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Part II – Syria’s White Helmets: War By Way of Deception — ‘Moderate Executioners’

The Wind Will Fall

October 27, 2015

by Vanessa Beeley

[Part one: Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If there is any doubt concerning the nefarious undertones of subversiveness in these NGO dealings, [National Endowment for Democracy] NED founder reportedly said the following in the 1990s: ‘A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.’ What was once done at night under the cloak of ‘imperialism’ is now done during the day under the guise of ‘humanitarianism.” ~ The Wrong Kind of Green

 

Hindsight is a generous provider of absolution of the guilt from falling for the sophisticated western government or state propaganda and their media sleights of hand that so often deceive us into believing the narrative they present, one that’s so often designed to justify military intervention.

Invariably this is a narrative that all but ensures the massacre of innocent people under the pretext of ‘liberating’ them, or introducing ‘democracy’ that always promises to erase some perceived grievance of an western-backed opposition movement. Western nation-builders normally prescribe the same treatment every time: cutting a swathe through the host country’s society and culture either via proxy armies of foreign mercenaries under the guise of various terrorist factions or with an onslaught of bombs and assorted mass destruction or chemical weapons (including depleted uranium) which can render their land barren for decades and result in birth defects, increased cancer rates and a multitude of devastating side effects for generations after. While all this is going on, a parallel government has already been formed by the west, laying in waiting in some five star hotel in Paris or London.

Despite such hindsight and the universally accepted knowledge that it was in fact pure fiction that took us to war in both Iraq, and in Libya too, there is still a huge degree of cognitive dissonance at play over the Syria commentary. The lies regarding Syria, lies which are designed to justify western military intervention and arming proxy militants, are ongoing. Even today the New York Times provided a key Washington propaganda talking point in its headline which reads, “Violence in Syria Spurs a Huge Surge in Civilian Flight“, with the important subheading which states: “Government Offensives and Russian Strikes Are Catalysts“, essentially blaming Russia’s three week old air campaign for the “surge” of refugees entering Europe through Greece, all the while neglecting to mention most of these originate from the pool of almost 2 million who have been languishing in Turkey from as early as 2012. Like clockwork, western propaganda mills continues, all day, every day.

Disbelief is invariably registered when it is demonstrated that Syria is undergoing the same ‘truth laundering’ treatment as Libya and Iraq underwent previously, or that Syria’s resistance of the West’s open attempt at regime change attempts for nearly 5 years now is the reason for repeated spikes in propaganda. We’ve seen many different versions of the West’s creative narrative at any give moment, especial when Syria or its allies persistently thwarts the Colonialist vision for the region. Failed policies never play well on CNN or the BBC in real time, with any serious criticism reserved until a decade has passed and it’s safe for media operatives to comment because the politicians who sold those failed policies have since retired or have been cycled out of foreign policy decision-making positions.

Lethal Weapon: NGO Soft Power

Along with military invasions and missionaries, NGOs help crack countries open like ripe nuts, paving the way for intensifying waves of exploitation and extraction”  ~Stephanie McMillan

The NGO ‘soft power complex’ is now one of the most destructive global forces.  It is employed as an interface between civilians of a target nation, with government, economic or military structures of the colonialist force intent on harnessing any given nation’s resources or undermining its geopolitical influence. The Democratization process, or the path to regime change is facilitated by these undercover government or corporate proxy employees who, once embedded into a society, set about producing the propaganda that will justify intervention, either economically, politically or militarily. NGO propaganda will often employ slick social media marketing which is underpinned by advance applied behavioural psychology and advanced NLP-based ‘social enterprise’ sales pitches.

A recent piece by researcher Eva Bartlett entitled, “Human Rights Front Groups [Humanitarian Interventionalists] Warring on Syria“, provides a detailed insight into how this new breed of weaponized politics is being deployed right now in the Middle East.

The perception of a ‘non profit’ complex who purport to be “working for the betterment and improvement of humanity” can be a difficult nut to crack, but it must be done. In the west. charities, not-for-profits and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are seen as “do gooders” and so they rarely fall under public scrutiny. Western governments know the general public has an inherent faith in their perceived integrity and this provides an ideal cover for western government and intelligence agencies to operate through their NGO and aid organisations.

Syria: Under Seige

As Paul Larudee states in his article, Mythology, Barrel Bombs and Human Rights Watch:

“The Syrian army relies on loyal soldiers defending their country and their homes from a heavily subsidized, markedly foreign incursion, including many mercenaries paid by the Gulf monarchies and trained by the US.  And the army is loyal because they know that although great sacrifices will be asked of them, they will be defending, not sacrificing, their families and loved ones.  The rest of the world that supposedly cares about Syria can start by making it unnecessary for them to make such sacrifices.”

Much of the propaganda surrounding Syria and the “conflict” is indeed, mythology spun-up by western agents of influence.  A mythology created and disseminated by the NGO complex working diligently on the ground in Syria and remotely in the labyrinths of power, ensures that a steady flow of misinformation continues uninterrupted, one that is custom designed to alter public perception about the situation in Syria and drive us towards supporting the identical mistakes made in Iraq and Libya.

It is no error or oversight that the media barely mention Libya these days as it is plunged deeper and deeper into anarchy, where warlords occupy the terror vacuum created by the NATO’s deceptive intervention in 2011.  Perhaps if people were confronted by images of the daily horrors endured by the people of Libya these day, they would be more reticent about the passive-aggressive re-creation of that same scenario in Syria.

MARKETING: The familiar baby motif is been a hallmark of western cointel pro regime change marketing ever since the incubators in Kuwait.

The White Helmet Myth

The NGO hydra has no more powerful or influential serpentine head in Syria than the Syria Civil Defence aka The White Helmets who, according to their leader and creator, James Le Mesurier, hold greater sway than even ISIS or Al Nusra confabs over the Syrian communities.

As we pointed out in Part I of this exposé, The White Helmets humanitarian front is mainly financed by the British Foreign Office. According to Richard Spencer of the London Telegraph:

The Foreign Office is currently the largest single source of funding. It is an irony that if Britain does effectively become an ally of Assad, and starts raids against Isil in Syria, it will be bombing from the air and paying for the bodies to be dug out on the ground. The White Helmets are also operating in at least one Isil-held area.”

In a speech given by Le Mesurier in Lisbon June 2015, entitled “Act 1: Witnesses to history in the making”, Le Mesurier informed his rapt audience that in a recent US Government survey conducted across a “diverse spectrum” of Syrian communities, 67% of those asked, nominated the White Helmets as the most influential community organisation. This, despite, their non-inclusion in the 15 respondents to the survey, that comprised ISIS, Al Nusra, & other political or armed groups. This is a bizarre claim on two fronts:

1.  That the White Helmets should be included in this list, by James Le Mesurier, his NGO is a group that promotes themselves to be “unarmed”, apolitical and neutral, inclusion in the list makes it  obvious that they are politically biased and armed (see details below).

2.  That the White Helmets can lay claim to this influence, despite the fact that when asked, the majority of Syrian people have never heard of them, except perhaps for those in Al Nusra, ISIS or [the dwindling] Free Syrian Army held territories.

Clearly, what Le Mesurier is attempting to create is the myth of an organic, non-aligned and independent  humanitarian organisation, when it’s really a synthetic covert intelligence and forward-operating disinformation asset which is being funded by the British government, and headed by one of the UK’s very best military operatives in Le Mesurier.

It is important to analyse the White Helmet mythology, all generated by an incredibly slick and high-gloss media and marketing apparatus, overseen and driven by a George Soros partnered PR company called Purpose.

The following is a direct quote from the White Helmet website:

The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict – pledging commitment to the principles of “Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality” as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation.  This pledge guides every response, every action, every life saved – so that in a time of destruction, all Syrians have the hope of a lifeline”

 

“The White Helmets mostly deal with the aftermath of government air attacks.  Yet they have risked sniper fire to rescue the bodies of government soldiers to give them a proper burial”

As part of the myth-building process, White Helmet members who are repetitively described as ‘ordinary people’, specifically, “bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students”, and are relentlessly depicted as heroes, miracle workers, saints and super-humans scaling the “Mount Everest” of war zones with impartiality and neutrality. “Unarmed and unbiased” is their strapline, as they sacrifice themselves for the “Syrian People”.  Indeed, those same Syrian people who have never heard of them. The myth-making continues…

“When I want to save someone’s life I don’t care if he’s an enemy or a friend.  What concerns me is the soul that might die” ~ Abed, the White Helmets.

 

“After the bombs rain down, we rush in to dig for survivors. Our motto, “to save one life is to save all humanity,” is what drives us on.” ~ Raed Saleh, White Helmet leader and UN spokesperson.

Can an organisation be rightly called an ‘independent relief organisation’ when it is being funded by a foreign government who is directly involved in the military over-throw of Syria’s government? Most intelligent people should have no problem answering that question.

The Myth Exposed:’Moderate’ Terrorists

Neutrality

In previous articles we have exposed the White Helmets’ associations with the terrorist group Al Nusra Front and their presence in known ISIS strongholds in Syria. We have also explored, in depth, their donor base and demonstrated how impartiality is a hard claim to justify when taking into account that their finance sources consist of hard-line regime changers, hell-bent on removing the Syrian Government and portraying President Bashar al Assad as the devil incarnate. These donors include, the British Government, known US regime change facilitators USAID, and the US and NATO-backed ‘Syrian National Council’, a parallel government in-waiting which the west claims  represents the Syrian opposition. This is discussed in depth in: White Helmets: War by way of Deception Part I

Time now to observe the White Helmets in action and question their impartiality on the ground in Syria…

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This video reveals a White Helmet operative describing the “throwing of Shabiha bodies in the trash”.  Shabiha is a derogatory term for Syrian Government militia or security forces but is liberally applied by terrorist aka “rebel” factions to any member of the Syrian military, irrespective of if they are Alawite, Sunni, or Shia.  I remind you: the White Helmets “have risked sniper fire to rescue SAA bodies to give them a proper burial.”

This same neutral White Helmet operative goes on to pledge allegiance to the terrorist forces in the region.

“They are our role models, the best of people and we have the honour to serve them”

“SERVE THEM [armed terrorists, Al Nusra/Al Qaeda]” ~ curious turn of phrase for a neutral, impartial humanitarian organisation?

He also congratulates the Mujahadeen for liberating Jisr al Shugour from Assad’s forces.

“Glad tidings have reached us in Jisr al Shugour by the hands of our Mujahadeen brothers.  May Allah strengthen them and make them steadfast on the correct way and soon, insh’Allah, the strongholds of the Assad regime in Latakia and Damascus will be liberated. “

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Moving on, another video, this time revealing White Helmet operatives standing on the discarded bodies of SAA [Syrian Arab Army] soldiers and giving the victory sign.  This display of support for the Al Nusra terrorists who have just massacred these soldiers once again demonstrates where their true allegiances lie.

It should be clear that these alleged “moderates” you are watching here are actually moderate extremists and jihadists, and the western media has been very careful in hiding this fact.

We also know via reports from within Aleppo city that it was the Al Nusra terrorists who massacred hundreds if not thousands of civilians before dumping their bodies into the River Queiq:  The Truth from inside Syria’s Terrorist Underworld rendering the water supply to Aleppo’s civilian population toxic and undrinkable.

