Design Fault: Counterterrorism’s Egregious Failures Don’t Faze Our Leaders

Written by Chris Floyd 04 June 2017 9263 Hits

I think anyone who takes an objective view of the abysmal record of failure on the part of the official who as Home Secretary and Prime Minister has been in charge of UK counterterrorism policy for many years must agree with the declaration of Theresa May following the London attacks: "enough is enough." Well said, Mrs. May. We must repudiate these failed policies and all those who have pushed them, of whatever party or ideological stripe.

On both the micro level of singular acts of terrorism by individuals and the macro level of geopolitical strategy -- such as the close alliance with the sectarian Saudi tyrants who have been the primary purveyors of Islamic extremism around the world for decades -- the UK's "counterterrorism" policies have been egregious, atrocious failures. This includes the decisions by May and other government officials to run "ratlines" of radicalized Britons in and out of Libya and Syria -- and back -- in order to carry out cynical geopolitical agendas of regime change and domination. (Among these UK backed agents of destabilization, of course, was the recent suicide bomber in Manchester.)

I certainly agree that we have had "enough" of these wretchedly counterproductive policies, and the inhumane, ruthless power gaming that lies behind them. To continue with these policies -- or even worse, to "double down" on them in some witless, blunderbuss way -- guarantees there will be an unending series of incidents such as the one in London Saturday night. This might suit the military-industrial-surveillance complex that is devouring the societies of the UK and the US, where war and terror and fear have become vast engines of profit and power for private companies and governments alike. But it will be, as it has been, ruinous and deadly for the peace and prosperity of the citizens these governments purport to serve.

In this century alone, the US and UK have helped destroy two largely secular, multicultural regimes that had stood as bulwarks against the kind of Islamic extremism peddled by our allies, Saudi Arabia: Iraq and Libya. A third such country, Syria, has been the target of an ongoing regime change war in which the West and Saudis are openly backing al Qaeda allies and other extremists. This bipartisan policy of fostering extremism for geopolitical ends was also used in Afghanistan, where a thoroughly secular regime was overthrown by Islamic extremists armed, paid and organized by the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

This is not to praise those regimes, but to speak in the terms our leaders themselves have adopted: that Islamic terrorism is the primary threat to our civilization and thus counterterrorism is an overarching priority. If countering Islamic extremism is your priority, then supporting Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy. If it is your priority to combat Islamic extremism which threatens to radicalize citizens of your own country, then giving massive, continuous, unquestioning support to the brutal tyrants who have exported extremist Islam all over the world for decades is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy. If it is your priority to defend your civilization from radical Islamic extremism, then launching war after war after war in Islamic countries with secular governments — and aiding extremist militias in those countries, like al Qaeda, al Nusra, ISIS, and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, founded in the 1990s with support from the West to launch terrorist attacks against the Gadafy regime — are, to put it mildly, the wrong policies. If it is your overarching priority to prevent the spread of hatred, radicalization and revenge, then committing mass murder in drone strikes on villages, weddings, farmers and children is, to put it mildly, the wrong policy.

Viewing all this history, and viewing the actual, visible record of officials like Theresa May (and her bipartisan UK predecessors and US counterparts) on counterterrorism, we are left with only two possible conclusions. One, that all of these highly educated, accomplished and successful individuals — across the range of party affiliations — are dithering, blithering idiots, incapable of recognizing the clear, manifest, repeated failure of their counterterrorism policies, year after year after year. Or two, that quelling and countering terrorism is NOT actually an overarching priority for our leaders; that they know full well these policies lead to more extremism, more terrorism — as their own intelligence services have repeatedly told them — but carry on with them just the same.

Therefore we are left with a further conclusion, which I’ve noted before, but which becomes clearer and clearer with each new terrorist attack and each new doubling-down on the same failed policies by the West: for our leaders, for those on the commanding heights of our bipartisan power structures, the game is worth the candle.  The pursuit of their geopolitical power-game agendas means more to them — much, much more — than the lives and well-being and security of their own citizens. If there is no change in these broader policies, no change in the inhuman, inhumane agenda of domination, then no amount of tinkering with “Prevent” programs on the local level — much less even more authoritarian repression on the national level — will stop the outbreak of sickening evils like the London killings.

Until more people recognize the fact that our own governments have been absolutely crucial to the rise and spread of violent Islamic extremism — both directly, in their alliance with Saudi Arabia, and in the many, many instances of their arming and abetting Islamic terrorists; and indirectly, in carrying out policies which they KNOW will produce radicalized extremists — then we will not even begin to address the problem, much less start to solve it. And this includes recognizing —and questioning — the agendas of our elites as well, to ask why their barbaric quest for dominance and control over others is worth the lives of our sons and daughters, our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, as well as the lives of the countless innocents they kill, year after year, in foreign lands.

This is the world our leaders have created with their deliberately chosen policies, in full knowledge of the consequences. Until we recognize this — until we say “enough is enough” to  these policies and alliances and covert collusions and brutal agendas that stoke the fires of extremism — there will be no end to this madness. It will only grow worse.

Add a comment

The Whirlwind and the Candle: Terror as a Policy Tool

Written by Chris Floyd 26 May 2017 9000 Hits

Right after the Paris attacks in November 2015, I wrote two articles about the historical context and the continuing policies that led to the nightmare. (One of articles was denounced in Parliament by the prime minister and others.) Unfortunately, the articles are still entirely applicable today, with only small amendment: substituting “Manchester” for “Paris.” I very much fear they will be applicable for a long time to come. I've put them together below.

