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Sean is a former sound engineer turned professional record collector living on the NSW south coast. A self described reluctant academic, lazy political commentator and sloppy social analyst, he unabashedly reduces the noble art of citizen journalism to the standard of public nose picking. When he’s not picking his nose in public, you’ll find him in the studio working on a his latest album, tentatively titled Country Songs in C.

Media breaks silence over Yemen

“The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i) – Nuremberg principles 

I had to do a double take today when a story appeared in my newsfeed from the Guardian, titled “Questions mount over botched Yemen raid approved by Trump”. Seriously, since when does the liberal press give a god damn about Yemen? Apparently since Hillary lost the election it is now safe to talk about this monstrous war, which would have surely continued regardless of who was commander in chief.

Let’s recap.

Billed as yet another in a long line of “civil wars” sparked by the “Arab Spring”, the Saudi led invasion of Yemen has been met with resounding silence by the Western press. Typically, the war has involved the use of banned weapons and the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including not just roads, electricity and water, but homes and farms. These are war crimes by any measure, and while the official death toll so far is estimated to exceed at 10 000 plus 40 000 injured, a systematic blockade on food, fuel and aid means that 21 million Yemenis are now in need of humanitarian assistance. It is reported that a child dies in Yemen every 10 minutes of starvation or malnutrition.

Where the six year war in Syria has been acknowledged by the West as a regime change operation, the notional purpose of the campaign in Yemen has been to reinstate “legitimacy”, i.e., to restore the US-friendly government which was recently ousted by Shia Houthi rebels with the support of the majority of Yemen’s armed forces. ‘Restoration’, accompanied by the requisite changes to the Yemeni constitution would leave the “empty quarter” of the Arabian Peninsula, and significant oil and gas reserves in the Rub’ al Khali desert, under the effective control of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In short, this is just another case of Americans, British and French displaying their arrogant disregard for human life in the pursuit of empire.

Glenn Greenwald writes:

“In 2010, President Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September 2011 drone strike…Two weeks after the killing of Awlaki, a separate CIA drone strike in Yemen killed his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman, along with the boy’s 17-year-old cousin and several other innocent Yemenis. The U.S. eventually claimed that the boy was not their target but merely “collateral damage.””

Like much of the Nobel Peace laureate’s ironic legacy, the above mentioned incident received very little press at the time. What some might describe as reckless criminality, for example the murder of 35 innocent women and children using cluster munitions, appears to be perfectly acceptable when you’re following “due process” – never mind that this process may be little more than ready-aim-fire.

Five days ago US Navy Seal Team 6, using armed reaper drones for cover, carried out a raid on the heavily guarded home of an alleged al Qaeda collaborator in a mountainous village in remote central Yemen, killing 30 civilians, including at least eight women and seven children, ages 3 to 13. Among those killed was Anwar Awlaki’s 8-year-old daughter Nawar, who was shot through the neck and left to bleed to death. The raid had evidently been planned months in advance by Obama’s officialdom, but left for the incoming POTUS to approve and sign off on.

So why all the fuss? This war has been going on for years. Why has it suddenly become newsworthy?

Greenwald goes on to cite the late Yemeni writer Ibrahim Mothana, who told Congress in 2013:

“Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants. Unfortunately, liberal voices in the United States are largely ignoring, if not condoning, civilian deaths and extrajudicial killings in Yemen… During George W. Bush’s presidency, the rage would have been tremendous. But today there is little outcry, even though what is happening is in many ways an escalation of Mr. Bush’s policies.”

When it comes to war and peace, the left was silent under Obama, just as it was under Clinton in the 90s. Remember Yugoslavia? Sudan? Haiti? For eight years there has been no one to protest the starvation of Yemen, just as no one protested the coups in Ukraine and Honduras, the destruction of Libya, or the dirty war against Syria. All of this was conveniently swept aside by the liberal press while we celebrated gay marriage equality and insisted that black lives matter. Can you imagine if any of these war crimes had happened under Bush 43? I can. I was there in 2003 when we marched and burned flags in one of the biggest anti-war demonstrations in history.

The monstrous atrocities perpetrated under the guise of the War in Terror have been part of a political continuum which existed long before the inauguration of Donald Trump, Barack Obama or George W Bush. Make no mistake, Trump is evil, but there is something refreshingly authentic in his manner compared to the suave yet sinister Obama who pursued exactly the same policies, but with apparent grace and charm. I am reminded of this quote from historian Carroll Quigley:

“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy… Either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.”

It’s easy to scoff and jeer at the women’s march – literally nothing but an outpouring of politically correct outrage. It’s easy to call out the hypocrisy of Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim countries which the US has either threatened or directly attacked in support of the genocidal Saudi regime. But when it comes to protesting war I am the first to acknowledge we must all rally to the call. I suppose we should be grateful that the anti-war left has finally begun to stir from its 8 year hibernation, but we must also tread carefully. It’s important that we don’t allow our protest to be co-opted by liberals who have proven time and again that they stand for nothing; who would have eagerly embraced the warmongering Clinton and said not a word when she continued to prosecute the same foreign policy agenda as her predecessor. This is not about Trump. It’s about the whole rotten political establishment.

A final word of caution. Of course one should always call out hypocrisy wherever it is found, but when approaching liberal lefties, it is wise to exercise care and restraint. As tempting as it is to poke and prod, such creatures tend not to like having their darling little feathers ruffled, and have been known to attack viciously.

Fake news, soft-coups, and the truth behind Urine-gate.

The unbearable triteness of the deep state.

Four days before the October general election of 1924, the British conservative newspaper The Daily Mail published a document purporting to be a directive from the Communist International in Moscow, addressed to the Communist Party of Great Britain, calling for closer relations between the two countries. The letter was signed by Grigory Zinoviev, head of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, and Arthur MacManus, a British representative of the Executive Committee of the British Communist Party. The letter in part read:

“A settlement of relations between the two countries will assist in the revolutionising of the international and British proletariat not less than a successful rising in any of the working districts of England, as the establishment of close contact between the British and Russian proletariat, the exchange of delegations and workers, etc. will make it possible for us to extend and develop the propaganda of ideas of Leninism in England and the Colonies”

The publication of Moscow’s letter to the reds led to the downfall of Britain’s minority Labour government, and the dampening of Anglo-Soviet relations at a time when the Soviet Union had begun opening up to the capitalist world. A 1968 book by three British researchers argues Britain pushed Russia into isolation “largely because the two middle-class parties suddenly perceived that their short-term electoral advantage was best served by a violent anti-Bolshevik campaign.”

By November British intelligence (MI5) had declared the letter a forgery.

Tragedy and farce

With less than a week remaining before the 45th POTUS’ inauguration, history seems to be taking the piss. On Monday both the president and president-elect were briefed by the intelligence community on the existence of “highly compromising” material on Trump, allegedly obtained by Russian spy agencies. The supposed kompromat file relates to Trump’s sexual conduct, and follows allegations in the conservative press that Trump has been cultivated by Russian intelligence agencies – presumably the same agencies responsible for hacking the election.

While allegations within the dossier remain unsubstantiated, or in some cases have been proven plainly false – meetings which never took place, hotel stays which never occurred – this hasn’t deterred news outlets like CNN and Newsweek from going full steam ahead with the character assassination. During Wednesday’s press conference Trump asserted his populism by refusing to answer a question from CNN’s Jake Tapper, shutting the reporter down with “your organisation is terrible”, and “you are fake news”.

The current mass media obsession with Russia comes at a critical time. Last week one of the largest shipments of American military hardware since the fall of the Soviet Union arrived at the German port of Bremerhaven, set for deployment across seven countries including Poland, the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Romania, and Germany, as part of what Washington calls “defence against Russian aggression.” As well as 4000 additional US troops to bolster NATO’s ground forces, the shipment comprises 2800 pieces of military hardware including US Abrams tanks, Paladin artillery, and Bradley fighting vehicles. This escalation, coming mere days before Trump’s inauguration, should raise a few eyebrows, if not neck hairs.

The US has been at war for 224 of its 241 years. It has 800 odd military bases in 153 countries and Special Forces active in 132. But let’s not call it a rogue state, lest the cognitive dissonance sends our brains into meltdown. Suffice it to say, Russia is so determined to invade Europe it recently slashed 30% from its defence budget.

The Chessboard  

The political and economic reasons for wars are seldom discussed in history books or the mainstream media. To guarantee public support, wars must be pitched as just and moral and above all one-off humanitarian interventions, never as the inevitable consequence of deliberate and continuous foreign policy. To understand the real causes of conflicts , one needs to take a more realistic approach. As historian Michael Parenti argues, the ultimate aim of modern U.S. imperialism (aka foreign policy) is to make the world safe for multinational corporations. Therefore, when discussing imperialism, the prime unit of analysis should be the economic class rather than the nation-state.

The underlying reason for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was to put down an attempted coup by the Euro against the dollar. In eliminating Saddam, putting sanctions on Iran, and removing the insubordinate Hugo Chavez, a clear a message was sent to oil producers not to mess with the petrodollar. Today the Chinese Renminbi poses a comparable threat.

The underlying reason for the coup against Trump appears to be a struggle within the capitalist establishment itself; a confrontation between Wall Street – proudly sponsored by Boeing, Raytheon Lockheed-Martin, Big Pharma, and the taxpayer – and the oil industry, represented by the world’s 4th biggest stakeholder, of which Trump’s new secretary of State is a former CEO.

Trump’s openness to friendlier relations with Russia actually makes a lot of geo-political sense. The sanctions put on Russia following the annexation of Crimea, combined with attempts to restrict Chinese navigation in the South China Sea have made China a ready market for Russian oil, and become a catalyst for a stronger relations between the two countries. To make matters worse, with Saudi Arabia losing its position as China’s number one oil supplier, US treasuries are becoming as unpopular as unbleached toilet paper.

