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From RussiaGate to UkraineGate: Route to Apocalypse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/04/2021 - 3:44am in

KIEV, UKRAINE — Within three months of the ascendancy of Joseph Biden to the presidency of the United States, the world teeters on the edge of nuclear war, whether by design or accident, as Russia reports that the U.S. is placing considerable pressure on Ukraine to attack the independent republics of the Donbass for which Russia provides logistical support. The U.S. European Command has raised its alert status to the highest level and warned of a “potential imminent crisis.”

Mounting tension is an entirely foreseeable outcome of the sludge-like flow over the past four years of Democratic Party fables about Russia, RussiaGate, Ukraine, and U.S. national security, on behalf of the Incubus, a sordid network of military, defense and surveillance industries, militarized academe and think tanks, and complicit Western mainstream media.

In his first phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, U.S. President Joseph Biden affirmed his country’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s allegedly ongoing aggression in the Donbass and Crimea. Biden’s defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, in a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, added his assurances of U.S. support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations (i.e., Ukraine’s ambition to acquire full membership in both NATO and the EU), which, if achieved, would add a further 1400 miles to the boundary between NATO and Russia and cement the encirclement of Russia.

In as many months as Biden has held the presidency the U.S. has shipped three consignments of arms to Ukraine, adding to the $2 billion of security assistance the U.S. has extended to Ukraine since 2014. The U.S. has deployed nuclear-capable B-1 bombers to Norway for the first time in NATO’s history. This year’s NATO war exercises include U.S.-led Rapid Trident and Sea Breeze, British-Ukrainian Cossack Mace and Warrior Watcher, Romanian-Ukrainian Riverine, and Polish-Ukrainian Three Swords and Silver Sabre.

A dangerous new joker in the pack is Turkey, relatively fresh from assisting Azerbaijan’s 2020 victory against Armenia in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, now participating in NATO-Ukrainian military exercises against Russia. This move threatens escalation of tensions between Moscow and Ankara in Turkey’s seeming bid with NATO to seal off the Black Sea from Russian presence, as part of which Ukraine hopes to establish two new military bases (with financial help from the U.K.), help steal the major Russian naval port of Sebastopol for Ukraine, and consolidate Turkish control over oil and gas deposits to which Turkey lays claim. Turkish frigates have joined U.S. and Ukrainian navies in the Black Sea since January.

 

The contribution of RussiaGate demonization

There were many solid grounds for an upswell of both establishment and public alarm as Donald Trump eked out electoral victory in 2016 and as he unfolded his agenda over the succeeding four years. His relations with Russia were not among them. Far more important and evidentiary was his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the threats of climate change. Not only did he repudiate evidence that climate change might well lead to the end of the human species within a generation or two, but he actively reversed weak countermeasures already in place. Worse, he malevolently sought to amplify the threat, among other things by boosting fossil fuel interests and doubling back on transition to lower fuel emissions from petroleum cars.

He exacerbated the shameless verticalization of wealth inequality in the U.S., obfuscating this with sordid appeals to racist and fascist instincts of his base in decayed, industrial wastelands vacated by a U.S.-globalized economy. Where capital accrues in private hands to a degree that it can compete against and corrupt the public sphere and — through disproportionate, anonymous advocacy, lobbying, campaign finance and bribery — undermine attempts to regulate corporate and plutocratic power, there is no meaningful democracy. Trump’s behavior towards the end of his period in office and apparent incitement of a violent coup d’etat, testify to an unhinged oligarchic impulse to narcissistic promotion of personal and class interest above all competing considerations, even above annihilation of the species.

As though none of these concerns provided sufficient political ammunition, the Democratic Party throughout much of Trump’s presidency allowed just one meme to drown out almost everything else: RussiaGate. Not only did this fable get little traction with the majority of people living in the real world, the RussiaGate narrative has proven to lie somewhere between disinformation and egregious hoax.

Trump Russia

A woman looks at front pages from around the nation on display at the Washington Newseum, March 23, 2019. Alex Brandon | AP

It was founded on at least three dubious chains of argument:

  1. A piece of opposition research cobbled together by a former MI6 agent and paid for by the Democratic Party (the “Steele dossier”);
  2. Perhaps the shallowest Intelligence Community Assessment ever published (the ICA of January 2016); this piece of theatre provided little to no actual evidence of significance, disavowed any claim to accuracy, but legitimized claims of a private contractor, CrowdStrike (hired by the DNC but with previous FBI links), for which the company later admitted it had no direct evidence, that DNC servers had been hacked by Russians;
  3. An FBI investigation, Crossfire Hurricane, that proceeded amidst increasing awareness of the problematic, deeply partisan character of the Steele dossier, which it deployed in the process of seeking FISA warrants to investigate a Trump adviser whom it knew to have been a CIA informant (information it tried to hide).

Did Trump and his campaign team have connections to Russians? Of course, some of them did. Yet a two-year-long investigation by a former FBI director, drawing on the assistance of over a dozen FBI agents, was unable to establish that there had been coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Its most significant indictments against Russians fell apart when challenged. Robert Mueller was barely able to establish obstruction because there had been no fundamental criminality whose investigation could be obstructed.

Those who received any punishment were charged with offenses that had little or nothing at all to do with the fundamental reason why the special counsel had been appointed. Donald Trump, in his campaign, had wisely recognized the advantages of building more positive relations between Russia and the U.S. (disincentivizing Sino-Russian bonding not the least of them). Under the cloud of RussiaGate suspicion fomented ceaselessly by the Democrats and their media allies, the only Russia-related measures that Trump took while in office undermined U.S.-Russia relations, recklessly plunging the world towards the nuclear abyss from a precipice admirably suited for none other than his successor, President Joe Biden.

 

The 2014 Ukraine coup

Trump had been roundly castigated, and impeached, for pressurizing a new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Trump’s likely rival, Joe Biden, for the 2020 election, in return for expediting U.S. arms support to Ukraine in its struggle against separatist republics of eastern Ukraine (the Donbass). Whatever its legality, Trump’s behavior certainly did not favor Russia. It could be argued that there was a stronger actual tie between Ukraine and President Biden than ever existed between former President Trump and Russia. Trump was unable even to interest Moscow or Russian President Vladimir Putin in a proposal for a Moscow Trump Tower. Biden left a much deeper impression on Ukraine.

