Oct 312014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Activists and young intellectuals from across Europe came from all directions and gathered in the heart of Europe, at a centuries-old castle near Berlin, Schloss Wartin, for the #FixEurope Autumn Campus. European Alternatives, who organized the meeting, set up the agenda to discuss problems that Europe faces and find possible “solutions” that might bring about a better future for all of us. We shared, we learned, we explored, and most importantly, we discussed all kinds of issues that Europe is facing today.

Dozens of people gathered around a table of vegetarian grill raised their glasses to a better future in the hopes of a more complete Europe. People seemed eager to discuss matters that they think are vital for the future of the continent, and suddenly it seemed to become much easier to solve any problem the old continent might have. Once the path to discussion and dialogue is open, rational people should be able to find a way to overcome whatever problems are affecting the whole area and be able to give an answer to those who claim that there can never be an answer.

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When participants were asked to simply note down the things they think need fixing in Europe, the list just went on and on. The list was getting almost as long as the history of the castle. Yet in fact this should not discourage any Europhile. It is merely an opportunity to see what happens when there is a very unilateral understanding of integration and of the European unification plan.

Our delightful host’s food was served in the main hall, and as we waited impatiently while enjoying tunes from the piano, one wondered at how many new ideas were popping up in everyone’s head at that moment. Every single minute was inspirational among this group of creative and impressive people in a calm and quiet atmosphere, without an Internet connection. Ideas actually got jotted down and new ones spread around on the tables – faster than the circulation of the food, I must say.

Issues that are swept from attention, things that people perhaps had not paid enough attention to previously, were brought up on the agenda. For once we could spare all the time in the world for a few days, as there was no WiFi zone to bring us the distraction of the “unread 666 messages.” Glasses and bottles clinked, new ideas kept popping up right in the middle of the sounds of nature. Much-needed peace and tranquility surrounded the activists. In the darkness and cold of the night, old projects were talked of, bringing about new project proposals.

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The premiere of the Transeuropa Caravan took place at the castle with the participation of all the activists on the campus. There’s no need to add that it was inspirational, revealing certain local problems that parts of Europe experience and that most other parts would not even hear of were it not for such initiatives for bringing Europe closer to all its citizens.

We had gathered in Berlin with one major aim: to target and tackle problems that affect Europe in general. We left Schloss Wartin with thousands of new ideas and a great deal of inspiration and motivation to get to work. The end of the Campus was a joyful ride back to the Berlin city center, where we had the chance to attend a conference at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, which opened with a keynote speech by Saskia Sassen. She talked about all the crisis moments that we can see very clearly all around us, especially the housing bubble and gentrification tactics in most major cities. Sustainability has become one of the primary topics for us all.

After all the talks and discussions, we the activists of European Alternatives at the #FixEurope Campus meeting, can agree with the slogans of the streets “this is still the beginning…”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 262014
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

There is no question that, in the immediate aftermath and for several years following US military conquests, wars, occupations and sanctions, US multi-national corporations lost out on profitable sites for investments.  The biggest losses were in the exploitation of natural resources – in particular, gas and oil – in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia.

As a result some observers speculated that there were deep fissures and contradictory interests within the US ruling class.  They argued that, on the one hand, political elites linked to pro-Israel lobbies and the military industrial power configuration, promoted a highly militarized foreign policy agenda and, on the other hand, some of the biggest and wealthiest multi-national corporations sought diplomatic solutions.

Yet this seeming ‘elite division’ did not materialize.  There is no evidence for example that the multi-national oil companies sought to oppose the Iraq, Libyan, Afghan, Syrian wars.  Nor did the powerful 10 largest oil companies with a net value of over $1.1 trillion dollars mobilize their lobbyists and influentials in the mass media to the cause of peaceful capital penetration and domination of the oil fields via neo-liberal political clients.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, the three major US oil companies, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, eager to exploit the third largest oil reserves in the world, did not engage in Congressional lobbying or exert pressure on the Bush or later Obama Administration for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  At no point did the Big Ten challenge the pro-war Israel lobby and its phony arguments that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction with an alternative policy.

Similar “political passivity” was evidenced in the run-up to the Libyan war.  Big Oil was actually signing off on lucrative oil deals, when the militarists in Washington struck again – destroying the Libyan state and tearing asunder the entire fabric of the Libyan economy.

Big oil may have bemoaned the loss of oil and profits but there was no concerted effort, t before or after the Libyan debacle, to critically examine or evaluate the loss of a major oil producing region.  In the case of economic sanctions against Iran, possessing the second largest oil reserves, the MNC again were notable by their absence from the halls of Congress and the Treasury Department where the sanctions policy was decided.  Prominent Zionist policymakers, Stuart Levey and David Cohen designed and implemented sanctions which prevented US (and EU) oil companies from investing or trading with Teheran.

In fact, despite the seeming divergence of interest between a highly militarized foreign policy and the drive of MNC to pursue the global accumulation of capital, no political conflicts erupted.  The basic question that this paper seeks to address is:  Why did the major MNC submit to an imperial foreign policy which resulted in lost economic opportunities?