Since OPEC agreed to cut production a surge in oil prices has added 12% and 15% to Gazprom and Lukoil stock prices. Exxon want in on this deal. By pulling NATO out of Ukraine and calling off the dogs in Syria, Trump is throwing Putin a bone. The long game is to keep control of the oil market and isolate China.

Out of the frying pan.

The US political establishment is at a critical crossroads. While drilling in the arctic may not be every environmentalist’s cup of tea, it must be weighed against the threat of direct confrontation with a nuclear armed superpower, and ongoing bloodletting in the Middle East. Loyalty to the War Party runs deep, and they aren’t going down without a fight. To this end we’ve seen a disinformation campaign twice as audacious and every bit as false as Saddam’s WMD being prosecuted by Killary, McNasty, and O’Bomber, with the full cooperation of the intelligence community.

If Trump survives his first 100 days without impeachment (or worse), there could be reason for cautious optimism. “No more blood for oil” has always been at the top of my list of global priorities, followed closely by “Just say no to thermonuclear extinction”, and “How do we save the planet from the fossil fuel industry?”. Perhaps I have my priorities wrong, I don’t know, I’m still trying to deal with the brain melt.

Accusing your enemy of that which you are guilty – The CIA and the “fake news” conspiracy.

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” – William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

In 1933, Joseph Goebbels, following closely the recommendations of Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, created some of the most effective propaganda the world has ever seen. Bernays’ prescription demanded the complete domination of communications media to stamp out any opposing view, the participation of artisans, celebrities, academic authorities and community leaders to influence popular opinion at a group level, and a Freudian appeal to base instincts – the need for food and shelter, community and leadership, and the influence of entertainment and fashion – to promote conformity among the German populace.

By now we are all familiar with the idea of German propaganda. In the West it is known by a more polite euphemism, public relations. PR is a lucrative business, with scores of non-government organisations competing for their share of generous funding. Once the province of legacy media such as Voice Of America, Radio Liberty, Radio Free Iraq, Radio Free Afghanistan, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Worldnet Television and Radio/TV Marti, today it comprises think tanks, print media, arts and entertainment, the humanitarian-industrial complex, as well as new technology platforms such as Google, Facebook and Wikipedia, and a plethora of so-called independent media outlets and ‘fact checking’ sites and apps.

The emergence of strategic communications as a soft power option combines psychological operations, propaganda and public affairs under a single umbrella. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), working in cooperation with George Soros’ False Flag Factories Open Societies, currently has a budget of US$40m to provide aid to so called ‘independent media organisations’ in 30 countries, including trouble spots such as Syria and Ukraine. The National Endowment for Democracy, set up by former CIA director William Casey under the Reagan Administration to help finance “perception management”, also receives tens of millions in federal funding, as do various “humanitarian NGOs” such as Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, and AVAAZ, who control Syria’s White Helmets.

Douglas Valentine, author of The Phoenix Program describes the CIA as “the organized crime branch of the US government, [which] functions like the Mafia through its old boy network of complicit media hacks.” “When it comes to the CIA and the press,” he writes, “one hand washes the other. To have access to informed officials, reporters frequently suppress or distort stories. In return, CIA officials leak stories to reporters to whom they owe favors.”

Less talked about is the agency’s relationship with Madison Avenue and Hollywood. From Animal Farm to Three Days of the Condor, from the thinly veiled torture advertisement Zero Dark Thirty to glamorised fictions like JJ Abrams abysmal Alias, it has often sought to influence popular opinion and whitewash its own reputation through popular media. Orwell’s Ministry of Truth is all around us, even if most of us fail to see it in a present day context. For a better understanding of how we have been bamboozled however, we need only look into the recent past.

The Office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the CIA, was responsible for running psychological operations in the European theatre during WWII. Its network of journalists, editors, book publishers and stringers was carried over to the new agency under the oversight of Frank Wisner in 1948. The 1975 Church Committee congressional hearing revealed that the CIA maintained a network of several hundred individuals around the world who provided intelligence to the agency and sought to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda, while domestically it spent the equivalent of $1bn a year in today’s money in under-the-table bribes to major American news outlets to act as government gatekeepers. Chief among these were the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, Newsweek, the New York Herald Tribune, and Time Magazine. In his autobiography, convicted Watergate co-conspirator and former CIA officer E Howard Hunt also identifies ABC, NBC, the Associated Press, UPI, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, and Scripps-Howard as key players.

The close relationship between the CIA and the news media is examined in detail in former Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein’s 1977 Rolling Stone cover story entitled The CIA and the Media – How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up. Of particular interest is the close relationship between then NYT director Arthur Hays Sulzberger and CIA director Allen Dulles. While many of the CIA’s relationships with the press were informal, Sulzberger actually signed secrecy agreements with the agency. Given this history it is little wonder that there has never been an article in the Times questioning the Warren Report and clandestine operations such as Mockingbird, Gladio and Condor, or casting doubt on the official story of 9/11.

While maintaining the appearance of objectivity, news outlets such as Washington Post and the New York Times have been crucial in establishing consensus where military intervention has been desired. The Post was the first to report that Iraq was hiding WMD in 2002-2003, a claim which has since been revealed as a complete fabrication. The previous Iraq war as it happens was also based on a lie, specifically the testimony of a young woman who went only by the name Nayira, who claimed she had been a volunteer at Kuwait’s al-Adan hospital and had seen Iraqi troops pull babies from incubators, leaving them to die on the floor. It was later revealed that Nayira was the daughter of a Kuwaiti official who had been coached in her lines by New York PR firm Hill & Knowlton. Sadly, the story was swallowed hook line and sinker by the corporate press, resulting in the massacre of 130,000 retreating Iraqi soldiers by US and British forces on the infamous Highway of Death.

Recent history is full of examples of such official conspiracies, from the Gulf of Tonkin to the USS Liberty, from CIA black sites to mass surveillance. Indeed the very term “conspiracy theory” was first adopted by the CIA to discredit public skepticism around the obvious cover up of the Kennedy assassination by the Warren Commission. Today, as “official versions” lose traction with an increasingly cynical public, the intelligence community are becoming more desperate in their attempts to discredit truth seekers. Most recently, and quite ironically, any dissent from official US government positions as reported by its corporate media gatekeepers has been labelled as “fake news” or “weaponised information”.

Just as they did with the Warren Commission, the intelligence community are now using a pejorative label to discredit anyone who dares challenge their crimes and cover-ups. As part of a broader psychological operation aimed at silencing dissident voices, US Congress and the European Parliament are introducing bills to combat, among other things, “Russian propaganda”. At the same time newly formed anonymous group PropOrNot has recently published a McCarthyist black list of 200 ‘fake news’ websites including many well established and reputable journals such as WikiLeaks, CounterPunch, Truth-Out, Truth-dig, Consortium News, South Front, Black Agenda Report, Films For Action, New Eastern Outlook, Global Research and others. At a time when doublethink, cognitive dissonance, conformity, and groupthink have replaced healthy skepticism, this move toward internet censorship sets a dangerous and sinister precedent.

Despite almost complete control of mainstream media, evidence which disproves and discredits official conspiracies is plentiful. Anyone who has seen the Zapruda film knows that Kennedy was not shot from behind, disproving the lone gunman theory. And yet the crime was covered up in plain view, and those responsible never prosecuted. Similarly the collapse of WTC 7 into a pile of fine dust puts the lie to the argument that 9/11 was anything but a planned demolition using explosives. Despite the refusal of many to accept proven facts surrounding the events of 9/11, it is inarguable that these attacks were used as a pretext to launch a war which has upturned the Muslim world and justifiably set entire populations against the West; which has created more acts of terror than it ever purported to avenge; and from which nobody has benefited except arms manufacturers and oil companies.

And now the same intelligence community have the unmitigated gall to tell us that Vladimir Putin sought to influence the outcome of the US presidential election through a network of dissident news sites and that this has the potential to undermine faith in democracy in the West. If this claim is not ridiculous enough, we’re also invited to believe that Putin is actively promoting white supremacist neo-nazis in Hungary and France. Need we be reminded how well things worked out for Russia the last time white supremacists came to power in Europe?

So the agency which has a proven record of lying about just about everything now wants to censor our newsfeeds to keep us safe from false and misleading information. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. As best as one can make out, the authority to label as “fake news” anything which doesn’t fit the approved mainstream narrative seems to derive from the moral right to be obeyed – the “because I said so” argument, or the “argument from authority”. The whole thing would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous. The argument from authority can be easily countered with sound reasoning based on agreed facts, but what happens in a post-fact internet space where truth is defined as anything which suits the purposes of US government, NATO and other Western interests, and everything else is picked up by our spam filters?

Obviously any determination as to what is fake or real must be based in methodology rather than ideology. The “because I said so” argument may work on small children, but it rather begs the question – official news channels are eminently qualified to report the news, in virtue of being official news channels! Fortunately it is possible to assess factual claims based on a number of criteria other than questioning the authority of the source (attacking the messenger.) Does it match with our own observations? Is it consistent with other known facts? Can it be independently verified? Is it simply an opinion or editorial piece masquerading as news? Arguments of the form “small government is good for the economy” are obviously not based in observable fact and therefore cannot be proven or disproven. Arguments such as “Regime barrel bombs kill dozens in Aleppo hospital strike”, on the other hand, are ‘factual’ claims which require serious interrogation and critical thinking, faculties which have fallen conspicuously out of fashion among modern consumers of mass media.

Exhuming McCarthy: Putin accused of stealing US election for Trump.

“Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked.” – William Binney (former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA)

In scenes reminiscent of the 1938 House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the Western media is losing its shit over the ‘Russian hack’ of the US election. This despite a complete lack of evidence and some pretty serious doubts that any such ‘hack’ ever occurred. But rather than confront the content of the leaked Podesta and HRC emails which expose Hillary and the Clinton Foundation’s crooked dealings and how the Democratic party rigged its own primaries to steal the presidential nomination from Bernie Sanders, the powers that be are engaging in a game of blame-the-messenger, à la Snowden and Manning.

