times the mainstream media lied, you know, Tampa, WMD, babies in incubators, Kosovo, etc etc.

    I guess a lot of ‘progressives’ don’t realist that the Guardian, the Independent etc are also very much “mainstream media”.

  56. Sean Stinson

    @ Kaye Lee

    “Or we could educate and empower women and lift people out of poverty which, of its own accord, sends the birth rate below replacement levels. We could reject the dictates of religions that are designed to build up the tribe and tell politicians to f*ck off with their reproductive and end of life laws. We could put more money into research and make a lot more effort to reduce waste, reuse and recycle. We could invest more into community support and mental health initiatives. We could share a shit load better.

    And we could stop being duped by those who think guns solve anything.”

    Agree 110%

    This is the socialist program in a nutshell.

  57. Sheila Newman

    Ten times the mainstream media lied would be a good start. Have you seen Vanessa Beeley’s press conf? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUhe87r5bEE She is very useful on detail and documentation such as real numbers of hospitals damaged and doctors left etc. And she speaks arab and has been back and forth to Syria frequently, unlike most or all of the ‘mainstream journos’. Are you aware of Australians for Reconciliation (Mussahala) in Syria? It’s Melbourne based, loosely. Or are you in Sydney? Feel free to write for candobetter.net too.

  58. Sean Stinson

    I’m closer to Sydney. Yes, been following Vanessa for a while, gave her a mention and linked to an interview with her in the article. Eva Bartlett also. Candobetter is not working for me -site issues or censorship?

    Google comes up with this – Please contact candobetter.net if you have information about Assange. The Australian Government should be inquiring into his welfare – but they have failed … Just got word from a fb friend Julian is doing fine btw – apparently his mum’s been in contact.

  59. Kaye Lee

    Sean,

    I agree it is important for people to understand the interference by the US in other countries and the consequences thereof. There are many examples. It is also worth noting that, unlike us, Canada and the UK didn’t feel it necessary to follow the US into Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh is another example of abandonment.

    I take your point about Russia being invited by Syria but the US say that Iraq invited them – ISIS was active in both countries.

    I do think that both sides are committing atrocities in Syria – not necessarily dictated by any senior command group, just local fighters taking things into their own hands with civilians being butchered, sometimes on sectarian grounds, sometimes because they are in the way, sometimes because they just want to leave.

    To be able to foment uprising, there has to be discontent in a section of the society. The FSA teamed up with some very dodgy partners, I suppose to give them fire power.

    I agree we have no right to be bombing Syria but I want to understand the discontent among Syrian people that allowed this to happen.

    Did Assad overreact to protest? Why were they protesting in the first place? Are there ethnic/sectarian tensions? Are they just sick of having an Assad in power for so long?

    I am also as uncomfortable about unquestioning acceptance of news from a Russian state-owned outlet as I am accepting the version of events in our media. Both present only one side with a liberal dose of “Wasn’t me was the other guy” propaganda.

    On a different note…

    Interesting story on SBS

    ‘Airbnb for refugees’ set to launch in Australia next year

    http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2016/12/09/airbnb-refugees-set-launch-australia-next-year?cid=inbody%3Arethink-citizenship-refusals-dutton-told

  60. Sean Stinson

    “I take your point about Russia being invited by Syria but the US say that Iraq invited them – ISIS was active in both countries.”

    We are talking about Syria. At least I am. the US has already destroyed Iraq. Iraq, or what is left of it, is now subjugated and will do whatever it is told, while Syrian remains an defiantly independent of the US.”

    “I do think that both sides are committing atrocities in Syria – not necessarily dictated by any senior command group, just local fighters taking things into their own hands with civilians being butchered, sometimes on sectarian grounds, sometimes because they are in the way, sometimes because they just want to leave.”

    Once again, SHOW ME EVIDENCE! And please, evidence which does not come from the mainstream corporate media who are complicit. Syria is SECULAR. Being such a multi-ethnic country it has to be for its own survival. Ask any Syrian. Ask the Grand Mufti or the patriarch of the Orthodox Church, or go back and read my posts about secularism in Syria and the history of Islamism in the ME. This is part of Syria’s long history – it has ALWAYS been a country friendly to ALL religions.

    Very very short recap of recent history which i think is essential.

    After WWI the Ottoman Empire, ‘the sick man of Europe’ collapsed and territories were divided between the British and French under a mandate system. This was not intended to be permanent, just until the new countries could find their feet.

    Out of this came two types of Arab nationalism, inspired by the two dominant ideologies competing at the global level. One extremely conservative, based on Muslim identity, exemplified by the Gulf monarchies and groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The other secular and socialist, as seen with Nasser in Egypt, the Ba’arth party in Iraq and Syria and Iran under Mossadegh.

    Now look at the countries which have been targeted by the West. Do you see a pattern yet?

    It was never about religion. The war agenda is set by capital – the military industrial complex, the finance sector and the fossil fuel industry. Capitalism = rapacious greed for resource and rent extraction.

  61. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Sean,

    instead of getting irate with some of us, such recaps are essential to put things in context. Thanks for doing it.

    Information overload causes unintended non-communication of important facts.

  62. Kaye Lee

    Yes I am aware of the Sykes-Picot agreement which I will add Russia was in on as well to start with.

    You have told me nothing there I didn’t already know. What I am asking is what was the discontent within Syrian society that allowed the unrest to start in the first place.

    As for evidence that both sides are committing atrocities, it is endless.

    http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-al-quds-hospital-death-toll-rises-55

  63. nurses1968

    “What I am asking is what was the discontent within Syrian society that allowed the unrest to start in the first place.”

    Western read American money with the express purpose of regime change Not just Syria the whole Arab Spring and that was recognised as far back as 2011
    Either in an act of absolute hubris or to spin emerging evidence that the US indeed has been funding and preparing the ground for the “Arab Spring” for years, New York Times has recently published “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings.”

    Essentially throwing these activists under the bus, New York Times exposes that the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and Entsar Qadhi of Yemen amongst others, received training and financing from the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the Neo-Conservative lined Freedom House.

    The New York Times goes on to explain that these organizations are in turn funded by the National Endowment for Democracy which receives 100 million USD from Congress while Freedom House receives most of its money from the US State Department. While the New York Times asserts “no one doubts that the Arab uprisings are home grown,” leaders of groups now admittedly funded and trained by the US are anything but “home grown.” The most prominent example is the April 6 Movement of Egypt led by Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Crisis Group. ElBaradei sitting along side George Soros, Kenneth Adelman, Wesley Clark, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, within a US foreign policy think-tank engenders a considerable amount of “doubt.”

    Also conceding involvement is the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), chaired by various Council on Foreign Relations and Brookings Institute alumni. POMED claims that they helped protesters develop skills and to network. Such training has taken place annually under Movements.org starting in 2008 where Egypt’s April 6 movement among many others, learned techniques to subvert their government. Movements.org of course is sponsored by a conglomerate of corporations and government agencies including the US State Department, Google, MTV, the Edelman public relations firm, Facebook, CBS News, MSNBC, Pepsi, and others. Despite the claim that such meddling is “promoting democracy,” looking at the sponsors and war mongering interests involved in this operation, it appears to be more about promoting global military and economic hegemony.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&emc=eta1

    U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings

    By RON NIXONAPRIL 14, 2011

    Amnesty International reports

    After the “Arab Spring”: Country by country

    Tunisia
    The only relative “success story” with a new constitution and some justice for past crimes. But human rights are still under attack, and reforms are urgently needed.

    Egypt
    Peaceful activists, critics of the government and many others remain in jail. Torture and other ill-treatment is rife. Hundreds have been sentenced to death and tens of thousands put behind bars for protesting or for their alleged links to the political opposition.

    Bahrain
    The authorities are silencing dissent by using unnecessary force, arresting and jailing protesters and political opposition leaders, and torturing detainees.

    Libya
    There are many armed conflicts across this deeply divided country. All sides have committed war crimes and serious human rights abuses.

    Syria
    The region’s bloodiest armed conflict, which emerged in response to the brutal suppression of mass protests by the government of Bashar al-Assad. Atrocious crimes are being committed on a mass scale and half the population has been displaced.

    Yemen
    The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s air strikes and shelling by Huthi forces have killed more than 2,500 civilians. Some of the attacks amount to war crimes.

    Not to rest, a young person in Cuba at the moment is reporting CIA by the plane load, pallet loads of money and suggests Cuba will be finished by 2020 no more than a US satellite state

  64. Sean Stinson

    @ Kaye Lee

    That’s just it. THERE IS/WAS NO POPULAR DISCONTENT among Syrians. The crisis has been MANUFACTURED form start to finish, including the original demonstrations at Daraa where the police were sent in UNARMED so as not to provoke further violence. The whole thing is/was a psy-op.

    Basher Assad currently has among the highest approval ratings of ANY WORLD LEADER, at around 88%. Compare this to Angela Merkel, 47%, Obama, 53%, Francoise Hollande, 4%.

  65. Kaye Lee

    Thanks nurses. I understand about the funding etc but my question specifically asks how can the unrest take hold – to which this one quote seems relevant

    Syria
    The region’s bloodiest armed conflict, which emerged in response to the brutal suppression of mass protests by the government of Bashar al-Assad. Atrocious crimes are being committed on a mass scale and half the population has been displaced.

    I read this for example …(of course not knowing the truth personally)

    “Rodger Shanahan says the catalyst was the jailing on March 6, 2011, of some children who painted anti-regime graffiti. Some were killed in detention, and this led to public protests which spread around the country – fuelled by the failure of the government to punish the perpetrators.

    Another theory says the war started with demonstrations which mirrored those in neighbouring countries, and which soon led to a security crackdown. In April 2011, the Syrian Army fired on demonstrators and the protests became a full-scale armed rebellion.”

    Did this start because Assad handled protests badly (even if they were instigated by external forces)? Were some sections of Syrian society troubled and why? I mean it wouldn’t work here…why did it work there?

    I can understand some of the uprisings in the area taking hold…some of those regimes were/are repressive. But I want to understand what was wrong in Syria?

  66. Sheila Newman

    How the unrest might take root: Decades of continuous trade sanctions depriving Syrians of many things, including medicines; huge unrest in neighboring countries causing massive refugee influxes; capture of important parts of Syria’s water supply by Turkey and Israel, making rural populations vulnerable to drought; destabilised populations being cultivated by Wahabist and similar fundamentalist forces; foreign false-flag action with people in the protests paid to shoot at the crowd and the police, causing the police to fire back in self-defense, thus creating a confused impression of locals being attacked by the police.

    There is little understanding of how effective the Syrian state was before the war, even, despite continuous massive trade sanctions.

    The trade sanctions have been in place for decades, are implemented by many states – including Australia – and have been increased during the war and are up for or have just been increases again. Although the Syrian state has survived and protected many of its people, with support from Russia and Iran, and other BRICs countries like China and India, the sanctions have weakened it, making it more vulnerable to external attacks.

    Frequently overlooked is the devastating impact of colonial and neo-colonial wars destabilising surrounding countries and causing recent mass population movements into Syria, representing more than a 20th of their original population. See Refugees in Syria, a little known history Refugees in Syria – a little known history which draws from a report in Forced Migration Review. The report notes the difficulties in providing those populations with the same ammenities as Syrians have by right, which most Australians would be very pleased to have. Note that, although Syria has given palestinian refugees virtual citizenship within Syria, the palestinian movement has been greatly polemicised and has not always supported Syria. Israel is an enemy of Syria’s.

    Syria remains a secular state (the last one in the region) where women may wear what they want and all sexes have the same rights to education. Syrian law is a mix of French system and some local law. That is probably the basis of its socialist or dirigiste system, plus the state supplied housing, free education, health etc. When you see all the women in scarves and burkas coming out of East Aleppo, this could be explained by the terrorist (‘rebel’) takfiri enforcement of fundamentalist sharia laws. When there are fundamentalists carrying guns, it probably is wise to be as anonymous as you can be.

    There is a good article by Susan Dirgham called, “Valuing secularism in Syria,” https://candobetter.net/node/4170. Susan is a terrific speaker as well:

    Another thing that is destabilising populations everywhere are foreign policy interventions on behalf of economic globalism. Bashar al-Assad was, I believe, starting to implement these but stopped because Syrians objected. Syria has its own bank, subsidised public housing, free health care and free school and university education. That displeases the United States, which has an agenda to privatise everything, as it has in Australia and Britain and is trying to do in France.

    On the subject of drought in 2011, which some have suggested caused massive population movement:

    From https://gowans.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/the-revolutionary-distemper-in-syria-that-wasnt/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog on the drought:

    “Drought?
    A final point on the origins of the violent uprising in 2011: Some social scientists and analysts have drawn on a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to suggest that “drought played a role in the Syrian unrest.” According to this view, drought “caused crop failures that led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas.” This, in combination with an influx of refugees from Iraq, intensified competition for scarce jobs in urban areas, making Syria a cauldron of social and economic tension ready to boil over. [64] The argument sounds reasonable, even “scientific,” but the phenomenon it seeks to explain—mass upheaval in Syria—never happened.

    The argument sounds reasonable, even “scientific,” but the phenomenon it seeks to explain—mass upheaval in Syria—never happened. As we’ve seen, a review of Western press coverage found no reference to mass upheaval. On the contrary, reporters who expected to find a mass upheaval were surprised that they didn’t find one. Instead, Western journalists found Syria to be surprisingly quiet. Demonstrations called by organizers of the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page fizzled. Critics conceded that Assad was popular. Reporters could find no one who believed a revolt was imminent. Even a month after the Daraa incident—which involved only hundreds of protesters, dwarfed by the tens of thousands of Syrians who demonstrated in Damascus in support of the government—the New York Times reporter on the ground, Anthony Shadid, could find no sign in Syria of the mass upheavals of Tunisia and Egypt. In early February 2011, “Omar Nashabe, a long-time Syria watcher and correspondent for the Beirut-based Arabic daily Al-Ahkbar” told Time that “Syrians may be afflicted by poverty that stalks 14% of its population combined with an estimated 20% unemployment rate, but Assad still has his credibility.” [65]

    That the government commanded popular support was affirmed when the British survey firm YouGov published a poll in late 2011 showing that 55 percent of Syrians wanted Assad to stay. The poll received almost no mention in the Western media, prompting the British journalist Jonathan Steele to ask: “Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favor of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news?” Steele described the poll findings as “inconvenient facts” which were” suppressed “because Western media coverage of the events in Syria had ceased “to be fair” and had turned into “a propaganda weapon.”[66]”

    “Drought had caused the destruction of many small farms. Yes, Global warming played a part. But there was a political aspect to the problem as well. Turkey had a built a new dam upstream on the Euphrates and was retaining their full portion of the diminished water supply.[2] Also, Israel had turned the streams from the Golan that once nourished Syrian lands back into Israel.[3]” (Source: http://candobetter.net/node/4660)

    Drought and rapid population growth are also matters seriously affecting other countries, such as California in the United States and most Australian states. The important difference is that California and Australia are not over-run by armed foreign-backed militia – as yet. Australia has the similar problem of massive population movement though via international immigration as well as between states, and from rural to urban, due to lack of jobs.