Why the MNC Fail to Oppose Imperial Militarism

There are several possible hypotheses accounting for the MNC accommodation to a highly militarized version of imperial expansion.

In the first instance, the CEO’s of the MNC may have believed that the wars, especially the Iraq war, would be short-term, and would lead to a period of stability under a client regime willing and able to privatize and de-nationalize the oil and gas sector.  In other words, the petrol elites bought into the arguments of Rumsfeld, Chaney, Wolfowitz and Feith, that the invasion and conquest would “pay for itself”.

Secondly, even after the prolonged-decade long destructive war and the deepening sectarian conflict, many CEO’s believed that a lost decade would be compensated by “long term” gain.  They believed that future profits would flow, once the country was stabilized.  The oil majors entry after 2010; however, was immediately threatened by the ISIS offensive.  The ‘time frame’ of the MNC strategic planners was understated if not totally wrong headed.

Thirdly, most CEO’s believed that the US-NATO invasion of Libya would lead to monopoly ownership and greater profits than what they received from a public-private partnership with the Gadhafi regime.  The oil majors believed that they would secure total or majority control.  In other words the war would allow the oil MNC to secure monopoly profits for an extended period.  Instead the end of a stable partnership led to a Hobbesian world in which anarchy and chaos inhibited any large scale, long-term entry of MNC.

Fourthly, the MNC, including the big oil corporations, have invested in hundreds of sites in dozens of countries.  They are not tied to a single location.  They depend on the militarized imperial state to defend their global interests.  Hence they probably are not willing to contest or challenge the militarists in, say Iraq, for fear that it might endanger US imperial intervention in other sites.

Fifthly, many MNC interlock across economic sectors: they invest in oil fields andrefineries; banking, financing and insurance as well as extractive sectors.  To the degree that MNC capital is diversified they are less dependent on a single region, sector, or source for profit.  Hence destructive wars, in one or several countries, may not have as great a prejudicial effect as in the past when “Big Oil” was just ‘oil’.

Six, the agencies of the US imperial state are heavily weighted to military rather than economic activity.  The international bureaucracy of the US is overwhelmingly made up of military, intelligence and counter-insurgency officials.  In contrast, China, Japan, Germany and other emerging states (Brazil, Russia and India) have a large economic component in their overseas bureaucracy.  The difference is significant.  US MNC do not have access to economic officials and resources in the same way as China’s MNC.  The Chinese overseas expansion and its MNC, is built around powerful economic support systems and agencies.  US MNC have to deal with Special Forces, spooks and highly militarized ‘aid officials’.  In other words the CEO’s who look for “state support” perforce have mostly ‘military’ counterparts who view the MNC as instruments of policy rather than as subjects of policy.

Seventh, the recent decade has witnessed the rise of the financial sector as the dominant recipient of State support.  As a result, big banks exercise major influence on public policy.  To the extent that is true, much of what is ‘oil money’ has gone over to finance and profits accrue by pillaging the Treasury.  As a result, oil interests merge with the financial sector and their ‘profits’ are as much dependent on the state as on exploiting overseas sites.

Eighth, while Big Oil has vast sums of capital, its diverse locations, multiple activities and dependence on state protection (military), weaken its opposition to US wars in lucrative oil countries.  As a result other powerful pro-war lobbies which have no such constraints have a free hand.  For example the pro-Israel power configuration has far less ‘capital’ than any of the top ten oil companies.  But it has a far greater number of lobbyists with much more influence over Congress people.  Moreover, it has far more effective propaganda – media leverage- than Big Oil.  Many more critics of US foreign policy, including its military and sanctions policies, are willing to criticize “Big Oil” than Zionist lobbies.

Finally the rise of domestic oil production resulting from fracking opens new sites for Big Oil to profit outside of the Middle East – even though the costs may be higher and the duration shorter.  The oil industry has replaced losses in Middle East sites (due to wars) with domestic investments.

Nevertheless, there is tension and conflict between oil capital and militarism.  The most recent case is between Exxon-Mobil’s plans to invest $38 billion in a joint venture in the Russian Arctic with the Russian oil grant Rosneft. Obama’s sanctions against Russia is scheduled to shut down the deal much to the dismay of the senior executives of Exxon Mobil, who have already invested $3.2 billion in an area the size of Texas.

Conclusion

The latent conflicts and overt difference between military and economic expansion may eventually find greater articulation in Washington.  However, up to now, because of the global structures and orientation of the oil industry, because of their dependence on the military for ‘security’, the oil industry in particular, and the MNC in general, have sacrificed short and middle term profits for “future gains” in the hopes that the wars will end and lucrative profits will return.

Oct 202014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Draconian Internet laws in Turkey are deepening yet once again with a new reform package that will bring new measures against freedom of speech in the country. Previously, the government had already tried to silence the masses through censorship measures, surveillance of Netizens, blocking access to Web sites, or even raids on online news portals’ headquarters. The most recent development concerning the laws against online free speech is the most recent bill that provides for up to five years’ imprisonment for tweeps (Twitter users) who criticize the government online.