I. Age of Despair: Reaping the Whirlwind of Western Support for Extremist Violence

We, the West, overthrew Saddam by violence. We overthrew Gadafy by violence. We are trying to overthrow Assad by violence. Harsh regimes all — but far less draconian than our Saudi allies, and other tyrannies around the world. What has been the result of these interventions? A hell on earth, one that grows wider and more virulent year after year.

Without the American crime of aggressive war against Iraq — which, by the measurements used by Western governments themselves, left more than a million innocent people dead — there would be no ISIS, no “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” Without the Saudi and Western funding and arming of an amalgam of extremist Sunni groups across the Middle East, used as proxies to strike at Iran and its allies, there would be no ISIS. Let’s go back further. Without the direct, extensive and deliberate creation by the United States and its Saudi ally of a world-wide movement of armed Sunni extremists during the Carter and Reagan administrations (in order to draw the Soviets into a quagmire in Afghanistan), there would have been no “War on Terror” — and no terrorist attacks in Paris tonight.

Again, let’s be as clear as possible: the hellish world we live in today is the result of deliberate policies and actions undertaken by the United States and its allies over the past decades. It was Washington that led and/or supported the quashing of secular political resistance across the Middle East, in order to bring recalcitrant leaders like Nasser to heel and to back corrupt and brutal dictators who would advance the US agenda of political domination and resource exploitation.

The open history of the last half-century is very clear in this regard. Going all the way back to the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran in 1953, the United States has deliberately and consciously pushed the most extreme sectarian groups in order to undermine a broader-based secular resistance to its domination agenda.

Why bring up this “ancient history” when fresh blood is running in the streets of Paris? Because that blood would not be running if not for this ancient history; and because the reaction to this latest reverberation of Washington’s decades-long, bipartisan cultivation of religious extremism will certainly be more bloodshed, more repression and more violent intervention. Which will, in turn, inevitably, produce yet more atrocities and upheaval as we are seeing in Paris tonight.

I write in despair. Despair of course at the depravity displayed by the murderers of innocents in Paris tonight; but an even deeper despair at the depravity of the egregious murderers who have brought us to this ghastly place in human history: those gilded figures who have strode the halls of power for decades in the high chambers of the West, killing innocent people by the hundreds of thousands, crushing secular opposition to their favored dictators — and again, again and again — supporting, funding and arming some of the most virulent sectarians on earth.

And one further cause of despair: that although this historical record is there in the open, readily available from the most mainstream sources, it is and will continue to be completely ignored, both by the power-gamers and by the public. The latter will continue to support the former as they replicate and regurgitate the same old policies of intervention, the same old agendas of domination and greed, over and over and over again — creating ever-more fresh hells for us all to live in, and poisoning the lives of our children, and of all those who come after us.

***
II. A Game Worth the Candle: Terror and the Agenda of our Elites

People see the carnage in Paris, and cry, “When will this end?” The hard answer is that it is not going to end, not any time soon. We are living through the horrific consequences of decisions and actions taken long ago, as well as those of being taken right now. The currents and movements set in motion by these actions cannot be quelled in an instant — not by wishing, not by hashtags of solidarity or light shows on iconic buildings … and certainly not by more bombing, destruction, repression and lies, which are the main drivers of our present-day hell.

There will be no end to rampant terrorism soon because our leaders are not really interested in quelling terrorism. This is simply not a priority for them. For example, in the past 12 years they have utterly destroyed three largely secular governments (Iraq, Libya and Syria) and turned them into vast spawning grounds for violent sectarianism. They did this despite reports from their own intelligence services and military analysts telling them that the spread of violent extremism would almost certainly be the outcome of their interventions. But for our leaders — both the elected ones and the elites they serve — their geopolitical and macroeconomic agendas outweighed any concerns over these consequences. Put simply, to them, the game was worth the candle. They would press ahead with their agenda, knowing that it would exacerbate extremism and terrorism, but doubtless hoping that these consequences could be contained — or better yet, confined to nations seen as rivals to that agenda, or to remote places and peoples of no worth to our great and good.

Our leaders are not opposed to terrorism, neither as a concept nor as a practical tool. Over the past several decades, our leaders and their allies and puppets around the world have at times openly supported terrorist violence when it suited their aims. The prime example is in Afghanistan, where Jimmy Carter and his Saudi allies began arming and funding violent jihadis BEFORE the Soviet incursion there. In fact, as Carter’s own foreign policy guru, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has openly stated, the United States began supporting Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan precisely in order to draw the Soviet Union into the country. Despite fierce internal opposition in the Kremlin, the Soviets finally took the bait, and sent in troops to save the secular government it was backing from the fundamentalist rebellion.

Ronald Reagan continued and expanded this policy. The same type of men now in charge of ISIS and al Qaeda were welcomed to the Oval Office and praised by Reagan as “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.” They were given arms, money and training in terrorist tactics by our military and intelligence services. They were given textbooks — prepared, financed and distributed by the US government — to indoctrinate schoolchildren in violent jihad. The creation of this worldwide network of Islamic extremists was aimed at weakening the Soviet Union. This was the overriding geopolitical concern of the time. Any other consequences that might flow from this policy — creating a global infrastructure of sectarian extremism, seeding a radical minority with arms, funds and innumerable contacts and connections with state were considered unimportant. But we are now living with those consequences.

