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Purpose Goes to Latin America

Purpose Goes to Latin America

August 8, 2018

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

 “How do global powers orchestrate destabilisation and war? And how are propaganda constructs like the White Helmets brought to life? The only way to even begin to answer those questions is to follow the money, analyse the networks and interrogate the messaging. In ‘Purpose goes to Latin America’ Cory Morningstar, with Wrong Kind of Green’s Forrest Palmer, show how New Power exponents like Jeremy Heimans operate through elite networks, with seemingly endless incubations, to shape and capitalise upon ongoing destabilisation/humanitarian war/regime change. We are shown how Heimans and his networks are most concerned with the economics of behaviour change, attention metrics and shaping public narratives framed as giving “consumers” “opportunities to shape their own future”. We are shown how New Power exponents are socially engineering consent for the endless consumer economy, but sell themselves as pioneers of ‘change’ and builders of social movements for ‘the people’ when clearly it is neoliberal forces that call the tune. Morningstar and Palmer’s explication of the networks, funders, and talking points being deployed shows that the very same New Power exponents who delivered for the global elites in Syria are preparing to deliver more of the same in Latin America.”— Australian activist, Wrong Kind of Green Collective, Michael Swifte

 

Purpose website: “Purpose moves people to remake the world.”

Preface:

Both Avaaz and for-profit sister organization, Purpose, have been key players in building mainstream acquiescence both domestically and internationally for the destabilization of sovereign states.

This pattern goes back to at least 2004 when Avaaz co-founders campaigned for foreign intervention via a no-fly zone on Darfur under the auspices of Res Publica, an NGO founded by Tom Perriello (co-founder of DarfurGenocide.org, later U.S. Congressman), Ricken Patel (consultant for the United Nations, co-founder of DarfurGenocide.org) and Tom Pravda (U.K. diplomat, U.S. State Department). In 2007, these same individuals founded Avaaz in addition to Ali Pariser (MoveOn), Andrea Woodhouse (World Bank) and spouse David Madden (World Bank). Co-founders of Purpose include David Madden as well as James Sleezak. Purpose Europe was co-founded with Tim Dixon who has co-founded seven organizations since 2010 including The Syria Campaign, Purpose Europe and the Jo Cox Foundation.

[To view the full bios and interlocking mind map, see Appendix I, attached to this report.]

In addition to the aforementioned individuals, Avaaz was also co-founded by parent organizations MoveOn and Res Publica with financing from George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI). Assistance was also provided by OSI’s Arych Neier. Aryeh Neier is President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations and served as President from 1993 to 2012. He is the co-founder of Human Rights Watch (1988) which was founded in 1978 as the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee, financed by the Ford Foundation.

“Other key elements of the international mobilization include Avaaz, which is already an OSI grantee and close collaborator.” — Memorandum, Cc: George Soros, Aryeh Neier, Jonathan Soros from Nancy Youman, “Recommended next steps for OSI on climate”, July 10, 2009; revised August 10, 2009

 

 “When we created Human Rights Watch, one of the main purposes at the outset was to leverage the power, the purse and the influence of the United States to try to promote human rights in other countries.” — Aryeh Neier [Source]

On January 16, 2007, the article Avaaz.org: MoveOn Goes International [Avaaz MoveOn Goes International] discloses the following: 1) MoveOn and Res Publica are the founding/parent NGOs of Avaaz, 2) the MoveOn model developed a new small-donor base for Democratic candidates, and helped win a number of key elections, 3) OSI was confirmed to have given financial backing to Avaaz for its start-up and, 4) there were no corrections or retractions by the author. Supporting evidence to the above is provided regarding the Avaaz launch by people integral to its conception. In the article, comments were made by Paul Hilder (recognized as an Avaaz co-founder at this early stage) and Lee-Sean Huang. Huang was a campaigner for Res Publica and Avaaz from 2006-2007. He then went on to Human Rights Watch (2007-2008), United Nations (consultant, 2013-2015) and Purpose (2009-2016) to his current role as “Head of Community” at New Power. Neither Hilder nor Huang disputed any of the authors findings.

In 2012 Wrong Kind of Green began to document the extensive research into the relationships and alliances behind Avaaz. This has resulted in two separate series. The first written  in 2012 and the second ongoing series commencing in 2017. (Side note: Although perhaps distressing, we implore citizens and activists alike, especially those in the Global South, to read both series.)

[September 10, 2012: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War]

[July 27, 2017: AVAAZ: The Globe’s Largest & Most Powerful Behavioural Change Network]

The research demonstrates the nefarious and hegemonic role of NGOs within the world’s existing power structure. The non-profit industrial complex serves hegemony as a sophisticated fine-tuned symbiotic mechanism in a continuous state of flux and refinement. The ruling elite channel an immeasurable amount of resources and tools through these organizations to further strengthen, protect and expand existing forms of  power structures and global domination, inclusive of white supremacy. This forms a symbiotic relationship between the non-profit industrial complex and the hand that feeds.  The outcome is soft power in its most efficient form.

Foreign policy, neocolonialism, imperialism, and intervention are all instruments that must be utilized with sharp precision to achieve these goals. It is for this reason that NGOs such as Avaaz and Purpose are given the tools, support and funding required to continuously expand and multiply. As such, they are key force multipliers in servitude to the quest of western dominance.

“The UNHRC, and its supportive NGOs such as the US-staffed and Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, impose a singular, Eurocentric definition of democracy whose implementation has not only blocked popular and direct forms of democracy, but also directly contributed to the generation of inter-ethnic strife in many post-colonies of the periphery.” — FORCE MULTIPLIERS THE INSTRUMENTALITIES OF IMPERIALISM, Maximilian C. Forte, 2015

Taking it Global: Strengthening & Expanding Current Power Structures Utilizing the Language & Principles of New Power

If power dominated through hierarchy and coercion – the emergent “new power” model dominates with influence and persuasion. And while this has been achieved for some decades now by the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial, more and more  corporations, institutions and states, are now applying it to their business models. The key differences are that 1) the organizers remain invisible and 2), the populace is manipulated into believing that they control said movements.

At the helm of this new model is Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans. Purpose, the PR firm (with many arms) specializes in movement building and behavioural change.

Heiman’s vision is to organize “people not as citizens but as consumers” to further empower corporations and brands that he refers to as “the angels”. Partners include some of the world’s most powerful corporations, foundations and institutions including The Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Unilever, Ikea, General Electric, Starbucks, TED, Oxfam, SEIU, WHO, Unicef, ACLU, British Telecom, the Concordia Summit and Nike. Collaborators include We Mean Business and The B Team which is registered to the address of Purpose New York. With strong ties and loyalties to many elite institutions and oligarchs such as Purpose partner the United Nations (where Heimans cut his teeth as in intern  in 1999), the Omidyar Network  a[1] and Virgin’s Richard Branson (founder of The B Team, The Elders, Carbon War Room, etc.), Purpose is now global with seven international offices operating in New York, San Francisco, London, New Delhi, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, and Sydney. This expansion is in line with new behavioural insight teams that are steadily proliferating in government buildings across the globe.

The New Power Structure, April 5, 2018, The New York Times:

“These organizations are often founded by what you might call disappearing organizers. Somebody comes up with a compelling concept, like TED or Black Lives Matter. The concept gives people a sticky group identity; many people think of themselves as Tedsters. The core idea is spreadable, actionable and connected — it allows participants to subcreate in local and flexible ways. Tedsters organize and attend over 20,000 local TEDx events. The founder doesn’t dominate the network so much as manage the community.”[Emphasis added]

Purpose Website

“The co-founder of GetUp! might be the most influential Australian in the world.” — The Monthly, April, 2018

March 31, 2018, Angels and Demons – Otherwise Known as the Conquerors and the Conquered:

The concept of “new power” has been named by CNN as one of ten ideas that can change the world. “Originally laid out as the Big Idea in Harvard Business Review and subsequent TED talk, new power offers a frame to understand the distributed and participatory models that are rising in business, life and society.” [OuiShareTV]

According to Heimans, “power traditionally functions as a currency, something valuable to which society wants to cling. The new power, on the other hand, works like a current: it is fluid. While the old forms of power are based on pyramidal forms and a power that goes from “top down”, the new power works in reverse, “as an “upload”. The new models of power are founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses, without participation these forms of power remain empty. These new models are collaborative platforms that need the active collaboration of their participants to survive.” [Source]

What the “new power” model actually represents is capitalism in its most efficient form. Citizens, en masse, are utilized, organized and mobilized to provide social media online content – which is then captured and exploited for increased corporate revenues – with no monetary compensation for their labour. Although such movements may appear to be “founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses” (Heimans) – they have been largely created, or co-opted, at or since inception. The “new power” “uploads” to an existing structure. The structure responds by “downloading” an illusion of capitulation in order to satisfy/empower the masses. Yet, by design, its true triumph is the achievement of the following: 1) creating/accelerating economic growth (i.e. market mechanisms),  2) consolidating added power into the hands of the West, 3)  the further insulating of the elite classes from all/any risk, 4) protecting and expanding the capitalist economic system, and 5) resolving issues only within the confines of the globe’s current power structures.

Never in history have such powerful conglomerates managed to foment and then seize the required labour to create billion dollar platforms and profits – for free, as they do today. Such fervor for the citizenry to bestow their labour to the elites classes is textbook “Brave New World.” Karl Marx’s theory of surplus labour is classically interpreted as the “extra labour produced by a worker for his employer, to be put towards capital accumulation.” It could be said (even in jest) that one good example of surplus labor in modern times is “the extra labour (physical) produced by the “prosumer”, the willing participants for the elite classes (via social media), to be put towards cultural appropriation and modification (in the form of social capital) with no ownership over the means of production (digital platforms).

Consider that while Western society criticizes the Bolivian government for legalizing child labour laws in order to protect working Bolivian children, it remains completely ignorant of the fact that the elite global corporatocracy is exploiting labour from their own Western children for free – via social media – in what we can call postmodern Western domination. A Brave New World model of “soft exploitation” – with no protection from adults whatsoever. [2] Hence while child labour is a respected part of Bolivia’s social conscience – the gross exploitation and manipulation of their own children and youth (that enriches corporations as opposed to enriching families) does not even register in our collective consciousness at all.

This direct line to youth via the cell phone surpasses all levels of social engineering on a scale never before imagined much less thought to be achievable. The art of storytelling, exploitation and manipulation, at once consolidated to create a youth populace in the image of superficiality and consumption. The Children of the West have been thrown to the wolves. A gift to our corporate gods.

As one of ten ideas that can change the world, embraced and highlighted by some of the world’s most powerful and elite  institutions, the false perception of grass roots mobilization seizing power (designed and financed by the oligarchs) is a strategic marketing maneuver designed to create a short-term euphoria that feels like victory. The perceived victory –achieved via “the deployment of mass participation and peer coordination” (Heimans) – is always made malleable to further protect – the identical powers. Hence, it is not “new power”, it is “old power” simply rebranded with more vapid methods of exploitation targeting and manipulating the target demographic, which is “millennials”.

According to Heimans what societies are experiencing and undergoing today is “a big war over values”. What is unspoken is whose values Heiman’s New York PR firm pledges allegiance to and is paid to expand: Western values.”

April 1, 2018, Forbes, Hashtag Movements Call for a New Type of Leader:

“Who “leads” #MeToo or #NeverAgain? It may not even be a relevant question. In New Power, out this week, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms acknowledge Ms Burke but add: “The movement felt ownerless — and this was the source of its strength….” [Emphasis added]

 


 

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The world is on fire. Latin America is no exception. The world is on fire. Latin America is no exception. From Haiti, to Venezuela, to Honduras, to Brazil, to Paraguay, to Argentina, Ecuador, to Nicaragua, to Cuba, socialist or left leaning governments of sovereign states that resist foreign interference and persevere in their lawful right to self-determination have been relentlessly targeted for destabilization and coups by empire. Some have thus far courageously withstood imperial powers (Venezuela, Nicaragua) and some have tragically not. Many continue to fight. Disguised within these efforts is the 21st century Trojan horse – the NGO.

Perhaps no one can articulate the transition of tactics and accelerating crises better than Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad:

“In 2015 we said that this new model of intervention would be used in Nicaragua and we state here in Havana in 2018, that Cuba is a country that could be a candidate to suffer this model of intervention. Which is nothing less than a reconfiguration of countries’ cultural identities, and the hijacking of values and principles characteristic of the Left for many years. I’m talking about human rights, solidarity, youth, categories that are being reconfigured by bodies like, just to give one example, the Open Society Foundation.” — La izquierda está consumida por la propaganda occidental [The Left is Consumed by Propaganda], Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad during the 24th Sao Paulo Forum in Havana, Cuba held July, 2018 [Source]

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Purpose Goes to Latin America

Behance: Branding and web design for Movilizatorio, a citizen engagement lab for Colombia and Latin America incubated by Purpose. [Source]

“We’re a strategy consultancy, a creative agency and a social movement incubator. Purpose builds and supports movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world. We use public mobilization and storytelling to help the leading organizations, activists, businesses, and philanthropies engaged in this fight, and we create campaigning labs and new initiatives that can shift policies and change public narratives when it matters most. Purpose is a Public Benefit Corporation.” [Source: LinkedIn]

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

In March 2017, the city of Bogotá, Colombia, was home to the first Global Summit on Social Innovation:

“The event, hosted by The Rockefeller Foundation, the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group and its local partner, Compartamos con Colombia, convened more than 65 Social Innovation Organizations from 5 continents. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity, the hosts of the event commissioned Movilizatorio—a civic engagement and social innovation lab for Latin America incubated by Purpose—to carry out research aimed at understanding the challenges that SIOs [social innovation organizations] face today and, based on evidence, propose new ways to address them. To develop this research, they also identified a sample of 42 SIOs that were the focus and source of information during the project.”

From the 2017 report Boosting Collaborative Impact-The Momentum for Social Innovation (Inter-American Development Bank):

Purpose moves people to remake the world. Driven by people, enabled by technology: Purpose builds movements and new power models to tackle the world’s biggest problems. A certified B Corp, we create and launch our own ventures, collaborate with the world’s leading organizations, and develop technology, tools, and content that move millions to remake the world. From climate change and global LGBT rights, to the food system and gun violence in America, we’ve launched some of the biggest and most successful experiments in movement building and mass participation in recent years.” [Emphasis added]

At the helm of this new summit is the Rockefeller Foundation, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF, or FOMIN as the fund is known in Spanish), and Compartamos con Colombia:

“THE TEAM: This project was possible thanks to the sponsorship, advice, and constant accompaniment of the teams from FOMIN, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Compartamos con Colombia… The final report was consolidated by a team from Movilizatorio and Purpose, composed of Jessy Tolkan, Juliana Uribe, Lina Torres, and Nadya Hernández.”[Emphasis added]

Meanwhile, in Brazil, Purpose has been working with the Greenpeace Mobilization Lab (Mob Lab) on campaigns that include the City of Dreams voting campaign, the 1.5C Campaign (#1.5C Olympics) with the World Bank, The Bus of Dreams campaign, campaign Resista and “Content in the Periferias”.  The Mob Lab offers services that include “creating a rapid response system that leverages repression for your cause“. Greenpeace is the founder of GCCA, better known as TckTckTck, the umbrella organization that grossly undermined the most vulnerable states (such as Bolivia) being impacted by climate change at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (Copenhagen, 2009). GCCA/Greenpeace also organized the 2014 People’s Climate March with Purpose. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

Images: Movilizatorio, Instagram

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Blatant Paternalism

In February 2018 Movilizatorio in partnership with ACDI / VOCA and USAID Colombia , launched a test “Let’s go down to the tonito” (translated as “let’s lower our tone”, a seeming implication  that it is the fault of the defenseless for not extending an olive branch to its oppressor). Utilizing the latest advances in “behavioral economics”, the Behavioral Insights Team UK designed a test for Colombians to measure their levels of aggression. Following the test recommendations are offered that  are supposedly focused on improving their reactions to stressful situations, thus “betting on a more tolerant Colombia”. [Source] As an aside, one can only wonder about the public comfort level if a test of this nature was administered by a foreign NGO at the behest of a state agency such as China’s New International Development Cooperation Agency in partnership with The Russian Federation’s Official Development Assistance, to American citizens.

Further blatant Western paternalism is found in the 2017 BuildPeace report on the conference organized by Movilizatorio and partner NGOs including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. [3]

Page 7 of 61 the report bears the subtitle “Not a White Man’s Burden”. It goes on to explain: “Every year at Build Peace, we bring up a concern about the articulation of innovation for peace as a new ‘white man’s burden’—in which it is the Global North that is the sole repository of knowledge, innovation and technologies for conflict transformation. That’s obviously not true, partly because capacities for peace exist in all contexts, but also because the problem of peace is one that is also relevant to the Global North.”

How gallant it is of the ruling elite to inform the global south that they ought not to be reliant on the peace directives of the Global North. The same Global North which has been responsible for world wars that have disaffected people who have no vested interest in the outcome and have been innocent victims by all participants.

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The report also highlighted the Build Peace Lab partnership between Build Up & Movilizatorio which has created the Build Peace Fellows program and Digital Steps – Supporting Syrian Innovators (both fellowship programs). The Digital Steps Fellowship is a collaboration between Build Up and the British Council Syria (Britain) and NaTakallam (We Speak), an initiative funded by the World Bank (via WeMENA) .

The Igarapé Institute (which will be discussed further in this report) also played a participatory if not leading role in the conference. [Source]

 

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Movilizatorio/Purpose: “Training Agents of Change in Latin America”

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

Movilizatorio (MOV) is co-founded by Tim Dixon, co-founder of Purpose Europe,  The Syria Campaign (White Helmets), The Rules (with Purpose co-founder Alnoor Ladha) and More in Common (Purpose). Australian born Dixon “trained as an economist and tech sector lawyer, built a leading Australian educational publishing business that was bought by Pearson in 2004 and worked as chief speechwriter and economic adviser for two Prime Ministers. He is/has served on the boards of the International Budget Partnership, the Jo Cox Foundation, Purpose Europe, the Syria Campaign, the Chifley Research Centre and faith-based justice organisation Sojourners.” [Source] Working between New York and London (and now Latin America) the World Economic Forum website credits Dixon to having led projects to build new social movements in more than 20 countries. [Source]


“MOVILIZATORIO is a citizen engagement and social innovation lab for Colombia and Latin America and is part of the Purpose Labs Network. We work to empower citizens and strengthen civil society organizations. We have an interdisciplinary team with experience in civic technology and have worked with organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, FOMIN, Compartamos con Colombia and the Swedish Cooperation Agency. Through our alliance with Purpose and The Behavioral Insights Team, we have access to international networks for research and development of civic technologies, as well as offices in Bogotá, Colombia and New York, United States.” [Source]

The Movilizatorio website cites the utilization of both mobilization and behavioural change as the key techniques to initiate change.[Source]

Allies include Purpose, Behavioural Insights Team (UK), Foundation CoronaAgencia Presidencial de Cooperación, Heart for Change and Compartamos Con Colombia. [Source]

Movilizatorio website

Movilizatorio, a “citizen engagement lab” (an alternative name applied to an NGO that utilizes studies in behavioural sciences) for Colombia and Latin America, is incubated by Purpose. By the end of 2016, Movilizatorio had gained a major presence in most of Columbia, built partnerships with major national and international organisations and NGOs and launched a digital platform for citizen participation that reached over 30k users within the first two weeks of launching. [Source]

Juliana Uribe Villegas is the Founder and Executive Director of Movilizatorio, the “citizen participation and social innovation laboratory of Purpose for Colombia and Latin America”. Prior to her role in Movilizatorio, Villegas was a Senior Strategist for Purpose, advising global entities such as Hewlett Foundation and Here Now (Purpose). Villegas is a graduate of Harvard University as a Master of Public Administration and Mason Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and of the University of Barcelona as Master Cum Laude in International Relations. [Source/full bio]

The project manager for Movilizatorio is Nadya Hernández Beltrán. During 2017, Beltrán was an International Center for Journalists Fellow at PeaceTech Lab in United States (November 14-16, 2017, US Professional Fellows Congress publication). [Bio]

Movilizatorio campaign leader Mario Alvarado is co-founder of Change.org in Colombia. [Bio]

Mariana Diaz Kraus is the Director of Partnerships and Strategy. Diaz is a lawyer and magister in political science. She holds a Master of Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (USA). [Bio] [Source]

Here we can pause to reflect on the ties of those stationed within the foreign NGOs that are proliferated throughout the Global South – to the prestigious universities, organizations and institutions that have been founded in the Western world. An interwoven network of relationships built upon centuries of colonialism and imperialism that continues to this day. In essence, a non-profit industrial complex equivalent of the *School of the Americas, where people from Latin America were/are schooled in the techniques of torture and humiliation in order to implement despotic rule for the purpose of enhancing the domination of the people for Western interests. The difference being that in this politically correct realm, the techniques of torture are replaced with the methods of soft-power. [*Now operating as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security cooperation (WHINSEC)]

In furtherance of its agenda, Movilizatorio has many projects and allies in place to meet  its objectives (assuredly influenced and/or managed by Purpose and other Western organizations).