In 2014 the Obama administration — in part through the offices of Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European affairs — supported a coup d’etat in Ukraine that, through persistent street demonstrations in which neo-Nazi militia played a key role, toppled Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Although labeled pro-Russian by Western mainstream media, Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, advised in part by none other than key RussiaGate player Paul Manafort (later and for a brief period appointed chair of the Trump campaign in 2016), tilted towards acceptance of an agreement with the European Union that would have unquestionably cemented the EU as Ukraine’s major patron in rivalry with Russia.

Yanukovych fatefully switched direction from the EU in favor of Russia at the last moment (possibly because Russia was offering a more attractive, less patronizing, and ultimately less invasive deal), thus provoking the Maidan protests, U.S./EU (and Biden’s) egging them on, and Yanukovych’s departure. Protestors met with deadly resistance by State forces but there were also resistance snipers who shot protestors with a view to further inflaming international support in their favor.

In its initial deliberations, the emerging coup regime following the departure of Yanukovych expressed considerable hostility towards the influence of Russia, Russian language, Russian media, and Russian culture through many parts of southern and eastern Ukraine that were predominantly Russian speaking (just as Zelensky is doing once more in 2021). This would explain and possibly justify Russia’s concern for the welfare of the considerable population of Russian-speakers in Crimea, which had belonged to Russia (or the former Soviet Union) for over two hundred years and whose economy was built around Sebastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. That city has long been a major Russian naval center and one of Russia’s few major seaports, leased by Russia under treaty with Ukraine that allowed for the presence of several thousand Russian troops.

A threatening, anti-Russian government in Kiev guaranteed that Russia would protect its security interests and the interests of most of the Crimean population. This it did, but only after a referendum of the Crimean people and a subsequent formal request from Crimea to Russia that it be permitted to rejoin Russia. Reliable polls from both before and after the return of Crimea to Russia indicate consistently strong popular support for the measure in Crimea.

 

The Big Lie

Biden’s support for Ukraine’s membership in NATO contravened the firm promise given in 1990 to the last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, by James Baker, secretary of state to George H.W. Bush, that in return for Soviet conceding of the unification of Germany, NATO would never extend further east of the new European behemoth (RT, 2017). As vice-president, Biden had visited Ukraine six times in seven years. Biden had long advocated that Ukraine, along with other post-Soviet Russian states, become a member of NATO. Before any other consideration, this casts Biden’s relations with the current Ukraine regime in a very problematic light, a possibly deadly one for the future of the human species.

Explanation requires a revisit to the Obama administration and then-Vice President Biden’s support for the 2014 coup in Kiev and his later stern demands, delivered even in the Ukrainian Rada itself, that the succeeding coup regime of President Petro Poroshenko apply itself to anti-corruption efforts. These have been somewhat ineffective. In the absence of any very senior prosecutions, critics have suggested that the more important function of the West’s campaign against corruption in Ukraine has been to establish a network of new institutions — whose legitimacy derives from western pressure and which undermine the country’s existing, if ponderous legal system — while providing scope to local power holders in the corruption matrix for blackmail.

Victoria Nuland Ukraine

Obama staffer Victoria Nuland offers cookies to pro-EU protesters in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013. Andrew Kravchenko | AP

Corruption and supposed efforts to reduce it have become a neoconservative weapon of choice with which to operate the controls on the funding sluice gates to acolytes of the U.S.-led international neoconservative empire. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was offered a lucrative position on the board of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company controlled by an oligarch, almost certainly because of his father’s prominence. The oligarch in question was Mykola Zlochevsky, former minister of natural resources under the allegedly “pro-Russian” Yanukovych. Trump administration figures claimed that Joe Biden had pressed the post-coup government of President Poroshenko to sack its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to discourage him from investigating Burisma. Burisma had been under scrutiny for alleged improper acquisition of licenses (unrelated to Hunter Biden’s position on the board). Biden and a group of U.S. allies were said to have urged Shokin’s ouster in 2015, on the grounds that he was turning a blind eye to corruption. Shokin has claimed that his actions as general prosecutor did not suit Biden’s interests and that Biden was motivated by his son’s connection to Burisma.

 

Poroshenko and Zelensky

Ukraine’s two presidents since the 2014 coup, Petro Poroshenko (2014 to 2019) and Volodymyr Zelensky (2019 to the present), each started with strong support that quickly waned. The country has scarcely improved. Gross National Product peaked in December 2013; unemployment has increased from 7% to over 10%; Ukraine remains the second poorest country in Europe per capita.

Corruption, the supposed key force behind popular support for the elections of both Poroshenko and Zelensky, continues to be rampant. Kiev’s policies of stand-off with Russia have been dramatically counter-productive and have deprived Ukraine of Crimea and control of major industrial areas of the Donbass. Some 14,000 lives have been taken, 1.4 million people displaced, and 3.5 million remain in need of humanitarian assistance.

With Russia’s development of Nord Stream 2, bitterly contested by the U.S., Ukraine stands to lose $3 billion a year in transit fees that with more prudent negotiation it might have hoped to retain. Kiev administrations have been unwilling to progress the Minsk Protocol, agreed in 2015 to end the struggle in the Donbass and signed by Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Under the agreements, Ukraine was required to pardon the participants of the conflict, carry out local elections, and recognize a de facto autonomy of the region in the Constitution. Russia was obliged to return its equipment and mercenaries to Ukraine, ensure that local military formations laid down arms, and cede to Ukraine control over its border with Russia.

Ukraine has complained that, as warfare is ongoing, elections are hardly possible and that fair elections are not achievable before it secures control of the border. Russia insists that amnesty should be granted in advance of the elections and before Ukraine regains control of the border, while Ukraine considers that an amnesty can happen only after these events and after public discussion. The Kiev administration has been wedded to a highly centralized vision and finds the idea of greater regional autonomy repugnant. It claims that Russia supports greater autonomy because that gives it greater control over the Donbass. It would be truer to say that Ukraine is an ethnically riven polity in which the dominant ethnicity does not have sufficient political will to risk taking the only measures that can yield a lasting peace.

