Wednesday, September 9, 2015

War and Politics - September 9, 2015

• Why Are Leaders of Arab States Flocking to Moscow?
• Putin Achieves Political Draw in Sanctions War with Europe 
• Putin’s Asia-Eurasia Pivot: ‘Isolation’ from the West Spurs Eurasian Integration and Russian Globalization
• Maidan 2.0 Erupting in Ukraine?
• The Art of Propaganda: Why is Russia Called the Main Threat to World Peace?
• Syrian refugees find Arctic route towards western Europe
• The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to Know
• The Real Enemy Is Within
• NYT Claims U.S. Abides by Cluster Bomb Treaty: The Exact Opposite of Reality
• On This Labor Day, How We Can Honor the Men and Women Who Fought for Workers’ Rights 

• Russia/Ukraine •

Why Are Leaders of Arab States Flocking to Moscow?

This article originally appeared at RSPL. Translated from Russian by SouthFront

Moscow became the second Mecca for Arab leaders.

Since the end of August the Russian capital will be visited by the heads of the key countries in the Middle East, including President of Egypt Field Marshal Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates Mohammed Al Nahyan, King Abdullah II., the Emir of Qatar, the Emir of Kuwait, and then the King of Saudi Arabia are expected to visit Russia in mid-September.

The value of these events is unprecedented, as the entire Arab world will visit Moscow.

One of the central events, that opens the all-Arab Marathon, will be the visit of Field Marshal Al- Sisi, the main Russia’s partner in the Middle East. The visit begins on August 25. In addition to the military cooperation, the talks will focus on the settlement of the conflict in Syria and Egypt, and on Russia and Egypt’s role in overcoming it. Also, on August 26, President and Field Marshal Al- Sisi will discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin the possibility of acceding to the BRICS, as well as the creation of a free trade zone with the EAEC.

“President Putin is an outstanding leader. Our dialogue is objective and logic. We have an understanding on various regional issues, in particular on the fight against terrorism. We agree on everything that relates to the bilateral cooperation between our countries. In this regard, we need to make every effort to achieve our goals and to implement our dreams. And, importantly, your president shares the aspirations of our people and strongly contributes to progress in this direction,”- Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi said in an interview.

Complete story at - Why Are Leaders of Arab States Flocking to Moscow?

Putin Achieves Political Draw in Sanctions War with Europe

In November the European Union’s (EU) policy towards Ukraine helped spark the greatest international crisis in Europe since World War II. EU refusal to coordinate its eastward expansion with Moscow, especially to Ukraine, gave greater impetus to the already intensifying Western-Russian ‘great game’ for hegemony over that divided country and the remaining non-aligned states in Eastern Europe and to Russia’s south. The watershed in the winner-takes-all game for Eastern Europe was made inevitable by NATO expansion begun in 1997 and destined to come in Ukraine, with its geostrategic importance, significant population, market, natural resources, and long-standing ties with Moscow. The Ukrainian showdown was made even more inevitable, if you will, and imminent by the 2008 NATO summit’s declaration that Ukraine and Georgia would one day become NATO members, followed months later by the Georgian-Ossetiyan/Russian war and Russia’s rout of the NATO-trained Georgian army.

By supporting an illegal seizure of power spearheaded by neo-fascists groups within the larger Ukrainian pro-Western opposition and potentially revolutionary movement and in clear violation of a Russian-EU brokered transition pact to resolve the regime crisis, Washington and Brussels through down the gauntlet before the Kremlin. With this, Russian President Vladimir Putin had little choice but to salvage Russian interests and annex Crimea – home to its Black Sea Fleet and a population 80 percent ethnic Russian in favor of reunification with Russia – in answer to Washington’s Kiev demarche. For similar strategic and ethnopolitical reasons Putin also had little choice but to back the Donbass revolt against Kiev.

Effectively countered as in the 2008 Georgian debacle, the West could ill afford another geopolitical defeat at Russia’s hands or direct military conflict with Moscow. Therefore, the West changed tactics and initiated economic sanctions directly against Russia. Moscow responded with lesser sanctions against the West; the war evolved into a semi-frozen conflict after two Minsk ceasefire agreements, and there we stand.

The problem with any set of sanctions is that it prevents two, not one, from tangoing. Any trade relationship is a two-way- street. Stop one party from trading, and that party’s trade partners suffer no less. The comparative advantage lies in the potential that the target country of any sanctions regime suffers from each denied or cancelled contract, while the pain on the other side is divided up among many countries.