While a few reputable journalists have been quick to point out that the Podesta and HRC emails were clearly “leaked”, rather than “hacked”, citing sources close to the leak including Julian Assange of Wikileaks and former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray (who claims to have had direct contact with the source), most of the mainstream press is swallowing the CIA story hook line and sinker.

Of course Russia did not “hack” the US election, any more than it was stolen by internet bloggers or youtubers. As much as some would like to fantasise, the election result was not determined by Facebook, InfoWars, Wikileaks or by the so-called democratisation of information brought about by the internet. Trump’s victory, just as Michael Moore predicted a year ago, was the political expression of an embattled and embittered working class. There is nothing at all unique about this.

The breakdown of demographics shows that Clinton’s oft-cited ‘popular vote’ lead came down to a few densely populated key urban areas which make up the democratic heartland. In New York City for example, she received well over 2 million more votes than Trump, who won the rust belt in a landslide. (if a mere 58% voter turnout can be considered a landslide.) This is of course why the Electoral College system exists – so that a few large cities don’t get to decide the vote for an entire country.

Consequently, pressure is now being brought to bear on the Electoral College to sway the Dec. 19 vote. With the votes of 270 republican electors needed to put Trump in the Oval Office, the hope is to convince 37 of those voters to vote in bad faith, against the wishes of their electorates. To this end the Democrats and certain actors within the “intelligence community” are pulling out every dirty trick in the book including exhuming the long decomposed remains of McCarthyism. If the vote doesn’t have the desired results, President Obama has ordered a full review of allegations of Russian interference by January 20, which just happens to be inauguration day. In the event of a constitutional crisis the whole election may end up being decided by the House of Representatives, with a very real chance that Trump could be sidelined, leaving us with a far more hawkish acting president Pence or even vice-President Clinton. In any event we can expect legal challenges in the months ahead.

The rank hypocrisy that nobody seems to be talking about is Obama’s claim that the so-called Russian hack allegedly “casts doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process”. This from a country whose Central Intelligence Agency has been interfering in other countries elections since at least 1948. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. What is even more tragic is that this latest psy-op seems to be going viral, with both the UK and Germany now accusing Russia of aggressive propaganda.

Trump’s preferred appointment of former Exxon chief Rex Tillerson to Secretary of State, tho thoroughly consistent with his mandate to make trade not war, has given the Democratic establishment another reason to point the finger at his alleged Russia connections. Herein may lie a clue as to the nature of the rift within the establishment which has the neoconservatives maneuvering so desperately to keep Trump out of the White House.

Quite clearly both Clinton and Trump had little in common with the average American. Both are very much insider figures, but each represents a different face of the establishment. Trump appeals to the billionaire (capitalist) class, where Obama and Clinton represent the trillionaire (finance) class. Where Obama and Clinton are aligned with the globalists of Wall Street, Trump’s interests are nationalist, leaning toward isolationist. His brand of populism appeals to a forgotten tradition of American nativism expressed in the famous words of John Quincy Adams “…she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

It is precisely this point which has the globalists in such a panic. With a defence budget black hole amounting to 54% of all federal discretionary spending, some $598.5 billion annually, it is not just those at the top who stand to lose their perks under a Trump administration. Trump’s desire to tighten the reins on federal defence spending puts him at loggerheads with the military industrial complex which has kept Wall Street afloat these last 70 years.

The permanent war economy has transformed the institutions of American capitalism so that they now work against the people. As one reader notes: “by putting the capitalist West on an economic war footing, by using the industrial might of the West to show the world that capitalism can wipe the floor with communism economically, if it gets rid of the welfare state, removes trade barriers, and focuses entirely on industrial and military production.”

It’s easy to see why Trump’s anti-interventionist prerogative makes him public enemy number one. Public enemy number 2 has to be Vladimir Putin. Putin’s refusal to roll over, incrementally re-asserting Russian sovereignty and its place in the international community, and most recently frustrating US led efforts at regime change in Syria, make him the perfect scapegoat for these fictitious allegations. The claim that Putin personally ordered the alleged hacks serves both to avert attention from the chaos which the US political establishment has brought upon itself, and to re-ignite cold war tensions with Russia.

There is an obvious problem with this hypothesis tho. Doubling down on Russophobia didn’t work for the Democrats during the election, so why would it work now?

 

 

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.

 

Standing Rock: The true face of fascism

With all the frenzied hysteria comparing the election of Donald Trump to the second coming of Hitler, the media has been strangely silent on the assault by police, government, military and private security on water protectors protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Over the course of months, peaceful protesters have been sprayed with water cannons in sub freezing temperatures, pepper sprayed, maced, shot with rubber bullets, had dogs set on them and concussion grenades thrown at them – one woman reportedly losing an arm – for standing in the way of oil companies and their rapacious quest for profit.

A few facts to be clear on:

  • The land in question is under treaty. It does not belong to the United States, but to the sovereign Lakota Nation.
  • Energy Transfer, the company behind DAPL, is owned by Texas billionaire Kelcy Warren, with a personal net worth of $4bn
  • DAPL and its subsidiaries are acting in a criminal manner. The law requires a Environmental Impact Statement and cost benefit analysis be submitted for work to commence on the project. To date these have not been forthcoming.
  • This pipeline will impact water quality for millions. The 1,172-mile pipeline was originally to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, North Dakota, but was rerouted after complaints from local (non-indigenous) residents fearing for the safely of their communities and water.

Many progressives are quietly hoping President Obama will take action to help the people of Standing Rock. His remarks from Cushing Oklahoma in March 2012 suggest they are probably dreaming:

”Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. (APPLAUSE.) That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.

So we are drilling all over the place — right now. That’s not the challenge. That’s not the problem. In fact, the problem in a place like Cushing is that we’re actually producing so much oil and gas in places like North Dakota and Colorado that we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it to where it needs to go — both to refineries, and then, eventually, all across the country and around the world. There’s a bottleneck right here because we can’t get enough of the oil to our refineries fast enough. And if we could, then we would be able to increase our oil supplies at a time when they’re needed as much as possible.

Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.” (APPLAUSE.)

In a letter addressed to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has expressed its plans to remove Water Protectors from the site on December 5. Of course there is nothing new about forcing indigenous people from their ancestral lands – this is the nature of colonialism, usually overlooked or brushed off as the relic of a distant past. But when the government employs state violence, using militarised police to act with extreme prejudice against its citizens on behalf of private capital, you can forget the idea that you live under a democracy.

North Dakota’s Emergency Commission voted on Wednesday to borrow a further $7 million to cover the cost of enforcement related to the pipeline. With some 2000 veterans set to join the demonstration this weekend, things are likely to heat up. If tensions escalate, this has the potential to make WACO look like a Sunday stroll.

This is unacceptable on so many levels, not least that a nation which sees itself as a beacon of liberty and democracy should continue to hold its indigenous people in such utter contempt. Former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders told Rolling Stone on Wednesday that America is rapidly headed towards an “economic and political oligarchy”. It seems the good senator has been living under a rock. When private profits are put before citizens’ rights and police are employed to operate as a private security force for big oil interests, you no longer have the conditions for either a constitutional republic or a democracy. This is fascism writ large.

Vale Fidel Castro: August 13 1926 – November 25 2016

“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.”

Fidel Castro Ruiz, leader of the Cuban revolution and hero to generations, has died, aged 90.

The media response has been largely what one would expect, running the gamut from tepid praise for the “controversial leader”, to condemnation/celebration of a “dead communist dictator”.

In the wake of the recent US election it’s fair to say mainstream reporting has been a little more slanted than usual. Jingoism and neo-McCarthyism are rampant in the press, even though Russia has been capitalist for 25 years, and China has morphed into hybrid state-capitalism. Throughout the years of change Cuba has remained a torch bearer for socialism and a beacon of resistance against US imperialism.

It’s no surprise to see the new US president-elect denounce Fidel as a brutal tyrant and murderer of his own people – in his former career as real estate tycoon, Trump would have liked nothing better than to put a chain of Casinos on the island. The irony here is easily lost on our short historical memories. Illegal gambling and prostitution were among the things which drove the revolution 57 years ago. Those who operated the brothels and gambling dens were the first to flee rather than face discipline at the hands of the new regime, many making their way to the Florida coast in rickety boats.

Still the criticisms keep coming from the conservative press and people who really should know better. I awoke on Sunday to find this comment on my facebook wall. “This is the most backward country. They have cars that are from the 1950s era. Not to mention that there is no productivity in general, to speak of. Total oppressive regime [sic]”, to which I responded in short shrift:

What do you think happens to a country when the greatest power on earth, which happens to be Cuba’s closest neighbour, places a completely restrictive trade embargo on it so they can’t even sell their sugar to anyone? THIS IS WHY CUBANS DRIVE CARS FROM THE 50s. This is why people are poor, NOT because of a socialist government who stood up to US imperialism. Do you know what life was like BEFORE Fidel? Have you even heard the name Fulgencio Batista? Have you read history AT ALL or do you just go along with what you hear in the western press? The US has wanted to own Cuba for 200 years. Lincoln wanted to annex Cuba as a holding pen for black slaves. Read the Ostend Manifesto from 1854 calling for war with Spain over the colony. In fact there was scarcely a president up until the American Civil War who didn’t seek to Annex Cuba. Backing the Cuban revolutionaries in 1898 was not about Cuban independence, rather an opportunity for the US to lay the boot into a fading colonial power and make its own debut on the world stage. Kicking the Spanish out of Cuba and taking control of Guam and Puerto Rico was a cakewalk, but seizing the Philippines became a quagmire – America’s first Vietnam – Even warmonger-in-chief Teddy Roosevelt would be left catatonic by the end of it. The US has been invading other countries and overthrowing their governments ever since. Why do you think there is constant war in the Middle East? Do you not see who the aggressor is? Or do you really believe in America’s manifest destiny to spread freedom and liberty throughout the world? Ever considered that other countries might also want the right to independent self-rule – the right to choose their own governments and not be dictated to by US policy makers?