Ukraine Donetsk

Locals visit their homes to collect belongings after shelling near a frontline outside Donetsk, April 9, 2021. Photo | AP

Any indication that Poroshenko might move in the direction of Minsk provoked far-right paramilitary opposition. His successor, Zelensky, is a former comedian, a neoconservative cutout who achieved power on the basis not of actual policies but of the imaginary policies of his satirical show (aired on a channel owned by anti-Russian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky) — also the title of his political party, Servant of the People.

As Zelensky loses support (his party performed disastrously in local elections in November 2020 – it did not win a single mayoral race or even a majority in any regional parliament or city council), he has escalated action of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbass (despite some ministerial appointments that appear pro-Russian), in an apparent bid to establish greater political legitimacy for his party in western Ukraine but at the cost of a steeply rising number of weekly ceasefire violations. He has continued to collaborate in joint actions with NATO and allied forces in military exercises along the Russian border that appear designed to provoke Russia (whose 4,000 troops mustered there remain insufficient for invasion, given the estimated total number of 100,000 NATO and Ukrainian troops participating in exercises during 2021).

In recent months he has introduced measures to sanction pro-Russian opposition leaders, shut down pro-Russian media outlets owned by opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk, and restrict Russian language use, while he condemns opposition leaders who back a negotiated settlement with Moscow.

In March, Zelensky signed Presidential Decree No. 117/2021, declaring it was official Ukraine policy to take back Crimea. He approved plans to admit foreign troops for military exercises led by UN and NATO nations and asked NATO to monitor airspace across the border with Russia. His new military strategy emphasizes subjugation of Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea. In 2020, NATO designated Ukraine an “Enhanced Opportunity Partner,” giving it the same status as Georgia, Sweden, Finland, Australia and Jordan (Ritter, 2020), to promote the “partnership interoperability” initiative, which in effect means that NATO extends greater trust to Ukraine to follow NATO’s orders and interests.

Actual full membership in NATO is unlikely, given European opposition to this, the rift between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea, the persistence of corruption, and Ukraine’s dispute with Hungary over curbs on minority rights. Yet the lure is sufficient for Zelensky to offer Ukraine to NATO as a suitable battleground for possible nuclear war. Understandably, this enthusiasm for NATO is not shared by most Ukrainians.

Zelensky may believe, in the face of European opposition, that playing footstool to NATO aggression will secure full membership in NATO for Ukraine and NATO intervention in the Donbass to secure victory for the Armed Forces of Ukraine — despite the fact that Ukraine’s rift with Russia would need first to be resolved before full membership is possible under the conditions that must be met for membership, and even though direct NATO intervention would be tantamount to a declaration of war that could turn nuclear at any point. There is no conceivable advantage to the Ukraine, the U.S. or Russia in this scenario. But mad pursuit of idiotic objectives is de rigueur machismo among adherents to neoconservative ideology at the service of corporate and plutocratic power, much as it is for the politics of resistance to meaningful solutions to climate change.

Feature photo | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the war-hit Donbass region amid heightened tensions with Russia, April 9, 2021. UPPO via AP

Oliver Boyd-Barrett is Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is an expert on international media, news, and propaganda. His writings can be accessed by subscription at Substack.

The post From RussiaGate to UkraineGate: Route to Apocalypse appeared first on MintPress News.

Intersectional Imperialism: A Wholesome Menace

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/03/2021 - 1:21am in

WASHINGTON (Substack // Alex Rubinstein) — With Trump-style nationalism out the door, a new era of imperial ideology is upon us. This mutation of the empire’s dominant dogma is manifesting throughout global institutions of economic, political and social control and is materializing in a myriad of conflict theatres.

In order to identify where woke imperialism exists, we have to define it first. So what is it? It’s certainly not the first iteration of hegemonic domination buttressed by moralism.

The doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was officialized by the United Nations in 2005, but its roots really trace back to the NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia. During the Obama years, the term “humanitarian intervention” caught on as the main moniker for such actions.

Woke imperialism should be understood as a maturation of these concepts. As corporations have increasingly embraced “rainbow capitalism” to keep up with the sensibilities of an increasingly liberal US public, so too have institutions of United States imperialism refined their pitches to reflect the increasing popularity of identity politics.

This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed. As with everything on the internet, it has become the subject of memes, with an image of two US B-52 Stratofortress bombers having gone particularly viral. The image shows one B-52, labelled “Republicans,” dropping bombs. Another B-52, labelled “Democrats,” is also dropping bombs, but this time with a giant Black Lives Matter sticker and a rainbow flag emblazoned on its exterior.

imperialism

What both of the above memes can’t express, given their limited format, is the variety of methods of exerting imperial control, as it takes many forms beyond bombings. And not all of this can be chalked up to the presidential transition. We know that the State Department and three-letter agencies were hardly on-board with President Trump’s approach to foreign policy, nor his cultural proclivities.

So while a lot of the trends identified in this article existed during the Trump administration, they are undeniably being ramped up by Biden’s. For example, in the first 10 days of this March, Women’s History Month, the State Department tweeted 26 times about “women,” compared to 10 times during the same period of the 2020.

 

The Noble Anti-Triggering Organization (NATO)

Earlier this month, NATO tweeted a flashy video claiming “diversity is our strength.”

In light of NATO’s virtue signalling, it’s important to remember that many of the early leaders of NATO were Nazis who dreamed of a Germany that was anything but diverse and inclusive. To this day, NATO has continued to support neo-Nazis in countries like Ukraine, while NATO states that hold permitted rallies honoring Nazi collaborators are only just now cancelling the marches because of the coronavirus, rather than stopping the glorification of Nazism.

https://twitter.com/NATO/status/1366355680681209859

As I reported following the launch of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, as he railed against neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, Biden worked with neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tahnybok, with the man who is now White House National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, serving as their go-between. Leaked audio from 2014 has Victoria Nuland, Biden’s nominee for Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under Blinken, admitting as much.

israel's support for ukraine

A photo of the Azov Battalion – a regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine

In terms of NATO’s championing of inclusion for people of color, its crowning achievement in this regard came following its bombing of Libya, which gave cover for jihadist militias to sodomize Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to death with a bayonet and paved the way for the reintroduction of slavery on the African continent.