Were these SAA bodies, piled unceremoniously one on top of the other and trampled upon by these White Helmet “saints and neutral saviours”, added to others flung before them,  into the disease infested waters of the River Queiq?

“Moderate” Rebels Targeting Civilians in Syria

This is one example of how powerful western propaganda can invert reality. For years now, there’s been a tsunami of western government and media talking points which claim that “Assad is targeting his own people indiscriminately”, and these round-the-clock allegations are always backed up by the same pro-opposition news source – the self-styled ‘Syrian Observatory For Human Rights‘ (SOHR) which until recently, was being run by Syrian ex-convict, Osama Ali Suleiman, who uses the media stage name of “Rami Abdul Rahman”. He runs his dubious organisation (see his website here) from his flat in Coventry, England, and is said to travel frequently to Turkey as part of his operation. SOHR has received funding from the EU and like the White Helmets, has been openly affiliated with the British Foreign Office, being summoned to private meetings there.

The SOHR has been the “go to” source for all civilian casualty numbers in Syria, even though the numbers put forth cannot be independently corroborated or are not checked at all for their veracity.

FIXER: Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, leaves the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after meeting Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in central London November 21, 2011. Photo Source: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor.

The SOHR and western media completely ignore (and cover-up) regular incidents of so-called “moderate” rebels, supported directly by the US and its CIA, who regularly target civilian areas. They are targeting civilians and then blaming these attacks on the Syrian government through the same ‘activist’ media channels.

Where is the claimed ‘neutrality’ in the White Helmet reporting in these same conflict areas where they are embedded?  We hear incessantly of the “regime barrel bombs”, but we never hear one mention of the flesh tearing ‘Hell Cannon’ fired indiscriminately upon Aleppo civilians, in a hail of mortars and rockets that regularly rain down upon civilian areas, including into Damascus, from terrorist cells embedded in suburbs.

Likewise, we are never told about the car bombs that have devastated civilian areas in Homs and Latakia, including schools and hospitals. When do we hear about the tunnels dug under civilian homes and streets by the terrorists that are detonated – as a distraction to divert the SAA into ambushes and sniper fire?

These neutral humanitarians would do well to talk about the terrorist snipers who kill and maim civilians on a regular basis. Instead, they ignore atrocities committed against the Syrian army, an army which, unlike the foreign mercenary “rebel alliance” terrorists, is comprised of actual Syrian citizens.

For additional details on atrocities committed by terrorists against Syrian citizens, read: Al Houta Abyss, Raqqa: Terrorist dumping ground for the dead & the living.

A genuinely neutral report or analysis should surely take all of these factors into account, or are these “other” Syrian civilians not to be registered as such in the western electorate minds and hearts? If so, why not?

“The UN estimates 220,000 deaths thus far in the Syrian war.  But almost half are Syrian army soldiers or allied local militia fighters, and two thirds are combatants if we count opposition fighters.  Either way, the ratio of civilian to military casualties is roughly 1:2, given that the opposition is also inflicting civilian casualties.  Compare that to the roughly 3:1 ratio in the US war in Iraq and 4:1 in the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-9.  (The rate of Palestinian to Israeli casualties was an astronomical 100:1.)” ~ Paul Larudee. Mythology, Barrel Bombs and Human Rights Watch.

“In April and June 2014, I spent a cumulative month in Syria, in various areas of Damascus, with visits to Latakia, Homs, and Ma’aloula. At the time, Damascus was being intensely shelled by mortars, frequently in my vicinity, including just behind the hotel housing the Peace Delegation which I accompanied for the first week (photo). This attack killed three civilians and one Syrian soldier. We saw some of the 60 plus children injured in the April 15 shelling of a school, not an isolated occasion, an attack which also killed one child. Mortars rained down at close-proximity on many occasions in different areas of the Old City where I had then found lodging.” ~ Eva Bartlett

This is a statement from an Aleppo citizen.  Another Syrian civilian who has never heard of the White Helmets.

“The terrorists are using mortars, explosive bullets, cooking-gas cylinders bombs and water-warming long cylinders bombs, filled up with explosives and shrapnel and nails, in what they call “Hell Canon”.  Google these weapons or see their YouTube clips. The cooking-gas cylinder is made of steel, and it weighs around 25 kg. Imagine it thrown by a canon to hit civilians? And imagine knowing that it’s full with explosives?… Yet, the media is busy with the legendary weapon of “barrel bombs”! They came to spread “freedom” among Syrians! How dare they say that Syrian army shouldn’t fight them back?” ~ from Syria, welcome to Hell. 

Rebel Hell Cannon, Aleppo

How can the White Helmets make a claim of neutrality while providing simplistic, largely unverified,  biased and prejudicial reports that reflect only a percentage of the reality of this complex conflict and blatantly further the objectives of their donors in the region while ignoring the sacrifice being made by the Syrian Arab Army to defend their families and homeland from the invading NATO death squads.

“The Syrian Army is the Syrian people.” ~ Mother Agnes Mariam 

From our same civilian contact in Aleppo:

Aleppo city has shrunk to a fifth of its original size, and became so crowded with refugees that fled their areas after they fell into terrorist hands. I walk everyday in the city. I see children, young girls without limbs because of a terrorist mortar  or shrapnel  that targets them randomly and causes  terrible wounds and horrific memories that will never leave them. The girl who lost one leg is standing on her good leg and selling bread, while the little boy who lost one arm is selling chewing gum. Those are the “injured” people who are mentioned fleetingly in the news, just numbers in one line of a report, after each attack from the terrorists. “Injured” doesn’t mean scratched or having a bleeding finger; it means someone lost his eyes or her limbs.”

Finally, this photo was taken shortly after Russia had legally entered the conflict in Syria at the request of the Syrian Government.  Does it not seem a strange message to be conveyed by a neutral, unbiased humanitarian organisation with a self- proclaimed mandate to protect ALL Syrian people?  The White Helmets will not kneel? They are neutral are they not, to whom would they kneel or not kneel if indeed they serve all Syrians regardless of “race, religion, gender or political affiliation”

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White Helmets: Execution facilitators

There is an entire library of White Helmet propaganda images that have been proven to be recycled, fake or at best, inaccurate but perhaps the most shocking and most widely publicised was the footage of their suspected participation in an Al Nusra execution of a civilian in Hreitan,  Northern Aleppo.

This is perhaps one of the most damning indictments of White Helmet collusion with the terrorist group.

White Helmets facilitate Al Nusra execution. 5/5/2015. Aleppo

This video was wiped from most channels by the White Helmets immediately after its release, however the website Liveleak has managed to keep a protected copy which has escaped YouTube communitarian-style censorship.

Live Leak says: “As expected, youtube deleted this very incriminating video of the s-called “White Helmets” working hand in hand with Al Qaeda. Another CIA fail, trying to sell us these “White helmet” as civilian workers and volunteers, while they are simply Nusra jihadists. What to think of theri claims about ‘chlorine’?”

WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC VIDEO CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=fd8_1430900709

The White Helmets were forced to release a statement explaining the events in this video. According to their own admission here, the sequence of events on the day, 5th May 2015 were as follows:  Al Nusra called the White Helmets 25 minutes prior to the execution. White Helmets arrived on the scene at 11.35 am, 5 minutes BEFORE the execution was carried out at 11.40.  These impartial humanitarian workers did NOTHING to prevent this execution, they appear a full 5 minutes prior to this murder at the behest of the executioners and they are ushered into shot immediately after the victim is shot twice at close range in the head, to collect the body.

Are these really neutral humanitarians at work saving every Syrian civilian “irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation?

This is also taken from the White Helmet official statement AFTER their execution facilitation had gone viral on social media:

“We unequivocally condemn the killing of civilians no matter who the perpetrator.”

So where is their condemnation of this and countless other executions of civilians by Al Nusra in their reports to the UN?

The perpetrator is clearly Al Nusra Front, and it seems as if the White Helmet are avoiding naming the group, and readers would be right to ask why not. So where is their condemnation of this and countless other executions of civilians by Al Nusra – in those White Helmet reports to the UN?

Here are more responses by the White Helmets to the highly controversial video:

“The discussion over the video from Hreitan has highlighted the absence of a published code of conduct to which civil defence volunteers can be held accountable. The leaders of Syria Civil Defence commit to the development and publication of a code of conduct for members and its public posting on the www.SyriaCivilDefence.Org website in English and Arabic within one month.”

We are now coming up to November 2015, and there has still been no amendment to their “code of conduct”.  These humanitarians upon whose testimony, hangs the entire Western intervention policy in Syria, have not been officially investigated or even questioned over their suspected role in the “clean up” of a summary execution of a Syrian civilian by terrorist groups in Syria.

Armed or Unarmed?

 Unpaid Unarmed Lifesavers in Syria.” ~ New York Times headline Feb 2015.

 

“The White Helmets are unpaid and unarmed, and they risk their lives to save others…….. Wearing simple white construction helmets as feeble protection from those “double-tap” bombings, the White Helmets are strictly humanitarian. They even have rescued some of the officers of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad who are bombing them.”

Screenshot from video clearly showing White Helmet members carrying guns.

Video clearly showing armed White Helmets on the streets of Aleppo:

Meet another confused impartial, unarmed White Helmet, Muawiya Hassan Agha based in Sarmine, Idlib [scene of the recent alleged Russian Air Force bombing of a civilian hospital].

Muawiya Hassan Agha twitter page.

It appears that Agha plays a dual role in Syria’s conflict, White Helmet by day and Al Nusra armed terrorist by night, posing on board an Al Nusra tank, gun in hand. Here is a very clear case of the lines between unarmed humanitarian and armed mercenary being more than a little blurred. In one photo Agha is seen clearly celebrating with Al Nusra wearing his White Helmet tabard. In the stills taken from the alleged Russian hospital bombing in Sarmine, Idlib, he is spotted emerging from the “bombed” building.  His association with Al Nusra and his brazen show of armed affiliation leaves no doubt as to his role in this conflict and it is far removed from that of an impartial, unarmed Humanitarian.

In fact, the immortal words of Russian Foreign Minsiter, Sergei Lavrov, spring to mind:

“If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist, right?”

Top left: Musawiya Agha Hassan in White Helmet mode. Top Right: As Al Nusra mercenary on tank in Idlib. Bottom left: celebrating with Al Nusra terrorists. Bottom right: Screen shot from alleged Russian air strike on hospital in Sharmine, Idlib.

A very cursory scroll down Agha’s Facebook page also reveals very recent photos of SAA corpses accompanied by a number of celebratory comments.

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In Summary

The success of the White Helmet and NGO complex propaganda is dependent upon the skewing of our moral compass by using the media and government institutions that are proven experts at “nudging” public opinion towards any particular policy.

If we really want to support Syria in this battle against such a complex array of interventionist forces, we must locate that compass and allow it to point us squarely towards the truth, however hard that truth is to accept and however remote might appear from the mainstream narrative. In fact I would go as far as to say, the further away you get from the mainstream naarative, the closer you get to the truth.

One final example of White Helmet propaganda at work:

“White Helmets claim to have rescued an SAA soldier who had in reality been captured by Al Nusra terrorists 10 days previously. In the Al Nusra version, this soldier is described as a “Shia pig” and was most probably summarily executed as an apostate according to Wahabi doctrine. Hard to imagine how the White Helmets then rescued him, unless of course they dug up his body for publicity purposes.”