Cubans love Castro because he stood up to US bullying. In spite of strangling economic sanctions, Cuba’s successes have been many. Cubans have the highest literacy rates, best healthcare, lowest infant mortality, and best social services in Latin America and indeed most of the developed world. Cuban doctors were on the frontline responding to the Ebola outbreak. Cuban emergency workers were the first respondents to the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Mathew in 2016. If this still fails to make the point, Cuba currently sponsors an adult literacy program in Wilcannia in north western New South Wales. Not the NSW government. Not the federal government. Cuba. Let that sink in.

There is a certain sense of irony when those who denounce Castro as a “communist dictator” refuse to acknowledge their own slave-like conditions under the dictatorship of capital. Are these not the very same people who complain about the unaffordable cost of healthcare, housing, and the burden of student debt? The same ones who will be condemned to poverty when they’ve outlived their usefulness because pensions have become an ‘unsustainable’ burden on the economy?

When the closest thing to humanist values we can show for ourselves is the guarantee of ‘equal opportunity’ to fend for one’s self or be damned, are we really in a position to criticise others? Does the fact that we imprison would-be migrants in tropical hell holes to stop them “taking our jobs” make us any more civilised than those backward Cubans with their 1950s cars?

This is a time of mourning for the Cuban people, and a time for the rest of us to reflect. How did the United Sates, a nation built on the principles of individual liberty and popular self rule, become the greatest imperialist power the world has ever seen? What right does the West have to impose its will on other countries? Cuba has eliminated homelessness and child malnourishment, given the world 4 vaccines against cancer and become the first country to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV – all whilst in the choke hold of a crippling US embargo. What might this poor Latin American county of 10 million people have achieved without this intervention?

Newt Gingrich, likely pick for Secretary of State in Trump’s new cabinet, says he wants to reinstate the House Un-American Activities Committee. But perhaps instead of trembling in terror at a reanimated “red scare” in all its cartoon-like absurdity, we should instead confront what was widely known in the late 19th century as The American Peril. At a time when the jackboot of US imperialism poses such an enormous threat to human endeavour, Cuba stands as a beacon of hope, thanks to the courage and vision of a great man.

Vale Fidel Castro, and Vive la Revolución!

Trumpism: a kinder, gentler fascism.

“Those who are against Fascism without being against capitalism, who lament over the barbarism that comes out of barbarism, are like people who wish to eat their veal without slaughtering the calf. They are willing to eat the calf, but they dislike the sight of blood. They are easily satisfied if the butcher washes his hands before weighing the meat. They are not against the property relations which engender barbarism; they are only against barbarism itself. They raise their voices against barbarism, and they do so in countries where precisely the same property relations prevail, but where the butchers wash their hands before weighing the meat.” Bertolt Brecht, “Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties” 

The new US administration is beginning to take shape, and it’s as bad as we expected – a mix of bible thumpers, climate deniers, white supremacists, homophobes, ant-semites and generally the most unsavoury elements of American tea party conservatism. I guess a lot of people will be saying I-told-you-so.

Told us what, exactly? That things would be bad under Trump? This seems to overlook the fact that things were already pretty awful.

Two million signatures have so far been collected to petition the Electoral College to reverse its decision on Trump – two million butthurt liberals sore that after rigging their own primaries they lost the general election to a scarecrow, are now desperately trying to put the blame on anyone but themselves. They blame ‘the Russians’, ‘the internet’, and ‘the white vote’ (really a 6% decline in black and Latino voter turnout). They call “fascist” and denounce Trump as racist for his plans to deport between 2 and 3 million undocumented migrants. HELLO! Obama has already deported 3.5 million.

Indeed on examination of the 2016 Republican Party platform, there is not much that stands out as being particularly to the right of current policy settings. Mass surveillance, prosecution of whistle blowers, banker bailouts, cuts to food stamps, massive military expansion, war with seven countries, direct support of terrorists, millions of refugees, hundreds of thousands dead… Uncle Tom has served his masser real good.

Much to the alarm of the presstitutes, the Butcher of Libya’s transition to power suffered a last minute derailment, signalling the end of 25 years of bipartisanship on foreign policy. The Bush era neocons are finally gone, replaced by a giant three year old with an orange bouffant, leading army of conservative cockwombles who believe that evolution is wrong because there are still monkeys, and that climate change is a communist plot. Never mind, it’s not like the Fracking Queen and her pals the Koch Brothers were going to do anything for the climate anyway.

The US is now officially an idiocracy. The elevation of a TV reality star to the most powerful office in the land is appropriate in a number of ways. Mostly it reminds us that the US exists in a virtual world of unreality. It has a virtual economy of finance capital where wealth creates wealth – the real economy has moved to China, Mexico, Brazil and other countries where labour is cheap. It has a virtual polity where class struggle has been replaced by the petty politics of gender and race. It has a virtual democracy that offers once every four years a choice between cholera and plague.

In this virtual world the working class have become the “middle class”; a fallacy concocted to exclude the growing ranks of great unwashed; the immigré, the out of work, the old and the afflicted, left behind by the march of progress. Government is for the rich and by the rich – a den of snakes in which no rational, ethical person could ever hope to survive. The law exists to protect property rather than to serve justice – witness the protests at Standing Rock.

In this virtual world, individualism and profit-seeking go hand in hand with mass incarceration, surveillance, and toxic trade pacts. Real wages and living standards are in permanent decline as stock prices soar to record highs. 43 million Americans rely on food stamps, but still see themselves as Steinbeck’s temporarily embarrassed millionaires.  The US has become a parody of itself, the headquarters of Democracy Inc. where post-democratic bourgeois liberalism masquerades as popular self rule.

Into this dystopian nightmare unreality strides Donald J Trump. Trump is a paradox – a capitalist technocrat and yet anathema to the establishment. Conservative on identity-politics while toting a Santa-sack full of postwar liberalism, he plays to the anxieties of the oppressed working class “Five, 10 years from now — different party. You’re going to have a worker’s party, a party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry”, he said in an interview in May. On foreign policy, Trump eschews the aggressive stance of past administrations and seeks détente with China and Russia. Sadly, instead of being all over his more progressive policies like flies on chopped up pieces of Syrian children, the party of the so-called left is determined to oppose him every step of the way. Instead of holding his feet to the fire over promised reforms to healthcare, welfare and the student debt crisis, they will simply obstruct.

“There’s just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free health care — that what we’ve done hasn’t gone far enough, and we just need to go as far as Scandinavia — whatever that means. They’re the children of the Great Recession and they are living in their parents’ basement.” – HRC via WikiLeaks

The Clintons have been rightly excoriated for selling American democracy to Wall Street in the 90s, but the rot set in well before this. Honourable mention should also go to Jimmy Carter, who first signed on to trade liberalisation and privatisation, setting up the framework for Reaganomics – a system of socialism for the rich and capitalism for everybody else. This is the reality we now live in – there are not two political parties but one, and it is neither Democratic nor Republican. Carter correctly described the US as an oligarchy, a fact which has been laid bare in the recent election.

Those who see in Trump as some sort of neo-fascist have not been paying attention. The conditions for fascism existed well before this. Its seeds were sown with the weakening of anti-trust laws in the 1890s. This is the birth place of the modern American corporation, and arguably the birth place of US imperialism. Lobbying power in the hands of big business, combined with an emerging steel and ship building industry, gave rise to what is now known as the military industrial complex. It is this behemoth which has set the agenda for more than a century of war.

If WWIII is not going exactly to plan, it is because the West has a bad habit of underestimating Russian resilience. In their hubris, the neolib-cons thought they could subjugate post-Soviet Russia with trade sanctions. In response, Russia has forged stronger ties with its traditional strategic and economic partners. It’s no surprise to see the Philippines, Egypt, Turkey, not to mention China, now distancing themselves from Washington. In response to this realignment, Trump presents an opportunity for the empire to save face, to back away from a war which it was clearly losing, without appearing weak – an opportunity to regroup and change tack. But as with the nautical analogy, this should not be seen as a radical course correction, merely a change of approach. The objective remains the same; other ways must now be found to achieve it.

If Brexit was a rejection of the neoliberal, capitalist, imperialist EU, then the US election result must be seen in the same light – a vote of no confidence in the business-as-usual politics of endless war and poverty. The new CEO needs to take heed of this, but more importantly, so does the anti-war left. After eight years of hibernation, it’s time for liberal identitarians to wipe the rainbow fairy dust from their eyes and see that things have actually gotten worse under Obama and Hillary.

A period of isolationism would probably be a good thing for the US, and would certainly be good for the rest of the world. But even if the establishment were to tolerate an isolationist president (unlikely), it doesn’t change the fact that we are sailing toward an iceberg. A reawakening of class consciousness is our only bulwark against fascism. Until there is economic justice there can be no social justice. Until people come to recognise their place in the social order, they will continue to vent their fear and frustration against each other. This is as true for the bourgeois left as it is for the alt-right.

 “He said a bayonet, that’s a weapon wi’ a working man at either end
Betray your country, serve your class. Don’t sign up for war my friend
Don’t sign up for war.” – Alistair Hullet

 

Dr. Strangehair or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Donald.

“Well I think I am probably a little bit against the establishment and he probably is also… The only difference is he can’t do anything about it, and I can.” – Donald Trump on Bernie Sanders.

While Soros-backed colour-revolutionaries descend on major US cities in their thousands to protest the recent election result, smearing faeces, damaging property, burning flags, chanting co-opted slogans like “no justice, no peace”, and generally making a nuisance of themselves, President-elect Donald Trump has met with outgoing president Barack Obama to discuss his transition into office. After last Thursdays’ meeting Obama announced that he would not attempt to push the toxic Trans Pacific Partnership agreement through the ‘lame-duck’ session of congress between the election and inauguration of the new president. Shortly thereafter Mr Trump quietly conceded he will not be proceeding with his promised repeal of Obamacare, the crowning achievement of Obama’s questionable 8 year legacy. The new president is likely to make some refinements to the single-payer healthcare package including cutting back on some of the generous concessions to big pharma, and making it transferable across states.