Complete story at - Putin Achieves Political Draw in Sanctions War with Europe | Russian and Eurasian Politics Gordon M. Hahn

Putin’s Asia-Eurasia Pivot: ‘Isolation’ from the West Spurs Eurasian Integration and Russian Globalization

Western hopes of sufficiently alienating Russia in order to break the Kremlin’s will on Ukraine and/or bring down Russian President Vladimir Putin have failed. Over the last year, Moscow has achieved a series of foreign policy successes on both multilateral and bilateral levels outside of the West. What has been called Russia’s ‘Asia pivot’ is much grander. Not even the phrase ‘Eurasian-Asian’ pivot captures its aggressive foreign policy efforts outside the West. In effect is a continuation of Russia’s decades-long ‘multi-vector’ foreign policy in even hotter pursuit of a multipolar world to counter American hubris and Western indifference to Russian national security and economic interests.

On the multilateral level, Russia has seen growing robustness, including hosting successful summits, of three of its most ambitious international projects – the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and BRICS summits – and joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in July. Bilaterally, Moscow has strengthened its strategic partnerships with Eurasia’s’ other leading power, China and India, and engineered several pivotal foreign policy coups in the Middle East and larger Muslim world, most notably with Saudi Arabia and the Iran nuclear deal.

The Eurasian Union

Late last year, Moscow won agreement from Armenia and Kyrgyzstan to join the EEU. Armenia abandoned an EU association agreement it had been working on for years with Brussels and officially acceded to the EEU in January, and Kyrgyzstan will do so by the end of the year. This will bring the membership to five states, adding Kyrgystan to Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Tajikistan is currently reviewing whether it will seek membership.

Moreover, the EEU is establishing free trade zones (FTZ) with countries outside the traditional post-Soviet Eurasian sphere. In October 2014 Syria requested talks on a FTZ, to which Moscow and the EEC responded positively. In April 2015 Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev offered Thailand a FTZ with the EEC. In May Vietnam became the first country to sign a FTZ agreement with the EEU. At the EEC summit on July 6th Russian presidential aide foreign policy Yuri Ushakov announced that India and the EEC had agreed to create a working group for exploring an India-EEC FTZ. A recent Kazakhstani report indicates that more than 30 countries – including Zimbabwe, Jordan, Mongolia and Albania – have applied to the Eurasian Economic Commission for a FTZ with the EEU (

Complete story at - Putin’s Asia-Eurasia Pivot: ‘Isolation’ from the West Spurs Eurasian Integration and Russian Globalization | Russian and Eurasian Politics Gordon M. Hahn

Maidan 2.0 Erupting in Ukraine?

A previous article explained overwhelming anti-regime opposition. Ordinary people are fed up with economic conditions creating enormous hardships - ignored to enrich privileged interests and wage war on Donbass.

Sporadic protests erupted various times before - again Monday in front of parliament violently after police stopped thousands from storming the building, led by Right Sector Nazis, likeminded Svoboda party extremists and other ultranationalist elements.

Whether Monday’s violence signals the beginning of Maidan 2.0 remains to be seen. Elements involved include the most extremists segments of Ukrainian society - hooligan supporters of Nazi-era Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). He collaborated in mass executions and ethnic cleansing.

If these elements gain power, fascist Ukraine on steroids will follow. The entire country could explode in violence - a reign of terror in Europe’s heartland, perhaps spilling cross-border, affecting neighboring countries Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Russia, potentially embroiling the entire continent in conflict.

Live fire and a grenade thrown at police exploded during Monday clashes. Reports indicated five or more security forces killed, 10 hospitalized in serious condition, and scores of people wounded.

Complete story at - Maidan 2.0 Erupting in Ukraine?

The Art of Propaganda: Why is Russia Called the Main Threat to World Peace?

In a recent article for independent Czech online news and opinion journal Svobodne Noviny, columnist Jaromir Petrik explained why he is fed up with the media's presentation of Russia as the world's greatest threat to peace, while the US, which has launched a series of aggressive wars across the globe over the last decade, seems to get a pass.

Petrik began his piece by recalling that "this year, in his State of the Union address, President Obama named only one country as America's enemy –Russia, mentioning ISIL as another enemy. In an earlier speech, Obama equated Russia to the Ebola virus. Why is this so? Is Russia really the aggressor, responsible for destroying the Arab world through its support for the regime of Syrian President Assad? Did Russia really attack Ukraine, as we are constantly told by media resources such as Reuters, CNN, BBC and by our own Czech Television?"

