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Avaaz: And a Billionaire Shall Lead Them [2017 Avaaz Series: Part 3]

September 23, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

 

Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel Joins Unilever’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission

Mr Ricken Patel, Executive Director, AVAAZ.org, Thematic Session “New Media: Towards new forms of social engagement and participation”, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Rio Forum

 

“Our research shows achieving the Global Goals in just four economic systems could open 60 market ‘hot spots’ worth an estimated US$12 trillion by 2030 in business savings and revenue. The total economic prize from implementing the Global Goals could be 2-3 times bigger, assuming that the benefits are captured across the whole economy and accompanied by much higher labour and resource productivity. That’s a fair assumption. Consider that achieving the single goal of gender equality could contribute up to US$28 trillion to global GDP by 2025, according to one estimate. The overall prize is enormous.” — Better Business, Better World, The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, January 2017

In June of 2016, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission announced its newest members which included Ricken Patel, President and Executive Director of  Avaaz. Patel was joined by eleven[1] others of elite status and influence which included the following people:

  • Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group (BABA,Tech30): Richest person in Asia and 14th richest in the world. Net worth is US$41.8 billion (June 2017). [Source] Ranked 2nd inFortune’s 2017 “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list.[Source] board member of Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy and co-founder of Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
  • Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek Holdings Private Ltd: Married to the Prime Minister of Singapore. Listed as the 30th most powerful woman in the world by
  • Mary Ellen Iskenderian, CEO, Women’s World Banking: Worked for 17 years at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank and the investment bank Lehman Brothers. Iskenderian is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. [Source]
  • Begümhan Do?an Faralyal?, Chairwoman, Do?an Holding: Do?an Holdingis one of the largest conglomerates in  It’s industry sectors include energy, media, industry, trade, insurance and tourism. It is founded by Ayd?n Do?an (who remains a major shareholder), Begümhan Do?an Faralyal?’s father.
  • Mark Wilson, CEO ofAviva: Named in the 2016 Debrett’s list of Britain’s 500 most influential people for his role in the £5.6bn acquisition of Friends Life. This was the largest takeover in the insurance industry in nearly 15 years turning Aviva into one of UK’s largest investment firms (£300bn-plus in assets). Wilson enjoys an annual salary of GBP £4.4 million.

The commission was officially launched at the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2016. The new members bring the Commission membership to 31.

eColonization for Sustainable Development

Malloch Brown and George Soros, March 19, 2002: “Mark Malloch Brown (L), administrator of the United Nations Delvelopment Program (UNDP) and George Soros chat during a press conference at the International Bussiness Center in Monterrey City, north of Mexico, in the context of the International Conference on Financing for Development, where more than 50 heads of State will participate.” AFP PHOTO/Jorge UZON

The co-founders of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission are Mark Malloch Brown and Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. Polman is chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development  (WBCSD) and serves on the

Board of the UN Global Compact, “the world’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative”. He also served as part of “the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The panel helped draft Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 17, which aims to ‘to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.'” [Source]

Above: Paul Polman. Unilever website: “The launch of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission: Our CEO Paul Polman co-founded the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, which works to make a powerful business case for driving a sustainable, inclusive economy.” [Source]

Polman is a “B Team Leader”. The corporation he heads, Unilever, is a member of We Mean Business (WMB). “WMB is a coalition of business groups including WBCSD, BSR, CERES, B-Team, Corporate Leaders Group, CDP, The Climate Group and supported by other networks.” The Corporate Leaders Group is The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group – a partner of the GCCA/TckTckTck – founded by Avaaz, 350, Greenpeace, Oxfam, etc. (When publicly criticized for this partnership The Prince of Wale’s Corporate Leaders Group name was removed from the TckTckTck website which has now been re-branded and will be discussed at length later in this series).

Mallock Brown (“Baron” Malloch Brown, “Lord” Mallock Brown) serves as co-chair for the WBCSD. His prestigious background is most extensive. It is paramount to look at his background, however dense, to understand what form the world will take under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals).

Mallock Brown is a “former number two” in the United Nations having served as Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan (appointed in 2006), as well as having served in the British Cabinet and Foreign Office. He was UK’s Minister of State in the Foreign Office, covering Africa and Asia (2007-2009), as well as a member of Gordon Brown’s cabinet. Prior to that, Mallock Brown had an extensive history with the United Nation Development Program serving as Administrator from 1999-2005. He began his career as a political correspondent at The Economist (1977-1979 and 1983-1986). Other previous positions include Vice-President for External Affairs at the World Bank (joining the World Bank as Director of External Affairs in 1994), Vice-President for United Nations Affairs (1996 to 1999) and Vice-Chairman of the World Economic Forum. In 2007, Mallock Brown was sworn in to “Her Majesty’s” most honourable Privy Council and appointed as a Knight Commander (KCMG), an elitist title bestowed upon only the most senior of civil servants by the Queen of England.

Global briefing 2014. Mark Malloch Brown (left) and George Soros. Credit: International Crisis Group flickr

Malloch Brown has long-term personal ties to Soros. He served as vice-chairman of both George Soros’s Investment Funds and the Soros Open Society Institute. While working for Refugees International (bankrolled in large part by Soros), he was part of the Soros Advisory Committee on Bosnia in 1993–94, formed by George Soros. Spouse Trish Malloch-Brown, referred to as “Lady” Mallock Brown (Chair of Biodiversity International UK Board of Trustees, Member of Bioversity International Inc. US Board of Trustees, and Independent Humanitarian Affairs Consultant) [Source]. She is  also identified as directors emeriti on the Refugees International website where she served as Vice Chair for 12 years having been an active supporter since 1986. She served as a program officer at the Open Society Institute from 1989-1992.

Trish Malloch Brown served as the Director of International Rescue Committee-UK from 2010-2013. In 2008, foreign correspondent and investigative journalist Keith Harmon Snow reported that “[t]he International Rescue Committee has been described in the past as the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, and it is.” [2] Prior to her appointment, it is of much interest to note that the crux of the 2007 International Rescue Committee’s annual lecture given by Mark Malloch Brown was centered upon the “politics of humamitarianism after Iraq” and the social acceptance necessary for the global implementation of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine:

“I and the Secretary General and many others, many of you in the room here tonight, have pressed in recent years for this right to intervene when a government attacks its own population – the so-called Responsibility to Protect, which requires us indeed to intervene when a government commits the equivalent of war crimes or mass abuse of human rights against its own citizens. And we have seen an emergence of groups like the International Crisis Group, as well as the IRC and many others, who have become a lobby for effective intervention in these situations, of which Darfur is just one. But we have to find a way of winning universal, global understanding and support for this concept. We have to work amongst the nations of Africa, for example, to build acceptance of this.’ [Source]

Above: Lionel Rosenblatt, then head of Refugees International, Mort Abramowitz and Mark Malloch Brown, at Sarajevo airport moments before coming up with the concept of Crisis Group, January 1993. CRISIS GROUP

“Mark Malloch Brown (L) and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan (R) attend the Pakistan: Hopes Submerged, Resilience Remains event at Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association on November 15, 2010 in New York City.”

For the past 30 years Refugees International has held a lavish annual event for the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award. Participants include the crème de le crème of the world’s most influential and power. In 2007, this award was bestowed upon both Mark Malloch Brown and Lady Trish Malloch Brown. This same award was presented to the terrorist group the White Helmets this year. Last year the award was given to The B Teams Richard Branson. [Full list of benefactors] .

RI Staff and Board Member Queen Noor-Al Hussein with the White Helmets and staff of the Syria Campaign. — Refugees International Website | White Helmets volunteer Jehad Mahameed (back row third from right), “Her Majesty Queen” Noor Al-Hussein (back row second from left), White Helmets volunteers Manal Abazeed (center) and Mounir Mustafa (front row, 2nd from left)

Video published March 16, 2017: RI Board Member Queen Noor Al-Hussein presents Refugees International’s highest humanitarian award to the White Helmets (Syria Civil Defense) at RI’s Anniversary Dinner in Washington, DC on April 25, 2017. Accepting the McCall-Pierpaoli Award on behalf of the White Helmets are Mounir Mustafa, Manal Abazeed, and Jehad Mahameed. [Source]

 

[International Crisis Group and Refugees International will be discussed later in this report.]

Mallock Brown is a former chairman of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at FTI Consulting, a political consulting firm.

Mallock Brown has also played a role in the humanitarian industrial complex. “From 1979 to 1983, he worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). From 1979 to 1981, he was stationed in Thailand, where he was in charge of field operations for Cambodian refugees. He was appointed Deputy Chief of UNHCR’s Emergency Unit in Geneva, undertaking extensive missions in the Horn of Africa and Central America.” [Source]

Malloch Brown was an adviser to the former President of Bolivia Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a U.S. lapdog who carried out the neoliberal Washington consensus in Bolivia from 1993 to 2003. After a brutal conflict in 2003, known as the “Bolivian Gas War” in which at least 64 people killed and further 400 injured, Lozada resigned and fled to Miami. Lozada and 15 of his ministers were charged by the Bolivian Supreme Court with the crime of genocide in 2005. The Bolivian Government led by Evo Morales (the first Indigenous president of Bolivia) has been seeking Lozada’s extradition from the US to no avail. On December 18, 2007, a year after Evo Morales was swept into power by the majority of Bolivians, “Lord” Malloch stated in the UK parliament:

“The Constitutional Assembly was an important effort to try to get both sides to arrive at a comprehensive solution to the country’s political problems, which are very real and which revolve, as the noble Baroness knows, around marginalised Indian populations who have felt excluded for a long time. However, including them in a country that had a strong pre-existing democracy but which also had strong vested economic interests has proved extremely difficult.”

Here it is important to note that Indigenous peoples in Bolivia constitute appox. 62% of the population. The fact that Malloch Brown states that prior to the new Morales government, that the country had “a strong pre-existing democracy” demonstrates clearly and unequivocally Mollach Brown’s loyalties to colonization, imperialism, and empire.

From 1986 to 1994 Malloch Brown was the lead international partner at the US-based Sawyer-Miller Group communications consultancy. He ultimately co-owned the firm with three other partners. [Source] The firm was one of the first communication consultants “to use US-style election campaign methods for foreign governments, companies, and public policy debates.” [Source] Note that Trish Malloch Brown began her foray into international political consulting at the Sawyer Miller Group in 1986. [Source]

Notable is his work in Peru assisting Mario Vargas Llosa with his 1990 presidential campaign. In 1987, Llosa helped establish and then lead the Movimiento Libertad party in Peru. The following year his party formed a coalition with the parties of Peru’s two principal conservative politicians: ex-president Fernando Belaúnde Terry (Popular Action party) and Luis Bedoya Reyes (Partido Popular Cristiano). They would form the center-right coalition Frente Democrático (FREDEMO).  During his 1990 presidential campaign, he proposed a sweeping economic austerity program that frightened the country’s poor emphasizing “the need for a market economy, privatization, free trade, and above all, the dissemination of private property.” [Source]

His firm also consulted Venezuela where they worked against and then for Carlos Andrés Pérez, another US lapdog who presided over Venezuela from 1974-1979 and from 1989-1993. He became the first Venezuelan president to be forced from office by the Supreme Court for the embezzlement of 250 million bolívars belonging to a presidential discretionary fund. In 1992, his party survived two coup attempts. The first attempt took place February 4, 1992, and was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Chávez, who would later become the revolutionary leader of Venezuela until his untimely death. They also consulted in Colombia where they advised the government on how to shed “its image as the political wing of the Medellin cartel”:

“Sawyer Miller has also played a key role in skewing the ‘war on terror’ in Colombia. As a result of PR activities conducted by the group, FARC is considered the ‘most dangerous international terrorist group based in the Western Hemisphere’. However, this is mainly due to the work of Sawyer Miller and the Colombian military who, according to the US ambassador to Colombia in 1996, ‘considered it a way to obtain U.S. assistance in the counterinsurgency’. And this assistance has continued to this very day. Colombia continues to be on of the largest recipients of American military aid in the world.”[Source]

The following is the synopsis for the book 2009 book titled Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin Into a Global Business by James Harding, in which Mollock Brown plays a prominent role:

“Alpha Dogs” is the story of the men behind an enormously influential campaign business called the Sawyer Miller Group, men who served as backroom strategists on every presidential contest from Richard M. Nixon’s to Barack Obama’s… Long after their firm, Sawyer Miller, had broken up and sold out, its alumni had moved into the White House, to dozens of foreign countries, and into the offices of America’s blue-chip chief executives. The men of Sawyer Miller were the Manhattan Project of spin politics: a small but extraordinary group who invented American-style political campaigning and exported it around the world. In this lively and engaging narrative, James Harding tells the story of a few men whose marketing savvy, entrepreneurial drive, and sheer greed would alter the landscape of global politics….”

In the Philippines, Mallock Brown worked with Corazon (Cory) Aquino in the campaign against Marcos: “The book [Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin Into a Global Business] described Malloch Brown’s propaganda strategy that Cory adopted, the demonization of Marcos, a tactic her son, Benigno 3rd, continues to use three decades later: ‘Malloch Brown was living on the fringes of the press corps, picking up the scuttlebutt. He came to see the campaign in binary terms, knocking Marcos down and building Cory up… Twenty years later, Malloch Brown sat in his office on the thirty-eighth floor of the United Nations building and said that Cory had to be pushed to go negative, but that the decision to get more aggressive, dirtier, had been quite deliberate: ‘We set out to make it about Marcos. It was very negative campaign.'” [Source]

Malloch Brown has also “worked extensively on privatisation and other economic reform issues with leaders in Eastern Europe and Russia.” [Source]

Mallock Brown currently serves as the co-chair of the International Crisis Group’s Board of Trustees, (alongside Larry Summers (Goldman Sachs), Alexander Soros, George Soros and The B Teams, Mo Ibrahim). The international Crisis Group was  conceptualized in 1993 by Mallock Brown with Mort Abramowitz, then President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. [3] He also serves on the board of Kerogen Capital (“Kerogen provides expansion and development capital to established junior oil and gas companies.”) He chairs and/or serves on the board of a numerous NGOs including the Open Society Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Centre for Global Development.

Above: Mark Malloch Brown – Leaders Dinner: A Night of Pioneers – 23 June, 2016

Mallock Brown is Chairman of SGO (Society of Gynecologic Oncology) and its elections division Smartmatic, “the world’s leading voting technology provider”, which can’t be surprising given Brown’s extensive immersion into international politics and influential manipulation of foreign elections. He serves on the Boards of Investec and Seplat Petroleum Development Company plc (Nigerian oil and gas) which are listed on the London, Johannesburg and Lagos stock markets; Kerogen, an oil and gas private equity fund. He is chairman of GADCO Cooperatief U.A. (An agribusiness privately owned and funded by financial and impact investors and registered in Amsterdam, GADCO is the largest commercial rice farm in West Africa). In 2005, Time Magazine placed Malloch Brown on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

International Crisis Group Gala: Above: Alex Soros an ICG trustee who recently gave 500,000 to the NGO, honourary Richard Branson (The B Team), and Frank Giustra, executive member with the International Crisis Group, Photo: Don Pollard for International Crisis Group, flickr

In the following YouTube video published on Oct 24, 2015: “Sir Richard Branson will receive the Chairman’s Award for inspiring leadership to advance the cause of peace. The founder of Virgin Group and co-founder of The Elders is recognised for his visionary reshaping of private sector initiatives to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development.”

To be clear The B Team has played a pivotal role in the formation of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development:

“The B Team is also supporting the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development, created by B Team member and Unilever CEO Paul Polman, which aims to quantify and articulate the economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Branson and Benioff are among the 27 investors in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of investors committed to supporting the commercialization of clean energy ideas.” — The B Team Launches ‘Born B’ to Support Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs, Sustainable Brands, April 4, 2016

Under the subsection The Global Goals (p. 31) of The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, a quote is referenced by Paul Polman, co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission:

“Business and civil society, including some of my fellow B Team Leaders, have formed the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, tasked with quantifying the economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the SDGs.”


Above: The B Team Press Release with the Purpose address. Note the language in the release; “2C threshold, aspiration to achieve, net-zero (rather than virtual zero).

Transforming Markets: The Greatest Economic Opportunity of a Lifetime

The managing partners of the Business and Sustainable Development commission are SYSTEMIQ (which shares the same address as the commission) and the United Nations Foundation.

The purpose of SYSTEMIQ is to unleash “viable growth” and transform markets. SYSTEMIQ is a new kind of enterprise – that combines advisory, business building and investment expertise to deploy human talent and long term capital in order to originate projects, de-risk investments and accelerate growth and system-level impact.”

The stated goal of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission is to “inspire business leaders to seize upon sustainable development as the greatest economic opportunity of a lifetime. Our flagship report, Better Business, Better World, maps the economic prize for companies that align with the Global Goals, and shows how to achieve them.”

“The Business and Sustainable Development Commission, launched in Davos in January 2016, aims to map the economic prize that could be available to business if the UN Sustainable Development Goals—17 objectives to end poverty and hunger, achieve gender equality, and tackle climate change by 2030—are achieved.” — Business and Sustainable Development Commission Better Business, Better World report

The Commission’s Better Business, Better World report was led by its commissioners, and supported by: the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). [Source]

“The UN Foundation, the WBCSD, the Overseas Development Institute and The B Team are supporting the Commission, which is also receiving funding support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the governments of Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.” — New Global Commission Aimed at Quantifying Business Case for Helping to Achieve SDGs, Sustainable Brands, January 21, 2016

The Business Commission’s Steering committee is comprised of individuals representing the following institutions: World Business Council on Sustainable Development, UN Foundation, International Chambers of Commerce, Rockefeller Foundation, UN Global Compact, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, World Economic Forum, Unilever, World Resources Institute, The B Team, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Overseas Development Institute. [5]

The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group is comprised of individuals representing the following institutions: : UBS and Society, UN Foundation, World Bank Group, Volans, McKinsey Social Initiative, World Resources Institute Europe, PWC, Brookings Institute, FSG, Practice of Public Policy, School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Accenture, Z/Yen, Channel 4 News, UN Foundation, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Minister of the Environment, Nigeria, Center for Development Policy Solutions, Equity Group Holdings Limited, OECD, UN Sustainable Development Network and Winston Eco-Strategies. [6]

The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group Supporting Orgs includes: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), United Nations Foundation, Unilever, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), Australian department department of foreign affairs and trade, Sida (a government agency that works on behalf of the Swedish Parliament and Government) and UKAID.