Outside of its halls of power in Brussels, this is what NATO-sponsored opportunity initiatives for people of color looks like.

As the kids say, “big yikes.”

 

The State Department Becomes an HR Department

The slogan used by NATO, “Diversity is our strength,” reproduces, verbatim, a major campaign theme from Kamala Harris and Joe Biden himself. The talking point was also used last year by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Perhaps the one to make the most use out of the theme is Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who has said the following:

  • “Diversity and inclusion make us stronger, smarter, more creative, and more innovative. And our diversity gives us a significant competitive advantage on the world stage.
  • Diversity makes any organization stronger – and for the State Department, it’s mission-critical.
  • We’ve invested in diversity and inclusion to have a diplomatic workforce that reflects the diversity of our country.”

Recently, the State Department promoted Blinken’s appearance on Hillary Clinton’s podcast, advertising that the two discussed “diversity and inclusion at the Department, American engagement, Russia, China and more.”

The State Department, under Blinken, is so married to the concept that he created at the department a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer position which “will report directly to him,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said, adding, you guessed it, “Diversity and inclusion make us stronger, smarter, more creative, and more innovative.”

 

The DoD Seeks “Force Multipliers”

The Department of Defense is another leading institution in this trend.

Last week, conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson attacked the Pentagon. It started with Joe Biden announcing that, under his and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s leadership, the military would be taking steps towards making itself more inclusive to women with policies including an overhaul of hair style restrictions and “maternity flight suits for women.”

While pregnant women are generally banned from riding roller coasters, a policy of allowing them to fly fighter jets does not seem to me to have their best interests in mind, nor those of their children.

https://twitter.com/DeptofDefense/status/1359185522841833474

While Carlson blasted these policies, his criticism missed the crux of the issue as he argued that they made the US military weaker. The real goal of these policies, however, is to freshen the military’s face for a liberal citizenry. As the Airforce put it in January, “diversity” is a “force multiplier.”

In response to the Fox segment, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby — formerly the spokesperson for the State Department under Obama — clapped back at Carlson in a press release entitled “Press Secretary Smites Fox Host That Dissed Diversity in U.S. Military.”

“The United States military is the greatest the world has ever seen because of its diversity,” the press release began.

Kirby went on to note that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (a black man whom the media celebrated for breaking a “brass ceiling,”) had said earlier in the week that the “lived experience” of a diverse fighting force factors “into our decision making.”

That same speech was featured on the Defense Department’s website under the headline “Biden Showcases the Strength, Excellence of American Military Diversity.”

In other news on Secretary Austin, according to another Pentagon press release, he “welcomed the expanded role for NATO Mission Iraq” last month. That “expanded role” means beefing up the number of NATO troops occupying the country from 500 to “4,000 or 5,000,” according to Reuters.

 

The Central Idpol Agency

Not to be outdone by the State Department or Defense Department, following the inauguration of Joe Biden, the CIA has begun conducting a “digital facelift” to appeal to Generation Z in light of their politics leaning more towards radical liberalism than previous generations.

“We had to go where the talent is,” Sheronda Dorsey, the CIA’s deputy associate director for talent, told the Wall Street Journal. She added that the CIA is looking to “increase racial, cultural, disability, sexual orientation and gender diversity so that its workforce is ‘reflective of America.'”

The Wall Street Journal goes on to write that “Today, the CIA’s digital face-lift coincides with a new presidential administration. [John] Brennan, whose directorship ended in 2017, says the Biden administration has sent out a ‘very strong signal on diversity’ with its intelligence appointees, including the first-ever female director of national intelligence, Avril Haines.”

Brennan, who was CIA director under Obama, with Haines sitting under him at number two at the agency, has more recently told MSNBC that he is “increasingly embarrassed to be a white male these days, when I see what other white males are saying.”

Brennan’s comments came in a discussion of congressional Republicans’ handling of the protests at the capitol in January. “They’ll continue to gaslight the country,” Brennan said.

While heading up the agency, Brennan oversaw the CIA as it illegally spied on Congress through hacking as they were investigating torture by the agency — and lied about it. Now he’s complaining about “gaslighting” by Congress. The whole episode has been largely forgotten by the US public as media were “stanning” the agency throughout the Trump era. Trump enemy number one, Nancy Pelosi, recently established a “diversity office” in the House of Representatives. Years ago, she helped the CIA coverup torture in addition to heavily backing the war in Iraq.

 

Finance Feminism

While technically “independent,” globally muscular financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are functionally a part of the US government, and like other institutions referenced in this article, are adopting identity politics as a means of whitewashing their anti-human agenda.

The DC-based World Bank’s president is chosen by the President of the US, with even their own website admitting “Traditionally, the World Bank President has always been been [sic] a U.S. citizen nominated by the United States.”

The U.S. is also the largest shareholder at both the World Bank and IMF, which is also based in DC. One leaked manual published by Wikileaks entitled “Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare” cites the World Bank and IMF as US “weapons in times of conflict up to and including large-scale general war.”

“Army Special Operation Forces understand that properly integrated manipulation of economic power can and should be a component of unconventional warfare,” the document continues.

“As major decisions require an 85 percent super majority, the United States can block any major changes” at the World Bank, according to the Army document.

For International Women’s Day, the IMF hosted a discussion with Biden’s Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen entitled “The Age of Womenomics.”

“We have chosen this theme ‘the age of womenomics’ consciously,” Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, said.

“Never in my life I have seen so many women in key positions where core economics and finance matter: you, as the minister of finance of the United States; Chrystia Freeland in Canada; Christine Lagarde my predecessor at the [European Central Bank]; Ngozi [Okonjo-Iweala] at the World Trade Organization; the very first woman president of a multilateral development bank, Odile [Renaud-Basso] at the [European Bank for Reconstruction and Development]…”

 

Wokeism Goes Global

Beyond promoting themselves as bastions of tolerance, imperialist institutions are also using wokeness to justify foreign resource extraction, violations of sovereignty and international law, military occupation and even coup d’etats.