White Helmets claim to have rescued an SAA soldier who had in reality been captured by Al Nusra terrorists 10 days previously. In the Al Nusra version, this soldier is described as a

At this point, the question should really be asked, are these two groups working together (or are they one in the same)?

 

END OF PART II 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: In Part III we will analyse the recent speeches given by the White Helmet leaders, James Le Mesurier, Raed Saleh and Farouq al Habib, in particular,  who have been doing the rounds of Western media trying to regain lost propaganda ground, including their recent guest speaker spot at the prestigious Frontline club last week.

 

[Author 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.]

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part III of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

December 17, 2014

Part three of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII  • Part VIII [Final Segment]

Pachamama Art

Painting: Oswaldo Guayasamin. In 1988, Guayasamin painted a very controversial mural depicting the history of Ecuador. The Congress of Ecuador asked him to do so. However, the United States Government criticized him because the one of the paintings showed a man in a Nazi helmet with the lettering “CIA” on it. Guayasamín was an ardent supporter of the communist Cuban Revolution in general and Fidel Castro in particular. His death on March 10, 1999 was marked by a day of national strikes by the indigenous people (whom he spent his life supporting) and other sectors of society, and was considered a great loss to Ecuador. In 2002, three years after his death, Guayasamín’s masterwork, La Capilla del Hombre, was completed and opened to the public. The Chapel is meant to document not only man’s cruelty to man but also the potential for greatness within humanity. [Source]

Weapons of Mass Destruction

We, the “underdeveloped,” are also those with the single crop, the single product, the single market. A single product whose uncertain sale depends on a single market imposing and fixing conditions. That is the great formula for imperialist economic domination. — Ché Guevara, 9 April 1961

Conceptualized in the 19th century, NGOs today are the avant-garde weapon for protecting Western interests, one that has now evolved into the 21st century refined version that includes mass social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. This is akin to the improvement of the Western killing machines that have been refined over time, such as the Winchester rifle begetting the Gatling gun begetting the machine gun begetting the AK-47 and so forth. Weapons of mass destruction don’t stop at the physical ones.

The proliferation of NGOs is one of the manifestations of the Powell memo, which was a harbinger of the current collaboration between the profit and non-profit worlds to continue the growth of the capitalist system. This memo was written by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr., a former corporate lawyer for big tobacco. It laid out the blueprint of how corporations could take over the institutions of the Western world (which are supposed to be democratic in nature) to benefit the growth of corporate power, domestically and, inevitably, globally. As resource accumulation necessitated the global transference of the principles of the Powell memo, NGOs are used as an integral soft power component of multinational corporate dominance that has now dwarfed any and all nation states in influence and control across the Earth. [Link to Powell Memo: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/powell_memo_lewis/]

Is there any nation on Earth that is beyond the tentacles of the global hegemony of Euro-American imperialism? The choice of whether one is a member of the global edifice of capitalism or not is entirely contingent on the market need for any resources that may reside within one’s domain. The modern version of the Caribbean / Latin American nations that were able to remove the colonizers from government control still have the basis of state power – the corporate state – as a continuance of resource exploitation of the Global South, on its shores.

Rejecting the necessity for unequivocal solidarity against imperialism, many “activists” ignore the fact that 1) a multitude of Caribbean/Latin American states, as well as any region in the Global South that had exploitable resources, have been colonized and exploited for centuries, 2) the very people at the forefront, condemning the “extractivists,” are the very people purchasing and using what is extracted (the “extractivist” states themselves use and emit almost nothing of what they extract, with the money being used to lift citizens out of extreme dire poverty), 3) these states are also very much trapped within the industrialized capitalist economic system; they do not exist in a vacuum, 4) reparations have not been made to these states who contributed essentially nothing to the planetary crisis, 5) the leaders of these states must (usually within 1-2 terms) face the daily and very real possibility of CIA-plotted assassination, destabilization and coups while satisfying a populace seeking the most basic of life necessities and economic stability, and 6) by siding with U.S.-financed NGOs such as Pachamama Alliance, Amazon Watch, etc., one is NOT in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. Rather one is (yet again) reabsorbed by the very system we claim to oppose – reabsorbed by the very system and hegemonic rule that is destroying Indigenous Peoples and whole cultures across the entire globe.

Avaaz | An Extension of the Imperial State

… the pluralist model of civil society obscures the extensive collaboration among the resource-providing elites and the dependent state of most grassroots organizations. While the latter may negotiate with foundations over details, and even win some concessions, capitalist hegemony (including its imperial perquisites) cannot be questioned without severe organizational penalties. By and large, it is the funders who are calling the tune. This would be more obvious if there were sufficient publicized investigations of this vast and important domain. That the subject is “off-limits” for both academics and journalists is compelling evidence of enormous power. — Joan Roelofs, 2007

NGOs such as Avaaz have a tendency to only focus on/attack sovereign anti-imperialist countries that extract. Note that there is rarely any mention/focus on the extractive states that are occupied or controlled (via puppet presidents) by imperialist countries, previous examples being Nigeria and the invaded, annihilated and now occupied Libya.

There is reason as to why.

Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, described as a global civic advocacy group, and Moveon.org, “an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.” The Service Employees International Union and GetUp.org.au were also publicly recognized as founding partners of Avaaz: “Avaaz.org also enjoys the partnership and support of leading activist organizations from around the world, including the Service Employees International Union, a founding partner of Avaaz, GetUp.org.au, and many others.” [Further reading on the formation of Avaaz can be found in Part II, Section I of an investigative report.]

In the public realm, Res Publica is said to be comprised primarily of an affiliation of three key individuals; Tom Perriello, a pro-war (former) U.S. Representative who describes himself as a social entrepreneur; Ricken Patel, consultant to many of the most powerful entities on Earth and the long-time associate of Perriello; and Tom Pravda, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service who serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department. [THE GROTESQUE AND DISTURBING IDEOLOGY AT THE HELM OF AVAAZ]

Fundación Pachamama, Amazon Watch, and other allied NGOs joined forces with Avaaz.org to keep Ecuador’s Amazon in the international news. The Avaaz campaign was intensified prior to elections: “…we could expose him for turning his back on his commitments just as he is fighting for re-election. He does not want a PR nightmare right now….” [Emphasis in original] According to an Avaaz update on February 7, 2013, the Avaaz “team” flew in and out of Sani Isla and delivered the “one million strong petition” (i.e. clicks) with the indigenous leaders. Avaaz boasts: “Our campaign has made the news all over the world.

It takes incredible arrogance and entitlement for privileged Euro-Americans, most making 6-figure salaries, to fly into any sovereign country and make demands. Of course, this White supremacy has become normalized over the centuries. [Photos: Petition being delivered at Sani Isla. Avaaz press conference in Quito.]

Posted January 24, 2013 by Avaaz: “There’s an indigenous community in Ecuador that lives in a part of the Amazon where there are jaguars and more animal life than the whole of North America! It’s an incredibly pristine, remote area and the whole ecosystem has been preserved. But the government is threatening to go in and look for oil. The local tribe is resisting, but usually oil companies go in, buy off the people and break up the community. [Emphasis in original]

Yet in reality, the area is not incredibly pristine, nor has the whole ecosystem been preserved. And there was no international campaign to draw attention to this area when corporate interests were able to plunder it freely. “…the Yasuní National Park is hardly a pristine area. It has been explored and exploited for decades… It seems clear that exploiting the ITT fields cannot be equated with ‘destroying’ Yasuní, as some claim. It is difficult, although not impossible, to ‘save’ something that is already badly compromised. Claims made by the government side, to the extent that 99.9% of the park is intact are also hardly credible. A quick look at a map of Block 31, which occupies a large percentage of the park, makes it clear that to say so is a distortion of reality.” [Source]

And while it is most likely very true that “usually oil companies go in, buy off the people and break up the community,” imperial states and foundations of hegemony, utilizing their army of NGOs, perform the exact same function.

And while Avaaz wages an international campaign opposing oil development in Ecuador (rather than opposing the fracking of the Bakken of North Dakota, which is deeply affecting the Lakota tribes), Avaaz neglects to mention their advocacy of REDD – a new form of colonialism.

Avaaz is a member of The Climate Group (not made public on the Climate Group Website). The Climate Group, launched in London in 2004, is an example of an incubator for in-house projects of The Rockefeller Brothers Fund that later evolve into free-standing institutions. The Climate Group has been working on the global implementation of REDD for some time. The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, including big polluters such as energy giants BP and Duke Energy, as well as several partner organizations, one being Avaaz. The Climate Group are advocates of carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), nuclear power and biomass; all false solutions that translate into “business as usual.” The Climate Group works closely with other business lobby groups, including the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which works consistently to sabotage climate action. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, including the Voluntary Carbon Standard, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects. One marketing strategist company labeled the Climate Group’s campaign ‘Together’ as “the best inoculation against greenwash.” The Climate Group has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India and North America. It was a partner to the Copenhagen Climate Council.

More Chains: World Bank

In an interview published December 11, 2013, yet another culprit (in hand with industrialized capitalism) is identified by Oscar Leon when speaking to the mega mining projects proliferating in Ecuador:

“In 1994, the World Bank loaned money to Ecuador under the condition that the country open its natural and ecological parks and reserves to mining and oil drilling. Conservative president Sixto Durán Ballén accepted such terms. For 20 years now, *Intag’s life has been a fight to defend its territory.” (*a remote and partly mountainuous area in Cotacachi Canton and Otavalo Canton Imbabura Province, Ecuador.)

This represents yet another example of how anti-imperial governments of vulnerable states must work within the confines of existing structures/systems inherited from capitalists or western puppets. In many instances, they are bound to honour contracts and treaties signed by their predecessors. A further problem arises when one considers that most populations have long been conditioned to believe that the only desirable way to live is to live comfortably by modern Western standards, which is what most if not all governments strive to provide in order to maintain popular support. And as the privileged have demonstrated that they are willing to give up absolutely nothing, the situation is very difficult to change.

What is ignored for the most part is the fact that these mining companies are of Imperial origin. If the Left wishes to show solidarity against mining, they could and should fight these corporations that reside on their own soil. Yet even this task has, for the most part, been left for socialist movements and brave Freedom Fighters in Latin America.

On December 18, 2013, TeleSUR reported that eight separate claims are currently being filed against the State of Bolivia for a total of $1.87 billion. These claims are from US-British corporations Guaracachi and Rurelec; Spanish corporation Albertis; Chilean-British corporations Quiborax and Non Metallic Minerals; and US corporation Pan American Energy. This is a most egregious and overt display of Whiteness, racism, colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy and entitlement. The men in suits behind these corporations really believe that Bolivia’s resources actually belong to them.

Multinational companies demanding compensation of billions in lost profits due to the rightful nationalization of strategic companies is just one example of further, intense pressure placed on vulnerable anti-imperialist states due to the engine of the industrialized capitalist system.