The Business Commission’s agenda is evident. From the Global Green Growth website:

“A Global Green Growth AgendaA rapid, large-scale industrial transition is needed if global economic growth is to continue while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting societies to climate change and promoting a sustainable use of resources. This industrial transition has the potential to unlock new growth engines and spur global economic growth.” [Source]

In the aforementioned report, the following passage regarding the underlying need for perpetual growth can be found on page 22 under the heading New Metrics:

“There is overwhelming evidence that the transition to a thriving, clean economy is inevitable, irreversible — and irresistible… The global market for low-carbon goods and services, for example, is worth more than US$5.5 trillion and is growing at 3% per year… Sustainability is no longer just the right thing to do — it fuels growth. At the same time, we see huge yields from social investment. For every one dollar invested, the global economic return on sanitation spending is US$5.50, and an investment in nutrition gives a US$17 return. Surely no one can argue with that.” — Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source][Emphasis added]

To be clear, it is impossible to undergo a rapid, large-scale industrial transition (to ensure continued global economic growth) while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even a slow, small-scale industrial transition cannot and could not be coupled with a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. An industrial transition will require massive amounts of fossil fuels – resulting in a requisite increase in greenhouse gas emissions. All so-called “clean” energy is dependent upon fossil fuels from cradle to grave. Further, planned obsolescence is an integral component in “clean energy” technology in order to sustain perpetual growth.

Further, in the censored paper by atmospheric scientist Tim Garrett titled Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide?, his conclusions are as follows; contrary to popular belief, improving energy efficiency actually leads to accelerated growth of CO2 emissions; absent collapsing the economy, emissions can only be stabilized by building the equivalent of one nuclear plant per day, and, emissions growth has inertia.[Source]

“Over the next 15 years, driving system change in line with the Global Goals with sector peers will be an essential, differentiating skill for a world-class business leader. It means shaping new opportunities, pre-empting the risks of disruption and renewing businesses’ licence to operate.” — Better Business, Better World, The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, January 2017

Today, unbeknownst to the entire global population, policies implementing the financialization of nature into government legislation, a scheme that is global in scale, continue to accelerate forward unabated – with essentially zero public scrutiny. The 21st century privatization of the commons  is not spoken of by the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex, who are most complicit in the scheme. Consider that the Amazon rainforest is already listed on the world’s first green stock exchange [Source] and the world’s first “species banking” ecosystems marketplace has been established:

“Until now, there has been no centralized information resource to serve buyers, sellers, and other market participants. Basic information such as number of banks, species covered, location, availability of credits, and contact details have not been readily available…. The ultimate goal of speciesbanking.com is to facilitate species credit trading as an effective tool for the conservation of threatened and endangered species and their habitat.

 

Speciesbanking.com is a project of the Ecosystem Marketplace, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing information on markets and payment schemes for ecosystem services (services such as water quality, carbon sequestration and biodiversity). The Ecosystem Marketplace believes that by providing reliable information on costs, regulation, science, and other market-relevant factors, markets for ecosystem services will one day become a fundamental part of our economic system, helping give value to environmental services that, for too long, have been taken for granted. In providing this information, the Ecosystem Marketplace hopes not only to facilitate transactions, but also to catalyze new thinking, spur the development of new markets, and achieve effective and equitable nature conservation.

 

We believe that, if implemented correctly, species credit banking for compensatory mitigation – and it’s variations in other countries and in its various forms, such as biodiversity offsets – can help create value for biodiversity, transforming endangered species from a liability into an asset, and thereby furthering endangered species recovery. ” [Source]

On the surface, the Avaaz climate campaign (rolled out in tandem with other prominent NGOs) is a seemingly admirable call for a “global” transition to “clean energy”. However, this campaign, marketed to a privileged (and majority Anglo) demographic, conveniently (and deliberately) makes no mention of the fact that an estimated 1-2 billion global citizens have no access to electricity at all. The most critical and ironic information not spoken of (which is again deliberate in nature) is the fact that this same targeted demographic being appealed to by Avaaz, et al in its demand for “100% renewable energy”, is the very demographic that creates 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. [50% of global greenhouse gas emissions are created by 1% of the global population.][Source] Yet, this same 1% does not want to live with less. This same 1% (comprised of anyone who can get on a plane) that has created and continues to accelerate our ecological crisis wants MORE. Faster, shinier, better, new, modern. This 1% now demands “clean energy” on top of their insatiable appetite for dirty energy. Luxury Teslas. Turbines. Solar. Biofuels. All part of a grotesque consumer culture that drives (lifestyle) wars and imperialism, as billions go without, which is ultimately perpetuated and encouraged by NGOs. This glaring inequality beset by arrogance/selfishness is more apparent when one acknowledges that only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown in an airplane. [Source]

To emphasize this point, consider that in 2011, “the average American consumed 13,240 kilowatt hours (kWh) per person per year, while the average Ethiopian consumed only 56 kWh. Further, across all of Sub-Saharan Africa, annual per capita kWh use is one-sixth the load requirements of a relatively efficient American refrigerator. Globally, the poorest three-quarters of the world’s population comprise less than ten percent of total energy consumption.” [Source] Of course, the lowest levels of rural electricity access are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa – the single richest continent on the planet that continues to provide aid  to the West. As an example, Burundi (a a recent target of empire for destabilization) can only supply electricity to about 1.2% of its population due to insufficient power production. In Sudan, only 3.5% of its people have access to electricity despite its oil, minerals and timber. [Source] (But yes, give more to the Global North with the excess concentrated almost exclusively in the hands of Anglos. We demand it. We deserve it. We want our consumption and we would like it green. At least let us pretend it to be so.)

The reality is this: behind closed doors, not only do those at the helm of these NGOs understand full well that the “new economy” is a fantasy, the real task at hand is insulating and expanding the fledgling global economic capitalist system. Consider this consensus from McKinsey (Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group, and incidentally, affiliated with many of the Avaaz co-founders):

“Despite huge investments in clean energy, in 2020 the ratio of fossil fuel consumption to renewable and nuclear power will remain largely as it is today—roughly 80 percent. No realistic scenario will move the needle: the embedded resource infrastructure is so large that any transition away from fossil fuels will take decades.” — Pricing the Planet, June, 2010

And perhaps even more graphic, from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission website:

“Trade’s share of GDP is declining for the first time in 30 years. Global unemployment reached 197 million last year, while 600 million new jobs are needed just to keep up with population growth… The environmental costs of the old growth model are growing, too. Environmental externalities like carbon emissions, natural resource degradation and loss of ecosystem services cost the world over $4.5 trillion a year. Resource prices are becoming more volatile as 3 billion more consumers join the global economy, and the supply of resources like water and land remains finite. The global carbon budget for keeping average warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius is set to be used up in just five years.”

Here it is critical to reflect upon the biophysical limits of the Earth. Scientists have been warning for decades that by  2030 we will require the equivalent of two planets’ productive capacity to meet our annual demands (which is really the needs of the 1% responsible for our multiple ecological crises). This is less than 13 years away, yet the elite establishment would have us believe we can transform the entire global infrastructure while simultaneously using less fossil fuels. [Further reading: Environmentalism is Dead – Welcome to the Age of Anthropocentrism]

“No person with a shred of decency would disagree that the vast majority of reserves should not be burned. But you can’t have it both ways. If it cannot be burned for the industrialized “fossil fuel” economy, it cannot be burned for an industrialized, and more importantly, illusory “clean energy” economy either. Illusory as the fantastical infrastructure is fossil fuel based, fossil fuel dependent. Possible only by exhausting Earth’s natural resources that scientists warn will be depleted in their entirety by 2030, even without incorporating a third industrial revolution.” — Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital, April 23, 2016

Here it is critical to recall that The B Team, founded by Richard Branson (Virgin Group)[4] is led/managed by Purpose. That Purpose is Avaaz. The Avaaz and Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans speaks for We Mean Business, is a B Team Leader, and that Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s brainchild) is a key client of Purpose. The Unilever CEO being that of Paul Polman, co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission and chair of WBCSD.

In addition, Avaaz co-founder Patel is now a member of Polman’s and Mallock Brown’s newest venture, the aforementioned Business and Sustainable Development Commission. Furthermore, a founding NGO of We Mean Business is Ceres –a partner in the divestment campaign of 350.org. Another founding NGO of We Mean Business is The Climate Group. This NGO was incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation – as was 1Sky which merged with 350.org in 2011. The B Team was incubated by Virgin Unite, the charitable arm of the Virgin Group. The Climate Group is a partner of Avaaz (no longer public on the Climate Group website).

The “global goals” in reality, must be understood as the true objective for corporate capture and complete privatization of the commons. This objective is drenched in deceiving holistic linguistics – hidden in plain sight. Hence at the top of the hierarchy, the elite structured power institutions are deploying the legislation and unifying the corporate interests/power they are immersed under one key goal (the financialization of nature). While beneath it, the NGOs that target/appeal to the Anglo-centric middle class (Avaaz, Purpose, 350, Greenpeace, etc.) will be tasked with slowly but methodically bringing society up to speed with this brave new world, which they will be socially engineered to not only accept, but to believe it is in their own best interests.

“The B Team is grateful for the support it receives from Ford FoundationKering GroupGuilherme LealStrive MasiyiwaJoann McPikeThe Tiffany and Co. FoundationThe Rockefeller FoundationUnilever and Virgin Unite and for the contributions of past supporters Derek Handley [Founding CEO of The B Team] and One Young World.” — The B Team website

 

“In tackling climate change The B Team shares a common message: We Mean Business. The B Team joined forces with seven of the world’s largest business platforms to launch the We Mean Business coalition. In the months ahead, the coalition will use its collective voice and energy to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and help achieve climate justice.” — We Mean Business – The B Team, Sustainable Brands, September 24, 2014

From left to right: “Jamie Henn, Communications Director, 350, organizers of the world’s largest climate action on October 24; Ricken Patel, Executive Director, Avaaz, the world’s largest digital campaigning org, with 3.5M supporters; Ben Margolis, Campaigns Director, TckTckTck, an open campaign involving 220+ global NGO partners. At Fresh Air Center facilitated by tcktcktck for bloggers, downtown Copenhagen. 14 December 2009.” flickr, Tcklive

Earth Economics is co-founded by Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard. Earth Economics, created to accelerate and exploit the financialization of nature scheme, now well underway, is a member of Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), which is in turn a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). CERES funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. [Source]

Recently, WBCSD, chaired by Business and Sustainable Development Commission co-founders Polman and Mallock Brown, launched another initiative to privatize ecosystems — Natural Infrastructure for Business: “It is the first step towards achieving our vision that by 2020, investing in ecosystems-or natural infrastructure-will no longer be just a good idea; it will be common practice across industry sectors worldwide.” [Source] “The Natural Infrastructure for Business platform developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), CH2M (with support from The Nature Conservancy), and other member companies is designed to introduce business leaders and practitioners to natural infrastructure… It is the first output of the WBCSD’s Natural Infrastructure work program, chaired by Shell and Dow and involving a group of over 30 WBCSD members. [Source]

One of the key achievements of The B Team as identified by Branson’s Virgin:

“What has The B Team achieved so far? Joined forces with the Natural Capital Coalition, WBCSD, IUCN and others to develop the first ever Natural Capital Protocol for business.”

 

“Working as part of the Natural Capital Coalition The B Team supported the development of the first global, standard Natural Capital Protocol – a set of tools for companies to measure their impacts and dependencies on nature. The protocol was launched July 2016, following pilots by more than 40 companies, including Kering and Dow Chemical.” [Source]

Above: The B Team “Experts”. From left to right: Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans, Founder and President of Capital Institute John Fullerton, co-founder and President of Ceres (350.org divestment advisor/partner) Mindy Lubber [Source: The B Team]

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood (Goldman Sachs) and 350.org’s Bill McKibben. Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors.

The following video is Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans (The B Team) speaking for We Mean Business at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:

 

“We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.” — Jeremy Heimans, Purpose, 2011

Screenshot from the Devex Website. The address for The B Team Headquarters is the address of Purpose.  As demonstrated in part 1 of this series , The B Team appears to be, for all intent and purposes, the Purpose public relations firm.  

Citizens as the Puppets of Oligarchs

The Peoples Climate March of 2014 led by GCCA/TckTckTck (co-founded by 350.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace, along with 17 other international NGOs) and 2017 , the divestment campaign (Ceres), the Women’s March on Washington, the scores of NGO petitions designed to placate the masses…. these are not financed by the world’s most powerful elites and institutions – to the tune of trillions – for nothing. The funds are not “grants” –  the funds are investments. For the highest return. This is not philanthropy – this is security. For the world’s most powerful corporations and elites, foundations have become essential, tax-evading investments with returns that outweigh gold. The liberal faux activists are anthropocentrists craving status and access. Those leading the “movements” move in the same elite circles as those that finance the movements. Behind closed doors the fait accompli is the expansion of nuclear energy. The financialization of nature is the final coup de grace.

 “And hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York City and all across the world. The momentum became contagious.” — We Mean Business

 

“Building on our experience supporting sister marches inspired by the Women’s March, the Purpose team helped the People’s Climate Movement leverage its vast volunteer base through compelling digital content and distributed organizing.” — People’s Climate March: The March and the Movement, Phil Aroneanu (Founder of 350.org) et al, Senior Campaigns Director, Purpose

 

“In the months and weeks leading up to January 21, Purpose had the honor of working with a collective of organizers called The Sister March Network to launch a digital and organizing program designed to support distributed events around the country.” —  How the Women’s March Went Viral, Phil Aroneanu (co-founder of 350.org) , Senior Campaigns Director, Purpose

And while hundreds of thousands marched like fools (albeit well-intentioned and naive) with those that have united to further destroy what little remains of our natural world …. who protect and expand the existing power structures that enslave us, who in united fashion strategize to manipulate, to lie, to further utilize behavioural change science via  behavioural insight teams (governments) and social engineering (NGO & ivory tower think tanks), the crème de le crème of the world’s most powerful psychopaths are privatizing the planet. 350’s “radical” Naomi Klein may have called your attention to the fact Branson never failed to deliver on his 3bn dollar climate pledge, but she certainly didn’t call your attention to her financiers plans to privatize the planet via the financialization of nature. And she knew. As they all did. The above phrase from Malcolm fits most appropriately in this regard: “Oh, and I say it again, you’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Led astray. Run amok!”

“The NCP [Natural Capital Project] was developed by a coalition of 38 organisations, including, WBCSD, IUCN and The B Team, with hundreds of others consulted. The protocol has been piloted and feed into by more than 80 companies, representing 15 industry sectors and seven geographical regions. The protocol for generating, trusted, credible and actionable information around natural capital impacts and dependencies associated with a business operations is now freely available to all business leaders.” — New Natural Capital Protocol Will Help Business Value Nature, July 13, 2016

The Global Goals for Sustainable 21st Century  Colonization

“A customer of GADCO, a new Acumen investment in West Africa”  Credit: The Acumen website

“As part of an effort to build sustainable businesses in Africa and fight poverty, the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) today announced a US$5 million investment in GADCO, a Ghanaian agriculture company. ” — Soros Economic Development Fund Invests in Ghana to Bolster Food Security, March 21, 2014

At the end of this second segment of this series, we must take a moment to reflect upon the aforementioned agribusiness venture GADCO, that Molloch Brown chairs, for it represents a microcosm of what we can expect from the UN’s “Global Goals” which have now been incorporated globally into the education curriculum of children as ” The World’s Largest Lesson”. The “Global Goals” being steadily accelerated by the world’s most powerful institutions and NGOs with Purpose (Avaaz)/The B Team, We Mean Business (350.org divestment partner Ceres, etc.) and the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (inclusive of Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel), all working intricately together at the helm.

GADCO is financed in part (see below) and managed by Acumen Fund. Its partner community includes Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Unilever, UK Department of International Development, USAID, Goldman Sachs, Ford Foundation, General Electric, IKEA Foundation, Omidyar Network The Rockefeller Foundation, American Express, The Dow Chemical Company, Skoll Foundation, Citi, Barklays, Google, and a plethora of other foundations. [Full list]

“In setting up the outgrower scheme, GADCO deliberately sought partners from the development world – such as the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the World Bank – as well as private investors.”— When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

GADCO began its venture with a 30-year lease of 1,000ha (to start) of the land belonging to the Fievie community (in Ghana) for a 2.5 percent share of the venture’s profits and the grant of 48ha of developed irrigated plots back to the community. It is reported that the Fievie community members that were displaced were compensated by GADCO. GADCO sees Africa as a “growth market with compelling fundamentals driven by urbanization, population growth, and rising incomes.” GADCO is backed by Summit Capital, Acumen Fund (which hosts the website for GADCO) and loan capital by Deutsche Bank (JV fund with KfW) and Root Capital. [Source: World Bank] Acumen‘s egregious business model is based on replacing seed saved from the prior year by the rural farmers of Africa (where most farms use farm-saved seed) with seed from the West. [Source]

The farm labourers for GADCO (21st century colonizers) are paid 9 cedis a day (USD$4) “with some farmers stating this was lower than what they had earned doing the same job elsewhere.” As if it were not enough to colonize the community (the further modern-day colonization of Africa will expand in lockstep with GADCO’s growth) the patronizing patriarchs would also establish where and how this pittance of profit sharing would be spent. The 2.5% paid to the community “would be deposited into a special account to be used exclusively on local development projects.” As of January 2014, the Fievie’s 2.5% revenue share has gone towards 1) upgrading street lighting, 2) building a school block, 3) providing furniture for a kindergarten, and 4) buying a set of drums for a local youth group. Labourers who complained about shoddy boots and equipment had their needs fall on deaf ears. Labourers also expressed dissatisfaction that the transportation (part of the perks/negotiations promised by GADCO) to return them home at the end of the working day was inadequate. Another perk promised by GADCO was the luxury of being able to buy some of company’s rice at a subsidised price – but there was no rice available. The community approached GADCO in hopes of assistance to build a water pipeline. While the community, now adorned with updated street-lighting and kindergarten furniture, further negotiated for GADCO to supply a pipe for water in 2013, over $15 million was spent on the first phase of the project. The next phase of the project would be launched within the next two years with a $100-million investment to develop rice paddies in five Sub-Saharan countries, including Mozambique, Zambia and Nigeria.

