The Corporate Colonization of Afghanistan

Ulson Gunnar

A recent TIME Magazine article featured the “US NGO” Roots for Peace, which it portrayed as a victim of a regrouping Taliban bent on subjugating a newly “democratized” Afghanistan. This organization, funded by the US State Department and USAID, claims to be turning “battlefields into bountiful orchards.” But a lack of transparency makes it unclear as to just how they are doing this. With USAID using “aid” to usher in the corporate colonization of Afghanistan through other “NGOs,” its involvement with Roots for Peace raises warranted suspicions.

Already, the War in Afghanistan has given agricultural monopolies like Monsanto a multi-million dollar foothold in the landlocked Central Asian country. As part of efforts to eradicate poppy cultivation across the country, the United States insisted that Kabul sidestep health studies and sign off on an unpopular plan to spray millions of dollars worth of Monsanto’s “RoundUp” glyphosate herbicide across Afghanistan’s countryside. It should be noted that before NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, poppy cultivation was nearly eradicated under the Taliban.

In addition to fears that the mass spraying of Afghanistan’s countryside could negatively impact the health of the Afghan people, there were also fears that licit crops could also be destroyed, leaving farmers with failed harvests, anger, and a willingness to further align themselves with armed tribesmen, including the Taliban.

Civil war looms as pro-US regime threatens massacre of east Ukraine protesters

Alex Lantier

Ukraine stands on the brink of civil war, as the unelected pro-Western regime that seized power this February in Kiev threatens a bloody crackdown on protesters occupying local government offices in cities across traditionally pro-Russian sections of eastern Ukraine.

Protesters are demanding a referendum to federalize Ukraine and limit the authority of the new, far-right regime in Kiev. Some protesters have also called on their areas to vote to join Russia, as the former Ukrainian region of Crimea did last month, or declared independent “people’s republics” in Donetsk and Kharkiv.

Andrei Senchenko, the deputy head of the presidential administration in Kiev, said his regime’s security forces would “shoot to kill” if protesters did not abandon buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv by today.

Senchenko’s threats echoed those of Irina Farion, a legislator from the Fatherland Party of US-backed Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk. She demanded death for the protesters saying, “Today’s reaction is unacceptable. The measures should be much tougher. Our people laid down their lives. That’s why those creatures that arrive here deserve only death.”

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that a “special police task force” had arrived from western Ukraine to Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv, after local police units refused to launch a crackdown. He was apparently referring to the deployment to eastern Ukraine of units of the Kiev regime’s new National Guard and of the fascist Right Sector militia, which led the February putsch in Kiev that toppled pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

NATO maneuvers with Georgia, Ukraine threaten war with Russia

Alex Lantier

NATO is provacatively seeking to install its forces on Russia's borders, moving to recruit Georgia and Ukraine's unelected, pro-Western regime to the military alliance, a move that threatens a NATO-Russia war.

NATO and Georgian officials met yesterday in Brussels to plan talks on a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to admit Georgia into NATO as early as September.

“As a country aspiring to join our Alliance, Georgia is a special partner to NATO,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He also thanked Georgia for being “the largest non-NATO troop contributor to our mission in Afghanistan,” where Georgia has deployed 1,560 personnel to assist NATO in its bloody war of occupation.

Rasmussen’s special representative, James Appathurai, added: “Georgia will become a member of NATO, this policy has not changed, and no one wants to change it.”

“At the meeting of foreign ministers in June, we will examine the progress being made by all four candidate countries on the path of rapprochement with NATO,” he said, referring to Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. “We will present a report related to this issue, and a decision to forward will be adopted at the summit.”

This is part of an aggressive military escalation by NATO, which is planning troop deployments and military exercises all along Russia’s western borders—in Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. Its moves to directly ally with Georgia, a country in the Caucasus that borders on Russia and attacked Russian forces in 2008, underscores the danger of a Russia-NATO war posed by this escalation.

Anti-Russia propaganda and the fabrication of a new pro-war consensus

Alex Lantier

(Then: "If Russia and the Communists should win the next world war, many American men would be sterilized. In case the Communists should conquer, our women would be helpless beneath the boots of the Asiatic Russians.") Now: Putin falsely accused of persecuting gay people. Connect the dots. -Oh, btw., American men already are sterilized. The US mainstream media has saved Putin the trouble. -Ah, one more thing, they're lobotomized and pretty stupid as well, "dumb, stupid animals". Kissinger was right. No, not just the soldiers, all of 'em. Their womenfolk too. Next thing you'll know is they'll obediently start responding to the neo-cons' evil hiss for war against Russia. ♫ "That'll Be The Day"...