In other news Trump has laid out a plan to tackle the problem of student debt which some are calling the most liberal since the inception of the Federal Student Aid program. In a radical departure from the Republican tradition of fiscal conservatism, Trump’s plan will cap payments at 12.5% of income and reduce the loan repayment period from 20 to 15 years, after which time outstanding debt would be forgiven. “Students should not be asked to pay more on the debt than they can afford,” Trump told one journalist recently, “and the debt should not be an albatross around their necks for the rest of their lives.”

This comes on top of his promise to introduce a 21st century version of the 1933 Glass Steagall act which would require the separation of commercial and investment banking, a policy backed by the 2016 Republican Party platform. Glass Steagall was repealed by Bill Clinton in 1999, leading directly to the financial crisis of 2008.

When questioned on his planned deportation of ‘illegals’, one of the more controversial pillars of his campaign platform, Trump once again surprised journalists, suggesting he favoured amnesty for some undocumented migrants and had plans to speed up the documentation process, in short, sending illegal immigrants back to their home countries and then allowing the “good ones” to return in an “expedited” fashion.

Most significantly, the new president-elect has promised a thawing of tensions with Russia and a radical repositioning of American foreign policy in the Middle East. Appearing on CBS This Morning during the campaign Trump said “I view ISIS as very important, and I love the fact that Russia is hitting ISIS”. He went on to denounce US regime change operations in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, saying “Look what happened after we got rid of Gaddafi. Look what happened after we got rid of Saddam… Had our politicians gone to the beach and enjoyed the sun, we would be in a better position than we are right now.” This is a chord which resonates with his base.

Trump is a chameleon: The US’ first billionaire-grifter celebrity-superstar president. A realist through and through, he approaches politics with the cold logic of a businessman. Unlike the 14 US presidents before him, he is an isolationist who sees the US pursuing a more narrowly defined set of foreign policy interests. This places in jeopardy the US’ much prized vocation as dominant world superpower and ultimate guarantor of global order. It’s no wonder the neocons have their knickers in a twist. Meanwhile the Atlanticists are shaking their fists in rage, demanding the US redouble its commitment to the NATO alliance.

It’s no secret that the US has for years been engaging in regime change operations against foreign governments which don’t subscribe to its socioeconomic model of private wealth accumulation and capitalist exploitation. Trump’s stunning victory is more than a middle finger salute to the globalists and their endless pointless wars; it’s also a rejection of the liberalisation of global trade which has seen a long term decline in wages and living standards and led to 20% real unemployment.

For the first time since the 1930s the establishment has lost its grip on power. Hillary campaigned on the myth of American exceptionalism, but that myth has been roundly rejected. What has emerged in its place is a rebirth of nativism. Trump’s basket of deplorabes aren’t expecting him to rebuild America’s industrial economy in the image of Henry Ford. They want their republic back – a point sadly lost on bourgeois feminists pissed that they never got to break their ‘glass ceiling’. People are sick of war, sick of a system that has taken away their jobs and their liberties. They want control of their borders, and they want government by the will of the people.

In a poetic twist, what the US establishment has dished up to other countries over 70 years is now coming back to bite them on the tail. This is indeed a revolutionary moment, but it’s not a purple revolution led by shit-smearing participation-prize millennials or safety-pin-wearing liberal identitarians. It is a revolution of everyday working people screwed over by years of failed economic policy; the mums and dads who lost their homes through predatory lending; the grandparents who lost their retirement incomes when the banks gambled away their savings; the migrants with legitimate visas and green cards who can’t find work, the deeply distrusting, anxious public who cherish their second amendment. This is a revolution of the forgotten American working class.

Despite the repeated accusations of racism prevalent throughout the campaign, America now has its first foreign-born First Lady in over 200 years. Despite the apoplectic fear-mongering of corporate media, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has now called for cooperation with the US, and Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’s ready to restore positive relations. Despite the dire forecast that a Trump victory would send the economy into a death spiral, the Dow Jones industrial average has set an all time record, and the US dollar is at a multi-decade high against the Chinese renminbi. Despite the predictions of civil unrest, the biggest danger to public safety now is the mobs of angry Hillary supporters rioting in the streets.

The election is over. The democrats lost. Not because of Wikileaks, not because of Putin, not because of Facebook, not because of the “white” vote, but because they fielded a rotten candidate. Trump is clearly not Batman – billionaire businessman with a tower named after him tho he may be – but nor is he Mussolini. He has the potential to be a good president. If he can control the extreme right wing of his party and negotiate his much needed progressive reforms through a conservative majority congress, he might even be a great one.

A million vagina march on the capitol on inauguration day will not save the US from the tyranny of corporate fascism – that horse has long since bolted. It’s time for liberal do-gooders to stop their crying and get on with the job of reforming their own party.

Donald J. Trump: Unlikely hero of the working class.

In recent days the mainstream liberal media has been flooded with analysis and dissection of the US presidential election. The agreed narrative seems to be that that America is a “white trash racist country” and that white supremacy elected Trump. In truth, the Democratic party brought the election result on themselves by cheating Bernie Sanders out of his rightful nomination, replacing him with the most unpopular candidate ever to run for president, and expecting identity politics to work as it had in the past – counting on the votes of women, blacks and Hispanics to get them across the line while betraying their traditional base, the white working class.

As Waleed Aly correctly points out in his recent SMH column, this election put class warfare front and centre of the debate for the first time in decades, and propelled to power the most unlikely hero the working class has ever seen, a repulsive, divisive caricature of a candidate who now faces the challenge of ‘binding the wounds of division’ and ‘governing for all Americans’. Considering Julian Assange himself said just days out from the election that Donald Trump would “not be allowed to win”, this has caused considerable embarrassment among pundits.

Of course the entire farce has been controlled by the media from the get go. Wikileaks has revealed how the DNC handpicked its opponent from a list of 30 possible candidates as the most easy to defeat. 10 months of campaigning has seen vicious attacks on Trump’s personal life, tax records, and general bad manners. His racism, sexism and pussy-grabbing have been constantly in the spotlight while absolutely nothing of substance has been debated, and the corruption of the Clinton campaign has been completely swept under the rug by mainstream media. Did the DNC really think it could sweep aside four decades of consolidated attacks on the working class with a single empty promise of breaking the “glass ceiling”? The results show just how arrogant and out of touch the traditional party of working people has become.

In the wake of the election we are told by the liberal media that Trump will unleash a wave of fear and loathing unseen since 1930s Germany, emboldening the gutter politics of the Hansons and Marine le Pens, setting brother against brother, causing the nations to tremble and other pseudo-religious gibberish. “This is a terrible moment for America. Hold your loved ones close”, proclaims The Guardian. Give me a break. It’s not like the GOP hasn’t been in power every 8 years since forever. This is how American politics works – the ball is kicked from one team to the other to give the illusion of choice, while the same elites continue to run the show. This good cop-bad cop routine has kept the elites in power from time immemorial. As Marx said, “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”

In many ways the Obama administration has been far worse than anything which happened under Bush. The unknown senator from Illinois, swept into power on a message of hope and change, quickly became the “house nigger”. From his first day in office he represented the Wall Street banks, rewarding them with taxpayer funded bailouts for criminally and wilfully crashing the global economy. His assassinations by executive order, illegal use of drones which target mostly civilians, and persecution of whistle blowers would have seen democrats baying for blood if carried out by a Republican president. Where were the outraged liberals when Obama reneged on his promise to shut down Guantanamo, or when he promised to end Bush’s war legacy, but instead expanded it? Where was the popular protest when he supported a murderous coup in Ukraine, or when he militarised the police force with surplus army stocks?

None of this should come as any surprise from a Democratic president, after all it was Bill Clinton’s policies in the 90s which took welfare payments away from single mums, created the prison industrial complex, deindustrialised the US economy while exporting tens of thousands of jobs to lower wage paying countries, overturned the 1933 Glass Steagall act which prevented the banks from gambling with people’s deposits, and destroyed Yugoslavia.

In recent decades we’ve seen an unprecedented level of policy overlap between the Republican and Democratic parties – in fact it’s fair to say the US has enjoyed 28 years of virtual one party rule. Considering the seldom disputed fact that GHW Bush managed Reagan’s presidency from behind the scenes from the time of the assassination attempt in 1981, this could easily be stretched out to 35 years. 35 years of rule by two families as close to American royalty as it gets; The Bushes with their family ties to American oil and gas, and the Clintons with their addiction to power and wealth, and their private pay-for-play slush funds funnelling hundreds of millions of dollars into Hillary and Bill’s private bank accounts in return for State Department favours. And liberals really wonder why the white working class rejected Hillary? This was a rejection of the whole rotten establishment.

If Reagan’s career as a b-grade movie actor failed to cast even a shadow of illegitimacy over his presidency, it’s no wonder this boorish reality TV host has no trouble cutting through. Throughout his campaign Trump’s rhetoric has taken populism to a whole new level. Trump will say literally anything, no matter how offensive, to appeal to potential voters, and just as readily change his mind afterwards. As president elect he seems to have backed away from some of his key policy pillars. His promised ban on Muslim immigration is now conspicuously missing from his website, (a sensible move, since it was unconstitutional anyway.) He’s promised to uphold LGBT rights, going as far as to say that transgender people can pee wherever they like as far as he’s concerned. Instead of lowering taxes, he’s now talking about raising them, and he’s indicated his support for deficit spending and single payer healthcare. On foreign policy however, there remain two key points on which he has been very consistent, and which clearly set him apart from his opponent: He will work with Russia to defeat ISIS, and he will not use a nuclear first strike option.

In a speech which may be one of the oddest of Trump’s entire campaign, delivered to a group of more than 700 evangelical pastors in Orlando Florida in August, Trump had this to say: “…this will be an election that will go down in the history books and for evangelicals, for the Christians, for everybody, for everybody of religion, this will be maybe the most important election that our country has ever had, so go out and spread the word and once I get in, I will do my thing that I do very well. And I figure it’s probably maybe the only way I’m going to get to heaven. So I better do a good job. Okay?”

