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

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

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

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

Follow Sacha Llorenti on twitter: @SachaLlorenti  

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

April 14, 2018

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The systemic and symbolic violence of spectacular NGOs

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

(adapted from Žižek 2004b: 61)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Angels & Demons: Otherwise Known as the Conquerors & the Conquered

Revisionist Linguistics

March 31, 2018

By Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer

 

Michael archangel vanquishing the devil. 1603-06. Au Hans Reichle

The Abraham Lincoln statue, 1879, by Thomas Ball. Park Square, Boston

This opinion piece has been written to accompany the excerpt from the lecture given by Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans on July 5 for the OuiShare Fest Paris 2017.

OuiShare: “Unlocking the potential of creative humans to reinvent how we work and nurture systemic change OuiShare is a global community, a collective of freelancers and, at heart, an incubator of people driven by a set of core values. Founded in January 2012 in Paris, OuiShare rapidly evolved from a dozen enthusiasts to a global community spread across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, and is an international leader in the field of collaborative economy, future of cities, future of work.”

From the OuiShare website: Jeremy Heimans: “PURPOSE, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, USA, Jeremy Heimans is a prolific political and social activist. He is CEO & co-founder of Purpose, a social business building global movements trying to change the world, and is also a co-founder of Avaaz.org, one of the largest and most powerful online activist networks in the world. He believes in the power of collective action to tackle the world’s biggest problems.” [Source]

Background

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

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

Strengthening Current Power Structures With the Language of New Power

 

What the “new power” model actually represents is capitalism in its most efficient form. Citizens, en masse, are utilized, organized and mobilized to provide social media online content with no monetary compensation for their labour. Although such movements may appear to be “founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses” (Heimans) – they have been largely created, or co-opted, at or since inception. The “new power” “uploads” to a program designed to compliment or benefit, or reform, problems to be resolved within the confines of the globe’s current power structures.

Never in history have such powerful conglomerates managed to foment and then seize the required labour to create billion dollar platforms and profits – for free, as they do today. Such fervor for the citizenry to bestow their labour to the elites classes is textbook “Brave New World.” Karl Marx’s theory of surplus labour is the “extra labour produced by a worker for his employer, to be put towards capital accumulation.” It could be said (even in jest) that today’s theory of surplus labour “is the extra labour produced by the “prosumer”, the willing participants for the elite classes (via social media), to be put towards cultural appropriation and modification.”

Consider that while Western society criticizes the Bolivian government for legalizing child labour laws in order to protect working Bolivian children, it remains completely ignorant of the fact that the elite global corporatocracy is exploiting labour from their own Western children for free – via social media – on a scale of exploitation not witnessed since slavery – with no protection whatsoever. [1] Hence while child labour is a respected part of Bolivia’s social conscience – the gross exploitation and manipulation of their own children and youth (that enriches corporations as opposed to enriching families) does not even register in our collective consciousness at all.

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

 

 

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

According to Heimans (co-founder of Purpose/Avaaz) what societies are experiencing and undergoing  today is “a big war over values”. What is unspoken is whose values Heiman’s New York PR firm pledges allegiance to and is paid to expand: Western values.

Angels & Demons

“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language is not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

In the realm of behavioural change and the new era of “storytelling”, language is always key and framing is paramount. Heimans repeatedly frames citizens as “consumers” while viewing himself and the corporate oligarchs he serves as those “on the side of the angels. In this particular segment of the lecture, focused exclusively on Syria, Heimans introduces far-right “Trump” values  as “nativist” and “tribalist” that  will “essentially return” society ” to a kind of nativist tribalist world”:

“… so I want to show you this from our own work in Syria so I use this as an example of a pick a positive counterpoint right so if we think of ourselves at the moment as you know kind of big war over values in the world right on the one hand you’ve got the trumps and the brexits who want to essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world…”


[The original lecture, in its entirety can be found here: https://youtu.be/UWgPFGJBx7I]

The old adage goes “The more things change; the more they stay the same”. One of the things that has stayed the same is the utilization of language to manipulate the masses throughout history. Today’s  infusion of propaganda into the Western psyche through mass media is astounding. What is perhaps more stunning, is how words that have been appropriated in the most vulgar manner, that  should have been deemed as abhorrent in the past (and thus rejected) are now being utilized and hence popularized by factions of the elite to give further advantage to those in power.

“It is no accident that the contemporary uses of the term tribe were developed during the 19th-century rise of evolutionary and racist theories to designate alien non-white peoples as inferior or less civilized and as having not yet evolved from a simpler, primal state.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

Revisionist Linguistics & Colonial Narratives

Two  terms that have currently been transformed from ones of indigenous degradation are “nativism” and “tribalism”. These words were at one time used in a slanderous aspect directed at those designated as genetic inferiors due to a non-anglo ethnic background. Today they are being used in a similar fashion, but to denigrate a different adversary along ideological lines and not ethnic ones. This transference of motive has dictated the meaning of these words.

In order to correctly digest the change in climate regarding the minute differences in language, we must first look at the particular terminologies in question, how they are defined and to what degree they are used today in comparison to yesterday.  According to Wikipedia the word “nativism” is defined as the following:

“Nativism is the political policy of promoting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants. However, this is currently more commonly described as an anti-immigrant position.”

In terms of this definition in a general context, the determining factor of what is considered native is the point of contention.  As this terminology has now been procured by many on the alleged leftist side of the aisle, the fact of the matter is that the one thing that has been constant in its usage is the European being the determined native in the argument.