“Nevertheless, the complaints of GADCO’s labourers – the one group the company can most easily replace and so arguably doesn’t need to try as hard to please – doesn’t reflect well, and some might be concerned that although other parties seem happy for now, the more the firm grows, the more it will be able to leverage its power to squeeze greater profits from those other groups too. There is a fundamental power imbalance between GADCO and its small-scale farmers, for example, which will only increase as the company develops a stronger monopoly on inputs and markets.”—  When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

 

“Meanwhile, AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) has supported the expansion of agrodealers into rural areas; the development of private seed companies; and reforms to intellectual property rights in Ghana. This has resulted in the increasing movement of seeds produced by multinational companies into the Ghanaian market, threatening to displace nationally produced certified seeds, and the enactments of new laws to facilitate market penetration and research by transnational agribusiness. A Biosafety Protection Law was enacted in 2010, facilitating the movement of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related research into Ghana… [GADCO] has entered into an arrangement with the communities to lease 1,000ha of land for a 2.5 percent share of the profits and the grant of 48ha of developed irrigated plots back to the community… GADCO is exploring other avenues of gaining access to seeds produced by transnational seed companies and from Ghanaian seed research institutes, although there are problems with the quality of certified seeds produced in Ghana and difficulties in getting regulatory clearance from imported seeds. For the present, it has entered into an alliance with Wienco, which has contractual rights to distribute Syngenta seeds in Ghana.” [Source]

 

“The Syngenta Foundation is linked to the much-maligned agrochemical giant Syngenta while AGRA – which is in fact chaired by Annan himself – has been accused of being a shill for biotech corporations and of undermining the sovereignty of local farmers.”— When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

The philanthropic gestures played out by the corporate state and hyped by the mass media they own and fund (hence control) are for propaganda purposes only – wholly utilized to give the semblance of concern. Be assured that the only true concern is both the protection and expansion of the current power structure via policies that will expand capital markets with investments, legislative policies and privatization that will not only further enslave the Global South, but further destroy all life on Earth. This series will continue to demonstrate that without doubt, there is no entity on Earth that sustains the status quo than the NPIC, the mercenaries and protectorate of global hegemony.

 

End Notes:

[1] The remaining 6 individuals to join the commission were: 

  1. Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association): [Full bio]
  2. Helen Hai, CEO, Made in Africa Initiative: Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) “By leveraging the expertise of leading industry experts and influential persons with experience working in China and Africa, the Made In Africa Initiative will ensure that Africa’s economic transition integrate knowledge and advice drawn from three decades of rapid economic development in China… Members of the board fully support industrialization in Africa.” [Source] [Full bio]
  3. Mads Nipper, Group President, CEO, Grundfos: Served as Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Vice President of Markets and Member of Management Board at LEGO A/S (known as Lego Group) from 1991-2014. [Source]
  4. Cherie Nursalim, Vice Chairman, GITI Group: Former research associate at the Harvard Business School and director of East-West Bank in California. Named Young Global Leader by the World Economic forum.[Full bio]
  5. Dinara Seijaparova, CFO, National Management Holding Baiterek: CFO of National Oil&Gas company; work on Kashagan financing; World Bank Group in Washington DC, analyst.[Source]
  6. Hans Vestberg, Executive Vice President and President of Network and Technology, Verizon: formerCEO of telecommunications company Ericsson. [Source]

[2] “The International Rescue Committee has been described in the past as the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, and it is. This is exactly what is going on with the IRC today, and more, when the IRC—heavily subsidized by the very same profiteers—sends its body counters into Congo. But the IRC is not only the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, it is also the ideal instrument of intelligence gathering. The IRC capitalizes on their access to refugee populations, conflict areas and individual refugee encounters and interviews to gather intelligence on armed groups, leadership, resources, weapons and geographical conflicts, information that is selectively used to serve the greater interests of the IRC and its partners.” Source: The War that did not make the Headlines: Over Five Million Dead in Congo? Behind the Numbers Redux: How Truth is Hidden, Even When it Seems to Be Told, January 31, 2008

[3] “In January 1993, Mort Abramowitz, then President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Mark Malloch Brown, then World Bank Vice President for External Affairs and later Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, are seated next to each other on a flight out of war-torn Sarajevo. The two men debate why it had been so difficult for the international system to effectively respond to Bosnia and other conflicts. An idea is hatched: to create an independent organisation that could serve as the world’s eyes and ears on the ground in countries in conflict while pressing for immediate action. The concept of the International Crisis Group is born.” [Source]

[4] “In 2013, following a series of workshops and meetings hosted by Virgin Unite, a group of business leaders came together with a shared belief that business could no longer be motivated by profit alone. From these extensive discussions The B Team was formed and incubated by Virgin Unite with the support of many wonderful partners.” [Source” Virgin Website]

[5] The Business Commission’s Steering committee is comprised of the following individuals: Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council on Sustainable Development; Kathy Calvin, President & CEO, UN Foundation; John Danilovich, Secretary General, International Chambers of Commerce; Zia Khan, Vice President, Initiatives and Strategy, Rockefeller Foundation; Lise Kingo, Executive Director, UN Global Compact; David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change; Richard Samans, Managing Director, World Economic Forum; Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever; Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute; Keith Tuffley, Managing Partner & CEO, The B Team; Miguel Veiga-Pestana, Chief Communications Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Kevin Watkins, Executive Director, Overseas Development Institute.

[6] The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group is comprised of the following individuals:Caroline Anstey, Group Managing Director and Global Head, UBS and Society, UBS; Kaysie Brown, Special Advisor for Policy and Strategic Initiatives, UN Foundation; Paula Caballero, Global Practice Director for Environment and Natural Resources, World Bank Group; John Elkington, Chairman and Chief Pollinator, Volans; Helene Gayle, CEO, McKinsey Social Initiative; Kitty van der Heijden, Director, World Resources Institute Europe; Celine Herweijer, Partner in PwC’s Sustainability and Climate Change, PWC; Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for the Global Economy and Development program, Brookings Institute; Mark Kramer, Co-founder and Managing Director, FSG; Kishore Mahbubani Lee, Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; Jessica Long, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy and Sustainability, Accenture; Professor Michael Mainelli, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Z/Yen; Paul Mason, Economics Editor, Channel 4 News; John W. McArthur, Senior Fellow, UN Foundation; Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, Co-founder and Chief Executive, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development; Amina J. Mohammed, Minister of the Environment, Nigeria, and CEO/Founder, Center for Development Policy Solutions; James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director, Equity Group Holdings Limited; Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair, OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct; Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director, UN Sustainable Development Network and Andrew Winston, Founder, Winston Eco-Strategies, LLC.

 

 

How Identity Became a Weapon Against the Left

Black Agenda Report

August 30, 2017

by Briahna Joy Gray

 

 

Responses to skepticism about Harris have simply dismissed the substance of the analysis, instead suggesting a “targeting” of Harris because of her gender and/or race.”

 

Having an “identity politics” is incredibly beneficial. Identity politics, which emphasizes the unique concerns of different communities and demographic groups, shows how historical inequities have been distributed across different races, genders, religions, abilities, and sexualities. In doing so, it allows us to better understand how to critique and reform the systems that replicate those inequities. It reveals how the foreclosure crisis disproportionately hurt [1]black home owners, how health issues manifest differently [2] across populations, and how various forms of “hidden taxes [3]” penalize women in professional life. To ignore identity is to ignore injustice. Yet there are risks to viewing the world through the prism of identity. If people are defined by their demographic characteristics, they can be reduced to those characteristics in a way that obscures differences within groups. If “identity” becomes synonymous with “perspective,” dissenting members within the identity group risk having their viewpoints erased and their humanity diminished. And when used cynically, as a political weapon, a simplistic view of identity can allow people of a particular political faction to wrongly imply that they speak for all members of their racial or gender group.

Kamala Harris is black. She is a lot of other things, too: a person of South Asian descent, a woman, a former prosecutor and state Attorney General, a sitting Senator, and, according to Barack Obama, “the best looking attorney general in the country [4].” (I am your sister in side-eye, Michelle.) Out of nearly 2,000 senators in the country’s history, Harris is one of only ten black Americans and two black women to have held the position. Her personal characteristics and political accomplishments, together with the intelligence and tenacity that propelled her to the Senate, have made her a highly visible prospect for the 2020 presidential race. Already, influential Democrats have shown a strong interest in Harris [5], with prominent former Clinton donors meeting privately with Harris in the Hamptons [6]. The San Francisco Chronicle called her the Democrats’ “Great Blue Hope [7],” and a Guardian writer suggested [8] that the combination of Harris’s race and her centrist platform “could be the party’s solution to its identity crisis.”

The San Francisco Chronicle called her the Democrats’ Great Blue Hope.’”

But certain parts of Kamala Harris’s political résumé have led to skepticism from the left. As California’s Attorney General, with responsibilities for overseeing the second largest prison population [9] in the country, Harris’s professional obligation to put people behind bars was seen as being [10] in direct tension with the goals of Black Lives Matter, perhaps the most prominent progressive movement of our time. Harris touted a reform-minded “smart on crime [11]” approach in her prosecutorial role, one that encouraged education and reentry programs for ex-offenders, and in the Senate, she has co-sponsored legislation [12] to improve prison conditions for women. Yet she has also come under heavy criticism from activists for, among other things: defending [13] the state against court orders to reduce its prison population, declining [13] to take a public stand on sentencing reform proposals, attempting to block a court decision [14] requiring the state to provide a transgender inmate with gender reassignment surgery, opposing a measure [15] to require independent inquiries into police uses of force, and obstructing efforts [13] by federal judges to hold California prosecutors accountable for an “epidemic [16]” of misconduct. Harris has been a zealous prosecutor (at times, she said [13], she has been “as close to a vigilante as you can get”), and certain of her policies—like bringing criminal charges [17] against parents whose children miss school—conflict with the efforts of groups like BLM to reduce the reach of the criminal justice system into people’s lives.

Harris has also drawn scrutiny over the crimes she wasn’t tough on. While serving as Attorney General of California, Harris failed to prosecute now-Treasury Secretary Steven “Foreclosure King” Mnuchin after his OneWest Bank engaged in a notoriously aggressive pattern of home foreclosures. Under Mnuchin, OneWest was a “foreclosure machine [18]” that did everything it could to seize people’s houses, inflicting misery [19] on homeowners while failing to properly review foreclosure documents. Harris’s consumer law division found that OneWest had engaged in “widespread misconduct [20]” in its treatment of borrowers; the investigators urged Harris to “conduct a full investigation of a national bank’s misconduct and provide a public accounting of what happened.” Instead, Harris closed the case, not even pursuing the compromise measure of a civil penalty. As David Dayen writes [21], this “watered-down version of public accountability was seen as the best possible outcome, and Harris didn’t even go for that.” In failing to hold the bank accountable, Dayen emphasizes, Harris was far from alone among state law enforcement officials. Harris was, however, the only Democratic senatorial candidate to whom Steven Mnuchin felt compelled to give a campaign donation [22].

Harris said she has been ‘as close to a vigilante as you can get.’”

There are therefore both principled and pragmatic reasons why people on the left might be skeptical of a Harris candidacy. There’s a serious question about whether Harris can be counted on to advance progressive values when doing so might require political sacrifices. But there’s also a question of strategy: from a leftist perspective, it’s unwise to run yet another presidential candidate whose ties to banks could make them “untrustworthy” in an era of low public trust [23] in elected officials. Given the crushing defeat of November 2016 (which was all but predicted [24] by certain insightful progressives), it would seem obviously beneficial for the Democratic Party to listen to progressive criticism early and adapt candidates and their messaging accordingly.

Yet progressive critiques of Harris were met with swift and unyielding hostility. After a Mic article [25] documented the lack of left-wing enthusiasm for a Harris candidacy, investigative journalist Victoria A. Brownsworth suggested that a better headline for the article would be: “Kamala Harris, biracial senator and former Attorney General of the most populous state, faces misogynist white men defaming her.” (This despite the fact that every critic quoted in the piece was female, and one was a woman of color.) Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, a close Clinton ally and frequent defender of the Democratic Party, declared [26] she found it “odd” that “these folks” (meaning Bernie Sanders supporters) “have [it] in for Kamala Harris and Cory Booker” in particular. “Hmmmm,” she said, implying that criticisms of Harris and Booker were racially motivated. MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid said the Mic article simply reported the opinions of “3 alt-left activists,” “alt-left” being a term used to brand leftists as racist analogues of the neo-Nazi alt-right. In Cosmopolitan, Brittney Cooper wrote [27] that the left in general, but in particular the “Sanders Left,” “has a black-woman problem,” a charge I’ve addressed[28]elsewhere. Cooper said that those criticizing Harris “think that black women who care about establishment politics lack vision” and that the debate “isn’t about Harris, but about the emotional and political labor that black women are expected to do to save America’s soul.” “Angry white Sanders voters,” she said, must “get off [Harris’s] back.” In large part, responses to skepticism about Harris have simply dismissed the substance of the analysis, instead suggesting a “targeting” of Harris because of her gender and/or race.

By wielding identity to neutralize political pushback, these commentators were continuing a trend. Throughout the 2016 campaign season, criticism of Hillary Clinton was frequently deflected with claims that her critics were motivated by sexism. And certainly, there were a lot of sexist attacks. Allusions to her husband’s sexual exploits, scrutiny of her appearance, and a perception of the candidate as “untrustworthy” were all rooted, in part, in gender bias. No one can credibly deny that Clinton’s gender has affected the public’s perception of her since the very beginning of her career, including the early political hostility she faced in Arkansas [29]when she refused to give up her maiden name, and the time in 1992 when she was publicly pressured into proving that she liked to bake cookies [30].

Criticism of Hillary Clinton was frequently deflected with claims that her critics were motivated by sexism.”

But writing off Clinton’s leftist critics as necessarily motivated by gender bias was sexist in itself. It reduced Clinton to her gender and implied that she had no agency in her own decision-making. Some people had perfectly defensible grounds for seeing Clinton as “untrustworthy,” such her shifting position [31] on subjects like the TPP, welfare “reform,”[32] and NAFTA. Others disapproved of Clinton for her hawkishness [33], her insistence that single-payer would “never ever [34]” happen, her ties to Wall Street, or myriad other legitimate reasons [35]. Those who raised these concerns, however, were often dismissed as either “Bernie Bros” or unpersuadable “deplorables” motivated by bigotry.

The “Bernie Bro” narrative, which attempted to paint Sanders supporters as disproportionately sexist (and Sanders himself as borderline bigoted) was deeply pernicious and effective. Sanders was vulnerable to this kind of attack: in a world in which personal identity has become a shorthand for “progress” (see e.g. Obama), and “white man” has become an epithet, Bernie’s identity was an easy target. His unflinching support of women’s issues, his history of advocacy for racial justice, his record of support for civil rights and LGBT issues, even his Jewishness were all made secondary to his image as an “angry white male [36].” Sanders was accused of downplaying the political concerns of people of color. Even now, when 73% of African Americans view Sanders favorably [37] (as compared with 52% of white people), he is still treated as having a race problem.

Since more allies are generally made by engaging one’s critics than dismissing them as biased deplora-bros, the heckling approach was not a politically savvy one. Just as importantly, though, the “bro” stereotype entirely erased the perspectives of countless women and people of color who did not share the center-left political position. The “Bernie Bro” mythology—that progressives are almost exclusively white, male, and young—will not die, no matter how often women and people of color try to speak up to disprove it. In all the words spilled about the uninterrupted whiteness of Sanders supporters, prominent “Bros” like Rosario Dawson, Ben Jealous, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Glaude, Spike Lee, Killer Mike, Cornel West, and Nina Turner went largely unmentioned. Hillary supporters were appalled [38] that leftists challenged civil rights hero John Lewis’s commitment to Clinton, but it seems civil rights legend Harry Belafonte was considered less sacrosanct—his endorsement of Bernie Sanders was whited-out of the public discourse along with the perspectives of Michelle Alexander [39]and Ta-Nehisi Coates [40]—both of whom are generally considered among the most respected liberal thought leaders.

The ‘Bernie Bro’ mythology—that progressives are almost exclusively white, male, and young—will not die, no matter how often women and people of color try to speak up to disprove it.”

One of the most powerful pro-Black Lives Matter messages heard during the entire campaign was a Sanders video [41] featuring Erica Garner talking about her father, but Garner was an inconvenient figure for the narrative. As black progressive Leslie Lee III said[42] in March 2016:

“Me, myself, and many other POC, people of color, who support Bernie Sanders, feel like we don’t get to be a part of the conversation. We get ignored. We get erased. It’s assumed that the black vote, the Hispanic vote, and everyone is all behind Hillary Clinton and none of us really get Bernie Sanders or like Bernie Sanders.”

In March of 2016, exasperated Sanders-voting POC even employed the hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite [42], joking that a love of the band Journey and pumpkin spiced lattes would accrue with our new race status. Other, more sardonic, tweeters celebrated the immunity from police violence their newfound caucacity [43] might bring. Ironically, whiteness—when attributed to blacks—became a punishment rather than a privilege.

Twitter has been an especially revealing host forum to this ugly friction between identity and ideology: there, unapologetically leftist people of color and women are routinely shouted down [44], called race traitors, self-hating women, or, incredibly, are accused of being white—even by people with white-presenting avatars. Twitter is where you can find a liberal Democrat referring to Our Revolution president Nina Turner as “Bernie’s Omarosa[45].” It’s disorienting to see white (and black) liberals calling leftists of color sellouts, Uncle Toms, “coons,” house-slaves, and well, white people, all in the name of anti-racism. But the Bernie Bro framework tells us that all the racists are at the fringes of the political spectrum, while the middle remains pure. Progressive women or leftists of color therefore present a kind of glitch in the matrix. The solution? Deny our existenceLeftists of color are regularly told—by white liberals!—that we are white and/or secretly racist. And while stories about the sexism Clinton supporters faced online are familiar, the racism and sexism directed by the center against the left are ignored. Purported anti-racist Democrats stayed largely silent as an Islamophobic smear [46] campaign was waged against progressive black Muslim Representative Keith Ellison, one of the ugliest instances of bigotry to come out of the Democratic Party in recent history.