The signatories of the infamous censorship law – or as the official name refers to it, “5651: Regulation on the Publications on the Internet” – have drafted a new bill and presented it on the parliament floor on the evening of October 14th. The new bill will allow all the possible suspects that have so far been declared “traitors, enemies, coup-plotters” to be put under full surveillance with just an order from a judge. The requirement of “tangible evidence” that has been required by the courts so far is no longer on the books, which allows the judges to give the order upon “reasonable doubt.” The new law also allows the property of the government-critical suspects to be confiscated, if the accusation is “criminal activity” or “organizing a gang.”

What is “criminal”?

What comprises criminal activity in Turkey has long been a problematic issue and the new bill is no different from any previous one. The main excuse in suppressing free speech in the country so far has been “national-security concerns.” Crimes against the state include plans to end the unity and integrity of the state, cooperation with enemies, propagating war against the state, actions against the basic national benefits, conscripting soldiers for a foreign nation, harming military premises and agreements in favor of foreign soldiers, and economical and financial contributions to enemies.

If one is only a little obsessive, any attempt to strengthen the regional governments and the Europeanization process, which requires that, can in fact be declared a crime against the state. And the witch hunt trials that have been going after hundreds of military officers over the years would definitely be a type of harm against the military.

Less urgent crimes that have been cited in the bill include violation of the constitution, crimes against the legislative body, armed uprising against the government, and assembling and organizing for these crimes. Even though armament had been previously mentioned as a crime in another law, this time the new bill seems to reflect more onto the protection of government against all types of possible criticism. And of course the government would be exempt from the crime of violating the constitution when citizens’ basic rights and liberties are being violated, even though those rights are guaranteed under the constitution.

Social media targeted

“Threat” as a crime is considered to be a much greater fault with the new law and will be punishable by a prison sentence. The new bill suggests that the citizens who criticize government harshly on social-media platforms are included within the scope of threat crimes. Under the current laws, threats bring about imprisonment only for crimes that result in two years and more of prison sentence. For that reason, the government has updated the prison sentence to two years minimum. The new bill also includes clauses that state that those who criticize the president, prime minister, ministers, or security forces openly or over social media will be considered guilty of “threats” and face possible arrest. The new bill also targets the prosecutor who conducted the graft probe of 17-25 December last year that revealed the greatest corruption scandal in Turkey’s history.

Not only the Internet but also the streets…

The new bill’s scope is not limited to digital public spaces but also makes opposition movements’ visibility on the streets problematic. The slogans that have been adopted by critical groups during street protests had already drawn many frowning faces so far; with the new bill they will be considered a crime. The new law also breaches the diplomatic immunity of politicians, allowing them to be put on trial as well in case of threats against public officers, soldiers, police, governors etc. The prison sentence will possibly go up to 5 years depending on the intensity of the “criminal activity.”

No right to defense

Moreover, the new bill also attacks the right to a fair hearing and the principle of defense. Lawyers will have harder time accessing their clients’ files in order to defend them fairly. The bill states that lawyers’ involvement in disclosing defendants’ files would breach the investigation and thus should be limited on a judge’s orders.

Reversal of improvement

The draft bill will be reversing the improvements that have been achieved in the last year with regards to legal procedure, and the few positive remarks in the European Union accession progress report are being met with counter-developments that will present a much graver situation in the coming period. Combined with the intentions to arm the police forces with greater authority to “shoot to kill” in times of protests and plans to multiply the number of water cannons five/tenfold as the Prime Minister has stated, the new bill is just another obstacle created against any kind of free speech, right to assembly, right to access information and many other rights and liberties. It seems and feels like the road to illiberal democracy – if it is democracy at all – is being traveled faster than expected.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 182014
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

The Islamist State

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You can’t believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State (ISIS).

You can’t believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.

You can’t believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if in fact it’s only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many Islamic extremists to cross into Syria? Is Turkey more concerned with wiping out the Islamic State or the Kurds under siege by ISIS? Are these countries, or the Western powers, more concerned with overthrowing ISIS or overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad?

You can’t believe the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. You can’t even believe that they are moderate. They have their hands in everything, and everyone has their hands in them.

Iran, Hezbollah and Syria have been fighting ISIS or its precursors for years, but the United States refuses to join forces with any of these entities in the struggle. Nor does Washington impose sanctions on any country for supporting ISIS as it quickly did against Russia for its alleged role in Ukraine.

The groundwork for this awful mess of political and religious horrors sweeping through the Middle East was laid – laid deeply – by the United States during 35 years (1979-2014) of overthrowing the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. (Adding to the mess in the same period we should not forget the US endlessly bombing Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) You cannot destroy modern, relatively developed and educated societies, ripping apart the social, political, economic and legal fabric, torturing thousands, killing millions, and expect civilization and human decency to survive.