Video: Foreign companies demand Bolivian state millions in compensation (2:28)

This is not to suggest that leaders such as Morales and Correa, who have consistently fought corporate power on many fronts, do not have their own shortcomings (e.g., the former’s recent stated support for nuclear, and the latter’s selling out resources to Chinese investors for oil development and mining). Rather, it is a call for legitimate movements to fully respect the right to self-determination for all citizens of sovereign states – absolutely free of manipulation and outside influence.

The December 11, 2013 interview closes with the question, “While it is hard to deny the needs of the majority, the question still stands: how can we balance the rights of indigenous and local communities with economic development for the rest of society?” The simple answer is this: Under the industrialized economic capitalist system – in a world where NATO states will not hesitate to annihilate entire nations for Earth’s last remaining natural resources – we cannot.

Unconscious Hypocrisies

Our best evidence is history itself. We can deconstruct the history of the foundations, the non-profit industrial complex, the media (both corporate and so-called “progressive”), and all of their machinations. Yet one may still wish to argue that, regarding the relationship between the Achuar and the Pachamama Foundation/Alliance [1], perhaps there are “no strings attached.” Perhaps one is still not swayed by the facts and opinions put forward in this article and others. Yet, even if one could prove unequivocally that there were/are “no strings attached,” do we then take the position that NGOs financed by Western interests to set up shop in vulnerable states should be condoned? If one answers yes, then the question that follows must be this: And why do you believe/feel that what you want supersedes any sovereign state’s right to self-determination, free from outside influence?

To support avenues (in this specific instance, NGOs), in any degree, via which corporate and imperial interests can gain access to Indigenous Peoples and territories (that these same interests would otherwise have great difficulty gaining access to, if at all) is not solidarity against imperialism. Rather, such support lends itself to the normalizing of foreign interference and manipulation via the non-profit-industrial complex.

For a moment let us try to imagine the United States tolerating highly financed, highly sophisticated Russian NGOs … multiplying on U.S. soil. These NGOs provide training, funding, “guidance,” to American communities. Now, try to imagine this scenario during the cold war – because every day is a cold war when living under the iron first of imperialism. It is doubtful that even one reader would believe that a scenario such as this would be welcome, let alone tolerated, by the US government. So why is it that we see little to nothing wrong with US interests influencing/creating sophisticated avenues into vulnerable states? In general, this is due to an unconscious hypocrisy. If we are aware of this hypocrisy, we can quite quickly realize how preposterous this actually is. However, if we are not aware of this hypocrisy, we quickly find excuses in order to justify what, in truth, we know we would never tolerate ourselves. One could safely say that such double standards do not only demonstrate an unconscious hypocrisy, but also a collective aversive racism that hums beneath the system.

And as Orwell spoke of cold war (as a general term), our hypocrisies and refusal to address White supremacy will lead to the same place:

“For forty or fifty years past, Mr. H. G. Wells and others have been warning us that man is in danger of destroying himself with his own weapons, leaving the ants or some other gregarious species to take over. Anyone who has seen the ruined cities of Germany will find this notion at least thinkable. Nevertheless, looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery. We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. — George Orwell, 1945, You and the Atomic Bomb

Aversive Racism: A Universal Language

The first layer: The masses acquiesce – vile and venomous hatred is directed at the “dictator” as deemed by imperial states. Hatred is amplified via the echo chambers of corporate/”progressive” media and the non-profit industrial complex. The medium is the message. In this layer, the aversive racism is hateful.

The second layer: The boldly painted beautiful natives, whom we at once recognize from the glossy pages of National Geographic, fan our smoldering flames of romanticism and lost meaning. In this layer of aversive racism, the Euro-American embraces his/her White paternalism.

Yet, rather than resist such elite manipulation that is seductive by design, the Left enshroud themselves within it like moths ensconced in silk cocoons.

Let us ignore the fact that despite the Obama Administration’s continued oppression and exploitation of First Nations peoples in the United States – a continued genocide in slow-motion – there is no such thing as an international campaign being waged against the Obama Administration (Obama, the ultimate dictator, yet never referred to as such). No. There is neither romanticism nor mystique to be found, or more importantly, felt, amongst the Indigenous whose land we have stolen. Outside of the Amazon Rainforest, the branding/marketing campaigns developed to create an equal intrigue of Indigenous People on what is now referred to as American soil are non-existent. The Native faces we recognize all too easily from our own communities are marginalized and ignored. Such sentimentality reserved for the exotic faces in far-away lands will never be found on our soil – such notions are not funded.

Nor does anyone care to listen to the clan mothers and elders in our own communities. Not when one can pay thousands of dollars to see the “real” Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon – where the privileged can feign great concern and enlightenment before they fly back home to their house, cottage and two cars.

“We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.” ? Bell Hooks, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism

We love and support Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez only when he is dead. We expect Bolivia’s Evo Morales to perform magical feats within the chains of an industrialized capitalist system. We condemn him when he fails to provide the long-awaited path to Utopia. Ignore the question of whether an Indigenous president of one of the poorest states in the world (one that has not contributed to the climate crisis) should even be expected to accomplish what none of us yet know how to do. Ignore the fact that the courageous and profound alternative proposals we demanded our Leftist leaders such as Morales were ignored, marginalized and buried by our “movements.” And when Leftist leaders fail, the Left chimes, “See, I told you.” Ignore the fact that we do not hold our own “leaders” to any such accountability. Ignore the fact that revolutionary changes are most difficult if not impossible within the industrialized capitalist system. Ignore the fact that both Morales and Chavez championed against the capitalist system at much ridicule. They said out loud what the Left did not have the courage to say, even if they do not have the luxury to act to the extent we wish were possible. Ignore the fact that the necessity and responsibility to dismantle industrialized capitalism belongs to those who gained through exploitation of others, not those who suffered through exploitation and continue to do so.

In fact, as we criticize an Indigenous leader such as Morales for being a “closet neoliberal” or an “extractivist,” our own countries (who treat First Nations like garbage) are doing a million times more ecological damage on any given day (think tar sands in Canada and Bakken oil fields in the US). Yet, the “leaders” of the North are spared the same scathing scrutiny and labels. It is critical to ask where is the International Avaaz campaign to vilify Obama and stop the development of the Bakken region in Dakota? When was the last time Avaaz launched an international campaign to shut down the world’s dirtiest project – the tar sands – coupled with the demonization of Harper? Where is the international global campaign to stop Obama’s expansion of fracking loaded with disparaging remarks? You will not find any such campaigns as Avaaz is safely tucked away in the pocket of hegemony. Latin American leaders are thrown under the bus while the liberal Left can be found on its knees hailing the latest speech by Obama. Why does the hostility toward non-white, monetarily poor governments far supersede any hostility shown toward the most egregious and wealthy (via plundering) governments on Earth?

In fact, Amnesty International, Avaaz, Pachamama Alliance, and other NGOs who can afford the world’s most sophisticated advertising/marketing firms have so successfully demonized leaders who refuse to fall in line with imperial interests that the collective populace is more than willing to ignore both the interference and the facts. Indeed, the hatred toward such leaders emphatically supersedes the foundations of the oligarchs and most powerful corporations, USAID, and even the world’s greatest war criminals masquerading as presidents who are responsible for the death of millions.

Perhaps the truth is that we in the North are simply jealous – that we do not possess the tenacity of the social movements in Latin America, nor their courage. [Latin American presidents deliver powerful speeches at the UN]

R2P Media Pysops

And so it begins. On January 3, 2014 a scathing Newsweek [2] article appears with a main objective being the criticizing of Correa’s government. In the article sensationally titled “After All the People We Killed We Felt Dizzy” the author writes:

“Salvation for the Yasuni may have to come from outside Ecuador, and it may hinge on the human rights of the Taromenane. Lawyer Veronica Potes says a legal claim has been submitted to get the Inter-American Human Rights system involved. Since the government is now approving oil extraction in their territory without studying how it will affect the uncontacted groups, Potes thinks there’s grounds for international intervention.” (emphasis added)

A Glimpse into the Left Approach

It appears that a large part of the Left has conflated imperialism with the globalized capitalist economic system. The logic is as follows: if you are against the neoliberal ideology of the globalized economy, you are anti-imperialist. Thus, if it appears one panders to the neoliberal ideology of the globalized economy – this person is not anti-imperialist. And if a leader is an “extractivist” then, by default, this leader panders to neoliberalism, therefore, such a leader is no longer anti-imperial.

Yet this conflation is largely inaccurate. The Oxford definition of imperialism is “policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.”

Further, every state on this planet is “extractivist.” And most every community extracts at some level. To allude that Ecuador or any of the ALBA states are imperial by default, if they seek capital, is not accurate.

If we take this further and ask the question: Do NGOs of imperial states “extend a country’s power and influence through diplomacy”? – the answer is an unequivocal yes. Therefore, NGOs must be considered a tool of imperialism.

Some within the Left will lend solidarity to the State’s closure of the Pachamama Foundation (FP en español), only with a condition: It must be proven that the closure of FP by the government of Ecuador was not truly based on the anti-oil protest, but rather, was closed down only because the government of Ecuador is anti-imperialist, which also must be “proven.” (Of course, only if a coup should occur could it be “proven” that the leader was not a co-operative driver of neoliberalism. The coup would thus prove the leader would not acquiesce sufficiently to the will of imperial states. We may not have to wait too long for such “proof.”) In reality, one could safely say yes the closure was likely a direct result of both: because of the protests, on top of the reality that it is connected to imperial interests.

One must ask how it is possible to “Stand in Solidarity with Fundación Pachamama” when standing directly behind Fundación Pachamama are US interests. It is vital that we separate the Indigenous people from the Fundación Pachamama as the Foundation (an entity – not a person) is tied to those we claim to oppose and therefore must resist.

It is critical to consider the fact that such ties to hegemonic interest alone, as evidenced with Pachamama Foundation, all but discredit any/all legitimate dissent.

Destabilizing Arsenals

On December 12, 2013 in the article Bogota Mayor Falls Victim to Another Right-Wing Coup in Latin America, the author writes: “While the press, as well as the U.S. government, will not acknowledge it, the elimination of progressive political leaders by coups d’état is taking place in Latin America with increasing frequency. The most recent casualty of such measures is Gustavo Petro, the mayor of Bogota (population 6.7 million), who was removed from office this week by the Inspector-General, Alejandro Ordoñez, who alleges that Petro’s efforts in 2012 to de-privatize the garbage collection services harmed ‘the principle of freedom of enterprise.’ Quite shockingly, Ordoñez also banned Petro, who was expected to run for president in 2018, from holding any public office for the next 15 years.”

On February 4, 2012, in the article Destabilizing Arsenals Concealed in US Embassies, the author writes: “Pressing for unchallenged hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, Washington keeps the populist regimes in Latin America under permanent pressure. Outwardly, the U.S. Administration pledges not to resort to military force to displace the ALBA governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, or Cuba, but in reality Washington’s efforts to undermine them are a constant background of the continent’s political picture. The activity began under president G. Bush and shows no signs of subsiding under president Obama. Supposedly, plans are being devised in the White House that a series of color revolutions will erupt across Latin America in 2013-2014 and derail the continent’s advancement towards tighter integration in the security and other spheres. As the fresh experience of Libya showed with utmost clarity, Washington’s new brand of color revolutions will – in contrast to the former coups which used to be accompanied with outpourings of pacifist rhetoric – involve ferocious fighting and massive fatalities.”