"The art of propaganda," the columnist continued, "lies in the skillful propagation of half-truths, but how could Putin have unleashed the war in Ukraine? Was it Putin who overthrew the democratically elected government of President Yanukovych, planting in its place a putschist government headed by Turchynov and Yatsenyuk? Was it Putin who ordered them to start their so-called 'anti-terrorist operation' to exterminate the populations of Donetsk and Lugansk, regions which had refused to recognize the coup, and their new rulers?"

The reality, Petrik argued, was quite the opposite, with "American 'diplomats' concentrated in Kiev threatening Yanukovych against using violence against the demonstrators," while "these same 'demonstrators'" would go on to "approve a war against the population of eastern Ukraine." All the while, "those same American 'diplomats' would accuse Russia of unleashing this war."

Complete story at - The Art of Propaganda: Why is Russia Called the Main Threat to World Peace?

• Middle East •

Syrian refugees find Arctic route towards western Europe

While thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries reach Europe by boat from Turkey or Libya, where hundreds die, a new route is slowly gaining popularity. Refugees from Syria find their way up via Russia to the Arctic, where they cross the border into Norway.

Some 20 migrants per day cross the border between Russia and Norway at Storskog near Kirkenes.

At two hours from the Russian city of Murmansk, It is the only legal border crossing between the two countries.

The online newspaper reports that so far this year, 133 asylum seekers have entered Norway though Storskog.

“Since July and August more people are crossing,” Garan Stenseth, the chief police superintendent of the Storskog frontier post, told RFI in a phone interview.

“They seem to be healthy and happy to be in de Schengen area and in Norway, but it is difficult to compare since this is a new situation for us because and we don’t have any experience from previous years,” he says.

According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, measures in other parts of Europe may have a direct effect on the refugees’ decision to take the Arctic route.

Complete story at - Syrian refugees find Arctic route towards western Europe - NORWAY - RFI

• Empire Watch •

The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to Know

Since the end of World War Two the Central Intelligence Agency has been a major force in US and foreign news media, exerting considerable influence over what the public sees, hears and reads on a regular basis. CIA publicists and journalists alike will assert they have few, if any, relationships, yet the seldom acknowledged history of their intimate collaboration indicates a far different story–indeed, one that media historians are reluctant to examine.

When seriously practiced, the journalistic profession involves gathering information concerning individuals, locales, events, and issues. In theory such information informs people about their world, thereby strengthening “democracy.” This is exactly the reason why news organizations and individual journalists are tapped as assets by intelligence agencies and, as the experiences of German journalist Udo Ulfkotte (entry 47 below) suggest, this practice is at least as widespread today as it was at the height of the Cold War.

Consider the coverups of election fraud in 2000 and 2004, the events of September 11, 2001, the invasions Afghanistan and Iraq, the destabilization of Syria, and the creation of “ISIS.” These are among the most significant events in recent world history, and yet they are also those much of the American public is wholly ignorant of. In an era where information and communication technologies are ubiquitous, prompting many to harbor the illusion of being well-informed, one must ask why this condition persists.

Further, why do prominent US journalists routinely fail to question other deep events that shape America’s tragic history over the past half century, such as the political assassinations of the 1960s, or the central role played by the CIA major role in international drug trafficking?

Popular and academic commentators have suggested various reasons for the almost universal failure of mainstream journalism in these areas, including newsroom sociology, advertising pressure, monopoly ownership, news organizations’ heavy reliance on “official” sources, and journalists’ simple quest for career advancement. There is also, no doubt, the influence of professional public relations maneuvers. Yet such a broad conspiracy of silence suggests another province of deception examined far too infrequently—specifically the CIA and similar intelligence agencies’ continued involvement in the news media to mold thought and opinion in ways scarcely imagined by the lay public.

Complete story at - The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to Know | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

The Real Enemy Is Within

If you are not dedicated to the destruction of empire and the dismantling of American militarism, then you cannot count yourself as a member of the left. It is not a side issue. It is the issue. It is why I refuse to give a pass in this presidential election campaign to Bernie Sanders, who refuses to confront the war industry or the crimes of empire, including U.S. support for the slow genocide carried out by Israel against the Palestinians. There will be no genuine democratic, social, economic or political reform until we destroy our permanent war machine.