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Avispero is the primary mobilization campaign for Movilizatorio. It is described as a community of agents of change (wasps) that transform behaviour.  As a sign of its establishment leanings, El Avispero received the Turner Award for Social Transformation in 2017, a satellite of the Nobel Peace Prizes name brand. [Source]

The second mobilization campaign is the designing of a social innovative network for the South. This project is being conducted in collaboration with MIF, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Rockefeller Foundation and involves 40 Labs from 5 continents.

The third campaign is the aforementioned Bajémosle al Tonito which focuses on testing the aggression of Columbians.

The forth is Diciendo y Haciendo, a project led by Movilizatorio across Colombia funded by Heart For Change (Purpose partner), the Embassy of Sweden and the United Nations Program for Development UNDP.

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More in Common

To demonstrate the interlocking directorate of the non-profit industrial complex, here it should be noted that Dixon’s More in Common co-founders include Gemma Mortensen and Mathieu Lefevre (CEO).

“More in Common is a non-profit organisation incubated by Purpose Europe. Purpose builds and supports movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world. The co-founders of More in Common are Brendan Cox, Tim Dixon, Mathieu Lefevre, and Gemma Mortensen.” — Executive Summart: Attitudes Towards Refugees, Immigrants, and Identity in France, July 2017, More in Common, Purpose Europe, the Social Change Initiative

Mortensen served as Change.org’s Chief Global Officer overseeing teams in 17 countries. Prior to this she held the position of Executive Director of Crisis Action, having led international campaigns on Iran, Burma, Gaza, and Sudan. Mortensen’s bio is extensive, having worked for the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations in New York and the European Commission in Geneva and Sudan. [Bio] [Source]

Based in Paris, Lefevre, with a background in economics, is a Senior Advisor to Purpose. As with many of his peers, Lefevre attended the Harvard Kennedy School and worked for the United Nations. From 2005 to 2010, Lefevre worked for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, serving in Lebanon and Afghanistan. [Source][Source]

Brendan Cox is a former Special Adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown whose wife Jo Cox (MP for Batley and Spen) was murdered on June 16, 2016. Former US President Barack Obama invited Brendan Cox and his two young children to the White House on September 23, 2016. Brendan Cox is yet another Purpose affiliate caught up in recent sexual misconduct allegations. “On February 17, 2018, Brendan Cox announced his immediate resignation from the Jo Cox Foundation and More In Common – the charities he launched to honour the memory of his wife – and apologised for the “hurt and offence” he has caused to women, saying he was “deeply apologetic” for his inappropriate behaviour.” [Source] The tangled web and exploitation of Joe Cox to benefit the Purpose construct, the White Helmets, continues to gain speed, in real life time. [The White Helmets, a 21st century NGO hybrid and “propaganda construct” (John Pilger), has been extensively researched and documented by independent journalists Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and a small handful of others.]

As an example of backgrounds that comprise NGOs marketed as “activist” in ideology, consider the qualifications of Rukmini Giridharadas, Senior Strategist, More in Common US:

“Rukmini Giridharadas previously worked at Google, Change.org, and in US military intelligence studying how social media plays a role in war and conflict. She was educated at Brown University and Harvard Business School.”

In fact, Giridharadas worked for the United States Department of Defense. From 2009 – 2012  Giridharadas: 1) worked on a team developing intelligence assessments on how social technologies used in conflict situations around the world. Reports used to inform US policymakers and military leaders, 2) won funding to create a tool that would help team forecast geopolitical events using real-time data, 3) was selected to join team producing morning brief for President Obama and advisors, 4) with a small team of 40 analysts from government and private sector, went on month-long assignment to forecast future of social media and geopolitical trends. From group chosen as briefer to report findings to White House and Directorate of National Intelligence. [Source: LinkedIn]

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Meet the New Power – The Same as the Old Power

“Whoever mobilizes is going to win. And if you are understanding new power you can end up on top. Welcome to the new power world.”

The above quote is taken from the marketing video for the book titled New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World–and How to Make It Work for You (released April 3, 2018). The book authored by Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz/Purpose) and Henry Timms (92nd Street Y, a 143-year-old institution located in New York City) follows their prior publications: New Power: How It’s Changing The 21st Century (2018) and Why You Need To Know and Understanding ‘New Power’ (Harvard Business Review, 2014).

Timms is the creator and co-founder of Giving Tuesday, “a classic new power movement” [Source] funded by such giants as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Facebook.

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

Having attended Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Heimans interned for the United Nations where his career began in 1999. [Source] Heimans then cut his teeth with the management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. In 2007 he co-founded Avaaz. Purpose would follow two years later although the year of Purpose’s beginnings has been challenged in Australian Parliament. [4] In 2009 Heimans hired the first Purpose team member Andre Banks. The list of achievements (i.e. clients) of Purpose includes the Women’s Marches following Trump’s inauguration in 2017 and a strong relationship with Black Lives Matters. [Source] Purpose clients and partnerships include many of the most powerful institutions, corporations and manufactured/managed movements on the planet such as the United Nations/UNHCR, Google, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ikea, Unilever, Black Lives Matter, etc.:

“Heimans says that Purpose embraces “pragmatic idealism” and doesn’t adopt purist positions. “We like to say we can speak the language of an Occupy activist, a Facebook product manager and a UN technocrat.” It also speaks the language of Unilever and Nike, two of its corporate partners, as well as that of #MeToo. If a partner “veers off course” and does things that nobody at Purpose can support, “then we have to fire them”. This is underpinned by Purpose’s status under American law as a public-benefit corporation, a new legal structure that mandates companies to serve the wider society rather than simply its shareholders, giving an economic value to philanthropy.” [Source]

Oxfam is a key partner of Purpose. To this day, the Oxfam partnership and logo continues to be proudly displayed on the Purpose website.Here it is vital to observe Heimans and Timms co-optation of #MeToo language/values supposedly adopted by Purpose. In December 2017, 92nd Street Y the organization run by Heiman’s New Power co-author, Executive Director Henry Timms , chose Ari Shavit to deliver the keynote address to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary:

“When I learned this week that the 92nd Street Y is advertising admitted sexual predator Ari Shavit as their keynote speaker to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary, it became unambiguously clear that the insulated, powerful, and tone-deaf Jewish boys’ club is still running the show, to the detriment of women and all victims of sexual assault. On the most basic level, this decision ignores women as consumers. The idea that women and sexual assault victims would be horrified by this choice apparently did not occur to the organizers. That we would never come to an event like this doesn’t seem to matter. Whoever the victims of sexual abuse are – women and men alike – we are irrelevant. We are not even considered as potential attendees. It is a stunning dismissal of victims from the community.” — Seriously, 92Y – Ari Shavit Should Never Have Been Invited In The First Place, December 15, 2017

In the trillion dollar philanthropy industry, this type of open hypocrisy is called “wewashing” – something those in the non-profit are typically extremely fearful to be accused of.

From the May 3, 2018 article published by The Center for Effective Philanthropy, Philanthropy’s “New Power” Challenge:

“There is also the danger of what the authors call “WeWashing,” citing a term coined by a friend of theirs that refers to the danger of “using the language of the crowd without having any meaningful interest in engaging with it.”

But this isn’t the only instance of “wewashing” demonstrated by NewPower authors Timms and Heimans. Consider the recent sexual exploitation scandal by Oxfam, which made international headlines. [February 16, 2018, The Independent: “Oxfam was told of aid workers raping and sexually exploiting children in Haiti a decade ago.”] Oxfam is a key partner of Purpose. To this day, the Oxfam partnership and logo continues to be proudly displayed on the Purpose website. Further allegations have since emerged involving Save the Children and the United Nations [source] , with United Nations being not only the key partner to Purpose & Timms co-founded “movements”, but the building block of the non-profit industrial complex as a whole.

So much for Heiman’s statement “[I]f a partner “veers off course” and does things that nobody at Purpose can support, “then we have to fire them”. The appropriation of the said movement #metoo – by individuals that condone sexual predators and sexual misconduct in their own tight knit circles – is as vulgar and cold as it is arrogant. This superficiality on display is so egregious, it is blinding.

Video. April 13, 2018, “‘New Power’ authors Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms discuss “authenticity” and how people can obtain power in the 21st century”:

 

 

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Perhaps nowhere is Jeremy Heimans crème de la crème status more visible as in the recent high level event at the United Nations: The 6th Biennial High-level Meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) (United Nations Headquarters, New York, 21-22 May 2018):

“In a keynote address, Jeremy Heimans, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Purpose, noted that development cooperation was traditionally organized in an “old power” fashion, in which top-down dynamics were most prevalent.  In that structure, beneficiaries were not directly involved in the decision-making that would most affect their lives due to an unequal power dynamic and lack of agency.

 

Yet, a “new power” structure was emerging, he said, in which power was distributed more equally among stakeholders.  In that context, he underlined that more efforts must be undertaken to build institutions that fuelled citizens’ hunger to “take part”, pointing to online platforms as being highly effective at engaging people.  He noted that there was a lot that could be learned from such social movements, many of which were maximizing collective action dynamics.  In that connection, development cooperation should be shifted in a way that actively engaged people and gave them opportunities to shape their own future, he said.” [Source]

“Jeremy Heimans, Co-founder of Purpose, addresses the Development Cooperation Forum of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The theme of the forum is “The strategic role of development cooperation in achieving the 2030 Agenda: building sustainable and resilient societies. 21 May 2018, United Nations, New York”

Economic and Social Council 2018 session, plenary meeting
Development Cooperation Forum – Item 5 (c)
President /
DSG on behalf of SG
USG Desa
Keynote speakers

 

Economic and Social Council 2018 session, Plenary meeting
Development Cooperation Forum – Item 5 (c)
President /
DSG on behalf of SG
USG Desa
Keynote speakers

 

Designing a Network

On April 14. 2017 Open Ideo published the paper Mitigating the risk of conflict resurgence in Colombia through blended, structured finance and multistakeholder collaboration. The report focuses on funding the first stage of an investment-ready portfolio of outstanding community endeavours in Colombia via the creation/support of social enterprises.  The collaboration, in general terms seeks to “[C]onsolidate the integration and participation of [1] Government [2] the private sector and [3] the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and a curated group of global actors.” Partners for the project include the expansive network of http://www.elavisperomov.org (Movilizatorio/Purpose) and http://socialab.com owners of the largest open innovation platform in the world with over 475,000 users.

Sponsors of Open Ideo include UKAID, USAID, Nike, Unilever, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Water dot org to name a few. [See below chart.]

Purpose Partners with Concordia Summit

Scott Heiferman (right), co-founder of Meetup with Jeremy Heiman (left), Source: Avaaz co-founder David Madden, twitter account

Purpose board member Scott Heiferman is CEO and a co-founder of Meetup which was recently acquired by WeWork  for a reported $200 million. [Source] Heiferman is a long time ally of Heimans (who advises Meetup), co-authoring articles for AOL/Verizon/Oath’s  Huff Post (2011, 2017) and cross-promoting one another in orchestrated speaking engagements.

A key example of such cross-promotion is the Concordia Summit.

 

“New power: “The ability to harness the connected crowd to get what you want” – Jeremy Heimans, co-founder Purpose/Avaaz [Source]

Concordia website screenshot: New Power in A Multistakeholder World

October 5, 2015, Purpose Website:

“Purpose is proud to have served as a first time programming partner for the 2015 Concordia Summit. Now in its fifth year, the Summit convenes the world’s preeminent thought leaders and decision makers to address the most pressing global challenges by highlighting the potential that effective cross-sector collaboration can have in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future.

 

Purpose Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy Heimans co-moderated a panel discussion along with Henry Timms, the Executive Director of 92Y and Co-Founder of #GivingTuesday. Their session, “Introducing: New Power in a Multi-stakeholder World,” featured an exciting line-up of speakers, each pioneering change in their respective industries in innovative ways.”

“We are particularly excited by Concordia’s unique opportunity to redefine the power of partnership during the U.N. General Assembly at our 2017 Annual Summit in September and throughout the year.” — 2017: A YEAR OF STRATEGIC GROWTH FOR CONCORDIA, A letter from the Co-Founders [Source]

The Purpose session included Scott Heiferman, co-founder & then CEO of Meetup, Nancy Lublin, the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders in 2007 and one of Fortune’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” in 2014, Jenny Abramson, founder and managing partner at Rethink Impact, a venture capital fund that partnered with UBS Wealth Management Americas in 2017 and, Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and former Special Assistant to Barack Obama.

“Held on September 19th and 20th at the Grand Hyatt New York, the 2016 Annual Summit was our largest and most ambitious event to date, bringing together over 2,000 thought leaders from across sectors including General (Ret.) David Petraeus, former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Prime Minister of Greece, H.E. Alexis Tspiras, and philanthropist George Soros.” — Concordia 2016 Annual Report, Building Partnerships for Social Impact

Having observed “the effectiveness of the formats of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council and the Clinton Global Initiative (“the intersection of the power to convene”) [Source] Mathew Swift (Chairman and CEO) and Nicholas Logothetis founded the Concordia Summit in February 2011 as a nonprofit organization that can identify a societies “readiness and need” to engage in public-private partnerships (P3s). Swifte is on the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Public-Private Partnerships (SAP3) and serves on the Global Advisory Board of i2Co School of Transformational Leadership. Swifte studied under global “leaders” such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and José María Aznar, the former President of the Government of Spain. [Source]

The first annual Concordia Summit on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, in New York. Photo by Ralph Alswang/The Concordia Summit

The 2011 keynote address for Concordia (cross-sector collaboration as a means of combating extremism and terrorism) was given by US President George W. Bush followed by former US President Bill Clinton in 2012 and Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman & CEO of The Dow Chemical Company in 2013. The 2014 annual summit focused on the future of American energy and economic growth in Latin America and featured a keynote conversation with former President George W. Bush and the “First Lady” Laura Bush.

The 2016 annual summit included Warren Buffett, Chief Executive Officer, Berkshire Hathaway,  Madeleine Albright, Chairman of the Board, National Democratic Institute and George Soros, Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations. 2016 featured the launch of the Concordia Leadership Award. Purpose client/partner Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever was a recipient of the award.

Purpose Europe co-founder Tim Dixon, 2016 Concordia Summit

Joining those at the helm of the globe’s most powerful institutions, corporations, NGOs and states, as 2016 summit speakers is Per Heggenes the CEO of IKEA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies and client/partner of Purpose and the NGO Here Now (Purpose). Purpose Europe co-founder  Tim Dixon also made his way into the massive roster of elite speakers for the 2016 summit as did United Nations Kathy Calvin (member of both The B Team and Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission with Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel). Of interest is that Calvin was a Senior Managing Director at Hill and Knowlton – the global public relations company commissioned to create the “incubator hoax” on the public that achieved acquiescence from the populace to wage the illegal war on Iraq before the deception was uncovered.

Kathy Calvin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation. She is member of both The B Team (Purpose) and Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations H.E. Filippo Grandi, Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations George Soros and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada John McCallum attend 2016 Concordia Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 20, 2016 in New York City. Sept. 19, 2016, Ben Hider/Getty Images North America

This summit also highlighted the “crisis” (i.e. US destabilization) in Venezuela. [5] The summit also focused on restructuring Concordia from a convening organization to one that actively builds partnerships. Concordia is now a  global convener, campaigner, and innovation incubator with over 50 heads of state, 600 corporate executives and 300 press. Over 20 trillion in private sector assets are represented. [Source]

Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever speaks at The 2017 Concordia Annual Summit at Grand Hyatt New York on September 19, 2017 in New York City. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images North America

“The ceremony also recognized the winner of the 2016 P3 Impact Award, a competition hosted by the University of Virginia Darden School Institute for Business in Society, and U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, that recognizes best practices of P3s that are improving communities around the world in the most impactful ways. The winning team, Project Nurture, is a partnership between the Coca-Cola Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and TechnoServe that developed an innovative solution to challenges in East Africa’s fruit market. While farmers across Africa struggle to lift themselves out of poverty, food and beverage companies have a hard time sourcing the agricultural products they need…” — Concordia 2016 Annual Report, Building Partnerships for Social Impact

The acceleration of privatization (global in scale) is being achieved via the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

“Partnerships Week (GPW) Partnership Practitioners Forum, under the theme, “Leveraging Innovation in Partnerships.” Together with the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and PeaceTech Lab, Concordia co-hosted this flagship event to kick off GPW and brought together practitioners and global leaders to discuss the role of P3s in achieving the SDGs and explore their potential as shared value collaborators.”

 

[***Further reading on the privatization of the commons via the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”***]

 

Aside from Purpose entering Latin American as a Trojan Horse, the goals of Purpose, in Columbia to start, for privatization are clear. Consider 2016 summit speaker Seth W. Miller Gabriel is the first Director of the Office of Public-Private Partnerships for the District of Columbia:

“AS PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA, I HAVE SEEN FIRST-HAND THE POSITIVE EFFECTS AND IMMENSE EFFICIENCIES THAT [PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS] HAVE ON CHANGING THE WORLD AND IMPACTING COMMUNITY.” -ÁLVARO URIBE VÉLEZ, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA

Also from the report:

“The issues of transparency and accountability were a main theme in Concordia’s programming throughout 2016. At both the Concordia Americas Summit in Miami and the Annual Summit in New York, we held discussions on corruption and governance, with a particular focus on Latin America. Additionally, at the Annual Summit, Concordia partnered with the National Democratic Institute to host a session highlighting the political and economic stability in the Middle East as an example for other democratic transitions in the region.”

Here it is vital to note the job description for the Purpose Campaigner in Columbia:

Responsible for finding moments of global political crisis and building a campaign strategy where people all over the world can take action to demonstrate the power of public opinion over the international decision making process.” [Emphasis added]

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Social Good

The creation of the Social Good Summit (launched in 2012) is attributed to Heiman’s co-author of New Power, Henry Timms (92nd Street Y) in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ericsson, the United Nations Development Programme, and Mashable.

Following the Social Good Summit was the launch of the SocialGood “community”.  The founding partners of SocialGood include The Bill & Melinda Gates  Foundation, the Case Foundation, Caterpillar, Cisco, Enactus, Mashable, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Foundation, and the 92Y. [Source]

“Progress in the next 15 years and beyond—including effectively setting and achieving the next set of global development goals—can’t just be left to the same old power players. Now you can actively involve people in shaping these goals, using new participatory, transparent, and bottom-up new power models.

 

Tune into this high-level discussion with speakers including Sir Richard Branson, Kathy Calvin, Gary White and Matt Damon, Chris Elias, Jeremy Heimans, Hannah Jones, JR Kerr, Kumi Naidoo and Hans Vestberg to explore how these emerging models can help us shape our world in coming decades and envision a bolder #2030Now.

New Power +SocialGood is presented by +SocialGood and Purpose” — [Source]

Inspired by the annual Social Good Summit, IVA and ICom launched the annual Social Good Brazil Program in 2012. Partners include the United Nations and SocialGood. The Social Good Brazil keynote for 2017 was delivered by Henry Timms with Heimans as one of the international speakers. The 2018 summit requires pre-registration for those wishing to attend. With a donation of 400.00 or more, attendees will receive a free a gift package which includes a copy of the New Power book. [Source]

 

Next: Purpose Goes to Latin America Part 2: “This is where the lines between NGOs, internet and militarism begin to overlap and blur.”