Leftists of color are regularly told—by white liberals!—that we are white and/or secretly racist.”

The same kind of hypocrisy could be seen in Gloria Steinem’s inane quip that young women who supported Bernie must be in it for “the boys [47].” A feminist icon struggled so much to make sense of the inconvenient fact that a majority of young women supported [48] Sanders that she fell back on the same basic gender stereotypes she has been fighting since the 1960s. But this is the dissonance created by a certain conception of identity: if we believe that Hillary Clinton is “the candidate of women and people of color,” and “women and people of color” are defined entirely by those identities, it becomes impossible to understand how anyone who shares the identity could reject the candidate. Once the distinction between perspective and identity is erased, voters of color become an undifferentiated hive mind incapable of political independence.

It’s strange that we’re at the point where this needs to be said: a black politician is not necessarily the best politician to promote black interests, and a female politician will not necessarily serve women’s interests better than a man would. Race produces a set of lived experiences that inform our political perspective, but identity cannot be used as a mitigating factor for political shortcomings. A glance at the unusually diverse 2016 Republican primary field illustrates as much. If we believe that a political candidate’s identity overrides their substantive beliefs and policy prescriptions, then a Ben Carson/Carly Fiorina ticket would have been a progressive dream. Brittney Cooper of Cosmopolitan, in her defense of Harris, makes a good point here: Cooper says that, despite a history of performing the role, black people should not be cast as “the conscience of the nation.” The burden is too heavy for any group, and it certainly exceeds the capacity of any single politician. Belonging to a protected class does not immunize a politician from error, nor should it insulate her from criticism.

A black politician is not necessarily the best politician to promote black interests.”

During the 2012 presidential race, Cory Booker went on Meet The Press and defended [49]—of all people—Mitt Romney against criticism of Romney’s work for Bain Capital. Booker, evincing more sympathy for the financial industry than for the disproportionate number of black people affected by the financial industry’s bad acts, told voters to “stop attacking private equity.” Booker was wrong to do so. During the 2016 primary, Representative John Lewis unfairly impugned Bernie Sanders’ character, implying [50] that because Lewis hadn’t personally seen Sanders in the crowd of hundreds of thousands at the 1963 March on Washington, Sanders was probably lying about having gone. Lewis, likewise, was wrong to do so. Democrats defending [51] Hillary Clinton’s support of the 1994 Crime Bill relish pointing out that two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus voted in favor of it. But those members, too, were wrong—despite being black. The other members of the CBC, the ones who opposed the bill, were right. Likewise, the contemporary equivalent of that dissenting third—the black voters who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary—should not be erased because other quantities of black people disagree. Any statement about what “black people” think or support automatically discounts the perspective of very large numbers of us, because—as is often said but rarely internalized—black people are not a monolith. Identity is, at best, a loose proxy for a person’s political commitments, and individual identity groups contain incredibly diverse perspectives. Failure to recognize that fact can result in dangerous consequences: it can lead us to support policies contrary to the best interests of a community simply because of optics, and it can turn us into a “firewall” to lean on, rather than a constituency to be won.

Even worse, because the optics are improved, it can actually become harder to combat the harm posed by in-group bad actors: a black-run [52] police force can be just as harmful to a black community as one headed by whites, but the optics of equal representation can obscure the reality of systemic racism. Hillary Clinton was widely accepted as the best candidate for what are considered “women’s issues,” such as protecting the right to choose and ensuring access to reproductive care, even though Bernie Sanders had a nearly-identical track record [53]. Yet even though Clinton almost automatically received endorsements from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other women’s organizations, she chose as her Vice Presidential nominee a senator who had historically been [54] a staunch opponent of abortion rights. As governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine had advocated for adoption over abortion, pushed for abstinence-only education, and even supported a law requiring that minors seeking to end their pregnancies get parental approval. This history would ordinarily have caused outrage among reproductive rights advocates, who see abortion as a non-negotiable issue. (Witness the trouble [55] Sanders got into after [56] giving a speech supporting an anti-abortion mayoral candidate in Nebraska.) But Clinton’s gender insulated her from scrutiny with respect to women’s issues. Those who challenged Clinton’s VP choice on the grounds that it demonstrated a lack of commitment to feminist principles were—ironically—dismissed as “bros,” regardless of our gender. In short: the interest in Hillary as a woman candidate trumped interest in having the best candidate for women.

Clinton’s gender insulated her from scrutiny with respect to women’s issues.”

The recent backlash to rumors about Kamala Harris’s potential 2020 candidacy shows how this bizarre and cynical version of “identity politics” continues to be used as a weapon to derail progressives whose record of commitment to racial justice, gender equality, and LGBT issues has historically eclipsed that of the Democratic Party itself. Using identity this way is harmful to the interests of progressive politics. Leftists, particularly leftists of color, are invested in ensuring that the Democratic Party learns from its mistakes. To that end, we are committed to helping the party put forward candidates who are less vulnerable to the types of attacks which dogged Hillary – that she was a corporatist, that she was owned by Wall Street, that she could not be trusted. That is why we question candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick – all floated as 2020 possibilities in recent weeks. Though each of them has at least one black parent, it is intellectually dishonest to pretend it is that quality, rather than their corporatism, which draws criticism from the left. (And with Nina Turner emerging as the presumptive heiress to Bernie’s progressive leadership, it is increasingly difficult to credibly contend otherwise.) It is natural to be skeptical of an out-group member’s views about a subject important to members of that group—especially when certain race or gender-based factions have historically been in conflict. But the inquiry into whether to listen to a particular critic cannot stop at that critic’s identity.

Of course, identity still matters, and prejudice operates in subtle and pervasive ways. On one level, my instinct is to agree with those who say all Harris’s critics are racist: the truth is that everyone is racist [57]. But our culture’s conscious and unconscious biases won’t be resolved before 2020, and until they are, we must rely on something more than mere identity to determine the legitimacy of political criticism. It’s fair to ask of a critic: are you able to articulate a reason why you are wary of a candidate? Do, they, for instance, cite the candidate’s conservative “tough on crime” approach to criminal justice, or do they trade in gendered stereotypes, dog-whistles, or vague statements of “feeling” that suggest an ulterior motive? This analytical step is crucial: a critic should not be impugned on the basis of a candidate’s identity, but on the soundness of the critique itself. Nor should a critic be ignored because of their own identity, without anything more. After all: biology is not (political) destiny.

Harris, Booker, Patrick, Biden, Warren: all deserve scrutiny. So does any other potential candidate. That scrutiny should be applied evenly, in proportion to a candidate’s likelihood of success and the quality of their record. It’s not an act of racism to question whether the Democratic Party should select as its presidential nominee a career prosecutor with a controversial record on misconduct issues. Pretending that these candidates are criticized solely on the basis of race or gender is, in itself, a lesser form of prejudice: it erases their flaws, and flattens their humanity. Treating people as people requires acknowledgment of their imperfections. To err, after all, is human.

 

[Briahna Joy Gray  co-hosts the SWOTI podcast: https://www.swotipod.com/ – she can be followed on Twitter @briebriejoy]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

Part 3 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case. Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

:: Houston Hurricane
:: Update on Liars and Exploiters at camps and elsewhere
:: Fake Progressive Agendas Part 3

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/09/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-3/

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

Part 2 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case. Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

:: Update on Savanna Lafontaine-Greywind
:: Addressing Racism, Privilege, Power in Fargo
:: Fake Progressive Agendas Part 2

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/06/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-2/

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

Part 1 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case such as Christina Hollenback, Nexus, and Menape.  Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

What a Wonderful World – US Saviour Complex

21st Century Wire

September 16, 2017

by Bruno Guigue

Purveyor of platitudes, the West portrays itself as the epitome of universal values . A paragon of democracy, this champion of human rights always deploys its presumed virtues in support of its hegemonic ambitions. Like the Fairy Godmother, doing her best to match her morals with her interests, she veils her ambitions with the cloak of Law and Justice. 

Thus, the “Free World” goes about bombing foreign nations for the sake of “democracy”, preferably in oil or mineral-rich territories. By combining a simple creed with capitalist greed, it is acting as if it can convert its economic supremacy into moral privilege.

The rest of the world is not fooled by these tactics, but who cares? The “Free World” is always right because it represents the “good fight” and for as long as it is the most powerful, it will not be contradicted. The inherent barbarism that it projects onto others is the counter to its self-proclaimed monopoly on “civilization”. Sanctified by the holy order of “right to intervene”, a marriage of the GI sandbags with the Kouchner-style bag of rice, the West, vassalized by Washington, believes wholeheartedly that they can save the world by subjugating it to the pitiless ravages demanded by the financial vultures and military industrial complex.

This supremacist enterprise was not born yesterday. It was midwived in the historical period dear to Fernand Braudel, that of the emergence of the “world economy”. Driven by its superior technological advances, since the Renaissance, the western world has propelled itself towards the conquest of our planet earth. Patiently, the west has appropriated other cultures, other worlds, and twisted them into its own image, enforcing obeissance and imitation, eliminating all those who would not conform. Its certitude is untroubled by its own hypocrisy, the West perceives itself as a metaphor for this world. The West wanted to expand from being a part of the world into being the “whole” – in the same way, today, we see countries comprising 10% of the world’s population portraying themselves as the “International Community”.

Over the last three centuries, colonial conquest has demonstrated the West’s desire to expand its influence beyond its own boundaries, under the banner of bringing “civilization” to the under-developed. This global domination project was temporarily derailed by the uprising of the colonized peoples in the 20th Century, but it made a triumphant return with its North American branch of hegemony. America, the “Far West” ‘discovered’ by Christopher Columbus in search of the “Far East”, inherited the “Old Continent” penchant for imperialism and rapacious carpet baggery. The US converted its lack of history into the promise of a ” better future”, emerging suddenly from Anglo-Saxon puritanism, the US magnified the globalist “for profit” ethos. Paid for with the blood of the American-Indian genocide, America was born, the newly minted metaphor for the world.

It is not certain that this change was for the better. Colonial empires collapsed under the weight of their archaic structures, while US hegemony maintains itself through modern technology channels, from Google to drone warfare. Suddenly the US was the most supple and resilient. What imbues it with flexibility also ensures its longevity. From the white pith helmet of the european colonial overlords to the digital screens of US cyber warfare, a revolution took place. The US substituted a shock-colonization, dismantled after bloody decolonization conflict, with a multi-faceted hegemonic enterprise. Taking over from the classic colonial three “M”s, the “made in the US” NGOs replaced the Christian missionary complex, “merchants” became multi-nationals and the “soldiers” converted to cyber supremacy.

Emboldened by the die-hard spirit of “born again” Midwesterners, the American empire is projecting its devastating Manichaeism upon the rest of the world. Dreaming with its eyes wide open, the US envisages a definitive alliance between good and evil, the indestructible pillar upon which to build a straightforward ethnocentrism. The “law” is on their side as it ’embodies the core values of ‘democracy, human rights and market economy’.  Obviously, this is a crude ideology, a fraudulent mask for its own sordid interests, but it is effective. Its efficacy is proven by the popular consensus that the “US won the second world war, capitalism works, Cuba is a tropical gulag, Assad is worse than Hitler and that North Korea is a threat to the world.”

This process of self-beatification, bestows upon the North-American-Empire zealots, the right to track down all “Evil” in the world. No scruples will impede its saviour frenzy, it is the very incarnation of such an “exceptional civilization”, that it must cleanse the world of barbarism by all means at its disposal. That is why modern imperialism functions as a court of “universal” law, a judge, that rewards or punishes where it sees fit. Before this elevated “moral” jurisdiction, the CIA represents the prosecution, the Pentagon is the secular chamber, the US President is the high court judge, a “deus ex machina”, invoking divine justice, the lightning strike, upon the “Axis of Evil” and any other sinners circulating in the court of the “Empire of Good”.

This tendency for the US to see itself as the moral compass for the world is central to this structure and is unperturbed by the rapid turn-around of Presidents in the White House, a new tenant changes nothing. Washington’s “crusade” against the “barbarians” conceals the unbridled greed of the Military Industrial Complex and the iron claw of the deep state. From Harry Truman to Donald Trump with Barack Obama inbetween, from Korea to Vietnam to Syria, Indonesia, Angola, Mozambique, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, South Africa, Serbia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, death is the cure, by proxy or directly, for all those who oppose the saviour’s kingdom of universal justice.

“Philanthropic America” always harnesses the local labour force to carry out its dirty work.Franco, Hitler and Mussolini (until 1939), Chiang Kai Shek, Somoza, Syngman Rhee, Ngo Dinh Diem, Salazar, Batista, Mobutu, Marcos, Trujillo, Pik Botha, Duvalier, Suharto, Papadopoulos, Castelo Branco, Videla, Pinochet, Stroessner, Reza Shah Pahlevi, Zia Ul Haqq, Bin Laden, Uribe, King Salman, Nethanyahu, Ukrainian Nazis and the “moderate terrorists” in the Middle East have been of invaluable service to Empire.

Undisputed leader of the “Free World”, America claims to embody “civilization” while obliterating entire populations with nuclear weapons, napalm or a rain of cruise missiles. Sometimes it chooses a slow death for  its prey, with Agent Orange, depleted uranium or embargos on medicines and humanitarian aid. While America is never short of sychophants praising their “services to Humanity”, the evidence is irrefutable, that the collapse of this Empire would be a cause for celebration.

 

Translation by Vanessa Beeley for 21st Century Wire

***

[Bruno Guigue is a French author and political analyst born in Toulouse 1962. Professor of philosophy and lecturer in international relations for highter education. The author of 5 books including  Aux origines du conflit Israélo-Arabe, l’invisible remords de l’Occident (L’Harmattan, 2002).]

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

September 8, 2017

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

“Good fucking luck with the World Bank ‘supporting’ your transition to democracy. Soon, the ADB (Asian Development Bank) will come and do the same – if it hasn’t already. Everyone falls for the utterly stupid. Mad world.” – Philippine citizen/activist Kristine Alvarez in response to the announcement “World Bank OKs first Myanmar aid in 25 years”, November 2, 2011

Andrea Woodhouse poses for a portrait on the new bridge on Sule Pagoda road, downtown Yangon. (C) Chiara Luxardo

 

In the book NGOs – The Self-Appointed Altruists (written in 2002 and updated in 2011) the author observes:

“NGO’s in places like Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Albania, and Zimbabwe have become the preferred venue for Western aid – both humanitarian and financial – development financing, and emergency relief. According to the Red Cross, more money goes through NGO’s than through the World Bank. Their iron grip on food, medicine, and funds rendered them an alternative government – sometimes as venal and graft-stricken as the one they replace.”

 

“The elites like this model, but it’s fragility is evident. Cancun itself can only take so many more category 5 hurricanes before it will be retired like Mazatlan or Atlantic City. When this happens, new frontiers of commodified leisure, whether in Colombia, Sri Lanka or Myanmar, will be developed, but even so the economic and political costs of the 2 degree Celsius average temperature rise that the world leaders have deemed acceptable are staggering.” — Normalizing Catastrophe: Cancun as Laboratory of the Future, Dec 18. 2010

In the March 3, 2017 article Yangon, Myanmar: World Bank Specialist Goes Back to Beginnings the Financial Times published a full feature on Avaaz co-founder Andrea Woodhouse. The article covers the following events.

In 2008 Avaaz co-founders Andrea Woodhouse and her husband David Madden went to Myanmar. According to Woodhouse, she carried out post-disaster work for nine months following Cyclone Nargis for “a body comprising the government, the UN, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations”. During this time, Woodhouse states there were “no credit cards, no ATMs and a SIM card for a mobile phone cost roughly $1,500.00.”

Former United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Aung San Suu Kyi and her staff at her home in Rangoon on November 19, 2012. Source: (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Neoliberalism would soon follow. In 2012, Woodhouse would relocate to central Yangon “to settle as a social development specialist for the World Bank, which was re-engaging with Myanmar after an absence of more than 20 years” with her spouse and Avaaz co-founder David Madden. Not so coincidentally, Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, US and EU sanctions began to lift and “market liberalisation” was under way. Between 2011 and 2015 the cost of renting a typical apartment more than doubled with landlords catering to the wave of foreign money by demanding a full years rent up front.

In the Montessori school where Woodhouse’s child attends (“one of maybe two expats in a class of about 15 to 20 children”) the school teaches in English rather than Burmese. Living in one of the poorest countries in Asia, wealthy expats (inclusive of Woodhouse and Madden) and Myanmar elites travel abroad for medical treatment and child birth. Woodhouse acknowledges her children are  “extremely privileged”.

August 18, 2017, The FINANCIAL — “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the World Bank today signed a US$200 million credit for a First Macroeconomic Stability and Fiscal Resilience Development Policy Operation…. The terms for the IDA credit include a repayment period of 38 years…” [Source]

“In 2012 if we went to a restaurant popular with expats, we would probably recognise everyone there. Now we wouldn’t know a single person.”— Andrea Woodhouse

The vast majority of expats rent. Typical two-bedroom, serviced apartments in the capital cost about $5,100 per month. Parliament passed a new condominium law, which gives foreigners rights to purchase flats, in January 2016.