Therefore, that which has been dictated as nativists has remained the same as the focal point (the European), whether it was in comparison to the original inhabitants of the land (the indigenous First Tribe nations) or those that are currently the enemy, the almost exclusive black and brown migrants from the Global South. Therefore, the collective personage of victimization is the European with all other people being seen as invaders in the eyes of the Westerner.  This rationalization is due solely to ethnicity and locality of the European in regards to where he or she wants to stay and what environment is most needed for capitalism. Consider that the modifications and usage of the word native, to “nativist” or “nativism”, thoughtfully and crudely reframed to represent “xenophobic nationalism” is “an almost exclusively American concept that is rarely discussed in Western Europe.”

The Historical Context

 “Nativism is currently gaining traction across the Western world” — What Is a Nativist?, The Atlantic, April 11, 2017

In order to understand the intricacy with which the term native has been appropriated as well as the current movement of nativism, we must look at the history of appropriation regarding native rights. Rights which have been transferred from the first people to those who conquered them. Historically if you look at indigenous tribes, the migratory patterns came about from the necessity to  travel to places which would allow them to survive, have freedom and not be in conflict with those who were in close proximity. The end result of this curiosity and the travel is  the definitive indication of man’s residence as no more or less than any instinctual animal that prizes self-preservation as a form of a survival above all else. Yet in terms of that migratory pattern there were only so many places that were amenable to the survival of man. Man eventually had to accept that like any animal, it couldn’t venture far past certain places on the planet or it would perish. This relationship of life to Earth was no different than any animal found in certain regions of the world and not others. The locale will determine whether or not a particular form of life will flourish or perish. As man is like any other creature, its body acclimates to the environment in which it resides – only to the degree it is physiologically possible.

What was different in regard to the travels of the European from a cultural aspect is that it was done entirely for economic reasons. That is the burgeoning stages of the formation of the capitalist system. The beginning invasion of the European into these vast  foreign lands was done at the behest of trade if necessary and conquering if possible. But as any foreign invader who possessed ulterior motives yet lacked the strength to impose their will, the relationship began as one of charity of  the original people towards the European. Yet, as the Europeans strengthened themselves and moved from a relationship of dependence to equals to eventual dominators of the indigenous, the response from the indigenous went from one of acceptance to anger, to fear, and finally a plea for some form human decency.  Surely a reasonable request considering  they were the original caretakers of the land and even helped the European in their many hours of need.

If we fast forward to the present day, there is a most insidious element regarding the extermination of the indigenous, the original native, by way of genocide or ethnic cleansing: witness the unspoken method of supplanting the native by the Europeans (conquerors) appropriating the terminology that should be descriptive of the dispossessed. The best means of masking heinous atrocities is to scrub the victim from history and disallow him/her/them to speak for themselves. [2] From a philosophical context, this is why it was necessary for the European to exterminate the original native in order to take her/his rightful inhabitance as keeper and defender of the land.

Once this was established, it was then easy to lay the foundation of transitioning roles, from that of a meek interloper to the role of shifting and shaping the narrative as conqueror. A revision of history that erased the extermination preceding the present day circumstances of European domination. This was and continues to be most easily accomplished by dehumanizing the people who at one time resided here. To strip away the humanity of the aggrieved is in essence to place man (i.e. the white anglo-saxon) as rightfully seizing the land away from the native or animal, which has been designated not only as undeserving  inhabitants of the area – but even as detrimental to the land itself. The destruction of the native was no different than the destruction of the buffalo in the mind of the white power structure. The singular caveat being the verbalization of the destruction via the indigenous peoples caused internal consternation for some Europeans at varying degrees. Here we have an offshoot of the economic system colliding with the religious beliefs and social structure of racism. All converge to appoint the Anglo at the top of the hierarchy as the only peoples worthy of protection. To absolve centuries of deplorable crimes committed by the Anglo, their descendants obfuscate the truth by sanitizing and rewriting history.

As time moved on, the eradication of the original peoples made way for the European to write history in their image. The original native was erased and replaced by what has been deemed as the ONLY human:  the white man. Over the years, this transition nefariously evolved into one where the unacknowledged basic human rights of the “savage” (i.e. Indigenous) was eclipsed for the overwhelming protection of “the humans” (ie. White man) who procured the land and continue to control it to this day.  As a result of this, the overwhelming desire that permeates the consciousness of the Western world is for ” the humans” to protect its potential reclaiming by the “savage.” In a historical comparison, the greatest fear of the slaveholder during chattel slavery was always the rise of the slave. This foreboding mindset has permeated into every aspect of the present day Anglo society, inclusive of regions that are predominantly non-anglo (land reformation in South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc.).

In reality, the Western mentality of nativism is merely a euphemism for the continued and escalating demand for the  protection of white people’s rights. It is nativism, which has fed the fervor for a wall “protecting” the U.S. from Mexico (described as any non-anglo who comes from south of the U.S. border). It is nativism that nurtures the belief (and fear) that any infusion of non-anglo people to Euro-dominated states is a sure sign of being overtaken by “the savage” – even when the surrounding environment demonstrates no signs of threat. The appropriation of being the native by way of extermination has led the Anglo to incur an abject (if not unconscious) fear: the fear of retribution (although there is no evidence to support this whatsoever).

The truth of the matter is this – “nativism” effectively erases racism. Discrimination and racist hatred of 21st century migrants and refugees is rebranded as conflict due to religious and cultural differences – not colour nor race. Political correctness replaces vulgar reality. Racists have been rebranded into politically correct “nativists” that are simply supporting the wrong political party due to a shortsightedness. No one in power wants to alienate nor offend racists when one day the same racists may tip the needle in your favour on a separate issue. But even more so, no one wants to be seen as an institution or thought-leader seeking support from or appealing to racists. Thus, the term “nativist” will be popularized in a country where racism is on fire.

Revisionist  linguistics is made to re-write history while simultaneously re-wiring our brains and preying upon our fears instilled by imperial, colonial and capitalist forces.