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Appendix I: AVAAZ Mind Map Last Updated August 7 2018

End Notes:

[1] A recent development for Avaaz/Purpose co-founder David Madden (World Bank, etc.) and founder of the PR firm Phandeeyar in Burma, is his new affiliation with the social ventures investment company and Purpose partner Omidyar Network: “I’m going to be spending the next six months as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Omidyar Network. Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment fund established by ebay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, is one of Phandeeyar’s key supporters. Phandeeyar isn’t the first tech hub that Omidyar has backed and it probably won’t be the last.” [Source]

[2] May 26, 2016: “Teens are spending nearly nine hours a day consuming media. And children ages eight to 12 are spending nearly six hours a day doing the same thing. Let’s say the average teen wakes up at 7 a.m. and goes to bed at 10 p.m. — that means that nine of their 15 waking hours are spent on their phones, computers, or tablets.” [Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/teens-average-phone-screen-usage-2016-5] | January 4, 2017: ” Teens now spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms, while 30% of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction. And the majority of that time is on mobile – 60% of social media time spent is facilitated by a mobile device.” [https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic]

[3] “Build Peace 2017 was possible thanks to the generous support of the people of the United States through their Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as Andes University, the PeaceNexus Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, New Markets Advisors, the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau, the Agency of the GIZ in Colombia, and the United Nations in Colombia. The event was co-organized by Build Up and Policéntrico, with the support of Bogotá’s Town Hall through the Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation, the SOLE Colombia Foundation, the Ideas para la Paz Foundation, Peace Startup, TIC4GOOD, Movilizatorio, La Metro, INNpulsa Colombia, and Appiario.”

[4] “On the 13 April 2005, Purpose Campaigns, cofounded by Heimans and Madden, posted an ad describing itself as a new, progressive, political campaigning organisation. Noting the Win Back Respect campaign, the ad said: ‘Purpose Campaigns was established in 2005 to continue campaigning on important progressive issues, especially in the area of foreign policy, national security and global justice issues. Purpose Campaigns is currently involved in a variety of entrepreneurial political activities, including establishing a rapid response campaigning organisation designed to explode the myth of Republican primacy of national security.'” Source: https://www.openaustralia.org.au/senate/?gid=2016-09-13.16.3

[5] “The Summit was historically significant as it marked the first-ever meeting between Luis Almagro Lemes, Secretary General, Organization of American States, and Venezuelan human rights activist, Lilian Tintori, who spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. As a result of the Summit, Mr. Almagro affirmed the Carta Democratica which outlines provisions and strategies for change in the country’s electoral process and, in turn, its fundamental rights.” [Source]

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[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

You can support the work of Morningstar and Palmer at Patreon.

 

 

 

Truth UNFILTERED: The Global South Assessment of Western Imperial Actions Against Syria

Truth UNFILTERED: The Global South Assessment of Western Imperial Actions Against Syria

Sacha Sergio Llorenti Soliz – Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador of Bolivia. United Nations Security Council, April 14. 2018.

Translations of quotes below have been kindly provided by Francisco Nunes [@fcn_84]. The full transcript in English (added April 16, 2018) is below the video within this post.]

Follow Sacha Llorenti on twitter: @SachaLlorenti  

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT.

MY DELEGATION WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE SECRETARY GENERAL FOR HIS PRESENCE AND HIS PARTICIPATION IN THIS MEETING.

BOLIVIA WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION FOR HAVING TAKEN THE INITIATIVE OF CONVENING THIS URGENT MEETING OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL

TODAY IS A DARK DAY IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNCIL.

THREE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL HAVE TAKEN THE DECISION TO BREACH THE CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND TAKE MILITARY ACTION AGAINST THE SOVEREIGNTY AND TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF ANOTHER MEMBER STATE OF OUR ORGANIZATION.

BOLIVIA WISHES TO CLEARLY AND CATEGORICALLY EXPRESS ITS CONDEMNATION OF THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS OR CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES AS WEAPONS, AS THIS IS UNJUSTIFIABLE AND CRIMINAL WHEREVER IT HAPPENS AND BY WHOMEVER. THEIR USE IS A SERIOUS CRIME AGAINST INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.  THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMITTING SUCH TERRIBLE AND CRIMINAL ACTS MUST BE IDENTIFIED, INVESTIGATED, PROSECUTED AND PUNISHED IN THE MOST RIGOROUS WAY POSSIBLE.

BOLIVIA CONTINUES TO DEMAND A TRANSPARENT AND IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION TO DETERMINE WHO ARE THE CULPRITS.

BUT, IN ADDITION TO THAT, THE TOPIC OF THIS MEETING IS THE FACT THAT THE THREE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL AS I SAID HAVE USED FORCE IN BREACH OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER. YOU CANNOT COMBAT THE ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW BY VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW. BOLIVIA IS SURPRISED BY THE FACT THAT THE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL, GIVEN THAT THEY HAVE A GREATER RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY HAVE DECIDED TO BYPASS THE UNITED NATIONS WHEN IT SUITS THEM. THEY DEFEND MULTILATERALISM AS LONG AS IT SERVES THEM AND THEY SIMPLY DISCARD IT. WHEN IT IS NO LONGER IN THEIR INTERESTS, THEY ARE NO LONGER ATTACHED TO MULTILATERALISM .

THIS IS NOT THE ONLY CASE WHERE UNFORTUNATELY UNILATERAL ACTION HAS BEEN USED.  LET’S RECALL, AND WE WILL NEVER TIRE OF RECALLING THE EVENTS IN IRAQ IN 2003 AND IN LIBYA IN 2011. SUCH ACTIONS SHOULD BE AUTHORIZED BY THE SECURITY COUNCIL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE  UNITED NATIONS CHARTER — ANY UNILATERAL ACTION  COUNTER TO INTERNATIONAL LAW AND COUNTER TO THE VALUES AND PRINCIPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IS UNACCEPTABLE.  BOLIVIA REJECTS THE USE OF FORCE.  UNILATERAL ACTION NOT ONLY RESPONDS TO THE SPECIFIC INTERESTS OF THOSE WHO CARRY THEM OUT, BUT IN FACT, THERE ARE MEASURES THAT ALLOW ME THE EXPRESSION, ARE IMPERIALIST MEASURES — IT SO HAPPENS THAT EMPIRES AS WE STATED EARLIER CONSIDER THEMSELVES SUPERIOR TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. THEY THINK THEY ARE EXCEPTIONAL.  THEY THINK THEY ARE INDISPENSABLE AND HENCE THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW, ABOVE INTERNATIONAL LAW.

BUT IN FACT, THE INTEREST OF THOSE WHO UNILATERALLY USE FORCE AND VIOLATE THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IS NOT REALLY TO ADVANCE DEMOCRACY OR ADVANCE FREEDOM OR TO COMBAT THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.  THEIR GOAL IS TO EXPAND THEIR POWER AND EXPAND THEIR DOMINATION.

WHAT WE HAVE WITNESSED OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE FACT FINDING MISSION  OF THE OPCW WHICH HASN’T EVEN STARTED THE WORK THAT WAS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN TODAY.

THE UNILATERAL ATTACK IS AN ATTACK AGAINST MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE OPCW.  IT’S AN ATTACK AGAINST THIS COUNCIL AND ITS MAIN DUTY FOR MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY. IT IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER AND IT IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE ENTIRE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

I AM WONDERING WHETHER THE PERMANENT MEMBERS WHO USED FORCE JUST A FEW HOURS AGO, HOW MUCH MONEY THEY INVESTED IN ARMING AND TRAINING THE ARMED GROUPS IN SYRIA?

THEY ARE BEHIND (UNINTELLIGIBLE) NATIONAL RESOURCES AND WITH WHAT KIND OF AUTHORITY CAN THEY INVOKE THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IN OTHER SITUATIONS? THE HISTORY, UNFORTUNATELY,  OF VIOLATIONS OF THE PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSES OF THE CHARTER IS LONG. WE MENTIONED LIBYA, WE MENTIONED IRAQ, BUT THERE ARE MORE RECENT CHAPTERS. IT HAPPENED WITH THE UNILATERAL DECISION REGARDING JERUSALEM. IT IS ANOTHER CLEAR SIGNAL OF A LACK OF RESPECT FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW. WHO ARE THOSE  WHO SELL WEAPONS TO THOSE WHO BOMB CIVILIANS IN YEMEN? WHO ARE THOSE WHO REJECTED THE PARIS AGREEMENT, OF THE CLIMATE AGREEMENT?  WHO ARE THOSE  WHO STEPPED AWAY FROM OTHER INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS?  WHO ARE THOSE WHO BUILD WALLS?

BUT, WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT IS IMPORTANT TO LOOK AT HISTORY IN THE LONG RUN, OVER THE LONGER PERIODS OF TIME.  WE ARE EXPERIENCING THE CONSEQUENCES IN THE MIDDLE EAST OF THE ACTIONS  THAT ARE PROVOKED BY CERTAIN COLONIALIST POWERS DATING BACK TO A CENTURY OR MORE.

AND THE SAME THING WE ARE EXPERIENCING IN SYRIA, A COMPLETE DISDAIN FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW, IS ALSO SOMETHING THAT WE ARE SEEING WHEN, FOR EXAMPLE, THE UNITED KINGDOM REFUSES TO RETURN THE MALDIVES ISLANDS SOVEREIGNTY TO ARGENTINA OR WHEN THE CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO ISSUE IS NOT RESOLVED. AND WHEN THE ADVISORY OPINION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ON THIS TOPIC  IS NOT HEEDED.  IN OTHER WORDS, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A WHOLE RANGE OF POLICIES THAT UNDERMINE INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.

THE DISTINGUISHED PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES SAYS THAT THE UNITED STATES, HER COUNTRY, IS READY, ‘LOCKED AND LOADED’ SHE SAYS. OF COURSE, WE CLEARLY HEARD HER WORDS WITH A GREAT DEAL OF CONCERN AND A GREAT DEAL OF SADNESS.  WE KNOW THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, THAT THEY HAVE SATELLITES, THAT THEY HAVE “INTELLIGENT MISSILES”, SMART BOMBS AND THEY HAVE A HUGE ARSENAL OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS.  AND, WE ALSO KNOW THAT THEY HAVE NOTHING BUT SCORN FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW.

BUT WE HAVE THIS. WE HAVE THE PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSES OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER.  AND, ULTIMATELY AS HISTORY HAS DEMONSTRATED MANY TIMES, ULTIMATELY THESE PRINCIPLES WILL PREVAIL. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

 

The New Humanitarianism: The Imperative to ‘Act’ and to ‘Act Now’

April 14, 2018

 

An Excerpt from the book Celebrity Humanitarianism – The Ideology of Global Charity by Ilan KapoorFirst [2013]

 

‘Ilan Kapoor’s stunning new book exposes the most appealing – and thus most dangerous – sacred cows of contemporary ideology: the humanitarian actor, the billionaire philanthropist, and the NGO. Kapoor shows that it is precisely where we feel most emotionally satisfied that we must be most suspicious. Celebrity Humanitarianism represents a landmark in the critique of ideology and a decisive blow in the struggle against apolitical ethics.’ — Todd McGowan, University of Vermont, USA

 

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an explosion of international NGOs, particularly development and humanitarian ones, leading to the rise of what is termed ‘global civil society’. In large measure, this is due to the ascendancy of neoliberalism, which has seen NGOs fill the many gaps created by government cutbacks and privatization. But in part, it is also the result of the intensification of globalization and the information economy, which has opened up possibilities for greater  borderlessness’. Not content with doing only aid and development work, NGOs have carved out an increasingly more activist and interventionist role for themselves in the global arena. This trend is what has been called ‘the new humanitarianism’.

Central to the new humanitarianism is a security discourse, which divides the world, not so much along the lines of wealth vs. poverty as it used to, but more in terms of stability vs. threat. Mark Duffield argues that the security discourse is constructed on the basis of the metaphor of the ‘borderlands’ (i.e. the Third World), an imagined geographic space of instability, excess, and social breakdown, which poses a threat to the metropolitan areas (2001: 309).

The borderlands are depicted as violent and unpredictable, or at least always a  potential danger; they are the source of many of the problems seen to plague global security, including drug trafficking, terrorism, refugee flows, and corrupt/weak/rogue states.

Accordingly, the point of international intervention is to tame and manage instability. In this scenario, poverty, corruption, and refugee flows are to be feared much more than alleviated. Development and humanitarianism are seen not as problems of reducing inequality or protecting the most vulnerable, but as technologies of security, which function ‘to contain and manage underdevelopment’s destabilizing effects’ (Duffield 2007: ix, 24).

The practical outcome of this new humanitarianism is a significant shift away from respecting national sovereignty and towards external intervention in the Third World: it means neglecting international law, or obeying the ‘higher’ moral law of humanitarianism, under the guise of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (cf. Mamdani 2009: 274; Watson 2011: 5). In other words, new humanitarianism has increasingly become neoimperialism, allowing the West to ‘transform conflicts, decrease violence and set the stage for liberal development’ (Duffield et al. 2001: 269). Not just a Third World country’s foreign policy, but now also its domestic economic or human rights situation is seen as a credible threat (Duffield 2001: 311), recalling colonialism’s ‘civilizing mission’ to eradicate ‘barbaric’ Third World cultural practices such as widow-burning or infanticide. More often than not, the form of external intervention is military, that is, armed intervention parading as humanitarian rescue mission. The post- 9/11 War on Terror has only escalated this trend, enabling the possibility of ‘unending war’ to secure the borderlands (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan) (Duffield 2007: 131). Illustrative of unending war is the following list, compiled by Watson (2011: 4), enumerating the countries for which humanitarianism has been used to justify military intervention in recent years: Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Angola, Mozambique, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Zaire, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

NGOs are firmly enmeshed in this security–humanitarian network. For the past two decades particularly, the private–public linkages between Western states, UN agencies, private firms, militaries, and NGOs has grown. In fact, as Duffield puts it, the securitization of development/humanitarianism ‘has been of central importance for legitimising the growing involvement of non-state actors’ (2001: 312; cf. Watson 2011: 3–4). And NGOs have become not just accomplices in this network, but key players. Mamdani goes so far as to argue that the new humanitarianism is the ‘twin of the War on Terror’ (2009: 274), with groups such as Save Darfur as pivotal facilitators. NGOs have pushed for and capitalized on the vast resources directed at emergency and security operations around the globe. Many such operations (e.g. in Afghanistan, Haiti, Bosnia) have been ambitious and well coordinated, with relief agencies working alongside military or peacekeeping campaigns.

 

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) calling for a Darfur intervention and criminal indictment. August 3, 2004 screenshot: “Only one thing will stop the killing in Sudan: an immediate international intervention” … “Click here to sign a petition calling for humanitarian intervention Darfur” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The imperative to ‘act’ and to ‘act now’ is central to these NGO campaigns.

To be sure, beginning mainly in the post-World War II era, organizations such as Oxfam, ActionAid, and MSF were created to respond to global crises, ranging from armed conflicts and epidemics to ‘natural’ or man-made disasters. Whether we are talking about the 1949 Palestinian refugee situation, the 1967 Nigerian civil war, the 1984–85 Ethiopian famine, or the more recent 2005 Pakistan earthquake, emergencies have become an opportunity for humanitarian NGOs to function and even expand. Indeed, they have been able to justify and aggrandize themselves based on what Duffield refers to as a ‘permanent emergency regime’ (2007: 25, 47–49, 219). All of them rely on a ‘threaturgency narrative’ to ‘legitimize their functions’ (Watson 2011: 9); it is this narrative that allows them to identify and categorize the disaster (e.g. as an impending famine or a pressing refugee crisis), as well as publicly highlight the humanitarian duty to save lives or assist ‘populations in distress’, as MSF puts it (http://www.msf.org).

One of the most poignant recent examples of the construction of emergency discourse is that of the Save Darfur Coalition, especially during the 2004–7 period. The Coalition relied on highly charged rhetoric to issue its emergency call for international intervention. The first move, as Mamdani underlines (2009: 64–65), was to categorize the conflict in the Darfur region as racially motivated: the government-armed ‘Arab Janjaweed militia’ were reportedly perpetrating violence against ‘black-skinned non-Arabs’. Such stereotyping became pervasive in Western public discourse and was often repeated by the mainstream press, including The Washington Post (Mamdani 2009: 64; cf. Hassan 2010: 98). Mamdani notes (2009: 6) that this ethnicized/racialized framing has its origins in the colonial tradition of racializing the peoples of Sudan for political purposes (i.e. as a divide and rule strategy); it is a framing that, in the contemporary global conjuncture, only served to reinforce the discourse of the War on Terror, demonizing Islam and Arabs, and pressing for immediate counter-terrorist action.

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) March 8, 2005 screenshot: “Sign a petition below … over 18,000 signatories in the last week!” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The Coalition’s second discursive move was to characterize the Darfur situation as ‘genocide’ (despite evidence to the contrary, as we shall see below). It is the deployment of this culturally and politically charged term that, almost single-handedly, brought together such a large and diverse range of US-based organizations that made up the Coalition (see above), while catching the attention of the media and politicians alike (cf. Save Darfur Coalition 2011). After Save Darfur’s ‘genocide alert’ in 2004, events quickly gathered pace: a student-led divestment campaign was organized, a large Save Darfur Rally To Stop Genocide was held in Washington, DC, and an impassioned plea (by George Clooney) was made to the UN Security Council for international intervention. In 2007, the rhetoric was ratcheted up. The Coalition criticized China for its strong support of the Sudanese government, with a campaign that included taking out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Mia Farrow denouncing the upcoming Beijing Olympics as the ‘Genocide Olympics’.

The overall effect of this emergency discourse was to exercise tremendous pressure on political leaders in the US and around the world. Secretary of State Colin Powell testified in front of the Senate Relations Committee that genocide was being committed in Darfur. The US Congress agreed, pushing for political and economic sanctions for Sudan. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council referred the Darfur case to the International Criminal Court, sent UN peacekeeping troops to Sudan, and following China’s change of position on the Council in the face of public pressure, established a larger joint UN–African Union peacekeeping mission, with financial support from the US Congress (cf. Flint and de Waal 2008: 181, 280; Haeri 2008: 35–37).

One of the most troubling features of this NGO emergency discourse is its tendency towards militarization and war. The imperative to act ‘now’ tends to provide added impetus and rationale for militarized intervention. We are familiar with NGOs providing relief work in war zones, in which they must sometimes coordinate with warring factions to deliver aid programs. We are also familiar with the use of army troops in non-military crises such as the Asian Tsunami in 2004 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (to keep law and order, or help NGOs distribute food aid). Increasingly, as Watson argues, ‘states and the international community have institutionalized a militarized response through the establishment of specialized military entities such as the United States Foreign Disaster Assistance or the Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team’ (2011: 9).

But what is relatively new and noteworthy is the call by humanitarian NGOs for military intervention – a phenomenon described by the paradoxical concept, ‘humanitarian war’. It is a concept that, as Vanessa Pupavec notes, NGOs themselves helped legitimate, especially through their demands for military intervention in the Balkans during the 1990s (2006: 263). Thus, MSF appealed for military action in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, while Save the Children lobbied Western governments for armed intervention in Kosovo in the late 1990s (Pupavec 2006: 255). Since that time, several other similar calls have been made. Of particular note are Oxfam’s demand, in relation to the Darfur situation, for a broader interpretation of the UN Charter on the principle of non-interference to include intervention, and Save Darfur’s outright plea for a no-fly zone and Western military action. In fact, ‘Out of Iraq and Into Darfur’ became a common Save Darfur slogan. Pupavec points out, in this regard, that NGOs were quick to criticize the failure to obtain UN Security Council authorization for military intervention in Iraq, but were only too willing to ignore such authorization when they demanded military  ntervention in Kosovo and Darfur (2006: 266).

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz): “SUCCESS!! – Humanitarian Intervention in Darfur” … “SUCCESS!! – International Criminal Court to Prosecute Architects of Genocide in Darfur” [February 10, 2006 screenshot]

 

If rhetorical demands for action raise the stakes, resulting in the militarization of the new humanitarianism, so do media demands for spectacle. The mediatization of NGO emergency work – that is, the drive not just to act now, but also to be seen to be acting now – adds greater urgency. NGOs may well be responding to save lives, but they are also playing to the global media and public. MSF’s témoignage (witnessing) after all, is about witnessing not just on behalf of disaster victims, but also for the media/public. This recalls our earlier arguments about the entertainmentization of humanitarianism – the pressures to create ‘megaspectacles’, to satisfy seemingly insatiable appetites for suffering, death, and disaster. The militarization of emergency work only supplies further fuel to this fire, aiding and abetting the spectacularization of violence and war. In this regard, Henry Giroux contends that we are witnessing a new phase in the society of the spectacle, that of the ‘spectacle of terrorism’ (2006: 26).

According to him, a ‘visual culture of shock and awe has emerged’, which celebrates violence in the form of night bombing raids, hostage takings, and beheadings, or the destruction of public buildings (2006: 21, 24).

The pressure to create spectacle, then, means that spectacular NGOs are not simply observers or objective relays in delivering humanitarian aid; they are full-fledged actors, identifying emergencies and constructing them for public consumption (cf. Keenan 2002: 5). Add militarization to this mix, and you move from the imperative to act now and be seen to be acting now, to an imperative to be seen to be acting now, militarily if needs be (or preferably?).