  67. Kaye Lee

    Sean,

    How can you be certain that the police did not shoot at the demonstrators? There are countless reports agreeing that they did, some suggesting in response to some protesters being armed, other eyewitnesses refuting that. How can you be so sure your source is the correct version?

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/03/2011325145817688433.html

    “2011: The Syrian government announced that it would “study” ending emergency rule – in place since 1963 – and look into legalising political parties. The current emergency law allows people to be arrested without warrants and imprisoned without trial.”

    As far as the 88% approval rating is concerned, if they shoot people who disapprove it might skew the response?

    Re the 2014 election:

    Andrew Gelman suggested that the results could be fabricated based on the unlikely accurate numbers. For example, 10,319,723/11,634,412 = 0.886999962, so the 88.7% number for Bashar al-Assad is correct to the nearest single voter. Similarly, the proportion for NIACS comes out at 0.042999938 and for the Independent party at 0.031999985.

    But whilst Gelman’s argument provides strong evidence that the published counts were fabricated, he admits that it does not preclude the theory that those numbers could have been generated retrospectively (and unprofessionally) from valid percentages.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_presidential_election,_2014#Results

  68. Miriam English

    Sean, your statement:
    “That’s just it. THERE IS/WAS NO POPULAR DISCONTENT among Syrians. The crisis has been MANUFACTURED form start to finish, including the original demonstrations at Daraa where the police were sent in UNARMED so as not to provoke further violence. The whole thing is/was a psy-op.”

    This reads as incredibly naive. How do you know there was no popular discontent? It seems a bit far-fetched to suggest that the hundreds of protesters in demonstrations were paid Western stooges. How do you know police were unarmed? Are you relying entirely upon information from Assad? Can you see how it would be a little self-serving of Assad to say this, right?

  69. Sheila Newman

    Hi Sean, I am extremely pleased to hear that Assange has been in contact with his mother. I contacted my local MP to investigate but they never got back and the PM’s person on the phone was just rude. So many people can never imagine that one day they might be targeted. With regard to your not being able to access our site, some anti-viruses portray candobetter.net as having viruses, but this is not true. Avast does it to me and it won’t respond to my safe reports. Candobetter.net was horribly hacked four or five months ago but it has a new server and, apart from needing me to reupload thousands of photos, it is fine, albeit in need of some upgrading (which I go to Drupal meetups to learn about). If you run safe site checks such as https://safeweb.norton.com/ or various others, you will see that it has a clean bill of health. We have been hacked before, probably for political reasons. The website builder, James Sinnamon was hit by a car seven years ago when the site was doing really well and it has been a sometimes difficult road back since, but we are safe. Change your anti-virus and come and help us with articles please. 🙂

  70. Sean Stinson

    Dammit Miram, you got me. I’m actually an agent of the Kremlin masquerading as an anti-imperialist, but now I guess my cover is blown.

  71. Kaye Lee

    Sheila,

    You give a rather one-sided version. Didn’t Syria invade Lebanon?

  72. Sean Stinson

    No Kaye Lee, ISRAEL INVADED LEBANON. Syria supported Lebanon’s independence through supporting Hezbollah, which are now the dominant political party (although still labelled by the west as a terrorist group.) Lebanon was a part of Syria up until the 1860s when it became a separate enclave, mostly for the protection of a local christian sect. Lebanon is to Syria as Crimea is to Russia.

  73. Kaye Lee

    Ummmmmmm………..maybe they were helping, maybe they weren’t. Invade may have been the wrong word but I am not so sure the interference was altruistic.

    – June 6, 1976: A year after the start of the Lebanese civil war, Syrian troops enter the country at the request of Christian groups.

    – July, 1978: Shelling of Beirut’s Christian neighbourhoods by the Syrian army after a change of alliance, having sided with mostly Muslim and Palestinian leftist forces.

    – June, 1982: Israeli forces invade Lebanon, sweeping into Beirut. In September, Syrian troops pull back to the east of the country while Palestinian fighters move east and north.

    – February, 1987: With the civil war still raging, some 8,000 Syrian soldiers are deployed in west Beirut.

    – October 22, 1989: Lebanese inter-party talks in Taif, Saudi Arabia, produce an agreement that will in 1990 end the civil war. The deal calls for a Syrian pullback to the east of the country, but does not set a date for a full withdrawal.

    – May 22, 1991: Lebanon and Syria sign a friendship treaty, which sets Syria’s dominating role in stone.

    – October 15, 1998: Emile Lahoud, a pro-Syrian general, is elected president of Lebanon.

    – April 16, 2001: An Israeli raid against a Syrian position after an attack by Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah. The bulk of the Syrian army deploys to the Bekaa Valley, in the east.

    – September 2, 2004: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1559 calling for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon and respect for its sovereignty.

    – February 14, 2005: Anti-Syrian Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is assassinated. His supporters accuse Syria of ordering the killing but Damascus denies any involvement.

    – April 26: The last Syrian troops leave Lebanon after 29 years of presence, under pressure from the street, the opposition and the international community.

  74. Miriam English

    See, Sean, reacting angrily like that to an honest set of questions makes you look unreliable. Do you want to convince those of us who are genuinely interested in understanding? Or do you just want to rant? If the former then perhaps more careful answers might be more effective. If the latter then please go ahead doing the baby and bathwater thing.

  75. Miriam English

    Sheila, I finally got to read your post from 12:28 pm. Very interesting. Thank you. I’ll re-read and digest it.

  76. Sean Stinson

    The ENTIRE M.E. conflict must be seen through the lense of Israel/Palestine and Western Imperialism vs Arab independence.

    If you aren’t looking at it this way then you are ignoring history, and wasting your time reading my articles.

    I’m happy to debate the finer points all you want once this core thesis is accepted, but your points of difference so far are tantamount to saying it wasn’t all Hitlers fault, the Jews did some bad things too.

    And yes I realise I have just broken Godwin’s law, so I guess I have lost the argument

    Yawn.

  77. Kaye Lee

    I didn’t realise we were having an argument and I will bore you no further

  78. paulwalter

    No, no Kaye Lee. He doesn’t mean argument as in stoush, but philosophical argument.

  79. paulwalter

    I think Sean makes a mistake re the reactive “no discontent” comment re Syria. Of course there was (discontent). The problem comes with the developing imbroglio exploited by the Saudi bloc and also the Shia, which turned it into a street brawl on a monumental scale as well as some thing of concern to other powers given their own aims for the region.

    I think the intelligence agencies of at least half a dozen nations would have at work fomenting mischief and strife for some time before the actual decline into civil war was on in earnest. Balkanisation in the classic sense.

  80. Sean Stinson

    @paul

    OK, over simplified for the point of argument. You are right of course, and you said it yourself – not nearly the type of discontent which would cause a civil war. As I said, happy to debate the finer points, but we must be clear about the broader context, ie, colonialism/imperialism.

  81. Miriam English

    No, Paul. I think Sean means argument, as in spitting fire. It has got ridiculous. I’m outa here. As far as I’m concerned he’s convinced me he’s wrong. I’ll spend a bit more time digesting Sheila’s words though, but not here.

  82. paulwalter

    Give me a break. I LUV Xmas!!

  83. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think Sean is wrong so much as presenting only one side. While he continues to say everything was hunky dory in Syria and Assad is the most popular thing since Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night and Russia Today is the only source of credible news, I will continue to question.

  84. Sheila Newman

    IMHO you cannot trust Medicins sans frontieres. They are a propaganda outfit, overly involved with the ‘rebels’. Doctors can be very politically naive. I attended a meeting of the NGO in Melbourne and was amazed at the naivety. “Oh, the rebels we treated told us this.”

    Discussion from the “A Closer Look on Syria” page.

    There is also reason to question the objectivity and intentions of MFS and Avaaz, two prominent NGOs disseminating the allegations about chlorine or gas attacks. Both NGOs have much closer links with insurgents and their supporters than with Syrian people who support the Syrian army or at least oppose the insurgency.

    For example, in August 2013, MFS worked with doctors in rebel-held Ghouta, Damascus, and it was those doctors through MFS that provided details about hundreds of alleged victims of a sarin attack, allegedly by the Syrian army. MFS presentation of the allegations gave the claims some credence, yet later investigations and reports by highly regarded professionals in the west raise serious doubts about the Syrian army being responsible.

    By working with doctors and medical personnel who operate only in rebel-held territory in Syria, MFS presents a blinkered and partisan view of the war. It should be noted that a co-founder of MFS, Dr Bernard Kouchner, was French Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Minister (2007 – 2010) under President Sarkozy, a president who was to give strong backing for foreign intervention in Syria. (In 2010, Kouchner was listed by The Jerusalem Post as number 15 in their list of the 50 most influential Jewish people in the world.) And interestingly, Dr Kouchner and MFS were involved in controversy in October 2008 when MFS protested comments made by Kouchner in Jerusalem. Kouchner said at a press conference, “Officially, we have no contact with Hamas, but unofficially, international organization working in the Gaza Strip – in particular, French NGOs – provide us information.”

    [… ]

    It should be noted that the sources of funding for both Avaaz and EFF are similar in that they are mostly ‘establishment’ sources, and there are links between George Soros / Open Society and both EFF and Avaaz, (This could be researched a lot deeper than is done here. One link between Avaaz and George Soros that is noted in articles involves Res Publica .)

    A simple web search shows Soros has close ties with MSF…”

  85. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thank you Sheila.

    Informative without the condescension.

    Keep the info coming, as I for one have believed MSF and Avaaz are the good people. Now, I’m doubting my good intentions.

  86. Kaye Lee

    But you trust the state owned Russia today? I trust the doctors in front of them thanks anyway Sheila.

    “By working with doctors and medical personnel who operate only in rebel-held territory in Syria, MFS presents a blinkered and partisan view of the war.”

    It would be good if you admitted that Assad will not let them work in government held territories, or in Syria at all legally, but you people never do tell the whole truth.

    The ready made answers seem to flow a tad too easily for my liking and the gratuitous Soros mention only makes me more suspicious. JMS you are sometimes too easily won over. You are only being told a very one-sided version by Sheila,,,and a very practised one at that in my opinion.

  87. Sean Stinson

    “I don’t think Sean is wrong so much as presenting only one side. While he continues to say everything was hunky dory in Syria and Assad is the most popular thing since Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night and Russia Today is the only source of credible news, I will continue to question.”

    And while you continue to cite Al Jazeera, the Guardian, The Independent, BBC, CNN, ABC, Wikipedia, Amnesty International, MSF, and other state sponsored NGOs I will continue to beat my head against a wall. 90% of US media is controlled by six corporations. In Australia it is much worse. The corporate mainstream media is controlled by the ruling elite who spoon feed the public whatever they want us to believe. The whole point of this article was to challenge the mainstream media narrative, but now you seem to be challenging me for not accepting it at face value.

    It’s ironic that this is even controversial in this forum. Perhaps the name needs to be changed to something other than Independent Media Network.

  88. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Sean said,

    “And while you continue to cite Al Jazeera, the Guardian, The Independent, BBC, CNN, ABC, Wikipedia, Amnesty International, MSF, and other state sponsored NGOs I will continue to beat my head against a wall.”

    I, for one, can identify some of those pretenders, as wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

    If you want to reach more ready, willing and able people like me and others you are arguing with, you need to identify the culprit betrayers without condemning questioners.

    Make it easy for simple minded people like me and LIST alternative sites and authorities, and be ready for reasonable feedback when they have been digested.

  89. Sheila Newman

    I don’t just watch RT. I watch Iranian Press tv and I listen to direct interviews and speeches etc from the leaders of the various countries: the US, Syria, Iran, Israel, Palestinian leaders, Russia, etc. I am also on a list reporting on Syria from all over the world, corresponding with people who have made multiple visits to Syria over the past few years and corresponding directly with a person in Aleppo for months last year. I have published some of their reports on candobetter.net/syria.

    But, there is an essential difference between the western mainstream news and the Russian, Syrian and Iranian news, plus alternative ones. It is that, when RT, Iran and Syria report on Syria, they have reporters on the ground and they document in detail and logically, Almost no Western news ever has a direct source on the ground. It is nearly always chinese whispers from the White helmets (a US government sponsored group that claims independence and has been caught using actors to play dead) or The Syrian observatory (located in Britain). And this western mainstream news lacks detail and logic. Anonymous footage is recycled. Emotive claims are made instead of well documented reports. And you get corporate ‘think tanks’ like the Lowy Institute, opining fuzzily, from the other side of the world.

    If you have knowledge of the history of the area and the oil and gas lines and projected lines there, the resources in the Caspian Sea, its dispute as lake or sea, and the desire to isolate Iran, which is located very conveniently on the Caspian Sea, you can use that as a reality check. For me it doesn’t make sense to believe US-NATO is deploying all that force for ‘moral’ reasons against yet another ‘brutal dictator’ after the WMD and the babies in incubators hoaxes it perpetrated on the rest of us, and I cannot ignore the massive deployment of US airbases closer and closer to Russian borders when I decide who is the aggressor. Plainly, the US is the aggressor. The ABC, BBC, etc are all state financed and backed. I am not aware that Assad has prevented Doctors without borders from working in Syria, but there are plenty of Syrian doctors, as Eva Bartlett has documented. NGOs can be used to smuggle in terrorists and weapons. NGOs have been massively used in this war for propaganda, and Soros is behind a lot of them along with the US government. Are you aware of Soros’s agenda and influence? Why do you trust Doctors without borders or Amnesty international in their reports on this region? Is it their brand name? Why do you distrust RT but trust the ABC? Is it too hard to believe that your government and its allies are really as bad as the Nazis? Why do you find them credible in the light of the geopolitical stakes in the Syrian region and in the absence of any real problem in Syria with Bashar al-Assad (not to be confused with his father) prior to 2012?

