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Washington Post “Expert” Linked to Defense Companies Hypes North Korea Missile Threat

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 6:41am in

An alarming report published Monday in the Washington Post claimed that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile right as Joe Biden is inaugurated. 

“North Korea appears to be taking steps toward a new test of a powerful submarine-launched missile, U.S. weapons experts said, as it steadily dials up the pressure on President-elect Joe Biden,” it wrote, suggesting that the Supreme Leader is, “planning a very different fireworks display to greet the incoming U.S. president.”

One of the weapons experts the story relies upon is Michael Elleman, a director at the hawkish and secretive think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), who told the Post that the Korean missiles might have a range of around 1,900 miles and have the ability to hit U.S. targets in the Pacific. 

Washington Post experts

The Post warned that North Korea could be planning to target Biden’s inauguration

Presented as a neutral authority, the Washington Post did not inform its readers that the IISS is largely funded and overseen by the weapons industry, with five of its six most generous contributors — Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon — major defense manufacturers, each donating six-figure sums. The IISS’ council includes a former NATO Secretary General and previously included the CEO of Lockheed Martin. As such, many of the organization’s key funders and players have a clear financial incentive to push for war or heightened tensions with enemy countries, making any of their proclamations on the subject immediately suspect. (The IISS also secretly accepted £25 million — around U.S.$34 million — from the government of Bahrain).

Unfortunately, the Washington Post is a repeat offender in failing to divulge its sources’ massive conflicts of interest while sharing a pro-war opinion. In a 2017 article about weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, the Post allowed senior vice-president of the Middle East Institute Gerald M. Feierstein to frame the debate, arguing that the U.S. should sell more of its high tech weaponry to Riyadh, claiming that smart, precision-guided bombs are preferable to the Saudis using unguided explosives. “We should provide more help, more support, to get them to stop doing stupid things…We should not cut off all the tools that would enable them to do this the right way,” he said.

Leaving aside the fact that the Saudis have targeted Yemeni medical, sewage, and water facilities to the rate of one airstrike every ten days for the entire duration of the six-year war, left undisclosed is the fact that the Middle East Institute is generously funded by both Saudi Arabia and weapons manufacturers like Raytheon, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman. It is exactly these parties who wish to see the war continued, making their spokesperson a highly dubious actor. However, this was not revealed to readers, thus, artificially bolstering the pro-war side’s credibility.  

Part of the reason governments or big weapons companies donate millions to high-profile think tanks every year is to subsidize a steady flow of reports or op-eds in major outlets that will help convince their audiences and the public at large that war is the way to go. It is just good business sense. 

Of late, the U.S.’ prime adversary has been China, with a slew of Western writers or think tanks demanding that we halt their “strategy of world domination” (Claudia Rosett, Hudson Institute/Dallas Morning News). Writing in the influential journal Foreign Policy last month, Edward Lucas, senior vice-president at the Center for European Foreign Policy Analysis, called for a massive, “well-resourced” global alliance to “curb the Chinese Communist Party’s influence” and halt its “aggression.” He did not specifically characterize it as a military one, but did praise NATO, suggesting war was on his mind. Again undisclosed, however, is that donations from NATO itself, as well as a myriad of arms manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter, and Raytheon, pay his wages.

Meanwhile, Twitter announced its decision to ban over 170,000 accounts it claimed were suspiciously favorable to the Chinese Communist Party was made after consultation with the supposedly neutral Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).  Yet ASPI itself is the driving force behind the attempt to shift Australia’s loyalties from Asia and towards the United States. And, of course, ASPI is funded by the U.S. State Department, as well as a who’s who of weapons merchants. 

 

This is how the game works and the think tank industrial complex is sustained. Weapons manufacturers put aside a small amount of their vast profits to “invest” in think tanks, knowing that these organizations will help create the intellectual justification and climate for more war, and, therefore, more profits. 

It should be up to mainstream media outlets to highlight and alert the public to this dangerous practice that puts literally the entire planet’s population at risk. Unfortunately, corporate media outlets are financed by the same or similar sources to the think tank world, meaning that scrutiny of these questionably-funded organizations is off the table. It is therefore left to small alternative media sites to raise the alarm and provide an anti-war message. Sadly, their reach is far less than even the most rudimentary North Korean rocket. 

Feature photo | Kim Jong Un waves at a military parade marking the ruling party congress, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 14, 2021.Korean Central News Agency | Korea News Service via AP

Alan MacLeod is a 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. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Washington Post “Expert” Linked to Defense Companies Hypes North Korea Missile Threat appeared first on MintPress News.

The “Perfect” Phone Call

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/01/2021 - 9:40pm in

Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to demand he overturn the results of the presidential election in Georgia and deliver the state to Trump. Raffensperger apparently recorded the call, keeping it handy in case Trump misrepresented it publicly. This morning, Trump did exactly that. Continue reading

The post The “Perfect” Phone Call appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated – But Do They Really Have a Nuclear Weapons Programme?

I’ve just seen this report on YouTube from the Beeb reporting the assassination of the top Iranian nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Reports were confused at first, with the Iranian nuclear authority claiming that Fakhrizadeh had survived, but the country’s defence minister then confirmed that he had died. The Beeb’s Middle East editor for the World Service, Sebastian Usher, states that he was the head of Iran’s cover nuclear weapons programme. This has been extremely controversial for years, and is at the heart of the way Israel and America look at Iran. They see Iran as close to becoming a massive risk all across the region because of its nuclear programme. Fakhrizadeh was the ‘father’ of the nuclear weapons programme, and so the prime target, particularly for anyone trying to send a message by whoever was responsible that action would be taken against their weapons programme.