Given his isolationist stance and opposition to free trade agreements, more neoliberal reforms seem unlikely, so what is this thing he plans on doing once in office? Will he live up to his promise to audit the Federal Reserve? Will he follow through on his plan to introduce lobbying reforms and term limits on representatives and senators? Dare we even countenance the thought that Trump and his merry band of anti LGBT, anti women’s reproductive rights, anti Muslim, Ayn Rand loving, climate-denying dominionist theocrats might be about to break with the tradition of villainy which has plagued Washington for decades? Could this explain the Bushes throwing their last minute support behind the Clinton campaign, betraying their traditional party allegiances? Could this signal a coup d’état to end 35 years of Bush-Clinton collusion and corruption? All of this will depend on how Trump stacks his cabinet, but the appointment of Trey Gowdy to Attorney General is a positive sign that a newly minted President Trump may be gunning for the dodgy insiders, think tank cronies, banksters, Bush neocons and career scumbags who have controlled the levers of power for decades.

Trump has already promised to kill off the TPP, and according to many alternate media sources, his conciliatory approach to Russia has in all likelihood saved us from the very real threat of nuclear confrontation in the coming months. As the US Empire faces its inevitable decline, will Trump side with Zbigniew Brezinski and withdraw from the Washington Consensus, allowing a new mulipolar world order to emerge unchallenged? Or will he continue in the Kissinger tradition of imposing US hegemony at gunpoint? For what its worth I don’t really hold high hopes, but by his very election Trump has proven that anything is possible. If early indicators can be trusted, he may be well advised not to plan any trips to Dallas in the near future.

From Terra Nullius to Nauru: Racism as the blunt instrument of political expediency

On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag, edifice to the Imperial Diet of the German Empire, was set on fire and burnt to the ground. In the wake of the fire a young Dutch communist by the name of Marinus Van der Lubbe was arrested, imprisoned and executed. Within 24 hours Hitler would enact the Decree for the Protection of People and State, giving the Nazis power to imprison anyone considered an enemy of the state, indefinitely and without trial. While this initially enabled the rounding up of communists and other political dissidents, it would not be long before these far reaching powers were used against a different enemy. The comparison to the events of September 11 2001 and the signing into law of the Patriot Act could not be more compelling. Each event would become a pretext for global conflict, and each would eventually be used to justify its government’s particular brand of genocidal anti-Semitism.

Today the West’s undeclared war against Muslim countries has created the greatest refugee crisis in history. With hundreds of its victims now languishing in indefinite detention in Australia’s offshore gulags, suffering rape, physical abuse and mental torture, one wonders how a nation built on the idea of the fair go could have descended to such a level of moral depravity. Or was it ever thus?

From the arrival of the first white settlers to rise of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, there is a pernicious strain of xenophobia which runs through Australian culture. We saw it in the genocide of the first Australians, sacrificed in the hundreds of thousands. We see it in the survivors who have struggled for recognition ever since. We saw it in the “yellow peril” and the riots against Chinese labourers on the Victorian goldfields in the 1850s. We saw it again in 1888 when the newspapers whipped the public into a frenzy of paranoia over the arrival of the SS Afghan. We saw it in attitudes towards southern European migrant labourers in the late 19th century. We saw it in the White Australia policy which effectively banned non European immigration. We saw it in labour disputes in the Queensland cane fields in the 1930s, in anti-Asian sentiment throughout the 1950s and 60s, and in the Cronulla race riots of 2005.

Racism, so it seems, is part of our cultural identity. But there is also a strain of anti-racism which goes back just as far, from stories of early convict labourers taking the side of the local Aboriginals against their British oppressors, to the 1967 referendum; from the Vietnam moratoriums of the 1970s, to the counter-protests which seem to erupt spontaneously whenever flag-waving/wearing bigots take to the streets to protest the building of a new mosque.

Clearly there is more to this picture than meets the eye.

Racism has always been a tool of the oppressing class; an integral part of the strategy of divide and rule. The dispossession and genocide committed against Australia’s first inhabitants was not by convicts and labourers, but by uniformed men in service of British ruling elites and pastoralists. To make these actions seem somehow acceptable, indigenous people were labelled as animals and savages. Two hundred years later John Howard would nakedly put the interests of mining companies ahead of indigenous people in his attempts to water down the small but significant victories achieved for aboriginal land rights. We saw the same politicisation of race in Howard’s refusal to apologise to the stolen generations, and of course in the infamous Tampa incident, in which he falsely accused refugee parents of throwing their children into the sea. This was Howard’s Reichstag fire, shrewdly and cynically manipulated to ensure electoral victory while lowering the bar on the standard of basic human dignity with which refugees and asylum seekers are treated.

Howard was indeed a master when it came to playing the race card. Hanson and her acolytes are grasshoppers in comparison; convenient shills to be used as “controlled opposition” – someone to do the government’s dirty work, allowing those in authority to maintain their “moderate” veneer. Being the liberal society we claim to be, we tolerate their extreme viewpoints as “free speech”. Vulgar as they are, they still represent the views of a large portion of the voting public, so we are told. Hanson’s party is now using its numbers in the Senate to support an amendment which will prevent people whose only crime is to have exercised their legal right to seek asylum from ever applying for an Australian visa. In her own words, this will send a clear message that refugees are not welcome in Australia. Would the public have voted for such a law?

Today’s anti-immigration sentiment has been contrived and cultivated through mass media, reflecting a changing political climate where approval is sought by first inciting, then appealing to mass anxiety and paranoia. This is the Hegelian dialectic played out through fearmongering: An external threat is first concocted, which leads to a widespread reaction of fear and panic. Our leaders then hope to secure their jobs with the promise of keeping us safe from the imagined threat. This is why national security, border control and the ever present threat of terrorism are such hot button issues. Of course none of this would be possible without a manufactured bogeyman – racism is the glue which holds it all together.

Beneath today’s racism lies a nonsensical but nonetheless powerful conflation of followers of Islamic faith with terrorism. Of course it is rarely proffered as such, rather worded in more subtle tones. Islam is incompatible with Western values, we are often reminded, when in fact Islam’s teachings uphold personal liberty, justice, and democratic principles. Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology, screeches Hanson, flatly ignoring the fact that Christianity, Judaism and Islam are three closely related manifestations of the same Abrahamic faith. Islam never had a reformation, according to former PM Tony Abbott, himself an unreformed Christian. And so it goes…

Seldom do we hear of the Islamic Golden Age, the original scientific revolution upon whose foundation much of contemporary mathematics, language and medicine was built. Acceptance of this historical fact would mean acknowledging a common heritage which predates European science, art and literature by 700 years. Likewise we are rarely told that the 19 Saudi hijackers aboard the planes of 9/11 liked to drink alcohol, snort cocaine and hang out with pink haired strippers, because this would make them, by definition, not practicing Muslims, let alone Islamic fundamentalists. Instead we are shown images of CIA trained guerrillas burning children in cages and told that this is the face of Islamic terrorism, and by extension, Islam itself.

Marxist theorists, many of whom happened to be Jews, were among the first to call out race politics, calling instead for an internationalist movement which transcends the divides of race and gender. The labour movement in Australia (if not always the Labor party) has a proud history of fighting for aboriginal rights and the rights of migrant workers. It really is just common sense that when rights apply equally to all, migrant workers cannot be used to force down wages and conditions. Of course cries of “they took our jobs/benefits” will always appeal to the fearful, but this is an irrational fear based on a false premise. The old adage united we stand, divided we fall has more than a poetic ring to it. It is a universal truth. Acknowledging racism as a tool of oppression is a vital step toward emancipation. Reaching across the racial divide empowers us, where Hansonism leaves us fighting among ourselves.

Australia now faces, or rather refuses to face, a crime surely equal in depravity to the stolen generations; a crime for which, at some point, a future Prime Minister, perhaps reading from a teleprompter, with tearful eyes and a sombre tone, will make a sincere and heartfelt apology. This apology will of course be too late. In pursuing a policy of deliberate cruelty as deterrence, we put ourselves in the company of such illustrious persecutors of minorities as apartheid South Africa, Myanmar, North Korea and modern day Israel. While the flames of racism may be fanned by so-called patriots who choose to wear the flag as a bandana, the direction comes from the highest levels of executive government, authorised by the legislature, and implemented by the security apparatus. This is a humanitarian crisis of our own making; we imprison and persecute refugees as a matter of public policy.

The modern surveillance state allows our personal data to be harvested and sold back to us in the form of advertising. It also assures a level of compliance and conformity among its citizens. It could not exist absent the idea of some existential threat, real or imagined. The War on Terror, or rather, the war on brown people, feeds the weapons manufacturers who prop up the Wall Street banks. Without it the entire global financial system would come crashing down like a house of cards. Similarly, this war could never have been waged without a bogeyman, yet Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction turned out to be a bald faced lie. Are we seeing a pattern yet?

The dispossession and colonisation of Australia was based on the lie of Terra Nullius. The illegal imprisonment of men, women and children on Nauru and Manus is based on the lie that locking people up and torturing them is the only way to prevent deaths at sea. The savage cuts to welfare proposed by the current government are based on the lie that Australia has a spending problem, yet ignores the fact that we spend $400 000 per person per year in administering a policy of deliberate cruelty to refugees.

Just weeks after breaking the Don Dale detention centre scandal and reporting on the Nauru files, our national broadcaster is being rounded on by the immigration minister for leading a “crusade against government policy”, and reform of section 18c of the racial discrimination act, apparently dead buried and cremated under the previous government, appears to be back on the table again. When Malcolm Turnbull’s polling is so low that he must drag out the most unpopular policies of his predecessor to appeal to the conservative base of his party, and make deals with One Nation to pass his unpopular budget measures, it’s not racism driving politics, but the other way around.

Trustworthy sycophants: How Australia became America’s lapdog.