The systemic and symbolic violence of spectacular NGOs

Three friends are having a drink at the bar. The first one says, ‘A horrible thing  happened to me. At my travel agency, I wanted to say “A ticket to Pittsburgh!” and I said “A ticket to Pissburgh!”’ The second one replies, ‘That’s nothing. At breakfast, I wanted to say to my partner “Could you pass the sugar, honey?” and what I said was “You dirty fool, you ruined my life!”’ The third one concludes, ‘Wait till you hear what happened to me. After gathering the courage all night, I decided to say to my spouse at breakfast exactly what you said to yours, and I ended up saying “Could you pass me the sugar, honey?”’

(adapted from Žižek 2004b: 61)

Often, the most traumatic situations are not necessarily the outwardly perceptible ones (i.e. the gaffes of the first and second interlocutors in the joke), but the less obvious ones (i.e. the repressed content in the outward politeness of the third). As Paul Taylor suggests, telling are the moments ‘in which nothing of substance is said… in that non-utterance resides all manner of psychologically destructive forces’ (2010: 93).

And so it is with spectacular (humanitarian) NGOs: it is most often in these organizations’ non-utterances that ideological violence is to be found. The spectacle of NGO humanitarianism is revealing not simply for what it shows, but more importantly for the violence it often ignores, takes for granted, or disavows. Žižek distinguishes two types of violence: (i) ‘subjective violence’, which is directly visible and identifiable (e.g. emaciated babies, physical destruction in the wake of a hurricane); and (ii) ‘objective violence’, which is less immediately perceptible (2008a: 1–2). Objective violence is itself made up of ‘systemic violence’, which refers to our often slow yet steady social oppressions  (e.g. gender exclusion, wage discrimination, the daily grind of alienating work), and ‘symbolic violence’, the violence inherent in our systems of representation (e.g. the way in which an image of a starving child can hide as much as it reveals). The crucial point for Žižek is that objective violence is what is required for the ‘normal’ functioning of our social and economic systems. In other words, systemic and symbolic violence is the background against which subjective violence happens: objective violence ‘may be invisible, but it has to be taken into account if one is to make sense of what otherwise seem to be “irrational” explosions of subjective violence’ (Žižek 2008a: 2). Accordingly, I’d like to highlight the systemic and symbolic violence of humanitarian NGOs, violence which serves as backdrop to their spectacle.

The systemic violence of humanitarian NGOs stems, at least in part, from the very nature of their work – short-term emergency operations that attempt to rescue people from immediate danger, but make no attempt to address the broader or underlying causes of such danger. As MSF’s James Orbinsky readily admits, MSF action ‘takes place in the short term’ with limited objectives in the wake of a crisis, ‘but does not itself attempt to solve the crisis’ (2000: 10). The problem is that such an approach is premised on what was earlier denoted as a ‘permanent emergency regime’: rather than working themselves out of a job, NGOs depend (and count) on more and more crises.

They have every interest in global neoliberal capitalism’s continued production of emergencies, which enables and legitimizes their spectacular humanitarianism. In this sense, the NGO-ization of humanitarianism (and development) may have less to do with finding effective solutions to problems than a way of keeping the humanitarian business in business.

True, some humanitarian NGOs do carry out broader ‘development’ programming, alongside their short-term relief and advocacy work. For example, MSF organizes a campaign to make cheaper generic drugs more readily available to Third World countries (cf. http://www.msfaccess.org), and Oxfam runs a host of projects in gender equality, health, and education around the world (cf. Oxfam UK 2011). But as pointed out in Chapters 1 and 2, most of these initiatives are depoliticized; they steer clear of, say, anti-capitalist/anti-racist critique, or unionization of workers (or women), in favour of tamer and nonthreatening areas such as mainstream human/gender rights and education. As Issa Shivji contends, in Sub-Saharan Africa issues of equality and equity are banished to the ‘realm of rights, not development’; that is, rights are a question of NGO ‘advocacy’, ‘not a terrain of people’s struggle’ (2006: 35). Moreover, many NGO development projects (e.g. job training, micro-credit) are ultimately an attempt at integrating subaltern groups into global capital; as James Petras puts it (1999: 432), they help corner ‘a new segment of the poor’ (e.g. young people, marginalized women, landless farmers, the urban poor), binding them to market entrepreneurialism. The result once again is a reaffirmation of the status quo, whose systemic violence is the basis for humanitarianism. And so the cycle continues … (I am not, of course, suggesting that humanitarian advocacy/relief and development should not happen, or that people must not be assisted in disasters; the problem is the significant institutional interests in people’s ongoing suffering or dispossession, and the enormous investments made in addressing the symptoms rather than the cure.)

This myopic and status quo approach is integral to the symbolic politics of humanitarian NGOs, too. The spectacularization of their relief and advocacy work is notable for what it includes as much as what it excludes. There is, first, the tendency (underlined earlier) to ‘sell’ stories and images that are visually and sound-byte friendly. Spectacles involving celebrities, poverty-stricken people, crying   mothers/children, gun-toting soldiers, or war-ravaged landscapes tend to be given priority. Most often, the resulting sensationalized images/stories are serialized and repeated to achieve maximum public and media spread and exposure. As one NGO media person puts it, ‘the misery of the victims of famine, flood, war, and plague must be underlined, perhaps even exaggerated, if [the organization] is to attract sufficient public attention’ (quoted in DeChaine 2002: 361). In this regard, MSF has been criticized for its sensationalized stories, causing some to pejoratively characterize the organization’s press officers as ‘catastrophe babes’, ‘whose motives are said to be driven more by the market than by the crises’ (DeChaine 2002: 360). Such tendencies  illustrate well the symbolic violence noted above, fetishizing and commodifying the outwardly visible (i.e. ‘subjective violence’) in the service of the society of the spectacle.

More often than not, the stories and commodity-images produced by NGOs resort to classic hero narratives, in which the NGO-as-hero/celebrity overcomes adversity (obstacles, enemies, crises) to save hapless victims. All the characters are clearly identifiable: the saviour-heroes are the aid workers, human rights advocates, and volunteer doctors/nurses; the enemies/adversaries are ‘natural’ disasters, or corrupt and authoritarian governments/leaders (e.g. the Janjaweed militia and President Al-Bashir, in the case of the Save Darfur narrative); and the victims are women, children, and dispossessed communities. Robert DeChaine states, for instance, that MSF’s credibility as a humanitarian agency hinges at least in part on ‘its ability to establish a perception of its volunteers as courageous, ideologically pure, morally committed agents of change. They are saviors, champions of the voiceless, who knowingly and willfully face the morally unrighteous enemies of humanity’ (2002: 362).

The creation of victims is key, and the humanitarian spectacle manages to never run out of them. Debrix argues that what transnational humanitarian NGOs such as MSF create when they intervene across state boundaries are ‘spaces of victimhood’, both spatial and symbolic: ‘Under the guise of reaching “victims” the world over, MSF constructs new spaces – humanitarian zones – inside which individuals in distress are identified as “victims”, are sorted out, and become recognisable as generalised examples of human drama’ (1998: 827).  The establishment of refugee camps, famine sanctuaries, and the like, are meant to clearly demarcate these spaces, so that the victims can be triaged, categorized, treated, managed.

The people shepherded into these zones tend to be constructed as passive beneficiaries. Rarely do they have a voice; most often, it is the NGOs that speak and ‘witness’ for them. In the Darfur debacle, for example, there was a notable absence of any articulate Sudanese or indeed Darfurian voices; as Salah Hassan points out, the discourse was dominated by ‘Western celebrity activists, aid workers, and other self-appointed experts and spokespersons, thus reconfiguring the “white man’s burden” in a significant way’ (2010: 97). Faced with such persistent victimization, it should hardly be surprising that NGO saviourheroes have sometimes been received by disaster ‘victims’ with hostility rather than thanks, as in the case, for example, of Somalia in 1992 or Iraq after the 2003 invasion (Watson 2011: 14).

Kate Manzo (2008) underlines how often humanitarian NGOs resort to the use of child iconography (usually close-ups of single children’s faces). Think of the 1960s ‘Biafra child’, the 1980s ‘Ethiopia child’, or the current-day Plan/World Vision/Save the Children poster child. Child imagery has become the face and brand of NGO humanitarianism (cf. Chapter 1). Here too, the child tends to be depicted as victim, with children’s commodity-images deployed to evoke innocence, dependence, suffering (Manzo 2008: 636). Frequently, the child is meant to stand for the Third World, crying out to be helped and saved.  Such paternalism only reproduces colonial tropes of infantalization of the colonies to rationalize Europe’s ‘civilizing mission’.

The production of these black-and-white stories and images, with plainly identifiable heroes, adversaries, and victims, makes for the ideal humanitarian morality tale. Drama and sensationalism permit clear and simplified messaging, enabling the audience to take sides, claim moral indignation at the situation, and feel good about its support for NGO humanitarianism. Mamdani likens this to a kind of pornography, which in the case of Save Darfur yielded a highly moral movement that appealed to people’s self-righteousness rather than political analysis (2009: 56–57; cf. Flint and de Waal 2008; DeChaine 2002: 358–59). Moral campaigns tend towards depoliticization, opting (as we have seen) for short-term, managerial, and emergency/militarized solutions. Pupavec contends that moral advocacy avoids ‘the stresses and  responsibilities of implementing assistance programmes on the ground … In other words, advocacy can in some cases represent a disingenuous flight from responsibility for social problems, rather than deeper engagement with them’ (2006: 266).

The problem with the moral spectacle is precisely that it is less concerned with analysis and understanding than with taking sides and issuing calls to action. Manichean tales simplify, mystify, and ignore the often highly complex politics of emergencies. The focus on the outwardly visible and the spectacular, on special effects and sound-bytes, avoids layered, substantive, and mediaunfriendly investigation. Sensationalized media reports tend to decontextualize and homogenize, telling the story for its universal message, not its specific content: thus, for instance, earthquake ‘victims’ stand as ‘global victims’, so that the disaster ‘is made into the general condition of humankind’ (Debrix 1998: 841, 843). Media/NGO stories tend to linger on the photogenic, privileging physical destruction. In the case of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the disaster was presented in the media as ‘natural’, ‘unpreventable’, ‘indiscriminate’, or ‘random’, when in fact the physical destruction and human suffering had as much to do with human activity and social systems (e.g. use of poor building materials, especially in poorer neighbourhoods): ‘the physical evidence is used to tell a particular story – one that, in essence, speaks for itself in a way that is de-historical and de-political’ (2011: 14–15).

 

Above image from the Avaaz website: “Libya No-Fly Zone: As Libyan government jets drop bombs on the civilian population, the UN Security Council will decide in 48 hours whether to impose a no-fly zone to keep Qaddafi’s warplanes on the ground.” [Emphasis in original]

 

What is left out of the NGO/media stories are the un-photogenic details, the ‘boring’ particulars of the daily grind of people’s lives, the recurring patterns of alienation or marginalization. Historical knowledge is a no-no: ‘spectacular time’ militates against ‘historical time’, because the former must organize information ‘through the media as dramatic events that are quickly displaced and forgotten’ (Stevenson 2010: 162). When there is interest in details, the media usually home in on the personal (i.e. issues of identity, individual tragedy, etc.) or the gory (i.e. violence), rather than broader politics. In the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the media tended to fetishize human-interest stories (e.g. personal and family tragedies), devoid of any social or political context, and to sometimes suggest that ‘victims’ were responsible for their own plight (2011: 14). Moreover, all tsunami ‘victims’ were treated the same, ignoring the fact that local residents and Western tourists were differently impacted, and that local women and children, in particular, were the worst affected: the ‘human-tragedy component served to tie all the human victims together: Westerners and locally affected populations … [thus obliterating] the different sources of vulnerability for the two groups’ (Watson 2011: 14–15). Similarly, in the Hurricane Katrina crisis, Tierney et al. (2006) find that the media focused almost exclusively on issues of looting, poverty, and racial tensions, and had almost nothing to say about recurring state cuts for infrastructure and social services in the worst affected, low-lying, and mainly poor black neighbourhoods. Concentrating on ‘secondary malfunctions’ and ‘subjective violence’ – poverty, crime, corruption, individual trauma – as opposed to the ‘objective violence’ of, say, inequality and broader political economy, is a recurring ideological strategy that we have observed before. ‘Under the guise of exposing global trauma and injustice in spectacular detail, genuine consideration of the key political and economic causes is displaced’ (Taylor 2010: 131).

 

Such tendencies to ignore key details or broader contexts are integral to the types of photos or films produced by NGOs. Invariably, these are either largescale images (i.e. aerial or wide-angle shots) of landscapes and neighbourhoods, or close-ups of individuals and faces. This toggling between the bird’s eye view and the shrunk/miniaturized view, as Jim Igoe argues,

allows for the simultaneous presentation of problems that are so large they demand the attention of the whole of humanity, while identifying specific groups of people who are their perpetrators … Missing from these presentations are the complex and messy connections and relationships that are invisible in both the open-ended vastness of spectacular [landscapes] and the compelling specificity of prosperous villagers. (2010: 382)

It is not just the broader contexts of emergencies that spectacular humanitarianism ignores; it is also that some emergencies tend to be neglected altogether. During the Asian Tsunami, for example, the Western press focused almost exclusively on known tourist locations across the region, overlooking the devastation in ‘lesser-known countries and localities’ (Cottle and Nolan 2007: 879). The other, more telling recent example here is the Congo, where over four million people have died over the last decade, but which has received little attention from the press. Žižek writes in this regard that:

The Congo today has effectively re-emerged as a Conradian ‘heart of darkness’. No one dares to confront it head on. The death of a West Bank Palestinian child, not to mention an Israeli or American, is mediatically worth thousands of times more than the death of a nameless Congolese. (2008a: 3; cf. Mamdani 2009: 63)

The various manifestations of symbolic and systemic violence outlined above are revealing of the ideology of spectacular NGOs. For what is ideology, in the Žižekian sense that we mean it, other than the production of spectacular images and smooth spaces (i.e. humanitarian zones) to cover up the Real (broader political economy, long-term political alternatives, Western complicity)? The glossy photos and sensational headlines help create pure, untarnished, and moral humanitarian fantasies to be commodified and sold. The smooth spaces (refugee camps, etc.) help manufacture artificial humanitarian sanctuaries where ‘victims’ are categorized, controlled, and ultimately served up as advertisements for the likes of MSF, Save Darfur, or Save the Children (cf. Debrix 1998). The NGO/media spectacle helps to unify and stabilize reality, disavowing anything that disturbs the humanitarian dream-fantasy, is discomforting to the public, or threatens the neoliberal global order. Outwardly visible, subjective violence may well be shown, or even fetishized, but that it is symptomatic of a dirty underside, a broader underlying objective violence, is glossed over.

Of course, spectacular NGOs hide behind their faux objectivity and nonpartisan humanitarianism to repudiate any accusations of political ideology. Yet, as we have seen, their very presentation of reality through their stories and images is already an ideological construction of it (cf. Taylor 2010: 83). They create (the public view of ) emergencies and disasters in advance, so that ‘reality’ and the audience’s perception of it are one and the same (cf. Žižek 1994b: 15). Thus, Debord writes, ‘For what is communicated are orders: and with perfect harmony, those who give them are also those who tell us what they think of them’ (1990: 6).

 

[Ilan Kapoor is a Professor of Critical Development Studies at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. He teaches in the area of global development and environmental politics, and his research focuses on postcolonial theory and politics, participatory development and democracy, and more recently, ideology critique. He is the author of The Postcolonial Politics of Development (Routledge 2008), and more recently, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (Routledge 2013). He is currently writing a book on psychoanalysis and development.”]

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Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats

Black Agenda Report

March 29, 2018

By Glen Ford

Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats
 

In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter.”

 

Cops “have the right to shoot us, they get away with it every day,” said a despairing Dawnya Walker, one of 300 community residents that descended on Sacramento, California’s city hall to protest the police killing of Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard . The numbers show that Walker is correct: U.S. police enjoy near-absolute impunity to gun down young Black males without any reasonable fear of punishment. Eight years of a Black, Democratic president in the Oval Office made not the slightest dent in that American reality, despite the re-emergence in 2014 of an incipient social justice movement under the heading of Black Lives Matter.

The youthful insurgency lost momentum — waylaid by the inexorable pull of Democratic Party politics and corporate philanthropy — long before Donald Trump entered the White House and installed a pure Dixiecrat as attorney general. Trumpian malevolence cast an orange chill across Black America. “It has been a long time since any victim was given as much attention as Stephon Clark,” writes Margaret Kimberley, in the current of issue of BAR.

“We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought.”

There is “movement” afoot in the U.S., but it does not “arc towards justice.” Ever since Trump’s electoral victory, the collective national consciousness has been smothered in a maddening fog of manic, industrial-scale propaganda, spewed non-stop by corporate communications conglomerates working hand-in-glove with the most aggressive elements of the surveillance-intelligence “community” and the bi-partisan War Party. We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought, distorting and subverting even the most progressive-minded “movements” struggling to find a way towards human dignity under late stage capitalism in a profoundly racist country. Voices for peace and social justice are asphyxiated in the pestilential plume — unless they find their own air.

Damn right, there is a conspiracy — possibly the loudest one in history! — megaphoned by a billionaire-owned media screaming “War, War, War” day and night, fouling the public mind with pure reactionary malice. The duopoly contest has devolved into a dance of death between Donald Trump’s raw white supremacist nationalism and Democratic Party corporate imperial warmongering. Only fools claim there is space for progressive maneuver in the interstices between such forces.

“The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police in this century.”

What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction. There is no lesser evil in this house of fear and apocalyptic brinksmanship. The Democrats have colluded in a budget whose gargantuan military outlays will inevitably doom what’s left of the U.S. social safety net — that is, if the human race is not annihilated, beforehand. They have replaced and outshouted the John McCain’s and Lindsay Graham’s of the Republican Party in demonizing, not just Vladimir Putin, but every government and movement in the world that resists U.S. lawlessness and aggression.

The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police at unprecedented levels in this century through the Pentagon’s 1033 program. In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter and the accompanying political evisceration of Black America.

Yes, it is certain that Trump’s very presence encourages the most swinish elements of the police. But it is also true that the Democrats — including Black Democrats — have controlled the city governments that maintain the police state in Black neighborhoods and relentlessly disperse our people through gentrification.

“What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction.”

And now it is the Democrats that take the lead in purging the Internet of dissenting political views, under the guise of defending fragile American minds against foreign manipulation. Silicon Valley — the big business sector most supportive of Clinton/Obama Democrats — is thus given license to shape reality in ways that make corporate dictatorship appear both logical and inevitable. Trump’s troglodytes could never finesse such a hijacking of fundamental democratic rights, but the Democrats are pulling it off with alarming speed. There’s nothing “lesser” about this evil.

When the Democrats got their wish, that Trump win the Republican presidential nomination, they became the predominant party of the U.S. ruling class and the most aggressive defenders of empire. Into Hillary Clinton’s campaign “Big Tent” slivered the dregs of the national security state, for whom peaceful coexistence among nations is anathema. Bernie Sanders cannot purge them from their central position in the party. The World Socialist Web Site reports that “an extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.” By WSWS’s count, if the Democrats capture a majority of seats in the House this November, “candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress.”

Such a party is incompatible with any domestic social justice agenda — and a threat to the survival of the species. The Left’s job is to disentangle our people from the political clutches of the ruling class and to build independent people’s organizations. The Republicans are a white people’s problem, but Black activists cannot confront the police, the oligarchs or the warmongers without fighting the Democrats.

 

[BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com]

Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again

Counterpunch

March 23, 2018

By Paul De Rooij

 

One must marvel at the first few paragraphs of Amnesty International’s recent press release:

“The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia. Every year we think it is just not possible for parties to the conflict to inflict more suffering on civilians, and yet, every year, they prove us wrong…

 

Right now, in Eastern Ghouta 400,000 men, women and children, who have been living under an unlawful government siege for six years, are being starved and indiscriminately bombed by the Syrian government with the backing of Russia. […] The international community had said ‘never again’ after the government devastated Eastern Aleppo with similar unlawful tactics. But here we are again. Armed opposition groups have retaliated by indiscriminately shelling two villages in Idleb, which they have also besieged since 2014.” [1]

This is an unambiguous call and a justification for war; it seems that AI is calling for a NATO bombing campaign similar to the one staged in Libya in 2011.  There is also no ambiguity as to who AI deems to be culpable and ought to be at the receiving end of a “humanitarian bombing” campaign.  Before cheering yet another US/NATO war, it is useful to analyse Amnesty International’s record in assisting propaganda campaigns on the eve of wars.  It is also worthwhile reviewing AI’s reporting on Syria, and how it compares with that on other countries in the area.