Particularly crucial in this groundwork was the US decision to essentially throw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military occupation. 1 It’s safe to say that the majority of armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives taking lives every minute in the Middle East are stamped “Made in USA”.

And all of Washington’s horses, all of Washington’s men, cannot put this world back together again. The world now knows these places as “failed states”.

Meanwhile, the United States bombs Syria daily, ostensibly because the US is at war with ISIS, but at the same time seriously damaging the oil capacity of the country (a third of the Syrian government’s budget), the government’s military capabilities, its infrastructure, even its granaries, taking countless innocent lives, destroying ancient sites; all making the recovery of an Assad-led Syria, or any Syria, highly unlikely. Washington is undoubtedly looking for ways to devastate Iran as well under the cover of fighting ISIS.

Nothing good can be said about this whole beastly situation. All the options are awful. All the participants, on all sides, are very suspect, if not criminally insane. It may be the end of the world. To which I say … Good riddance. Nice try, humans; in fact, GREAT TRY … but good riddance. ISIS … Ebola … Climate Change … nuclear radiation … The Empire … Which one will do us in first? … Have a nice day.

Is the world actually so much more evil and scary today than it was in the 1950s of my upbringing, for which I grow more nostalgic with each new horror? Or is it that the horrors of today are so much better reported, as we swim in a sea of news and videos?

After seeing several ISIS videos on the Internet, filled with the most disgusting scenes, particularly against women, my thought is this: Give them their own country; everyone who’s in that place now who wants to leave, will be helped to do so; everyone from all over the world who wants to go there will be helped to get there. Once they’re there, they can all do whatever they want, but they can’t leave without going through a rigorous interview at a neighboring border to ascertain whether they’ve recovered their attachment to humanity. However, since very few women, presumably, would go there, the country would not last very long.

ISIS training camp

ISIS training camp

The Berlin Wall – Another Cold War Myth

November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?

First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:

1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.” 2

It should be noted that in 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled [1989], East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.” 3 Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners [in Berlin] say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.” 4

It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”

It should be further noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 – setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility – was an American decision, not a Soviet one. 5

2) During the 1950s, American coldwarriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.

It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more. 6

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”

Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years. 7

Let’s also not forget that while East Germany completely denazified, in West Germany for more than a decade after the war, the highest government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches contained numerous former and “former” Nazis.

Finally, it must be remembered, that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.

For an additional and very interesting view of the Berlin Wall anniversary, see the article “Humpty Dumpty and the Fall of Berlin’s Wall” by Victor Grossman. Grossman (née Steve Wechsler) fled the US Army in Germany under pressure from McCarthy-era threats and became a journalist and author during his years in the (East) German Democratic Republic. He still lives in Berlin and mails out his “Berlin Bulletin” on German developments on an irregular basis. You can subscribe to it at wechsler_grossman@yahoo.de. His autobiography: “Crossing the River: a Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War and Life in East Germany” was published by University of Massachusetts Press. He claims to be the only person in the world with diplomas from both Harvard University and Karl Marx University in Leipzig.

Al Franken, the liberal’s darling

I receive a continuous stream of emails from “progressive” organizations asking me to vote for Senator Franken or contribute to his re-election campaign this November, and I don’t even live in Minnesota. Even if I could vote for him, I wouldn’t. No one who was a supporter of the war in Iraq will get my vote unless they unequivocally renounce that support. And I don’t mean renounce it like Hillary Clinton’s nonsense about not having known enough.

Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, would like you to believe that he’s been against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to Iraq at least four times to entertain the troops. Does that make sense? Why does the military bring entertainers to soldiers? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? All the charming war crimes and human-rights violations that I and others have documented in great detail for many years. Doesn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?

A year after the US invasion in 2003, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.” 8 What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.

Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done.” 9 Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad? No more so than Barack Obama.

Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.” 10

While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition,” then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy.” 11

Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.

Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is the mind of an American liberal in all its beautiful mushiness.

Notes

  1. Derived from William Astore, “Investing in Junk Armies”, TomDispatch, October 14, 2014
  2. New York Times, June 27, 1963, p.12
  3. USA Today, October 11, 1999, p.1
  4. Washington Post, May 12, 2009; see a similar story November 5, 2009
  5. Carolyn Eisenberg, “Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944-1949” (1996); or see a concise review of this book by Kai Bird in The Nation, December 16, 1996
  6. See William Blum, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, p.400, note 8, for a list of sources for the details of the sabotage and subversion.
  7. The Guardian (London), March 7, 1985
  8. Washington Post, February 16, 2004
  9. Star Tribune, Minneapolis, March 26, 2009
  10. Huffington Post, June 2005
  11. Washington Post, February 16, 2004
Oct 112014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* HOPE AND DESPAIR GRIPS KURDS AS KOBANE CONTINUES TO RESIST

By Joris Leverink, RoarMag

With fighter jets flying overhead and fierce clashes breaking out between Turkish police and Kurdish protesters, Joris Leverink reports from Kurdistan.