Nativism is racism – made politically correct.

Tribalism

Rebranding ethnicity as tribalism is a deliberate and systematic furthering of cultural denigration – one that by no accident furthers US imperialism and foreign policy. These rebranded pejorative terms have proven to be highly coveted by both media and academia resulting in the terms being more and more an embedded part of the social fabric – propagating the motive and desired effect: the representation (and selling) of Eurocentric and Western ideologies regarding what is and isn’t acceptable. The revamped derogatory terms are utilized by both the faux left and the far right.

“In New York, we term it ethnicity, but in Africa it becomes tribalism.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

The results are threefold. The language

1) further decays Indigenous identity.

2) reintroduces elements of savagery and negative, subconscious colonial connotations reinforced via societal conditioning.

Such an example is the perceptions cultivated in Western children using social cues and constructs via mainstream media, with Disney’s infamous movie Pocahontas being one of many cases. By the age of five, most children in the Western world equate the words “native” and “tribe” with Indigenous peoples.” Indeed this is a Western construct digested by children who are fed by and privy to its tentacles. 3) provides a tool for the expansion of neoliberalism. “Tribalism” according to Heimans et al implies a “disorganized, primitive, and less civilized peoples.” whereas “modern governments” (Anglo governments) are meant to “promote the fulfillment of individuals”. Thus, African and Middle Eastern countries, targets for the expansion of neoliberalism, are by extension, prime targets for the labeling of “tribalism” (i.e evoking fear in the Euro mind) by those with a vested interest in US foreign policy (while foundation money is the oil that turns the cogs in the machine). This is the beauty of social engineering. The ability to reinforce the behavioural economics of hatred (via fear and racism) – in broad daylight, hiding behind a wall of words.

The Descent into Tribalism, The Guardian, August 23, 2006:

“Modern governments, when they try to justify their existence in historical terms, are apt to propose a rough-and-ready anthropology for human development. First came the tribe – savage in instinct, ritualistic in religion and run on the basis of a grunting solidarity; humanity’s first exercise in collectivism. The nation, which takes its place, is for more refined, literate peoples and can call upon scholars and scribes, chroniclers and preachers, who propose common goals for the nation. Organised states, with their bureaucracies, sanitation services and taxation policies, like to think that they exist on a higher plane than either the tribe or the nation. Ethics loom large and morality’s plans acquire a finer focus. Modern governments are meant to promote the fulfillment of individuals, their happiness and ease of life. Savages have become citizens and can look beyond the narrow ambitions of the tribe.”

Instilling Ethnic Fear via the Utilization of Cultural Language

Image result for tribalism kenya

Image: Tribalism is utilized to conjure up images of the “black savage” in foreign (frightening) lands. 

Tribalism in effect has various usages, but all to the same effect. Within the mainstream, it is continuously used in a pejorative context – but viewed as positive or negative depending on the personal beliefs directed at those utilizing the language. Regardless of the person who is using it or whatever the particular ideological thinking, the seemingly benign use of “tribe” (used in reference to small groups, etc.) by extension implies the term “tribal” (used in reference to civil wars, backwardness, barbarism, etc.) and as a result gives the user a free pass for acceptable racist expression.  By continuously intermixing the explicit term “tribalism” and the centuries long socially cultivated subliminal idea of “African” (ie. phenotypical non-anglo) savagery – the ultimate result is fear, which is a more intense emotion and ultimately dominates the meaning, even if it is only on a subconscious level. Although not acknowledged, this subconscious racism hums softly beneath the white supremacist power structures.

Although no people or culture is perfect, there are examples of many that are a complete reversal of the global imposition of Western culture and its foundational principles in a market economy with no emotional investment outside of the worst traits of man, such as greed and avarice. For example, African philosophy in a general context before victimization through colonization and imperialism has historically been strongly associated with tribalism and an intimate feeling of attachment with nature: we’re not here to “have dominion”… We are a part of the Earth, we are dependent  on it… we have ecological responsibilities …. “Nature” is not just a resource…. We are nature.”

To delve further, this ideology is visible in various Indigenous philosophies – philosophies that represent the antithesis of Western consumer culture and therefore a direct hindrance and threat to globalization, to industrialization and, most importantly, to capitalism. This can be equated with the race to kill off paganism to be replaced by both Christianity and Catholicism. Utilizing language, the word tribalism is revamped and utilized to instill fear and further racism (strengthening white supremacy). The word becomes another instrument to decimate surviving/existing cultures – with the goal of replacing such culture with superficial nothingness – a consumer society. These rebranded terms have been the catalyst for the modern day subconscious belief system, where indigenous self-reliance will always be seen as a  threat to neoliberal order. What a “Tribe” represents in Africa could be loosely associated by sought after local ways of living in the western world – such as transition towns, slow town movements and overall movements for relocalization. All these movements are in direct contrast and opposition to globalization and the goals of corporatocracy.

Autonomous communal living based on subsistence agriculture and sharing are the enemy of foreign policy, the IMF, the world bank and essentially everything today’s global elites and corporate superpowers hold dear. In essence, we are being wholly conditioned to automatically perceive/equate non-Western culture as an automatic threat. Further, US and foreign occupations, destabilizations, wars and the rape, pillage and theft of resources (oil, minerals, labour) across the Global South are conveniently blamed on “tribalism’.  Hence – tribalism also provides a free pass to imperialism – while cementing the image of the “un-noble” savage. Tribalism & nativism are recolonization via linguistics.

Note: These characteristics are presented in a general context. We must be cautious not to simplify all cultures as monolithic or even perfect, rather a regional designator that runs current throughout the tradition of these philosophies as a whole.