The head of the Revolutionary Guards said that these attacks had happened in the past and have been revenged in the past, and would be revenged this time. Usher states that was quite true. Between 2010 and 2012 there was a spate of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, four of whom were killed in relatively mysterious circumstances, but Iran blamed the Israelis. Netanyahu hasn’t made any comment on what has just happened. Usher states that we should look at the context of this assassination. Trump was in power with a very overt foreign policy from Saudi Arabia and Israel, which had a very strong attitude and ‘strategy of maximum pressure’ against Iran. Usher says that in the last few weeks there has been speculation what Trump’s administration would do to get its message across and make it more difficult for the president elect, Joe Biden, if he were to try to go back to the Iranian nuclear deal which Trump walked away from in 2018.

Top Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated – BBC News – YouTube

I’m calling bullshit on some of this. I’m not at all sure that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons programme – not after the lies Netanyahu and the Americans have told in the past, and definitely not after the total hogwash we were also fed about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction.

Readers of this blog will know that I despise the Iranian regime. They are a bunch of corrupt mass-murderers and torturers, who oppress and rob their people. But it’s a very good question whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons. As the Beeb report says, concerns about this have been around for years. The Iranians do have a nuclear programme, but denied it was military. They said it was all about supplying domestic power. Some western commenters I’ve read have said that’s probably true. Iran’s economy is heavily dependent on oil exports. They want to increase these, and so it would make sense for them to develop nuclear power to generate electricity for their people, so they can export more to the rest of the world.

I also remember how Netanyahu nearly a decade ago now was screaming that the Iranians were close to developing a nuclear bomb, and that action had to be taken against them soon. It was a lie from a man all to practised in lying. It was contradicted by that mamzer’s own security service and his generals. Unsurprisingly, William Blum has a chapter on Iran and the US’ hostility and lies about it in his book, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He talks about the scare in 2007 when the Israeli state was telling the world that Iran was on the point of developing nuclear weapons and a threat to Israel. But three months before that, Tzipi Livni, the same foreign minister making the claim, had said instead that the Iranian nuclear weapons programme was not a threat to Israel. Blum also quotes Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek International, on how cooperative the Iranians were when the Americans negotiated with them in the 1990s.

The one time we seriously negotiated with Tehran was in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan [early 199s], in order to create a new political order in the country. Bush’s representative to the Bonn conference, James Dobbins, says that ‘the Iranians were very professional, straightforward, reliable and helpful. They were also critical to our success. They persuaded the Northern Alliance [Afghan foes of the Taliban] to make the final concessions that we asked for.’ Dobbins says the Iranians made overtures to have better relations with the United States through him and others in 2001 and later, but got no reply. Even after the Axis of Evil speech, he recalls, they offered to cooperate in Afghanistan. Dobbins took the proposal to a principals meeting in Washington only to have it met with dead silence. The then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he says, ‘looked down and rustled his papers.’ No reply was ever sent back to the Iranians. Why bother? They’re mad. (p. 104-5).

Dobbins himself states that it was the Iranians who included the references to democracy and the War on Terror in the Bonn Agreement and insisted that the new Afghan government should be committed to them.

Blum goes on

Shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran made another approach to Washington, via the Swiss ambassador, who sent a fax to the State Department. The Washington Post described it as ‘a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table – including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.’ The Bush administration ‘belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax.’ Richard Haass, head of policy planning at the State Department at the time and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Iranian approach was swiftly rejected because in the administration ‘the bias was toward a policy of regime change.’ (p. 105).

Blum concludes

So there we have it. The Israelis know it, the Americans know it. Iran is not any kind of military threat. Before the invasion of Iraq I posed the question: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? He had no reason, and neither do the Iranians. (p. 105).

Blum also has a chapter on Iraq, and how Hussein tried again and again to make a peace deal with the Americans and show them he didn’t have WMDs. And each time he was rebuffed. A little while ago Trump had an Iranian general assassinated in a drone strike, and there are reports that he would have liked to have had others assassinated in the final days of his presidency. He’s frustrated that he couldn’t. We don’t know who was behind this assassination. It could be the Israeli state, or the Saudis, but it may very well be Trump.

And I’m afraid that over the next few days or weeks, we shall hear more about an Iranian nuclear weapons programme and how they’re a threat to America and its allies. And I fear that the hawks are also preparing to demand war with Iran. If they are, then we’ll hear all the same lies we were told about Saddam Hussein and Afghanistan – that the Iranian government is a tyranny oppressing its people, and that we shall go in there to give them democracy and freedom while eliminating them as a threat to the region’s peace.

But any invasion very definitely won’t be for the benefit of the Iranian people, or to give them freedom and democracy. It will be for the same reasons Iraq and Afghanistan were really invaded – for the oil and the maintenance of American geopolitical power. Plus in the case of Iraq, American and western multinationals also wanted to buy up the country’s state industries.

And the results of any invasion of Iran will be the same as Iraq: bloody carnage. There will be ethnic and sectarian violence, the country’s economy will collapse and unemployment skyrocket. Whatever the country has of a welfare state will disappear and the position of women will get worse. Iran is an Islamic theocracy, but it was also one of the most westernised and industrially advanced societies in the Middle East. I think it still is. The Iranian middle class go skiing in the mountains during which they sport the same fashions as the west. Yes, it part of the developing world, but I got the impression that it was also a comparatively rich and sophisticated country.

We’ve got no business whatsoever invading Iran and the other Middle Eastern nations, and so much of what we’ve been told about them, about the threat they pose, is just one lie after another. And it’s utterly disgraceful that our leaders sent our brave young men and women to fight, die or come back maimed and scarred in body and mind, not to defend this country, but simply so the multinationals can see their stocks and their managers’ salaries rise.

We were lied to about Afghanistan and Iraq. And I’m afraid our leaders will lie to us about Iran, and the Beeb will repeat these lies.

For the sake of millions of people, No War!