  90. Kaye Lee

    “I am not aware that Assad has prevented Doctors without borders from working in Syria,”

    “To this date, the Syrian government has not granted us authorisation to work in the country. MSF nevertheless continues to directly operate six health facilities in the north of Syria.”

    http://www.msf.org/en/where-we-work/syria

    Call me critical, but I would have thought one who professes to have as much knowledge as you about Syria and who is so ready to condemn MSF would have known that.

    “Are you aware of Soros’s agenda and influence?”

    I am certainly aware of the propaganda and am always wary of anyone who invokes the “Soros” fear card.

  91. Sheila Newman

    I don’t focus much on Doctors without borders because I have seen and heard enough of them not to trust them. So I don’t blame Assad if he has not granted them authorisation. There is a war going on there with many foreign sponsors of mercenaries and NGOs. If you are wary of people who don’t trust Soros, rather than looking into his long and awful record and the recent reports on him, which are easily available, then I don’t think there is much point trying to use logic to convince you of anything. You have your own agenda, I think. Mine is to contradict the lies that our governments and opposition and the Greens are using to destroy Syria and its people, which they have also used against Ukraine, Lybia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

  92. Kaye Lee

    “I don’t focus much on Doctors without borders because I have seen and heard enough of them not to trust them. So I don’t blame Assad if he has not granted them authorisation.”

    You know nothing about them but you want to tell people not to trust them. As I said before, I would trust them in front of you or Russia Today. You could win my trust but certainly not by repeating the propaganda I have heard elsewhere.

    You want to concentrate on Soros…I want to concentrate on the arms dealers.

    “You have your own agenda,”

    I certainly do. It’s called search for the truth. Tell me why you believe Russia Today and the Syrian press in front of all aid groups? Has Assad in any way contributed to discontent in Syria? Is Russia there purely to defend democracy? Are the doctors all liars?

  93. paulwalter

    You guys are right as well as Sean, but heed Sean’s warning re the media and press. We DO live in an actual and worsening info vacuum.

    The once useful ABC for example is of little more use than the Volkischer Beobachter of nineteen thirties Germany.

    And don’t try to Godwin me, I didnt use the word “Nazi”‘, not once.

  94. Kaye Lee

    paulwalter,

    I think we are all here because we understand the inadequacies of the media and the power of lies. It then comes down to reading, judging credibility of sources, and using common sense.

    For me, and I DO read a lot from every source imaginable, Assad isn’t blameless (sorry Sean) and Putin is an opportunist (in this situation).

    And I do not excuse the US for training and arming factions with the express intent of creating havoc. I just want accountability on all sides.

  95. Sheila Newman

    I didn’t say I know nothing about Doctors without borders. I’ve attended a function and was at a meeting with one of their representatives to discuss Syria. I was not impressed. There is quite a lot of discussion about their role in Syria and it seems obvious to me and many others that there is good reason not to trust them in Syria. I cited some of those reasons above. They may have some good doctors but, like most organisations, they can easily be infiltrated and their members often don’t have much idea about the politics of the regions they are in – which I have heard several personally admit to me. I am not asking you to ‘trust’ me – or to ‘trust’ anyone. You need to familiarise yourself with the context of the war and the history of US-NATO aggression in the region. I do not know why you imagine that I am not interested in arms dealers. America, Britain and France have sold massive amounts of arms to the Saudis and the US has just lifted restrictions on arms to so-called ‘rebels’. Those are very important reasons for not trusting their motives. You won’t find the truth in the mainstream media or in NGO reports. You can work out what is happening from reports from the region and from talking to many different people who travel back and forth.

  96. paulwalter

    Yes.

    Exactly.

    The whole lot of them are operators. .Assad was apparently quite happy to take US renditions subjects into his jails to do the US’s dirty work for it.

    I doubt whether Sean thinks any of them are nice guys either, but is trying to counterbalance the usual Western take that the Russians Iranis and Assad are the exclusive villains. Netanyahu, the Turks, Saudies… so many unloveable people and Western Europe is largely involved to protect its own oil interests also. As was mentioned earlier, most of it goes back to Sykes Picot.

    I’m surprised that people who agree on so much of the basics can argue so much on minor details, nuances, emphasis etc.

  97. Matters Not

    Great discussion. Learnt a lot. So many agreed ‘facts’. So many different meanings given to same. And at a higher level, so many different ‘constructions of reality’ from people with ‘good faith’.

    Now if each and everyone just told the ‘truth’. It’s that simple. Isn’t it? (Just jokin …)

  98. paulwalter

    I think an underlying problem is understanding the extent of an alleged US decline that seems in evidence this century and whether the Russians ( and Chinese?) are still defensive against the US alliance or moving to an offensive position depending on Putin”s ability to marshal the Russian economy against US power that might be in decline.

    The US has been unloveable, but there does remain the fact of its counterbalancing role against other oligarchic societies.

    Since the defeat of Gore, the US has been captured by a looter class, Obama was not able or strong enough to halt the process and the Disastrous US election now means the worst of its oligarchy is suddenly in control, so it gets to be a worry, with so many cranks running the world.

  99. Kaye Lee

    . “You need to familiarise yourself with the context of the war and the history of US-NATO aggression in the region.”

    You need to stop presuming I know nothing.

    “I do not know why you imagine that I am not interested in arms dealers. America, Britain and France have sold massive amounts of arms to the Saudis and the US has just lifted restrictions on arms to so-called ‘rebels’. Those are very important reasons for not trusting their motives.”

    Why dont you mention the Russian arms sales to the Saudis? Why don’t you mention Canada who was the second biggest supplier last year? Why don’t you mention Christopher Pyne who has just been there to sell our arms exports?’ Why don’t you mention China’s sales to the region? Why don’t you mention Obama halting sales to the Saudis because of their atrocities in Yemen? It appears to me that we are all willing to prostitute ourselves for the dollar, including Russia.

    MN, you rightly raise your eyebrows at the concept of “truth” in this area. Any claim to such, including from me, should be treated with question. Despite demands to accept a dichotomy….it is more ‘complex’ than that.

  100. Sheila Newman

    What do you know about Syria?

  101. Sheila Newman

    For the record: Extraordinary, shocking new videos of massive food-aid stashes left by ‘rebels’ in East Aleppo, whilst the citizens they detained there starved. I wonder how the mainstream will deal with this one. https://candobetter.net/node/5080 This info was sent to me by a recent ex-Aleppo resident who spent several months there this year.

  102. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Truly disgusting, Sheila.

    What makes anybody hate anybody that much that they would keep available food away from them?

    Despite the obvious answers of political advantage and territorial control, there is something putrid about the mentality.

  103. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Sheila,

    how do I join candobetter.net?

  104. Sheila Newman

    Film about how Syrian women fear a ‘rebel’ victory and why they should https://candobetter.net/node/5081
    Sun, 2016-12-18 12:32 — admin

    Published on Dec 13, 2016, “Syriennes” – “Syrians” is a beautiful documentary made in Syria by Julien Rochedy for TV Libertés, about how Syrian girls and women feel about the prospect of a ‘rebel’ win. It includes an interview with an Australian-Syrian woman who returned to Syria when the war began. Girls in Damascus and the regions not controlled by the US-NATO-backed rebels are currently free to study, to follow their passions and to exercise their professions, but they live in fear of a ‘rebel’ win in the Syrian conflict. We see how many women in Damascus wear western clothes and bare heads, walk freely down the street and eat in cafes alone, just like girls in Sydney or Brisbane. The film also interviews women in Damascus who have escaped the ‘Free Syrian Army’, Daesh/ISIS and Al Nusra. Their tales are chilling. It is obvious that no woman could benefit from a victory by the militia that the US and NATO support. Women are 50% of Syria’s population, so why does Australia and the US NATO support the ‘rebels’, who are all ‘takfiris’, that is, Islamic fundamentalists? And what excuse does the west have for the crippling and illegal sanctions imposed on Syria for decades now. It is pointed out that Iraq was subject to similar sanctions for ten years before the US invasion, and that tens of thousands of children died because of this. This film about the most bloody conflict of the early 21st century permits us to understand a much more complex reality than the mainstream media paints.

  105. Sheila Newman

    Jennifer, thanks for your inquiry. Anyone can post a comment, which then requires ‘moderation’ in case it is spam. We don’t censor anything, except illegal stuff, like incitement to violence. Sometimes it is a while before we get round to looking at the comments… due to ordinary life walking dogs etc. Anyone can post an article too, in the same way to the comments function, saying it is an article submission. Articles along our lines of reform in democracy, environment, population, land use planning and energy policy. Syria, for instance, fits under democracy, land-use planning and energy policy. You can also request a free account, which gives you a by-line and we give you restricted editorial functions initially. Write to ‘contact’ in top left corner of candobetter.net to communicate, or use the comment function; we won’t publish a personal message of course. There is no actual ‘joining’ because we like the loose association of authors who can drop in or drop out according to how the site appears to satisfy what they expect. Best, Sheila N

  106. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks Sheila.

  107. Miriam English

    Sheila, I’m sorry, I didn’t answer your question earlier about why I think Assad is not a good guy.

    We know he disappears people and tortures people because the USA used him to help them torture people (what they euphemistically called “Extraordinary Rendition”) by shipping them off USA soil to Syria where his torturers would set to work on these people for the CIA, back when his was best friends with USA. There is also plenty of evidence of him doing this to his own people.

    This is like how USA knew Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction because they had the receipts — they sold the weapons to him. (Though he’d already used them or sold them on to others by the time he was so accused.) Saddam Hussein fell out of USA’s good graces when he decided to sell oil to another country (I forget which) for currency other than US dollars. As oil was the only reason the USA helped him stay in power they decided his time was at an end.

    I don’t know why USA turned on former best friend Assad, but it certainly wasn’t because he was a nasty person. They’d known that for ages and it suited them fine. I suspect it was something to do with Russia or Iran and oil/gas.

    The bullies in charge of the USA have amply shown the world many times over how dangerously corrupt they are. They have become the deep evil in today’s world. This, even though many (most?) of the people in USA are good and fair and want the best for others.

    If only we had a way to take all the power away from those who love it the most — to neutralise the bullies. People in Palestine and Israel, Syria, Russia — everywhere — could get along. What a difference that would make.

  108. Sean Stinson

    @ Jennifer

    Sorry, just realised i did not answer your question re Russia’s interests

    I probably need to write an analysis of geopolitics from a Russian perspective to give you the full background to why I think the way I do re Russia. A daunting task in the short-essay format.

    In short Russia has been on the receiving end of imperialist and neo-imperialist aggression for over a century. Key to understanding this is understanding the workings of global capital and particularly Germany and the EU’s historic function as the vanguard of western imperialism in Europe. In short, Russia and its resources have always been the prize.

    This is best summarised by Canadian geostrategist Halford McKinder a century ago – “he who controls the heartland [the eurasian plate] controls the world”

    Russia’s interest in Syria then…

    Firstly in the broader global and historical context the ME is the battleground of a proxy war between the US and Russia. The US strategy is to take down countries friendly to Russia one at a time. After Syria comes Iran, which is too close to Russia’s southern borders for comfort.

    then there is the shared history between the two countries – Syria still represents the best of whats left of Nasser’s pan-Arabist ideas, secular and socialist – also a cultural ‘melting pot’ – one of the smaller religious minorities being eastern orthodox Christians, which Russia has a historic duty to protect.

    Also there are doubtless personal reasons for Putin. I’ve heard reports that Putin watched the video of Gaddafi’s brutal murder repeatedly, and that he feels a measure of personal responsibility for not doing more, and has sworn to protect his friend Basher Assad form the same fate. This is speculation, but totally consistent with my research.

    Then there are obviously Russia’s own economic interests. Russia supplies 70% of Europe’s oil and gas and would prefer to keep it that way, so this is obviously a big factor, but don’t be fooled by the Qatari pipeline argument – i don’t think this holds much water.

    Those are your big reasons, More broadly you now see Russia trying to re assert itself on the world stage after being plundered by capitalists in the 90s. Obviously the US is worried by this, and offended by the idea of Russia projecting power more than 100 metres beyond its own borders – despite the US having its military bases surrounding Russia.

    I don’t see Russia as a would-be imperialist power, or maybe its just not there yet. I see Putin as a leader who first and foremost loves his country (more than can be said of most western leaders unfortunately.) This is more about Russian sovereignty than Empire. You’d have to go back to Czarist Russia to find an imperialist power in the sense that the US is today. While the Russians is building up its military strength and selling arms, I’d say any moral equivalence is misguided.

  109. Sean Stinson

    @Jennifer

    also, the biggest struggle of the last century has been ideological – ie, capitalism vs socialism. this is key to understanding how the various pieces are positioned on the ‘chessboard’, particularly in the ME — refer to my ‘recap’ in the comments above. Although Russia is no longer socialist, it still represents the same power bloc – and when you look at the ME, these are historically the ‘good guys’. (as opposed to the head chopping Saudis and Muslim Brotherhood)

  110. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks Sean.

  111. Sheila Newman

    This is a response to Miriam English, December 20, 2016 at 8:40 am, on “why I think Assad is not a good guy.”

    Sorry I haven’t responded. I feel that the stuff about torture etc is answered in the film I made with Jeremy Salt and Bruce Petty, “Has Bashar al-Assad killed more people than ISIS? and similar questions”, see transcript here: http://candobetter.net/node/4689
    However I decided to ask a couple of Middle Easterners to respond to the questions you raised, particularly about torture and extraordinary rendition. I’m editing two articles based on this. I won’t include the stuff on Iraq in these articles for simplicity. I have cited small parts of your comment (December 20, 2016, at 8.40 am etc) with attribution. Anyway, when the articles are finished, I shall post links here. Thank you.n:-)

  112. Kaye Lee

    Sheila,

    I sincerely hope you are paying Michael for this advertising of your site.

  113. Miriam English

    Sheila, I watched both videos of conversations between Bruce Petty and Jeremy Salt when you first posted the links a while ago. I didn’t remember anything in there about Assad being happy to torture people for the CIA as part of their reprehensible “extraordinary rendition” program, so I watched it again this morning. There isn’t.