In countries that fall under the imperial gaze of European and Western states, “tribalist” discourse has effectively crushed critical discussion of ethnicity in all states that are under the auspices and domination of European control, be it internal colonization (the native reservation system) or external imperialism (state control in other continents by way of multinational corporations). In Euro-dominated institutions and landscapes, (see the “Academic Imperialism” lecture by Claude Alvares) those that raise questions concerning ethnicity risk being accused of provocateurs inciting “tribalism” (ie: enticing division within a nation that is supposedly united). The ‘criminalisation of ethnicity’ and the erasure of racism in America via linguistics – must be acknowledged as another dangerous yet effective instrument of soft power.

The Purpose of Purpose

In no uncertain terms, academia and media have strategically and deliberately rebranded/reframed the words native (“nativist”) and tribal (tribalist”) with the most negative of connotations. Academia and NGOs, as highly financed apparatus of the oligarchy reverberates the language through the eco chambers of foundations, think tanks, universities and entities within the non-profit industrial complex, all financed and ultimately controlled by the oligarchs.

Going one step further, the word native is currently in process of being replaced/rebranded into “nativist”, which simultaneously and effectively erases all Indigenous such as the American Indians who continue to  resist an ongoing genocide by Europeans that persists to this day. “Nativists” could be referred to as revisionist linguistics since in its new form, “native” refers to native-born Protestant Americans – the “nativists” of the land – stolen from native tribes.

Sycophants of the establishment are tasked with the popularizing of such terms when it serves their interests. To further those interests, U.S. media has been abuzz in directing this type of subtle terminology, exemplified by current U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration since it came to power. The slander of “tribalism” directed at an enemy has become synonymous with someone being “woke” in leftist circles that are centered in the U.S. but has now reached global levels.

An example of this in the left wing faction of the establishment is an article in The Atlantic entitled “The Tragedy of President Trump’s Tribalism” (November 2, 2017) This article illustrates the shifting of the U.S. linguistic landscape, where what was once acceptable overt racism has now morphed into covertly coded language of acceptability, including that used by academia. With a fair degree of certainty, you can bet that when the world’s most prestigious marketing agencies polled for key words that stir up negative emotions in American constituents – the words native and tribes were both at the top of the list. If not outwardly said, definitely in the mindset of those in power, be it conspicuously or subconsciously.

Revisionist linguistics is made to re-write history while simultaneously re-wiring our brains and preying upon our fears instilled by imperial, colonial and capitalist forces. This is carried out by those on the right side of spectrum as well as those on the faux left.

“… you’ve got the trumps and the brexits who want to essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world and on the other hand you’ve got people who support openness pluralism compassion science etc the challenge for those of us on the side of the angels…” — Jeremy Heimans, Avaaz/Purpose co-founder

As illustrated by the supposed left spectrum, the dogma to be digested from the tenacles of empire is clear. We can “essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world” – or we can join Avaaz, Purpose, Heiman’s et al and the oligarchs they serve are those on the “side of angels” (ie. “ethical” NGOs).

In similar lectures, one such corporation on the side of the “angels” in Heimans warped view is Unilever: “… you know we’re in the business of purpose of trying to figure out how to do mass mobilization of people and we can’t mobilize enough people if we don’t get the help of some of the brands who already on the side of the angels on climate change to reach into their consumer bases technology companies [and] media companies… companies like Unilever…”

Neotribes

Above: NEOTRIBES video promoting through advertising for Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s.  [Source]

Yet, Purpose takes revisionist linguistics to an even more unimaginable level. Consider the marketing of “neo-tribes” by (former) Purpose/Avaaz staff and like-minded digital marketing executives for the purpose of branding, influencing and the marketing of consumer products as well as (Western) ideologies. Here the word of negativity is spun into positivity when applied to themselves (ie. the angels): “As neotribers, let us dream big but also stay rooted in pragmatism.” Rest-assured, “an angel” of a “neo-tribe” can and will employ the words tribes and/or tribalist, as well as native, for those that they forever denigrate and seek to further colonize. It is at the sole discretion the Anglo male, the self-determined and acknowledged bringer of “civilization” to the global non-anglo savage through colonisation and imperialism, whether the words are spun as positive or derogatory, based on their own desires as well as the desired framing for further conditioning of the citizenry.

“Organizations can adapt two network strategies. They can either build their own brand tribe, or reach out to existing consumer tribes. While some people will advocate one way over the other, both should be considered whenever possible. Regardless it’s important for companies to understand how people exercise influence within their tribes when reaching out to them. This will make their initiatives more native and successful… To be truly native and successful you should strive to understand and share as much of tribal culture as possible…Don’t forget. Influencers are tribal influencers. — The 7 Cs of Tribal Influence, Tribaling, Tribal Growth Hacking website, August 27, 2013 (Emphasis added)

In 2016 Alexa Clay presented a lecture titled Neo-Tribes: The Future is Tribal. Clay’s position scaling social innovation at Ashoka Ashoka (Soros) is but one past held position in her very extensive bio. With John Elkington [further reading: Beautiful Delusions] and Maggie de Pree she co-authored the report The Social Intrapreneur: A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers, sponsored by the Skoll Foundation. Clay belongs to the class of upper echelon in elite activism. In addition to advising the Clinton Foundation, Clay’s voice has been highlighted by the International Monetary Fund. Clay serves on the (all-white) advisory board of Purpose Economy (the Purpose Network, Purpose Companies, Purpose Foundation). Incidentally, the lecture this opinion piece is based on was created for OuiShare and NeoTribes are partnered with Coliga – a part of Tipping Canoe, “an accelerator for consumer driven communities.”

The task of Purpose, Avaaz, 350 and a multitude of NGOs expanding into countries across the middle east and Africa is simple: convert  Middle Eastern values (evoking revionist linguistics such as “nativist” and “tribalist”) into Western values (“openness, pluralism, compassion, science, etc.”). In short, good vs. evil. Indeed, Avaaz has used this very strategy in the past, over and over, to satisfy and fulfill the wishes of empire – and fulfill they do.

