NATO, Russia, and the View from Mars

Eric Draitser

Robert Heinlein’s classic novel Stranger in a Strange Land tells the story of a human, born and raised on Mars, who comes to Earth and struggles to understand the world around him. The protagonist of the novel, having no knowledge of the planet, is susceptible to misunderstanding issues based on a literal interpretation of all he sees and reads. Were he to come to the US or Europe today and pick up a newspaper or turn on the news, what would he think of Russia and its ambitions? Conversely, would he even encounter the word NATO? And would he have any concept of the fact that NATO is by far the most dominant military force in the world?

Obscuring the Truth with Media The onslaught of Western propaganda in recent months has attempted to portray Russia as an aggressor – an imperial nation with designs on Ukraine and its other neighbors. Russia is presented as a belligerent actor using its military to menace former Soviet republics in order to reconstitute its former glory.

However, this narrative conveniently leaves out the fact that it is NATO, not Russia, which is actually escalating military tensions throughout the former Soviet space. While the US and European media build the myth of “Bad Vlad” and Russian imperialism, NATO is quietly deploying troops and hardware to critical locations, providing material support to nations along Russia’s borders and those of its allies, and generally raising the stakes and inviting the possibility of war. With headlines such as “Putin’s imperial project threatens European values” (Financial Times), and “Putin’s Imperial One-Man Show” (New York Times), the Western media has done yeoman’s work for Washington and Brussels, establishing the narrative that it is Russia that is an imperial aggressor seeking regional (global?) domination through military force. These media outlets frame the discussion as to the degree to which Russia seeks hegemony, not whether or not this is truly the case.


Police killings in America

Andre Damon & Barry Grey

The “counterinsurgency” methods of mass violence employed in America’s dirty neocolonial wars abroad are being adapted for use at home.

Last month, police in Albuquerque, New Mexico shot and killed James Boyd, a homeless man camping in the foothills outside the city.

A video of the incident, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, has sparked a public outcry throughout the city and nationwide. Since 2010, there have been 23 lethal police shootings in Albuquerque alone.

The video shows police, in military battle dress and helmets wielding scoped assault rifles, confronting a lone homeless man. The officers throw a flash grenade at Boyd, sic an attack dog on him, and then fire up to eight lethal rounds into his back before shooting his motionless body with beanbag rounds and siccing the dog on him once again. The release of the video sparked protests by hundreds of people in the city, which were dispersed with tear gas by riot police.

Only days later, Albuquerque police killed another man, 30-year-old Alfred Lionel Redwine, outside an apartment complex. A witness told the Los Angeles Times that Redwine had “his arms down, with his palms out, when officers shot him.” The Albuquerque shootings are only the latest in a series of nationwide police killings this year.


Was Turkey Behind Syrian Sarin Attack?

Robert Parry

Exclusive: Journalist Seymour Hersh has unearthed information implicating Turkish intelligence in last summer’s Sarin attack near Damascus that almost pushed President Obama into a war to topple Syria’s government and open a path for an al-Qaeda victory.

Last August, the Obama administration lurched to the brink of invading Syria after blaming a Sarin gas attack outside Damascus on President Bashar al-Assad’s government, but new evidence – reported by investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh – implicates Turkish intelligence and extremist Syrian rebels instead.

The significance of Hersh’s latest report is twofold: first, it shows how Official Washington’s hawks and neocons almost stampeded the United States into another Mideast war under false pretenses, and second, the story’s publication in the London Review of Books reveals how hostile the mainstream U.S. media remains toward information that doesn’t comport with its neocon-dominated conventional wisdom.


Pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine demand Crimean-style referendum

Johannes Stern


Pro-Russian protesters hold placards reading “Yanukovych restore
order in the country
” during a rally in eastern Ukrainian city of
Donetsk on March 22, 2014.
(2012: What's the 'real' truth?)

Tensions between the Western-backed interim government in Kiev and the eastern parts of Ukraine with close economic and linguistic ties to Russia are escalating, posing the threat not only of civil war in Ukraine, but of military conflict between the imperialist powers and Russia.