On November 3, 2012, in the article Laws vs. Color Revolutions in Latin America, the author writes: “The US intelligence is making systematic efforts to energize the political opposition in Latin American countries deemed unfriendly in Washington. The strategy encompasses the radicalization of the existing political parties and groups plus the creation of new ones pursuing ever more aggressive agendas, and the formation of a network of seemingly harmless NGOs ready to launch massive attacks against the regimes in their respective countries whenever their sponsors and curators chose to unleash them.… It should also be noted that an important line on the Ecuadoran government’s list of priorities is occupied by the task of tightening the oversight of the NGOs which proliferate in the country at a breakneck rate. Correa and his closest co-workers evidently count among the key short-term risks the possibility of a coup attempt in which, in line with a US scenario, NGOs receiving additional financial infusions on the occasion would be supposed to guarantee the involvement of large numbers of protesters.” [emphasis added]

And of course it was on June 22, 2012 that Paraguay fell to a coup. In an excellent investigative report, Natalia Viana, director of Publica, Brazil’s first nonprofit investigative journalism center, deconstructed the events.

As well, one must not forget the Bolivian TIPNIS conflict of 2011 (amplified by NGOs) that threatened the destabilization of the MAS Government. On November 20, 2013 it was announced that one of the TIPNIS leaders joined a rightwing party.

The Left demands “evidence” that the US NGO (in this particular case, Fundación Pachamama) is “bad,” while simultaneously embracing an international NGO campaign that cries “Correa might arrest a leading activist!” They will believe the NGO with no evidence (financed by foreign interests) while rejecting the very real possibility of an escalating destabilization campaign – which history (even the most recent) shows is very, very real. The Left will also reject any communications from the state under attack, since 1) the Left cannot support the state (except in the form of an imperial NGO) and 2) perhaps subconsciously, might and white is right.

Summary: If Correa is a “neoliberal in disguise,” then the Left condones the US NGO situated on Ecuadorian soil, i.e. foreign interference. Therefore, in the eyes of a seduced and indoctrinated Left, Ecuador only has a right for self-determination if they reject all neoliberal policy (that our own governments initiated) – again, standards we do not apply to our own states or any other states.

Where the possibility of destabilization is very real (in this instance, Ecuador) the liberal Left will only oppose NGOs tied to corporate interests if the president under attack is the all-encompassing dream of a perfect leader (as imagined by the privileged Left). Yet, if a destabilization/coup were to occur, it would not be Correa alone that would be harmed. It would be the whole of Ecuador.

As always, the Left believes the voice of authority: the non-profit industrial complex in tandem with the media. Critical facts are ignored and discarded. Orwell rolls in his grave.

 

Next: Part IV

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. 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]

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

EndNotes:

[1] The Pachamama Alliance website creates an emotive hook/storyline that it was the Achuar who first decided to “reach out to the modern world”: “In the 1990’s, facing oil development on their ancestral lands, Achuar elders decided to reach out to the modern world that was threatening their very existence. They issued a call for allies who would work to ‘change the dream of the modern world’ and transform the culture of overconsumption driving the destruction of the rainforest. The Pachamama Alliance was created as an answer to their call.” The reality is slightly less poetic. The Pachamama Alliance was created as a partnership with the Achuar to help organize and support a new multi-million dollar tourism development for which Indigenous Peoples needed to be trained in western commerce, the service industry, the English language and marketing. In essence, the Achuar were to be carefully integrated with the modern world.” [Source: Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part I of an Investigative Report]

 

[2] Fareed Zakaria, a Newsweek columnist and editor of Newsweek International, attended a secret meeting on November 29, 2001, with a dozen policy makers, Middle East experts and members of influential policy research organizations that produced a report for President George W. Bush and his cabinet outlining a strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and the Middle East in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The meeting was held at the request of Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense. The unusual presence of journalists, who also included Robert D. Kaplan of The Atlantic Monthly, at such a strategy meeting was revealed in Bob Woodward’s 2006 book State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III. Woodward reported in his book that, according to Mr. Kaplan, everyone at the meeting signed confidentiality agreements not to discuss what happened. [Source]

WATCH: LIBYA: Race, Empire, and the Invention of Humanitarian Emergency

Zero Anthropology

by Maximilian Forte

Based on the author’s latest book, Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War On Libya and Africa (Baraka Books, Montreal, 2012), and nearly two years of extensive documentary research, this film places the 2011 US/NATO war in Libya in a more meaningful context than that of a war to “protect civilians” driven by the urgent need to “save Benghazi”. Instead it counters such notions with the actual destruction of Sirte, and the consistent and determined persecution of black Libyans and African migrant workers by the armed opposition, supported by NATO, as it sought to violently overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and the Jamahiriyah. This film takes us through some of the stock justifications for the war, focusing on protecting civilians, the responsibility to protect (R2P), and “genocide prevention,” and examines the racial biases and political prejudice that underpinned them. The role of Western human rights organizations, as well as misinformation spread through “social media” with the intent of fostering fear of rampaging black people, are especially scrutinized.

Further Reading: Libya: The Second Anniversary of a Bloody Coup (February 17, 2013)

The Virgin Fallacy: From the Famine Cotton Board to the Millennium Village Project

Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa (CIHA)

February 13, 2015

by Cilas Kemedjio

 

In this three-part series (we post Part One today), Cilas Kemedjio takes on the ongoing crusade to spread neoliberal dogma and “western values.”  Part Two addresses William Easterly’s call to governments and aid agencies to be “guardians of virtue,” while Part Three moves to the continued efforts of Jeffrey Sachs to create development nirvanas in African (and other) societies.

 

TOE

The cover story in The Economist (June 1997) was “Emerging Africa.” It was a classic display of the arrogant paternalism that has come to be the hallmark of the new humanitarianism. We are told that poor countries, referred to as “swallowers of endless charity,” will continue to make “legitimate demands on the conscience of the rich world.” In order to maximize the efficiency of aid programs, reforming corrupt models of governance should be the priority of donors: “If a country’s government is too venal or incompetent to spend the money as specified, it must be told to allow non-governmental organizations to step in or do without aid altogether” (The Economist 13-14). William Easterly makes the case for this neoliberal agenda in the language of virtue in his book The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor. Easterly, a believer in the “Invisible Hand” theorized by Adam Smith, advocates an orthodox laissez-faire capitalism, that, coupled with democratic institutions, is the golden path towards growth. Jeffrey Sachs, in an article (“The Limits of Convergence: Nature, nurture and growth”) published in the same issue, credits Adam Smith for understanding better than modern economists the curse of tropical geography, that is, the link between geography and poverty (or growth). Sachs contends that global capitalism is “the most promising institutional arrangement for worldwide prosperity that history has ever seen.” Sachs claims that market-based policies and “fiscal rectitude” can help mitigate the “disabilities of the tropics.” The Economist, Easterly and Sachs all agree that good governance constitute the most important factor in the march out of extreme poverty: “Good government is not just a moral concern, or a basis for social stability and political legitimacy. Corruption, government breach of contract, expropriation of property, and inefficiency in public administration are found to harm growth.” For Sachs western economic domination may have been built upon the West’s nearly exclusive hold on capitalism. In the era of globalization, he suggests that economic prosperity should become “common property.” Jeffrey Sachs, the humanitarian at the center of Nina Munk’s The Idealist Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, and Easterly, the unapologetic advocate of globalization, do find another common ground: the virgin fallacy.

idealistThe concept of virginity is at the heart of the undertakings of European colonization, from slavery to humanitarianism without borders by way of colonization. The tabula rasa authorizes the colonial project with the attendant exploitation of human resources whose privileged modality is constituted of forced labor. The virginal state presupposes a certain laziness or morbidity of native residents, whence the exotic mythologies of the unused reserves of human energy that precede the enslavement of peoples expropriated from their virgin lands. Allen Isaacman and Richard Roberts, in Cotton, Colonialism, and Social History is Sub-Saharan Africa (1995), argue that programs of cotton colonialism were built upon the empirical observations and fantasies of European visitors, traders, missionaries, and administrators. Their view of Africa’s potential to produce cotton stemmed from the nineteenth-century romantic images of Africa as a beautiful tropical region through the prism of neo-mercantile policies. Most expectations rested on the assumption that African rural societies enjoyed abundant leisure that could be used to fuel the cotton industry. The colonial production scheme was also based on the presumption of an underutilized labor force, the consequence of Africans being “congenitally lazy.” Therefore, it was the divine duty of colonial nations to “heal” this malady by forcing Africans in the cotton fields.

Jean-Paul Sartre, in his much-celebrated preface to Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, writes that the invention of the native was a result of the reduction of “the inhabitants of the annexed country to the level of superior monkeys in order to justify the settler’s treatments of them as beasts of burden.” Starvation was only one of the modalities for achieving the complete breakdown of the humanity of the colonized. Isaacman argues that “Mozambican peasants underwrote the Portuguese textile industry with their labor and were forced to sacrifice their own food security” (Cotton is the Mother of Poverty 1996). The Famine Control Board, established by the Portuguese, could be said to represent a Humanitarian Mission at the heart of colonial exploitation.

If colonies were the grounds for the first Humanitarian missions of modern times, the battlegrounds of the Nigerian civil war, otherwise known as the Biafra war (1967-1970), became the theater of another experimentation: partisan humanitarianism. This new brand of humanitarian intervention, popularized by Doctors Without Borders, has recently become the cornerstone of the new ethical order world order. The Right to Protect, as it is known, institutionalizes the sovereignty of human rights over State sovereignty. Libya and Côte d’Ivoire have been, for better or for worse, targeted for this humanitarian experimentation. Jean Ping, the former President of the African Union Commission, laments how Libya is in chaos, after the NATO bombings that left the country in shambles and more than 50,000 deaths according to various estimates (Éclipse sur l’Afrique. Fallait-il tuer Kadhafi? 2014). Côte d’Ivoire has yet to recover from the disastrous French and United Nations military intervention following what amounted to be nothing more than a post-electoral dispute (Laurent Gbagbo selon François Mattei. Pour la Vérité et la Justice. Révélations sur un scandale français, 2014). I argue that this transformation of Africa as a ground where new experiments in international affairs are conducted proceeds from the Virgin Fallacy.

Easterly, in the name of fighting poverty, ends up casting Africa as a virgin land waiting to be molded by the conquistadores of morality and democracy, this time charged with the mission to protect the rights of the poor: “If you wonder what you can do about global poverty, here is virgin territory for action” (Easterly 34; emphasis added). The salvation of the poor, this theory surmises, will only come as a consequence of the spread of individual rights that are “Western values.” Sachs would probably agree with the assessment about the failure of development in Africa, but contends that it’s because foreign aid has been insufficient to generate satisfactory results. Sachs’s humanitarian approach to fight extreme poverty takes the form of the Millennium Villages Project while Easterly’s relies on the neoliberal dogma of free enterprise, globalization, and political freedom. Easterly is critical of Sachs’s philanthropic approach that seeks to create islands of successes in a sea of failure. Sachs’ humanitarianism is an experiment designed “to test his theories about ending poverty, and to demonstrate that his proposed series of interventions could be used on a grand scale to eradicate extreme poverty across Africa” (Munk 213). These theories, manufactured in Western laboratories, do not account for the complexities of African communities. The inability to learn from failures and successes that are written into the long history of fighting poverty in Africa calls into question this experiment that inevitably resurrects the tabula rasa mindset. In this sense, it does remain trapped within the paradigm of Africa as virgin territory.