With fighter jets flying overhead and fierce clashes breaking out between Turkish police and Kurdish protesters, Joris Leverink reports from Kurdistan.

ROAR editor Joris Leverink is in North Kurdistan on the Turkish-Syrian border to report on the battle for Kobanê and the Kurdish struggle for democratic autonomy. This is the first in a series of firsthand reports that will be published over the coming days.

After a couple of days in North Kurdistan, having spoken to a lot of people and having seen and heard more than my head can reasonably process, it’s time to share some observations and experiences. Two days ago, on Tuesday October 7, Kurds across Turkey, but especially in the country’s southeastern region, took to the streets in protest against Turkey’s role in the looming massacre of Kobanê. The size and intensity of the protests were unprecedented (at least since the violence of the 1990s), as was the reaction of the state. The opinion shared by most people I have met over the past few days is that this is the beginning of a new Kurdish uprising.

Before anything else, what has to be made absolutely clear is that the Kurds are not protesting to demand a military intervention by Turkey, as has been presented in several mainstream media outlets. Instead, the protesters — Kurds and sympathizers alike — demand an end to Turkey’s covert support for ISIS and for the border at Kobanê to be opened in order to let refugees out, and humanitarian aid and weapons in. Every single person I spoke to in Diyarbakır, Urfa, Suruç and in the villages at the border agree about one thing: ISIS could never have grown as big as it did, and conquer as much of Rojava as it has done, were it not for the material, financial and logistical support the extremists received from the Turkish state. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2014/10/kurdistan-kobane-turkey-isis/

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* US EYES ‘BUFFER ZONE’ IN SYRIA ‘VERY VERY CLOSELY’

By Brandon Turberville, ActivistPost

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As if any reasonably informed observer would be surprised, the United States is now eying the possibility of implementing a buffer zone in Syria “very very closely.”

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, U.S. Secretary of State and Skull and Bones member John Kerry stated that “The buffer zone is an idea that has been out there. It is worth examining, it’s worth looking at very, very closely.”

The statement, demonstrating that the United States is edging ever closer toward the goal it has desired since the beginning of the Syrian crisis – a buffer zone – comes only days after Turkey’s parliament passed a resolution to allow the Turkish military to enter the sovereign territory of Iraq and Syria under the pretext of battling Western-backed IS militants.

The resolution also allowed foreign troops to use Turkish territory for the same purpose suggesting that the Incirlik air base may soon be used by the United States for its airstrikes against Syria.

Kerry’s statements echo those of other American officials such as General Martin Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

According to the New York Times , Hagel stated that “We’ve discussed all these possibilities and will continue to talk about what the Turks believe they will require.”

Dempsey added that “a buffer zone might at some point become a possibility” although he also stated that it should not be considered imminent. […]

READ @ http://www.activistpost.com/2014/10/right-on-schedule-us-eyes-buffer-zone.html

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* POLISH DEATH SQUADS FIGHTING IN UKRAINE. CIA COVERT OPERATION?

By Nikolai Malishevski, Global Research

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On May 11 a plane arrived at Kiev’s airport in strict secrecy; it was met by the airport’s military personnel rather than the civilian staff. NATO military uniforms, 500 packages of amphetamines, and containers marked as poisonous substances were unloaded from the plane. By order of the Kiev directorate of the SBU, the fighters, the cargo and the containers of poison were not inspected and left the airport in cars with tinted windows. The cargo was accompanied by CIA agent Richard Michael. Aboard the plane were also fighters from the Right Sector and the Polish private military company ASBS (Analizy Systemowe Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz) Othago, created several years ago by Poland’s current Minister of the Interior, B. Sienkiewicz.

According to available data (5), this Polish PMC lost 6 men during a punitive operation in Eastern Ukraine (the remaining casualties among foreign mercenaries working for the junta came from the American PMC Academi and its subsidiary PMC Greystone Limited, which lost 50 and 14 fighters, respectively, as well as the CIA and the FBI, with 25 casualties, 13 of whom were killed).

The Poles have been participating actively in the formation of death squads in Ukraine since September 2013, when Foreign Minister R. Sikorski invited 86 members of the Right Sector to train at the police training center in Legionowo, 23 km from Warsaw. The fighters, who came on the pretext of a university exchange program, were mostly men of around 40; they received a month-long training course in organizing mass protests, erecting barricades, seizing government buildings, street fighting tactics, shooting techniques, including from sniper rifles, etc. The Polish weekly Nie published a photo from Legionowo showing Ukrainian fascists dressed in Nazi uniforms alongside their Polish instructors in civilian clothing. […]

READ @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/polish-death-squads-fighting-in-ukraine-cia-covert-operation/5384210

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* THE TRUTH ABOUT CAPITALISM

By Atilio A. Boron, GreanvillePost

Chile’s Augusto Pinochet: the natural terminal for any challenged capitalist “democracy”.

Chile’s Augusto Pinochet: the natural terminal for any challenged capitalist “democracy”.