These are not the only examples of course. For instance, the United States supported — and went to war for — the KLA in Kosovo, a group that it had earlier condemned as terrorists for years. The cultish terror group MEK —which not only carried out deadly terrorist attacks in Iran but also murdered American government officials — is now honored and supported by top politicians from both parties in Washington. The United States now calls al Qaeda associates in Syria “moderate rebels” and provides arms to their allies. The United States is deeply involved in Saudi Arabia’s horrific attack on Yemen against the Houthis, who had been bottling up al Qaeda in the country. Now, thanks to US bombs and guidance — and participation in a blockade of Yemen that is driving the country to starvation — al Qaeda is thriving there again. The violent extremists that the West knowingly and openly helped in NATO’s destruction of Libya are now exporting weapons and terrorists throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Again, in almost all of these cases, Western leaders were specifically warned by their own experts that their actions would exacerbate extremism and violence. And again, with this knowledge, they decided that their geopolitical agendas were more important than these consequences. This agenda — maintaining and expanding their political and economic dominance, and preserving the power and privileges that a militarist empire gives to those at the top — was more important than the security and welfare of their own people.

In this, they are as one with the leaders of ISIS and al Qaeda. They too know that the chief victims of their actions will not be the elites of the West but the ordinary Muslims going about their lives in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and elsewhere. But their own similar agenda — power, privilege, domination — outweighs any concerns for innocent human lives.

This is the abysmal, despairing tragedy of our times. Our lives, and the lives of our children and descendants, do not really matter to our leaders; certainly not more than the agendas they pursue. And so despite the horrors we’ve seen in the past few weeks — and yes, the bombing of the Russian airliner, the mass murders in Beirut and Baghdad are every bit as horrific and grievous as the attack on Paris — nothing is likely to change. Our leaders are not even beginning to take the steps necessary to even begin addressing the consequences of their morally demented agenda and at last begin the long process of reversing the current of violence and extremism that assails us. Instead, at every turn, they are adding to the flow of death and madness, despite the stark, undeniable evidence of the consequences of their actions.

They say they are at war with terrorism. It’s a lie. They use terrorism and terrorists when it suits their agenda. They say they are “at war” with ISIS, an enemy which they tell us represents an existential threat to human civilization, and whose destruction is now our “highest priority.”  It’s a lie. In a real war against such a threat, you would make common cause against the common enemy, even if you find your allies distasteful. Thus the mutually loathing capitalists of the West and communists of the Soviet Union (and elsewhere) made common cause against Nazi Germany.

If we were really “at war” with ISIS, if its military defeat really was an overriding concern, then the West would form a military coalition with Iran, Russia, Turkey, the Syrian government and others to carry out this goal. It is obvious that for the West, the overthrow of the Assad government is far more important than defeating ISIS or bringing the conflict in Syria to an end by diplomatic means.

Instead, our leaders give every indication that they will continue the policies that have brought us to this dark and evil place. With the near-total ignorance and amnesia of our media class, there is little hope that public opinion can be mobilized to insist on a new course. And so, at some point soon, we will see more iconic buildings bathed in the colors of a Western nation (but never one from the Middle East, whose peoples suffer more, by several orders of magnitude, from the decades of extremism fostered by the West). And this will go on, year after year, until we decide that human life, human dignity, human freedom are more important than our leaders’ agendas of greed and domination.

Add a comment

Old News, Fake Shock: Foreign Fiddling in US Elections is Bipartisan SOP

Written by Chris Floyd 13 May 2017 9995 Hits

Here’s a true story. Many years ago, in the mid-1990s, I was involved in a tech start-up company. The founder brought in a venture capital guy to seek funding. Mr. Venture Cap once spent a long afternoon regaling us with the story of how he & his pals secretly laundered millions of dollars in foreign money, through Liechtenstein, for the 1992 Bush campaign. (Yes, money from foreign states and companies flowing in covertly to influence a US election; imagine that!) He made it clear this was just routine procedure; he wasn’t bragging about the act of smuggling foreign cash into the electoral process itself – the boast was how MUCH he’d brought in, how good he was at it.

Of course, anyone interested can read of similar efforts throughout modern US history. The well-documented, far-reaching efforts by the UK in 1940, for example, to skew the field for pro-British, anti-isolationist candidates (not just with money, spying & media manipulation, but also with several notorious “honey traps” for leading US officials); or efforts to influence elections and policies by Nazi Germany, including big cash payments to some US Senators and passing money & intelligence through stateside corporate allies. The covert electoral interventions by Turkey, Israel, the Saudis, the old-time “China Lobby,” among others, are likewise well-attested.

The fact that this is a common practice that’s been going on for a long time (including the continuous, massive “infringements of national sovereignty” that the US govt has made in elections all over the world for decades) doesn’t mean it’s good. And it won’t be good if it is ever proved that Russia followed this time-honored practice in 2016. But I do think it would be better and more productive for everyone to quit pretending that foreign attempts to influence US elections (and vice versa) are some kind of unprecedented horror that has suddenly hit the nation like an asteroid from outer space. They're not. 