 

[Cilas Kemedjio is Director of the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies at the University of Rochester and co-editor of the CIHA Blog.]

A List of Liberals & Leftists Who Supported the Bombing of Libya

Rouge Nation

November 11, 2014

by David Mizner

libya-before-and-after-1

I was struck by how many prominent liberal and leftist pundits and journos took no position, at least none than I could find. (I’d argue that not speaking out against intervention — a euphemism for what was clearly a war of aggression from the outset — is a failing only slightly smaller than supporting it.) There were also people like Spencer Ackerman who opposed intervention, then said they were wrong for doing so when it appeared (to them) to be a success. Chris Hayes opposed intervention then said he was wrong to have done so then said he was right to have done so.

It’s not always clear what constitutes support for intervention. For example, Laurie Penny cheered the No Fly Zone, then changed her mind shortly after. That is, she supported the UN No Fly Zone but opposed the US-NATO intervention. As did — to my surprise — Noam Chomsky. Yet a No Fly Zone necessitates bombing, and the UN intervention led to the second and, perhaps more to the point, the UN intervention was driven by the US and NATO. So, yes, both Chomsky and Penny make the list.

You’ll likely quibble with my classifications. Is Robert Pape really a liberal? No, probably not, more of realist, but he’s generally seen as anti-intervention, so. And while I generally didn’t include government officials, I cited AM Slaughter, who worked State at the time, because I felt that any list of cruise missile liberals would be incomplete without her.

Very few of those listed below have written much, if at all, about Libya since Qaddafi’s death. Juan Cole is a notable exception.

*scroll down

Gilbert Achcar

Jonathan Alter

Ben Armbruster

Aaron Bady

Peter Beinart

Zack Beauchamp

Michael Berube

Bob Cesca

Jonathan Chait

Noam Chomsky

Juan Cole

Howard Dean

EJ Dionne

Kevin Drum

David Graeber*

Max Fisher

Imani Gandy

Shadi Hamid

Tom Hayden

Christopher Hitchens

Murtaza Hussain

John Judis

Fred Kaplan

Nick Kristoff

Marc Lynch

Tom Malinowski

Michael O’Hanlon


George Packer


Robert Pape


Laurie Penny

Bill Press

Joy Reid

Ed Schultz

Eugene Robinson

AM Slaughter

The New Republic

Michael Tomasky

James Traub

Tom Watson

Philip Weiss

Ian Willians

Paul Woodward

Robin Yassin Kassab

Wag the Dog: Campaigns of Purpose

Public Good Project

Sept 7, 2014

by Jay Taber

PurposePositiveLogo

syria-banksy-image

In 1997, Robert De Niro and Barry Levinson produced a movie called Wag the Dog, a fictional film about a Washington-based PR firm — days before a presidential election — “that distracts the electorate from a sex scandal by hiring a Hollywood film producer to construct a fake war with Albania.” The film was released one month before the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the bombing of Sudan by President Clinton.

Some might also recall the false testimony by a Kuwait Royal Family member about Iraqi human rights abuses — part of a campaign created for $11 million by US PR firm Hill & Knowlton on behalf of Citizens for a Free Kuwait (a front for the Kuwait Government) — that was used by the Pentagon to justify the 1991 invasion of Iraq, otherwise known as the Gulf War. As noted at Wikipedia,

Among many other means of influencing U.S. opinion (distributing books on Iraqi atrocities to U.S. soldiers deployed in the region, ‘Free Kuwait’ T-shirts and speakers to college campuses, and dozens of video news releases to television stations), the firm arranged for an appearance before a group of members of the U.S. Congress in which a woman identifying herself as a nurse working in the Kuwait City hospital described Iraqi soldiers pulling babies out of incubators and letting them die on the floor.[88]

The story was an influence in tipping both the public and Congress towards a war with Iraq: six Congressmen said the testimony was enough for them to support military action against Iraq and seven Senators referenced the testimony in debate. The Senate supported the military actions in a 52–47 vote. A year after the war, however, this allegation was revealed to be a fabrication. The woman who had testified was found to be a member of Kuwait’s Royal Family, in fact the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S.[88]

The details of the Hill & Knowlton public relations campaign, including the incubator testimony, were published in John R. MacArthur‘s Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War (Berkeley, CA: University of CA Press, 1992), and came to wide public attention when an Op-ed by MacArthur was published in The New York Times. This prompted a reexamination by Amnesty International, which had originally promoted an account alleging even greater numbers of babies torn from incubators than the original fake testimony. After finding no evidence to support it, the organization issued a retraction. President Bush then repeated the incubator allegations on television.

H&K

The Pentagon statement claiming a buildup of Iraqi forces on the Kuwaiti border were later also shown to be false, as evidenced by satellite images acquired by the St. Petersburg Times.

This type of choreography was used again in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, known as the Iraq War, when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell — waving a vial of fake anthrax and displaying mischaracterized photos — testified before the UN Security Council that the Pentagon had proof weapons of mass destruction were being manufactured by Iraq. Exposure of this fraud in the New York Times by former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson led to the leaked identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame (Wilson’s wife) by Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby.

Libby was subsequently convicted on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. An investigation after the invasion showed Iraq’s WMD program had ended in 1991. Despite all the claims made by Powell being discredited at the time by US and UN agencies, the momentum generated by Powell, Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld led to a war currently in its eleventh year.

Now, it turns out this scenario has repeated itself in the US campaign leading up to the 2011 bombing of Libya. The western-financed destabilization that became the Syrian Civil War is presently in its fourth year.

In 2014, the New York public relations firm Purpose created a campaign to rally international support for the Syrian “humanitarian intervention.” A euphemism for armed aggression by the US and NATO in places like Libya, this Syrian campaign in 2012 was backed by the New York lobby Avaaz, which in turn set up communications support for the so-called Syrian resistance.

In 2012, Avaaz was allegedly implicated in sponsoring fabricated videos of civilian massacres, to back deeper foreign intervention in Syria. YouTube video links of phony reporting by Avaaz associates are available in this blog report.

The CEO of Purpose, Jeremy Heimans, is a co-founder of Avaaz. His associate, David Madden — a World Bank and UN Development Program consultant — is co-founder of Purpose, Avaaz and MoveOn.

Avaaz was created in part by MoveOn, a Democratic Party associated PAC, formed in response to the impeachment of President Clinton. Avaaz and MoveOn are funded in part by convicted inside-trader and billionaire hedge fund mogul George Soros.

Amnesty International (a shill for US wars) supports the Purpose Syrian campaign.

[“Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal, and a featured columnist at IC Magazine. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.”]

The Failure Of The Left

Media Lens

by David Edwards, Editor

July 8, 2014

climate-change-couture-catherine-young

Image: From the series titled Climate Change Couture: Haute Fashion for a Hotter Planet.

In Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness At Noon, N.S. Rubashov, founding father of ‘the revolution’, stands convicted of treason against tyrannical leader ‘No. 1’. But Rubashov knows that his real guilt lies elsewhere:

‘Why had not the Public Prosecutor asked him: “Defendant Rubashov, what about the infinite?” He would not have been able to answer – and there lay the real source of his guilt… Could there be a greater?’

What about uncertainty, what about the Unknown? How could Rubashov be sure that the tyranny his party had imposed on the people would truly deliver them to some socialist utopia?

‘What had he said to them? “I bow my knees before the country, before the masses, before the whole people…” And what then? What happened to these masses, to this people? For forty years it had been driven through the desert, with threats and promises, with imaginary terrors and imaginary rewards. But where was the Promised Land?

‘Did there really exist any such goal for this wandering mankind? That was a question to which he would have liked an answer before it was too late. Moses had not been allowed to enter the land of promise either. But he had been allowed to see it, from the top of the mountain, spread at his feet. Thus, it was easy to die, with the visible certainty of one’s goal before one’s eyes. He, Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov, had not been taken to the top of a mountain; and wherever his eye looked, he saw nothing but desert and the darkness of night.’

Leftists and environmentalists have also not been allowed to enter the land of promise, or to see it from the mountain top.

Instead, we see the looming tsunami of climate catastrophe blotting out the sun, obscuring hopes of a decent future. We witness the astonishing spectacle of global society failing to respond to a threat so severe that scientists warn that even a few more decades of business-as-usual could result in human extinction. We absorb the crushing defeat since 1988 – the year the United Nations set up its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – of our inability to overcome corporate resistance to mounting, now mountainous, evidence of approaching disaster.

After decades of intense effort, which many of us felt sure would culminate in a steadily saner society prioritising people over profit, we also can see ‘nothing but desert and the darkness of night’.

 

The Elusive Turning Point

The 1980s explosion of public interest in green issues had writers like Edward Goldsmith and Fritjof Capra heralding ‘The Great U-Turn‘,’The Turning Point‘ that would transform society into a rational, sustainable, ‘solar’ economy.

How naïve and deterministic these predictions seem now with the green movement long overwhelmed by a corporate backlash that has supersize people driving supersize cars through an eruption of global consumption, with ‘green concern’ reduced to a niche marketing strategy targeting privileged elites.

Three decades later, the whole world flies the whole world for any reason it can conceive: a weekend shopping trip to New York, a day trip to Rome, a school trip to LA, a ‘holiday of a lifetime’ this year and every year. The world’s famous sights are now rammed in tourist gridlock.

In other words, the noisy, optimistic greens of the 1980s and 1990s should be suffering a mass nervous breakdown about now. So, also, should the left, which woke late to the crisis of climate change. In an interview, the Canadian Dimensions website asked Noam Chomsky:

‘In a lot of your writing ecological concerns seem to have come to the fore only fairly recently or at least didn’t figure as prominently in your earlier writings on foreign policy.’

Chomsky replied:

‘Well, the severity of the problem wasn’t really recognized until the 1970s and then increasingly in the 1980s.’

True enough, but in books like Deterring Democracy (1992), Year 501 (1993), and World Orders, Old And New (1994), Chomsky devoted just one or two paragraphs to climate change at a time when green commentators were trying to amplify the urgent alarm raised in the US Congress by NASA climate scientist James Hansen in 1988. Chomsky’s book Powers and Prospects (1996) contains no mention of the issue at all. By contrast, Chomsky concentrated heavily on issues like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – hardly insignificant, but trivial by comparison.

Unlike Chomsky, who in 2013 published Nuclear War And Environmental Catastrophe with Laray Polk (Seven Stories Press), many high-profile writers on the left continue to have little or nothing to say about climate change. Why?

Leftists are typically rooted in the 17th century Western Enlightenment conviction that humanity should use reason, notably the scientific method, to radically transform both society and the natural world to the benefit of mankind. Leftists have been reluctant to perceive a fundamental problem with high-tech industrial ‘progress’ per se, focusing instead on the need to share the fruits more equably.

Greens argue that the ‘conquest of nature’ (both human and environmental) delivers pyrrhic victories because human reason is simply not equal to the task. The complexity and unknown (and perhaps unknowable) nature of the human and natural systems involved means that in ‘improving’ one aspect of life, we very often create entirely unforeseen and perhaps unmanageable chaos elsewhere.