 

End Notes:

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

[2] “The best means of masking heinous atrocities is to scrub the victim from history and disallow him/her/them to speak for themselves.” This paternalistic blueprint has been in place for centuries if not millennia. A recent example of this is deconstructed in the article “All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide” which preceded the  Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits investigative series in 2017. A more recent example is identified under the umbrella of the “Reject Kinder Morgan” national campaign in Canada. The latest anti-pipeline campaign in a series that commenced with Stop the Keystone XL (in 2010, see investigative series and timeline) – which permitted (and made obscure) a 21st century crude via rail boom with billionaires such as Warren Buffett (whose family foundation NoVo is a primary funder of TIDES foundations which distributes the anti-pipeline funding) profiting to the tune of billions. Akin to the Standing Rock website, the Indigenous resistance website for the Kinder Morgan campaign promoted by international NGOs such as 350.org and Greenpeace, is actually owned/registered to a 350.org employee. Further, Stand Earth, the rebranded Forest Ethics NGO founded by corporate ally Tzeporah Berman, is hosting the “Protect the Inlet” data.

[These protests have had zero impact on the volume of crude being produced and consumed. Rather, the result has been the phenomenal and exponential growth of the crude via rail industry resulting in the deaths of 47 people in Lac Megantic Quebec in 2013. The pipeline campaigns essentially hid the new burgeoning industry of crude via rail from public view (and more importantly, scrutiny and dissent) while all eyes focused on a single pipeline. At the end of the day, devising a plan based on the fact “crude has no economic value unless run through a refinery” would be the most effective strategy for stopping oil as an energy source, is kept well-hidden.]

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imperialism On Trial: Eva Bartlett speaks on North Korea & Syria (FULL)

RT
January 31, 2018

“Journalist Eva Bartlett speaks candidly on her experiences in North Korea and Syria at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland on January 30, 2018.

In addition to visiting the DPRK in 2017, Bartlett has also been to Syria seven times since the conflict started there in 2011. She described her experiences in the country and explained how the situation on the ground was often very different from the dominant imperialist narrative which holds the Syrian government and President Assad responsible for every evil. She gave as an example the liberation of eastern Aleppo from terrorists in December 2016, which was portrayed as a terrible thing by much of the Western media and the political establishment.”

“Corporate media described Aleppo as falling, while Syrians were celebrating the full liberation of the city and Christians were able to celebrate Christmas for the first time in years,” she said. [Source: Conscious]

Eva K. Bartlett is creating Interviews, Articles, Photography and More Support: www.patreon.com/EvaKBartlett

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATCH: Vanessa Beeley Exposes the White Helmets

Corbett Report

February 7, 2018

 

“For the past two years, Vanessa Beeley has been doing on-the-ground reporting in Syria exposing the lies of the NATO powers and their terrorist proxies. Her work on the White Helmets in particular has drawn the ire of the warmongers and their media mouthpieces. Today we talk to Beeley about the true nature of the White Helmets and the well-funded PR campaign that seeks to defend them.” [Corbett Report]

 

Looking Down That Deep Hole: Parasitic Intersectionality and Toxic Afro-Pessimism, Part 2

Black Agenda Report

February 1, 2018

By Bruce Dixon

 

This week we take a longer look down the deep hole that is the most popular flavor of intersectionality.

When I took a swipe at intersectionality last week, declaring that it was a hole, that afro-pessimism was a shovel and it was high time to stop digging, some friends and comrades were displeased. As far as they were concerned, questioning intersectionality amounted to a frontal attack on the place of women in the struggle against capital, patriarchy, white supremacy and empire, utterly inconsistent with my own politics and that of Black Agenda Report. I also threw some rocks at afro-pessimism, which I labeled the nappy headed step child of intersectionality, to the disappointment of its defenders, some of them friends and comrades too. Additionally neither group admits to understanding why I lumped them together, so I’m taking this opportunity to clarify both critiques and what joins them.“The second intersectionality according to Smith, is rooted in post-structuralism which categorically rejects socialism and class analysis…”

Intersectionality is a termed coined by California law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 in her attempt to convince her fellow officers of the court to refine anti-discrimination law by incorporating the recognition of multiple overlapping oppressions into anti-discrimination law. While the term hasn’t made much headway the last three decades in the arguments of lawyers or the decisions of judges, it’s become a pervasive buzzword with multiple meanings in the realms of politics and the nonprofit industrial complex.

Nowadays, and perhaps from the start, as Sharon Smith explains in an indispensable August 2017 Socialist Worker article titled “A Marxist Case for Intersectionality ,” there are two separate, distinct and mutually incompatible intersectionalities. The first, she says is firmly in the camp of the real left, those who oppose and aim to overthrow capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy and empire – not two or three out of four but all four. This tradition, which puts intersectionality in the context of class analysis and class struggle goes back at least to Claudia Jones in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and the Cohambee River Collective in the 1970s, although neither of these ever heard or uttered the word “intersectional.” The second intersectionality according to Smith, is rooted in post-structuralism which categorically rejects socialism and class analysis, and either downgrades the importance of class struggle at most to something coequal in importance with ageism, ableism and speciesism. With no anchor in class struggle, and emphasizing the oppressed experience of individuals and non-class groups this kind of intersectionalism acts to perpetuate the division of the US left and wannabe left into squabbling constituency groups vying for attention, funding and acknowledgement of whose cause is the most righteous. With neither the means nor the inclination to contend for power, this intersectionalist emphasis on individual experience and deeds has given rise to atrocities like callout culture .