But we can’t deal with the actual, endemic problem — which is part and parcel of the larger problem of an electoral system that depends on big money and partisan control of the voting process — if we can’t see it clearly. And if you think it will end if they finally find that video of Putin handing Trump a bag full of rubles, you’re in for a surprise.

Add a comment

Curtains for Comey: Rocketing Through the Looking-Glass With the Troller-in-Chief

Written by Chris Floyd 10 May 2017 12849 Hits

Whatever else you can say about Trump (don't get me started), he's a first-class troll: citing Comey's handling of the Clinton email probe in the last days of the campaign as his reason for firing him! The very action Trump had long praised as a "gutsy" move by Comey, one which redeemed him in Trump's eyes. That's some high-grade mendacity there, transparently false, yet told with a straight face, and pretending it was on advice of the Attorney General. 

People will say it's a bad move by Trump, drawing even more attention to the Russian probe the FBI was carrying out. And in conventional terms, it is a stupid, self-defeating act. But it could also be seen as part of a long-term Trump team strategy to tear everything down, rendering the nation's institutions, laws and established procedures to piles of ruin, covered with steaming piles of bullshit, absurdity and chaos. And what happens to nations and societies in ruins? Why, "strong leaders" must step in, with a strong hand -- a free hand -- to "do what it takes" to "restore order." 

Trump has actually been pretty open about his desire to be such a figure, and of course his vizier Bannon is even more candid about his desire to "destroy the administrative state" and build a new, nationalist order. We're not just through the looking glass these days -- we've shattered it to pieces and are rocketing into the unknown at a thousand miles an hour. So I'm not sure similar scenarios from the past (Nixon's 'Saturday Night Massacre,' for example) are reliable guides as to how this will play out.

Meanwhile, under cover of the carnival noise, Trump’s generals are getting ready for a new “surge” in Afghanistan, arming the Kurds (threatening conflict with Turkey), massing tanks and material in on the Syrian border in Jordan, massacring more civilians in Yemen and Somalia, and in general getting ready to make major murderous mischief across the planet.(Even more than the usual never-ending bipartisan-backed belligerence, I mean.) Not to mention setting the berserkers of our militarized police loose on the populace, under the watchful eye of the tiny Confederate general Trump made Attorney General. And preparing to transfer $5 trillion from the public purse to the super-rich. And seeking to strip millions of people of healthcare in order to … give tax cuts to the super-rich. And so on and on and on. 

Trump is spreading so much ruin so quickly across so many fronts that the firing of an FBI Director is little more than a sideshow. But you can bet it will be the focus of the “Resistance” — as some of our media-political elites like to call themselves these days — as the other depredations roll on.

Add a comment

The Lie That Will Not Die: Zombie Myths of Nazi Era Resurrected in Ukraine

Written by Chris Floyd 02 May 2017 10410 Hits

A Facebook friend posted a link to a story about a 94-year-old Jewish WWII hero being investigated for killing a Nazi collaborator in Ukraine decades ago. Someone responded to his post with a defense of Ukrainian nationalists, including this phrase: “the memory of the mass executions and starvation inflicted upon the Ukrainian People by the Soviets (largely led by Jews) is not forgotten.” I responded to the comment — with admirable self-restraint, I like to think — thusly:

The Soviets were "largely led by Jews"? This is a historically erroneous statement, although it certainly echoes a fertile line of propaganda down through the ages. Stalin and his henchman in charge of Ukraine, Krushchev, were the prime movers of the worst Soviet crimes and atrocities against the Ukrainian people; neither of them were Jews. Stalin, of course, was a notorious anti-Semite. 

It is true that many Ukrainians viewed the Germans as liberators at first, and not without reason. Many came to regret it later, as the Germans made no differentiation between Slavic peoples, regarding them all as subhumans to be killed or enslaved in the Nazis' Generalplan Ost, which called for the extermination of up to 40 million Slavs to make room for German colonists. Some Ukrainians did continue to collaborate with the Germans, despite the horrific Nazi atrocities in Ukraine. The history and nature of Ukrainian nationalism is indeed a complex subject -- the post-war situation saw new layers and complexities added to the mix -- and cannot be reduced to simplistic binaries, as you rightly note: “one man's hero is another man's villain,” which has been true throughout history. But there is no need to bring specious and unfactual assertions into the argument.
 
There were people of many ethnicities among the Bolsheviks, Jews included. But to say the Soviets were "largely led by Jews" -- Stalin? Krushchev? Dzherzinsky, founder of the Cheka? Yezhov, head of the NKVD during the height of the Terror? Molotov? Lenin? (Lenin was not Jewish, despite fanatical propaganda to the contrary; his maternal grandfather had been a Jewish convert to Christianity; his father's family were serfs.) -- is false. For example, the Politburo during the worst period of Stalin's repression, 1934-1939, had 84 members: 12 were of Jewish origin. The original Bolshevik central committee at the time of the Revolution had 21 members; 6 were of Jewish origin. (Of course, these Bolsheviks would not have considered themselves as Jews at all, but saw themselves as militant atheist internationalists.) 

It is a plain historical fact that the Soviets were not "largely led by Jews." Considering the kind of people who have made this assertion in the past -- and the horrific uses they made of this falsity -- it would probably be best to avoid it in any future debates about the nuances of Ukrainian nationalism.