Not long ago the celebration of capitalist democracies, as if they constituted the crowning achievement of every democratic aspiration, found legions of adepts in Latin America, where the phrase was pronounced with a solemnity usually reserved for the greater achievements of mankind. But now that more than a quarter of a century has elapsed since the beginnings of the process of re-democratization in Latin America, the time seems appropriate to look at its shortcomings and unfulfilled promises. Do capitalist democracies deserve the respect so widely accorded them? In the following pages we intend to explore what democracy means, and then, on the basis of some reflections on the limits of democratization in a capitalist society, go on to examine the performance of ‘actually existing’ democracies in Latin America, looking behind external appearances to see their narrow scope and limits.

DEMOCRACY

Let us begin by remembering Lincoln’s formula: democracy as the govern- ment of the people, by the people and for the people. Today this looks like the expression of an unreconstructed radical, especially in light of the political and ideological involution brought about by the rise of neoliberalism as the official ideology of globalized capitalism.

Well before this, democracy had already become completely detached from the very idea, not to mention the agency, of the people. Lincoln’s formula had long since been filed away as a dangerous nostalgia for a state of things irreversibly lost in the past.

What replaced it was the Schumpeterian formula, whose deplorable consequences are still strongly felt in mainstream social sciences: democracy as a set of rules and procedures devoid of specific content related to distributive justice or fairness in society, ignoring the ethical and normative content of the idea of democracy and disregarding the idea that democracy should be a crucial component of any proposal for the organization of a ‘good society’, rather than a mere administrative or decisional device.

Thus for Schumpeter it was possible to ‘democratically’ decide if, to take his own example, Christians should be persecuted, witches sent to the stake or the Jews exterminated. Democracy becomes simply a method and, like any other method, ‘cannot be an end in itself’.1 At the extreme, this approach turns democracy into a set of procedures independent of ends and values and becomes a pure decision-making model, like those which Peter Drucker proposes for the management of successful capitalist enterprises. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that democracy is much more than that. […]

READ @ http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/10/09/the-truth-about-capitalist-democracy/

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* AN EBOLA OUTBREAK WOULD BE ADVANTAGEOUS FOR GLOBALISTS

By Brandon Smith, Alt-Market

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t’s sad to say with such finality, but a universal fact of existence is that most of the people you meet in this life are fundamentally and functionally ignorant. Not necessarily stupid, but certainly ignorant. Ignorance comes not from a lack of intelligence, but from a denial of knowledge and truth. That is to say, ignorance takes hold when people decide to act as though they know and understand a thing, even if they do not. Ignorance prevails when a society or nation chooses to value the appearance of expertise, to value the theater of overconfidence, and to cheer for the bluster of morons rather than admit that they have unanswered questions on subjects they do not yet grasp. For nothing is worse for the self absorbed than to acknowledge that they do not know.

Entire nations have fallen throughout history because of this terrible weakness…

By extension, such ignorance is not just an inherent disease but also an easily exploitable disease. When we refuse to think critically and examine our surroundings thoroughly, we become like grazing gazelles oblivious to the predators encircling us in the tall grass. And, just as there are predatory individuals that hide amongst us, there are are also predatory oligarchs that camouflage themselves as benevolent politicos and financial professionals standing above us. Normal predators we fear, establishment predators we invite into our homes as protectors, saviors, and partners.

The disease of ignorance leaves us vulnerable to many other plagues, including literal plagues like the Ebola virus. When we take the establishment at its word concerning the threat of Ebola outbreak, we make ourselves vulnerable. When people assume that the worst could never happen to them, history shows us that it inevitably does. […]

READ @ http://www.alt-market.com/articles/2354-an-ebola-outbreak-would-be-advantageous-for-globalists

Oct 092014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Kobani in Syria’s Kurdish region has been resisting against ISIS for days, and in recent days the situation has been worsening due to ISIS advances. Civilians have been fleeing and taking refuge in Turkey; hundreds of thousands have been walking to the Turkish border, leaving everything behind. Across Turkey, there have been solidarity meetings with the participation of several political parties and civil society organizations. These rallies were being organized mainly by the Kurdish party HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party). Rallies turned into protests and then turned violent. The result so far is a curfew declaration in six cities and – until this writing – 15 killed.

The “New Turkey”

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Before the August 10 presidential election when Turkey voted on her president for the first time in history, the promise made by  President Erdoğan was of “the New Turkey” where the peace process would finally start blooming and bearing fruit to bring a peaceful end to the “Kurdish Question.” Democratic rights would be granted and economic expansion would prevail. Looking at the first 50 days of the New Turkey, one would not really see anything really new, except for a few new methods in violation of rights and liberties.

Border lock-down

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When ISIS started its offensive against Kobani, people used their right to defend themselves and resist against a possibly massacre. Yet, many people had to flee from the region and run away from the marching IS gangs. In September, hundreds of thousands of people were mobilized. For over a week, Turkey did not allow the border to be crossed. Protests had started taking place back then. As there was no permission to let civilians in, there emerged protests in major metropolises and especially in the predominantly Kurdish cities. Finally on the 19th of September, Turkey opened the border to allow civilians fleeing from ISIS’s siege of Kobani to take refuge.