The purpose of the ongoing propaganda campaign is to manufacture a new pro-war narrative.

Since Crimea voted last Sunday to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, US officials and the American media have mounted a deafening propaganda campaign, posturing as defenders of world peace, the rights of small nations and international law in opposition to Russia. In this campaign, no lie told to justify support for the Ukrainian regime that emerged from last month’s fascist-led coup is too absurd.

As he announced new sanctions against Russia yesterday, President Obama denounced Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “Basic principles between governments in the world must be upheld in the 21st century,” Obama intoned, such as “the notion that nations do not redraw borders simply because they are larger or more powerful.”

Writing along similar lines, the Washington Post editorialized that “Mr. Putin’s claim that Russia should have a say in the political orientation of its neighbors, and whether they join alliances such as the European Union or NATO, is entirely unacceptable.”

Who is supposed to believe this nonsense? The governing principle of US foreign policy is that it has an unchallengeable right to determine the political orientation of its unfortunate “neighbors” in the Western hemisphere and that of every other country in the world.

As far back as the formulation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the United States claimed the entire Western hemisphere as its sphere of influence, dictating what relations it could have with European powers.

As Geneva talks open, US advances trumped-up torture charges against Syria

Alex Lantier

US imperialism used manipulated intelligence as a pretext to wage an illegal war of aggression against Iraq. The US stands now on the verge of launching new wars in the Middle East.

With Geneva II international talks on the Syrian war set to open today in Switzerland, US media yesterday trumpeted unsubstantiated charges of torture and murder against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by international human rights prosecutors.

These charges emerged as Washington’s hopes to use the Geneva talks to force through regime change in Damascus rapidly faded, amid rising international tensions. Opposition representatives, who still demand Assad’s ouster even as they lose ground to his forces, nearly refused to attend the talks. Assad, pointing to the opposition’s close and well-known ties to Al Qaeda, insisted that the purpose of the Geneva talks should only be to fight “terrorism”—that is, the US-backed opposition.

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin also reportedly discussed the Geneva conference and the upcoming Sochi Olympics in a telephone call yesterday. After suicide bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd last month, Moscow fears that Chechen Islamist terrorists, many of whom have fought with the US-backed opposition in Syria, will attack the Olympics.

Plans for the Geneva talks descended into a fiasco this week, when Saudi Arabia and the Syrian opposition threatened to boycott them if Iran attended, after which Washington forced the UN to disinvite Iran—Syria’s main ally, together with Russia.

Secret NSA program gains “bulk access” to Google, Yahoo data centers

Alex Lantier

The US military-intelligence complex has developed through criminal means the surveillance infrastructure of a global police state.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on hundreds of millions of users of Google and Yahoo services, according to a report yesterday in the Washington Post based on internal documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The NSA has broken into the main communication links connecting Yahoo and Google data servers worldwide. In a program codenamed “MUSCULAR,” operated jointly with Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the agencies collect and monitor all communications—involving US and non-US citizens alike—between these servers.

Because the data culling is indiscriminate, the NSA refers to it as “full take,” “bulk access” and “high-volume.” After the communications are collected, they are searched based on undisclosed criteria, with much of it sent on to permanent locations run by the NSA.

The report shatters claims by the Obama administration and American legislators that US agencies respect privacy rights and operate under strict legal oversight. Testimony by spy agency chiefs before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, aimed at defusing the diplomatic crisis over the exposure of US spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of millions of phone and SMS communications in Europe, consisted of disinformation and lies.

A top secret NSA document shows that in the one-month period ending January 9, 2013 the MUSCULAR program sent back more than 181 million new records for storage at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. These records include both “metadata” information—such as the identity or location of the sender and receiver of messages—and the content of text, audio and video communications.

In national address, Obama presses ahead with war plans against Syria

Alex Lantier and Joseph Kishore

Behind the panoply of lies, the Obama administration, abetted by the entire political establishment and the media, wants a military solution. The discussion now about a UN resolution has perhaps temporarily delayed, but has in no way ended the threat of war.

President Barack Obama spoke on national television last night, presenting to the American people the latest diplomatic tack in his administration’s drive for war with Syria. His rambling 15-minute address notably did not ask Congress to authorize war. Rather, it sought to develop UN negotiations emerging from a Russian-Syrian offer to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons as a political framework for launching a war, in defiance of international law and mass popular opposition in the United States.