Add a comment

Machine Dreams: Sleepwalking Into the Future

Written by Chris Floyd 28 April 2017 10719 Hits

From NBC: Weaponized Drones: Connecticut Bill Would Allow Police to Use Lethal Force From Above

It’s odd that we are sleepwalking into a world where our skies will soon be filled with swarms of giant metal bugs — delivery drones, commercial drones, surveillance drones, police drones (and criminal drones) — buzzing over us day and night. There’s very little debate over whether this is a good thing or not as a general development for our human community, whether the particular advantages provided by this technology will justify its effect on the quality of life in the world it will create.

The same applies the entire panoply of automation that’s encompassing more and more aspects of human life. Of course, there are many benefits to be gained from any specific technology — and not just practical or economic ones, but also in opening up new realms for creativity, beauty and knowledge. But it’s striking how little thought is being given to the kind of world being formed from the nearly unregulated development and application of various technologies in all walks of life — and to the fact that most of these developments and applications are being done either for private commercial purposes or by governments seeking ever-more powerful methods of control over the public.

Shouldn’t we have some kind of continual public adjudication of how and where and when we want these technologies to be applied? We often do this in our private lives. For example, a couple might decide they’d rather their children not have access to the undeniably impressive and effective technology of a chainsaw. (Or, more realistically, they decide their seven-year-old shouldn’t have unfettered access to the internet.) But there is nothing like this on the public scale. Yet we seem to be heading toward a world where not only our jobs (including white collar jobs) are replaced by robots & AI, but we will also be policed by robots, judged by robots, get medical treatment and legal counsel from robots, go around in driverless (and hackable) cars whose speed might be controlled by insurance companies (or by the computer monitors of insurance companies), read news reports “written” by computers (this is already happening with stock reports and sports stories), and so on. Is this really what we want? Are there other, better ways of incorporating these technologies into our societies, and dealing more productively and justly with the consequences and changes they will bring?

And who will control all of these controlling systems? Who will program the artificial intelligence systems - that is, whose beliefs and biases will inevitably and unavoidably influence this programming? Whose values will these automated programs reflect?

I have no beef with computerized technology at all — I write with it, stay in touch with family and friends with it, learn things from it, access marvellous works of art and entertainment with it, make music with it, take pictures and draw and paint with it, etc. But when dealing with the accelerating automation of human society in general, there are dozens, hundreds of concerns like the ones outlined above that cry out for debate and informed reflection. But there seems to be no venue, no way for us to determine — as a human community at large or in our national or local communities — the way in which we want these technologies to shape our world … and the ways in which we don’t want them to shape it. And I think this leaves us in the very real danger — and the very great likelihood — of ending up in a world that none of us would want to live in.

Add a comment

Trump Hip-Deep in Indonesian Evil; “Resistance” Looks the Other Way, Again

Written by Chris Floyd 19 April 2017 11366 Hits

Try to imagine the media firestorm if a leader of an radical Islamic militia group — caught on video with a roomful of people swearing allegiance to al-Qaeda — had appeared with Barack Obama at a press conference during his 2012 election campaign. Try to imagine the ferocious uproar if Obama had a business partner who backed ISIS-linked Islamic militants trying to overthrow a democratically elected leader. The scandal would be off the scale: investigations, denunciations, impeachment hearings — 24/7 pandemonium. Yet as Allan Nairn reports, this is precisely, exactly the case with Donald Trump, and we hear — nothing.

Nothing from the Islamophobic zealots who condemn even the slightest connection to even the most moderate Islam as proof of “terrorism.” Nothing from the Congressional zealots who see Sharia law lurking behind every corner. No wall-to-wall thundering about the “Islamic menace” from FOX News or Breitbart. Nothing even from the “Resistance” — no fulminations from Keith Olbermann, no eyebrow-crooking from Rachel Maddow, nothing from the Democratic Party — and no reports by the Times or the Post or NBC or CNN. We have a president who is personally and financially connected to the most radical form of violent, terroristic extremism (as well as the cynical manipulation of state-backed extremist front groups to advance the personal profit of Trump business partners and allies)  — and nobody cares.

As with Trump’s bribes from China and the undeniable, rampant criminal corruption of the government by his family, nothing at all is made of this open scandal. If a scandal can’t be tied to Russia, it’s as if it doesn’t exist. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Everywhere you look, there are things right out in the open that could bring Trump down in the most straightforward way: bribery, corruption, terrorist links. (Just to start with.) They don’t require deep dives into the rabbit hole of espionage; you don’t have to rely on dubious, never-quite-confirmed leaks from the “intelligence community,” you don’t need super-elaborate, Glenn Beck-style flow charts tracing every possible (or wildly improbable) connection going back 30 years that “proves” (without tangible, usable evidence) that Vladimir Putin has been controlling Trump since he was born and is now in charge of every event on the planet. No; you have straightforward evidence of malfeasance, criminal activity and dangerous connections that could be used to launch very traditional journalistic, congressional and law-enforcement investigations through the most mainstream, establishment channels. Yet no one is taking any action on these fronts.