The left just did not want to hear the bad news that there might be a deep problem with the scientific-industrial project, with the whole idea that the world can be endlessly ‘improved’. While corporate elites put themselves first and leftists prioritised humanity, greens argued that we should respect the needs of the ecosystem as a whole.

Despite the failure to address climate change, there are few signs of soul-searching in left-green circles. For example, anyone wondering what happened to Jonathan Porritt – an inspirational spokesman for green revolution in the 1980s – need look no further than his recent comment on Twitter:

‘Big bash yesterday celebrating 3 years of @Unilever’s USLP [Unilever Sustainable Living Plan]. CEO Paul Polman in great form: much achieved but so much to do.’

Has much been achieved in the 25 years since James Hansen and other scientists raised the alarm? In 2009, Hansen estimated the percentage of required action implemented to address the climate crisis at precisely ‘0%’. (Email, Hansen to Media Lens, June 18, 2009) Since then, carbon emissions, consumption and temperatures have continued to soar.

And this is hardly the only failure we’ve faced in recent times. Consider the ‘convergence’ of ‘mainstream’ politics – Blair’s 1997 corporate coup d’état that removed any semblance of ‘mainstream’ left opposition in the UK, so that we are free only to choose from a selection of representatives of corporate rather than popular power.

Or consider the entrenchment of Orwellian ‘Perpetual War’ – the state-corporate determination to bomb someone, somewhere, every couple of years for reasons that have everything to do with realpolitik and nothing to do with reason or righteousness, or ‘the responsibility to protect‘. Despite self-evident crimes resulting in mass death on a scale that almost defies imagination, the left has failed to resist the warmongering tide in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Sierra Leone, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq (again).

As recently as August 2013, even after the deceptions of Iraq and Libya, both corporate and non-corporate dissidents were lending credence to US propaganda blaming Syrian president Assad for chemical weapons attacks in Damascus. Leading weapons expert, Professor Ted Postol of MIT commented on these claims:

‘To me, the fact that people are not focused on how the [Obama] administration lied is very disturbing and shows how far the community of journalists and the community of so-called security experts has strayed from their responsibility… I am concerned about the collapse of traditional journalism and the future of the country.’

Given the above, the left-green movement might be expected to share Rubashov’s crisis of conscience and confidence – many have deceived themselves that they know, with absolute certainty, how to make the world a better place. But do they? Are they right?

The confidence, in fact arrogance, of many ‘progressives’ has been so overweening that they have simply dismissed thousands of years of insight into these problems from non-Western sources whose understanding of human psychology and, by implication, social change far exceeds almost anything found in the West (an issue to which I’ll return in a later Cogitation).

 

Is Anyone At The Wheel?

The failure to respond to climate catastrophe has to raise urgent questions for anyone trying to address human and animal suffering. Even to compare this failure with political and media enthusiasm for ‘action’ in response to the absurd, credibly dismissed, and in fact completely non-existent threat from Iraq’s WMD in 2002-2003 is astonishing.

We assume our society is able to act rationally, but is it in fact only able to respond to threats (real or imagined) that serve vested interests? Has our political system evolved to respond in ways that increase short-term profit, but not to threats that could be averted by harming profit? Perhaps no actual agency exists with sufficient power to counter this deadly bias. Perhaps no-one rational, in fact, is at the wheel.

One also cannot help wondering about the hidden ideological obstacles to the idea that human beings could face extinction in the next 50 or 100 years.

What we call ‘progress’ is strongly imbued with a sense of ‘manifest destiny’. The rapid empowerment of science and technology naturally gives the impression that they are leading somewhere better, not worse. As environmental writer Paul Kingsnorth comments:

‘A society that takes progress as its religion does not look kindly on despair. If you are expected to believe everything will keep getting better, it can be difficult to admit to believing otherwise.’

Especially when billions of advertising dollars – all in the business of promising a better life – have a vested interested in denial. It surely seems inconceivable to many in awe of the high-tech revolution that an iPad could emerge shortly before we are erased from the face of the earth. It is a story that makes no sense. Even committed atheists may have a subtle faith in the idea that the human journey cannot be merely absurd – that we could not develop, flourish and suddenly vanish. Surely science and technology will save the day – surely the great adventure of ‘progress’ will not collapse from glittering ‘peak’ to catastrophe. Science has long given us a sense that we have ‘conquered’ and ‘escaped’ nature. It is humbling, humiliating, to even imagine that we might yet be annihilated by nature.

Science fiction writers and film-makers have saturated society with the idea that our manifestly unsustainable way of life is part of an almost pre-ordained journey to an ever more high-tech lifestyle. A glamorous future among the stars, however fraught with alien menace, seems to have been mapped out for us. Although humankind has remained stubbornly stuck at the Moon for 40 years, there seems little doubt about what the future will bring. But will it? Is it possible that this idea of human development is fundamentally misguided? Should we be more focused on moving in rather than out? (Our society is by now so divorced from spiritual awareness that the question may appear meaningless.) What if the reality of our situation on this planet makes a complete nonsense of the science fictional vision of ‘progress’?

Similarly, is it really possible for the many believers in a theistic God to accept the possibility of near-term human extinction? Can they conceive that we were created by a divine being only to be wiped out by a giant fart of industrial gas? What kind of deity would play such games? Theists precisely reject the idea of a random, meaningless universe. But what could be more nihilistic than industrial ‘progress’ culminating in self-extinction? What does it mean for the promise of ‘the second coming’, for the teaching of the prophets down the ages, and so on?

 

Drawing Water From The Corporate Well

Writing in the Guardian, George Monbiot asks a good, related question:

‘We appear to possess an almost limitless ability to sit back and watch as political life is seized by plutocrats; as the biosphere is trashed… How did we acquire this superhuman passivity?’

Instead of organising to change the world, Monbiot perceives a superficial society lost in a ‘national conversation – in public and in private – that revolves around the three Rs: renovation, recipes and resorts?’

This certainly describes the typical fare served up by the newspaper that pays Monbiot to embed his left-green concerns alongside its soul-bleaching, advertiser-friendly pap. Monbiot’s Rousseauvian conclusion:

‘Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chainstores.’

And indeed, flip a page in any number of chainstores and you will find Monbiot’s earnest, kindly face smiling out at you.

In truth, corporate dissidents like Monbiot have played a crucial role in persuading intelligent, caring, potentially progressive readers to continue drawing water from the corporate well. Journalist Owen Jones, also of the Guardian, tells Media Lens (to paraphrase): ‘You are irrelevant, reaching no-one. I am reaching a mass audience.’

But reaching a mass audience with what?

The filtered content of corporate news and commentary, saturated with corporate advertising of every stripe, makes a mockery of these rare glimpses of dissent.

Imagine the impact of reading an article on climate change by a Monbiot or a Jones and then turning the page to an American Airlines advert for reduced-fare flights to New York. Or imagine turning to the front cover of a colour supplement that reads:

‘Time is running out… Ski resorts are melting… Paradise islands are vanishing… So what are you waiting for? 30 places you need to visit while you still can – A 64-page Travel Special.’

This concussive car crash of reality and illusion – of calls for action to address a grave crisis alongside calls to quit worrying and embrace the consumerism that has precisely created the crisis – delivers a transcendent message that the crisis isn’t that serious, things aren’t that bad.

The collision delivers the crippling lesson that the truth of looming catastrophe is only one of several versions of reality on offer – we can choose. We can even pick ‘n’ mix. We can enjoy a moral workout while commuting to our corporate office, feel enraged about the climate, Iraq, dolphins. Then we can turn to the business section, or think about buying a new car, or choose the next trip abroad. Later, we can watch a David Attenborough documentary about the wonders of the natural world without giving much of a damn about the fact that these wonders are being obliterated.

Corporate dissidents are a rational, compassionate, reassuring presence persuading us that compartmentalised moral concern is part of a healthy, balanced corporate media diet and lifestyle. As discussed, like Owen Jones, Monbiot’s earnest portrait in the Guardian peers out from a crowd of corporate adverts, entertainments, perspectives. We look at his concerned face in this context and see a guy like us, living as we live and work. Are we better-informed, more impassioned, more radical than he is? Surely not. So if he lives this way – if he is willing to be employed by the very corporate system against which he is ostensibly rebelling, the system that is killing us – why shouldn’t we?

There is no question that corporate media teach ‘mainstream’ propaganda values. The Guardian, for example, taught us to see Blair as a great moral force; it taught us to see the ‘Iraq threat’ as something more than a cynical fraud. More recently, it has been teaching us to swallow the West’s claimed ‘responsibility to protect’ in Libya and Syria, and even (without so much as blinking an eye) in Iraq, a country in desperate need of protection from the West.

But crucially, the Guardian and other media also teach us dissent, even as they teach us to crave the luxury products and lifestyles they sell. And so their most devastating lesson of all is that this cognitive dissonance can be embraced, accepted, left unresolved, year after year. We are trained to live with absurdity, to embrace it as ‘normal’. We have been numbed to the insanity of the way we live and think. And in the face of approaching apocalypse, we are numb, and dumb, and unmoved.

In the early 1990s, Phil Lesly, author of a handbook on public relations and communications, revealed a key secret of corporate control:

‘People generally do not favour action on a non-alarming situation when arguments seem to be balanced on both sides and there is a clear doubt… There is no need for a clear-cut “victory”… Nurturing public doubts by demonstrating that this is not a clear-cut situation in support of the opponents usually is all that is necessary.’ (Lesly, ‘Coping with Opposition Groups,’ Public Relations Review 18, 1992, p.331)

Corporate media reports and commentary ‘nurturing public doubts’ overwhelm occasional dissenting pieces. Adverts also loudly sell a corporate version of invincible ‘Normality’ (with no balancing perspectives allowed or even imagined). All insist we are facing ‘a non-alarming situation’.

Corporate dissidents deliver their strongest, most impassioned arguments. Corporate media gratefully receive these arguments, position them among their low-cost flight and sofa deals, and in effect say to readers:

‘See, even this has a place here, fits here, is compatible here.’

So while corporate dissidents have indeed reached a mass audience through the ‘quality’ press, they have drawn that mass audience into a corporate killing zone.

Isn’t it obvious that everything hosted by corporate media is diminished and degraded? As the American philosopher Thoreau observed:

‘I have learned that trade curses everything it handles; and though you trade in messages from heaven, the whole curse of trade attaches to the business.’ (Thoreau, Walden)

Left-green groups have achieved so little, in part because they have embraced corporate dissent and corporate dissent truly is cursed by the trade handling its messages from heaven. Consequently, these movements have been cursed, crushed, neutralised, neutered, made nonsensical by cooperating with a media system that is the sworn enemy of everything they are trying to achieve – deep change to the status quo.

The unwritten quid pro quo of media inclusion is such that these groups have refused even to comment on the structural bias of a corporate media system reporting on a world dominated by corporations. Why? Because, as they tell us, ‘We have to work with the media’. Attentive readers will catch occasional swipes at ‘the media’, at the tabloids, at everyone’s favourite punch bag, the BBC. But the de facto ban on discussing the oxymoron that is a corporate ‘free press’ strongly supports the illusion that no such contradiction exists. If even the boldest, most honest dissidents are not alerting readers to the problem, then those readers are being hung out on a hundred propaganda lines to dry.