Without providing a scintilla of probative evidence, Obama repeated claims that the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on August 21. Obama tried to bolster this assertion with various unsubstantiated assertions, combined with lurid images of the victims of the attack.

US-NATO campaign to justify Syria war disintegrates as attack looms

Thomas Gaist and Alex Lantier

Washington’s campaign to justify war against Syria is disintegrating, as it becomes ever clearer that the war is illegal, and that Washington has no evidence to back up charges that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons in Ghouta. Despite press reports of an imminent US-NATO attack, US and British officials suggested yesterday that they might delay launching the war.

There is rising concern inside the political establishment about how to package a war in Syria modeled on the hated 2003 invasion of Iraq. Again, Washington and London are moving to launch a war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction and without legal sanction from the UN Security Council—that is, in violation of international law.

Even before war has begun, Obama administration officials are in disarray. In a PBS television interview last night, Obama attempted to back away from threats of an imminent attack: “We have not yet made a decision, but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place. If we are saying this in a clear and decisive but very limited way, we send a shot across the bow saying, stop doing this; that can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term.”

Obama’s claim that his administration has not decided to move against Assad is an absurd lie. Washington has called for Assad’s overthrow for over a year, while the CIA massively armed Al Qaeda-linked Islamist opposition militias against his regime.

A senior US official contradicted Obama yesterday, telling NBC that US moves toward intervention in Syria are “past the point of no return,” and that strikes will be launched in days.

On the eve of war with Syria: John Kerry’s “Colin Powell moment”

Alex Lantier

Yesterday US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on national television to deliver a lying statement aimed at preparing public opinion for an impending US-NATO attack on Syria. It was his very own “Colin Powell moment.”

On February 5, 2003, Powell, then the Secretary of State in the Bush administration, made an infamous presentation before the United Nations. For two hours, armed with photos, graphs, and audio tapes, the chief diplomatic officer of the United States made the case for war against Iraq. He claimed that the evidence he presented showed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which it was about to unleash on the world.

The media and politicians of both parties hailed Powell’s performance, declaring that the former general had made an overwhelming case that Iraq had enormous WMD programs. Six weeks later, bombs fell on Iraq as the US invasion began.

Powell’s speech was a pack of lies. Not one of his claims about yellowcake uranium from Niger, aluminum tubes, or mobile weapons labs was true. At the time, the WSWS wrote that the brief for war was “a diplomatic charade laced with cynicism and deceit… predicated on a colossal lie: that the coming invasion is about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Baghdad’s supposed threat to US security and world peace.” And so it proved to be.

US military plans direct intervention in Syria

Alex Lantier

The Pentagon is planning a major escalation of the US-led war against Syria, involving direct US military involvement to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a letter to Democratic Senator Carl Levin, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Martin Dempsey spelled out proposals and cost estimates for various potential US interventions in Syria. His plans include training opposition militias in Syria; missile strikes against Syrian targets; setting up a “no-fly zone” to ground or destroy Syria’s air force; seizing “buffer zones” of Syrian territory near Jordan or Turkey; and Special Forces raids to seize chemical weapons.

Pentagon plans include large-scale operations, costing at least tens of billions of dollars per year. Dempsey said Special Forces strikes would cost over $1 billion a month, and missile strikes—requiring “hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers”—would cost “in the billions.”

Dempsey’s letter followed a vote last week by the US House and Senate intelligence panels to directly arm opposition forces in Syria. Until now, they had been funded and armed by US-allied oil sheikdoms such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and not directly by the US. This allowed Washington to cynically claim the opposition was not on its payroll, even as the CIA coordinated the flow of arms and money.

The Obama administration lobbied intensively for the votes to arm the opposition in Syria. Vice President Joe Biden, CIA Director John Brennan, and Secretary of State John Kerry all called or briefed members of Congress.

The original justification for the Syrian war—that it was a humanitarian struggle to defend a democratic uprising of the Syrian people—is so nakedly exposed that the US and its European allies barely bother to repeat it. They recklessly armed Al Qaeda-linked forces like the Al Nusra Front and promoted a “moderate” stable of CIA assets and regime turncoats, hoping to topple Assad. While the Syrian people faced an onslaught of US-backed gangs and militias, the media and bourgeois “left” praised these forces as revolutionary fighters for democracy.

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