In Syria, where the United States, European governments, Gulf state patriarchal petromonarchies and NATO ally Turkey have waged 10 years of proxy warfare via al-Qaeda-type sectarian insurgents, a champion of distinctly American identity politics has arisen: the YPG. For years, you’d have been hard pressed to find a leftist in the United States that did not give unquestioning support for the “Rojava women’s revolution.” The ostensible political project of Kurdish fighters in Northeastern Syria was even dubbed by Vice News the “Most Feminist Revolution the World Has Ever Witnessed.”

American anarchists, propagandized with pro-YPG literature and the ideology of “democratic confederalism” popularized by the late Zionist academic Murray Bookchin, and promoted by his daughter, Debbie Bookchin of the New York City-based “Emergency Committee For Rojava,” made names for themselves in leftist circles and on Twitter by joining up with the Kurdish fighting force called the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

While the Kurdish fighters in Syria were first backed by Obama, Trump continued to support them to “protect the oil.” In other words, so that the United States could profit from the extraction of assets rightfully belonging to the sovereign government of Syria. Now that Biden is in office, Kurdish fighters are once again becoming the subject of renewed media attention and adoration by the Western left.

Glorification of the conquests by Kurdish forces in Syria reached a fever pitch during the Raqqa campaign. One group was established, which now has its own Wikipedia page despite it’s actual existence being dubious, by foreign queer anarchists called the “The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army.” While the historic city of Raqqa was being destroyed to the tune of 70 percent, these feel-good headlines about a supposedly revolutionary and inclusive alternative to statism that the Kurdish fighters and their allies represented dominated the narrative on the left.

Before we move away from Syria, it would be irresponsible not to mention the story of Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, the “Gay Girl in Damascus.” The fake persona was created in order to stir up anti-Assad sentiment from Western LGBTQ communities, but it was exposed as the charade of a white American man named Tom MacMaster by Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah after the “gay girl” was “kidnapped.”

Now that Biden is in office, these kinds of dirty tricks to promote the dirty war on Syria are making a comeback. Based on an article in Jacobin, a new movie is in the works entitled “Stefan Vs. ISIS.” It is billed as a “Story Of Non-Binary Millennial Who Joined The Kurdish Freedom Fighters” by Deadline in a March 5 article. While the Jacobin writer of the original story, Connor Kilpatrick, has co-writing credits, Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara is set to co-executive produce the film.

One Middle East-based reporter complained to me that these journalists are now poised to profit from a war they helped sell in the first place, and are placing the identity issues of a Westerner at the center of the conversation around the battle against ISIS rather than the scores of Syrians and Iraqis who lost their lives fighting them. “The Syrian war,” they said, isn’t for a bunch of foreign leftists “to turn into a romantic ballad to identity issues. Kurds are super traditional, no way is even the YPG into this gender fluidity stuff.”

In a similar vein, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s production company was reported in late January to be working on a TV series adapting the book “The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice” by Gayle Lemmon for the screen. Following an intense bidding war over the rights to adapt the book, Deadline reported that “For the Clintons, the property feels like the perfect IP to help launch their banner given the subject matter and strong women that helped Lemmon write it.”

Last week, Lemmon joined Meghan McCain on The View to talk about her book. McCain’s father, the late John McCain, was the most militaristic senator in modern US history and a major promoter of the proxy war in Syria, the Senator even meeting with so-called “moderate rebels” with the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Army who turned out to be responsible for the kidnapping of 11 Shia Muslims.


My suggested cover image for Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s TV series.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, where the United States maintains its longest-running regime change fail, or “L,” I recently noted how Biden plans to keep “residual forces” there to continue occupying the country despite the agreement reached between the Taliban and the Trump administration to have a full withdrawal.

German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle is warning that “Afghan women risk losing their rights in a new political setup.” Now, the Biden administration is looking to negotiate the deal wherein “all options remain on the table.”

Earlier this month, Vox News reported on “internal debates” within the White House over a withdrawal from Afghanistan. Reportedly, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley made the “impassioned — and at times ‘emotional’” argument that should US forces withdraw,  women’s rights in the country “will go back to the Stone Age.”

Yet while there is no doubt that the Taliban has little respect for the rights of women, that was hardly a concern of Joe Biden when he promised in October 2012 that “We are leaving in 2014. Period.”

But speaking of the Stone Age; the US has dropped around 25,500 bombs on Afghanistan since Biden’s promise if you add up the monthly figures published by the US Airforce.

And those bombs don’t come cheap, so it should come as no surprise that Milley went on to argue that since the US has spent so much “blood and treasure” in the country in the past decades, it is not worth it to leave.

To put it in the parlance of Zoomers, General Milley wants America to “secure that bag.”

Somebody should tell the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman that “this ain’t it, chief.”

Wokeism isn’t just a useful tool of empire in the ostensible fight against terrorism, but also in the fight against socialism. In Ecuador, where the US is backing a faux left candidate as an alternative to the socialist frontrunner in the country’s presidential elections, identity politics have been deployed to drum up support for a neo-liberal.

Journalist Ben Norton exposed Yaku Pérez, billed as an indigenous eco-socialist, for his ties to the US government. After Pérez came in third place in the first round of Ecuador’s presidential election, disqualifying him from the runoff, the US embassy called him to reassure that he would be a part of it. Since then, Pérez has called for a military coup and for his socialist opponent, Andrés Arauz, to be criminally prosecuted.

Norton also points out that Pérez’s wife Manuela Picq, is an adviser to him and is helping to manage his campaign. Picq’s background is as an academic focused on sexuality and gender studies.

As we proceed into the Biden years, identity politics, intersectionality — in a word, wokeness — will be increasingly used to justify the exploits of a racist empire. That is, unless the left is able to adopt a doctrine to counter the empire’s dogma instead of continuing to play into its hands.