And yes, given the long-known fact that Trump is involved with criminals and corruption on an international scale, it is very likely that he does indeed have some connections to the murky miasma of state power and crime which characterizes the Russian system. (It also characterizes the American system; to take just one example, what happened to the $6.5 trillion that the Pentagon recently confessed it couldn’t account for among its myriad contracts with private firms, many of them politically connected corporate behemoths who profit directly from war and rumors of war?) And sure, these possible Russian connections should be investigated along with everything else. But even in the Russophobic frenzy that has gripped the “Resistance,” these kinds of links — business ties with a paper trial — are ignored or downplayed in the pursuit of some “smoking gun” that will show Putin stroking a hairless cat and muttering to his minions, “We will now hack the American election in favor of our agent, Comrade Trump. And in this way, we will RULE THE WORLD! Mwahahahaha!”

If you really want to get rid of Trump, there are clear, open — even easy — ways to do it. Since this is not being done by those in position to do it — or at least advocate it — one has to conclude they don’t want to do it. But why not?

On one level, it’s easy to see why big power players in the Democratic Party would be reluctant to do so; any probe into Trump’s connections to the State Power-Criminal World nexus could turn up unrelated connections exposing their own links to dubious players and backers and allies. Just as the intermittent investigations into the way our most respectable, eminent financial firms knowingly launder money for drug dealers, terrorists and corrupt state actors inevitably end with quick, clean plea agreements involving no admission of criminality and payment of “huge” fines that usually amount to, at most, one day’s rake-off for the giant firms. Still, as Watergate proved, it is possible to bring down a criminal president without giving the whole dirty shebang away. And Trump has even less backing among the Republican establishment than Nixon did.

But even more puzzling is the way our fightin’ progressives are ignoring the open crimes and scandals that could quickly and easily bring Trump down in favor of the Russian rabbit hole. Here, there seems to be some kind of magical thinking at work: “If we can prove Trump is an actual Russian spy, it will somehow undo the whole election we lost and we can go back to that happy place where we once were!’ (A place where it’s a “progressive” president who runs death squads, allies with religious extremists (Saudi Arabia) to wage aggressive war on innocent people, deports millions of immigrants, protects Wall Street, extends off-shore drilling, expands the nuclear arsenal, increases military budgets, backs corporate attacks on public education, supports right-wing coups in Latin America, etc. etc.)

Of course, almost all of the high-profile “Resistance” figures work for corporate behemoths who are deeply tied to the same State Power-Criminal World nexus noted above. This doesn’t necessarily mean that most of them aren’t sincere in their “progressive” beliefs, but it does mean there is only so far they would ever be allowed to go — even if they wanted to go there. (Those who would like to go further would never be given a slot in such venues in the first place. Only sincerely “moderate reformists” get selected. You don’t need overt censorship in such a system.)

But again, there is still  more than enough material to take down Trump, even on a surface level, without disturbing the roots of the corrupted system itself. The media heroes of the “Resistance” needn’t shake the foundations of their corporate bosses to do so. The power brokers of the Democratic Party establishment needn’t trouble their Wall Street backers to do so. The New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and CBS needn’t challenge the systemic, endemic corruption of the entire system in order to attack, investigate, prosecute and remove Trump for his very open, easily provable crimes and misdemeanors.

Yet they are not doing this. While Trump wheels and deals for his own private profit with ISIS-linked militants and murderous generals in Indonesia, the “Resistance” expends billions of pixels and hours of airtime on … Carter Page. This is a genuinely bizarre — and deeply perilous — situation.

Add a comment

Idiot Wind: West Embraces al Qaeda (again) to Advance Agenda in Syria

Written by Chris Floyd 10 April 2017 12218 Hits

In this piece from Huffington Post, we find the views of an actual expert on WMD, someone who doesn't actually profit from war and weapons like the "experts" paraded across the media in the last week. It is interesting to note that 1) the initial eye-witness accounts of the victims of the attack do not correspond to the use of weaponized sarin gas, cited as the reason for directly attacking Syrian positions; and 2) the entire narrative has been driven by al Qaeda, whom the Western news media is now treating as the most credible source of information in Syria, while lauding them as valiant rebels -- even as they persecute the people under their control and continue to plot and push attacks against the West. There is also the fact that the main beneficiary of the attack has been ISIS, which immediately launched an offensive while Syrian forces were shut down or pulled back in the wake of the American assault.

Again, with no brief for Assad, whose regime (recently a US partner in torturing "War on Terror" captives) is capable of any evil, we are in a curious place: bombing people on the word of al Qaeda, to the benefit of ISIS. Why, you'd almost think that quelling terrorism was not, perhaps, the principal aim of the "War on Terror," but that it has more to do with old-fashioned hardball power games among amoral nation-states (and their various proxies), jockeying for domination and servicing their militarist elites.

But I suppose we mustn’t indulge in such cynical thoughts. Let’s get with the program instead: Trump done good! Al Qaeda speaks truth! Turn ISIS loose! It’s the best of all possible worlds! As always, Shakespeare put it so well: “Love be not love if left unparaded upon a social platform.” (Or was that Zuckerberg? I’m always getting those guys mixed up.)