Avaaz Co-founder David Madden in Myanmar

  

Avaaz and Purpose co-founders Jeremy Heimans (l) and David Madden: “Jeremy Heimans and David Madden founders of Get Up! Action for Australia, at Old Parliament house in Canberra on Friday, 29th July, 2005.” THE AGE NEWS Picture by PENNY

“After years of isolation, Myanmar is opening up. Opportunities abound. However international companies have little experience here and local firms have little experience working with them. Parami Road meets this need.” — Parami Road Website

As first noted in the 2014 article, SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire, David Madden, co-founder of both Avaaz and New York consulting firm Purpose, has also co-founded the marketing firm Parami Road in Myanmar (“Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work”) as well as the tech firm Phandeeyar – a 6000 square foot ICT hub in the heart of downtown Yangon. Launched with the support of several sponsors in 2014, including Internews and Phandeeyar (previously operated as Code for Change Myanmar), it is important to note that the key partners of Phandeeyar are USAID, the US State Department, U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and the  US-ASEAN Business Council. [Source]

“A serial entrepreneur who co-founded the global campaigning website Avaaz.org and U.S.-based digital strategy agency Purpose, among others, the Harvard-educated Madden believes technology is essential for Myanmar’s development.” — July 8, 2015, Myanmar Now

Simply stated, Madden plays a vital role in bringing western ideologies and foreign investment to the doorstep of Myanmar. As a co-founder of Avaaz, an NGO that specializes in behavioural change, Madden’s hashtag for his tech firm (“human Capital Development”) sums up the goal: social impact (#socialimpact MM). Of course, Madden cannot achieve this alone, thus he is joined by thousands of NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex:

“Estimates vary widely on the number of local NGOs in Myanmar. An article claimed more than 10,000 such groups, while another study conducted in 2003 by Save the Children—the first detailed look at civil society in Myanmar—estimated there were 270 local NGOs at that time. Regardless of the number, there is a vibrant and growing nongovernment sector encompassing a range of interests and approaches throughout the country. International NGOs are increasingly active in Myanmar, working in humanitarian response and longer-term development in a multitude of sectors, including the environment, health, education, livelihoods, rule of law, advocacy, and civil society capacity building. International NGOs, present in small numbers since the 1990s, have entered Myanmar in two recent waves: in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, and since the forming of the new government in early 2011.” — Civil Society Briefs Myanmar

A key function of Madden’s tech firm is not unlike that of MoveOn.org (a co-founding NGO of Avaaz) and its relationship with the US Democratic party, which is to focus on building Myanmar’s voter registration. It’s other key function is to pitch business opportunities to investors. In September of 2016, the tech firm launched the “Phandeeyar accelerator”.  According to Forbes (October 31, 2016), the “accelerator” provides $25,000 in seed funding, mentoring and free office space in Phandeeyar’s 6,000-square-foot building. Participants also receive “$200,000 worth of strategic services, including access to Amazon Web Services, free English classes and a range of other benefits. They’ll also have the opportunity to pitch investors who Madden describes as ‘serious about the Myanmar market.'” Madden foresees startups that establish themselves “could be poised for explosive growth in the next several years as the economy continues to accelerate.”

“Madden said that some had been hesitant, waiting to see how State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to power would play out. But confidence is growing following the peaceful political transition, and the U.S.’ decision to ease sanctions in recent years has inspired much interest in the country. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that Myanmar’s economy has the potential to reach $200 billion in 2030, more than tripling from $45 billion in 2010. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, run by the U.S. government, issued the first installment of $250 million loan to the telecommunication company Apollo Towers Myanmar in June. Microsoft is working with the Myanmar Computer Company to help 100,000 people develop IT skills within the country. And the country saw a strong performance from its first listed stock earlier this year, indicating potential for future growth. Investment opportunities abound, with deep needs across the energy, tourism and infrastructure markets, according to the British Chamber of Commerce.” —This Tech Accelerator Is Betting That Myanmar’s Startup Scene Is Set To Explode, Forbes, October 31, 2016 [Emphasis added]

In 2017, the Phandeeyar Accelerator’s Demo Day hosted over 200 local and international investors. The list included 70 venture capital investors (VCs) and mentors including Red Dot Ventures, Digital Ventures, and Omidyar Network. Note that although the official language of Myranmar is Burmese, spoken by 70-80% of the population, all Burmese speaking in the Phandeeyar demo day video are speaking English. Far be it for Anglo “leaders” to make any concerted effort to speak Burmese, let alone learn the language. This of course is colonization in one of its most accepted and blatant forms. This point is further validated by the fact that Edulink Australia (specializing in English proficiency) is a strategic partner of Phandeeyar.

Madden is not the only expat poised for explosive growth in Myanmar. With the global capitalist economic system hovering close to stall speed, the world’s most powerful corporations are desperately searching for new markets. Myanmar is the “new sweet spot” for the most egregious corporate entities:

“Still, the country’s young, inexpensive workforce and low living standards offer huge potential for growth. GE, on its website, describes Myanmar as a “new sweet spot” for growth in Southeast Asia. Some other major U.S. brands got a head start, including Coca-Cola, which has a factory producing for the local market. Ball Corp. has a factory in Yangon’s Thilawa Special Economic Zone making cans for Coca-Cola. MasterCard is expanding in the area of ATM cards. GE is active in energy and other sectors and leases Boeing 737-800s to the country’s national airlines. ConocoPhillips and Chevron have stakes in oil and gas exploration and development. Some U.S. businesses, like Caterpillar, have distribution tie-ups in Myanmar with local or other foreign companies.” [October, 2016, Source]

 

Above: Phandeeyar headquarters

On June 3, 2016 it was announced that Phandeeyar secured a $2 million follow-on investment from Omidyar Network. [Source: Deal Street Asia] Omidyar Network first invested in Phandeeyar in 2014 with other investors and aid givers including the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, USAID and Google. Deal Street Asia also reports that “[A]part from Phandeeyar, Omidyar Network has invested in Proximity Designs, Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI), Myitmakha news agency, Yangon Journalism School, Global Witness and Namati in the country.”

Financiers of Madden’s entrepreneurial tech operations and innovations also include Internews, Facebook, the United States Embassy, Hewitt Packard, Samsung, the US State Department, Pact, Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID), The Asia Foundation, KBZ Bank and Red Dot Ventures. Strategic partners include (but are not limited to) telenor, wave money (telenor, Yoma Bank), Fb Start, AWS Activate (Amazon), JobNet, Microsoft BizSpark, Today Ogilvy Myanmar (“we make brands matter”), Edulink Australia (specializing in English proficiency) and PwC.

The Innovation Marketplace is a joint initiative by Phandeeyar and FHI 360, and supported by USAID in which a primary focus is “mobilization of popular support for social change.”

And while the rich get richer:

“Land laws were changed in 2012 and 2013 to make it easier for the government to facilitate land grabs and many segments of the rural population have seen their homes demolished and their paddy fields ruined to make way for foreign development projects. Farmers like Umya Hlaing have been left without land with, “no conversation, no replacement land, no adequate compensation.” [January 30, 2017, Source]

The Ultimate Balancing Act

Here one must note that while Myanmar opens its arms to neoliberal foreign policy, it simultaneously transitions into a playground for the rich – all while the tensions and killings between the Muslim Rohingya, the Buddhist Rakhine, the Burmese authorities, Burmese government and its military escalate. As the so-called human rights NGOs (which are actually in servitude to empire) turn up the volume on this crisis, we must acknowledge there is much more going on behind the scenes that we, in the west, are not cognizant of. For example, terrorist factions such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda have embedded themselves into various Rohingya organizations such as the Rohingya Liberation Organization and the Rohingya Solidarity Organization. The well-documented atrocities and killings of Buddhist Rakhine by the Rohingya go unreported by mainstream media. This has undoubtedly been orchestrated, at least in part, by foreign interests. Exploiting existing divisions is key to controlled chaos and destabilization. Where divisions do not already exist – they are created.


Above: Avaaz campaign

Above: Avaaz training Buddhist Monks:A young student and monk take part in a non-violence training program – they cannot show their faces for fear of being identified by the military.” Source: Avaaz website

The said contention surrounding the Rohingya is the issue of legal citizenship (sovereignty and nationality) verses refugee/migrant status. This ongoing crisis is then conflated with the religious components. The fact that this is a basic human rights issue is then lost. Further, “Harsha Walia, a social justice activist and journalist, tells us that borders are constructs and that they serve an imperialistic purpose. Borders represent practices used to legally coerce displaced migrants into precarious labor and criminalized existence. In her work, Undoing Border Imperialism, Walia offers a framework termed ‘border imperialism,’ which is a system that controls the flow of people, themselves fleeing the military or economic violence of empire, who are racialized and economically exploited by their illegalization.” [Source: Borders: Imaginary Lines, Real Exploitation]

What is notable here is that fact that although Avaaz has produced a campaign to bring attention to this tragedy, never do they ask for the world to demand the implementation of a no-fly zone as they have done in countries that reject imperial dominance. It appears as though, if Myanmar does not continue to kowtow sufficiently to foreign interests, an intervention with a no-fly-zone on could easily be the next campaign demand for NGOs to rally behind. However, this is most unlikely as the full transition of Myanmar to western ideologies is already well underway with foreign investment now pouring in. Regardless of the geopolitics involving China and Asia as a whole, the fact is the World Bank has already sunk it’s teeth in. There is simply too much to risk with a full raze of the landscape. Indeed, the Myanmar crisis will prove to be a problematical balancing act of sabotaging Chinese interests while simultaneously attracting foreign investment from western corporations. If necessary, a coup is far more likely to be orchestrated by foreign interests. The crisis being highlighted by international NGOs should be seen as more of a threat – pressure upon Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure complete subservience more than anything else. The key factor is this: interventions by imperial states are never based on protecting human rights.

Also, to be taken into account, is the power struggle between the declining United States and new superpower China. First, consider the massive investment into Myanmar by China:

 “But the total $248 million U.S. companies have committed since 1988 amounts to less than 1 percent of total foreign investment of about $60 billion. China has invested more than $25 billion, according to Chinese figures.” [October 2016, Source]

Secondly, consider the crucial energy aspect:

 “After the massive Rakhine energy reserves were discovered in 2004 they attracted China’s attention. By 2013 China completed oil and natural gas pipelines, which connect Myanmar’s port of Kyaukphyu with the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan province.” [Source]

Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Centre for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, sums it up as follows:

“First, this is a game against China, as China has very large investments in Arakan [Rakhine] Second, it is aimed at fueling Muslim extremism in Southeast Asia…. Third, it’s the attempt to sow discord within ASEAN [between Myanmar and Muslim-dominated Indonesia and Malaysia]. — [Source]

Myanmar-to-China Crude Oil & Gas Pipelines

The Myanmar-China crude oil and gas pipelines were designed to carry more than 22 million tons of oil and more than 420 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year was to commence operations in 2013. On April 11, 2017, the Financial Times announced that China and Myanmar would open long-delayed oil pipeline after being suspended for years, fraught with delays and conflict. “Once fully operational, the pipeline from Made island in Rakhine state can supply almost 6 per cent of China’s crude oil imports. The gas line is already in use.” On May 20, 2017 India of Times reported that “China-Myanmar oil pipeline opens enhancing tie: The oil reached Ruili, a border city of in China’s Yunnan Province at 4 p.m. on Friday according to the state owned China National Petroleum Corporation, which built the pipeline.”

Map: Oil & Gas Journal, 2012

Near-term pipeline plans grow, longer-term projects sag – Oil & Gas Journal, February 6, 2012:

“Myanmar awarded China National Petroleum Corp. exclusive rights to construct and operate the proposed Myanmar-to-China crude oil pipeline. This line and a companion natural gas pipeline would transport hydrocarbons from the Bay of Bengal across Myanmar to southwestern China (Fig. 4). Plans call for the 440,000-b/d crude pipeline to run between Maday Island in western Myanmar through Ruili in China’s southwestern Yunnan province and on to a new 200,000-b/d refinery in Anning. Both the pipeline and refinery are to begin operation by 2013. CNPC began building a large oil import port at Kyaukpyu, Myanmar, in October 2009 to serve as the pipeline’s input point. The port will be able to receive vessels up to 300,000 dwt and will have storage capacity of 600,000 cu m.”

The natural gas pipeline is scheduled to begin carrying 12 billion cu m/year to southwestern China in 2013. Route preparation began in mid-2010, with the first pipes welded in August 2011. The pipeline will parallel the route of the crude pipeline to Ruili. From there it will run to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, before extending to Guizhou and Guangxi in South China.

The crude line will transport oil carried by tanker from the Middle East, while the gas line will carry material from Myanmar’s offshore A-1 and A-3 blocks. Total estimated project costs are $1.5 billion for the oil pipeline and $1.04 billion for the gas pipeline.

The new pipelines will give China better access to Myanmar’s resources and will speed deliveries and improve China’s energy security by bypassing the congested Malacca Strait, which currently ships most of China’s imported crude oil.”

Here it is important to note that 90% of the crude oil going through the Myanmar-to-China pipeline is designated for China – while the bulk of the ecological devastation and social impacts/displacement, has been placed on the Myanmar ecosystems and most vulnerable populations.

The Strategic Expansion of Globalization & Capitalism

In this Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 photo, a sign of KFC’s grinning Colonel Sanders and his goatee is lit outside its outlet in Yangon, Myanmar. The end of most U.S. sanctions against Myanmar is raising hopes western businesses will join the rush to invest in Myanmar that up to now has been dominated by China and other Asian countries. But much hinges on how the government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, reshapes the country’s outdated laws and other policies. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)

 

Here it is critical to acknowledge that empire’s strategic plans for expansion are designed years and even decades in advance. Consider that the co-founder of Avaaz Ricken Patel has been involved in Burmese activism since 2001 – 6 years prior to the founding of Avaaz – and also prior to co-founding Res Publica (a founding NGO of Avaaz) with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello:

“…I have worked for years in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, and Afghanistan for international organizations, and I first got involved in Burma activism in 2001, so I had some experience to bring to understand the dynamics and the groups involved.

 

From the start, we recognized that granting money well, monitoring its expenditure, and following up is a demanding activity that requires professional support. Avaaz is a campaigning organization and not in this business. So we chose a foundation partner with long experience supporting the Burmese people to advise and administer our community’s donation. That group is the Open Society Institute, one of the largest and most respected foundations in the world. OSI is taking no overhead on the funds we are granting to Burmese groups, and has also increased its own support to this cause in 2008.” [Source]

It is also vital to recall George Soros (a key financial backer of Avaaz at its inception) has long had his eye on Myanmar.  The 2003 Council of Foreign Relation’s report titled “Burma: Time For Change,” (“Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations”) summarized the intentions: “[T]hese recommendations are intended to inform U.S. government actions as well as to increase U.S. cooperation with other countries, especially in Asia, to bring about a long overdue political, economic, and social transformation of Burma.” The independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations included 21 task force members (inclusive of George Soros) who were representative/associates of the following organizations, corporations and institutions:  Human Rights Watch, Goldwyn International Strategies (an international consulting firm focusing on the geopolitics of energy), the Unocal Corporation (oil and gas), liaisons for Vanity Fair, New York Times, New Republic, U.S News, World Report, The Economist,  the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network, Soros Fund Management, the World Bank, Amnesty International, National Security Council, the Millennium Development Goals, Psychiatry and Public Health, Refugee NGOs, and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

The seven organizations/institutions represented by eight task force observers were The Century Foundation, The Asia Foundation, U.S. Department of State, Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, International Crisis Group and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs.

As a side note, the report also demonstrates the extent to which the international NGOs work hand in glove with imperial states, funneling funds through NGOs rather than governments. This demonstrates the blatant paternalism unabashedly embedded in the policy of Western governments:

“According to the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, current U.K. policy is to deliver “targeted, transparent, and accountable assistance to ordinary Burmese people through the UN, international NGOs, and not through the Burmese authorities,” — The Council of Foreign Relation’s (CFR) 2003 document entitled “Burma: Time For Change,” [Source]

And while those in Ivory Towers, who have succeeded in decimating the natural environment in their own countries, transform Myanmar into a country that will reflect not only Western values but also the vapid western waste and consumption… and while rich expats rent apartments for USD $3,000 – $8,000 per month… consider the residents of 555:

“Like many others, he moved to Yangon to look for work in the sprawling shantytowns that have grown up on the outskirts of the city. The suburbs are centers of industries that have begun to boom since Myanmar opened to the world in 2011. Factories cordoned off behind iron gates produce everything from salt to garments. But with a new government in power since April, the 555 residents are among hundreds of thousands of informal settlers facing an uncertain future as displacement looms on the horizon again.

 

Nay Shwe moved to Hlaing Tharyar in 1996 as a construction worker employed to build the upmarket Pun Hlaing Golf Course — a gleaming image of wealth right next door to the slums. He rifled through a plastic wallet to pull out a crumpled, yellowed letter granting permission for himself and several other laborers to live near the grounds. At the time, there was little more than vacant scrubland. “We have endured hardships since that time until now,” he says. “We had to pump much sand from the river to live here.” Subsequent years brought tussles over the land. In 2012, he spent six months in prison for organizing protests against a planned forced eviction that was eventually suspended…

 

“When we describe the slums we always describe the negative things,” says Slingsby. “We never look at the positive things. These people are great survivors. … Somehow they manage to survive. Somehow a lot of them send their children to school and even to university. Who built the houses? The people built houses themselves.”

 

When their kids were turned away from the official schools, the 555 residents simply built their own. They recruited their own volunteer teachers. On a recent morning, a group of village elders, all men, stood outside and admired their handiwork. Like most of the structures in the area, the single-story school is propped up on wooden stilts to protect it from the rising water.

 

“So flooding is a problem here, but we can build a concrete road, so flooding for two or three hours is OK for us,” says Hla Htay. 555 might not exist, officially, and it might not be good land, but it is home.

 

“We prefer living here because it is the nearest place to our work, to the factories, so here we can build everything by ourselves,” he says. “We can build our houses. If we need to move somewhere provided by the government it will be expensive. … It will be a lot of rules.” [July 18, 2016, Evicting the Residents of 555]

The word Avaaz apparently translates to “voice”. Unfortunately, Avaaz is a voice for the elite power structures that keep the world at large enslaved. Avaaz is a slap in the face to the self-determination of citizens in sovereign countries everywhere. It must be recognized that those who continue to support this organization, with full knowledge of its elite formation, share these paternalistic Western values.

 

 

Further reading:

  • China Kunming to Myanmar Kyaukpyu DWP pipelines to open in June 2013, January 23, 2013
  • Myanmar, la Cina assetata di petrolio costruisce un porto e un gasdotto: in fuga migliaia di pescatori locali e 23 villaggi fantasma, February 5, 2015
  • Geopolitics of Rohingya Crisis, September 3, 2017
  • The Rohingya Crisis: Conflict Scenarios And Reconciliation Proposals, September 7, 2017

 

[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.]