    I know Assad is popular; that doesn’t prove he isn’t a nasty person (Trump is popular and he’s a goddam white supremacist!). Of course Assad quite likely hasn’t killed anyone with his own hands; the same is true of Obama and his use of drones*, but I doubt you would defend him to say he hasn’t killed anyone.

    As far as Assad goes, he may even be small potatoes in the ranking of bad guys — I don’t know. There are plenty of people who might be considered far worse (beginning with the disgusting arms dealers profiting from this war). All I am saying is that I don’t consider him a good guy just because the West is victimising him and doing everything it can to destroy his country. I know the mainstream media are funnelling an endless stream of lies about the whole war and making him out to be deep evil — the entire episode is repellent from beginning to end — but none of that makes Assad a good guy.

    *(For the record, I think the drone assassination program is a terrible idea and Obama has blood on his hands. I think it creates terrorists and the whole thing will rebound on the West in the worst way when we see drones become the weapon of preference instead of suicide bombers.)

  114. Sheila Newman

    I should have referred to the video/transcript of Does Bashar al-Assad really have to go? https://candobetter.net/taxonomy/term/7777. The reason I thought that article was relevant was that Jeremy explained that all regimes in countries that have a history of colonial interference and outside-forced ‘regime change’ have to rule with a firm hand. I don’t see how anyone could doubt that. The only way to avoid being assassinated if the west does not like you is to be very vigilant because the west is completely ruthless in its desire to rule the area. Summarised: “”There always has to be a ‘madman’ in the Middle East,” explains Jeremy Salt, when asked why we constantly hear that ‘Bashar al-Assad has to go’? Of course Bashar al-Assad is not really mad. Jeremy explains how the west, in its long exploitation of the Middle East, has invented crises that it then pretends to help with, and these tend to feature a ‘madman’ whom the people have to be saved from. In reaction Middle Eastern governments tend to be defensive and authoritarian, in order to survive constant foreign interference. Even if Bashar went, the Syrian state would remain the same. Salt gives a fluent history of how the west has used the Middle East, and how western politicians expected to knock Syria over easily, but underestimated it. All they have done is weaken it and assorted armed and dangerous groups including ISIS have risen up through the cracks they have created. But many Syrians really like Bashar al-Assad and think he is their best chance for reform. (See the third part in this series, “Has the Syrian president killed more than ISIS and other questions,” to hear about how al-Assad is actually legally elected and had brought in reforms prior to the current crisis.) Petty asks about beheading and the role of religion and Islam in today’s crisis. Salt agrees that Islam has been taken over by conservatives and extremists, but precises that this is a political ideological take-over that has little to do with Islamic religious base.”

    But, furthermore, Assad does not kill all the captured enemy Syrian soldiers. He offers them the chance to rehabilitate and fight for the Syrian army. Amnesty has often been negotiated. I have an article I will soon publish where Syrians are said to complain that Bashar is not as brutal as necessary (given the brutality of the ‘opposition’) and that they preferred his father’s harsher methods.

    With regard to Assad ‘killing his own people’, I think that is just a propaganda statement from the fundamentalists and mercenaries who are portrayed as ‘rebels’. It is very clear that Bashar al-Assad is extremely popular with his own people and his wife is actually able to drive alone around Damascus without being attacked as she visits injured soldiers https://candobetter.net/node/5005. about 80,000 Syrian soldiers have died defending their country. Civilians are killed by the Syrian Army when they are held as hostages by the faux rebels, to stop those terrorists advancing. But there is abundant evidence of multiple attempts to get civilians out, including two cease-fires in Aleppo that the terrorists broke and one in which the US and Australia and, I think Danish aircraft used to kill something like 80 Syrian soldiers, which we pretended was an ‘accident’. Once again, however I would quote Salt:

    “JEREMY SALT: One of the claims is that Bashar al-Assad has killed in his political position more people than have been killed by Islamic state.

    Well, who’s saying these things? Bashar al-Assad hasn’t killed anyone in his life as far as I know. He himself. But that’s the way the media loves to do this.

    BRUCE PETTY: He’s representing the army.

    JEREMY SALT: But how do they actually work out their calculus? Who is killing who and the numbers that are being killed by each person involved in this. There’s no way they can do it. And so it becomes just a simple propaganda statement.

    And the fact is that Syria has been targeted in what is the most extraordinary attempt in modern history to destroy an Arab state. That’s it. It’s worse than Iraq, worse than Lebanon, worse than anything that’s happened before. Go all the way back to Algeria and 1830 with the French. It is the most relentless, remorse[less] attack on an Arab country in modern history.

    And the fact is that Bashar, is the president – right – and he has a functioning government. I don’t know what these people who use these expressions like ‘dictator’ are thinking. He has a foreign minister, he has an interior minister, he has a defence minister. He listens to them. He takes their advice. They’re the ones who know. And they formulate strategies to try to fight off this attack. And they’ve been doing this for four years.
    Civilian casualties

    Now, of course, of course people are going to be killed. And civilians are going to be killed too. If you’ve got armed men who’ve infiltrated towns and cities, how can you get them out without civilians being killed? And there’s a big difference between killing civilians, when you’re trying to drive these people out, than what ISIS does, which is to pick them all up, round them up, and kill them by the hundreds. Because they don’t like them – because they’re Alawis, or because they’re Christians, or whatever … So, this is a war. ”

    In conclusion, I do actually have the impression that Bashar al-Assad is exceptionately less brutal than many around him, and that he is a good man.

  115. Kaye Lee

    “I do actually have the impression that Bashar al-Assad is a good man”

    John Howard on climate change “…I instinctively feel that some of the claims are exaggerated.”

    “about 80,000 Syrian soldiers have died defending their country.”

    “But how do they actually work out their calculus? Who is killing who and the numbers that are being killed by each person involved in this. There’s no way they can do it. And so it becomes just a simple propaganda statement.”

    But only one side engages in propaganda?

    “If the Dead Could Speak” reveals some of the human stories behind the more than 28,000 photos of deaths in government custody that were smuggled out of Syria and first came to public attention in January 2014.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQni3qn6GIU

    “there’s a big difference between killing civilians, when you’re trying to drive these people out, than what ISIS does,”

    I doubt the dead people would agree.

  116. Sheila Newman

    Kaye, Do you seriously think that Syrians, who have a secular government, equal treatment of both sexes, free education, free medical and hospital, highly subsidised housing, really would prefer to be taken over by violent takfiris? With regard to those photos, see: The Caesar Photo Fraud that Undermined Syrian Negotiations by Rick Sterling / March 3rd, 2016, http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/the-caesar-photo-fraud-that-undermined-syrian-negotiations/ Also ‘A Closer Look on Syria’ examines it at http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Torture_Photos_from_%22Caesar%22.

  117. Kaye Lee

    Sheila,

    What I seriously believe is that if Syrian society was so good and so inclusive then it would have been very difficult to foment an uprising.

    I do not excuse American interference but I also do not believe Assad was as universally adored as you make out.

  118. Miriam English

    If Assad didn’t torture people why did the CIA select Syria to have people tortured off USA soil? Why didn’t they choose, for instance, Australia, where a far more compliant and right-wing-leaning government was nicely held in place by Murdoch’s propaganda rags? (Considering the rate the Murdoch empire is haemorrhaging money I wouldn’t be surprised if it was funded by the CIA.)

    I’m perfectly happy to concede that much of the Caesar report is not what it says it is, and the smaller number of pictures that might record torture deaths probably can’t be proven to be, or not to be.

    Still, you have to wonder why the CIA chose Syria for their torture program, don’t you? We know for a certainty that they did, and that Syrian government torturers did the CIA’s filthy work for them.

  119. Sheila Newman

    Kaye,

    It has already been explained here that Syria has been surrounded by countries that have been broken down and disturbed by constant foreign interference; it has sustained something like one twentieth of its population in refugees from those countries in recent years, despite itself being a product of that interference since pre-WW1. Since 2011 it has been the victim of continuous mercenary attacks on behalf of the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and European forces, plus some Australian. These facts should make you doubt your idea that peaceful Syrians suddenly spontaneously took up arms and began beheading each other in the name of islamic fundamentalism because they didn’t like living in the most stable country in the region, where they could practise atheism or religion as they pleased. Bashar al-Assad’s reelection in 2014 saw a huge majority vote and won by a substantial majority. https://candobetter.net/SyriansVotedForPresidentBasharAlAssad There were independent reviewers who were filmed in a UN meeting. But I think you are pushing the mainstream media line for some reason and you will just keep on doing that, so I’m not going to go to much trouble here.

    In response to your personal comment to me, “I sincerely hope you are paying Michael for this advertising of your site.” There is precious little independent media, with amateur and citizen journalists in Australia. It is in our interests to cooperate. Candobetter.net is a comparatively massive resource on Syria, with articles by Australians, Syrians and people from other parts of the world who want these wars to stop because they are obscene, just as is the pro-war mainstream media, which syndicates lies throughout the world. We will be advertising AIMN in our articles on candobetter.net responding to some of the questions that came up in this article. Candobetter.net derives no income whatsoever for the articles it publishes. People find us through search engines when they want to read something different, because we provide information that the mainstream does not. It would be peculiar if I did not cite pertinent articles when responding to these posts.

  120. Kaye Lee

    “These facts should make you doubt your idea that peaceful Syrians suddenly spontaneously took up arms and began beheading each other in the name of islamic fundamentalism because they didn’t like living in the most stable country in the region, where they could practise atheism or religion as they pleased.”

    What a facile thing to say. I have never held or remotely expressed such a view.

    I am pushing no-one’s line at all. I also accept no-one’s line unquestioningly, including yours.

    There seemed to be a lot of political prisoners locked up in Syria. There were peaceful protests. They went bad, possibly started by bad guys who may have been released by Assad joining the protest, causing police to shoot people, possibly in self defence. I think all sides were playing their own games here and it got out of control.

    “The United Nations General Assembly has voted to establish a special team to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence as well as to prepare cases on war crimes and human rights abuses committed during the conflict in Syria.

    The General Assembly adopted a Liechtenstein-drafted resolution on Wednesday to establish the independent team with 105 in favour, 15 against and 52 abstentions.

    The team will work in coordination with the UN.Syria Commission of Inquiry.”

    Here is the list of the 15 countries that voted against the resolution:

    (1) Algeria

    (2) Belarus

    (3) Bolivia

    (4) Burundi

    (5) China

    (6) Cuba

    (7) DPRK

    (8) Iran

    (9) Kyrgyzstan

    (10) Nicaragua

    (11) Russia

    (12) South Sudan

    (13) Syria

    (14) Venezuela

    (15) Zimbabwe

  121. Sheila Newman

    Thank you for this good questions. Maybe a better question would be to ask why some countries did not participate. The [untrustworthy] Open Societies Foundation received world wide coverage through the mainstream press claiming that 54 countries participated in the Extraordinary Renditions program, including Australia, Israel, Germany, Syria, Thailand, and various Middle East and Horn of Africa countries. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/globalizing-torture-20120205.pdf

    A UK university linked project http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/ gives a record of renditions circuits and flights but none mentions Syria and you cannot search for it in the dropdown menu.

    Why did countries participate? I don’t know, but here are a few ideas: The countries of the Middle East might fear what the US-NATO and their allies might do to them if they did not cooperate. These countries already had massive problems with terrorism as a result of 2 world wars and colonisation and neocolonisation with shifting borders and mass people movements and the nurturing by the west of the Muslim Brotherhood. Maybe they also thought that cooperation against terrorism was a good idea. Some think that Australia’s and the US’s reason was to make 9-11 an excuse to bring in terror laws to better control their populations.

    Why were those countries chosen? Well the ones in the middle east often had cultures of imprisonment and torture for spies and terrorists, like the United States does, but United States, Australian and European citizens could not pursue their countries at law for having them tortured overseas in countries where US/European etc law did not reach.

    Bashar al-Assad is more known for freeing prisoners and granting amnesty at home. He has even agreed to let terrorists from Aleppo leave the country. Many see that as too soft. His father, Hafez, was more harsh. Most of the 9 renditions to Syria documented by Open Societies foundation occurred right at the beginning of Bashar’s presidency. Maybe the US hoped Bashar would carry on his Dad’s tradition, but he didn’t. There is one maybe and one probably that took place in 2006 and 2003-5. Please check out our new article, “Assad and renditions, torture for USA – A Syrian opinion”, https://candobetter.net/node/5091

  122. Sheila Newman

    How do you explain all the head choppers suddenly in Syria if not as a spontaneous uprising, since you don’t seem to take into account what others have told you about the history and circumstances of the region. The UN has not been a good player in this affair; it is too beholden to the United States. I think Syria should fear that they will use the opportunity of ‘observers’ to help the terrorists.

  123. Kaye Lee

    “you don’t seem to take into account what others have told you about the history and circumstances of the region”

    You make a lot of assumptions about me Sheila. You are very wrong. I continue to read a great deal about the history of the area. I just don’t trust anyone who thinks there is only one side to blame for what has gone on and I prefer to read from a variety of sources. Those many and varied sources indicate various agendas from the different players.

    Do you think the Russians have been saviours in this affair? Do you think Assad is blameless?

    “In a report issued on August 24, 2016, a UN-appointed investigation attributed two chemical weapon attacks to the Syrian government and one to the Islamic State.

    The joint inquiry found that Syrian military helicopters dropped bombs containing chlorine in at least two attacks during the 2014-2015 period. Human Rights Watch investigations into both cases concluded that the evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government forces used toxic chemicals dropped in barrel bombs.

    The inquiry also found that ISIS used sulfur mustard gas in an attack on areas held by armed opposition groups in August 2015.”

    “How do you explain all the head choppers”

    I can’t explain them any more than I can explain why a government would kill its own people or why we continually meddle in other countries affairs. Power? Greed? Religion? Testosterone? They all have their own excuses for their atrocious behaviour.

  124. Miriam English

    Sheila, like Kaye, I’m mostly sympathetic to what you say, being against the obscenity of war and lies being perpetuated through the spooks, politicians, and mainstream media being constantly used to muddy our view of the the world. But where we part ways is in accepting what Assad and Putin say. As both Kaye and I have said before, they are just as suspect as any of the actors in this drama.

    Sheila, I admire you for all the effort you’ve put into trying to uncover what is really going on, and you’ve brought things to my notice I hadn’t heard of before. I’m grateful to you for that and I’ll have to give time to digesting them properly.