In memory of Desmond John “Des” Ball AO (20 May 1947 – 12 October 2016)

When George H W Bush first publicly coined the phrase New World Order, a term previously proscribed to conspiracy buffs, it came as both a declaration of unilateral power, and a brash ultimatum to anyone who didn’t like the way America does business. The sentiment was recently echoed in outgoing President Barack Obama’s final sales pitch for his embattled the TiSA, TPP and TTIP trade agreements.

Speaking at the 71st meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Obama used his valedictory address to spruik the importance of globalisation and free trade, calling on the world to “work together to see the benefits of integration are more broadly shared.” After a quarter century of US economic hegemony in which we’ve witnessed the widespread deindustrialisation of Western economies and attendant decline in living standards, his words ring out with the moral authority of a wet fart.

One doesn’t need an economics degree to see that the current round of trade agreements, far from sharing the benefits of integration, represent a decisive effort to isolate the world’s third largest economy and its population of 1.3 billion from the benefits of global trade. In Obama’s own words “The US, not China, should write the rules of the global economy.”

In keeping with this policy directive comes Washington’s Pivot to Asia, announced by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an October 2011 Foreign Policy article titled “America’s Pacific Century”. The initiative aims to bring together Australia and other US allies in a joint naval deployment to encircle China from the Marshall Islands to the Indian subcontinent. With the US dollar under increasing pressure from the Chinese tariffs, and a Sino-American trade war looming, this can only be seen as a desperate ploy to head off China’s imminent rise to superpower status.

The idea of following the US into a hot war with China is not something any of us wants to think about, but the prospect of losing 40% of our GDP to a failed export market isn’t a particularly cheerful one either. As an island nation, Australia is largely reliant on maritime trade, a large part of which involves supplying China, Japan and South Korea with low cost-per-ton ores and agricultural products. We also rely on a strategic partnership with the US to secure our sea lanes. This relationship, perhaps better described as a protection racket, has now become an exceedingly complex issue.

Australia’s regional security has often come at a high price. While we face no direct military threat from any of our neighbours, either now or in the foreseeable future, for over a century we’ve aligned ourselves with great naval powers, firstly Britain, then the US, to protect our sea lanes and safeguard the backbone of our economy. In return we’ve been called on to supply cannon fodder for imperialist wars in Africa, Europe, South-East and Central Asia, and the Middle East.

To fully understand how a largely self-serving political class is happy to send Australian servicemen and women to kill innocent children in faraway lands, but does nothing to prevent the wholesale export of our manufacturing jobs to third world countries, we must examine closely the relationship between geopolitics and global capitalism.

 

Initially established as a British penal colony, Australia has always remained to a large degree a vassal. Our loyalty to Britain was not so much challenged as usurped by the polarising shift in global power which came about after WWII, when the US formally took the reins of the British Empire.

The post war years saw the transformation of the US into a permanent war economy. Military Keynesianism created jobs and boosted economic output, while social spending decreased proportionately. War as it turns out is not just good for business, it is essential to the American business model, accounting for 54% of all federal discretionary spending (as much as the rest of the world’s defence budgets combined.) The world’s three biggest arms manufacturers, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman together raked in well in excess of $100bn last year alone.

Australia for its part has committed $24bn to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which has been widely described as a lemon; overpriced, too slow, lacking manoeuvrability and highly visible to radar. This comes on top of a $32bn annual defence budget and a further $50bn for 12 new submarines. Meanwhile we are told we must tighten our purse strings and cut social spending in the name of budget repair. It hardly makes sense.

Alas the postcolonial apple never falls far from the tree, and while we’ve been busy fighting America’s wars abroad, at home we’ve seen the rapid transformation of a relatively successful proto-Scandinavian economy into an American-styled fascist oligarchy. When $50bn worth of tax cuts for the rich must come at the cost of slashing already inadequate welfare spending, something is arse about.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is the trade deal to end all trade deals. TPP calls for the elimination of tarrifs and absolute protection of property rights. (No more cheap generic drug substitutes or plain packaged cigarettes.) Add an investor-state arbitration process allowing corporations to sue governments for lost profits and you have a recipe for complete corporate control over governments and citizens. With the levers of power now firmly in the hands of big business, this deal will be pushed through by hook or by crook.

Some call it neoliberalism, but fascism by any other name would smell as foul. The dislocation of the working classes, dismantling of public institutions and removal of civil liberties we see today are the hallmarks of a corporate coup d’état. That the same agenda was advanced by the corporatist movement in Germany, Italy and France during the 1920s should be cause for consternation.

 (1) shift power directly to economic and social interest groups;

(2) push entrepreneurial initiative in areas normally reserved for public bodies;

(3) obliterate the boundaries between public and private interest — that is, challenge the idea of the public interest.

– John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization. (1998)

Today we are witnessing a relentless attack on the welfare state which affects every aspect of our lives. From our early education to the ‘news’ and entertainment we consume, we are hoodwinked into a culture of victim blaming, invited to believe that that merit, rather than exploitation, is the pathway to success; that the rich earn their privileged status, and the peasants deserve their poverty. This normalisation of moral bankruptcy has affected a massive transfer of wealth and power to a predator class commonly referred to as the one percent.

The rich get richer, the poor get the picture, and the only solution offered is more of what got us here in the first place – further deregulation and the wholesale privatisation of public services. Everything from prisons to hospitals to the triple zero emergency service is now for sale. This is capitalism off the chain, doing what it does best; increasing profits and driving down the cost of labour. The social contract is being put through the shredder while our leaders are either bought and paid for, or simply lack the moral courage to imagine a future which benefits anyone but themselves and their crony mates.

“Australia is a lucky country run by second rate people who share its luck”, wrote Donald Horne in 1964. It was meant as a chastisement, not a metaphor for sun, sand and surf. In 1976 he added “In the lucky style we have never ‘earned’ our democracy. We simply went along with some British habits.”

Unfortunately Britain, and more recently the US, have not been the best of role models. Our blind pursuit of Thatcherism and Reaganomics has led us into an economic cul-de-sac. In skilfully unburdening ourselves of a cumbersome manufacturing sector dependent on government handouts, we have become the definition of a third world economy, subsisting on primary production, tourism and a questionable ‘service’ industry. Instead of building a robust and diverse economy, we’ve undermined ourselves at every turn. Rather than learning to stand on our own feet, we’ve become a nation of obsequious sycophants; the trinket consuming white niggers of the antipodes.

Having acquiesced to the US dictum of preferential free trade, manufacturing will now be shipped offshore in pursuit of cheap labour. Ford will make its cars in Thailand for $6 and hour, while our whitegoods will be made in China for $3.50 an hour. Meanwhile garment manufacturers in Bangladesh will continue to be paid 21c an hour. Behold the New World Order which George Bush forespoke.

Australia today finds itself backed into a corner. Hitching our wagon to the greatest military power on earth has shaped our nation in two ways: Able to scratch a modest living digging up rocks in our backyard and flogging them cheaply to our neighbours, we’ve neglected to develop our economy much beyond primary production. Meanwhile with US military power largely unchecked since the end of the cold war, we find ourselves locked into a relentless cycle of military aggression, spending blood and treasure on foreign battlefields to line the pockets of the Bushes, Cheneys, Murdochs, Rothschilds, Exxon-Mobils and Raytheons.

Finally there is the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who currently resides in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, unlawfully and arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom at the behest of the United States on trumped up allegations of sexual misconduct. (Apparently speaking truth to power has not yet made it into the statute books as an extraditable offence.) What a sad indictment that a small country like Ecuador is prepared to stand up to US bullying and defend the rights of an Australian citizen, when all it would take is the jot of a pen to have the AFP escort him to the nearest airport, put him on a plane, bring him home and grant him diplomatic asylum in his own country. What is the US going to do about it? Withdraw its military bases? Surely we are owed some quid pro quo.

If politics is the art of the possible, then our current strategic alliance may be our only short term option. But what about the future? What happens when US interests directly conflict with our own? Do we really want to be drawn into a regional conflict with a major trading partner? And what of our future economic prosperity? Will we continue to allow free trade agreements to be rammed down our throats at the cost of local jobs? Do we really want a US-style health system? These are all serious questions which must be addressed with long term thinking. Unfortunately our political class seem to have their fingers in the till or their heads in the sand, or both. We talk of being nimble, yet do our utmost to stifle innovation. Instead of putting the welfare of our citizens first, we pander to multinational corporate interests and their rapacious greed. Risk averse, conservative to the core, perennially lazy, blinkered with ignorance, and too short sighted to see the car crash ahead of us, we remain as ever the obedient servants of the empire.

The changing of the guard – An optimist’s guide to the New World Order.

I closed my last post with a series of rhetorical questions. Why are RAAF jets flying missions inside Syria? Why are we following the United States blindly halfway around the world to drop bombs on a country with whom we are not at war? And why do we now appear to be supporting ISIS? In hindsight these questions could have been answered in a single bullet point: Australia is a client state of the US, and we do exactly as we’re told. The question then becomes, what is the US doing in Syria? To understand this we must turn back the clock a few decades.

In 1945, having financed both sides of a war which had brought Britain to its knees, the US was ready to take the reins of the world’s first truly global Empire. To this end an agreement was reached between 730 delegates from 44 countries which would establish the US dollar as the world reserve currency, backed by gold at $38 an ounce. Sister agencies the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were created to regulate finance markets and provide loans for post war reconstruction, effectively giving the US a license to print money for the rest of the world.

When suspicions rose that there were more US dollars in circulation than there was gold to back them, certain countries, in particular France, began to make noises about wanting their gold back. In 1971, fearing a run on gold reserves, Richard Nixon unpegged the dollar from the gold standard, and in 1973 a deal was struck with the corrupt House of Saud which would make the most precious commodity of the industrial age, oil, denominated in US dollars, the new reserve currency. So it was that the world’s most indebted country (currently $21tr) became its economic hegemon, through near complete control of the global oil market.