Unfortunately this second version of intersectionality is nearly hegemonic among self defined radicals and even liberals in the academy. Since it’s vigorously promoted by sectors of corporate media and the funders of the nonprofit industrial complex , it’s likely to remain so for the forseeable future. Worse still, since class conscious and class oriented formations neither dominate or even figure prominently in the US left, the class struggle intersectionalists are seriously handicapped at playing the game they say they want to play. Add top this the fact that some left feminists doggedly insist on using the same name for themselves as the anti-socialist, anti-class struggle intersectionalists who have a far broader reach and bigger microphones, and we have what can only be described as a hot mess.

“…the term intersectionality has become a kind of brood parasite. It mimics just enough of left feminist rhetoric to deceive the unwary…”

Zoologists identify about a hundred species of birds they call brood parasites . A brood parasite lays its egg in the nest of a host species, and it counts on fooling the host mom into hatching, feeding and raising the hostile alien offspring. Evolution has engineered the parasite chick to out-eat, out-compete or simply butcher its nest mates. The parasite chicks often grow bigger than both parents put together while still being fed in the nest. In the context of the real left, the community of those aiming to overthrow capital, patriarchy, white supremacy and empire – not two or three out of four but all four, the term intersectionality has become a kind of brood parasite. It mimics just enough of left feminist rhetoric and branding to deceive the unwary and ensnare many bright, serious and sincere leftists into defending and promoting its fundamentally hostile project.

Melissa Harris-Perry was lauded as a leading intersectionlist at the same time she aggressively defended the government’s right to intercept and record every email, text message, phone call and electronic brain fart on the planet and store them for future inspection. Democracy Now, which has given more air time to intersectionality than perhaps anybody refused to cover the lynching and ethnic cleansing of black Libyans during Obama’s 2012 war on that unhappy country even though they had a correspondent on the ground. To this day DemocracyNow dependably spouts US propaganda justifying Obama’s and Trump’s war on Syria. Angela Davis gets credit for being a leading proponent of intersectionality too, even though like hordes of other intersectionalists, she lost her mindover Barack Obama. All these people are examples of intersectionalists, with bigger audiences and far more visibility than left feminists are likely to achieve any time soon. When bona fide left feminists defend the word intersectionality and call themselves intersectional they confuse the lazy, the naive or unwary, they surrender their own credibility to the anti-socialist intersectionalists, and they provide protective cover to the eggs of these brood parasites. It doesn’t have to work that way.

In the natural world brood parasites have been around for millions of years, long enough for hosts to evolve defenses against them. Birds defensively mark their eggs and their chicks to distinguish them from hostile parasites. Sometimes they stand watch to sound the alarm at the presence of intruders and strange eggs, and more. These are lessons left feminists might do well to emulate. You defeat a brood parasite not by adopting its name, but by making it easier, not harder to distinguish the parasite from the real thing. Real left feminists will never get as many professorships, grants, media outlets and TED Talks as the anti-socialist intersectionalists. They invented the term anyway, for their own reasons not yours. Get over it. The real left can’t get intersectionality back and there was never a time when they had exclusive possession of it anyhow. Claudia Jones and the Cohambee comrades made themselves perfectly well understood without it.

There’s no shortage of sharp, erudite left feminists who can if they want, come up with some new terminology that will allow ordinary people to distinguish between the anti-socialist intersectionalist project and authentic left feminism without a six paragraph discourse on postmoderism and post-structuralism. We cannot wait on natural selection to take care of this for us. At the risk of being that cis het guy who offers unsolicited advice to woman comrades, I respectfully suggest this is something that needs to happen real soon.

“Like the dominant version of intersectionality afro-pessimism is pretty explicitly anti-socialist and anti-class struggle…”

I said last week that afro pessimism was a stepchild of intersectionality. Like the dominant version of intersectionality afro-pessimism is pretty explicitly anti-socialist and anti-class struggle. It’s about centering (the woke intersectional word for putting something first and last and ignoring all else) the totality of anti-blackness, the permanent war against black bodies, black aspirations, black lives, black livelihoods and black dreams. Sounds a lot like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Like intersectionality afro-pessimism is not a theory. Like intersectionality, it only describes and does not explain. Like the prevailing flavor of intersectionality, it enjoys considerable support in the academy and mimics enough “woke” rhetoric to deceive the unwary into imagining afro-pessimism is some new kind of emancipatory project, that it prescribes or informs solutions and strategies to tackle real world stuff, even though its foremost proponent Frank Wilderson says it does not.

The only instance where afro pessimism seems to have anything prescriptive to say about how struggle ought to be conducted in the real world is afro-pessisms’s consistent disparagement of the possibility of achieving anything in coalition with anybody who ain’t black. It’s never worked before, the afro-pessimists say, trotting out a long historical list of times and places white “allies” turned tail and defected from the cause of their black compatriots. But since in just about every instance neither the fickle white allies nor the black formations in question were class-based, class oriented or led by the working class it’s hard to see how things could have turned out differently. It’s a problem the Green Party, which I’m part of, has to this day. If the state, the media and the so-called economy are contraptions a particular class uses to rule the rest of us, how do you contend for power when you don’t have a class analysis, or even recognize the importance of class? Nobody can be a dependable ally, a steady rock on either side of an alliance contending for power without a class analysis and an understanding of how power is exercised.

Clearly, the afro-pessimist injunction against working with non-blacks is a prescription for impotence. People of African descent are 13% of the US population. Slavery didn’t end until the political moment when a plurality of white people sided with blacks to end it. Reconstruction folded only when that plurality was shrunken, disarmed and shattered. Jim Crow also ended at the political moment that a plurality of whites took the same side as blacks to kill it. But afro-pessimists, even the ones who talk about reparations, rule coalitions off the table period exclamation point. How they plan to achieve that without cultivating and working with non-black political partners is anybody’s guess. But I misspoke– Afro-pessimists do not plan. They engage, they propose, they put on a show making the point that nobody is or ever was as oppressed as they are, all in the same self-involved spirit of post structuralist intersectionality. Their shtick isn’t even unique; there’s a queer pessimist discourse that sounds a lot like Frank Wilderson or Ta-Nehisi Coates on whatever drug is the opposite of speed.