Militarists and war profiteers are our greatest enemy. They use fear, bolstered by racism, as a tool in their efforts to abolish civil liberties, crush dissent and ultimately extinguish democracy. To produce weapons and finance military expansion, they ruin the domestic economy by diverting resources, scientific and technical expertise and a disproportionate share of government funds. They use the military to carry out futile, decades-long wars to enrich corporations such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. War is a business. And when the generals retire, guess where they go to work? Profits swell. War never stops. Whole sections of the earth live in terror. And our nation is disemboweled and left to live under what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” Libertarians seem to get this. It is time the left woke up.

“Bourgeois society faces a dilemma,” socialist Rosa Luxemburg writes, “either a transition to Socialism, or a return to barbarism ... we face the choice: either the victory of imperialism and the decline of all culture, as in ancient Rome—annihilation, devastation, degeneration, a yawning graveyard; or the victory of Socialism—the victory of the international working class consciously assaulting imperialism and its method: war. This is the dilemma of world history, either-or; the die will be cast by the class-conscious proletariat.”

The U.S. military and its array of civilian contractors operate as enforcers and hired killers across the globe for corporations, many of which pay no taxes. Young men and women, many unable to find work, are the cannon fodder. The U.S. military has served as the handmaiden of capitalism since it committed genocide against Native Americans, carried out on behalf of land speculators, mineral companies, timber merchants and the railroads. The military replicated this indiscriminate slaughter at the end of the 19th century in our imperial expansion in Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean, in Central America and especially in the Philippines. Military muscle exists to permit global corporations to expand markets and plunder oil, minerals and other natural resources while keeping subjugated populations impoverished by corrupt and brutal puppet regimes. The masters of war are the scum of the earth.

Complete story at - Chris Hedges: The Real Enemy Is Within - Chris Hedges - Truthdig

NYT Claims U.S. Abides by Cluster Bomb Treaty: The Exact Opposite of Reality

The New York Times today has a truly bizarre article regarding the U.S. and cluster bombs. The advocacy group Cluster Munition Coalition just issued its annual report finding that cluster bombs had been used in five countries this year: Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and Sudan. This is what The Paper of Record, in its report by Rick Gladstone, said this morning about the international reaction to that report (emphasis added):

The use of these weapons was criticized by all 117 countries that have joined the treaty, which took effect five years ago. Their use was also criticized by a number of others, including the United States, that have not yet joined the treaty but have abided by its provisions.

As Americans, we should feel proud that our government, though refusing to sign the cluster ban treaty, has nonetheless “abided by its provisions” — if not for the fact that this claim is totally false. The U.S. has long been and remains one of the world’s most aggressive suppliers of cluster munitions, and has used those banned weapons itself in devastating ways.

In December 2009 — just weeks after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — President Obama ordered a cruise missile strike on al-Majala in southern Yemen. That strike “killed 35 women and children.” Among the munitions used in that strike were cluster bombs, including ones designed to scatter 166 “bomblets.”

Complete story at - NYT Claims U.S. Abides by Cluster Bomb Treaty: The Exact Opposite of Reality

• Miscellaneous •

On This Labor Day, How We Can Honor the Men and Women Who Fought for Workers’ Rights

Labor Day is a time for honoring the working people of this country. It is also a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the activists and organizers who fought for the 40-hour work week, occupational safety, minimum wage law, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and affordable housing. These working people, and their unions, resisted the oligarchs of their day, fought for a more responsive democracy, and built the middle class.

Today we can – and we must – follow their example. It’s time to rebuild the crumbling middle class of our country and make certain that every working person in the United States of America has a chance at a decent life.

Against overwhelming odds, the men and women of the labor movement changed society for the better. If you’ve ever enjoyed a paid vacation, a sick day, or a pension, they are the people to thank. And if you don’t have those benefits on your job today, they are the people who can help you get them.

The economic reality is that while our economy today is much stronger than when President George W. Bush left office 7 years ago, the middle class is continuing its 40-year decline. Almost all new income and wealth is going to the people on top, while millions of Americans work longer hours for lower wages. In fact, wages actually fell for 90 percent of Americans between 2009 and 2012, even as they rose for the top 10 percent. While we have seen in recent years a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires, 51 percent of African American youth are now unemployed or underemployed, and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth.

As a result of an explosion of technology, productivity has risen in this country, but working people are not sharing in the wealth. For three decades after the end of World War II, productivity and wages grew together. Business profits rose, and the workers who made those profits possible did well along with their bosses. That’s not happening today. Productivity has continued to soar, but workers have been cut out of the profits.

Complete story at - On This Labor Day, How We Can Honor the Men and Women Who Fought for Workers’ Rights - Truthdig

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