Thomas Sankara: Africa’s Unsung Inspiration

21st Century Wire

September 5, 2017

by P.D. Lawton

 

Thomas Sankara, a man in his early thirties transformed the world’s poorest country at that time, Upper Volta, into a self-sufficient modern thinking nation in just four years.

This African miracle nation remains little known about in the West because its story contradicts every negative image that has ever been painted of African leadership and African nations. Sankara would prove to the people of Burkina Faso, to other African nations and to the colonial powers what could be achieved in the blink of an eye by Africans under African leaders of integrity.

Upper Volta in 1983 was little more than a French run labour camp for French run Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). This region of West Africa was up until the mid-1800’s part of the ancient Mossi Kingdom, and has always been called ‘The Land of Upright Men’, men of integrity, hence the name Burkina Faso. Spiritually the people of this region are of great significance and still  to this day practice the world`s most ancient belief.

In the August Revolution, Sankara and the military overthrew the CSP (Council for the Salvation of the People) headed by conservative Jean-Baptiste Quedraogo and formed a new government of the National Council of the Revolution (CNR).

Two years later infant mortality had dropped from 280 deaths for every 1000 births to 145, with the aid of Cuban volunteers and a mass vaccination program. School attendance rose, in two years, from 12% to 22%. In just the first year of its implementation, Sankara’s environmental program to halt desertification in this Sahel region, over 10 million trees were planted. Without international aid which was not forthcoming from the World Bank with which to improve infrastructure, Sankara and the population got down and dirty and with their bare hands and laid hundreds of kilometres of railway track to facilitate manganese extraction. This was not done by forced labour at gunpoint, there were no bloodbaths under Sankara who did not believe in war but instead, in ideas. Like Gamal Nasser of Egypt, Sankara got the people of his country to prove to themselves that they could achieve anything they put their minds and hearts into. The previous government were brought before a tribunal and asked to explain to the people of the country why they had misappropriated so much money. This was there only form of punishment and public humiliation. This is on record. One of Sankara’s first acts as president was to slash his ministers’ salaries, starting with his own. He sold the previous government`s fleet of Mercedes and replaced them with little Renault 5’s, which is what he drove. This is a stark contrast to the Kenyan governmental 2003 purchase of $12 million worth of luxury cars. Sankara remained humble and refused to allow his portrait to be displayed across the country, explaining that it was their revolution and that “There are 7 million Thomas Sankaras.” At the time of his assassination his salary in 1987, was $450 a month and he owned one car and four push bikes.

Sankara dissolved all other political parties, seen by him as representative of the colonial powers and open to subversion, just as did Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana.

This man was loved by his people. In his attempt to raise the consciousness of the people as a  whole and to do away with colonial and long standing feudal practices within society he abolished all gender regulation, making women the equals of men, appointing many to government positions, allowing them to join the army which they did and proved themselves the equals of male soldiers; and started a National Women’s Day on which all women could stay at home and the men to take their places in going to market for the day`s groceries. Women loved it! Great strides were taken to speak openly against domestic violence and women’s traditionally subordinate role. Thomas Sankara was the first leader in Africa to do this; brave to say the least in an extremely patriarchal culture, and one of the first leaders in the world to promote women’s rights for genuine reasons.

“We must give a job to every woman of this country. We must give every woman the means to earn an honest and decent living.”

 

“Our country produces enough to feed us all. We can even produce more than we need. Unfortunately for lack of organization we still need to beg for food aid. This type of assistance is counter-productive and has kept us thinking that we can only be beggars who need aid. We must put aside this type of aid and succeed in producing more because the one who feeds you usually imposes his will on you. Let us consume what we can control. Some people ask me: But where is imperialism? Just look into your plates; you see imported corn, rice or millet. This is imperialism. No need to look any further… Of course, we encourage aid that aids us in doing away with aid. But in general welfare and aid policies have only ended up disorganizing us; thus beguiling us and robbing us of a sense of responsibility for our own economic, political and cultural affairs. We choose to risk new paths to achieve greater well-being.

Thomas Sankara recognized the western-run pseudo-philanthropic-humanitarian effort for what it is in Africa today. That it is the same as “Debt is a cleverly managed re-conquest of Africa,” which he said before the OAU summit in 1987. In his enlightened understanding of economics, he refused all but essential aid and encouraged instead for people to buy produce and products grown or manufactured within Burkina Faso. This policy for the domestic economy`s revival (which happens to be the exact opposite of all World Bank economic policy) created in just 4 years,  a cotton growing, processing and fabric industry that beautifully clothed the entire population as well as exporting. So people would feel pride in modern-traditional clothes, in Burkinabe fashions and look African instead of advertising coke and blue jeans. All government workers, teachers etc. had to wear Burkinabe clothes (this was actually not to everyone`s taste so government workers tended to have a spare outfit at all times in case Sankara called by, they called the traditional clothes the Sankara-is-coming-outfit).

Sankara started a mass housing project and brick factories to build homes so no-one would live in an urban slum but would live with dignity whether in the rural areas or in a city. In 4 years all regions of Burkina Faso were connected by a network of roads. Sankara was the first African leader to encourage people to take up sport or other forms of fitness as “A healthy mind in a healthy body.” And Sankara was the first president to speak about real environmentalism. He started a project to plant a grove in every village, a grove of trees and shrubs to remind people to respect and protect the land. Tens of millions of trees were planted in under 4 years to combat desertification. During all of these programs Sankara got down and dirty; he personally planted hundreds of trees, made bricks and laid stones on railway lines, there were no tasks that he asked people to perform that he wouldn’t do himself. This man was a hero.

Within 4 years Burkina Faso had become self sufficient. The average for the Sahel region is 1700kg of wheat per hectare. In 1986 Burkina Faso was already producing 3900kg of wheat per hectare.

Within Sankara’s understanding of the nature of colonialism and how it had undermined Africans own self-worth and within his understanding of neocolonialism and how subversive force counter-revolutionized people back into accepting western economics; were the reasons for his political, ideological indoctrination of the people. He forced into people’s minds progressive thinking and had them repeat mantras of how they were going to change the future of themselves, each other and their country. These activities were labelled by Western media as communist indoctrination meetings. Sankara also started the Pioneers Movement which trained children under twelve in social responsibility. He knew they would be the county’s future and his efforts were to oppose what he knew would take place in Western-backed counter-revolutionary thought. His ideological training of the adult population was based on a number of de-brainwashing techniques, to instill new positive thinking and confidence, but also as he said:

“…. a soldier without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal.”

He didn’t want Burkina Faso to ever become part of an orchestrated bloodbath run by armed men with no aim, no principles and only gain, which he saw happening across Africa.

Already by 1984 Sankara`s revolution was influencing people across the continent, giving hope and questions to people and giving ground for fear from the imperialist powers.

The final nail in the coffin for this sublime hero of Africa was what he later said at the OAU summit in 1987. He asked the leaders present in the most affable manner to unilaterally reject African debt.” A loan is a gamble, like in a casino “, he explained that while African states remain in debt to the colonial powers they will remain dependents. He put forward an economic solution for Africa that is in complete contrast to World Bank policy and said:

Let’s make sure that the African market belongs to Africans. Let’s produce in Africa, manufacture in Africa and consume in Africa. Let’s produce what we need and consume what we produce.”

 

“The Debt problem needs to be analysed starting from its origins. Those who lent money to us are the same people who colonized us, are the same who so long managed our states and our economies; they in-debted Africa with ‘donations’ of money. We were not involved in the creation of this debt, so we should not pay it. The debt, moreover, is linked to the machinery of neo-colonialism, the colonizers became technical assistants, I would call them technical assassins, and they suggested, recommended to us the financiers, they told us about the financial advantages. That is why we indebted ourselves for decades and renounced the satisfaction of our people`s needs. In today`s shape, controlled and dominated by imperialism, the foreign debt is a well-organized tool of colonial re-conquest: in order to make the African economy a slave of those who were so clever as to give us capital with the obligation of reimbursing them. We are asked to reimburse our debt. But if we do not pay, the capital lenders will not die, if we pay, we will die. We cannot pay, and we don`t want to pay. We are not responsible for the debt burden. We have already paid a lot of the debt. We are asked to co-operate in researching balance mechanisms, balance in favour of those who own the financial institutions and use the power against the peoples. We cannot be accomplices. The Paris Club is there, let’s create the Addis Ababa Club for cancelling our foreign debt. Our Club should say-our debt will not be paid. Don’t think it is a proposal made only by young people like us. Mrs Bruntland said African countries cannot pay, as did Mr Mitterrand and Fidel Castro… we should explain in other conferences that we cannot pay. We must be united, otherwise, individually we will be murdered. Avoiding debt repayment is a condition which will allow us to free resources for our development.”

Source: Asad Ismi, ‘Impoverishing a Continent: The World Bank and the IMF in Africa‘, (2004).

The assembled “open unpatriotic sons of Africa,” bought and paid for by foreign powers and their corporations, refused to hear him and just as he knew would happen if they did not back him in unison, Sankara was not present at the following year’s OAU summit.

Back in Burkina Faso with French Intelligence and the Foccart business network behind them, Blaise Compaore began agitating, telling people that Sankara was holding back from them the prosperity on offer. Compaore and his top military men assassinated Thomas Sankara on the 15 October 1987.

“In a way, great men enlighten people, enlighten their time long after they`ve gone; and I say after their death because its when you`ve lost something that you become aware of its true value. Sankara has become a moral and spiritual reference for us all.”(Jean-Hubert Bazie from Robin Shuffield’s documentary)

Main Source: documentary on YouTube, a film by Robin Shuffield, ‘Thomas Sankara, The Upright Man’. Watch this short impactful film:

 


[Author P.D. Lawton is a native of South Africa and host of African Agenda, and committed to finding African solutions to Africa’s political and socio-economic problems.]

The ‘Other’ Omran: Aleppo Civilians Expose MSM Lies & Child Exploitation

RT

September 4, 2017

by Vanessa Beeley

 

Investigation: White Helmets Committing Acts Of Terror Across Syria

 

The White Helmets: Who are they, who created them, and what purpose do they serve in Syria? These questions remain largely unanswered by the governments, corporate media and NATO-aligned NGOs, including the UN, that have focused their efforts on regime change in Syria for the last seven years.

The White Helmets have achieved an almost cult-like status thanks to a diverse, well-oiled and multilaterally-funded support system. Their pictures adorn the front pages of most corporate media sites whenever Syria is mentioned. Their unprecedented success can be attributed to a top-drawer PR campaign — one that has been maintained to the highest standards ever since the White Helmets became the public face of “first responders” in Syria following their establishment in March 2013.

Such a publicity coup would not have been possible without some heavyweight organizations working behind the scenes to create a brand that would eclipse all others in Western public perception.

+++

For the last three years I have been conducting an ongoing investigation into the White Helmets, the much vaunted, so-called Syrian humanitarian NGO that has recently achieved Hollywood fame — winning an Oscar, which was awarded to a Netflix documentary showcasing White Helmet exploits in Syria. This investigation culminated in visits I paid to Syria to expand my enquiries and research on the ground inside the country. I have spent a total of four months in Syria since July 2016, my latest trip having taken place from July to August 2017.

In Part One of this series of reports, I will outline the genesis of the White Helmets, as well as their fabrication and evolution into one of the most widely-recognized “humanitarian” organizations the world has ever known.

The White Helmet motto. (Photo: White Helmet website)

The White Helmet motto. (Photo: White Helmet website)

 

Who are the White Helmets?

According to the White Helmets own website:

1: A “neutral, impartial, humanitarian NGO, with no official affiliation to any political or military actor and a commitment to render services to any in need regardless of sect or political affiliation.”

2: Their motto is “To save one life is to save all humanity;” making them non-sectarian, neutral, and operating without bias.

3: They are unarmed.

4: They have saved 90,000 lives since they began working in Syria (from the end of 2013 to early 2014).

5: They are Syrian and the impression is given that the White Helmets are the primary, if not the only, U.S.A.R. (Urban Search and Rescue) organization operating inside Syria.

My in-depth investigation into the legitimacy of these claims has uncovered some very disturbing anomalies that have never been identified or confronted by the mainstream media in the U.K., EU or U.S., with some very minor exceptions. Those “exceptions” address issues surrounding the White Helmets only in order to flip the narrative back to the “savior” concept and to discredit any criticism of the group as Russian propaganda. Why have these crucial and questionable aspects of the White Helmet construct never been professionally and objectively addressed by the corporate media?

A multi-million-dollar-funded organization largely financed by taxpayer money should come under intense scrutiny when the evidence against its bona fides is mounting on a daily basis.

I will now relate my findings, but I must emphasize that I am far from being alone in raising the following concerns. Many of my colleagues in independent media, peace activists and genuinely non-governmental NGOs, fostering diplomatic resolution to the Syrian conflict, have conducted their own analyses and arrived at the very same conclusions or raised the same questions.

White Helmets funding sources

The White Helmets receive funding from the U.K. Foreign Office, curiously through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF)for non-humanitarian aid.  According to a statement made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “…the total value of funds committed between June 2013 and the end of the current financial year (31 March 2016) is £19.7m.” At the end of September 2016, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pledged a further £ 32 million.

A recent investigation into the U.K. Foreign Office’s Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) has exposed one unexpected funding stream that has allowed money from that £1 billion U.K. taxpayer-contributory, conflict slush fund to be siphoned into promotional activities for the White Helmets, via U.K. Foreign Office ex-employee and diplomat Carne Ross.

In 2004, Ross established Independent Diplomat in the U.S. after successfully portraying himself as a whistleblower on the propaganda that facilitated the Iraq war. Ross was even featured in John Pilger’s documentary “The War You Don’t See.”

Carne Ross, founder of Independent Diplomat. (Photo: Alchetron)

Carne Ross, founder of Independent Diplomat. (Photo: Alchetron)

During the investigation, I was sent the Independent Diplomat FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) submissions, which must be filled out annually for monitoring if an organization receives funds from a foreign government. In the period from 2013 through 2016, Independent Diplomat received £ 3.7 million, the majority of which was from the CSSF.

According to its website, Independent Diplomat “work[s] with groups and individuals representing more than 200 Syrian-led civil society groups based inside and outside Syria.”

Independent Diplomat’s use of the CSSF fund for lobbying on behalf of Syrian “opposition” actors was corroborated by a report in the Independent (U.K.):

The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, known as Conflict Pool until April 2015, paid American diplomacy start-up Independent Diplomat $1.4 million in the last 18 months to lobby the U.S. State Department on behalf of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said in an email:

The U.K. has spent over five million pounds [$6.5 million] since the start of the conflict supporting the Syrian opposition. This includes providing negotiation and communication support along with advice and training to staff at their international offices.”

In September 2016, Independent Diplomat used a percentage of the funding received to organize a promotional speaking tour — “This is Aleppo, an Inside View of Besieged Syria” — for White Helmets leader Raed Saleh, as well as the Syria Program Manager at Mayday Rescue, Farouq al Habib. Saleh’s deportation from the U.S. for his  “extremist connections” is discussed later in this report.

Watch Vanessa Beeley speaks with U.K. Column about the U.K. Foreign Office promoting extremism:

Despite repeatedly claiming to be an independent organization — one that does not take money from governments and is impartial in the Syrian conflict — the White Helmets also received a disclosed $23 million in funding from the U.S. administration under President Barack Obama via its USAID/Chemonics networks. This support was openly admitted by Mark Toner of the U.S. State Department during a press briefing held in April 2016, and confirmed by the White Helmet website:

Since 2014, the work of Syria Civil Defence has been supported by Mayday Rescue and Chemonics, who implement international aid programmes providing training and equipment, advocacy and outreach, and organizational capacity building.”

Interestingly, the original video of the Mark Toner press briefing has been removed by YouTube. However, another copy of the video can be found here on Vimeo.

Watch the State Department’s Mark Toner admit that the U.S. provided the White Helmets with $23M and that the WH leader, Raed Saleh, is tied to extremists:

Raed Saleh is the leader of the White Helmets. Saleh is from Jisr Al Shugour, a town close to the Turkish border, and claims he was originally an electronics salesman. As early as 2011, Jisr Al Shughour was one of the first towns in Idlib to fall to the extremist groups. One of the many terrorist atrocities of this conflict was committed in June 2011 when Syrian Arab Army soldiers and civilians were massacred by the invading militant forces. Later in this report, we examine the reasons behind Saleh’s deportation from the U.S. and his clear links to Nusra Front affiliates inside Syria.

A look at various other EU government websites and media reveals that Holland has also funded the White Helmets to the tune of $4.5 million; Germany $4.5 million; Denmark $3.2 million; and Japan an undisclosed sum.  The White Helmets also receive equipment and supplies from various EU member states, including France.

As Abdulrahman Al-Mawwas, the chief liaison officer of the White Helmets, told RT after a recent meeting with top French officials including President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls: “We do not hide it, we admit [that] there is funding from the U.S., from the U.K., from Germany, from the Netherlands.” Al-Mawwas also said that “support” from Western powers includes providing the White Helmets with “equipment… vehicles, as well as search and rescue [aid].”

There is reason to believe that the EU funding of the White Helmets is concealed behind the generic heading of “Emergency Health and Relief Support to the Population Affected by the Crisis in Syria,” through the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG-ECHO), formerly known as the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office.

More recently, Qatar has also confirmed funding of the White Helmets, via its own Fund for Development in collaboration with Qatar Red Crescent. Qatar is known to be funding many of the extremist factions that have been operating inside Syria for the last seven years, including Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham, Nour Al Din Zinki, and many of their splinter factions, brutally facilitating the U.S. coalition objectives of destabilizing an independent sovereign nation and bringing about outright regime change – or rather, the establishment of a puppet regime, compliant with U.S. coalition supremacist ambitions in the region.