Tellingly there was no queer pessimism in the early 1980s, when gay men (and even greater numbers of straight black women) were dying like flies from then untreatable HIV-AIDS. People were too busy fighting for their lives then, just as our own ancestors in the 1950s, the 40s, and prior decades had no time for anything like afro-pessimism when Africans in America could be lynched with impunity and Jim Crow was an everyday reality. Queer pessimism only emerged after drug therapies enabled people to live decades with HIV-AIDS. Similarly afro-pessimism only surfaced after enough black faces got comfy spots in the academy.

A few years ago a young comrade in school somewhere told me his professor was insisting that Europeans colonized Africa and maybe the Americas too not because they wanted land, slaves, gold and empire, but because they feared and/or envied the sexual potency of all those outa control black bodies. After I stopped laughing, I assured my young friend this was errant nonsense and I didn’t think about it any more. Now I know this is part of a concept Jared Sexton and Frank Wilderson and other afro-pessimist academics call, presumably with straight faces, “libidinal economy .”

Ta Nehisi Coates has fashioned a lucrative and prestigious career out of that stuff, although I doubt he would call himself an afro-pessimist. Nice work if you can get it. I really believe the afro-pessimist shtick is about one-upping Coates. It’s working well for him, maybe it will work for them too.

 

Listen to the podcast on This is Hell!: : https://soundcloud.com/this-is-hell/989brucedixon

 

[Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)georgiagreenparty.org. He has to be reminded to answer Twitter messages @brucedixon, but he’s getting better at it.]

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

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

In Gaza

January 6, 2018

By Eva Bartlett

 

neil clark tweet

*Neil Clark’s tweet

 

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

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

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

+++

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

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

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

oli 5

A White Helmets member. “Unnarmed and neutral”?

Reply to The Guardian 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In that same article, I wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credentials, Please: What Is Journalism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

oli blogging

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

castello

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

Guardian Uses CIA “Conspiracy Theory” Tactic

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

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

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

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

Guess Solon got the memo.

Professor James Tracy elaborated:

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

Researcher and writer Kevin Ryan noted (emphasis added):

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

 

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

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

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

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

Solon’s article? (emphasis added):

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

But I’m sure this is a mere coincidence.

Initial Investigations Into The White Helmets Precede Russia’s

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

Morningstar on September 17, 2014, wrote:

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

This is where the White Helmets step in.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Guardian Whitewashes the White Helmets

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

The Chemical Card

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

But so was the British and US media:

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

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

Screen-Shot-2017-04-06-at-21.01.09-768x725

From the horse’s mouth: CNN

Screen-Shot-2017-04-06-at-19.12.35-768x144

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Postol’s analysis concludes that the alleged evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Syricide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

That sounds familiar. Solon wrote:

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

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

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

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

Integrity-Devoid Sources Solon Cited

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Boyle’s parting words included:

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

  • Eliot Higgins, of whom Gareth Porter wrote:

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

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

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

The Guardian’s Russia Obsession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(*Some small additions are marked in red.)

DRau5UBX4AIcSem.jpg large

 

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

What a Wonderful World – US Saviour Complex

21st Century Wire

September 16, 2017

by Bruno Guigue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Translation by Vanessa Beeley for 21st Century Wire

***

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

Investigation: White Helmets Committing Acts Of Terror Across Syria

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Who are the White Helmets?

According to the White Helmets own website:

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

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

3: They are unarmed.

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

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

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

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

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

White Helmets funding sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Foreign Office spokesperson said in an email:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Exclusively embedded with al-Qaeda and extremist factions

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

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

 

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

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

The White Helmets push for sectarianism

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Participation in Nusra Front brutality

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

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

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

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

1: May 6, 2015 — Aleppo

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

2: May 2016 — Aleppo

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

3: May 19, 2017 — Dara’a

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

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

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

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

Watch the White Helmets cheering during extremist execution:

4: June 21, 2017 — Dara’a

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deportation for “extremist connections”

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

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

Their conversation can be heard here:

White Helmet leaders: terrorist connections and ideology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria’s REAL civil defence volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the full audio recording of the conversation here:

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

Syrian civilian testimony to the White Helmets’ barbarism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staged rescues, children used as propaganda tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Desecration of Syrian Arab Army bodies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Supposedly unarmed White Helmets are arms-bearing militants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The PR machine behind the White Helmets

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

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

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

 

Absence of paramedic and first responder expertise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full statement from the Threshold Foundation. (Screenshot)

Full statement from the Threshold Foundation. (Screenshot)

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

Watch filmmaker John Pilger describing White Helmets’ actual purpose:

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

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

Screenshot from White Helmets “Mannequin Challenge” video.

Screenshot from White Helmets “Mannequin Challenge” video.

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

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

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

 

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

Legitimacy and False Witness in a Multipolar World

by Tortilla con Sal

July 31, 2017

 

“The crumbling legitimacy of the US government and its allies in the European Union is reflected in the blatant false witness of Western news media and their NGOs.”

 

July 19, 2016: Cuba VP Leads Delegation To Nicaragua For Anniversary Of Sandinista Revolution. Source/Prensa Latina – Del Sur News

The United States government is currently applying sanctions to Cuba, Iran, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Last week, on July 27th the US Congress moved to include Nicaragua too. Apart from these sanctions, the US is also enforcing a variety of sanctions in relation to Belarus, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, former Ukraine and Yemen. Some of those sanctions are supported by the UN but, in any case, US allies cooperate applying sanctions in a selective way to suit their own interests.