Some excerpts from Scott Ritter's article:

Al Nusra has a long history of manufacturing and employing crude chemical weapons; the 2013 chemical attack on Ghouta made use of low-grade Sarin nerve agent locally synthesized, while attacks in and around Aleppo in 2016 made use of a chlorine/white phosphorous blend.  If the Russians are correct, and the building bombed in Khan Sheikhoun on the morning of April 4, 2017 was producing and/or storing chemical weapons, the probability that viable agent and other toxic contaminants were dispersed into the surrounding neighborhood, and further disseminated by the prevailing wind, is high.

The counter-narrative offered by the Russians and Syrians, however, has been minimized, mocked and ignored by both the American media and the Trump administration. So, too, has the very illogic of the premise being put forward to answer the question of why President Assad would risk everything by using chemical weapons against a target of zero military value, at a time when the strategic balance of power had shifted strongly in his favor. Likewise, why would Russia, which had invested considerable political capital in the disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons capability after 2013, stand by idly while the Syrian air force carried out such an attack, especially when their was such a heavy Russian military presence at the base in question at the time of the attack? ...

Even slick media training, however, cannot gloss over basic factual inconsistencies. Early on, the anti-Assad opposition media outlets were labeling the Khan Sheikhoun incident as a “Sarin nerve agent” attack; one doctor affiliated with Al Qaeda sent out images and commentary via social media that documented symptoms, such as dilated pupils, that he diagnosed as stemming from exposure to Sarin nerve agent. Sarin, however, is an odorless, colorless material, dispersed as either a liquid or vapor; eyewitnesses speak of a “pungent odor” and “blue-yellow” clouds, more indicative of chlorine gas.

And while American media outlets, such as CNN, have spoken of munitions “filled to the brim” with Sarin nerve agent being used at Khan Sheikhoun, there is simply no evidence cited by any source that can sustain such an account.  Heartbreaking images of victims being treated by “White Helmet” rescuers have been cited as proof of Sarin-like symptoms, the medical viability of these images is in question; there are no images taken of victims at the scene of the attack. Instead, the video provided by the “White Helmets” is of decontamination and treatment carried out at a “White Helmet” base after the victims, either dead or injured, were transported there.

The lack of viable protective clothing worn by the “White Helmet” personnel while handling victims is another indication that the chemical in question was not military grade Sarin; if it were, the rescuers would themselves have become victims (some accounts speak of just this phenomena, but this occurred at the site of the attack, where the rescuers were overcome by a “pungent smelling” chemical – again, Sarin is odorless.)

Mainstream American media outlets have willingly and openly embraced a narrative provided by Al Qaeda affiliates whose record of using chemical weapons in Syria and distorting and manufacturing “evidence” to promote anti-Assad policies in the west, including regime change, is well documented.  These outlets have made a deliberate decision to endorse the view of Al Qaeda over a narrative provided by Russian and Syrian government authorities without any effort to fact check either position. These actions, however, do not seem to shock the conscience of the American public; when it comes to Syria, the mainstream American media and its audience has long ago ceded the narrative to Al Qaeda and other Islamist anti-regime elements. …

History will show that Donald Trump, his advisors and the American media were little more than willing dupes for Al Qaeda and its affiliates, whose manipulation of the Syrian narrative resulted in a major policy shift that furthers their objectives.

Add a comment

The Quiet Whispers of our Masters

Written by Chris Floyd 08 April 2017 12886 Hits

"When we told you our boats were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, we were lying. When we told you Iraqis were throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, we were lying. When we blew up a medicine factory and told you it was bin Laden's headquarters, we were lying. When we told you Iraq had WMD, we were lying. When we told you Gadafy was feeding his troops Viagra so they could rape protestors, we were lying. But we swear to God we are telling the absolute truth this time. Why would we lie?"

Add a comment

Fortunes of War: Missile Launch Gives Grubby Groin-Grabber Instant Respectability

Written by Chris Floyd 07 April 2017 12340 Hits

Well, I reckon our bipartisan, war-loving political-media establishment won't let any Russkie connections bring Trump down now! He has suddenly become "presidential": the NYT story on the Syria strike was full of respectful, anonymous insider hagiography the like of which we haven't seen since the paper's reverent 2012 account of Obama's weekly "kill list" meetings, which evoked St Thomas Aquinas to describe a group of men checking off names of "suspects" to be assassinated in a secret, arbitrary, unaccountable "extrajudicial" process.

Of course, in his first days in office, Trump has already killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq and Syria and Yemen -- including an 8-year-old American girl shot dead through the neck by US Special Forces for the crime of being the child of an "enemy of the people." (Obama had earlier killed her brother for the same crime; neither child was involved with terrorism.) But these early Trump kills were just continuations of ongoing campaigns of human slaughter that no one noticed anymore. Now Trump has drawn new blood, striking directly at Syrian forces. (A country the U.S. is not actually at war with, but who bothers with that fusty old constitutional stuff in our go-go modern age?)

If Trump keeps it up, drawing the U.S. deeper into an intractable conflict (guaranteeing boffo box office for the war profiteering community), there's no way our betters will dump him. Groin-groping, nepotistic corruption, even Kremlin canoodling will be forgotten as, like Hillary and McCain, we rally round the great War Chief.

***
Below are a few quick Twitter takes on the dawning of our glorious new era of bipartisan comity sealed, as always, in the blood of faceless foreigners:

* Boy, I hope Trump didn't order the Syria strike just to divert attention from Bill O'Reilly's troubles!