The Roman historian Tacitus said “Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” This may be true, but today, the maintenance of empire is justified by its inclusivity. The ability of the US to “flex” on the world stage is contingent on its ability to reference the diversity of it’s ruling class.

There’s the tea.

Feature photo | Alex Rubinstein

Alex Rubinstein is an independent reporter on Substack. You can subscribe to get free articles from him delivered to your inbox here, and if you want to support his journalism, which is never put behind a paywall, you can give a one-time donation to him through PayPal here or sustain his reporting through Patreon here.

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Twitter Deletes Dozens of Russian Accounts for “Undermining Faith in NATO”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/02/2021 - 6:44am in

Tags 

NATO, Russia, Twitter

Social media giant Twitter announced yesterday that it has deleted 373 accounts it claims were linked to Russia, Iran, and Armenia. In a blog post entitled “Disclosing networks of state-linked information operations,” it claimed that it had taken the decision to remove 69 Russian accounts primarily because they were “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.”The move sparked controversy on Twitter itself, with many users joking that their own fealty to NATO was insufficiently zealous.

 

Twitter’s glass house

Twitter justified the decision by pointing to its rules regarding the prohibition of state-controlled disinformation networks. Yet it failed to fully explain exactly how it knew these users were in the pay of the Kremlin or under the control of the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei. Indeed, the supposedly “independent investigation and analysis” team at the Stanford Internet Observatory, to which Twitter contracted out its work, itself has troubling connections to the (U.S.) state. For example, its non-resident fellow Matt Masterton was, until recently, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security. Indeed, the whole observatory is located within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, headed by former American Ambassador to Russia (and noted Kremlin hawk) Michael McFaul.

Supposed “experts” accuse users of being Russia-linked disinformation agents with great regularity. Ben Nimmo, data journalist and former NATO press officer, falsely asserted that a noted Ukrainian concert pianist and a Welsh pensioner were Kremlin bots. Nimmo was recently announced as Facebook’s chief of intelligence.

This is far from the first time that Twitter has taken action against those spreading information it does not like. However, its targets seem invariably to be enemies of the United States and NATO. In June, on advice from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Twitter banned nearly 200,000 accounts from China, Russia, and Turkey, all of which it accused of “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China,” the Kremlin or Istanbul. Yet ASPI itself is funded by both the U.S. and Australian governments, as well as a myriad of weapons contractors, all of whom have a distinct and strong interest in heightening tensions with NATO’s adversaries. Four months later, Twitter took action against a number of Iranian accounts on the suggestion of the FBI.

Unfortunately, the extent of the collaboration between big tech and the national security state extends beyond mere collaboration on whom to delete. In 2019, it was revealed that a senior Twitter executive was in fact a high-ranking officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, its division devoted to psychological operations and online warfare. How he could have achieved such a high position at Twitter without the knowing cooperation of the tech giant is unclear. Even less certain is why the story was almost completely ignored in the mainstream media and how he maintains his job at Twitter to this day.

In addition to the appointment of NATO man Nimmo, Facebook also maintains a close relationship with the military organization. In 2018, it announced a partnership with the NATO-cutout group the Atlantic Council, whereby the council would help curate the news feeds of its 2.8 billion users.

Reddit also hired a former Atlantic Council deputy director of its Middle East Strategy Task Force as its director of policy, a move that linked the popular social news aggregation site to the national security state. Other big tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM have signed multi-billion dollar commercial deals with the CIA, a move that brings virtually the entire industry into the orbit of the national security state.

 

The MIC of the “New Digital Age”

“What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century,” wrote Google executives Eric Schmidt and Larry Cohen in their book “The New Digital Age,” “technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first.” Their book was heartily endorsed on its back cover by Atlantic Council Director Henry Kissinger.

NATO was founded in the wake of the Second World War as a supposedly defensive alliance against the Soviet Union. However, with that nation’s dissolution in 1991, NATO was not scrapped; in fact, it was expanded, both in member nations and its remit. NATO began to declare that its purview spread across the entire world and into cyberspace. At the organization’s 70th anniversary in 2019, its former supreme commander, Admiral James Stavridis, declared that it would henceforth be “far more engaged in…cyber security” and would employ a far greater “offensive cyber capability.” Twitter’s latest actions suggest that his proclamations were accurate.

 

Stealth propaganda

While the Soviet government effectively controlled its entire media apparatus, its citizens were at least cognizant of that fact and distrusted it accordingly. In the West, however, the level of state penetration into both commercial and social media is rarely discussed. A propaganda system is far more effective — and dangerous — when those inside are unaware of it and believe themselves to be free from influence. Worse still, big social media companies like Twitter and Facebook dominate the world, not just one country, meaning their influence is global. The fact that Twitter is taking action against accounts because they undermine faith in NATO is a sure sign of the organization’s growing influence in Twitter’s internal affairs.

Feature photo | Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., listens as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Nov. 17, 2020. Bill Clark | Pool via AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

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What Planet Is NATO Living On?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/02/2021 - 3:53am in

The February meeting of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Defense Ministers, the first since President Biden took power, revealed an antiquated, 75-year-old alliance that, despite its military failures in Afghanistan and Libya, is now turning its military madness toward two more formidable, nuclear-armed enemies: Russia and China.

This theme was emphasized by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a Washington Post op-ed in advance of the NATO meeting, insisting that “aggressive and coercive behaviors from emboldened strategic competitors such as China and Russia reinforce our belief in collective security.”

Using Russia and China to justify more Western military build-up is a key element in the alliance’s new “Strategic Concept,” called NATO 2030: United For a New Era, which is intended to define its role in the world for the next ten years.

NATO was founded in 1949 by the United States and 11 other Western nations to confront the Soviet Union and the rise of communism in Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, it has grown to 30 countries, expanding to incorporate most of Eastern Europe, and it now has a long and persistent history of illegal war-making, bombing civilians and other war crimes.

In 1999, NATO launched a war without UN approval to separate Kosovo from Serbia. Its illegal airstrikes during the Kosovo War killed hundreds of civilians, and its close ally, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, is now on trial for shocking war crimes committed under cover of the NATO bombing campaign.