At the highest level, Western strategic thinking in general and US policy making in particular is intellectually and morally corrupt, narcissistic and irrational. Corrupt, because it is so deliberately intellectually ingrown and materially self-serving; narcissistic because it cannot engage other legitimate rationalities; irrational because it operates on the basis of “with us or against us” paranoia. The recent US Department of Defense report At Our Own Peril is the clearest expression of that reality.

US planners really believe that following World War Two the US and its allies shaped and controlled a benign world order and that currently the US and its allies abide by and defend international law. They also assert they project a legitimate, truthful account of world events. Given these insane false beliefs underpinning Western strategic planning, actual and potential targets of Western aggression are bound to work out active measures and alliances based on realistic self-defense.

For the foreseeable future, demented Western foreign policy is in a stage of aggravated desperation as US policymakers adapt to what the DoD report says “can only be described as the early post-U.S. primacy epoch…..This new reality has far-reaching implications for American defense policy, strategy, planning, and risk calculation.” Among the factors contributing to the new risk environment, the report highlights “the weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection.” US military leaders now believe they are already losing their long taken for granted global ideological dominance.

Bringing together progressive and revolutionary movements from across Latin America and the Caribbean, the recent Sao Paulo Forum in Nicaragua also recognized the fundamental importance of the West’s global psychological warfare campaign against the majority world. The Forum’s final declaration notes,

“We should create an anti-hegemonic cultural and communications front incorporating the initiatives of progressive governments as well as the efforts of progressive political forces and social movements, a true revolution is impossible if not accompanied by a deep cultural and communications revolution.”

In this context, reality has definitely caught up and overtaken the wishful rhetoric of the Western corporate elites, their carefully groomed governments, their inept, dysfunctional financial system and, perhaps most clearly of all, their dishonest, counterfeit media. In all of these arenas, strategic analysis, economic policy, news reporting, financial dealings, across the West Gresham’s Law has operated relentlessly, with bad practice forcing out good, progressively exposing the falsity and corruption of Western society under corporate capitalism. That falsity is most immediately obvious in Western information culture including not just mainstream and alternative media, but also reporting by governments and non-governmental organizations.

The crumbling legitimacy of the US government and its allies in the European Union is reflected in the blatant false witness of Western news media and the non-governmental organizations which have now largely displaced legitimate foreign news reporting. Few dispute that Western monopoly corporate interests, control and shape government policy as well as mainstream and alternative news media. Less self-evident is the way those elites and their proxies in government promote “the weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection” via humanitarian and human rights NGOs.

A few writers have exposed the role of NGOs in promoting the psychological warfare agenda of the United States and allied governments. Cory Morningstar, for example, has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like Avaaz and Presence. She argues,

“the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

The campaigns led by NATO powers in 2011 against Ivory Coast, Libya, Syria share the same psy-warfare characteristics used against all the countries targeted by US sanctions. Right now, Venezuela is the target at the most vulnerable stage where a shift could happen very abruptly from current low-intensity NATO country covert, diplomatic, economic and media warfare to outright military aggression either direct or by proxy. Ever since the 2002 coup, opposition non governmental organizations have been key players in destabilizing Venezuela falsely exploiting the motifs of human rights, corruption. They have done so with consistent support from Western NGOs like Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Transparency International and many others.

“Alexander Soros and Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor attend The Alexander Soros Foundation’s Global Witness ‘Unmasked’ Gala on July 7, 2012 in Bridgehampton, New York.” Source: Getty Images [Further reading].

In Nicaragua’s case the decision to introduce the so called NICA Act applying economic sanctions against the country was preceded a month earlier by publication of a report from the Global Witness organization falsely alleging that Nicaragua is the most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists. In 2016, Global Witness had a budget of over US$13 million, receiving US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from European NATO governments plus Sweden. The Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO are all luminaries from the Western elite non governmental sector.

Despite these tremendous material and human resources, the Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is inept, poorly researched and downright inaccurate, as occasional Guardian columnist John Perry, among others, has explained. In 2016, Global Witness brought out a similarly false account of problems in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. But traditional reporting methods, like cross-checking sources or comparing competing accounts of events, are irrelevant for weaponized NATO country news media and the disinformation NGOs they increasingly rely on for foreign news. Now a decision has been taken by the US elites to attack Nicaragua, the campaign may well unfold with sanctions steadily being ratcheted up, damaging the same Nicaraguan people these phony Western advocates of human rights claim they want to protect.

That is what has happened to Cuba for well over 50 years. More recently, those same Western elites and their advocates have supported the corrupt oligarchs and Nazi shock forces who destroyed Ukraine. They supported equipping, supplying and training the organized crime gangs and pseudo-Islamist terrorists that destroyed Libya and Syria. They give support covering up the crimes of fascist Venezuelan paramilitaries setting people on fire and attacking hospitals and preschools, just as they did the massacre in the labor union building in Odessa in May 2014. Morally, intellectually, ethically the Western elites are worthy successors to their genocidal colonialist forebears using the same bogus claims of moral and cultural superiority to justify their crimes. The false witness of their media and their NGOs is a clear signal they know they have no legitimacy.

 

Further reading:

Nicaragua:

https://libya360.wordpress.com/category/world/latin-america/nicaragua/

Global Witness:

BLOOD DIAMOND DOUBLETHINK & DECEPTION OVER THOSE WORTHLESS LITTLE ROCKS OF DESIRE | Rick Hines & Keith Harmon Snow, Part One (June 1, 2007).

DOWNLOAD:

Keith Harmon Snow Global Witness pdf-203BD Combd Final July 21, 2007