Yesterday, pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine’s industrial city of Donetsk set up a “people’s council” and announced the creation of a “republic of Donetsk.”

Three weeks after Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine, the council in Donetsk similarly called for a May 11 referendum on joining Russia and asked Russia to deploy “peacekeepers” to secure it. A statement of the council read: “Without support it will be hard for us to stand against the junta in Kiev… We are addressing Russian President Putin because we can only entrust our security to Russia.”

The announcement followed the occupation of local administration buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and the eastern city of Luhansk by anti-government protesters on Sunday. Pictures and videos of the protests showed demonstrators setting up barricades and piling up tires and barbed wire, just as pro-Western protesters did in Kiev against former president Viktor Yanukovych before he was ousted in a Western-orchestrated and fascist-led putsch on February 22. The imperialist powers’ installation of a far-right, anti-Russian government in Kiev, which quickly moved to eliminate Russian as an official language and impose IMF austerity measures on the working class, is producing an ever more volatile and explosive situation.


Media blacks out Seymour Hersh exposé of US lies on Syrian gas attack

Patrick Martin

Nearly two days after the London Review of Books published a lengthy exposé by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh detailing efforts by the Turkish government to stage a provocation to bring the US military directly into the civil war in Syria, the US media has blacked out the report.

Hersh, who has authored groundbreaking investigative reports uncovering US atrocities, including the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib during the Iraq war, titled his article on last August’s sarin gas attack outside of Damascus “The Red Line and the Rat Line.”

The “red line” refers to President Obama’s threat to attack Syria if the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons. The “rat line” was a CIA-organized supply chain running from Benghazi, Libya through southern Turkey and into Syria, which was used to smuggle weapons to the Syrian “rebels.”


Why Are Americans Paying to Be Searched, Spied On, Shot At and Robbed Blind by the Government?

John W. Whitehead


They try to "sell" the plan to all...In an unsuccessful effort
to educate people to uniform views, "planners" establish a
giant propaganda machine — which coming dictator will
find handy
.
(The Road to Serfdom as a Comic Book)

To force a man to pay for the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult to injury.”—Benjamin Tucker, 19th century advocate of American individualist anarchism

The State Department wants $400,000 to purchase a fiberglass sculpture of a camel looking at a needle for its new embassy in Pakistan. They’ve already spent their allotted $630,000 to increase the number of “likes” and fans on their Facebook and Twitter pages. The NATO ambassador for the U.S. needs $700,000 for landscaping and gardening, the National Science Foundation would like $700,000 to put on a theatrical production about climate change, and the Senate staffers need $1.9 million for lifestyle coaching. Also, Yale University researchers could really use $384,000 so they can study the odd cork-screw shape of a duck’s penis.

I promise this is no belated April Fools’ joke. These are actual line items paid for by American taxpayers, whose tax dollars continue to be wasted on extravagant, unnecessary items that serve no greater purpose than to fatten the wallets of corporations and feed political graft (such as the $1 million bus stop, complete with heated benches and sidewalks which can only shelter 15 people and provides little protection from rain, snow, or the sun).

Case in point: despite the fact that we have 46 million Americans living at or below the poverty line, 16 million children living in households without adequate access to food, and at least 900,000 veterans relying on food stamps, enormous sums continue to be doled out for presidential vacations ($16 million for trips to Africa and Hawaii), overtime fraud at the Department of Homeland Security (nearly $9 million in improper overtime claims, and that’s just in six of the DHS’ many offices), and Hollywood movie productions ($10 million was spent by the Army National Guard on Superman movie tie-ins aimed at increasing awareness about the National Guard).


Obama Issues Threats To Russia And NATO

Paul Craig Roberts

The Obama regime has issued simultaneous threats to the enemy it is making out of Russia and to its European NATO allies on which Washington is relying to support sanctions on Russia. This cannot end well.