    I’ve always thought Assad was in a terrible position, regardless of whether he was a good and honorable man or whether he was more like our horrible, opportunistic politicians (just imagine what a mess Abbott would have made had he been in that position). I certainly don’t think Assad or his people deserve to be squeezed between USA and Russia like this. I wish all sides would stop manipulating and using people’s lives in a game of power and wealth. It is repulsive in the extreme. It bothers me deeply that there does not appear to be any good side here. All sides are tainted… except for the ordinary people who just want to be let live their lives in peace.

  125. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Miriam says what I largely appreciate about Sheila’s and Sean’s attempts to elucidate Assad’s political position with the aid of his allies, including Putin’s Russia.

    I respect your effort Sheila and you and Sean have taught me to be more discerning with the fake news coming from the so-called Aleppo ‘rebels’.

    When it comes to American foreign policy, I am always suspicious. I am also suspicious of American allies of which unfortunately Australia is one. I’m prepared to consider criticism of the western blocs but I also expect reasonable criticism and discernment of ME partnerships.

    Having said the above, Sean’s historical context of how post WW1 ME was divided that eventuated in the liberal ME states as opposed to what became the arsehole Brotherhoods like Saudi Arabia, made a lot of lasting sense to me of the ME.

  126. Sheila Newman

    In what particular way do you find Russia untrustworthy, Miriam?

  127. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Russia under Putin does not allow its dissidents to speak aloud to the outside world, for starters.

  128. Sheila Newman

    Could you give me some examples?

  129. Miriam English

    “In what particular way do you find Russia untrustworthy, Miriam?”

    Wow. That made me take a big, deep breath.
    The vilification of gays as a way to whip people up into a fervor to popularise the government.
    The amount of Tony Abbott style propaganda photo shoots of Putin. You don’t need them if you’re trustworthy.
    The heavy-handed way the Russians attacked the “rebels” in Syria, disregarding civilians.
    The way the Russians rolled into Afghanistan in convoys of tanks — invited or not that wasn’t a trustworthy thing to do.
    The fact that Russia is playing both sides against each other by selling arms to both the Saudis and Syria.
    The fact that Russia is set to do very nicely out of arms sales from all this.
    Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Georgia, and probably the Ukraine.
    Those are some. I need to get to bed before I fall off my perch.

    I have to stress I have nothing against the Russian people, who I think are wonderful (just see the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvlri3ksbS0 to see what I mean). It is the bullies in charge who screw things up.

  130. Kaye Lee

    The deaths of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, and RT founder Mikhail Lesin. The jailing of the Navalny brothers. The beating of Murad Magomedov, a human rights lawyer in Dagestan.

    Russia voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling on states to guarantee a safe working environment for human rights defenders.

  131. Sheila Newman

    Hi Miriam,

    Would you prefer Boris Yeltsin? 🙂 Russia was being destroyed and picked to pieces by the globalist sharks prior to Putin. Putin has been an outstanding politician. He makes other leaders jealous. He has almost certainly been ruthless to get to where he is, (blackmail affair against Yeltsin art-thefts dropped then Yeltsin makes Putin his successor) but I would say that he has been the most positive influence on Russia. He got rid of so many oligarchs, and has prevented Soros from undermining Russian sovereignty and peace.

    “The vilification of gays as a way to whip people up into a fervor to popularise the government.”

    What is your evidence of his vilifying gays etc?

    “The amount of Tony Abbott style propaganda photo shoots of Putin. You don’t need them if you’re trustworthy.”

    Oh, that’s a bit gratuitous, isn’t it? He just gave a several hours long press conference during which people were falling over themselves to photograph him. Every public figure in the world relies on photos. For practical reasons,they are not inclined to commission unflattering ones.

    “The heavy-handed way the Russians attacked the “rebels” in Syria, disregarding civilians.”

    You don’t have any credible evidence of that. That is just western msm propaganda, which has been used to keep the war going. And the western msm has almost no reporters on the ground, unlike Russia, Syria and Iran. Russia and Syria have put out many reports demonstrating how careful they have been. Iran has also transmitted on the ground reports. When the Russians and the Syrians have been accused of not letting aid get through they have shown the open routes etc. The head-choppers who have taken over parts of Syria killed those civilians by refusing to let them leave whilst the head-choppers attempted to impose their rule. As soon as Russia accepted Syria’s invitation to intervene, all I got from Syrians was Thank God for the Russians! But the other foreign powers were uninvited, illegal and aided and abetted the head-choppers. For this reason their guilt is obvious. Russia helped and is still helping Syria.

    “The way the Russians rolled into Afghanistan in convoys of tanks — invited or not that wasn’t a trustworthy thing to do.”

    What decade are you talking about? When did Putin authorise this?

    “The fact that Russia is playing both sides against each other by selling arms to both the Saudis and Syria.”

    True. At least it is helping Syria. It is a mystery as to why Putin is doing this with the Saudis, I agree, although one suspects that, apart from state income, it would be a way of undermining US influence there. The arms industry is the greatest scourge in the world. Its relationship with states and with private corporations is also the greatest mystery. And every single country engages in it, legally or illegally. (Well maybe there are some exceptions that I don’t know about.) The universality of this grisly business is possibly the only way you could damn every single national leader. However, you then put them on an equal playing field and I would maintain that Putin comes way ahead of the US-NATO mob. He can also claim to be defending Russia against western aggression, which is observable in the constant inching forward towards Russia by US-NATO in a context where the EU has almost no independence from the US and where the EU also fails to represent the wishes of the citizens of the nations that form its members.

    “The fact that Russia is set to do very nicely out of arms sales from all this.”

    Okay. But it has been the major force in stopping this terrible war. Without the Russians Syria would no longer exist; it would have been overrun with ISIS. It might still be due to what the US is doing in Mosul.

    “Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Georgia, and probably the Ukraine.” Afghanistan, Georgia and the Ukraine form a bufferzone for Russia, against the US-NATO military expansion. So would Hungary and Czechoslovakia, but I don’t know what Putin is doing with them. Is he supposed to be illegally arming them or something? Putin was asked, by the way, about upgrading Russian nuclear armory in his speech yesterday and he said he had to because the US had unilaterally opted out of the agreement not to engage in the arms race. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53573 Do a search for nuclear. I haven’t read everything in this press conference transcript; could be more on some other subjects. It was a very free-speaking and unscripted conference, such as one would never hear in the US or Australia.

    “I have to stress I have nothing against the Russian people, who I think are wonderful (just see the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvlri3ksbS0 to see what I mean). It is the bullies in charge who screw things up.”

    Can’t you give Putin any credit for the incredible improvements he has made to Russia’s standard of living and quality of life?

    So, anyway, that’s where I stand. We could leave it there and just enjoy Xmas. Seasons Greetings from me to you, anyway. 🙂

  132. Sheila Newman

    Kaye Lee,

    Could you elaborate as to why those deaths and that beating prove that Russia is untrustworthy?

    “Russia voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling on states to guarantee a safe working environment for human rights defenders.”

    Was this vote in the context of Russia making NGOs like those financed by Soros declare that they were foreign agents?

  133. Miriam English

    Hi Sheila. Thanks. A pleasant holiday to you too.

    What you initially asked was why I find Russia untrustworthy, not specifically Putin. Among my answers I mentioned why I think Putin is not a good person. Kaye mentioned one that I wanted to add, but couldn’t remember the name: Anna Politkovskaya who Putin got someone to murder in an elevator — shot in the back of her head after she wrote of investigations she was making into his misdeeds.

    Putin has made it illegal to even talk about gays in Russia anymore. The law has been framed, as right-wing arseholes always do, as protecting children and family values. This has encouraged discrimination and violence against gays, and the incidence of beatings and murders of gays has increased dramatically since.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_gay_propaganda_law
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Russia
    http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/gay-propaganda/
    (As an aside, you should look at the OR Books catalog. They publish lots of activist literature. I’m sure there’s much there you’d enjoy.)

    Regarding the publicity stuff for Putin, I haven’t seen very recent ones. I’m talking about a long history of carefully orchestrated publicity shoots, such as visiting the beach, like Tony Abbott used to do. I find it sickening regardless of what leader does it. That kind of thing is blatant emotional programming of the viewers. A good leader shouldn’t do such things. It doesn’t automatically make him bad, but you asked why I don’t trust.

    I don’t understand why you casually dismiss all Western reports, yet blindly accept anything Syria and Russia say. I can understand being skeptical of Western news. I am too. But why do you simply believe anything the Syrians say? Don’t you think they might omit tales of shelling or bombing civilians because it makes them look bad? Don’t you think they, like all politicians, massage the news? I am mystified by your easy acceptance of what looks like simply the other side of propaganda to me.

    Another thing that puzzles me is the desire to see George Soros as some evil spider couched in the middle of a vast web of his control. He funds educational institutions and grants for poor people all over the world. He tried very hard to prevent George Bush getting elected, sinking millions into the effort, seeing him as a warmonger. He is quoted as saying “the main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States,” because of the way the US creates conflict around the world. He is a progressive, not a conservative.

  134. Sheila Newman

    I don’t blindly endorse everything that Russia and Syria say. But they actually provide information and documentation that makes what they say easy to check. The western mainstream provides almost no substance, so they are unbelievable. They oversyndicate and don’t have reporters on the ground. I do check what they say. (My partner insists on watching the ABC and SBS every night and buying the newspapers, so I cannot avoid it) , but it is fairyflosslike disinformation.

    I didn’t think you were disapproving of the USSR and the recent Russian government. Hard to answer such a wide range of dissatisfaction.

    With regard to Soros: I’ve read several books on him, looked at the leaks, and dealt with the results of his policies in the Australian Greens and the mainstream press. As a population and land-use planning environmental sociologist, the recent Soros leaks were a revelation to me. They explained so much about the globalisation process in Australia and the way peoples’ ability to talk to each other has been suppressed through wedge politics that demonise ‘the other political view’. I have written several articles trying to explain. I cut and paste one here, which is how it seems that Soros makes money out of pushing open borders and destroying the democratic process by abusing it. Below that article I have linked to several others.

    Population stampedes: Why does Soros push open borders? https://candobetter.net/node/4992

    In Australia ordinary environmentalists have seen a rising resistance to the protection of our natural environment from the very people they thought they could rely on – The Australian Greens and various big environmental NGOs. There has been a similar strange distancing from representing the economic and social interests of ordinary Australians. Among spokespeople for the Greens, this resistance has manifested as a militant effort to support Lib/Lab policy of massive population growth through planned and commercial immigration by conflating refugees with ordinary immigrants, and calling any attempt to reign in immigration “racist”. Currency speculator, George Soros, was long suspected to be the source of this creeping political confusion. The hacking of the multi-billionaire’s Open Societies files has recently confirmed him to be the organising force for the new-age ideology of open borders and the illogical stigmatisation of all care for national interests and cohesion.

    What motivates George Soros, the multibillionaire, to prosecute open borders? Much has been written about George Soros and his multipronged attempts to subvert national political processes. Many have suggested that he is psychopathic, enjoys chaos, and makes money out of what he does – but, as someone wrote:

    “The Soros tentacles reach far and wide thanks to his great wealth and ability to keep himself behind the curtain. It would take an especially gifted forensic accountant to sort out all of the various interconnections among the major foundations and their smaller satellites[…]” [1]

    Here are the results of some well-known investigations:

    “Convicted in France of insider trading, Soros specializes in weakening or collapsing the currencies of entire nations for his own selfish interests. He is known as the man who broke the Bank of England.” [2]

    Soros is a partner in the Carlyle Group.

    “The Carlyle Group makes most of its money from weapons expenditures. The money we are talking about is over $193 billion. The more wars we fight, the more profits they make.” [3]
    Soros invested millions in moveon.org in the United States. Moveon.org waged a campaign to bring Cheney’s Haliburton shares into disfavour associated with disapproval of the war on Iraq. Soros bought almost 2000 shares of the deflated stock (bringing them to form over 2% of his total stock portfolio). Moveon stopped talking about the war. Haliburton shares regained value, and Soros resold them for nearly $40m profit. [4]

    Currency trading and political instability

    Soros is a currency trader and currency traders make money out of political instability, which affects currency values.
    [Soros] has been blamed for providing funding for several revolutions in which his preferred people took power. See ” Top 5 Revolutions Backed by George Soros”, (2011).

    He subsidises a number of ‘humanitarian’ organisations which have taken the ‘rebel’ [fundamentalist] side in Syria. These activities go back a long way and have been monitored for decades.

    “Soros is intimately involved in HRW (Human Rights Watch) .. HRW and OSI (Open Society Institute) are close. One of Soros’ most influential institutions is the International Crisis Group, founded in 1986. ICG is headed by individuals from the very center of political and corporate power. Its board includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Morton Abramowitz, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State; Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe; and Richard Allen, former U.S. National Security Adviser. Allen is noteworthy for quitting Nixon’s National Security Council out of disgust with the liberal tendencies of Henry Kissinger.” (Source: Heather cottin article at George Soros: Imperial Wizard/Double Agent, Covert Action Quarterly, December 9, 2003.)

    “When Soros gets hold of power in any government, he makes money. It is difficult to find examples of Soros invasions that leave the target country better off.”( Tiz, Joy. It’s Not Easy Being God: The Real George Soros (p. 31). Hero’s Prose, LLC. Kindle Edition.)

    Moveon.org is currently (2016 US Elections) advertising for organisers to push a line that Trump is a racist etc.

    You could follow up a myriad of interference patterns and find possible financial outcomes, but why does Soros need to finance failing political parties and insignificant minorities in order to train up salespeople? Why does he need to push open borders, popularise mass immigration, overuse the notion of racism, and make ‘islamophobia’ a household word?

    The real game

    Maybe the real game is just open borders and mass immigration. But why would a businessman be so keen to open borders and suppress objections to mass immigration?

    Well, the name of the game is population growth. You see, it isn’t sufficient just to have a big population. In fact a big population, whilst having intrinsic problems, will ultimately develop steady demand rather than growth in demand. The key to driving growth in demand is to drive population growth, but if you really want to push demand up, you need to stampede populations. You need to bomb people and destroy peoples’ economies and dispossess rural populations in one place, then destroy objections to their entry in another place. You need to stuff up the economy here, so that people will move over there. You need to dispossess rural populations and attract them to cities, encourage them to marry and have children until their cities are overpopulated, and then you need people to come and recruit them to somewhere where the grass is greener.