Permission to intervene

A week after the border was opened for controlled passes, there came the discussion to allow Turkish military to intervene in the situation, at which stage the street spirit changed form and turned into anti-war protests. On October 2nd, the Turkish parliament voted on the permission to allow Turkish soldiers to intervene in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. The HDP refused to vote Yes on the permission, alongside the Republican People’s Party CHP.

The irony in the permission is that currently the sides seem to have changed. When HDP organizes anti-ISIS protests and CHP silently seems to be approving of them, the Nationalist Movement Party MHP and ruling AKP have taken a stand against them, even though the latter two were the ones to approve military action by ground forces against ISIS gangs.

Night of Clashes

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The night of October 7 saw a long night of drifting back to the darkness of the 1980s and 1990s. Protests against ISIS started turning violent. There started emerging images and videos of cars and buildings being set on fire, Turkish flags being burned and Ataturk busts being torn down. However these images appearing simultaneously on the media makes one feel that events are being staged – even more given the knowledge of prior cases where the National Intelligence Agency MIT agents were caught throwing Molotov cocktails and provoking protests to turn them violent.

Yet the violent images might have served a purpose, as several nationalist and Islamist radical groups have taken to the streets and started shooting at the protesters; especially after a piece of fake news stating that “the protesters are burning the Quran in the streets.”

Until the shootings it was the police handling the situation badly, and when more sides started clashing, then came curfew declarations and the military started marching into city centers in several cities in the East. This was not officially a declaration of martial law, or even a state of emergency. Yet, when tanks are marching on the streets, it does not take much to guess what it is; one does not need someone’s definition of the situation.

When anti-ISIS protesters were clashing with police forces on streets, pro-ISIS groups also took to the streets and started assaulting the other side. According to initial reports, around 15 people have been killed. And a dangerous declaration has been put in place today, calling for retaliation on the Islamist organizations in Turkey. In the 1990s, Hezbollah in Turkey had been used against the PKK and thousands of people had died in shadowy clashes. This time it started fast and Kurdish groups have declared they will resist.

Turkish Minister of Interior Affairs Efkan Ala also evaluated the protests and the violent surge. Ala declared that any type of violence will be met with multiplied violence. Ala also used the same method against the Gezi Park protests in 2013 when he was an adviser to the Prime Minister on security issues – after which he was appointed minister without being elected into parliament.

Media Blackout

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Yet again, the Turkish media has surprised no one. While the clashes were taking place, and curfew was being declared in half a dozen cities and the number of deaths was climbing amid widespread protests and violent attacks by counter-protesters, Turkish TV channels were broadcasting entertainment shows, very much in line with the “penguin” patterns they have been carrying out during times of crises.

When there were protests in Egypt, the Turkish television channels were broadcasting live from across Egypt. When a coup took place, it was broadcast live in Turkey… The Turkish audience is allowed to watch all kinds of crisis situations and repression of rights live on TV – as long as it does not happen in Turkey.

If anything was shown at all, it portrayed all the protesters as “terrorists” who were targeting Turkish national unity and sovereignty. Yet the question was never raised as to why anyone who would demand the intervention of Turkish troops against ISIS be “attacking the Turkish nation.” And, second question, why do the police always manage to get hold of the people that shout slogans and fail to find the ones that carry out such attacks. The media are definitely being used for fueling the fire against Kobani-solidarity protests, serving as a tool of consent manufacturing. Given the number of Internet-literate people who critically get their news from social media, the media blackout seems to work in favor of the ones who are benefiting from the violence on Turkey’s streets.

Chaos Lobby

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As earlier the Turkish government explained everything by mentioning… “lobbies,” the most recent uprisings in Turkey have been blamed on a “Chaos Lobby”. All state officials and ministers who appear on TV put the blame on a shady, non-existent organization that they call the “chaos lobby,” probably an advanced version of the “interest-rate lobby,” “terror lobby,” “social media lobby,” “porn lobby,” “judiciary lobby,” “marginal lobby,” “parallel lobby,” and so on…

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 062014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Right after the graft probe against the AKP government started and phone conversations of alleged corruption of ministers and by then Prime Minister Erdoğan and their family members were leaked on the internet from unknown sources, the government drafted a censorship update on the already draconian Internet regulations law 5651. The update came as a shock when many people thought “they cannot possibly take this any further.” The updated version of the bill suggested that the telecommunications authority (TIB) would store all traffic data as to which websites a user browses and for how long, as well as the right to block access to a website in four hours after the complaint is filed, without a court order. The Constitutional Court of Turkey has ruled that this is unconstitutional and the law update is now cancelled, stripping the TIB and the secret service – the national intelligence agency (MIT) – of its unjust authority to carry out unlimited and unwarranted surveillance and censorship.