As even Americans living in a controlled media environment are aware, Europeans, South Americans, and Chinese are infuriated that the National Stasi Agency is spying on their communications. NSA’s affront to legality, the US Constitution, and international diplomatic norms is unprecedented. Yet, the spying continues, while Congress sits sucking its thumb and betraying its oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.

In Washington mumbo-jumbo from the executive branch about “national security” suffices to negate statutory law and Constitutional requirements. Western Europe, seeing that the White House, Congress and the Federal Courts are impotent and unable to rein-in the Stasi Police State, has decided to create a European communication system that excludes US companies in order to protect the privacy of European citizens and government communications from the Washington Stasi.

The Obama regime, desperate that no individual and no country escape its spy net, denounced Western Europe’s intention to protect the privacy of its communications as “a violation of trade laws.”

Obama’s US Trade Representative, who has been negotiating secret “trade agreements” in Europe and Asia that give US corporations immunity to the laws of all countries that sign the agreements, has threatened WTO penalties if Europe’s communications network excludes the US companies that serve as spies for NSA. Washington in all its arrogance has told its most necessary allies that if you don’t let us spy on you, we will use WTO to penalize you.

So there you have it. The rest of the world now has the best possible reason to exit the WTO and to avoid the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic “trade agreements.” The agreements are not about trade. The purpose of these “trade agreements” is to establish the hegemony of Washington and US corporations over other countries.


New exposé by Seymour Hersh: Turkey staged gas attack to provoke US war on Syria

Patrick Martin


From the August 2013 "rebel" gas attack in Damascus (Ghouta)

It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.

In a lengthy article published Sunday by the London Review of Books, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports that the sarin gas attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21, 2013 was actually carried out by Syrian “rebel” forces acting at the behest of Turkey, for the purpose of providing a pretext for a US attack on Syria.

The gas attack killed many hundreds of people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, and the Obama administration and the corporate-controlled US media immediately blamed the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad for the atrocity. The New York Times, in particular, published a lengthy analysis by its military “expert,” C. J. Chivers, which purported to show, based on rocket trajectories, prevailing winds and other technical factors, that the gas shells could only have been fired from Syrian army artillery positions.

For several weeks, the Ghouta attack became the pretext for a warmongering campaign by the White House and the US and European media. Obama threatened immediate air strikes, claiming that the Syrian government had crossed a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons, which he had laid down in 2012.


Strategies of containment

William T. Hathaway


A disgusting web game lets you 'kettle' four students using
the arrow keys to direct a line of police against them.

Many of us on the left have been kettled at demonstrations: surrounded by a wall of police, herded into a small area, and prevented from reaching our goal. The term is a translation of kesseln, the German military tactic of enclosing an enemy force within a tight cordon of troops and gradually wearing it down rather than attacking it directly.

But we are also kettled by the thought police, and that's even more insidious. This strategy of containment is used politically to confine potentially revolutionary energy into an area where it can't reach its goal. Instead of by cops, we are corralled by institutions that purport to be progressive or even socialist. This pseudo-left diverts our energies away from organizing a militant working class and towards supporting the Democratic Party. Democrat congressman Dennis Kucinich referred to this when he described his calls for a more peaceful US foreign policy as a way to keep peace activists within "the big tent" -- the Democratic Party.

The Democrats like to have a few seeming progressives like Kucinich in their ranks to create the illusion that they are the party of change.


The Danger of False Narrative

Robert Parry

Exclusive: Like a decade ago with Iraq, Official Washington’s pundits and pols are locked shoulder-to-shoulder in a phalanx of misguided consensus on Ukraine, presenting a false narrative that is taking U.S. policy into dangerous directions.

The American people got a nasty taste of the danger that can come with false narrative when they were suckered into the Iraq War based on bogus claims that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction that he planned to share with al-Qaeda.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers died in the conflict along with hundreds thousands of Iraqis. The war’s total financial cost probably exceeded $1 trillion, a vast sum that siphoned off America’s economic vitality and forced cutbacks in everything from education to road repair. Plus, the war ended up creating an Iraqi base for al-Qaeda terrorists that had not existed before.