A sorry record

It is not the first time that Amnesty International has played a role in a propaganda campaign in the lead up to a war.  A few examples:

Before the US invasion to ouster the Iraqis from Kuwait, president George Bush Sr. appeared on TV holding an Amnesty International report claiming that Iraqi soldiers had dumped babies out of incubators. That was Amnesty International’s willing participation in spreading a hoax — a hoax fabricated by a major American PR company.

 

In the months prior to the US-NATO attack on Serbia, Amnesty-USA put two Croatian women on a ten city-speaking-tour to project their account of their “rape-camp” ordeal — in reality one of them was a top Croatian propaganda official, a close advisor to president Tudjman, who was also known for her acting abilities.[2] Again, this hoax was pushed by a major American PR company.

 

AI’s coverage/non-coverage of Israeli mass crimes also deserves to be analysed.[3] In this case, Amnesty plays a role in adulterating and reducing criticism after wars or the misery caused by its continuous occupation and abuse of the Palestinians (discussed below).  Amnesty International-Israel served as a propaganda front busy manipulating “human rights” reports to suit Israel’s interests.[4]  AI-London has not commented on the manipulation by its Israeli siblings.

 

In 2012, Amnesty erected advertising posters in the US applauding NATO’s actions in Afghanistan — “Keep the progress going”, purportedly doing something for women’s rights. This was merely crass pro-NATO pro-interventionist propaganda. [5]

 

Amnesty-France was instrumental in propagating anti-Libyan propaganda prior to the NATO bombing of the country in 2011.[6]

Alas, Amnesty’s sorry record is much longer than these few examples indicate.

Not anti-war

One would expect a human rights organisation to be intrinsically opposed to war, but AI is a cheerleader of so-called humanitarian intervention, and even “humanitarian bombing”.[7]  In the past, when queried about its equivocal and lame statements about wars, an AI official stated that “Amnesty International is not anti-war”.  Even with this predisposition AI was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize – yet another undeserving recipient for a prize meant to be given only to those actively opposed to wars. In Syria’s case, AI has given up this phoney “not anti-war” stance for one that is actively advocating war.  Notice that it uses a rather dubious argument about “never again” about standing by in the face of mass crimes; in reality this is an appeal to holocaust memes meant to favour this war.

Syria today…

The Syrian government is presently rolling back the jihadis who had managed to establish themselves in an area next to Damascus.  No government would tolerate to have a section of their capital city under jihadi control, an area from which the rest of the city is mortared, and an area vital to control the water supply of the city.  What would happen if jihadis took over Arlington, VA, and used it to bomb the center of Washington DC? The response would be self-evident.  For some reason AI doesn’t bestow this right of self-defence to the Syrian government, but instead refers to an “unlawful government siege [of Ghouta] for six years”.  This is laughable.

It is remarkable to find that in none of the latest press releases or reports does AI discuss the nature of the armed groups fighting in Syria.  Even those referred to as “moderates” by Washington are a rather unsavoury bunch.  Most of them are foreign jihadis; a good portion of them are Saudis. (NB: Saudis offered political and criminal prisoners a way out of jail on condition of going to fight in Syria.) And they are armed/trained/financed by the US/UK/Saudi/Emirates/Turkey/Qatar… to the tune of at least $12 billion.  The former US ambassador to Syria stated that the US contribution was at least $12bn [8]; this figure excludes the funds provided by the Saudis and other regimes in the area.  Gareth Porter reports that the quantities of weapons supplied to the jihadis were enough to equip an army. [9]  Yet, this armed gang of jihadis is barely mentioned in Amnesty’s assessment of the situation in Syria.  In Ghouta, the jihadis belong to the Nusra front (or one of its rebranded versions), that is, a group with an extreme ideology; they are an Al-Qaeda offshoot.  AI’s press release doesn’t mention this salient fact.

Amnesty portrays the Syrian government as at war against its own people — and Aleppo, Ghouta, etc., under siege; and not allowing the population to escape.  Although AI similarly condemned the liberation of Aleppo, it didn’t interview these victims after the fact.  If it interviews someone — invariably anonymous — it intones sinister fears of the government.  For all its faults, the government has popular backing, and it stands in the way of a jihadi project to carve up Syria and ethnically cleanse it.

And there is a double standard

When it comes to Israeli mass crimes AI is rather cautious in the language used and in its recommendations. It is rather coy in mentioning “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”, and reference to the latter is virtually non-existent or couched in exculpatory language (favourite cushioning words: “alleged”, “could be construed as”).  While it sparingly uses these accusations against Israel, it levels the same accusations against Palestinians — it applies a notion that there are crimes “on both sides”.  AI’s harshest admonishment is that Israeli actions are not “proportionate”.  There are no appeals to the “international community” which should not stand by, “never again…” One wonders what Amnesty has to say about the Israeli siege of Gaza, where the population has been put “on a diet” causing a dire situation for about 1.8 million people today.  In this case, there are no reports, no calls to the “international community” to do anything, no accusations of “crimes against humanity”… AI uses another script altogether.

In the current press release, AI unambiguously states that both Syria and Russia are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.  And if this is the case, there is an obligation for other states to act, to intervene.  AI is not requesting an investigation, it is urging intervention.

While in the Israeli case AI states that crimes are committed on both sides, when it comes to Syria it is only the Syrian government that is deemed culpable.  It is difficult to remove entrenched well armed jihadis who use residents as human shields.  Jihadis dig themselves in and around hospitals and schools [10], and when action is taken against them there, the likes of Amnesty utter their clucking sounds.

In its latest statement AI states: “It must also send a strong message that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be held accountable, by referring the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”  Fair enough.  In 2002, Donatella Rovera, an AI researcher on the Middle East, was queried about why AI didn’t make a similar demand to hold Israel accountable at the ICC or ICJ, and she stated that AI didn’t make such demands.[11]  Another standard applies.

An issue about sources…

Amnesty reports several statements made by residents of Ghouta, all giving harrowing accounts of the conditions on the ground.  But all the statements blame the government for their predicament.  “Like many Syrians, the humanitarian worker expressed deep distrust of the government.” Or “We hear rumours of reconciliation but that can never happen. The government hates us…”  And other such unverifiable statements.  And who exactly is reporting this?  Does AI have a direct line to the “White Helmets”?  All Amnesty has to do is compare the statements made before the liberation of Aleppo and the opinion of the residents now.  If the residents are pleased with their condition without the jihadis around, then this should be sufficient to question the dubious statements originating from anonymous sources in Ghouta today.

Other examples

Amnesty International doesn’t want you to respect the Syrian government.  Reviewing its press releases about Syria, it is all one-sided; the jihadis hardly merit a meaningful rebuke.  But no report was as distorted as its multimedia presentation of the purported abuses in the Saydnaya Prison.  Here Amnesty’s methodology was on show: accept hearsay, magnify it melodramatically, extrapolate and exaggerate [12].  This is not human rights reportage, it is crass propaganda.  The timing of all these so-called reports is also dubious.  On the eve of major reconciliation talks or negotiations, Amnesty publishes a report portraying the Syrian government as beyond the pale.  Would anyone want to negotiate with such a party?  The timing of several other AI reports coincide with attempts to resolve the conflict via negotiations.  The timing of its latest press release coincides with a major Syrian government offensive into Ghouta — and portraying it as criminal in nature.

Human rights are not neutral

Harvey Weinstein, the sexual predator, made Amnesty International USA possible — he provided the funds necessary to establish the organisation. [13]  Weinstein didn’t put up the funds because he fancied AI’s lovely researchers.  People put up funds for such organisations to shape the way abuses and crimes are reported.  In Weinstein’s case, his ardent devotion to Israel might explain his financial contribution to Amnesty USA.  Amnesty is also a conduit to push propaganda desired by those who foster such organisations.  The very nature of “human rights”, its very flexible nature, lends itself to prime manipulation.

A Syrian furniture salesman based in Coventry, a small city in the UK, runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).  Sitting in his living room, he produces reports about the latest atrocities, chemical attacks, and every other sordid detail to tarnish the Syrian government’s image.  He reaches his mysterious sources by phone, invariably someone hostile to the Syrian government.  The output of this one-man-band is then used by the BBC, CNN, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal,… and major media outlets to report on the situation in Syria.  It is expensive for news organisations to have correspondents on the ground, it is dangerous; so what is better than “human rights” reports obtained for free!  And does Amnesty International rely on SOHR?  At least they should footnote their reports.

The main playbook

The US and some of its sidekicks have for decades been engaged in regime change in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America…  The usual formula for this is to create civic organisations, e.g., Journalists’ union, Lawyer and Jurist guilds, select Labour unions… and human rights organisations.  These people are then trained to exercise political power effectively by staging mass demonstrations, manipulating the media, spreading rumours, disrupting the government — all the way to the take over of parliaments.  These are the so-called “colour revolutions”.  They tried this in Syria, but opted primarily to arm and organise jihadis.  The jihadis are backed by a propaganda machinery, and the US is conducting the largest disinformation/propaganda campaign in Syria today [14].   The essence of the campaign is to tarnish the image of the Syrian government, robbing it of its international legitimacy and support.  Human rights reportage is essential to this campaign.  By analysing Amnesty International reportage, it is evident that it is part of this campaign; it has weaponised human rights.

Currently there is a major buildup of US warships in the Mediterranean; and the Russian general staff fear that Syria will be the target of a major cruise missile attack.[15]  Possibly, Russian forces will also be targeted.  Couple this with the unprecedented black propaganda campaign against Russia in the US and the UK, and it seems very likely that a major shooting war is in the offing.  Given that AI has lent itself in previous propaganda campaigns on the eve of wars, one finds that the latest Amnesty International report is merely a leading indicator for such a war.  Amnesty International is embedded in a propaganda campaign — it will be cheerleading with blue and white pompons when the humanitarian bombs fall.

 

 

Endnotes

[1] AI, “Syria: Seven years of catastrophic failure by the international community”, 15 March 2018.

[2] Diana Johnstone, Fools Crusade, 20 Sep 2002.  Johnstone documents the curious case of Jadranka Cijel.  NB: AI was alerted to the fact that the accounts by the two women were questionable; it proceeded with the tour anyway.

[3]  I have written quite a few articles about Amnesty for Counterpunch.  The latest: Amnesty International: Whitewashing Another Massacre, CounterPunch, 8 May 2015.

[4]  Uri Blau, Documents reveal how Israel made Amnesty’s local branch a front for the Foreign Ministry in the 70s, Haaretz, 18 March 2017.  Neve Gordon, Nicola Perugini, Israel’s human rights spies: Manipulating the discourse, Al-Jazeera Online, 22 March 2017.

[5] Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley, Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars, ConsortiumNews, 18 June 2012.

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RnxJ6TvFZ0&feature=youtu.be  Also: Tim Anderson, The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, 2016.

[7] Alexander Cockburn reports that Amnesty was present during a US State Department briefing seeking to justify “humanitarian bombing”.  How the US State Dept. Recruited Human Rights Groups to Cheer On the Bombing Raids: Those Incubator Babies, Once More?  CounterPunch, April 1999.

[8] Ben Norton , US Ambassador Confirms Billions Spent On Regime Change in Syria, Debunking ‘Obama Did Nothing’ Myth, RealNews.com, 9 February 2018.

[9] Gareth Porter, How America Armed Terrorists in Syria, The American Conservative, 22 June 2017.

[10]  Robert Fisk has reported on this fact in several of his articles.  In “the Syrian hospital siege that turned into a massacre”, The Independent, 5 June 2015 there is a reference to tunnels under a hospital.  In another article, the same, but at a school.

[11] Israel hasn’t joined the ICC, and thus ICC cannot bring any action against Israel.  ICC is only meant to harass African tinpot dictators.

[12]  John Wight, The Problems With the Amnesty International Report, Sputnik News, 15 February 2017.  Important discussion with Peter Ford, the former British ambassador to Syria.   Also, Tony Cartalucci, Amnesty International admits Syria’s ‘torture prison’ report fabricated entirely in UK, Sign of the Times, 9 February 2017.  And, Rick Sterling, Amnesty International Stokes Syrian War, ConsortiumNews, 11 February 2017.

[13]  Thomas Frank, Hypocrite at the good cause parties, Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2018

[14] Tim Anderson, The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, 2016.

[15]  TASS, US preparing strikes on Syria, carrier strike groups set up in Mediterranean, 17 March 2018

 

[PAUL de ROOIJ is a writer living in London. He can be reached at proox@hotmail.com (NB: all emails with attachments will be automatically deleted.)]

REAL Syria Civil Defence Describe Terrorist ‘Double Taps’ & Chemical Weapon Attacks in Aleppo

21st Century Wire

March 26, 2018

By Vanessa Beeley

 


One of the many REAL Syria Civil Defence vehicles that had been targeted by Nusra Front & associated extremist groups in control of Layramoun and areas surrounding the RSCD centre in East Aleppo, prior to final liberation by the SAA and allies in December 2016. January 2018 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

The Syrian Arab Army is powering towards a final victory in Eastern Ghouta. Tens of thousands of Syrian civilians have been liberated over the last few days and are pouring out of the enclaves that have been controlled, for the last five years, by groups such as Failaq Al Rahman, Ahrar al Sham, a much diminished Free Syrian Army and finally, Jabhat Al Nusra which is Al Qaeda in Syria.

JAN goes by the rebranded name of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham but retains the same leadership and extremist ideology. All these groups have been financed by a variety of Gulf States & armed, supported, equipped by NATO member states led by the United States.

The colonial media in the West has resisted this SAA campaign to remove their state-sanctioned terrorist assets on the ground in the eastern suburbs of Damascus with familiar fury and hysterical sensationalism. Much of that hyperbole is sustained by the reports and daily cameo videos from the multi-million-dollar propaganda construct, the White Helmets, embedded with the aforementioned extremist groups in Eastern Ghouta.

Interestingly in recent weeks we have seen a change of uniform for the White Helmets and a rebrand very similar to that of their partners on the ground inside Syria – Nusra Front. Many media outlets have described the White Helmets as the Civil Defence or even as the Syrian Civil Guard.

Perhaps they are trying to distance the group from the mountain of evidence that has been amassed against them by a number of analysts and investigative journalists, much of it emanating from the White Helmets themselves or from the Syrian people who have lived under their occupation in areas previously occupied by teams of White Helmets alongside Nusra Front. This tweet taken from one of their many Twitter pages show the White Helmets ‘resplendent’ in their new kit which somehow made it safely into Eastern Ghouta despite the alleged Syrian government ‘siege’ of the district.

What has underpinned the Western media magnification of the White Helmet claims is the reliance upon two primary propaganda drivers.

1. Alleged “double tap” airstrikes by the Syrian Arab Air Force and Russian Air Force.

“Ten White Helmet volunteers have been killed in Syria over the past month, including two in eastern Ghouta. Half of them were killed in what are known as “double-tap” strikes, in which a plane bombs an area and then returns to attack it again after rescue workers have arrived.” ~ Kareem Shaheen based in Istanbul and reporting for The Guardian.

2. Alleged Chemical Weapons attacks by the SAA.

“Eight volunteers have been wounded in Ghouta, including two in an alleged chlorine attack on Sunday night.” ~ Kareem Shaheen in the same Guardian article.

As Syrian regime bombs rain down, the White Helmets fear their families will be next” Kareem Shaheen opines as his opener to this familiar romanticization of the White Helmet organisation. The Guardian has consistently been at the forefront of the White Helmet media protection racket yet has never examined their darker side that has been in full view to other more discerning media outlets since the White Helmets were established by the British and American hybrid war experts in March 2013.

 Another pro-imperialist academic and theatrical commentator on the Syrian conflict, Idrees Ahmad, has even gone so far as to describe the White Helmets as his “family” and any criticism of this organisation is usually followed by a stream of invective and a block by Ahmad on Twitter. This is a reaction that is designed to deter those of faint heart from investigating this UK FCO intelligence asset working hard to bring the pressure of the pseudo humanitarian complex to bear upon the Syrian government and its allies.

This is extraordinary behaviour for an ‘academic’, one who appears to be incapable of admitting there is a diverging view – a view that highlights the criminal and violently sectarian nature of the White Helmets as testified to by a large number of Syrian civilians, particularly from East Aleppofollowing its final liberation in December 2016.

As one corporate media journalist admitted to me recently inside Syria – “the White Helmets are too polarizing and controversial.” It appears that they are the “untouchables” in mainstream media and neocon circles. Hardly surprising that this is a red rag to independent media that has not abandoned its principles, nor its moral compass just because a subject becomes high-risk according to those who further the ambitions of some of the most predatory global powers that are currently occupying and targeting Syria with an aim to reduce it to the same hollowed out, terrorist infested state as Libya.

Aleppo – The REAL Syria Civil Defence Highlights Western Media’s Dishonest Reporting on Syrian Conflict

Unlike the corporate media who have shied away from being set upon by the White Helmet lynch mob – we at 21st Century Wire have consistently exposed this organisation for the fraudulent “shadow state” concept it really is. So have John Pilger, Robert Parry, Finian Cunningham, Richard Labeviere, Jeremy Salt, Tony Cartalucci, Afshin Rattansi, Stephen Kinzer, Gareth Porter, Scott Ritter, Philip Giraldi, Ron Paul, Daniel McAdams, Eva Bartlett, Tim Anderson, UK Column, Clarity of Signal, Syrian War Blog and many many more of the uncompromised media.


View from the RSCD yard in Layramoun, Aleppo, 25 meters from the frontlines with Nusra Front and associated militant factions. January 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I had previously visited the REAL Syria Civil Defence (RSCD) centres in Damascus, Lattakia, Tartous and Aleppo in the Hamdaniyeh area during the final battles for East Aleppo’s liberation. On New Year’s Day in 2018 I finally visited the main centre in Layramoun, Aleppo. The crew here had stayed in the centre throughout the occupation of East Aleppo by the US/UK/EU supported and armed terrorist factions, financed by UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

They were less than 25 metres from the Terrorist front lines, dominated by Nusra Front. They were also very close to Bani Zaid, another fiercely contested area held by the so-called “moderate” 16th Division of the  Free Syrian Army in partnership with Nusra Front, for a period of time.


One of the many RSCD ambulances that had been put out of service by mortar or sniper fire from terrorist held enclaves. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

These terrorist-held areas would rain mortars down upon civilian districts of Syrian government controlled West Aleppo. The commander of the RSCD told me that their volunteer Civil Defence centre received between 10-20 mortars or rockets per day over the 4.5 year occupation of the East. Everywhere we walked in the yard, we saw the mangled remains of vehicles and buildings that had been targeted. Twisted metal, gaping holes in the roof of most buildings, craters in the tarmac now overgrown with grass and weeds.


One of the buildings that had housed RSCD vehicles, targeted by Nusra Front mortars. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

“They (terrorists) targeted us deliberately in order to destroy our equipment & structures. They wanted to prevent us being able to work for our people. They would target our crew with sniper fire and explosive bullets. Their main mission was to kill the crew and destroy our base so we couldnt care for the people of Aleppo” ~ Commanding Officer (CO) of RSCD, Layramoun.

According to the Commanding Officer of this RSCD centre, the main terrorist objective was to paralyse the essential infrastructure for the 1.5 million Syrian civilians sheltering in the Syrian Government controlled West Aleppo. This included the destruction of water trucks, water pipes, electricity stations and the RSCD crews, vehicles and equipment.

“The Syrian people are our people. It is our duty to care for them, wherever they are. We are unarmed, we dont even think of our own protection, our priority are the defenceless people around us. We had a Syrian Arab Army guard around our centre but that was our only protection” ~CO of RSCD.


This tall tower behind the RSCD centre was held by the SAA throughout the East Aleppo terrorist occupation. This was all that stood between the RSCD and invasion by the Nusra Front-led factions. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Standing in the RSCD yard, I could see a tall building towering over the yard. The RSCD CO told me that this building was held by the SAA during the period of terrorist occupation of East Aleppo. This was all that stood between the RSCD and the terrorist groups that would have massacred their crew members had they made it past the SAA defences.

Terrorist “Double Taps”

I was told that the terrorist groups systematically carried out double-tap attacks on the RSCD crew. Nusra Front or one of their affiliates would fire mortars into a densely populated civilian area of West Aleppo. For example in June 2016, terrorist groups intensified their attacks on West Aleppo. The district of Midan was pounded by mortar fire and during one attack, a huge number of civilians were injured and trapped in destroyed buildings. The RSCD sent teams to evacuate the wounded and to dig out those trapped inside the buildings.