    People think that immigration is only about moving people, that the things around them stay the same. But cities, homes, roads and cars do not move with the immigrants; the country they get to has to supply those things. So, if you are a corporation that invests in financing, supplying materials to, or providing infrastructure or a peak-body for such corporations, your mission will be to influence any political process, institution or person that you can to bring about more people-turnover.

    Left and Right

    Left and right have been accusing each other of assisting corporatisation, high immigration and environmental destruction for some time now. Most people who identify as left or right won’t realise this though, because wedge politics punish anyone from either side that tries to take a look for themselves at what the other side is doing.

    However, if you do take a look, you will hear from the Libs that it is Labour that is causing all the environmental destruction, overdevelopment and high immigration. From Labor you will hear that it is a corporatist plot by the Libs to destroy labour laws, bring in cheap labour and dig up the environment. Both are telling a captive audience similar stories while both privatise public goods, invest in land-speculation, property development and mortgage finance.

    In fact, Soros covers both Left and Right territory. That is a reason that it is so confusing to try to analyse why the stuff he advocates is all bad. You have to agree with some of it.

    The creation of a false-left

    It is a problem that most of the literature that exposes Soros comes from the right because people on the left are disinclined to read it. However Soros is just as dangerous for the left. In fact, through his funding he has created a false left by pushing some defensible human rights causes to the exclusion of basic civil rights. This left has become so distracted by Soros’s favorite causes: refugees, multiculturalism, top-down regulation on climate change, same-sex marriage, colour revolutions, that it has become silent on the illegal wars that create the refugees by destroying stable governments, silent about the globalisation of cheap labour and the deterioration of national industrial laws, silent on overpopulation, silent on the paving over of wildlife habitat with new suburbs, silent on citizens rights.

    You can see why it is easier for the right to criticise Soros than it is for the left. It is politically problematic for the left to criticise itself publicly. It is also traumatic for members to question it internally, due to the presence of Sorosian guardians who will punish dissenters, such as those who recently expelled one of the Greens for demanding that they deal with population. How does Labor go about criticising Bill Shorten’s involvement with the Soros funded organisation, GetUp, when Shorten controls the factions? What about the unions that shared Shorten’s board presence at GetUp? See, “Australian democracy swiss-cheesed by George Soros Open Societies Foundations.”

    SOROS Media influence may rival Murdoch’s

    Soros is able to control public debate by controlling major portions of the media.

    Soros’s media influence: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/05/11/dont-hear-george-soros-ties-30-major-news-organizations.html
    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2011/05/12/which-liberal-billionare-has-ties-to-over-30-news-outlets-george-soros/
    https://www.mrc.org/commentary/soros-spends-over-48-million-funding-media-organizations
    http://www.mrc.org/special-reports/george-soros-media-mogul
    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=977

    “Only a small fraction of the media—often referred to as alternative—are willing to examine the actual facts about the mysterious man who became leader of the free world. Talk radio and independent bloggers have become the modern version of Nazi resistors with their chain letters and ham radios. Why is it that without the blogosphere, there would be no discussion of George Soros and his full-scale war on the United States?” Joy Tiz, It’s not easy being God: The real George Soros, 2010, Hero’s Prose, LLC Palm Desert, California 92260 ISBN-13: 978-0-61541-473-7, page 23-24.

    Other articles on candobetter.net looking at George Soro’s influence.

    https://candobetter.net/node/4964
    https://candobetter.net/node/4953
    https://candobetter.net/node/4949
    https://candobetter.net/node/4935

  135. Kaye Lee

    Wow,

    You ask that Putin should be recognised for the good that he has done in Russia, and in some measure, he has. Whether that was his doing is questionable but he gets to reap the benefits of the semi-recovery regardless of how it was achieved. But no acceptance of the many concerns of which we have mentioned only a few examples (of which you seem surprisingly unaware???)

    You have just presented the typical Soros propaganda story. The currency trading is hardly a secret. You can read about it on Wikipedia. I doubt there is any billionaire in the world who has amassed their fortune through ethical means. I do not condone or excuse his actions in that regard. But I am also aware of his philanthropic work, some of which you will no doubt call subversion, but to dismiss it all is just as far-fetched as dismissing any concerns about trustng Putin and Russia.

  136. Matters Not

    Sheila Newman, I just made a big, big mistake (and wasted significant time). I read all your links. Or should I say I read virtually the same link nine times, albeit with different monikers and marginally different themes. It’s clear isn’t it, George Soros is the devil incarnate.

    FGS, so many links to FOX. Not a good look – at least from my point of view. I think I’ll give you a pass in the future. Not that my choice will worry you.

  137. Sheila Newman

    Sean Stinson has written a great article here. I’ve looked now at several others he has written and I can see that the same kinds of general criticisms are constantly reiterated from the same few commenters. I don’t know why they bother, since their points of view are so well represented by the mainstream media. I’m glad I have been able to contribute here. Seasons Greetings to everyone. That’s it for me tonight.

  138. Miriam English

    Well said Kaye. My thoughts exactly. Have a pleasant day tomorrow, whatever you decide to do with it.

    I hope you have a relaxing day too Sheila. Perhaps take a little rest from this stuff for a few days. No disrespect intended, I think it’s making you a little paranoid.

    Best wishes to you too Matters Not. Your posts often bring a smile to my lips.

    And grateful best wishes to whoever is moderating tonight. And thanks to Michael for making this place possible.

    I’m going to bed early tonight to read more of Warren Ellis’ weird comicbook, “Supreme Blue Rose”.

    Nitey nite all.

  139. Matters Not

    Sheila Newman, to have a ‘minority view’ is not necessarily a reliable test of ‘truth’. To rely on FOX is evidence of … anything but.

    Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

  140. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Seems to me we’re talking at cross purposes.

    Sean’s article has opened up many mind-bogeling discussions where there are no easy-fix black and white preferences or solutions.

    However, despite the angst and the irritation at other commenters, the discussions are educational and some of it is starting to sink into my preconceptions, which I appreciate, even when they risk upending groups and causes I support.

    The thing I take away from the entire discussion is that globalisation and neoliberalism are the twin disasters that need universal and united resistance.

    We should not allow ourselves to be duped into accepting lesser standards because reaching for institutional change is in the too hard basket.

    Trump tapped into the groundswell of anger at 3 decades of neoliberalism and is cynically turning it to his alt-right advantage just as is Hanson fluking here in Australia.

    If we perceive wrongs and/or missed societal/environmental protection opportunities occurring, we need to call them out without fearing get wedged by the “high moral ground” of someone else’s argument.

    I will be taking particular interest in Soros from now on.

  141. Miriam English

    Jennifer, I worry when globalisation and capitalism are both seen as blanket bad things. It’s true both often become perversions and hurt people which makes us wary of them. We should be wary of them. But like most tools they can actually be used for good as well as bad.

    Globalisation, if done right, can lift impoverished people out of a blighted existence and give them freedom from ignorance and disease, and give them opportunities for themselves and their children. Too often it is used for the reverse — to enslave people and retard their emancipation.

    The same is true of capitalism. The “free-market” fanatics keep chanting that capitalism is the opposite of socialism, but that clearly isn’t true, as there are numerous places in the world where both happily co-exist and enhance each other. Until fairly recently Australia was one of those places. Now we’re in danger of becoming pure capitalist, which is a suicidal system, as USA is showing while it drifts closer and closer to pure free market with increased corruption driven by greed killing that very same market. Capitalism needs socialism in order to survive and protect it from itself. Socialism enhances the very best in capitalism, boosting inventiveness and spreading the positive results, while reining in the very worst, by outlawing antisocial behavior.

    In the long run I’m in favor of removing all national borders. They are stupid, arbitrary lines drawn on maps giving idiot politicians reason to conduct wars and block refugees and deny opportunities to others. However, while we have so many psychopathic corporations that happily rape and pillage, we need nations to hold them back until we can find a way to either teach them about morality or else destroy them. These immoral monsters have given globalisation and capitalism a terrible name. We need to be clear that we have to fight these monsters; we shouldn’t be opposing the attempt to make all people brothers and sisters, and the desire to enrich everybody through capitalism tightly controlled and optimised by socialism.

    It is difficult to see that things like computers, the internet, automated looms making low-cost fabrics for everybody, long distance communications, easy travel, and so on, could have been developed without capitalism. At the same time, it must be realised that many of those things also would not have developed in a purely capitalist environment — most required some socialism too. (The internet and computers, in particular, would never have been the massive things they are without socialism. Their capitalist parts threatened early to hobble or even kill them off — and still do endanger them.)

    As for George Soros, beware of conspiracies that whisper evil things about him. He does an amazing amount of good in the world. Read the Wikipedia page about him and the deep effect the Nazis had on him as his family fled them. Mostly, people seem to point fingers at him because he is a progressive rich guy, and most sadly, because of his Jewish roots. The right-wing media despise him for both and seem to be the ones peddling conspiratorial slurs about him. It amazes me when progressives get taken in by them.

    There seem to be increasing numbers of exceedingly wealthy people who, as they age, have come to appreciate that there is great satisfaction to be had in helping the human race, and see that rich men’s toys are empty in comparison. This is a good thing.

  142. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Miriam,

    I’ll digest what you say in your last post and get back to you.

  143. Miriam English

    No worries. I hope you have a relaxing postprandial day. 🙂

  144. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Miriam @ 10.14 am on 26 December,

    I acknowledge the wisdom of your concerns about totally denigrating capitalism and globalisation. I may have once been less strident in my antipathy of them because I can also see how they both should work to the advantage of people universally.

    “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In turn, I understand that the human spirit responds to puzzles to fix. Likewise people respond to the promise of incentives in order to be inspired to lift themselves and their communities out of blandness, ignorance and difficulties.

    Those truisms apply to how capitalism and globalisation done correctly could work to benefit societies and the environment.

    However, that’s not how it is happening. There is no overseeing authority that can prevent global corporations from sweeping through every country reaping profits at the expense of their people and natural resources.

    Alternatively however, I could tolerate a new mixture of socialism and capitalism where incentives are built into every legislature that would enhance opportunities for every grassroots person to engage in fixing the puzzles that constantly arise. That way the ready, willing and able individuals receive rewards for their diligence and their communities receive the benefits of their enterprises. The states would own each enterprise with the dictate that the projects would never be sold to private individuals or corporations. (It shouldn’t be hard to identify the paths to take as a starting plan. Just undo all the private takeovers of public works and reverse the private-public partnerships which are failing to live up to their expectations.)

    Theoretically, invention and innovation incentives are meant to be happening now, but we all know that it often boils down to who knows who when it comes to getting those opportunities at either end of the scale.

    As for globalisation, I have come to hate it because it has not delivered what it promised poor countries and poor peoples except a desire to make everything the same blandness and restriction. While I don’t like borders either (especially the LNP and Trump variety), I am suspicious of globalisation which wants to promote blandness.)

    I see it as the excuse for neoliberalism, which I consider to be the disease that has been allowed to spread through the western world for three decades.

  145. Miriam English

    Jennifer, I agree almost entirely with all you said. I would partially disagree with one point, though. You said, “There is no overseeing authority that can prevent global corporations from sweeping through every country reaping profits at the expense of their people and natural resources.” It is true that there is no single authority that can resist those global corporations, but there are governments. We can (theoretically) hold the bastards back using our governments as shields to protect us. Unfortunately, as you say, most governments have been poisoned by neoliberalism and have become dupes of the giant corporations and are actually working against us.

    We need to cure our governments of that disease and turn them back to working for the people. How do we do that? I don’t really know. The only solution I can think of is to put something in the constitution, where it can’t be easily changed, that prevents government teaming up with big business. When it does that it’s called fascism… and that’s what we’re moving into (though a weird kind of inept fascism, apparently modeled on the keystone cops).

    We need our “government” to genuinely represent us, the Australian people, not a vanishingly small number of exceedingly wealthy people and a handful of (mostly overseas) corporations. When that’s accomplished we might have a chance of fixing capitalism and globalism so they work properly.

  146. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I agree that you agree with me. 🙂

    Your middle paragraph makes a lot of sense to me. Bringing governments to account in whatever way we can (including through the courts), is the way to go.

  147. Miriam English

    Jennifer, your point of bringing this “government” to account through the courts might be the way to do it. “Duty of care” is a legal term. It would seem to me that this “government” has been flagrantly violating it.

    I’ve begun using quotes around the word government when referring to this pack of clowns because they really don’t constitute a genuine government. I don’t know what they could be called, but they are not really a government. An environment minister who destroys the environment in favor of mining, an education minister who screws the schools and universities, a finance minister who apparently has not the first clue about finance, a minister for energy who is a science denier and hates the energy sources of the future, and let’s not forget racist misogynist Abbott in charge of women and indigenous people… they are a sad, pitiful joke.

  148. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Good idea. I like “LNP Degenerates” but I’m willing to change my preference for one that we can share and reinforce widely.

  149. dontgetfooledagain

    Miriam English wrote on December 26, 2016 at 10:14 am :

    “In the long run I’m in favor of removing all national borders. …”

    In July 2014, Time Magazine’s 2015 Person of the Year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel did just that.

    Angela Merkel never consulted the German public nor the German Reichstag. After she suddenly announced that anyone who crossed the border into Germany would be given citizenship, 1.5 million people, mostly unaccompanied males, from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, just flooded into Germany within weeks. Since then 300,000 more refugees/immigrants have arrived in Germany every year.

    The killing of 12 Germans by a truck driver just before Christmas is but the latest manifestation of the consequent social chaos.

    How such a vast movement of people (and the drownings of hundreds in the Mediterranean) have occurred so suddenly unless powerful vested interests helped to organise it is beyond me. One powerful vested interest clearly behind this is open borders extremist George Soros as described above by Sheila Newman on December 24, 2016 at 8:09 pm.

  150. Kaye Lee

    Seriously, this paranoia about Soros is getting ridiculous.

  151. Miriam English

    Oh, gimme a break “dontgetfooledagain”. What is it about loons and conspiracy theories? Now we have powerful vested interests bringing about the drowning of hundreds in the pursuit of some evil agenda. Oh Christ! Where do you crazy conspiracy theorists get this crap? You must have loved the X-Files when it was on TV. Betcha thought it was a documentary series, huh?

    By the way, Angela Merkel didn’t remove the border, she opened it. There is a vast difference.