French president Francois Hollande, left, shakes hands with Rahed Saleh, director of Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, after their meeting with a Syria delegation at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Wednesday Oct. 19, 2016. (AP/Francois Mori)

French president Francois Hollande, left, shakes hands with Rahed Saleh, director of Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, after their meeting with a Syria delegation at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Wednesday Oct. 19, 2016. (AP/Francois Mori)

 

It is also worth noting that Qatar Red Crescent’s role, early on in the conflict, involved the procurement of $2.2 million to secure arms for extremist groups fighting in Syria:

Mosab Obeidat, previous Assistant Chief of Mission with the Qatar Red Crescent, one of whose officials, Khaled Diab was accused of supplying $ 2.2 m to secure arms for the terrorist groups in Syria. Details of this transaction and its exposure can be found in this Al Akhbar article from June 2013.” – White Helmets: War by Way of Deception Part I

Mayday Rescue was established in the Netherlands in 2014, after the creation of the White Helmets in March 2013. Its primary function appears to be as an intermediary “not for profit,” set up as a conduit to receive and transfer funds to the White Helmets. Mosab Obeidat, mentioned above, was among the early staff members, but all details regarding staff on the Mayday website have since been removed. Mayday “donors” are listed on their website and include the U.K. CSSF, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark.

An early video made in collaboration with Hands Off Syria shows the evolution of the White Helmets into the icon they have since become in Western media and among NATO-aligned NGOs.

The White Helmets receive considerable public funding, via their “Hero Fund,” orchestrated once more by their tireless PR machine, led by the Syria Campaign. The Syria Campaign, itself, was given seed funding by Petrofac CEO Ayman Asfari. Asfari has his own agenda in Syria, not least his oil interests, as well as connections to the U.K. government. Asfari was also exposed as having donated generously to the Tories under Theresa May.

Infographic demonstrating the Ayman Asfari connections to Syrian and British oil interests, combined with his funding of the Syria Campaign, which manages PR for the White Helmets. (By Vanessa Beeley)

Infographic demonstrating the Ayman Asfari connections to Syrian and British oil interests, combined with his funding of the Syria Campaign, which manages PR for the White Helmets. (Credit: Vanessa Beeley)

 

Oil executives, whose industry is promised further government support if the Conservatives are returned to power, have given more than £390,000 to the party since Theresa May became prime minister.

They include Ian Taylor, the chief executive of Vitol, whose firm was fined for making payments to an Iraqi state-owned firm, as well as Ayman Asfari, the chief executive of Petrofac, who was recently interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office over suspected corruption.

In October 2016, New Zealand’s government announced that their Fire Service would provide training support to the White Helmets. Foreign minister Murray McCully and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne expressed their admiration for the group, with the standard, PR textbook platitudes:

The Syrian Civil Defence Organisation, known as the White Helmets, have helped save thousands of people affected by the ongoing violence in Syria. New Zealand has agreed to provide assistance with training to the White Helmets and this practical initiative sits alongside the work we are doing on the UN Security Council to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria and to push for an end to the conflict.”

Finally, we have the creation of the Jo Cox fund in June 2016. Jo Cox, an ambitious Labour MP who had fervently lobbied the U.K. Parliament for further British intervention in Syria, was murdered in the U.K. on June 16, 2016. A right wing “terrorist,” Thomas Mair, was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder. One of Jo Cox’s causes in Syria had been the White Helmets.  According to the fundraising website, £1.5 million has been raised to be distributed between the three nominated causes, including the White Helmets:

A hideous murder of a rising star in U.K. politics, Jo Cox MP, has just sent shock waves across the world. Within hours of her death, a special fund was established in her name to raise money for three causes. One of those causes is the Syrian White Helmets.” ~ Who Are Syria’s White Helmets?

All governments and government-linked entities funding the White Helmets have publicly declared an interest in, or have been working towards, the removal of the internationally recognized Syrian government and its democratically elected President, Bashar Al Assad — thus effecting “regime change” in Syria. This fact alone must surely compromise the proclaimed neutrality of the group.

Screenshot from video (below) showing the White Helmets clearly affiliating themselves with the mythical “moderate” FSA (Free Syrian Army) that co-exists with Nusra Front and a variety of extremist groups.

Screenshot from video (below) showing the White Helmets clearly affiliating themselves with the mythical “moderate” FSA (Free Syrian Army) that co-exists with Nusra Front and a variety of extremist groups.

 

However, the White Helmets continue to claim that they are a “neutral and impartial organization. We do not to pledge allegiance to any political party or group. We serve all the people of Syria – we are from the people and we for [sic] the people.”

In this promotional video for the CIA- and NATO-funded and armed Free Syrian Army (FSA), an image of one of these “impartial” White Helmet rescuers appears, alongside other Syrian professionals who affiliate themselves with the primarily U.S. coalition-endorsed, -funded and -armed “moderate rebel” FSA. Near universal consensus now accepts that the FSA is an expired myth.

Early on in the U.S. coalition’s fomenting, funding and marketing of the Syrian “uprising,” the FSA was absorbed into the ranks of the better-funded extremist groups, such as the Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria), whose weapons capability far outstripped the lesser FSA armory. The FSA have become nothing more than a tool of the more powerful Nusra Front, al-Qaeda in Syria.

While the U.S. has been a major contributor via its USAID/Chemonics program, it is secondary to the U.K. Foreign Office, which has been the primary source of funding and training for this White Helmet NATO-state construct. Inserted into Syrian society three years after the start of the proxy war that has been waged against a sovereign nation by the U.S.-led coalition for almost seven years, the White Helmets are a thoroughly British affair.

The White Helmets were established in Turkey, not in Syria.  They are largely trained in Turkey and Jordan, not inside Syria. They were established in March 2013 by a British ex-military officer, James Le Mesurier, with $300,000 in seed funding from Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.

Exclusively embedded with al-Qaeda and extremist factions

Screenshot from a video of ISIS kidnap victim John Cantile, filmed in Aleppo in 2014 and 2015.

Screenshot from a video of ISIS kidnap victim John Cantile, filmed in Aleppo in 2014 and 2015.

 

The White Helmets are embedded exclusively in areas of Syria occupied by known terrorist organizations, including Nusra Front and ISIS (Daesh), along with so-called “moderate rebels” such as Ahrar al Sham and Nour Al Din Zinki.  All these groups and subgroups are responsible for carrying out ethnic cleansing pogroms and documented atrocities against the Syrian people.

Nour Al Din Zinki recorded themselves on camera torturing and beheading 12-year-old Palestinian child Abdullah Issa in July 2016. Like the White Helmets, the majority of these armed groups receive funding, training, equipment, weapons and support from the United States and its coalition partners, particularly the Gulf states — a fact that is also extensively documented.

The White Helmets push for sectarianism

During the situation in Madaya, Syria in January 2016, the White Helmets in Idlib were photographed attending demonstrations and carrying banners that were calling for the “burning and destruction” of the towns of Kafarya and Foua.

White Helmets carrying posters calling for burning of Kafarya and Foua and corresponding Facebook post by the White Helmet's Abdul Halim Al Shehab demanding Kafarya is “exterminated," January, 2016. (Credit: Vanessa Beeley)

White Helmets carrying posters calling for burning of Kafarya and Foua and corresponding Facebook post by the White Helmet’s Abdul Halim Al Shehab demanding Kafarya is “exterminated,” January, 2016. (Credit: Vanessa Beeley)

 

Kafarya and Foua are two Idlib villages under full siege by Jaish al Fatah (Army of Conquest), which is a coalition of Ahrar Al Sham and Nusra Front. These villages have been under full siege since March 2015. The siege ensures the starvation of villagers, as well as the deprivation of water, medicines and medical treatment. Daily shelling and sniping by Ahrar Al Sham and Nusra Front have killed over 1300 civilians inside the villages so far.

If we include civilians who have been killed outside the villages during the evacuations, such as Rashideen, we have lost almost 2000 members of our families and relatives as a result of the terrorist siege and conflict” – Dr Ali Moustafa, head surgeon in Foua.

The suffering of these two Shia Muslim villages — marooned in the midst of Nusra Front-led, terrorist-occupied Idlib — is indescribable. The White Helmets’ call for the extermination and burning of these villages is a murderous and deeply sectarian act and could not be further from their lofty claims of “neutrality.” This video details some of the horrific acts to which these villages have been subjected, taken from the “Tale of Two Villages” Facebook page:

Watch the horror visited upon the Idlib villages of Kafarya and Foua:

The White Helmets also played a crucial role in supporting Nusra Front during the Rashideen massacre on April 15, 2017. Evacuees from besieged Kafarya and Foua were imprisoned in their buses for two days, with minimal food or water. On the third day, the children were lured from the buses by Nusra Front and White Helmets distributing potato chips. As the children surged towards the food, a blue truck drove into the crowds of children and a bomb inside the truck was detonated, killing and injuring over 300.

Infamous ex-White Helmet Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen when the massacre was carried out. He is known for his involvement in the execution of two SAA prisoners of war in Khan Touman, Aleppo, Syria, May, 2016.

 

Infamous ex-White Helmet Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen when the massacre was carried out. He is known for his involvement in the execution of two SAA prisoners of war in Khan Touman, Aleppo, Syria, May, 2016.

Infamous ex-White Helmet Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen when the massacre was carried out. He is known for his involvement in the execution of two SAA prisoners of war in Khan Touman, Aleppo in May 2016

I was in Aleppo one day after this tragedy and was able to speak with survivors and mothers whose children had been abducted and taken to Turkey by White Helmet operatives and Nusra Front terrorists. A total of 114 are still missing, the majority being children. I also returned to Aleppo in July 2017 to interview survivors and families of the missing, who identified Agha as having been at the scene prior to and immediately after the suicide bomb attack.

Participation in Nusra Front brutality

There is video and photographic evidence available that clearly shows the White Helmets participating in Nusra Front operations in areas occupied or taken over by this organization. The video linked above was taken during the Nusra Front’s violent and brutal attack on Idlib in March 2015. In this video, White Helmet operatives are seen clearly beating a Syrian civilian prisoner of Nusra Front and circling the prisoner, mingling with heavily armed and hostile Nusra Front militia.

It is worth mentioning that YouTube has made a recent censorship sweep and has removed many of the incriminating videos involving the White Helmets working hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda in Syria — including the video above, which is, mysteriously, no longer available on YouTube.

Another video shows the White Helmet operatives, including Muawiya Hassan Agha, celebrating “victory” with Nusra Front in the main square of Idlib.

There have been at least four recorded executions that involved the White Helmets:

1: May 6, 2015 — Aleppo

Execution attended by White Helmets, where they performed a mop-up operation for Nusra Front fighters in Haritan, North Aleppo, Syria, May, 2015. (Image: Vanessa Beeley)

Execution attended by White Helmets, where they performed a mop-up operation for Nusra Front fighters in Haritan, North Aleppo, Syria, May, 2015. (Image: Vanessa Beeley)

 

The White Helmets were filmed “cleaning up” after a Nusra Front execution of a civilian prisoner in Haritan, northern Aleppo.  Although the official statement from the White Helmets claims they arrived after the execution, the speed with which they appear in the video immediately after the prisoner has been shot in the head demonstrates that they were on the scene and did nothing to prevent it.

James Le Mesurier, White Helmet trainer and founder of Mayday Rescue, has recently responded to accusations surrounding this incident:

But what about the damning video, from May 6, 2015? White Helmet volunteers were caught on tape running in to clear a body seconds after a gunman executed a man. It turns out that the deceased was tried and sentenced to death in a local Sharia court, said Mr. Mesurier. When his father found out about the time of execution, he called the White Helmets to help him conduct a proper burial. Besides, the gunman was clad in a balaclava, not a white helmet.” – Middle Ground

Curiously, Le Mesurier deems a trial in an extremist Sharia court and extrajudicial execution to be acceptable — an example that has been strongly followed by the White Helmets in their subsequent participation in Sharia court sentencing and execution.

2: May 2016 — Aleppo

Muawiya Hassan Agha takes a selfie with two captured and condemned SAA soldiers who were later publicly tortured and executed. Agha posted related footage to his Facebook page that was later deleted.

Muawiya Hassan Agha takes a selfie with two captured and condemned SAA soldiers who were later publicly tortured and executed. Agha posted related footage to his Facebook page that was later deleted.

 

Various other White Helmet operatives have posted videos of the torture and execution of Syrian Arab Army prisoners to their social media pages with celebratory comments.  One such operative, Muawiya Hassan Agha, is alleged to have been “sacked” from the White Helmets for his participation in a public execution of two Syrian Arab Army prisoners of war in Khan Touman, south Aleppo in May 2016. It goes without saying that this execution is a clear violation of all ethics surrounding an allegedly “impartial” NGO.

Watch the execution of two SAA prisoners of war in Khan Touman (Warning: graphic content):

 

However, despite several requests, an official statement has never been issued by the White Helmets. Nor have they publicly condemned the torture and execution of prisoners of war, an act that contravenes the Geneva Convention.  Within three weeks of his alleged sacking, Agha appeared in White Helmet photographs as one of their photographers.

In June 2016, Muawiya Hassan Agha was spotted photographing a White Helmet rescue, despite claims that the White Helmets had sacked him and condemned his involvement in an extrajudicial execution. Agha is on right, holding a camera and dressed in black. (Screenshot of Facebook page)

In June 2016, Muawiya Hassan Agha was spotted photographing a White Helmet rescue, despite claims that the White Helmets had sacked him and condemned his involvement in an extrajudicial execution. Agha is on right, holding a camera and dressed in black. (Screenshot of Facebook page)

3: May 19, 2017 — Dara’a

In the previously cited Middle Ground article, James Le Mesurier, a military veteran and the White Helmets’ trainer, is cited as having employed an extraordinary analogy to counter accusations of White Helmets attending and participating in Sharia court executions:

Accusing the White Helmets of this act would be akin to accusing Joseph of Arimathea of crucifying Jesus.”

Joseph of Arimathea is claimed, in history, to be the disciple who prepared the body of Jesus Christ for burial. This cynical use of blasphemy to cleanse the White Helmets of their multitude of sins backfired royally, as footage of the “saviors of all mankind” cheering a brutal, extremist execution later appeared on social media.

This execution took place in the town of Jasim, Dara’a, south of Damascus. The White Helmets are seen not only celebrating the grisly murder but performing their usual mop-up by unceremoniously carting away the body from the scene. Their later claims of giving the body a decent burial and affording the victim some dignity are rendered ridiculous when one views the video below.

Watch the White Helmets cheering during extremist execution:

4: June 21, 2017 — Dara’a

A video was released that showed a member of the White Helmets’ Dara’a “team” climbing over the slaughtered and dismembered bodies of Syrian Arab Army soldiers piled into the back of a pick-up truck. As the White Helmet operative stands on the mutilated bodies, extremist fighters surrounding the truck, parade a severed head as a war trophy. There is no shock or dismay from the ‘heroic’ White Helmet. On the contrary, he is then seen extracting the Syrian flag from among the SAA bodies, before throwing it to the ground.

 

I was told that the original video was much longer and contained scenes of a much more humiliating nature that would distress the families of the SAA soldiers whose bodies were being so hideously desecrated. The original video was aired by RT and can be viewed here. It is certainly one of the worst videos I have ever had to watch so please be warned. The following are screenshots from the video that demonstrate the appalling nature of this atrocity being committed by the White Helmets and extremist factions, once again, working hand in hand in Syria.”  – Severed Heads of Syrian Arab Army Soldiers Paraded as Trophies

Screenshots of the execution and dismemberment of SAA prisoners of war, with a White Helmets operative in attendance and assisting extremist factions.

Screenshots of the execution and dismemberment of SAA prisoners of war, with a White Helmets operative in attendance and assisting extremist factions.

The White Helmets did try to distance themselves, again, from their participation in this brutal dismemberment of the bodies of captured SAA soldiers. They issued a statement claiming to have “sacked” the offending operative. According to the statement, the “volunteer’s behavior constitutes a gross breach of conduct.”

The White Helmets are a publicly-funded organization via their fundraising activities. They also benefit from government funding schemes that depend upon taxpayer contributions. Where is the investigation into an organization whose members frequently ‘breach’ not only the White Helmet “code of conduct” but also contravene every international code of humanitarian law during war?

Watch the White Helmets and Southern Front extremists pile SAA bodies into trucks:

Deportation for “extremist connections”

The leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh, was deported from Dulles Airport in the U.S. in April 2016.  No real explanation was ever given for this decision. Mark Toner of the U.S. State Department fielded questions from media during a press briefing, but did admit to funding the group to the tune of $23 million, as well as suggest that Raed Saleh might have “extremist connections.”  Raed Saleh was then allowed back into the U.S. in September 2016 and spoke at the UN Headquarters in New York with the Dutch Mission. Saleh was involved in closed sessions with Syrian activists and former Secretary of State John Kerry, as noted by The New York Times.

In leaked conversations, Raed Saleh and another Syrian “regime change” activist and blogger, Marcell Shehwaro, lobbied hard for U.S. military intervention to bring about their desired regime change. The White Helmets’ penchant for political statements and lobbying calls into question their claims of being an apolitical, humanitarian-centric organization. Their conversation can be heard here:

Their conversation can be heard here:

White Helmet leaders: terrorist connections and ideology

Raed Saleh photographed with Mustafa Al Haj Yussef, a White Helmets leader, in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib. (Photo: Facebook)

Raed Saleh photographed with Mustafa Al Haj Yussef, a White Helmets leader, in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib. (Photo: Facebook)

Raed Saleh, the leader and global representative of the White Helmets, is a close colleague of another White Helmets leader: Mustafa Al Haj Yussef. Yussef has been with the group since 2013 and has been photographed in Idlib with Raed Saleh. Yussef’s social media accounts reveal the following:

1: Yussef has called for the unity of extremist factions such as Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham.

2: Yussef has clearly professed allegiance and support for Ahrar Al Sham, which was responsible for the massacres in the Alawite village of Al Zaraa in May 2016.

3: Yussef publicly called for the shelling of civilians in Damascus during the 2014 elections.

4: Yussef has advocated the practice of executing civilians during Ramadan if they fail to fast.

5: Yussef endorses the looting of SAA houses after their capture or summary execution.

If the head of the Red Cross were to commit such ethical breaches, we would surely be calling for a full investigation. The White Helmets are seemingly given immunity against investigation into their extremist misconduct and violations of the Geneva Convention regarding treatment of prisoners of war.