The fatalistic impression given is that no-one and nothing can really escape the grip of corporate ‘normality’, of corporate control. Cooperation helps sell this ‘normality’ as Higher Truth – we all prioritise comfort, luxury, earning more, consuming more, travelling more.

It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that every system of unaccountable power benefits from employing a handful of individuals admired for their honesty about everything except that which threatens their unaccountable employer.

We might well dismiss all of the above as speculative and inconclusive, but for the fact that the argument is given immense, urgent weight by the catastrophic failure of the left on climate change.

And yet, to reiterate, even now corporate dissidents are not engaging in this kind of soul-searching – they cannot because corporate journalists may not discuss the problem of a corporate ‘free press’ in the corporate press.

Unmasking the “Good Intentions” of Canadian NGOs

Tlaxcala

May 30, 2014

by Fernanda Sánchez Jaramillo

Interview with Nik Barry-Shaw, coauthor, with Dru Oja Jay, of Paved with Good Intentions, Canada´s Development NGOs from Idealism to Imperialism

Fernanda Sánchez Jaramillo: What is the contribution of your book to the understanding of Canadian Foreign Policy?

Nik Barry-Shaw: Canada’s participation in the 29 February 2004 coup d’état against Haiti’s democratically-elected government was what really woke up many people on the left (including Dru and I) to the reality of Canadian imperialism. Several of us involved in Haiti solidarity work began studying the history of Canadian foreign policy, and concluded that Canada was not simply being pushed around by the U.S.; it was an advanced capitalist power that had its own economic interests in the Global South that it sought to advance, through violence if necessary. Left nationalist analyses of Canada as a “rich dependency” under the thumb of the U.S. simply did not do justice to the high levels of initiative and involvement demonstrated by the Canadian state in orchestrating the Haitian coup, and many other instances. So one thing our book is trying to do is to debunk widely-held perceptions of Canada’s foreign policy as that of a uniquely benevolent “peacekeeper” nation.
The principle aim of our book is to dispel the notion that development non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are independent organizations driven solely by altruism. Instead, we demonstrate the heavy (and increasing) financial dependence of these organizations on funding from the Canadian government and the political effects this relationship has on NGOs. We then trace out historically how development NGOs, these nominally independent and nominally non-governmental agencies, have become ever more closely intertwined with the Canadian government’s foreign policy, and thus adjuncts to a policy that has nothing to do with fighting poverty or promoting social justice and everything to do with advancing corporate interests.
Again, Haiti was crucial in the formation of our ideas. Canadian NGOs – even self-styled progressive organizations close to the anti-globalization movement like Alternatives and Développement et Paix – were integrally involved in the coup, by training and financing anti-government groups and demonizing the elected government before the coup, and then working with the unelected, Canada-backed regime of Gerard Latortue (2004-2006) that took power afterward.
These Canadian NGOs and their Haitian partner organizations provided cover for the coup government’s violent repression of Haiti’s popular movement, lobbied the Brazilian government on its behalf and even blocked Montreal’s anti-war coalition from taking a stand against the coup. There were so many leaders of Haitian NGOs (nearly all of which received funding from Canadian NGOs) who took positions as ministers in the Latortue government that the regime was dubbed a “non-governmental government.” Analyzing how the NGO system functioned became a pressing task for those of us involved in Haiti solidarity activism. Haiti, known as “The Republic of NGOs”, was an extreme but far from exceptional case, as we found in the course of researching the book.

London, 1st of May 2012: Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike campaigners gather outside the British Red Cross offices, to protest alleged theft of money donated for humanitarian relief and of failing to alleviate the suffering of Haitians. Photo P Nutt

Aren´t Canadian NGOs hypocritical in claiming to help rebuild democracy and bring health care in Africa while oppressing First Nations and cutting health care services for Canadian citizens and refugees, including those from Africa?

Libya’s Hell, Enabled by Canadian Humanitarians

Why ‘responsibility to protect’ is proving irresponsible.

The Tyee

Nov 25, 2013

By Murray Dobbin

Libya oil

Expected flow of Libyan oil to West didn’t materialize. Photo: Creative commons licensed, Gripso Banana Prune.

Who will protect Libyans now? One of the darkest and most shameful chapters in Western military intervention continues to play out in spades in Libya. The latest news comes from Benghazi where one of the (literally hundreds) of murderous militias opened fire on peaceful, white-flag-bearing protesters (protesting militias), killing at least 20 and wounding over 130. And they didn’t use just small arms — it was rocket propelled grenades, machine guns and even an anti-aircraft gun. It was, even for a horribly violent context, a disgusting slaughter of innocents.

But we hear nothing from the international choir, led here by Lloyd Axworthy, which sang the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) hymn at the top of their lungs two years ago. The R2P, established by the UN in 2005, has lofty principles but in practice has been used as an excuse for any brutal assault on sovereign nations that serves the capitalist interests of the first world. Responsibility to protect states that sovereignty is not a right, but rests on the responsibility of governments to protect their populations. It is triggered by evidence of any one of four “mass atrocity” crimes: war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

None of these, of course, prevailed at the time of the Security Council’s vote in favour of establishing a “no fly” zone to protect civilians from Gadhafi’s fighter jets. But China and Russia abstained because of Western promises of going no further. That, of course, was a Big Lie as the real purpose soon revealed itself and regime change became the end game. When the country could have managed a ceasefire, NATO and Canada declared that could only happen if Gadhafi was gone in complete violation of Resolution 1973. And Canada happened to choose this particular conflict to invest heavily in — both morally and in material support. Stephen Harper made a huge show of our bombing efforts (over 1000 sorties) and boasted that Canada was “punching above its weight.”

Reckless and cynical

What is so infuriating in the history of this hideous “mission” is the complete lack of remorse or shame at what has been “accomplished.” Just like Iraq and Afghanistan, there are no regrets: Imperialism — especially “humanitarian imperialism” — will never admit to its crimes. But it can’t deny the facts, and for citizens attracted to the notion of “responsibility to protect,” the facts are important so that the next time this convenient principle is trotted out there will be more skepticism.

The key facts? There was no “mass rape” ordered by Gadhafi, a claim repeated many times by Hillary Clinton (and eventually refuted by Amnesty International, the UN and even the U.S. Army). There was no bombing of protesters (a fact admitted to by the CIA’s Robert Gates). There was no plan for a “massacre” in Benghazi. Gadhafi offered amnesty to any insurgents who laid down their arms — in contrast the “no mercy” theme played by the Western powers. All of these facts are to be found in Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa by Maximilian Forte.

Welcome to the Brave New World – Brought to You by Avaaz

TomPerrielloAvaazBanner2007

In the image above, Tom Perriello, an Avaaz co-founder, can be seen arranging Avaaz banners. On the Avaaz Flickr account one can find images with the credit as follows: “Tom Perriello, www.AVAAZ.org, The World in Action, tom@avaaz.org, (M) +1-434-825-0745 [Source][2007]

President Obama Attends Rally For Rep. Tom Perriello

Image: U.S. President Barack Obama with Avaaz co-founder and (former) U.S. Representative Tom Perriello. “Perriello is a former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and a founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group.” [Further reading: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept, 24, 2012]

“Perriello has had a long relationship with Soros’ Open Society-funded Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, which continue to this day. Amnesty International is also financed by the Soros Open Society Institute. All of these organizations have been instrumental in opening up the doors for foreign invasion into Libya and now Syria.” [Further reading: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept, 24, 2012]

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Like his co-founders, Ricken Patel and Tom Pravda, Perriello’s career within the realm of ruling class agencies/administrations, etc. has been extensive. To name just two:  United Nations: Special Adviser to the International War Crimes Prosecutor and the U.S. State Department. [Further reading: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept, 24, 2012]

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“Avaaz’s stance on both Libya (now annihilated) and Syria currently is in smooth synchronicity with the positions within the U.S. administration, such as those vocalized by the likes of war criminals like Hillary Clinton (of “We came. We saw. He died. Laughter…” fame). The ugly iron fist of war is gently being spoon-fed to the public by way of a very dark velvet glove – that being Avaaz.” [Further reading: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept, 24, 2012]

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Above: A picture worth a thousand words. In May 2009, 60 Congress members voted against dumping another $97 billion into the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Perriello voted for it. [Source] On 10 March 2010, 65 Congress members voted to end the war on Afghanistan. Perriello voted in favour of keeping it going. [Source] Perriello’s steadfast support of defense bills and war is well-documented [view voting record]. Yet, in spite of these pro-war positions, the liberal left and their so called “progressive media” continued to shine a glowing light on Perriello and frame him as a stand-out progressive as you will see below. [Further reading: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept, 24, 2012][Photo: Getty Images]

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Congressman Tom Perriello with war criminal, General David Petraeus (far left). Under this Flickr photo the caption reads: “Passing the Baton, United States Institute of Peace” [2009] [Photo: Jon-Phillip Sheridan | Source] [In July, 2011, “General David Petraeus was approved as CIA Director by both the Senate Intelligence Committee and then the full Senate, whose vote was an astounding 94-0, astounding because this is a man who was deeply implicated in war crimes, including torture.” Source]

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“Perriello’s view of Israel borders on fantasy. He views Israel as one of the most “dramatic and exciting creations of the international community” in the 20th century and believes that a permanent moral and strategic relationship exists between the U.S. and Israel.” [Further reading: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept, 24, 2012]

Tom Perriello at the Avaaz.org Holiday Party 2007 2

Image: Tom Perriello attending an intimate Avaaz party in New York City. Source: Flickr.

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In the image above, Perriello can be seen just right of center holding the red, orange and black flag. [Source: Flickr][2006]

Published by Counterpunch

September 13, 2013

by Cory Morningstar

Year 2013: A Brave New World

Neil Postman, social critic, compares the worlds of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. He observes:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ In1984, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us.”

On Sept 1, 2013, in the article Deja Vu | War Against Syria: Built on a Lie, Roxanne Amico observes:

“It’s all familiar… Notice that nonstop ‘breaking news’ on all the media outlets? How easily the current puppet in the belly of the beast of industrial capitalism dances to the tunes played by the corporate shareholders pulling their [purse-] strings. Note how every single day, sometimes more than once a day, some new piece of ‘news’ is brought to the public for all of us to swallow, just as Aldous Huxley predicted, when he said, ‘There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it.”

Aldous Huxley (1894 –1963) has proven to be quite prophetic in his predictions of the future. There is in fact a “pharmacological method of making people love their servitude” precisely because of what Huxley prophesized: “They will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Of course, the pharmacological method Huxley spoke of does not constrain itself to pharmacological agents alone. Today we can expand the pharmacological method and use of terrorism that Huxley spoke of, to the stealthy, steady-state psychological warfare waged against the public psyche bymainstream media (MSM) in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex.

As an unparalleled set of multiple crises of the most epic proportions looks down upon as – right before it crushes us – it appears that this may very well be the “final revolution” Huxley spoke of, from manufactured, faux revolutions, that are embraced and celebrated by the Western left, to the oncoming climate holocaust, which we collectively “address” by not addressing it, convincing ourselves that we need not discuss the very root cause of our accelerating crisis: the industrialized, capitalist economic system.

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