* Liberal pundits are angry that US told Russian forces to stay out of harm's way. Guess they were hoping the raid would spark nuclear Armageddon.

* Trump, whose troops shot and killed an 8-yr-old girl in a civilian-killing raid in Yemen, now praised for 'emotion' over Syrian children.

* Assad shouldn't kill children with chemical weapons; he should shoot them in the neck, like an 'exceptional' nation did in Yemen.

* Assad shouldn't use chemical weapons to kill civilians; he should use depleted uranium to slaughter civilians, like moral nations do!

Add a comment

Sympathy for the Devil: Liberal Love for the Donald When He Bangs War Drums

Written by Chris Floyd 06 April 2017 13062 Hits

So Donald Trump has finally found a way to make liberals like him: make noises about "doing something" in Syria. (“Something” aside from the past few years of US intervention: bombs, drones, troops on the ground, billions in arms and funds to the rebels, etc.)

After Trump said atrocity pictures “changed his mind” about Syria and he and his crew started talking tough, leading liberal blogger Digby said: "Somebody seems to have temporarily talked some sense into the administration." Maybe it was General McMasters. You know, the NatSec honcho (accused of war crimes in Iraq) praised on Wednesday for removing Steve Bannon from the National Security Council. After that, he's bound to join the new liberal pantheon, along with the CIA, George W. Bush and Louise Mensch.

Meanwhile, the same liberals now starting to toot Trump's war-horn ignored the horrific pictures of slaughtered children in Yemen for the last two years. Children ripped to shreds by US bombs dropped by US and UK planes on behalf of the radical Islamic extremists of Saudi Arabia. Also pictures of Yemeni children & babies starving to death from the ruin of war, and from a US-assisted blockade that has put millions at risk of starvation, says the UN. While these children were being killed by the US-Saudi-UK alliance, Digby and other liberals were posting cute pics of the Obamas' dogs.

Of course, the corporate media ignored the atrocities; and it goes without saying the Right didn't care about their bribe-spreading, terrorist-backing Saudi buddies killing a bunch of other Ay-rabs. That staunch bastion of moral scourgedom, Samantha Power, didn't appear before the UN with the shocking documentation of these sickening war crimes. Liberals didn't call for “something to be done" about the evil regimes who were committing these atrocities: Riyadh, Washington and London. No one called for "partitioning" the United States or breaking up Saudi Arabia or putting UN troops in Washington to stop the criminal regime.

Now, I'm so old that I remember when the US government told outrageous lies about WMD to push the nation into a war that murdered multitudes and destabilized the entire world for the sake of a few ideological cranks and cynical war profiteers. So I tend to be a bit skeptical when the same bloodstained con artists start peddling the same line again. But it may well be true that Assad is so stupid that he did the one thing that might save ISIS and al Qaeda from their impending defeat: launch a chemical weapons attack that would bring in (more) Western forces. After all, world leaders are, as a rule, capable of vast stupidity.

But even if this is true, and Assad is guilty as charged for this evil act, it sticks in the craw to see governments who've literally been murdering small children in Yemen for two years now preen with righteousness and moral outrage, as if their own hands weren't sodden and caked with innocent blood. And then to see our fine, moral Digbian liberals likewise quivering with righteous rage when the kinds of crimes they've been ignoring or excusing for years are committed by someone else.

Is it a crime for states to slaughter innocent, defenseless people with savage weaponry, or is it not? Then condemn it, no matter who does it. Or is it only a crime if one of our “designated enemies” does it? Are the murdered children in Yemen less precious -- or less dead -- than the children in Syria? Where are the calls to "do something" to stop the criminal states killing children in Yemen? Instead we see liberal praise for Trump for "finally talking sense" when he threatens to escalate a war that the US and other nations have been cynically stoking for years.

I was writing in condemnation of Assad years ago, back when he was torturing 'rendered' captives for Ellen’s good-time laff-riot buddy George W. Bush. Like Saddam & Gadafy, Assad’s depredations were overlooked when they served Washington's agenda. (As Bush Senior did with Saddam's chemical weapons attacks. Heck, I can even remember when Putin’s murderous atrocities in Chechnya were happily overlooked by the US media-political establishment, back when we were “looking into his soul” and he was still cutting sweetheart deals with Western investors.) This is not a matter of defending odious regimes. But the entire bipartisan, media-backed, liberal-approved militarized foreign policy system of the US is also an odious regime, and also requires condemnation, and also needs to have "something done" to stop it.

First it colludes with dictators and tyrants and terrorists, then it fights them, then it colludes with their corrupt successors and fights the forces that rise in the ruins made by these morally depraved policies. But none of this is known or noticed in the West, especially the murder wrought by our own governments. Instead, when some atrocity or terrorist attack appears "out of nowhere," there is a mad rush to "do something,” which always – always – turns out to be the same "something" that led to the atrocity and terrorism in the first place.

And it seems there is nothing that can stop this cycle. Driven by cranks and war profiteers on one side, and cheered on by liberals on the other side, the cycle goes on and on. Where will it end? In the apocalyptic war with Russia that our neocons and new McCarthyite liberals long for? Or just more of the same, more of our "new normality": more dead children (who are utterly ignored if WE kill them), more intractable conflict, more war profits, more lies, more hate, more fear, more terror, more violence, more ruin, more meaningless, pointless agonizing death.

Add a comment