Far from the North Atlantic, NATO has fought alongside the United States in Afghanistan since 2001, and attacked Libya in 2011, leaving behind a failed state and triggering a massive refugee crisis.

The first phase of NATO’s new Strategic Concept review is called the NATO 2030 Reflection Group report. That sounds encouraging, since NATO obviously and urgently needs to reflect on its bloody history. Why does an organization nominally dedicated to deterring war and preserving peace keep starting wars, killing thousands of people and leaving countries around the world mired in violence, chaos and poverty?

But unfortunately, this kind of introspection is not what NATO means by “reflection.” The Reflection Group instead applauds NATO as “history’s most successful military alliance,” and seems to have taken a leaf from the Obama playbook by only “looking forward,” as it charges into a new decade of military confrontation with its blinders firmly in place.

NATO’s role in the “new” Cold War is really a reversion to its old role in the original Cold War. This is instructive, as it unearths the ugly reasons why the United States decided to create NATO in the first place, and exposes them for a new generation of Americans and Europeans to examine in the context of today’s world.

Any U.S. war with the Soviet Union or Russia was always going to put Europeans directly on the front lines as both combatants and mass-casualty victims. The primary function of NATO is to ensure that the people of Europe continue to play these assigned roles in America’s war plans.

As Michael Klare explains in a NATO Watch report on NATO 2030, every step the U.S. is taking with NATO is “intended to integrate it into U.S. plans to fight and defeat China and Russia in all-out warfare.”

The U.S. Army’s plan for an invasion of Russia, which is euphemistically called “The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations,” begins with missile and artillery bombardments of Russian command centers and defensive forces, followed by an invasion by armored forces to occupy key areas and sites until Russia surrenders.

Unsurprisingly, Russia’s defense strategy in the face of such an existential threat would not be to surrender, but to retaliate against the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.

U.S. war plans for an assault on China are similar, involving missiles fired from ships and bases in the Pacific. China has not been as public about its defense plans, but if its existence and independence were threatened, it too would probably use nuclear weapons, as indeed the United States would if the positions were reversed. But they’re not—since no other country has the offensive war machine it would need to invade the United States.

Michael Klare concludes that NATO 2030 “commits all alliance members to a costly, all-consuming military competition with Russia and China that will expose them to an ever-increasing risk of nuclear war.”

So how do the European people feel about their role in America’s war plans? The European Council on Foreign Relations recently conducted an in-depth poll of 15,000 people in ten NATO countries and Sweden, and published the results in a report titled “The Crisis of American Power: How Europeans See Biden’s America.”

The report reveals that a large majority of Europeans want no part in a U.S. war with Russia or China and want to remain neutral. Only 22% would support taking the U.S. side in a war with China, 23% in a war with Russia. So European public opinion is squarely at odds with NATO’s role in America’s war plans.

On transatlantic relations in general, majorities in most European countries see the U.S. political system as broken and their own countries’ politics as in healthier shape. Fifty-nine percent of Europeans believe that China will be more powerful than the United States within a decade, and most see Germany as a more important partner and international leader than the United States.

Only 17% of Europeans want closer economic ties with the United States, while even fewer, 10% of French and Germans, think their countries need America’s help with their national defense.

Biden’s election has not changed Europeans’ views very much from a previous survey in 2019, because they see Trumpism as a symptom of more deeply rooted and long-standing problems in American society. As the writers conclude, “A majority of Europeans doubt that Biden can put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”

There is also pushback among Europeans to NATO’s demand that members should spend 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense, an arbitrary goal that only 10 of the 30 members have met. Ironically, some states will reach the NATO target without raising their military spending because COVID has shrunk their GDPs, but NATO members struggling economically are unlikely to prioritize military spending.

The schism between NATO’s hostility and Europe’s economic interests runs deeper than just military spending. While the United States and NATO see Russia and China primarily as threats, European businesses view them as key partners. In 2020, China supplanted the U.S. as the European Union’s number one trading partner and at the close of 2020, the EU concluded a comprehensive investment agreement with China, despite U.S. concerns.

European countries also have their own economic relations with Russia. Germany remains committed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a 746-mile natural gas artery that runs from northern Russia to Germany—even as the Biden administration calls it a “bad deal” and claims that it makes Europe vulnerable to Russian “treachery.”

NATO seems oblivious to the changing dynamics of today’s world, as if it’s living on a different planet. Its one-sided Reflection Group report cites Russia’s violation of international law in Crimea as a principal cause of deteriorating relations with the West, and insists that Russia must “return to full compliance with international law.” But it ignores the U.S. and NATO’s far more numerous violations of international law and leading role in the tensions fueling the renewed Cold War:

  • illegal invasions of Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • the broken agreement over NATO expansion into Eastern Europe;
  • U.S. withdrawals from important arms control treaties;
  • more than 300,000 bombs and missiles dropped on other countries by the United States and its allies since 2001;
  • U.S. proxy wars in Libya and Syria, which plunged both countries into chaos, revived Al Qaeda and spawned the Islamic State;
  • U.S. management of the 2014 coup in Ukraine, which led to economic collapse, Russian annexation of Crimea and civil war in Eastern Ukraine; and
  • the stark reality of the United States’ record as a serial aggressor whose offensive war machine dwarfs Russia’s defense spending by 11 to 1 and China’s by 2.8 to 1, even without counting other NATO countries’ military spending.

NATO’s failure to seriously examine its own role in what it euphemistically calls “uncertain times” should therefore be more alarming to Americans and Europeans than its one-sided criticisms of Russia and China, whose contributions to the uncertainty of our times pale by comparison.

The short-sighted preservation and expansion of NATO for a whole generation after the dissolution of the U.S.S.R and the end of the Cold War has tragically set the stage for the renewal of those hostilities – or maybe even made their revival inevitable.

NATO’s Reflection Group justifies and promotes the United States’ and NATO’s renewed Cold War by filling its report with dangerously one-sided threat analysis. A more honest and balanced review of the dangers facing the world and NATO’s role in them would lead to a much simpler plan for NATO’s future: that it should be dissolved and dismantled as quickly as possible.