But perhaps an even more dangerous problem coming out of the Iraq War was that almost no one in Official Washington who pushed the false narrative – whether in politics or in the press – was held accountable in any meaningful way. Many of the same pols and pundits remain in place today, pushing similar false narratives on new crises, from Ukraine to Syria to Iran.

Those false narratives – and their cumulative effect on policymaking – now represent a clear and present danger to the Republic and, indeed, to the world. The United States, after all, is the preeminent superpower with unprecedented means for delivering death and destruction. But almost nothing is being done to address this enduring American crisis of deception.

Today, Official Washington is marching in lockstep just as it did in 2002-03 when it enforced the misguided consensus on Iraq’s WMD. The latest case is Ukraine where Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of committing “aggression” to expand Russian territory at the expense of noble ”democratic” reformers in Kiev.


Eugene Schulman: What Heidegger Hysteria Tells Us About the Press

Eugene Schulman / Gilad Atzmon

Comment by Gilad Atzmon: I am delighted to see the dichotomy between Athens and Jerusalem being discussed and I am very happy to see my writing at the centre of that debate. However, I do not agree with the opinion of Schulman and others that Athens and Jerusalem are the ‘two roots of Western civilization’. I see Jerusalem as a corrosive force that is there to castrate the Athenian West by means of ‘correctness’ (law and righteousness). However, Schulman is spot on, "The Guardian of Judea" is a mere symptom and far from being alone. In fairness, the Guardian often criticises Israel, yet, its criticism is vetted by kosher considerations. You won't find the Guardian’s criticising Jewish political power within British politics. The paper limits its discourse to politically correct anti- Zionist discussion. As such the Guardian, like most progressive outlets, operates as a control opposition and should be exposed for what it is.

______

Jerusalem v. Athens: What Heidegger Hysteria Tells Us About the Press
By Eugene Schulman
Counterpunch

Jerusalem and Athens are the two roots of Western civilization, with Jerusalem representing biblical revelation and Athens representing philosophical rationality. Their relationship is one of “fundamental opposition,” an opposition that constitutes the vitality of western civilization. According to Leo Strauss, to choose between Jerusalem and Athens is to choose between “life in obedience to divine law or life in freedom.” Martin Heiddeger seemed to express the same philosophy.


Obama, the Sauds, and Bottomless Hypocrisy

Tony Cartalucci


King Abdulaziz ibn Saud, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt
aboard USS Quincy, Great Bitter Lake, Egypt, 14 Feb 1945

US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia confirms what many even causal political observers have begun to suspect regarding recent US political history, that Washington’s values aren’t just nonpartisan, driven entirely by special interests permeating both sides of the political aisle, but are altogether non-existent. To understand why requires an understanding of both US-Saudi relations, not just during the Obama administration, but over the past several decades, as well as a basic understanding of Saudi Arabia itself.

Despite the integral role Saudi Arabia plays in US foreign policy, particularly but not limited to the Middle East, many know very little regarding this nation. American, British, and European media intentionally serve up disjointed reports regarding the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Should ever a complete picture be given to global audiences and the same amount of attention given to the shortcomings of Saudi Arabia as is given toward the perceived enemies of the Western world, clear limitations would be demanded by the public in regards to their respective governments’ relationship with the Saudis until badly needed reform was undertaken.


Ukraine’s Inconvenient Neo-Nazis

Robert Parry


Far-right militia members demonstrating outside Ukrainian
parliament in Kiev.
(Screen shot from YouTube video: RT)

Exclusive: When Ukrainian neo-Nazis – infuriated over the killing of an ultranationalist leader – surrounded the Parliament in Kiev, the incident presented a problem for the U.S. news media which has been trying to airbrush the neo-Nazis out of the Ukraine narrative.

The U.S. media’s take on the Ukraine crisis is that a “democratic revolution” ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, followed by a “legitimate” change of government. So, to mention the key role played neo-Nazi militias in the putsch or to note that Yanukovych was democratically elected – and then illegally deposed – gets you dismissed as a “Russian propagandist.”