“The terrorists waited for us to arrive and begin work, before they targeted the same area again – with mortars and hell cannon missiles”  ~ CO, RSCD

The RSCD is never mentioned in western media reports. The only existing “civil defence” according to the West are the White Helmets who endure “double taps” on what appears to be an hourly basis from their lurid accounts and video footage.

The RSCD works without recognition from the West and it is targeted by the Western promoted terrorist groups. The RSCD embodies everything that the White Helmets pretend to be, while in reality White Helmets work alongside the very same terrorist groups that are attacking the mainstay of humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians in 85% of the inhabited regions of Syria.


One of the missiles fired into the RSCD yard during the terrorist occupation of East Aleppo that ended in December 2016. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Terrorist Chemical Weapon Attacks

According to the RSCD, in August 2016 the terrorist factions in East Aleppo carried out what has been described as an unidentified gas attack on the Old City of Aleppo. During this attack, three RSCD members died and 20 SAA soldiers lost their lives.

I was able to talk to two surviving crew members who pieced together the events of that day. They told me that the terrorists had been tunneling to reach SAA positions in the Old City and that SAA special forces had discovered the tunnels and had entered them to confront the terrorists or to destroy the tunnels.

It was hard to put the fragments of memory together into a coherent narrative but what the two crew members described was horrific.

First the RSCD team leader spoke:

“We arrived at the area and knew we had to enter the tunnel to save the soldiers who were trapped down there. We got to the deepest part of the tunnel and we started to feel the effects of whatever gas had been used. One of my crew radioed me that he couldnt feel his limbs. I shouted for him to come back and we grabbed him to pull him out of the tunnel” ~ RSCD team leader.

Then the affected RSCD crew member told me what happened to him:

“I entered the tunnel and immediately began to feel strange. My whole body seemed to lose control. I couldnt breathe. I pulled on the rope. Red spots appeared on my hands and there was a strange smell in the air, I still cant describe it” ~ RSCD crew member.

RSCD team leader:

“When we got him to the surface we tried to give him some water to drink. He went hysterical, lashing out at everyone”. ~ RSCD team leader. 

The CO told me that he had visited his crew in hospital immediately after the attack. He visited many times but the crew had no memory recall of the incident and it has only partially returned long after the incident.

The RSCD team leader told me:

“I spent one week in hospital. For three days, I felt like I had gone crazy. I even tried to bite my wife. I was just so full of rage.” ~ RSCD team leader.

Both RSCD crew members still  have respiratory problems and are still undergoing medical treatment for the effects of this chemical weapon attack. Both men were clearly still struggling with their memory of that day in August 2016 but piecing together what they could remember and combined with the lasting physical side effects, there seems no doubt that a CW of some kind was used against them. Why was it never reported by Western media nor listed as a war crime by the UN organisations that are mandated to document such crimes?

I had previously visited the RSCD based in Hamdaniyeh in Aleppo, in August 2016 just after the chemical weapon attack, they had also lost a crew member while trying to evacuate civilians from the area.

“They were wearing lightweight paper oxygen masks. Because of U.S. and EU sanctions being imposed on Syria, these rescue workers are unable to replace their supply of high-spec gas masks that would have been a lifesaver on many occasions.

The concentration of gas was so high that the flimsy oxygen masks did not effectively prevent the toxic fumes entering their lungs. One of the crew members, Mohammed Ahmed Eibbish, 36, died while trying to rescue a woman from an affected building.

Other crew members and civilians reported symptoms of gas poisoning, such as dizziness, nausea, burns, spasms, and difficulty breathing. Four women died from inhaling toxic fumes during this attack, and 25 civilians were affected and hospitalized as a result.” ~ Journey to Aleppo, Mint Press

(These two incidents were investigated at different times, & with RSCD crews from different areas of West Aleppo, there is no record of any other chemical weapon attack in Aleppo in this time period so it is reasonable to surmise it was the same incident with both crews attending a different area under attack. I will verify this during my time here now.)

What is clear is that while the world has been conditioned to hang off every White Helmet report of attacks on their terrorist controlled premises, I have been unable to find a single report on the attacks by terrorist groups against the REAL Syrian Civil Defence. Their existence is effectively removed from our state media snapshot of Syria, by a media intent on replacing them with the US/UK White Helmet construct that was created to magnify the alleged “war crimes” of the Syrian government and its allies, while erasing the terrorist atrocities from our television screens.

While speaking with the CO of the Layramoun RSCD, he told me:

“2 days ago and yesterday we were trying to recover the bodies of three of our crew members who had been killed by terrorist groups in the Eastern countryside (of Aleppo). The terrorists are deliberately preventing burial of our comrades. No religion in the world should be able to condone such an action, it is inhumane, unimaginable for us that anyone could do such a thing”.

When I asked the CO about the White Helmets, he told me:

“The White Helmets had two distinct roles. Most of them were fighters (militants) who would then change into their White Helmet uniforms when the cameras were on them. They worked only with the terrorist groups. When SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent) tried to evacuate civilians from East Aleppo to bring them to West Aleppo for medical treatment during the occupation, these terrorist groups including the White Helmets refused to allow them to leave. How can anyone call them a humanitarian organisation under these circumstances?”

The CO also told me that the US/EU economic sanctions make their job almost impossible.

“We need high quality equipment. Most of it comes from Italy, Germany and the UK who are supplying the White Helmets but will not supply us what we need to replenish our own equipment. Many of our stores and vehicles were destroyed or burned by the terrorists who invaded East Aleppo in 2012/13. Many vehicles were stolen and later used by the White Helmets.”

The RSCD has endured unspeakable crimes against their crew members on a daily basis without recognition by the west. Why are their voices and their harrowing experiences of no value to western media while the White Helmets who run with terrorist groups have their testimony republished without question or verification?

Meeting the Martyrs of the REAL Syria Civil Defence.


The family of RSCD crew member Damen Al Abazah from Sweida, killed in November 2013 in Deir Etiah, on the Damascus to Homs road. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I met with the family of Damen Al Abazah from Sweida in January 2018, in Damascus. On my first visit to the RSCD centre in Damascus, 200m from the previously terrorist held Ein Tarma area of Eastern Ghouta, the colonel was very surprised that I was interested in talking to them, no western media had ever requested an interview previously.

I had the same experience when I met this family, they were shocked that anyone from the West was interested in the death of their family member. This is a sad indictment on the standard of reporting on the conflict in Syria, why do these people and their story not have any validity for Western media, is their loss not as painful as the endless stream of accounts of tragedy from the “opposition” controlled areas? Those areas under the occupation of a number of Western backed extremist and militant groups financed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey among others.

Al Abazah’s wife is in the centre of the picture holding a photograph of her husband that had been hanging on the wall of their simple living room. Her name is Rabiaah Matar and she is 44 years old.

Al Abazah was a volunteer civil defence member with thirty years experience. Rabiaah, his wife, told me:

“He was 10 months from his retirement. I was so looking forward to having him at home  and we planned to take a lot of holidays. My husband was the officer responsible for the vehicle repair. He was so brave, so committed to his job and his colleagues. Even at weekends he would go to work and if I ever complained he would tell me, it’s my duty day or night. The night he he was killed,he was not on duty but he went anyway, he told me it was his mission”

Earlier on that fateful day, terrorist groups, namely Nusra Front and Ahrar Al Qalamoun, had attacked Al Basel Heart hospital in Deir Atiah on the Damascus to Homs road. Three suicide car bombs had attacked Syrian Arab Army checkpoints in Deir Atiah and Al Nabek killing & injuring many. Following these explosions the terrorist groups attacked Deir Atiah City and the battles centered around Al Basel hospital between the terrorists and the SAA.

Raabiah continued to describe what happened to her husband:

“The medical staff were trapped on the third floor. The terrorists were on the roof and on the ground floor and the hospital was surrounded. The SAA accompanied the RSCD vehicles until the final checkpoint before the hospital where the battles were raging. At this point the RSCD were advised not to advance as it was too dangerous…”

Raabiah paused and I asked her what her husband decided to do:

“My husband refused to abandon the doctors and medical staff. He drove the fire engine forward and tried to use the ladders to help the doctors and staff to escape. As they went forward, they were being targeted by the terrorist home made bombs. They tried to fix the ladder, the doctors were at the window calling to them to get them out. My husband was shot in the heart by one of the terrorist snipers. The other two crew members were also shot. One in the hand. They survived.”

Even five years after this incident, Raabiah was still clearly distressed by the loss of her husband. She told me that all the medical staff were killed by the terrorist groups, including 9 doctors.

“It was 21 days before we could recover his body from Homs. it was snowing and it was impossible for the Army to get to him. We were so worried that the terrorists would do something terrible to his body. Eventually the army flew his body back from Homs to Damascus and we could finally say goodbye to him here”

Raabiah and Damen have three children. A girl and two boys, aged 26, 24 and 23. One son is still with the SAA and has been with them for the last five years fighting the same US Coalition-imposed terrorism that murdered his father who was doing his “duty” trying to save Syrian medics & doctors from the terrorist groups that eventually killed them in the hospital where they worked.

I have searched the internet for any reference to this attack in Western corporate media and not found one. Damen Al Abazah was unarmed and neutral, he gave his life for his own people under attack from the terrorist groups inside Syria, yet he has not been proclaimed a hero by the colonial media, nor by the UN or its affiliates that will lionise the White Helmets without hesitation.

The “Disappeared” REAL Syria Civil Defence Operating on a Shoestring Budget, Under Sanctions, Saving REAL Syrians.

While in Damascus I asked the CO of the headquarters close to Ein Tarma to give me a breakdown of the national annual operating budge for the RSCD. He came back with a figure of $ 1.46m which included:

1. $ 890,000 for salaries and compensation for families of martyrs.

2. $ 320,000 for training, equipment and supplies including water and electricity.

3. $ 250,000 for the maintenance of buildings and vehicles, machines.

Compare this to the annual budget of the NATO-member-state financed White Helmets.

When I met with Hilal Assi,  the Director of SARC in Aleppo, also in January 2018 he told me:

We never saw the White Helmets in East Aleppo. They belong to the terrorists and they receive money from outside Syria, from more than one country”.

Rania A, a SARC Volunteer for three years in Salamiyah who had worked in both Hama and Idlib on the outskirts of terrorist held areas, told me:

“White Helmets are terrorists. They are specialists in acting and drama, not humanitarian work. The White Helmets abuse the “humanitarian” title to gain trust and to brainwash people in Syria and outside. They are a big lie. There are many foreigners working with the White Helmets”


The RSCD yard in Layramoun, Aleppo. January 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

So the White Helmets receive more than twenty times the annual financing of the REAL Syria Civil Defence. The White Helmets operate in less than 15 % of Syrian territory that is entirely under the control of terrorist factions. The White Helmets do not appear to provide rescue services for civilians except when the camera is trained on them, they work as “Nusra Front civil defence” for the majority of the time. The White Helmets are the go-to organisation for media in the West, the UN and their State handlers in the US, EU and UK. The reports supplied by the White Helmets, however dubious, are accepted without question by all these entities who diseminate them across as many platforms as possible with a terrifying uniformity.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence is ignored, marginalised, disappeared from view while they are working to rescue civilians in 85% of inhabited Syria now back under the protection of the Syrian state. The RSCD also works on rebuilding and restoring infrastructure in the recently liberated areas yet the rare western media journalists who actually do bother to come to Syria never mention them.


Childrens day in Lattakia Fire Brigade/RSCD centre. 

Every time the terrorist factions embedded in the (now liberated) Eastern Ghouta suburbs have targeted civilians in Damascus with mortars, missiles, suicide bombs or sniper bullets – it is the RSCD that races to the scene, not the White Helmets yet those victims and their rescuers are irrelevant to the regime-change-war consent- manufacturing corporate media.

The RSCD must be brought out of the shadows of NATO-member-state deliberate erosion of Syrian civil society and a light must be shone upon their existence as the REAL Syrians helping REAL Syrians throughout this conflict, giving their lives to help others who are suffering under the weight of economic, military and media terrorism without acknowledgement by those who are inflicting all of this hardship, bloodshed & poverty upon the Syrian people.

 

[Investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

From the End of History to the End of Truth

TeleSUR

March 11, 2018

By Tortilla Con Sal

 

 

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. | Photo: Reuters

Non governmental organizations play a role in the Western elites’ offensive against resistance to them.

Making nonsense of Fukuyama’s premature triumphalist screed, it is commonplace now to note that the United States corporate elites and their European and Pacific country counterparts are increasingly losing power and influence around the world. Equally common is the observation that these Western elites and the politicians who front for them have acted over the last twenty years to reassert their control in their respective areas of neocolonial influence. The European Union powers have done so in Eastern Europe and Africa, most obviously but not only, in Ukraine, Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali and the Central African Republic. Likewise, the United States has acted to reassert its influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, effectively declaring war on Venezuela, maintaining its economic and psychological warfare against Cuba and intervening elsewhere with varying degrees of openness.

Before they died, among the main Western media bogeymen were Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Muammar al Gaddhafi. Now Vladimir Putin and Bashar al Assad have been joined by Xi Jinping and Nicolas Maduro. Along with these and other world leaders, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega has also constantly been the object of endlessly repetitive Western media hate campaigns. This longstanding, plain-as-day media strategy, regularly and blatantly prepares mass opinion to facilitate Western government aggression against the latest target government. No one following these processes with any attention will have failed to notice the leading role played by non governmental organizations in the Western elites’ offensive against resistance to them by political leaders and movements around the world.

In almost every case of recent Western provoked interventions, from Venezuela in 2002, through Haiti in 2004, Bolivia in 2008, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, Ukraine in 2014, Western media have used deliberately misleading and downright deceitful reports from Western NGOs to support their own false misreporting of events. In Nicaragua’s case, the usual untrustworthy NGO suspects like Amnesty International, Transparency International and Global Witness constantly publish misleading reports and statements attacking or undermining President Daniel Ortega and his government. In general, their reporting is grossly biased and disproportionate given the regional context of incomparably horrific events and deplorable conditions elsewhere in Latin America, but, as often as not, it is also downright untrue.

In a recent example, Global Witness stated that Nicaragua’s proposed interoceanic canal “wasn’t preceded by any environmental impact reports, nor any consultation with local people”. Both those assertions are completely untrue. But this Big Lie repetition is the modus operandi of the Western elites who fund outfits like Global Witness, Amnesty International, and other influential NGOs like International Crisis Group and Transparency Intenational. For example, Amnesty International claims “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion”. But it bears constant repetition that many of Amnesty International’s board and most of its senior staff responsible for the organization’s reports are deeply ideologically committed with links to corporate dominated NGO’s like PurposeOpen Society InstituteHuman Rights Watch, and many others.

Also worth repeating is that Global Witness in 2016 received millions of dollars from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, the Ford Foundation and NATO governments. The boards and advisory boards of these NGOs are all made up overwhelmingly of people from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector. Many have a strong corporate business background as well. All move easily from one highly paid Western NGO job to the next, serving NATO country foreign policy goals. Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based Avaaz and Purpose, noting “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

Back in 2017 it was already a truism to note that Western NGOS “operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.” What is now becoming even more clear in the current context is that these Western NGOs and their media accomplices are confident enough to publish downright lies because reporting the facts no longer matters. Western public discourse has become so debased, incoherent and fragmentary that the truth is almost completely irrelevant. All that matters is the power to impose a version of events no matter how false and untruthful it may be.

This sinister media reality is intimately related to the politicization of legal and administrative processes in the national life of countries across Latin America. The spurious legal processes against Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva in Brazil, against Milagro Sala and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, against Jorge Glas and, no doubt very soon, Rafael Correa in Ecuador are all based on the same faithless virtual association and complete disregard for factual evidence as Western media and NGO propaganda reports attacking Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua. It is imperative to overcome the ridiculous liberal presupposition that the region’s elites, with the advantage of designing and controlling their countries’ legal systems and communications media for over 200 years, are somehow going to respect high falutin’ avowals about “separation of powers”.

Note: this article borrows from previous articles here and here.

 

 

[Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.”]

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda & the White Helmets in Syria

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda & the White Helmets in Syria

In Gaza

January 6, 2018

By Eva Bartlett

 

neil clark tweet

*Neil Clark’s tweet

 

On December 18, 2017, the Guardian issued a shoddily-penned hatchet piece against British journalist Vanessa Beeley, Patrick Henningsen and his independent website 21st Century Wire, Australian professor and writer Tim Anderson, and myself.

Many insightful writers have since deconstructed the lies and omissions of the article, which I will link to at the bottom of my own.

Judging by the scathing comments on the Guardian’s Facebook post, the general public didn’t buy it either. The Guardian, like Channel 4 News and Snopes, whitewashes terrorism in Syria, employs non-sequitur arguments, promotes war propaganda, and simply gets the facts wrong.

+++

As the purported theme of the The Guardian‘s story was the issue of rescuers in Syria, I’ll begin by talking about actual rescuers I know and worked with, in hellish circumstances in Gaza.

In 2008/9, I volunteered with Palestinian medics under 22 days of relentless, indiscriminate, Israeli war plane and Apache helicopter bombings, shelling from the sea and tanks, and drone strikes. The loss of life and casualties were immense, with over 1,400 Palestinians murdered, and thousands more maimed, the vast majority civilians. Using run-down, bare-bones equipment (as actual rescuers in Syria do), Palestinian medics worked tirelessly day and night to rescue civilians.

There was not a single occasion in which I ever heard the medics (in Sunni Gaza) shout takbeer or Allahu Akbar upon rescuing civilians, much less intentionally stood on dead bodies, posed in staged videos, or any of the other revolting acts that the White Helmets have been filmed doing in Syria. They were too damn busy rescuing or evacuating the areas before another Israeli strike, and usually maintained a focused silence as they worked, communicating only the necessities. The only occasion I recall of screaming while with the medics, were the screams of civilians we collected and in particular the anguished shrieks of a husband helping to put the body parts of his dismembered wife onto a stretcher to be taken to the morgue. The medics I knew in Gaza were true heroes. The White Helmets, not a chance. They are gross caricatures of rescuers.

oli 5

A White Helmets member. “Unnarmed and neutral”?

Reply to The Guardian 

In October, a San Francisco-based tech (and sometimes fashion) writer named Olivia Solon (visibly with no understanding of Middle East geopolitics) emailed myself and Beeley with nearly identical questions filled with implicit assumptions for a “story” we were to be imminently featured in. My own correspondence with Solon is as follows:

In brief, I’ll address Solon’s emails, including some of her most loaded questions:

-Who is the “we”, Solon mentions? Her mention of “we” indicates this story isn’t her own bright idea, nor independently researched and penned. Parts of the article—including the title and elements I’ll outline later in my article—seem to be lifted from others’ previous articles, but that’s copy-paste journalism for you.

-It isn’t just that I believe the mainstream media narrative about the White Helmets is wrong; this narrative has been redundantly-exposed over the years. In September 2014, Canadian independent journalist Cory Morningstar investigated hidden hands behind flashy PR around the White Helmets. In April 2015, American independent journalist Rick Sterling revealed that the White Helmets had been founded by Western powers and managed by a British ex-soldier, and noted the “rescuers” role in calling for Western intervention—a No Fly Zone on Syria. (more on these articles below). This was months before Russian media began to write about the White Helmets.

Since then, Vanessa Beeley has done the vast amount of research in greater detail, doing on-the-ground investigations in Syria, including: taking the testimonies of Syrian civilians who had (often brutal) experiences with the White Helmets; establishing that the Syrian Civil Defense exists and has existed since 1953, but are not the White Helmets—which has misappropriated this name; establishing that the international body, the International Civil Defence organisation in Geneva, does not recognize the White Helmets as the Syrian Civil Defence; establishing that men now White Helmets members looted vehicles and equipment from the Syrian Civil Defence in Aleppo—and belongings from civilians; and establishing that White Helmets shared a building in Bab Al Nairab, eastern Aleppo with al-Qaeda and were present as al-Qaeda tortured civilians, among other points.

It is hard to believe that in the span of the two months between her contacting Beeley and myself that Solon, in her certainly deep investigations, has not seen this video, clearly showing uniformed White Helmets members with supporters of Saudi terrorist, Abdullah Muhaysini. Not quite “neutral” rescuers. But then, perhaps she did. She was willing to write off the presence of White Helmets members at execution scenes, standing on dead Syrian soldiers, and holding weapons, as a few bad apples sort of thing.

-As to Solon’s interest in my “relationship” to the Syrian government: No, I have not received payment, gifts or other from any government. To the contrary, I’ve poured my own money into going to Syria (and have fund-raised, and also routinely received Paypal donations or support on Patreon by individuals who appreciate my work). See my article on this matter.