Today the US petrodollar faces an existential threat brought about by a growing resistance to US foreign policy. After years of sanctions and military interventions, the rebels are now taking the fight to the Empire. New Silk Road project, the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank, and the BRICS alliance (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa, recently joined by Iran), have the globalists in panic, which has prompted military escalation in three main theatres: the Ukraine, the Middle East and the South China Sea.

Committed to a 100 year old doctrine borrowed from geostrategist Halford McKinder, the US’ prime objective is to encircle the heartland (the Eurasian plate), taking control of its resources and transport routes. This involves applying pressure in an arc stretching from the Korean Peninsula to Eastern Europe, rounding the Diego Garcia naval base and taking in Northeast Africa from Somalia through to Libya. Meanwhile NATO along with strategic partners Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are busy bombing the last remaining free states in Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, and ‘flooding’ Europe with refugees to fuel the rebirth of Nazism.

Having taken Iraq off the political map with the 2003 illegal invasion and removal of Saddam Hussein, the goal now is to replace the 1916 Sykes Picot agreement with newly created Sunni, Shia and Kurdish territories. This would serve two purposes – firstly rendering Israel’s immediate neighbours smaller, weaker and more compliant, as mandated by the Yinon Plan. Secondly it would call for an expanded US military presence and unlimited free money for defence contractors, civil engineers, and insurance companies. Dick Cheney’s Haliburton netted a cool $39bn from a war that cost the lives of over a million Iraqis. What price will the IMF and World Bank put on “rebuilding” war ravaged Syria and Yemen?

 

WWII may have officially ended when with the fall of communist East Germany, but the cold war scarcely stopped for breath. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the US has tightened its grip on Russia economically and militarily. Regime change in Syria would give the US unfettered US access to Arab oil, increasing its stranglehold over the Russian economy which relies heavily on Europe’s oil and gas markets. It would also bring Washington’s Islamist chaos closer to Russia’s southern flank.

The strategy is currently being coordinated by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter. A neocon war criminal and one of the original architects of the “War on Terror”, Carter is the embodiment of a particularly racist idiom. His Department of Defence is now an authority unto itself, and won’t be brought to heel by Obama or Kerry. He is ‘off the reservation’. Beneath the veneer of bureaucracy the US war machine is more than ever under the direct control of international banks, oil companies and weapons manufacturers. Within this corporate hierarchy Obama’s exalted position is not that of CEO but rather media liaison.

“Barack Obama has always supported, to my knowledge, cooperation with Russia and confirmed this during the meeting with Putin in China. It seems to me that the military does not listen to the commander.” Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov interviewed on “Pozdnyakov”, NTV, September 26, 2016

For the first time in history we have a global empire; a rotten to the core transnational oligarchy of oil, guns and exploited labour, parading under the stars and stripes of free market capitalism. With over 800 military bases in 70 countries, the US is more than just an exceptional state, it is a rogue state. It is not the world’s policeman; it is the jackboot of imperialism in the face of the working classes. It’s not the shining city on the hill; it is white phosphorous and sarin gas, pesticides and fracking waste-water. It promises freedom and democracy but delivers poverty and endless war. The values which it boasts are spiked with reality TV and Ritalin to make them palatable, but the world has no more appetite for its junk food.

Fortunately there is an alternative, one in which the world’s emerging economies are heavily invested. While Syria, Russia, China and Iran must deal with the military threat posed by Washington’s doctrine of full spectrum dominance, there are also economic challenges to be met. A return to asset based currencies and a shift toward a decentralised, multipolar world order is essential to our common future. With principles of international law and national sovereignty in the balance, not to mention the safety, security, health and happiness of all seven billion humans on spaceship earth, this could be our final chance to write our history.

 

 

 

Kunduz Redux: Australia joins US in Deir al-Zour cock up.

On Saturday at 5pm local time US Central Command launched airstrikes on a Syrian army garrison in Deir al-Zour in the Thardeh Mountain region, killing 62 Syrian Aran Army soldiers and leaving over 100 injured. The air strike enabled Islamic State militants to advance, leading to accusations by the Russian foreign ministry that the White House is defending the terrorists. According to a statement issued by US Central Command, “the raids were halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military”.

Details of Australia’s involvement in this ‘mistake’ have slowly begun to emerge, but it is still unclear at time of writing which our F/A-18A Hornets, Wedgetail command planes and RAAF KC-30 aerial refuellers were involved in the attack. In deference to our betters, Defence issued a statement today stating “As Australians would expect, the US-led Coalition will review this incident thoroughly and Australia will cooperate fully [bend over as far as possible] with this review.”

In the wake of the attacks Russia convened an urgent UN Security Council meeting, in which Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin made it clear that the US had violated the terms of the current cease fire agreement by attacking a Syrian army position. US Ambassador Samantha Power was dismissive, accusing Russia of joining the Assad regime and playing the pot-kettle-black card, repeating allegations of Russian attacks on refugee camps and hospitals. (Power appears to suffer from selective amnesia regarding the events of 3 October 2015, when a United States Air Force AC-130U gunship attacked the Kunduz Trauma Centre operated by Médecins Sans Frontières in northern Afghanistan, leaving 42 people killed and over 30 injured.)

The 2003 invasion of Iraq and lynching of Saddam Hussein cost the lives of over a million innocents, destroyed an entire country, and, so we are repeatedly told by the MSM, set the stage for the rise of Islamic State. Less than a decade later, the US is supplying weapons and giving air support to so-called moderate rebels in a bid to topple the Syrian government and its elected leader. Needless to say, turning Syria over to Islamist terrorists intent on imposing Sharia law would mean the complete destruction of the last secular democracy in the Middle East.

So please tell me again. Why are RAAF jets flying missions inside Syria? Why are we following the United States blindly halfway around the world to drop bombs on a country with whom we are not at war? And why, in the name of all that is holy, do we now appear to be supporting ISIS?

Michael Yabsley, please shut up.

Given to bouts of masochism, I periodically torture myself with what passes for news and current affairs on our national broadcaster, the ABC. Last night I watched aghast as former NSW Liberal MP Michael Yabsley regurgitated one of the most repugnant, self righteous and utterly racist memes to emerge in the last 15 years. “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims”, is an assertion which Mr Yabsley insists “has some truth in it.”

The point was made in the context of Senator Pauline Hanson’s Islamophobic outburst in the Senate, which caused all 9 Greens Senators to stand up and walk out (seems only fitting – the Greens are used to giving speeches to an empty chamber.) Hanson’s maiden speech was awful, riddled with errors of fact, and not fit for comment. Mr Yabsley’s response however was a bald faced lie which should not go unchecked.

Fortunately a 5 minute google search produced a list of syndicated non-Islamist terror organizations of sufficient notoriety to make this a moot point: The IRA, UDA and RIRA (Ireland) The Lord’s Resistance Army (Uganda), Kahane Chai (Israel) Aum Shinrikyo (Japan), New People’s Army (NPA) (Philippines), Golden Dawn, (Spain) Shining Path, Epanastatikos Agonas (Peru), Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias De Colombia (FARC), were among the first to pop up.

Leaving aside the joint Saudi-Israeli-CIA coordinated attacks of September 11 2001, of the total number of deaths attributed to terrorism on American soil in recent years, only a small fraction (6-7%) have been blamed on Muslims. Interestingly a similar percentage of terrorist murders are attributed to Jewish extremists, while Catholic Latinos make up by far the largest ethno-religious group. Let’s not forget the murder of 100 million Native Americans, or the lynching of blacks which was still taking place in 1968. Australia’s black history is equally tragic, but I digress…

Just last year former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee correctly identified the Obama regime as the “leading state sponsor of terrorism”. Leaked emails show that Hillary Clinton’s State Department funded ISIS, just as previous administrations funded al Qaeda and the Taliban. From Bosnia and Kosovo to Indonesia and the Philippines, from Cuba and Nicaragua to just about every other country where there’s been a major civil war in the last 70 years, the US has used terrorists to wage war by proxy. Today both the CIA and State Department work hand in glove with so-called moderate opposition groups in Syria, often fighting on opposite sides. Like Star Wars Episode VII, the latest installment in the ISIS propaganda film franchise shows the same old actors with better special effects but a less convincing plot.

Britain is the world’s second biggest arms dealer and profits from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia which are paid for in US petrodollars. These weapons are then given to ‘jihadists’, some of whom are known to receive instruction in Jordanian training camps run by British SAS before being funneled into neighbouring Syria. When they are injured they are treated in Israeli field hospitals. Who was it again who told us about an axis of evil?

We are told that ISIS recruits its manpower from 100 different countries and likes to target a particular demographic: the 15-16 year old disgruntled sons of low paid immigrant workers who are easily radicalised by the internet. But just like the 19 Saudi actors of September 11 who liked to drink alcohol, snort cocaine and hang out with pink haired strippers, most ISIS jihadis couldn’t recite a verse from the holy Qu’ran over their own mother’s grave.

Call me cynical, but if you wanted to raise a paramilitary outfit in the Middle East, there’s no shortage of skilled labour available; from the remnants of Saddam’s republican guard and the virtual slave army of Saudi political prisoners forced to choose between military service or summary execution, to the tens of thousands of private security contractors already deployed throughout the region to protect Western assets. (These same contractors are also charged with operating Australia’s illegal offshore detention regime, and ‘protecting’ the Dakota Access pipeline from indigenous activists.)

If Mr Yabsley wants to have a conversation about terrorism (n. the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims), let’s start with Abu Ghraib, where young boys were raped in front of their mothers by US soldiers. Then maybe we can discuss what goes on in our own detention centres, where women and men are systematically and routinely tortured or driven to insanity for the dubious crime of traveling in international waters without a valid visa. When it comes to pointing the finger, both Hanson’s deplorables and Abbott’s bible thumping backbenchers would do well to take the advice of their patriarch: “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Suffice it to say that all terrorists aren’t Muslims, just as all politicians aren’t intellectually-vacant, pleasantly-grinning, xenophobic, hetero-tragic tossbuckets.