    Maybe you are the evil manipulator, sitting there spinning false tales to make people fearful of shadows.
    Nah. You don’t have the brain power.

    You need to watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DgomXtiJpM

  152. Roswell

    I’m with you on this one, Miriam, but I must strongly object to your ridicule of the X Files. 😛 It’s the only flaw in your argument.

  153. Kaye Lee

    “,,,the Obama administration recently launched a “Call to Action” asking U.S. companies to play a bigger role in meeting the challenges posed by forced migration.

    In response, I have decided to earmark $500 million for investments that specifically address the needs of migrants, refugees and host communities. I will invest in startups, established companies, social-impact initiatives and businesses founded by migrants and refugees themselves. Although my main concern is to help migrants and refugees arriving in Europe, I will be looking for good investment ideas that will benefit migrants all over the world.

    …any profits will go to fund programs at the Open Society Foundations, including programs that benefit migrants and refugees.”

    https://www.georgesoros.com/essays/why-im-investing-500-million-in-migrants/

    i wonder if the Soros haters are equally horrified with the political influence bought by the Koch brothers and Gina Rinehart – their lobbying is purely for their own greed

  154. Miriam English

    It’s amazing how nominally progressive people get sucked in to extreme right-wing conspiracy theories. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met who are, on the surface, intelligent, reasonable people who are moderate and progressive in their outlook, but who, when you scratch the surface, subscribe to the most lunatic right-wing conspiracy theories. I’ve met a number of environmentally conscious people who, astonishingly, believe that climate change is a hoax by the nasty scientists to make themselves more money (at the expense of the poor innocent oil barons, apparently); people who seem sensible and concerned about the fate of ordinary people worldwide will suddenly leave me lost for words when they start talking about George Soros (rich, but progressive and hiss-boo Jewish, so hated by the extreme right-wing) as if he is evil incarnate; people who appear to be worried about the plight of the poorest people speak of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as if it is a construct of the Devil.

    I am unable to think what to say that won’t leave my keyboard a smouldering pile of ash. GAHHHH!

    On a less apoplectic note, Sam Harris is co-author with two other scientists, of a new research paper: Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence. It looks like it will be an interesting read.

  155. Miriam English

    Roswell, I loved the X-Files, even while I often winced at the topics used. The use of light and shadow, the brilliantly conversational dialogue, and the often superb writing overrode the sometimes dopey themes. Some of my favorite episodes were humorous, poking fun at themselves, such as the delightful episode “Bad Blood”. Other favorites are “War of the Coprophages”, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”, and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, all funny.

    Vince Gilligan, Frank Spotnitz, and John Shiban, along with Chris Carter went on to create the short-lived, but brilliant comedy mystery series “The Lone Gunmen”, based around the 3 characters (they called themselves The Lone Gunmen) who showed up in occasional X-Files episodes to help the plot along. (If you want to see it, it’s sadly virtually impossible to get ahold of now, but I’ll post you a flash drive with the mere 13 episodes made. It is a hoot.)

    Huh. I spoke too soon. It’s available at JB HiFi for $20.

  156. Kaye Lee

    I too wonder why intelligent people seem so willing to accept conspiracy theories Miriam. Disinformation is a very sophisticated game in that there is enough truth in the conspiracies to cast doubt and that is all it takes for it to take hold on the internet. It amazes me that people who rightly question the establishment version of events are so willing to unquestioningly accept the conspiracy version. They know how manipulative the spin doctors can be but choose to believe one lot of bs artists over another, throwing away any common sense.

    Any scientist who could disprove AGW would make an absolute fortune – unlimited funding from the fossil fuel industry and fame immemorial. This idea that they are lying to get funding is NOT how science works – it is how misinformation works.

  157. Miriam English

    It is weird, isn’t it. I just don’t understand how they choose to believe fantastical things over ordinary, more rational explanations.

    …but then, I guess we have people even today who believe that a god made a woman out of a guy’s rib then threw them both out of the garden for learning (eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge) and punished women with having to give birth, but the god eventually decided after murdering around 2.5 million people along the way, to pardon humans for this sin of learning committed by their distant forebear, however instead of simply saying, “I pardon you,” he built an elaborate train of events entailing a woman having a child via virgin birth, and the child growing up to perform miracles, then is brutally tortured to death as a way for him to say “I love you all”, then rises from the dead to go back to heaven, but will come back one day so that he can take to heaven all those who believe this shit, and show his love and justice by torturing for all eternity those who don’t believe it.

    So I guess it’s not so surprising that people can believe other crazy crap.

  158. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    On another note, what are some good monikers for the LNP Degenerates (that all intelligent and like-minded among us) want to use to describe how un-governmental this bunch of LNP fools is?

  159. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I’m being inexpertly exuberant with brackets lately. 🙁

  160. dontgetfooledagain

    Miriam English wrote on December 27, 2016 at 2:48 pm:

    “Oh, gimme a break … Now we have powerful vested interests bringing about the drowning of hundreds in the pursuit of some evil agenda.”

    The following is from “How George Soros Singlehandedly Created The European Refugee Crisis – And Why” (9/7/2016) at http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-08/how-george-soros-singlehandedly-created-european-refugee-crisis-and-why :

    “Soros’s agenda is fundamentally about the destruction of national borders. This has recently been shown very clearly with his funding of the European refugee crisis.

    “The refugee crisis has been blamed on the civil war currently raging in Syria. But did you ever wonder how all these people suddenly knew Europe would open its gates and let them in?

    “The refugee crisis is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. It coincided with OSF donating money to the US-based Migration Policy Institute and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, both Soros-sponsored organizations. Both groups advocate the resettlement of third-world Muslims into Europe.

    “In 2015, a Sky News reporter found ‘Migrant Handbooks’ on the Greek island of Lesbos. It was later revealed that the handbooks, which are written in Arabic, had been given to refugees before crossing the Mediterranean by a group called ‘Welcome to the EU.’

    “Welcome to the EU is funded by—you guessed it—the Open Society Foundations.

    “Soros has not only backed groups that advocate the resettlement of third-world migrants into Europe, he in fact is the architect of the ‘Merkel Plan.’

    “The Merkel Plan was created by the European Stability Initiative whose chairman Gerald Knaus is a senior fellow at none other than the Open Society Foundations.

    “The plan proposes that Germany should grant asylum to 500,000 Syrian refugees. It also states that Germany, along with other European nations, should agree to help Turkey, a country that’s 98% Muslim, gain visa-free travel within the EU starting in 2016. …”

    Since that was written, the number who had settled in Germany with the help of Soros, Erdogan and Merkel has reached 1,500,000.

    See also:

    “Leaked Soros Memo: Refugee Crisis ‘New Normal,’ Gives ‘New Opportunities’ For Global Influence” (8/15/2016) at http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/15/leaked-soros-memo-refugee-crisis-new-normal-gives-new-opportunities-for-global-influence/

  161. Kaye Lee

    Zero Hedge is a batshit insane Austrian school finance blog run by two pseudonymous founders who post articles under the name “Tyler Durden,” after the character from Fight Club.

    The site posts nearly indecipherable analyses of multiple seemingly unrelated subjects to point towards a consistent theme of economic collapse any day now.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Zero_Hedge#cite_note-18

    “I can’t be a 24-hour cheerleader for Hezbollah, Moscow, Tehran, Beijing, and Trump anymore. It’ s wrong. Period. I know it gets you views now, but it will kill your brand over the long run,” Lokey texted Ivandjiiski. “This isn’t a revolution. It’s a joke.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-29/unmasking-the-men-behind-zero-hedge-wall-street-s-renegade-blog

  162. dontgetfooledagain

    Kaye Lee,

    Your post does not address the content of what I posted above nor does the linked Bloomberg article address any of the content of http://www.zerohedge.com/ .

    I don’t know why the quoted message was texted by Lokey to Ivandjiiski. However, I would be interested to know why Lokey objects to apparently being expected to write favourably about “Hezbollah, Moscow, Tehran, Beijing, and Trump.”

  163. mark delmege

    Zerohedge is good … of course the rightwingers will criticise it. you act more and more like a troll KL

  164. Kaye Lee

    “Both groups advocate the resettlement of third-world Muslims into Europe.”

    I am extremely uncomfortable with that statement. Both groups advocate the resettlement of refugees from war-torn nations perhaps?

    “agree to help Turkey, a country that’s 98% Muslim”

    Same discomfort

    As for the “leaked memo”, why did they not include a copy? Why have they taken a few phrases and added their own bits to join them up? Show me a copy of the memo so I can read what was said in unedited context and then I may be able to comment. That piece was pure propaganda.

  165. Kaye Lee

    Because I don’t accept what you say as gospel I am a troll and a right winger?

    Interesting.

    Sounds more like a tantrum to me 😉

  166. Miriam English

    dontgetfooledagain, you’ve been fooled again. The zerohedge website is lunatic and previously run by 3 crazy, very-wealthy, right-wing extremists, who after awful arguments driven mostly by greed and exhaustion, and probably stoked by excessive cocaine abuse, split. (And you know cocaine abuse causes paranoia and tendency to believe and even manufacture nutty conspiracy theories, right?)

    So now they’re down to one individual left. One of the guys who quit complained that there was no room for truth on the site. I really won’t be taking seriously anything at zerohedge. If you do, I suggest you see a psychologist.

  167. Matters Not

    Zerohedge – FFS. What next? Climate change is a ‘conspiracy’ – something you order at the nearest Chinese takeaway. With or without fries?

  168. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I’m keeping my mind open regarding Soros.

    Did I read somewhere that he helped the Water Protectors at Standing Rock? If he also helps activist causes like that, I am very inclined to support him.

    However, I am guarded about any group, if they are infiltrated by vested interests which define how far their activism is prepared to go.

    If vested interests restrict opportunities for sweeping institutional change that will wipe out neoliberalism, I’m not interested.

  169. supermundane

    Kaye Lee – ‘But you trust the state owned Russia today?’

    Yet you cite the Qatari-state channel Al Jazeera elsewhere in this discussion. Qatar has been instrumental (and outspoken about it) in funding and proving weapons and logistics to Salafist extremists in Syria and elsewhere.

    I comment once more only to point this out Kaye.

  170. supermundane

    At the risk of derailing the conversation, do people seriously believe that the philanthropy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation isn’t framed by a particular ideology and worldview that prioritises top-down technocratic solutions, and prioritises the privatisation of the Commons in the hands of foreign (and of US multinationals) and a local and emerging capitalist elite who are then welcomed into the arms of a globalist elite of which Gates belongs (and duly welcomed to attend the forums such as that at Davos)?

    Bill Gates is merely a modern practitioner of a reheated practice of enclosure. The Enclosures saw the Commons privatised, and those who once worked the land in common and collectively, forced to the burgeoning cities to man the factories. It is a form of philanthropy that is antithetical to communal ownership, and communal and non-hierarchical solutions. It believes in the guiding hand of the capitalist class and implicit trickle-down beneficence.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/philanthrocapitalism-a-self-love-story/
    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/11/philanthropy-charity-banga-carnegie-gates-foundation-development/

  171. Kaye Lee

    And that is what happens when you take people out of context. After scrolling through I found the reference to al jazeera which was by NO means quoted a definitive source (or even quoted at all), but in the context of saying there are many different versions of what went on, how can you be certain your version is the right one.

  172. Miriam English

    How has this sudden eruption of conspiracy loons happened? Were they here all along?

    supermundane, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works on combating malaria in much of the tropics, and they, in concert with a few other efforts to fight malaria, have pretty-much halved the impact of the disease. They also spend vast amounts in getting free books and teachers to the children of the poorest people in the world.

    If you can see some fevered conspiracy in that then I’m sincerely sorry for you.

  173. dontgetfooledagain

    In the early 1960’s The CIA conjured up the “Conspiracy Theorist” term as a pejorative label to place on those who disputed the ‘findings’ of the Warren Commission.

    Presumably, unlike “Conspiracy Theorists,”,Miriam English believes that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed President John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1963.

  174. Kaye Lee

    It continues to amaze me that people, more than half a century later and half a world away, with absolutely no personal knowledge of the incident, continue to speculate on something they will never be able to answer based on reports they have read on the internet. To what end? Why do you believe one version and not another? How can you know that what you are reading is correct?

    Former Los Angeles District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi estimated that a total of 42 groups, 82 assassins, and 214 people had been accused in various Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.

  175. Miriam English

    dontgetfooledagain, you’re fooling yourself again. The big difference between you and me is that I admit I don’t know what happened in the assassination of JFK. It could have been one lone gunman, but it could have been any number of other things. As Kaye said above, we’ll almost certainly never know. You, on the other hand, have a kind of religious certainty that convinces you that you’ve found the truth in some shadowy rumors spread by possibly mentally unstable individuals. Why ever would you opt for such delirious “answers”? You can’t really know the truth. Why would you opt for something that almost guarantees that you’ll be wrong. You need actual proof to really know something… except you apparently feel you don’t.

    You think the term “conspiracy theorist” was created as a mislead by the CIA? Oh dear, you got that from the fevered dreams on zerohedge, didn’t you. Don’t make me laugh. The CIA is responsible for an awful lot of evil around the world, but I think you can omit that particular item. The earliest appearance of “conspiracy theory’ in the Oxford English Dictionary goes as far back as 1909 to an article from the American Historical Review: Amer. Hist. Rev. 14 836 The claim that Atchison was the originator of the repeal may be termed a recrudescence of the conspiracy theory first asserted by Colonel John A. Parker of Virginia in 1880. This sentence appears in Allen Johnson’s review of P. Ormon Ray’s The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise: Its Origin and Authorship. The sentence that follows it makes quite clear that the phrase is being used in the modern sense: “No new manuscript material has been found to support the theory, but the available bits of evidence have been collated carefully in this volume”.

    On the point of wealthy philanthropists contributing billions to help the most disadvantaged people in the world, I wonder why the gleeful desire to see their aid as some kind of evil plot. It’s weird that you denounce them, but don’t have a word of condemnation for other wealthy people who don’t lift a finger to help others, such as the Koch brothers, the Walton family, and others. You reserve your bile for those who try to do good. Would you prefer they don’t try to fix the world?

  176. dontgetfooledagain

    Kaye Lee, I note that you have avoided stating whether or not you agree with the Warren Commission.

    Kaye Lee wrote “It continues to amaze me that people … continue to speculate on something … based on reports they have read on the internet.”