But Ukraine’s neo-Nazis are not some urban legend. Their presence is real, as they swagger in their paramilitary garb through the streets of Kiev, displaying Nazi insignias, honoring SS collaborators from World War II, and hoisting racist banners, including the white-power symbol of the Confederate battle flag.


Judicial Watch Played Into The Government’s Hands

Paul Craig Roberts

Americans Are Blinded By Agendas

Disinformation succeeds because so many people and interest groups across the political spectrum find that it serves their agendas as well as the agenda of the government. Consider for example the explanation of 9/11 that blamed Muslim terrorists for the attack. This served the interests of the neoconservatives, the private armaments companies, the US military, the private security companies, government security agencies such as the CIA, the left-wing, the right-wing, the Israel Lobby, and the print and TV media.

The official explanation gave the neoconservatives the “new Pearl Harbor” that they needed for their program of invasions of Middle Eastern countries. The private armaments companies could look forward to decades of high profits. Wars always bring the military rapid promotions and higher retirement benefits. Private manufacturers of security equipment and spyware enjoy a rising demand for their products and have grown fat from the products sold to the TSA and NSA. Homeland Security has vastly expanded the federal workforce and administrative positions. The left-wing has proof of “blowback” caused by US interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The right-wing has proof that America has enemies against whom defense at all costs is necessary. The Israel Lobby has the US to overthrow the regimes in the way of Israel’s territorial expansion. The media has the story of the century with which to boost ratings and curry the favor of government.

These are formidable interests arrayed against the mere obvious truth, obvious, that is, to any educated person. The 2,100 Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth have no vested interest in any explanation of 9/11. Indeed, they are harmed by disproving, as they have done, the government’s explanation. None of them will ever again get a government contract, and many of their former clients have turned their backs on “those damn anti-Americans who don’t believe their own government!” Cass Sunstein, a Chicago and Harvard law professor who sold out his integrity, if any, to the Obama regime by accepting an appointment and arguing that the federal government should infiltrate the 9/11 truth movement with agents and set-up truth-tellers so that they could be discredited, possibly even prodding them into actions for which they could be arrested.

In other words, the government’s story cannot stand the light cast by the facts and independent experts, and the government’s false story must be protected by shutting down the truth-telling experts. The government, Sunstein argued, needs to either gain control over these experts or to shut them down.


Another False Flag Chemical Weapons Attack Planned

Stephen Lendman


A "Special Offer" from Mossad's & CIA's terrorists. The
Syrians may be in for something more serious this time...

In the past week, Damascus sent five letters to Ban Ki-moon and Security Council President Joy Ogwu. This matter is now in the hands of Security Council members. They've got it before an attack occurs. Whether it will now remains to be seen.

Jobar is a Damascus area suburb. On April 1, Syria's permanent UN envoy Bashir al-Jaafari said terrorists plan attacking it with chemical weapons. He knew days earlier. He sent two identical letters to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council President Joy Ogwu. He said Syrian authorities monitored a landline call between two Jobar area terrorists. They discussed distributing gas masks to their elements to protect against a planned toxic gas attack. A second intercepted call discussed launching it. Blaming Assad for their crime is planned. At issue is Ghouta 2.0.

On August 21, 2013, Assad was wrongfully blamed for insurgents attacking Ghouta. It's a Damascus suburb. Clear evidence proved a false flag. Terror gangs launched others earlier. At the time, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said: "We’re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature." "In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action." It reflects "another anti-Syrian propaganda wave." Calls for force "heard from EU capitals (are) unacceptable." Assad demonstrated a "constructive approach." He did so by letting UN experts investigate sites of previous chemical weapons attacks. Insurgents reject a similar cooperative approach, Lukashevich added.

Al-Jaafari said information obtained revealed Jabhat al-Nusra plans striking the suburban Damascus Adra area Sukkar site. Video evidence showed a BMP armored vehicle loaded with 7,000 kilograms of TNT and C4. Another car was loaded with explosives. Both contained chemical weapons.


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