As to how my visits to Syria and North Korea came about, this is another transparent attempt to imply that I am on the payroll of/receive other benefits from one or more of the governments in question.

-One of The Guardian’s questions was regarding my following: “That you attract a large online audience, amplified by high-profile right-wing personalities and appearances on Russian state TV.”

What following I do have began exactly one year ago, after I requested to speak in a panel at the United Nations, as the US Peace Council had done in August 2016. It is as a result of a short interaction between myself and a Norwegian journalist, which went viral, that my online audience grew. In fact, I deeply regret that what went viral was not the important content of the three other panelists and my own over twenty minutes report on conditions in Aleppo which was then still under daily bombardments and snipings by what the West deems “moderates”.

However, given that so many people responded positively regarding the interaction—which dealt with lies of the corporate media and lack of sources—it seems that the public already had a sense that something was not right with corporate media’s renditions on Syria.

The first person to cut and share the video clip in question (on December 10, one day following the panel) was Twitter profile @Walid970721. As I have since met him personally, I can attest he is neither Russian nor funded by the Kremlin, nor any government, and that he shared that clip out of his own belief that it was of interest. Otherwise, on December 10, before any major Russian media had, HispanTV also shared my words. Further, India-based internet media Scoop Whoop’s December 15 share garnered the most views (nearly 10.5 million by now). That Russian media later shared the clip and reported on the incident is neither my doing nor a bad thing: thank you Russian media for doing what Western corporate media always fail to do.

-Regarding The Guardian Solon’s question: “That you think that Assad is being demonized by the US as a means to drive regime change.” Of course I do, as do most analysts and writers not blinded by or obliged to the NATO narrative. As Rick Sterling wrote in September 2016:

“This disinformation and propaganda on Syria takes three distinct forms. The first is the demonization of the Syrian leadership. The second is the romanticization of the opposition. The third form involves attacking anyone questioning the preceding characterizations.”

Boston Globe contributor, award-winning foreign correspondent and author, Stephen Kinzer wrote in February 2016:

“Astonishingly brave correspondents in the war zone, including Americans, seek to counteract Washington-based reporting. At great risk to their own safety, these reporters are pushing to find the truth about the Syrian war. Their reporting often illuminates the darkness of groupthink. Yet for many consumers of news, their voices are lost in the cacophony. Reporting from the ground is often overwhelmed by the Washington consensus.”

Countering corporate media’s demonization campaigns, I’ve written on many occasions—notably including the words of Syrians within Syria—about the vast amount of support the Syrian president enjoys inside of Syria and outside.

In my March 7, 2016 article, I cited meeting with internal, unarmed, opposition members, including Kurdish representative, Berwine Brahim, who stated,

We want you to convey that conspiracy, terrorism and interference from Western countries has united supporters of the government and the opposition, to support President Bashar al-Assad.”

In that same article, I wrote:

“Wherever I’ve gone in Syria (as well as many months in various parts of Lebanon, where I’ve met Syrians from all over Syria) I’ve seen wide evidence of broad support for President al-Assad. The pride I’ve seen in a majority of Syrians in their President surfaces in the posters in homes and shops, in patriotic songs and Syrian flags at celebrations and in discussions with average Syrians of all faiths. Most Syrians request that I tell exactly what I have seen and to transmit the message that it is for Syrians to decide their future, that they support their president and army and that the only way to stop the bloodshed is for Western and Gulf nations to stop sending terrorists to Syria, for Turkey to stop warring on Syria, for the West to stop their nonsense talk about ‘freedom‘ and ‘democracy’ and leave Syrians to decide their own future.”

In my May 2014 article from Lebanon, having independently observed the first of two days of Syrians streaming to their embassy to vote in presidential elections, I cited some of the many Syrians there with whom I spoke (in Arabic):

“’We love him. I’m Sunni, not Alawi,’ Walid, from Raqqa, noted. ‘They’re afraid our voices will be heard,’ he said….’I’m from Deir Ezzor,’ said a voter. ‘ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is in our area. We want Bashar al-Assad. The guy walks straight,’ he said, with a gesture of his hand.”

No one escorted me in a Syrian government vehicle to that embassy, by the way. I took a bus, and then walked the remaining many kilometres (the road was so clogged with vehicles going to the embassy) with Syrians en route to vote.

In June 2014, a week after the elections within Syria, I traveled by public bus to Homs (once dubbed the “capital of the revolution”), where I saw Syrians celebrating the results of the election, one week after the fact, and spoke with Syrians beginning to clean up and patch up homes damaged from the terrorist occupation of their district.

When I returned to Homs in December 2015, shops and restaurants had re-opened where a year and a half prior they were destroyed. People were preparing to celebrate Christmas as they could not do when terrorists ruled. In Damascus, attending a choral concert I overheard people asking one another excitedly whether “he” was here. The day prior, President Assad and the First Lady had dropped in on the pracitising choir, to their surprise and delight. And although the church was within hitting distance of mortars fired by the west’s “moderates” (and indeed that area had been repeatedly hit by mortars), the people faced that prospect in hopes of a re-visit by the President.

These are just some of many examples of the support Syria’s president sees and the attempts to vilify he and other Syrian leadership. Even Fox News acknowledged his support, referring to the 2014 elections:

…it underscored the considerable support that President Bashar Assad still enjoys from the population, including many in the majority Sunni Muslim community. …Without Sunni support, however, Assad’s rule would have collapsed long ago.”

Regarding war crimes, Syria is fighting a war against terrorism, but corporate media continues fabricating claims, and repeating those fabricated, not-investigated, accusations. For example, the repeated claim of the Syrian government starving civilians. In my on the ground investigations, I’ve revealed the truth behind starvation (and hospitals destroyed, and “last doctors”) in Aleppo, in Madaya, in al-Waer, in Old Homs (2014). In all instances, starvation and lack of medical care was solely due to terrorists—including al-Qaeda—hoarding food (and medical supplies). Vanessa Beeley has in greater depth exposed those corporate media lies regarding eastern Aleppo.

Even Reuters later reported on finding stockpiles of food in a “rebel” held building, citing civilians saying specifically that the Army of Islam “rebels”,  “kept all these items, here and there. They did not allow us to eat even a piece of bread. We died out of hunger.”

Regarding chemical weapons accusations, those have long been negated by the investigations of Seymour Hersh (on Ghouta 2013; on Khan Sheikhoun 2017) and the UN’s own Carla Del Ponte who said:

“…there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated. This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

Regarding convoys allegedly bombed, see my own article on one such claim, as well as award-winning investigative journalist, Gareth Porter’s article.

Regarding whether the White Helmets have done any good work rescuing civilians: they are working solely in areas occupied by al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists, so no one can prove whether they have actual done any rescue work of civilians. However, we have numerous on the ground witness testimonies to the contrary, that the White Helmets denied medical care to civilians not affiliated with terrorist groups.

In September 2017, Murad Gazdiev (instrumental in his honest reporting from Aleppo during much of 2016) documented how the White Helmets headquarters in Bustan al-Qasr, Aleppo, was filled with Hell Canons (used to fire gas canister bombs on Aleppo’s civilians and infrastructure) and remnants of a bomb-making factory. The headquarters was in a school.

Gazdiev’s reporting on the headquarters was preceded by French citizen Pierre Le Corf, living in Aleppo for over the past year, who visited the White Helmets headquarters in March 2017 (and again in April), documenting the al-Qaeda and ISIS linked flags, logos, and paraphernalia found inside the White Helmets headquarters, and that the White Helmets’ headquarters was next to a central al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) headquarters. Le Corf also wrote about his encounters with civilians from Aleppo’s east, and their take on the White Helmets:

“…the last two families I met told me that they helped the injured terrorists first and sometimes left the civilians in the rubble. When the camera was spinning everyone was agitated, as soon as the camera extinguished, the lives of the people under rubble took less importance…. all the videos you’ve seen in the media come from one or the other. Civilians couldn’t afford cameras or 3G internet package when it was already difficult to buy bread, only armed and partisan groups.”

Vanessa Beeley took testimonies she took from civilians from eastern, al-Qaeda-occupied Aleppo, in December 2016 when the city was liberated. Beeley later wrote:

“When I asked them if they knew of the “civil defence”, they all nodded furiously and said, “yes, yes – Nusra Front civil defence”. Most of them elaborated and told me that the Nusra Front civil defence never helped civilians, they only worked for the armed groups.”

Beeley also wrote of the White Helmets’ complicity in the massacre of civilians (including 116 children) from Foua and Kafraya in April 2017.

Credentials, Please: What Is Journalism?

Regarding Solon’s question on my competency as a journalist, I note the following:

I began reporting from on the ground in Palestine in 2007, first blogging and later publishing in various online media.

In 2007, I spent 8 months in the occupied West Bank in occupied Palestine, in some of the most dangerous areas where Palestinians are routinely abused, attacked, abducted and killed by both the Israeli army and the illegal Jewish colonists. There, I began blogging, documenting the crimes in print with witness testimonies, first person interviews, my own eye-witness experiences, photos and videos.

After being deported from Palestine by Israeli authorities in December 2007, in 2008 I  sailed to Gaza from Cyprus and documented not only the daily Israeli assaults on unarmed male, female, elderly and child farmers and fishers, but also the effects of the brutal Israeli full siege on Gaza, Israel’s sporadic bombings and land invasions, and of course two major massacres (Dec 2008/ Jan 2009 and Nov 2012).

In the 2008/2009 war against Palestinian civilians, I was on the ground in northern Gaza with rescuers—actual rescuers, no acting, no staging—under the bombings, and under heavy sniper fire. I was also on an upper floor of a media building in Gaza City that was bombed while I was in it. And otherwise, I remained in Gaza after the slaughter had ended, taking horrific testimonies, documenting Israel’s war crimes, including Israel’s: assassinations of children, widespread use of White Phosphorous on civilians; holding civilians as human shields; and targeting (and killing) of medics.

See this link for a more detailed description of this documentation, with many examples, and my further documentation during the November 2012 Israeli massacre of Palestinians, as well as detailed accounts of my reporting from seven trips, on the ground, around Syria.

While questioning my credentials as an investigative reporter in the Middle East, The Guardian casually assigned the story to a San Fransisco based writer specializing in fluff piecesfashion and Russophobic analysis, who visibly has little to no understanding of what is happening on the ground in Syria.

Addressing “the propaganda that is so often disguised as journalism,”award-winning journalist and film maker, John Pilger, said (emphasis added):

Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations, wrote about an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. He was referring to journalism, the media. That was almost 80 years ago, not long after corporate journalism was invented. It’s a history few journalists talk about or know about, and it began with the arrival of corporate advertising.

 

As the new corporations began taking over the press, something called ‘professional journalism’ was invented. To attract big advertisers, the new corporate press had to appear respectable, pillars of the establishment, objective, impartial, balanced. The first schools of journalism were set up, and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around the professional journalists. The right to freedom of expression was associated with the new media.

 

The whole thing was entirely bogus. For what the public didn’t know, was that in order to be professional, journalists had to ensure that news and opinion were dominated by official sources. And that hasn’t changed. Go through the New York Times on any day, and check the sources of the main political stories, domestic and foreign, and you’ll find that they’re dominated by governments and other establishment interests. That’s the essence of professional journalism.

On a publicly-shared Facebook post, journalist Stephen Kinzer wrote:

“I happen to agree with Eva’s take on Syria, but from a journalist’s perspective, the true importance of what she does goes beyond reporting from any single country. She challenges the accepted narrative–and that is the essence of journalism. Everything else is stenography. Budding foreign correspondents take note!!”

In The Guardian’s smear piece, it is interesting that Solon employed a tactic used to denigrate the credibility of a writer by dubbing he/she merely a “blogger”. In her story, Solon used “blogger” four times, three times in reference to Vanessa Beeley (who contributes in depth articles to a variety of online media).

In the latter case, she quoted executive director of the Purpose Inc-operated “Syria Campaign” PR project, James Sadri saying:

“A blogger for a 9/11 truther website who only visited Syria for the first time last year should not be taken seriously as an impartial expert on the conflict.”

Remind me when either Sadri or Solon was last there? Seems to be 2008 for Sadri, and never for Solon. But they are “credible” and someone like Beeley who has since her first 2016 visit to Syria has returned numerous occasions, in the country at pivotal times—like during the liberation of Aleppo, speaking with Syrian civilians from eastern areas formerly occupied by al-Qaeda and co-extremists—is not?

As for bloggers, there are many insightful writers and researchers self-publishing on blogs (for example,  this blog). However, that aside, it is amusing to note that Solon on her LinkedIn profile list her first skill as blogging. Is she a mere blogger?

oli blogging

Regarding Solon’s use of the “truthers” theme, did she recycle this from an article on Wired peddled eight months ago? Her use of “truthers” is clearly to paint anyone who investigates the White Helmets as Alex Jones-esque. Is she capable of originality?

castello

Nov 4, 2016: Less than 100 metres away, the second of two mortars fired by terrorist factions less than 1 km from Castello Road on Nov. 4. The road and humanitarian corridor were targeted at least seven times that day by terrorist factions. Many of those in corporate media had retired to the bus, and donned helmets and flak jackets. I was on the road without such luxuries. Read about it here.

Guardian Uses CIA “Conspiracy Theory” Tactic

In addition to using denigrating terms, The Guardian threw in the loaded CIA term “conspiracy theorists”.

As Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media Studies and author, noted in a June 2017 panel (emphasis added):

“Conspiracy theory was not much used by journalist for the decades prior to 1967, when suddenly it’s used all the time, and increasingly ever since.

And the reason for this is that the CIA at that time sent a memo to its station chiefs world wide, urging them to use their propaganda assets and friends in the media, to discredit the work of Mark Lane… books attacking the Warren Commission Report. Mark Lane’s was a best seller, so the CIA’s response was to send out this memo urging a counter-attack, so that hacks responsive to the agency would write reviews attacking these authors as ‘conspiracy theorists’ and using one or more of five specific arguments listed in the memo.”

Guess Solon got the memo.

Professor James Tracy elaborated:

“Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs.”

Researcher and writer Kevin Ryan noted (emphasis added):

“In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week.

 

“…Of course, in these uses the phrase is always delivered in a context in which ‘conspiracy theorists’ were made to seem less intelligent and less rationale than people who uncritically accept official explanations for major events. President George W. Bush and his colleagues often used the phrase conspiracy theory in attempts to deter questioning about their activities.”

In her piece for the Guardian, Solon threw in the Russia is behind everything clause.

Scott Lucas (who Solon quotes in her own article) in August 2017 wrote (emphasis added):

“Russian State outlets have pursued a campaign — especially since Moscow’s military intervention in September 2015.”

Solon’s article? (emphasis added):

“The campaign to discredit the White Helmets started at the same time as Russia staged a military intervention in Syria in September 2015…”

But I’m sure this is a mere coincidence.

Initial Investigations Into The White Helmets Precede Russia’s

As mentioned earlier in this article, in 2014 and early 2015, long before any Russian media took notice, Cory Morningstar and Rick Sterling were already countering the official story of the White Helmets.

Morningstar on September 17, 2014, wrote:

“The New York public relations firm Purpose has created at least four anti-Assad NGOs/campaigns: The White Helmets, Free Syrian Voices [3], The Syria Campaign [4] and March Campaign #withSyria. …The message is clear. Purpose wants the green light for military intervention in Syria, well-cloaked under the guise of humanitarianism – an oxymoron if there ever was one.”

This is where the White Helmets step in.

Rick Sterling’s April 9, 2015, article looked at the White Helmets as a PR project for western intervention in Syria. He wrote (emphasis added):

“White Helmets is the newly minted name for “Syrian Civil Defence”. Despite the name, Syria Civil Defence was not created by Syrians nor does it serve Syria. Rather it was created by the UK and USA in 2013. Civilians from rebel controlled territory were paid to go to Turkey to receive some training in rescue operations. The program was managed by James Le Mesurier, a former British soldier and private contractor whose company is based in Dubai.

Since her initial scrutiny into the White Helmets in September 2015, by October revealing their ties to executioners in Syria, Vanessa Beeley has relentlessly pursued the organization, and the lies and propaganda around it, their funding of at least over $150 million, far more than needed for medical supplies and high-tech camera equipment.

As 21st Century Wire pointed out (emphasis added):

“Note that The Guardian and Olivia Solon also claim that the White Helmets are only “volunteers” – a foundational misrepresentation designed to generate sympathy for their employees. One could call this a gross lie when you consider the fact the White Helmets are paid a regular salary (which the Guardian deceptively call a ‘stipend’) which is in fact much higher than the national average salary in Syria – a fact conveniently left out in the Guardian’s apparent foreign office-led propaganda piece:

 

Guardian informationists like Solon would never dare mention that the White Helmet’s ‘monthly stipend’ is far in excess of the standard salary for a Syrian Army soldier who is lucky to take home $60 -$70 per month.”

The Guardian Whitewashes the White Helmets

What are some things The Guardian could have investigated, had Solon’s story not been predetermined and had she approached with an honest intent to investigate the White Helmets?

  • Solon very misguidedly chose to highlight the White Helmets’ “mannequin challenge” video, writing that the video was “stripped of its context”. What was the context? That the White Helmets, supposedly frantically, full-time rescuing civilians under the bombs, took time to make a video simulating a heroic rescue scene? The video reveals the patently obvious point that the White Helmets can clearly stage a very convincing “rescue” video. But Solon ignores this point, it doesn’t fit her factless, Russophobic story. Further, I cannot imagine any of the Palestinian rescuers I worked with wasting a moment of precious time for such an absurd video.
  • That in spite of the White Helmets’ professed motto, “To save a life is to save all of humanity” they willingly participated in executions of civilians. But Solon wrote those extremist-affiliated White Helmets who hold weapons or stand on dead bodies or chant with al-Qaeda off as “isolated” and “rogue” actors, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Best part? It wasn’t Russia which photographed them, it was from their own social media accounts, where they proudly displayed their allegiance to terrorists.

 

In her attempt to defend the “rogue” assertion, Solon brings in White Helmets leader, Raed Saleh, who she doesn’t mention was denied entry to the US in April 2016, and deemed by the State Department’s Mark Toner to have ties to extremists.

Here’s one poignant example of a rogue actor who was dealt with by White Helmets’ leadership:

“Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen, and he later became infamous for his involvement in the execution of two prisoners of war in Aleppo. For this rogue bad appleness he was supposedly fired from the White Helmets, although he was later photographed still with them. He has also been photographed celebrating ‘victory’ with Nusra Front in Idlib.”

  • The soldiers which Solon calls “pro-Assad fighters” are actually members of Syria’s national army. Lexicon is important, and by denigrating members of the national army, Solon is playing a very old, and once again lacking in originality, lexicon card worthy of some UN member states who violate UN protocol and in the UN call the Syrian government a “regime” (as Solon also does…) instead of government. In the UN, governments must be called by their official names. The Syrian Arab Republic, or the government of Syria.
  • That it is not the entire UNSC which believes that Syria has committed the crimes Solon repeats, it is some members with an admitted vested interest in toppling the Syrian government.

 

The Chemical Card

In her attempt to validate the White Helmets, and delegitimize those who question them, The Guardian article presented as fact claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017, that the White Helmets provided valuable documentation to the fact, and stated that Beeley and myself were some of the “most vocal sceptics” of the official narrative.

But so was the British and US media:

“The following Mail Online article was published and subsequently removed.

Note the contradictory discourse: “Obama issued warning to Syrian president Bashar al Assad”, “White House gave green light to chemical weapons attack”.

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From the horse’s mouth: CNN

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Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons

Amusingly, according to the article (by the Qatari-owned channel, Al Jazeera) which The Guardian provided to back up their assertion of the Syrian government’s culpability (instead of providing the September 2017 UN report, itself questionable, and a much longer read for Solon), (emphasis added):

“All evidence available leads the Commission to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe Syrian forces dropped an aerial bomb dispersing sarin in Khan Sheikhoun.”

Reasonable grounds to believe is not exactly a confirmation of evidence, it’s just a belief.

The same article noted the investigators had not been to Syria and “based their findings on photographs of bomb remnants, satellite imagery and witness testimony.”

Witness testimony from an al-Qaeda-dominated area? Very credible. The White Helmet leader in Khan Sheikhoun, Mustafa al-Haj Yussef, is an extremist showing allegiance to the actions of al-Qaeda. As Vanessa Beeley wrote:

“Yussef has called for the shelling of civilians, the execution of anyone not fasting during Ramadan, the murder of anyone considered a Shabiha, the killing of the SAA and the looting of their property. …He clearly supports both Nusra Front, an internationally recognised terrorist group, and Ahrar Al Sham…Yussef is far from being neutral, impartial or humanitarian.