Syria’s REAL civil defence volunteers

Real Syria Civil Defence crew member in Lattakia, Syria, August 2017. (Photo: Facebook)

Real Syria Civil Defence crew member in Lattakia, Syria, August 2017. (Photo: Facebook)

The White Helmets are also erroneously referred to as the “Syria Civil Defence.” However, this name truthfully refers to an organization that has existed in Syria since 1953.  I met with the group’s members in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous and Damascus during my extensive time in Syria.  The REAL Syria Civil Defence (RSCD) were founder members of the ICDO [International Civil Defence organization], which is affiliated with the UN, WHO, OCHA, the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence are still paying subscriptions to the ICDO totaling 20,000 Swiss francs annually.  The group operated in both government- and armed militia-held areas until 2016, when it was decided that they should work only in government-held areas due to safety concerns, as armed groups were deliberately targeting their crew members during rescue missions in occupied areas.

Map showing areas controlled by the Syrian government, as well as NATO and Gulf state-funded extremist and terrorist factions. (Photo: 21WIRE)

Map showing areas controlled by the Syrian government, as well as NATO and Gulf state-funded extremist and terrorist factions. (Photo: 21WIRE)

The REAL Syria Civil Defence, while working predominantly in government-held areas, is nevertheless serving 80 percent of the Syrian population, including over six million internally displaced people who have fled to government-held towns and cities.

Fares Shehabi, a member of Syria’s parliament from Aleppo and head of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, had the following message for the West regarding the authentic Syria Civil Defence:

When the White Helmets were making a concerted bid to win the Nobel Peace Prize last year, supported almost universally by mainstream media in the U.K., the Internet link to the RSCD at the ICDO was mysteriously re-routed to the White Helmets. I called the ICDO in Geneva and spoke with their representative, who assured me that it was an administrative error. During our conversation, the following statements were made by this representative:

1: The White Helmets are not recognized by the ICDO and are not members of the ICDO.

2: The White Helmets are not even “concretely” a civil defense organization.

3: The White Helmets are the “wrong” civil defense group.

4: The only civil defense group recognized by the ICDO and the UN is the “official” Syria Civil Defence.

Listen to the full audio recording of the conversation here:

Western public perception has been deceived into believing the White Helmets are the only Syrian civil defense group, thus “disappearing” over 4,000 REAL Syria Civil Defence workers who risk their lives on a daily basis to rescue Syrian civilians under attack from the various terrorist factions that have invaded Syria. The NATO and Gulf state White Helmets project is shadow-state construction of the highest calibre.

Syrian civilian testimony to the White Helmets’ barbarism

During my August 2016 interviews with the REAL Syria Civil Defence,  I was informed that the Nusra Front and associated “moderate rebels” who invaded areas such as east Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Idlib had massacred members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence and stolen the majority of their equipment in those areas, including fire engines and ambulances.

Many of these armed groups later became operatives for the White Helmets. Testimony from the REAL Syria Civil Defence has suggested that the White Helmets are acting as support for Nusra Front, ISIS and other heavily armed militia described as “moderate rebels.”

In August 2016, I conducted a short video interview with Dr. Bassem Hayak of the Aleppo Medical Association, which is based in west Aleppo. Dr. Hayak told me that his family, trapped in east Aleppo, had never seen the White Helmets, adding that UN agencies still operating in east Aleppo, such as the SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent), had not encountered the White Helmets either.

In December 2016, I was in east Aleppo when the SAA and its allies liberated the area from Nusra Front-dominated terrorist and extremist occupation. I was able to interview SARC volunteers who also denied having ever encountered the White Helmets during their time working in these districts of Aleppo.

This testimony was further confirmed by the civilian statements I gathered while in east Aleppo, visiting each district as it was retaken by the SAA.

All of the civilians I spoke to — over 50 people from all districts of east Aleppo — were confused when I asked them if they knew the White Helmets. When I asked if they knew of a civil defense group, their immediate response was “yes, yes Nusra Front civil defense.”

I was told that the White Helmets did not help civilians, that they were a support group for Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham and Nour al Din Zinki. Some told me they were thieves, that they would steal from the bodies of the dead. One man told Lizzie Phelan of RT that they killed his infant girl by injecting air into her veins. I was told that no medical treatment was available for civilians during the area’s five-year-long occupation.

A number of these Syrian civilian testimonies regarding the White Helmets were compiled into one video.

Watch Syrian civilians give testimony about the nature and actions of the White Helmets:

Pierre Le Corf, a French national working as an independent humanitarian volunteer in Aleppo, filmed the main White Helmets center in east Aleppo after the White Helmets had abandoned the civilians they had claimed to protect during the almost five-year-long terrorist occupation. They departed east Aleppo in buses that were also used to evacuate an assortment of armed groups, including Nusra Front. These evacuations took place during December 2016 under the Syrian Government Amnesty and Reconciliation agreement, which permitted safe passage for armed fighters to Idlib.

Le Corf’s film shows us that the White Helmet center was integrated into the Nusra Front compound and that this White Helmet center was adorned with a variety of graffiti and flags affirming the White Helmet affiliation to various terrorist groups, but predominantly Nusra Front.

Watch Pierre Le Corf’s film showing deserted White Helmet center’s ties to Nusra Front and other terrorist groups:

The compound incorporating both Nusra Front and the White Helmets was previously a school. It has been common for terrorist and extremist groups to occupy schools and hospitals and to convert them into military bases, Sharia courts, prisons, execution chambers and ammunition depots. This White Helmet center had been previously featured in an Al Jazeera documentary that was released on Aug. 14, 2016. The film described the White Helmets as selfless rescuers and humanitarians:

…this film about the White Helmets is a rare story of humanitarians working tirelessly to protect the people on the ground. It explores why they risk their lives to save strangers…”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this film failed to reveal the close proximity of armed Nusra Front terrorists to the White Helmet center, nor did it explore or even touch upon their close working relationship, as described by the Syrian civilians I interviewed in east Aleppo.Staged rescues, children used as propaganda tools

Staged rescues, children used as propaganda tools

On multiple occasions, the White Helmets have been exposed staging rescue scenes for both photo and video, recycling images of children and incidents from the conflict in Syria to support their narrative, as well as editing video in a way that misrepresents the scene in question and even using fake images.

There are many documented instances of this, but perhaps the most recent and the most disturbing was uncovered by an investigation by SWEDHR (Swedish Doctors for Human Rights) which analyzed a White Helmets video report on the alleged chlorine gas attacks of March 2015. The White Helmets’ video was presented at the UN in another closed-door session initiated by former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. This video reportedly “reduced the UN officials to tears.”

Image created from screenshot of White Helmets’ UN video report (Vanessa Beeley)

Image created from screenshot of White Helmets’ UN video report. (Credit: Vanessa Beeley)

The video depicts three naked, lifeless children being treated for chlorine gas inhalation. The youngest child has a hypodermic syringe inserted into his chest and moved around erratically before being withdrawn. It appears as if the child dies on screen.

SWEDHR examined the video from a professional medical and ethical perspective and came to the following conclusions:

1:  “After examination of the video material, I found that the measures inflicted upon those children, some of them lifeless, are bizarre, non-medical, non-lifesaving, and even counterproductive in terms of life-saving purposes of children.” – Dr Leif Elinder

2: “Intracutaneous injection with adrenaline procedure…is not correctly performed and would have resulted in the death of the child, if not already dead.”

3:  SWEDHR concluded that the liquid level in the syringe does not change in the footage — therefore, the child is being injected with the needle for no apparent reason.

4:  “I think that even from the very brief video, we can see that this child has a reduced level of consciousness: he does not vocalize, does not open his eyes, and his only movements are to turn his head to one side and to open his mouth before he stops breathing altogether. This looks like respiratory depression, rather than injury to the lungs; he appears to be too sleepy to breathe.  I think the most likely diagnosis is a drug overdose causing reduced level of consciousness and respiratory depression.  Opiates are the most likely class of drug to cause this. Chlorine causes acute inhalation injury, but does not (in any of the sources I have read) cause reduced level of consciousness: the victim struggles to breathe until the end.”

The implications of these conclusions are horrifying. Did the White Helmets use already dead children as propaganda props? Why has this investigation not been aired by mainstream media?

 

Desecration of Syrian Arab Army bodies

…the amount of dignity that they give to those who lose their lives in Syria also has to be noted” – Joanna Natasegara, Oscar-winning filmmaker responsible for the Netflix documentary on the White Helmets.

Screenshot from video showing White Helmets standing on top of Syrian Arab Army soldiers bodies, whose boots have been stolen or removed.

Screenshot from video showing White Helmets standing on top of Syrian Arab Army soldiers bodies, whose boots have been stolen or removed.

The White Helmets have been filmed describing Syrian Arab Army bodies as “trash” and one particular video shows them standing on a pile of SAA soldiers’ bodies whose boots have been removed or stolen. The White Helmets talk about the bodies in pejorative terms, flashing “V” signs as a truck drives off with the White Helmets still atop the decomposing bodies of Syrian soldiers.

Screenshot from video showing White Helmets standing on top of Syrian Arab Army soldiers bodies, whose boots have been stolen or removed.

Screenshot from video showing White Helmets standing on top of Syrian Arab Army soldiers bodies, whose boots have been stolen or removed.

Despite this evidence to the contrary, the White Helmets and their PR consultants, universally,  maintain the same rhetoric:

When the bombs rain down, the White Helmets rush in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need, regardless of their religion or politics.”  – Saudi Orient News

 

Supposedly unarmed White Helmets are arms-bearing militants

There are many documented and archived images that show White Helmet operatives carrying arms or posing with arms alongside armed militia groups in Syria, including Nusra Front.

Images taken from the Facebook page of White Helmets operative Mohammad Jnued showing him holding the Nusra Front flag.

Images taken from the Facebook page of White Helmets operative Mohammad Jnued showing him holding the Nusra Front flag.

The claim from the White Helmet PR machine, even from James Le Mesurier himself, is that some of the White Helmets are “ex-fighters” who saw the light and reformed, dedicating themselves to a selfless cause and becoming the “saviors of all mankind:”

Yes, a few members of the White Helmets used to be former fighters, but they gave up their guns and now save lives. People change. Just because they did not clear their social media history of pictures and slogans from the time when they took up arms does not mean they are still fighting.” – Interview with James Le Mesurier featured in Middle Ground.

However, the number of images available on White Helmets social media accounts tell a different story. Many of the posts are blatant in their allegiance to the extremist factions that work alongside the White Helmets. Certainly, they are worthy of further investigation in the interest of objective reporting on events inside Syria.

Mo’ad Baresh in his dual role as White Helmets operative and Nusra Front-associated extremist. (Photo: Clarity of Signal/21st Century Wire)

Mo’ad Baresh in his dual role as White Helmets operative and Nusra Front-associated extremist. (Photo: Clarity of Signal/21st Century Wire)

In March 2016, White Helmets operative Mo’ad Baresh was killed fighting against the Syrian Arab Army in a battle for Khan Touman, southern Aleppo. Baresh was no ordinary White Helmets operative, as can be seen from video footage compiled by investigative journalist Khaled Iskef. Baresh was, in reality,  one of the many extremist fighters controlled and dominated by Nusra Front in Aleppo.  Rather than a “former fighter,” Baresh was another in a long line of White Helmets who don a white hat to camouflage their crimes against the Syrian people.

 

The PR machine behind the White Helmets

The adulatory publicity surrounding the White Helmets is the result of a multimillion-dollar marketing and social media campaign conducted through a network that is funded by George Soros and various U.S., U.K. and Middle Eastern enterprises. The PR network is made up of Avaaz, Purpose, Syria Campaign and the White Helmets and is detailed by Cory Morningstar and Rick Sterling in their respective articles:

Mo’ad Baresh in his dual role as White Helmets operative and Nusra Front-associated extremist. (Photo: Clarity of Signal/21st Century Wire)

Mo’ad Baresh in his dual role as White Helmets operative and Nusra Front-associated extremist. (Photo: Clarity of Signal/21st Century Wire)

 

Absence of paramedic and first responder expertise

Analysts have observed that the White Helmets make an average of four or five videos per day, depicting their “heroic rescue efforts.” The REAL Syria Civil Defence have evaluated these videos and cast doubt as to whether the White Helmets are true first responders or urban search and rescue experts.

They have pinpointed various anomalies, including the use of heavy equipment that is unsuitable for finding bodies in collapsed buildings, as well as the improper treatment of the injured. Many of the group’s paramedic procedures have also been deemed questionable. The White Helmets rarely travel without a sizeable camera team or crew of mobile phone cameramen. The Syria Civil Defence do not, as they are under too much pressure to save lives to prioritize their PR campaign.

The following video taken from the White Helmets “collection” is an example of the heavy-handed methods employed by the group when recovering bodies. As I remarked in a previous article, the use of a mechanized digger and sledgehammers in such a fragile environment is inappropriate and life threatening — unless, of course, the White Helmets know in advance exactly where the bodies are located.

A recent Ron Paul Liberty Report interview with former UN Chief Weapons Inspector for Iraq Scott Ritter further exposed the parody that is the White Helmets’ experience, when he discussed their role in the alleged chemical weapons attacks in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 — alleged attacks that resulted in President Donald Trump launching 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syrian territory.

Some would say the White Helmets do indeed deserve an Oscar for their acting skills and video production. In November 2016, a video was released showing the White Helmets apparently participating in the “Mannequin Challenge” Internet video trend. However, the veracity of that claim has been questioned by many who believe this video shows the White Helmets at work in the “studio,” producing more of their propaganda.

The White Helmets claim to have saved over 90,000 lives. However, there is no documentation of these lives — no names, no records. With all the logistical and financial support being received by this group, much of it coming directly or indirectly from taxpayer pockets, there should surely be some degree of accountability for their outlandish claims.

In an open letter to the New Democratic Party of Canada, retired Professor John Ryan strongly protested the NDP’s support for the White Helmet Nobel Peace Prize nomination in September 2016. Ryan expressed similar concerns to mine in his letter:

It is the White Helmets themselves who have claimed that they have rescued 60,000 civilians; this has not been verified by any other source. Despite such a classic conflict of interest, searching for independent evidence and disqualifying self-serving claims from belligerent parties in Syria has been ignored in much of the western media. As such, this claim by the White Helmets without any verification is next to meaningless.”

 

Conclusion: who the White Helmets really are, who’s behind them, and what they’re up to

In summary, this evidence points to the White Helmets being a U.S., U.K. and EU creation and not an independent NGO.  It is a multi-million dollar organization funded by governments that are involved and invested in the Syrian conflict. No one can rightly call this a grassroots Syrian organization.

There is an existing Syria Civil Defence that is being ignored by Western media. Running parallel to this group, there is a vast fundraising network constructed to collect money that is funneled into the White Helmets in order to replace the authentic Syria Civil Defence in the minds of the Western public. The real Syria Civil Defence is crippled by U.S. and EU sanctions, while the White Helmets have never been affected by these sanctions — their supply chain via Turkey is unbroken.

Conservative estimates put White Helmets funding at over $150 million thus far, which is far more than any real humanitarian NGO would ever require in a decade, much less three years. Taxpayers in funding countries have a right to know precisely what and whom their money is funding.

The evidence demonstrates that the White Helmets are sectarian — not impartial, as they claim to be. They are in many instances armed — not unarmed, as they claim to be. The promotional material produced for the White Helmets, such as the recent Netflix documentary film, is often produced outside of Syria, usually in Turkey, and with field footage supplied only by the White Helmets. Who has verified the authenticity of this footage?

The White Helmets are feeding images of “humanitarian disaster” and “war crimes” to the very same Western nations who are funding them, and to politicians and media outlets who are using these visual narratives with the explicit purpose of lobbying for a U.S./U.K.-proposed no-fly zone in Syria. Recent history teaches us that establishing such a zone carries with it the threat of reducing Syria to a Libya-style “failed state.”

The White Helmets, an allegedly impartial and apolitical organization, is effectively campaigning for an escalation of war in Syria. This alone should disqualify the White Helmets from being described as a humanitarian organization.

One of the funders of the Netflix documentary withdrew considerable funding from the project in October 2016. The Threshold Foundation published a statement regarding the reasoning behind its withdrawal:

We have since learned that the subject of the film (the White Helmets organization) and others involved in this film are advocating for strategies that could entail international military force and escalated violence.”

Full statement from the Threshold Foundation. (Screenshot)

Full statement from the Threshold Foundation. (Screenshot)

In an interview with RT’s Going Underground, eminent filmmaker John Pilger described the White Helmets as “a complete propaganda construct.”

Watch filmmaker John Pilger describing White Helmets’ actual purpose:

Many of the White Helmets campaigns have been discredited as fiction, and yet they are being used by the U.K./U.S. coalition as justification for continuing economic and diplomatic sanctions that are a collective punishment for the Syrian people. Meanwhile, the U.S. coalition persists with equipping and arming the various militia groups on the ground in Syria, including Nusra Front.

This only serves to ensure even more suffering and bloodshed inside Syria and delays the possibility of any real, peaceful resolution. It is incumbent upon us to ensure a full, international enquiry into the White Helmets as a part of any authentic peace process in Syria.

Screenshot from White Helmets “Mannequin Challenge” video.

Screenshot from White Helmets “Mannequin Challenge” video.

A crowd thinks in images, and the image itself calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection with the first…A crowd scarcely distinguishes between the subjective and the objective. It accepts as real the images invoked in its mind, though they most often have only a very distant relation with the observed facts….Crowds being only capable of thinking in images are only to be impressed by images.” – Gustav Le Bon, “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind

Part Two of this series will further expose the White Helmets’ connections to Nusra Front and their participation in terrorist atrocities across Syria, with a particular focus on east Aleppo. The author will bring to light documents and evidence found inside abandoned White Helmets centers across the various districts of east Aleppo and demonstrate that the White Helmets invariably worked next door to al-Qaeda or even shared facilities and buildings with them.

She will also delve deeper into the funding streams that the group uses, based on the evidence uncovered during her investigation on the ground in Aleppo. Finally, she will dismantle some of their more iconic propaganda campaigns, shown to be based on lies, designed to facilitate NATO and Gulf state military escalation and increased faux-humanitarian intervention in Syria.

 

[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.]