Ministers defend censorship and surveillance

Right after the Constitutional Court declared the censorship, surveillance, and profiling law is a violation of rights, government ministers came forward to cite the national security risks of not carrying out mass surveillance of citizens. Minister of Interior Efkan Ala reacted against the court decision stating that the government maintains a balance between security and freedom and has to keep in mind that national security is at stake, thus defending censorship and surveillance. Minister of Communications Lutfi Elvan also reacted to the Court’s decision, claiming that the bill as it was did not constitute censorship but seeks national security on the Internet, where cyber-crimes prevailed through digital publications. Minister Elvan also stated “European countries also keep personal data between 6 months and 2 years in a central location, and there is public guarantee that these data would not be used for purposes other than security and would not be shared with non-state organs.”

Protests worked

When the censorship and surveillance bill was first passed and was awaiting President Gül’s approval, there were campaigns against it and street protests were organized with the participation of dozens of thousands of people. Internetophiles declared that they do not recognize this censorship and called this the “death of the Internet.” Opposition parties also protested against this violation of free speech and the right to acquire information, and had applied to the Constitutional Court for the law’s cancellation. All the reactions seem to have worked well.

Illegal Eavesdropping on Ministers

Minister Elvan proposed that TIB is responsible for the wiretapping scandal that revealed the biggest governmental corruption in history. Even though the ministers use phone devices that are encrypted by the national intelligence agency and TIB would have to go through weeks/months of processing to break the encryption, it is TIB that took the hit in this leakage.

Not long after the scandal became public, the intention to dissolve TIB and give all its authority to MIT and to centralize all surveillance mechanisms was brought to the agenda. By then Prime Minister, Erdoğan had said “MIT is already responsible for such actions as we give to TIB; why have two bodies doing the same thing?” and paved the way for the creation of a digital Gestapo in the country.

Currently, TIB is keeping track of all telecommunications data in the country, without the possibility of deletion of cached information. So, all the calling and messaging data between all users in Turkey are available; or to put it better was available until TIB got raided and servers were confiscated for investigation by MIT.

I am increasingly against the Internet every day”

The Internet is still seen as a destructive device by Turkish authorities. Previously it was a  “waste of time” and then social media was declared a “menace to society”… Now, President Erdoğan has a new statement that brought many reactions from the Internetophiles; “I am increasingly against the Internet every day.” In many occasions he has stated his concern over use of freedoms, although it is usually the freedom of his opponents that he is concerned about. As long as all critical and opposition voices are under extreme pressure in Turkey, there would not be any concern over freedoms and liberties. Perhaps this has some kind of connection with First Lady Emine Erdoğan’s speech at Anti-Addiction Week, claiming that the Internet is as dangerous as drug abuse.

The low understanding of freedoms and liberties continue to be the most obvious problem in Turkey, which according to government supporters is doing a great job suppressing critical voices for the sake of economic development and the triumph of “national will” over citizens.

As might be remembered, in recent days critical news portals have been raided by police and were asked to remove articles criticizing the government, or else have access to them blocked. At a meeting with a joint delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute, President Erdoğan said “Media should never have been given the liberty to insult” regarding the journalists’ approach to developments in Turkey.

Journalists should resist!

Chairperson of the Constitutional Court Haşim Kılıç is partly responsible for the cancellation of the censorship and surveillance law. He was also one of the people who met the IPI and CPJ delegations, and said “There is an atmosphere of fear at the moment. The journalists must resist against it and not give in. Currently what worries me most is the hate and revenge atmosphere prevailing in the country; the political institutions are responsible for this. This will change with the calming of tensions. There needs to be struggle in basic rights and liberties, thus journalists need to resist as well.”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 042014
 

By Anthony Verias, 99GetSmart

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I am guilty–that Apple customer is me. As many of you already know; I collected donations after my last iPod was stolen. I chose the iPod because of the return on media for dollar spent–simply it was the best suited product for the job. After having it for 19 months the camera went completely black and I was left with just the front-facing camera. Since I am not a big fan of selfies this was a BIG problem. I had to rent a camera when I went to #CGI2014. I then went to the Apple store in Grand Central Terminal; their solution was to offer me a discount on buying a new one. A SLAP in the face! Well all know by now that Apple products become obsolete with each update and in fact this is part of their business model. While mainstream media might scoff at the idea; we all know the demise of Apple is not far behind #BendGate. After visiting Apple store in GCT; I went to SOHO store. I could barely enter because it was so packed with people seeking repairs. Next stop was calling APL-CARE; where with my loud Brooklyn mouth I was expedited to a “Senior Advisor”. I was having a hard time until I dropped “I’m a journalist.” “Please hold sir” said Senior Advisor Emily Reger. When she returned to the line I was told I was being given a free repair. I’ll let you assume the reason behind that. I went to the Apple store today and made this video about #BendGate and lack of customer service on the part of Apple. I was inspired by these “idiots” as the MSM refers to them. I prefer another moniker. Great job guys! While I might not agree with your tactics; I appreciate your muckraking spirit!@RT_com released a #BendGate story today stating “controlling the press” was a key strategy for Apple