The initial analysis (of an April 2017 White House statement on Khan Sheikhoun) by Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Theodore Postol, found (emphasis added):

“I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

Postol’s analysis concludes that the alleged evidence

“points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4,” and notes that “the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft.”

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh also looked at the official accusations, noting that claims made by MSF contradicted the official accusation of the Syrian government bombing the area with sarin. Hersh wrote (emphasis added):

“A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that ‘eight patients showed symptoms – including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation – which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.’ MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there ‘smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.’ In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force – as opposition activists insisted – had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.”

The second article to which Solon linked was a NY Times article which called the report a “politically independent investigation”. This should make readers pause to guffaw, as the investigating mechanism includes the questionably-funded OPCW, and among those which the investigators interviewed were al-Qaeda’s rescuers.

Regarding the report, Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli (founder and chairman of Swedish Professors and Doctors for Human Rights) in November 2017, refuted it as “inaccurate” and “politically biased”. Points he made included (emphasis added):

  • “The same JIM authors acknowledge that rebels in Khan Shaykhun have however destroyed evidence by filling the purported impact “crater” with concrete. Why the “rebels” have done that – and what consequences that sabotage would have for the investigation of facts is not even considered by the panel.”
  • “By acknowledging that Khan Shaykhun was then under control of al-Nusra, the JIM report exhibits yet another methodological contradiction: That would mean that al-Nusra and its jihadists allies, by having control of the area, they were also in control of the ‘official’ information delivered from Khan Shaykhun on the alleged incident. This would imperatively call for a questioning of the reliability/credibility (bias) of main sources that the panel used for its allegations.”

 

Twitter user @Syricide picked up on one of the JIM’s most alarming professed irregularity, tweeting:

Syricide

Even the Nation in April 2017 ran a piece stressing the need for actual investigation into the chemical weapons claims, citing the research of Postol, as well noting the following (emphasis added):

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA case officer and Army intelligence officer, told radio host Scott Horton on April 6 that he was “hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available, who are saying the essential narrative we are hearing about the Syrians and Russians using chemical weapons is a sham.”

Giraldi also noted that ‘people in the both the agency [CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented’ what had taken place in Khan Sheikhun. Giraldi reports that his sources in the military and the intelligence community “are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the US media.”

The same article included the words of the former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, who noted:

“It defies belief that he would bring this all on his head for no military advantage.” Ford said he believes the accusations against Syria are “simply not plausible.”

So, in fact, no, some of the most vocal and informed sceptics were neither Beeley nor myself, but MIT Professor Emeritus Theodore Postol, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, former UK ambassador Peter Ford, and former CIA and Army intelligence officer Philip Giraldi, not exactly “fringe” voices.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry in April 2017 wrote of a NY Times deflection tactic (one which Solon employed), emphasis added:

“Rather than deal with the difficulty of assessing what happened in Khan Sheikhoun, which is controlled by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and where information therefore should be regarded as highly suspect, Rutenberg simply assessed that the conventional wisdom in the West must be correct.

 

To discredit any doubters, Rutenberg associated them with one of the wackier conspiracy theories of radio personality Alex Jones, another version of the Times’ recent troubling reliance on McCarthyistic logical fallacies, not only applying guilt by association but refuting reasonable skepticism by tying it to someone who in an entirely different context expressed unreasonable skepticism.”

That sounds familiar. Solon wrote:

“Beeley frequently criticises the White Helmets in her role as editor of the website 21st Century Wire, set up by Patrick Henningsen, who is also an editor at Infowars.com.”

Infowars is Alex Jones’ site, and Henningsen is for many years no longer affiliated.

Solon followed this with another non sequitur argument about Beeley and the US Peace Council meeting with the Syrian president in 2016, a point irrelevant either to the issue of the White Helmets or the alleged chemical attacks. But irrelevance is what corporate media do best these days.

The Guardian story-writer has done literally zero investigative research into the fallacies she presents as fact in her article. She’s just employed the same, predictable, tired, old CIA defamation tactics.

Integrity-Devoid Sources Solon Cited

In addition to those I’ve already mentioned, it is interesting to note some of the other sources Solon quoted to fluff her story:

  • Scott Lucas, whose allegiance to Imperialists is evident from his twitter feed, a textbook Russophobe, Iranophobe. Lucas relied on the words of terrorist-supporter, Mustafa al-Haj Youssef, for his August article on the White Helmets (the one Solon seemingly plagiarized from). Solon relied on Lucas’ smears to dismiss the work and detract from the integrity of those Solon attacked. That, and being a token professor to include in attempt at legitimacy, was Lucas’ sole function in the Guardian story.

 

  • Amnesty International, the so-called human rights group which as Tony Cartalucci outlined in August 2012, is “US State Department Propaganda”, and does indeed receive money from governments and corporate-financier interests, including “convicted financial criminal” George Soros’ Open Society.

 

It’s not just “conspiracy theorists” like Cartalucci who have written on Amnesty’s dark side. Ann Wright, a 29-year U.S. Army/Army Reserve Colonel and a 16-year U.S. Diplomat serving in numerous countries, including Afghanistan, who “resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war,” and “returned to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2010 on fact-finding missions,” has as well. Her co-author was Coleen Rowley, “a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, legal counsel to the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003, and a whistleblower “on some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures.” Together, in June 2012, they wrote about “Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars”.

Professor of international law, Francis Boyle, who himself was a member of the US board of Amnesty, wrote of the group’s role in shilling for war. In October 2012, he wrote of Amnesty’s war mongering regarding Iraq—endorsing the dead incubator babies story told by the Kuwaiti ambassador’s daughter—and his own attempts to inform Amnesty “that this report should not be published because it was inaccurate.” He noted:

“That genocidal war waged by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, inter alia, during the months of January and February 1991, killed at a minimum 200,000 Iraqis, half of whom were civilians. Amnesty International shall always have the blood of the Iraqi People on its hands!”

Boyle’s parting words included:

“…based upon my over sixteen years of experience having dealt with AI/London and AIUSA at the highest levels, it is clear to me that both organizations manifest a consistent pattern and practice of following the lines of the foreign policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel. …Effectively, Amnesty International and AIUSA function as tools for the imperialist, colonial and genocidal policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel.”

  • Eliot Higgins, of whom Gareth Porter wrote:

“Eliot Higgins is a non-resident fellow of the militantly anti-Russian, State Department-funded Atlantic Council, and has no technical expertise on munitions.

British journalist Graham Phillips wrote in February 2016 on Eliot Higgins. Answering his question on who is Eliot Higgins, Phillips wrote:

“He never finished college, dropping out of the Southampton Institute of Higher Education. When asked…what he studied at university, his answer was, Media…I think.’ Higgins has always been completely open about his lack of expertise.”

The Guardian’s Russia Obsession

By now it should be clear that the intent of Solon’s December 18th story was not to address the manifold questions (facts) about the White Helmets’ ties to (inclusion of) terrorists in Syria, nor to question the heroic volunteers’ obscene amount of funding from Western sources very keen to see Syria destabilized and its government replaced.

Rather, the intent was to whitewash this rescue group, and to demonize those of us highlighted, and especially to insert more Russophobia (although Russia’s military intervention in Syria is legal, unlike that of the US-led coalition, of which Solon’s UK is a part).

Since our last early October communication until the long-awaited publishing of her slander-filled piece, Solon produced (or co-produced) 24 stories for the Guardian, nine of which were blame-Russia! sort of stories, including such lexicon as “Russian operatives”, “Russian interference”, “Russian trolls”, “Russian propagandists”, and “Russian bots”.

Is Baroness Cox, of the UK House of Lords, who recently spoke in support of Russia’s (invited) intervention in Syria, a “conspiracy theorist”, a Russian operative” or Kremlin-funded? She said (emphasis added):

“And the fourth point that I would like to make particularly to you is the very real appreciation that is expressed by everyone in Syria of the support by Russia to help get rid of ISIS [Daesh] and get rid of all the other Islamist religious groups.”

Cox, who went to Syria, is probably not a Kremlin or Assad agent. She probably just listened to the voices of Syrians in Syria, like the rest of us Russian propagandists who have bothered to go (repeatedly) to Syria and speak with Syrian civilians.

This is the first part of a longer article. Part II is forthcoming.

(*Some small additions are marked in red.)

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[Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist with extensive experience in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Her writings can be found on her blog, In Gaza.]

Celebrity ‘Charity’: A Gift for a Vicious System

Celebrity ‘Charity’: A Gift for a Vicious System

Al Jazeera

December 3, 2017

By Belen Fernandez

Irish rock star Bono talks to pupils at a school near Lesotho’s capital Maseru on May 17, 2006 [Mike Hutching/Reuters]

When movie star George Clooney married human rights lawyer and fashion icon Amal Alamuddin in Venice back in 2014, the Entertainment Tonight website declared that “it was charity that came out as the real winner” of the multimillion-dollar nuptial festivities.

The reason for the alleged win was that proceeds from certain wedding photos were said to be destined for – you guessed it – “charity”, that favourite celebrity pastime that so often translates into massive PR points and saviour-hero credit, not to mention tax breaks.

We non-celebrities have been so conditioned to perceive charity as something unconditionally positive – rather than a commodification and exploitation of faux altruism – that we don’t seem to notice reality’s conspicuous absence from the feel-good world of celeb-philanthropy.

Case in point: reports that rock star Bono’s anti-poverty foundation ONE managed in 2008 to channel a mere 1.2 percent of the funds it raised to the people it purported to be assisting have done nothing to interfere with the man’s portrayal as some sort of messiah for Africa.

In the case of the Clooneys, who now preside over their very own Clooney Foundation for Justice, celebrity worship and Amal-mania have also precluded sound judgement. Objectively speaking, it would seem that “justice” is not really an option in a world in which human rights lawyer-philanthropists by the name of Amal Clooney wear outfits costing $7,803.

The obscenity of inequality

Currently targeted for charitable assistance by the Clooneys’ organisation is the Syrian refugee population of Lebanon, where, the foundation’s website stresses, “refugee children are sent out to work for as little as 2 dollars per day”. Roughly calculating, it would thus take a Syrian refugee child approximately eleven years to accumulate enough funds for the aforementioned outfit (less if accessories are left out).

Fantastically expensive galas, celebrity photo ops with black and brown children in international charity hotspots, and other mainstays of the celebro-philanthropist repertoire do little, in the end, to alleviate poverty, hunger, oppression, and the rest of the global ills that are repeatedly invoked to tug at heartstrings and thereby provoke admiration and/or financial contributions to the cause being peddled.

This is not to suggest, of course, that one must always calculate and justify one’s expenses in terms of Syrian refugee income, but rather to point out that any sort of actual justice in the world would require dismantling the prevailing neoliberal panorama of obscene economic inequality.

In a forthcoming book titled Against Charity, authors Julie Wark and Daniel Raventos offer a meticulous and scathing indictment of the institution of charity as a key component of the neoliberal order – and of the role of celebrity philanthropists in keeping the have-nots in place and the powerful in power.

Celebrities, write Wark and Raventos, “draw attention to social distress but immediately cover it up by giving the impression that something is being done” by the wealthy of the world, who have the money to do things.

But fantastically expensive galas, celebrity photo ops with black and brown children in international charity hotspots, and other mainstays of the celebro-philanthropist repertoire do little, in the end, to alleviate poverty, hunger, oppression, and the rest of the global ills that are repeatedly invoked to tug at heartstrings and thereby provoke admiration and/or financial contributions to the cause being peddled.

Again, were global oppression to somehow magically cease, the “philanthropic” rich and famous would be up a creek – since no arrangement governed by literal justice would allow the obsequiously-celebrated “poverty fighter” Bill Gates to own a house with 24 bathrooms or for the ever-so-charitable David and Victoria Beckham to trademark their children’s names.

Disappearing context

Regarding the function of celebrities within “a system that sees famous people as brands and thus consumer products”, Wark and Raventos note that celebrity “excess” helps sustain the consumerist model by providing glorified examples of over-the-top materialism – while celebrity “beneficence” helps whitewash the brutality of institutionalised socioeconomic disparity.

Meanwhile, the “awareness” that celebrities purport to raise for their respective causes is frequently devoid of the political context necessary to comprehend contemporary causes of human suffering.

Take, for example, actress and philanthropic superstar Angelina Jolie, whose work as Special Envoy for the United Nations refugee agency elicits continuous media prostration before her charitable “radiance“.

Descending upon war-torn nations and refugee camps in characteristic superhuman perfection, Jolie decries earthly injustice – while regularly excising crucial pieces of the puzzle from her lament.

This was the case in a March 2017 speech in Geneva, when Jolie referenced “the conflict in Iraq – the source of so much Iraqi suffering to this day”, and yet proceeded to self-identify as “a proud American” and a believer in the notion that “a strong nation, like a strong person, helps others to rise up and be independent”.

Never mind that the US – a strong nation indeed – happens to have effectively destroyed Iraq, inflicting unquantifiable death and misery upon the Iraqi people.

In Iraq and beyond, in fact, the military and economic policies of the country of which our heroine is so “proud” have contributed to a range of humanitarian crises now abstractly seized upon by Jolie & Co – not least the Saudi-led starvation of Yemen, aided and abetted by none other than the US.

It’s showtime

A recent Vanity Fair cover story on Jolie touches on numerous aspects of the actress’ life, from her new Los Angeles mansion – “listed for around $25 million” – to her cofounding, with British former foreign secretary William Hague, of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative in 2012. According to its website, the initiative “aims to raise awareness of the extent of sexual violence … in situations of armed conflict and rally global action to end it”.

This is the same Hague who, in addition to fervently championing the war on Iraq, argued in 2015 that just because Iraq had turned out poorly didn’t mean the west shouldn’t intervene in Syria.

In other words, so much for the prevention of violence.

Wark and Raventos observe that “the demigods of celebrity culture are a symptom of a general moral and ethical malaise in which, as capitalism is foundering in its own morass, mythmaking is essential for keeping the show going”.

If only the curtain would fall – not only on the sideshow of celebrity philanthropy, but on the myth itself.

 

[Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.]

 

AFGHANISTAN: DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS RECOGNIZED AS THE TOP BRAND IN THE MISERY INDUSTRY

Exhibit Abstract

“‘Great Harm Has Been Done to US,’ declared George Bush in a speech thunderously applauded by the U.S. Congress on 20 September 2001. With this disingenuous slogan the United States directed its unaccountable permanent warfare machine at the people of Afghanistan, a place that few U.S. citizens know much about. Our ‘allies’ jumped aboard, unleashing high-tech weaponry and shock-and-awe destruction on a simple people that have been subject to the nasty prerogatives of Empire since ~ 1838.

Civilians bear the brunt of this ugly war: over the past 4 years far more than 33,000 Afghan civilians were injured or killed. The cowardice of our war includes drone strikes, targeted assassinations, ‘dirty tricks’ black operations, snatch-and-snuff kidnappings, torture—all as policy.  The War of Terror has caused millions of direct / indirect deaths since 2001, and millions more displaced persons, and the U.S. has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Dilawar of Yakubi was a young taxi driver tortured/killed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

+++

“Decades of war means destruction of homes and villages, destruction of crops, croplands mined, failed crops, and rising displacement. Starvation and malnutrition were named in a major New York Times ‘news’ article that appears to be more a plug for the UNICEF brand and the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières brand than any serious reportage on the hunger crisis. The disingenuous title of the January 2014 article was: ‘Afghanistan’s Worsening, and Baffling, Hunger Crisis.’ What is baffling? This is a way to diminish responsibility and deflect attention from the obvious causes of starvation, crop failures, starvation, malnutrition, high infant mortality, and other obvious effects of the illegal U.S. war in Afghanistan. Further, the article notes that ‘despite years of Western involvement and billions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, children’s health is not only still a problem, but also worsening’ but nowhere does the New York Times probe the massive corruption and outright (advertising & branding) lies of the for-profit humanitarian sector that, obviously, benefits from our permanent warfare economy.”

“Hunger in Afghanistan is a very real problem. These children play at sunset amidst piles of grain being processed—separating the wheat from the chaff using straw brooms on a dirt ground—by their fathers and uncles. To grasp the gross inequity between the level of suffering for children in Afghanistan (the target population that the AID industry preys upon), consider that combined salaries of the top seven Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières executives total $1,169,715 (* 2016 IRS form 990) and they receive $256479 in ‘other’ compensation. Of course, information about Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres corporate sponsors is not easily discoverable from either their web site or their published reports available therein.”

“This father and his son suffer alike after the child was wounded and rests in critical condition in a hospital bed in Kabul.”

“The landscapes in Afghanistan are vast, and the real reasons for the war are for access to the land and its natural resources. In the calculated equations of predatory western capitalism and the profit motives of unconscious demagogues and warmongers the people of Afghanistan are considered in the way: they are expendable, and the depopulation of Afghanistan is underway.”

“Afghan herders often trip unexploded ordnance and land mines while herding domestic donkeys, sheep and goats. Landmines and other battlefield unexploded ordnance (UXOs) contaminate at least 724 million square meters of land in Afghanistan, more than any other country in the world. Only two of Afghanistan’s twenty-nine provinces are believed to be free of landmines. The Northern Alliance and United Front forces have laid mines, while many Russian-era mines remain. According to Human Rights Watch in 2001, the Taliban had stopped using landmines in 1998, declaring it un-Islamic and punishable by death; after 1998 the Taliban were often falsely blamed for using them. Mine clearance teams in Afghanistan still find UXOs from the former Soviet Union but also from Belgium, Italy, the United States and Britain. The United States dropped about 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 bomblets between October 2001 and March 2002 alone; these weapons destroyed the homes and lives of countless civilians.”

“Afghan men discuss war and politics outside a mosque in northern Afghanistan. The people are angry at the U.S. occupation, the corruption of their leaders working with the occupation, and they admit that every U.S. attack redoubles the popular resistance to the U.S. and its goals.”

“Afghan farmers see the profit and value in planting their fields in poppies. The Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military have their fingers in the Afghan opium/heroin trade: heroin processed in Afghanistan by ‘Taliban’ and ‘Isis’ and other factions backed by the U.S. does not leave Afghanistan on the backs of donkeys. Warlords run the heroin business. The heroin is allegedly shipped by air to Bondsteel Air Base in Kosovo, where it is then allegedly distributed to Western Europe by the Albanian mafia.”

“As Dr. Alfred McCoy pointed out: On 16 November 2017 the United Nations released its opium report for 2017: total crop area up from 200,000 hectares in 2016 to 328,000 hectares in 2017; the opium harvest nearly doubled since 2016 from 4,600 to 9,000 tons, well above the 2007 peak of 8,200 tons.”

“A boy of ten years old—another obvious civilian casualty in the U.S.-led war “to win hearts and minds”—rests awake and immobile and terrified, his wounds still fresh and bloody, in the intensive care section of a hospital in Kabul.”

“The LOVE THY ENEMY sign I posted on my family’s farmland in Williamsburg Massachusetts on September 13, 2001, defaced over night by local people directly connected to the war machine. The people responsible for the war in suffering in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria and Central Africa are the people of the western nations whose soldiers are fighting and killing there, the populations whose complacency and acceptance make these wars in ‘far off places’ possible. There is little discussion of these wars in popular quarters in the United States, Canada or Europe, as they are hidden and downplayed and obfuscated by the western media propaganda system. The U.S. population is deeply divided between those who favor war and killing and ‘putting America first’ at all costs, and those who see the pointlessness of war, and the profits being made to sustain it, at the expense of all people everywhere, and at the expense of nature, and all of planet earth.”

Photographer’s Statement

View Keith Harmon Snow’s stunning exhibition, in it’s entirety:

http://socialdocumentary.net/exhibit/keith_harmon_snow

[Keith Harmon Snow has worked as a journalist, war correspondent, genocide investigator and/or photographer in 46 countries — often traveling by simple means (mountain bike, raft, horse, foot) to enable a deeper engagement with the land and people.  He is the 2009 Regent’s Lecturer in Law & Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recognized for over a decade of work documenting war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.  He is also a certified Holotropic Breathwork facilitator, and author of the non-fiction book: The Worst Interests of the Child: The Trafficking of Children & Families Through U.S. Family Courts.  In July 2016 his SDN exhibit Inside the Company, Down on the Farm (plantations in the DR Congo) won an Honorable Mention in the SDN Call for Entries on The Fine Art of Documentary.  He is available for assignment. You can also visit his website All Things Pass.]