Feature Photo | NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference, after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in video format, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 18, 2021. Virginia Mayo | AP

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

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Biden: “America is back”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/02/2021 - 2:06am in

Democrats are setting out to demonstrate that democracy works. While Republicans have become the party of obstruction. Continue reading

The post Biden: “America is back” appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Biden Puts Trump’s Foreign Policy in Reverse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/02/2021 - 5:25am in

In a speech at the State Department, President Biden argued that foreign policy is an integral part of domestic policy. It requires that the government address the needs of ordinary Americans. Continue reading

The post Biden Puts Trump’s Foreign Policy in Reverse appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Biden Delivers a Reality Check

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 05/12/2020 - 4:25am in

For those who cannot see it: we are in one of the most profound crises of American history. Continue reading

The post Biden Delivers a Reality Check appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

William Blum on the Real Reason for the Invasion of Afghanistan: Oil

The late William Blum, an inveterate and bitter critic of American foreign policy and imperialism also attacked the invasion of Afghanistan. In his view, it was, like the Iraq invasion a few years later, absolutely nothing to do with the terrible events of 9/11 but another attempt to assert American control over a country for the benefit of the American-Saudi oil industry. Blum, and other critics of the Iraq invasion, made it very clear that America invaded Iraq in order to gain control of its oil industry and its vast reserves. In the case of Afghanistan, the invasion was carried out because of the country’s strategic location for oil pipelines. These would allow oil to be supplied to south Asian avoiding the two countries currently outside American control, Russian and Iran. The Taliban’s connection to al-Qaeda was really only a cynical pretext for the invasion. Blum lays out his argument on pages 79-81 of his 2014 book, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He writes

With the US war in Iraq supposedly having reached a good conclusion (or halfway decent… or better than nothing… or let’s get the hell out of here while some of us are still in one piece and there are some Iraqis we haven’t yet killed), the best and the brightest in our government and media turn their thoughts to what to do about Afghanistan. It appears that no one seems to remember, if they ever knew, that Afghanistan was not really about 9/11 or fighting terrorists (except the many the US has created by its invasion and occupation), but was about pipelines.

President Obama declared in August 2009:

But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9-11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.

Never mind that out of the tens of thousands of people the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001.

Never mind that the ‘plotting to attack America’ in 2001 was carried out in Germany and Spain and the United States more than in Afghanistan. Why hasn’t the United States attacked these countries?

Indeed, what actually was needed to plot to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? A room with some chairs? What does ‘an even larger safe haven’ mean? A larger room with more chairs? Perhaps a blackboard? Terrorists intent upon attacking the United States can meet almost anywhere.

The only ‘necessity’ that drew the United States to Afghanistan was the desire to establish a military presence in this land that is next door to the Caspian Sea region of Central Asia – which reportedly contains the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world – and build oil and gas pipelines from that region running through Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is well situated for oil and gas pipelines to serve much of South Asia, pipelines that can bypass those not-yet Washington clients Iran and Russia. If only the Taliban would not attack the lines. Here’s Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, in 2007: ‘One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between South and Central Asia so taht energy can flow to the south’.

Since the 1980s all kinds of pipelines have been planned for the area, only to be delayed or canceled by one military, financial or political problem or another. For example, the so-called TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) had strong support from Washington, which was eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran. TAPI goes back to the 1990s, when the Taliban government held talks with the California-based oil company Unocal Corporation. These talks were conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration, and were undeterred by the extreme repression of Taliban society. Taliban officials even made trips to the United States for discussions. Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on February 12, 1998, Unocal representative John Maresca discussed the importance of the pipeline project and the increasing difficulties in dealing with the Taliban:

The region’s total oil reserves may well reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels… From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, leaders, and our company.

When those talks stalled in July, 2001 the Bush administration threatened the Taliban with military reprisals if the government did not go along with American demands. The talks finally broke down for good the following month, a month before 9/11.

The United States has been serious indeed about the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf oil and gas areas. Through one war of another beginning with the Gulf War of 1990-91, the US has managed to establish military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The war against the Taliban can’t be ‘won’ short of killing everyone in Afghanistan. The United States may well try again to negotiate some from of pipeline security with the Taliban, then get out, and declare ‘victory’. Barack Obama can surely deliver an eloquent victory speech from his teleprompter. It might include the words ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, but certainly not ‘pipeline’.

This was obviously written before the electoral victory of Hamid Karzai and his government, but the point remains the same. The Taliban are still active and fighting against the supposedly democratic government, which also remains, as far as I know, dependent on western aid.

But the heart of the matter is that this wasn’t a war to save humanity from the threat of global terrorism, nor is it about freeing the Afghan people from a bloodthirsty and murderously repressive Islamist regime. The Americans were quite happy to tolerate that and indeed do business with it. It was only when the Taliban started to become awkward that the Americans started threatening them with military action. And this was before 9/11. Which strongly supports Blum’s argument that the terrible attack on the Twin Towers, Pentagon and the White House were and are being cynically used as the justification for the invasion. 17 out of the 19 conspirators were Saudis, and the events point to involvement by the Saudi state with responsibility going right to the top of the Saudi regime. But America and NATO never launched an attack on them, despite the fact that the Saudis have been funding global Islamist terrorism, including Daesh. That is before ISIS attacked them.

It was Remembrance Day last Wednesday. The day when Britain honours the squaddies who fell in the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts. One of those talking about the importance of the day and its ceremonies on Points West, the Beeb’s local news programme for the Bristol area, was a former squaddie. He was a veteran of Afghanistan, and said it was particularly important to him because he had a mate who was killed out there. He felt we had to remember victims of combat, like his friend because if we didn’t ‘what’s the point?’.

Unfortunately, if Blum’s right – and I believe very strongly that he is – then there’s no point. Our governments have wasted the lives, limbs and minds of courageous, patriotic men and women for no good reason. Not to defend our countries from a ruthless ideology which massacres civilians in order to establish its oppressive rule over the globe. Not to defend our freedoms and way of life, nor to extend those freedoms and their benefits to the Afghan people. But simply so that America can gain geopolitical control of that region and maintain its dominance of the oil industry, while enriching the oil companies still further.