    Kaye Lee, how can you know that I have only read on the Internet what I know about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy?

    For now, I won’t be responding further to explain to you what is common knowledge to anyone who as made a serious effort to scrutinise the Warren commission cover-up.

    I simply raised this issue to explain how the pejorative label “conspiracy theorist”, which has been used in this debate, originated.

    As I showed above on December 27, 2016 at 8:55 pm, in July 2014 there was a conspiracy, involving Soros, Erdogan and Merkel and a large number of people smugglers, to suddenly cause hundreds of thousands of people from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia to suddenly flood across the Mediterranean in an effort to claim seek asylum status in Germany and other European countries including Sweden.

    This was done without consulting either the citizens of either Sweden or Germany. The result has been social chaos in both countries, including the murder of 12 Berliners by a truck driver just prior to Christmas.

    To the extent that Syrians with skills, largely obtained from Syria’s free education system, have also gone to Europe as a result of Soros’s meddling, this has also harmed Syria.

  177. Michael Taylor

    Conspiracy theories have reached a new level of ridiculous.

    At the height of the election campaign John Kerry went to the Antarctica on a climate change study trip. According to the conspiracy theorists, climate change isn’t important enough to drag the Secretary of State away from the campaign. Therefore, it could only have been … to see the alien base.

    Other conspiracy theorists are not convinced, maintaining that it wasn’t an alien base at all. He went there to see the base the Nazis had set up during WW2 to test their flying saucers.

    My own theories are really crazy and ‘out there’. I reckon he went there on a climate change study trip. Yes, I know, I’m completely mad and believe anything.

  178. Miriam English

    I listened to a very interesting conversation between Sam Harris and Gary Kasparov (world chess champion who was famously beaten by IBM’s Big Blue computer). The conversation is mostly about Putin and modern Russia and is very interesting. While I think Kasparov is a little misled on some things, it is nevertheless very interesting because he also sees things from a Russian standpoint. Putin comes off very, very badly.

    https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/the-putin-question

  179. Matters Not

    in July 2014 there was a conspiracy, involving Soros, Erdogan and Merkel and a large number of people smugglers

    Would you have a link for that extraordinary claim? Or is it just ‘common knowledge’?

  180. Harquebus

    I read zerohedge and have done for years. In my opinion, their reputation is sound.

    Search criteria: conspiracy theories true

    JFK: The Smoking Gun 2013.(Documentary)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3t1vTM1sUM

  181. Miriam English

    Harquebus, suddenly that explains a lot. 🙂

    You really should stop reading it. It is a disinformation site.

    There are dozens of conspiracy theories around JFK’s murder. We will never know the truth. Even if those at the heart of it came clean we still wouldn’t know if it was genuine or some mental illness that some exhibit, wanting to take the blame for another’s crimes. We simply can’t know.

  182. Harquebus

    Miriam English

    I am going on experience and don’t recall any specific or deliberate disinformation. Can you provide any examples?
    It is also a bit rich considering the unsubstantiated “Russians tampering with the 2016 USA elections” links that you provided. Calls to put up or shut up on that matter have been ignored.

    “Which, simply stated, means that we write what we believe in, even if it is ultimately proven to be dead wrong. And always remember: there is no such thing as “absolute truth.”

    Which is not to say readers should accept everything, or anything, at face value. Quite the contrary: as we have warned since the very start, our main intention, while informing readers, has been to make them think critically – to present a different side to things, even if it is ultimately dead wrong. For pete’s sake, this a blog after all, not some established pillar of the fourth estate with editors, sub-editors, reporters, journalists, crossword puzzle makers, back office, and so forth.”
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-24/personal-note

    Often one can, as is the case with theAIMN, also get useful links and information from the comments section.

    Search criteria: zerohedge readership

    BTW: That doco “The Smoking Gun” is worth watching.

    Cheers.

  183. Michael Taylor

    I’m not into conspiracies, but I must confess that the JFK one is one that does raise my eyebrows.

  184. mark delmege

    Anyone who doesn’t believe in conspiracies – is deaf dumb and blind and probably stupid. FFS our media and politicians and others in power conspire against us everyday. They tell lies about their true intent. Its called politics.

  185. mark delmege

    This site is dedicated to revealing the conspiracies and looking for alternatives and better ways of living. That some choose to favour the propaganda merchants time and time again is the real worry.

  186. Michael Taylor

    Mark, I believe in facts rather than conspiracies. But what I believe as facts, others might call a conspiracy. Indeed, some things that you might call a conspiracy may turn out to be true and it is something I’ve believed all along.

    So your claim that anyone who doesn’t believe in conspiracies is “deaf dumb and blind and probably stupid” is, in my opinion, completely wrong. I’d suggest instead that anyone who doesn’t believe the truth is probably the stupid one.

    We could argue forever though, on what is true and what is not.

  187. Michael Taylor

    But I will add that I don’t believe much of what the media says or what a number of politicians say.

  188. Miriam English

    Harquebus, I gave a perfect example earlier. The zerohedge site said that the term “conspiracy theory” was created by the CIA in the early 1960s in order to discredit people. However the term has been in use in general literature since at least the mid-1800s. It wasn’t invented by the CIA at all. I’m sure I could easily come up with a dozen such items of conspiratorial nonsense used as disinformation by the site, but I just couldn’t be bothered. It’s paid to sanitise the Russians and disseminate fake news for them and confuse people. How can you be taken in by such a site?

    As for their assertion that “there is no absolute truth” — what bunk! It’s exactly the sort of thing such a site would use to excuse its perversion of truth. Of course there’s absolute truth. It’s called reality. You can attempt to approach it as science tries to do, or you can discard it and ignobly manufacture your own for profit, like the zerohedge site has done and the way religion does.

    I might watch the JFK doco, though probably not. I’ve had more than my fill of those conspiracy pieces.

    Far more useful would be this short (6 and a half minutes) informative doco:
    Overpopulation – The Human Explosion Explained
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsBT5EQt348

    I think it will surprise you.

  189. mark delmege

    I’ve never suggested that any one outlet is all lies – the ABC and SBS – for example do some good work – as does The Australian – no doubt, though I rarely read it. The point is these outlets and politicians lie to us. They deliberately attempt to subvert the truth. They conspire against us.
    Others – many here – attempt to uncover the lie (the conspiracy to mislead us) they theorise about what was said and why. Its what we do and what we should do. That uncovering the conspiracy is so uncomfortable for the liars is why they label conspiracy theories as heretical. It shouldn’t concern us at all. Be brave Michael. Better imo to not fall victim to their use of language.
    Some theories are utter crap – dumb or designed also to mislead – you see plenty of that from all sides. But theorise we must.

  190. mark delmege

    Miriam you talk rubbish. Had you followed zerohedge for any length of time you would understand that they have published much good stuff.

  191. Michael Taylor

    No, Miriam doesn’t talk rubbish. Miriam asks questions then seeks to find the answers. That’s a good trait.

  192. LOVO

    When facts become conspiracies. Do conspiracies then become facts?…. and does that mean that Elvis really is alive 😮
    Some thoughts about Zerohedge :- http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=8947

  193. Michael Taylor

    Don’t know what happened to your comments, LOVO.

  194. LOVO

    This will be my third try to post following link, fingers crossed it will work this time (I won,t mention the zeroH mob this time 😮)
    http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=8947

  195. Michael Taylor

    It’s all fixed, I found the problem. Send us an email (via ‘Contact Us’) and I’ll explain what happened.

  196. LOVO

    Gawd, now all three came up at the time……it’s a conspiracy… I tells ya 😤 ….probably perpetuated in the bowels of the AIMN (a well known CIA front based in Port Adelaide. . I’m led to believe 😈 )

  197. Michael Taylor

    The first two were caught up in the system, so I cleared them. 😎

  198. Miriam English

    Thanks LOVO. That was a wonderful, hilarious read. 😀

  199. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    I do recommend that documentary.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-02-23/1967-he-cia-created-phrase-conspiracy-theorists-and-ways-attack-anyone-who-challenge

    “In 2013 Professor Lance Dehaven-Smith in a peer-reviewed book published by the University of Texas Press showed that the term “conspiracy theory” was developed by the CIA as a means of undercutting critics of the Warren Commission’s report that President Kennedy was killed by Oswald.”
    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/08/24/the-term-conspiracy-theory-was-invented-by-the-cia-in-order-to-prevent-disbelief-of-official-government-stories/

    Search criteria: cia invent conspiracy theory

  200. Michael Taylor

    H’, some trivia for you. Your comment above was the 150,000th approved comment on this site. 🍾

  201. Harquebus

    Michael Taylor
    Thanks for that. Do I get a prize? 🙂
    Cheers.

  202. Michael Taylor

    No, you get a mention instead. 😜

  203. LOVO

    I’ve an idea for a prize 😆 How abouts “that” ‘workchoices ‘ mouse pad, Migs…… thats if Florence dosn’t mind 😮 😆

  204. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    I won’t dispute the origin of the term “conspiracy theorists” however, whether the CIA used the term to discredit skeptics is what concerns me.
    Thanks for that link.

  205. dontgetfooledagain

    Two articles about George Soros’s meddling in geopolitics in recent years are “Coercive Engineered Migration. Hungary and Europe’s Refugee Crisis” (16/1/16) at http://www.globalresearch.ca/coercive-engineered-migration-hungary-and-europes-refugee-crisis/ and “The Weaponization of the Refugees. Artificial Mass Migration as Imperial policy has a Long History” (20/1/16) at http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-weaponization-of-the-refugees-artificial-mass-migration-as-imperial-policy-has-a-long-history/. Both articles are by Gearóid Ó Colmáin.

    Soros has also given support to the infamous “White Helmets” in Syria. The “White Helmets” are notorious for helping al-Qaeda terrorists kill Syrian soldiers and civilians whilst posing as humanitarian rescue workers. See ‘Who Are Syria’s White Helmets? “First Responders” for the US and NATO’s Al Nusra/Al Qaeda Forces?’ (21/6/16) by Vanessa Beeley at http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-are-syrias-white-helmets-first-responders-for-the-us-and-natos-al-nusraal-qaeda-forces/ .

  206. Michael Taylor

    I saw that mouse pad today, after not seeing it for years. What a coincidence, hey? I don’t think I can get rid of it now. Its value is immeasurable. Julia Gillard had them all destroyed when she took over the department from Hockey. But I salvaged two – a used one and a new one.

  207. Miriam English

    H, no worries. Oh, I’m sure the CIA used every tactic at its disposal to screw people over. One of the very few good things to come out of the CIA, as far as I’m concerned, is their World Factbook. They are superlative collectors of information, but for anything else, I wouldn’t trust them one inch. For exactly the same reasons I wouldn’t trust the NSA, Russian KGB and FSB, the UK Intelligence, Australia’s ASIO, or any of the spook organisation alphabet soup. All those have shown many times over how utterly immoral and untrustworthy they are.

  208. Miriam English

    dontgetfooledagain, oh dear, what an unfortunate choice of screen name. You have been fooled yet again. The globalresearch website is yet another disinformation site. As the RationalWiki says:

    Globalresearch is an anti-“Western” website that can’t distinguish between serious analysis and discreditable junk — and so publishes both. It’s basically the moonbat equivalent to Infowars or WND.

    While some of GlobalResearch’s articles discuss legitimate humanitarian concerns, its view of science, economics, and geopolitics is conspiracist — if something goes wrong, the Jews West didit! The site has long been a crank magnet: If you disagree with “Western” sources on 9/11, or HAARP, or vaccines, or H1N1, or climate change, or anything published by the “mainstream” media, then GlobalResearch is guaranteed to have a page you will love.

    The website (under the domain names globalresearch.ca, .org, and .com) is run by the Montreal-based non-profit The Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG) founded by Michel Chossudovsky,[2][3] a former professor of economics at the University of Ottawa, Canada.[4]

    Whenever someone makes a remarkable claim and cites GlobalResearch, they are almost certainly wrong.

  209. Miriam English

    I neglected to give a link to the RationalWiki page, though I know dontgetfooledagain won’t bother to read it, nevertheless it might be useful to others who wish to know how unreliable the globalresearch site is.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Globalresearch

    It has a very long analysis of the globalresearch site.

  210. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Global Research is another on my reading list.
    In my opinion, that critique from rational wiki is pure propaganda and spin put out to discredit an alternative information source.

    From the top of the RW link which then links to links to http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Bullshit.

    ”Headline: North Korea, a Land of Human Achievement, Love and Joy” —Everything you need to know about Globalresearch

    Here is the article. It is quite good.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/north-korea-a-land-of-human-achievement-love-and-joy/5344960

    To my mind, rationalwiki has just taken a hit to its reputation.

    Cheers.

  211. Miriam English

    Interesting. I read that article about North Korea as an, admittedly quite beautiful, clear propaganda piece. The writer, Andre Vltchek, actually states as much. His reasons seem honorable when he is talking about the suffering of the North Koreans during the war, but in his desire to present the NK showcase scenes as transcendent, and the USA as evil murderers, he neglects to mention the awful things done by the controllers in North Korea. He is unrepentantly one-eyed in what is a pure propaganda piece. Denouncing RationalWiki for recognising it as such is a very strange thing to do.

    It genuinely is a propaganda piece. Vitchek himself even says so.

    (I shouldn’t need to, but I’ll point out that I think the decision by USA to invade Korea for batshit crazy reasons of Cold War political paranoia are inexcusable. The establishment of permanent bases in South Korea is equally inexcusable. I have South Korean friends and I’m aware that they benefitted tremendously from the USA occupation, but to my mind that still isn’t an excuse — nobody knows what future the whole country might have had without interference. I understand that the North Korean leaders feel threatened and paranoid, but that doesn’t excuse their repression of their people and the rampant privation and workcamp existence of most.)

  212. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    The impression I got was that the author was critical of the showcase scenes as it hindered his attempt to photograph ordinary North Koreans. You also attribute quotes of others to the author and confuse a description of artwork as an accusation against U.S troops.
    The point is, the article is no way bullshit as categorized by RationalWiki.
    Cheers.

  213. mark delmege

    rationalwiki is lightweight and not much value in the scheme of things. Zerohedge has a couple of useful articles today On Putin’s response to Crybaby and another from McAfee. And then there is a recent article from The Intercept on Fake news from the Guardian which even gives a little insight into Russian media. All these sites and many more offer good stuff – all better than what we get from the MSM. I could list dozens.

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