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Ukraine, International Law, and a Left Worth Wanting

Ukraine, International Law, and a Left Worth Wanting

Tortilla con Sal

March 10, 2022

By Stephen Sefton

 

 

Most commentary on Western progressive and radical media on events in Ukraine has failed to acknowledge the right to self-defense of the Russian Federation and its allies the Donetsk and Lugansk Popular Republics. This is one more example of the way North American and European progressive and radical movements collaborate with their ruling classes, just as they generally did over their governments’ repressive economic and social measures addressing Covid-19. The very Western movements claiming to be morally superior to both sides in the Ukraine war, by doing so, aid and abet the US government, its NATO allies and their Nazi sympathizer protegés in Ukraine.

The double standard could hardly be more clear. As distinguished international war crimes specialist Christopher Black notes: “When one takes account of all the factors that governed the Russian decision to send its forces into Ukraine it is clear that in law they had the legal right to do so whereas the United States continues its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and Syria to this day and the NATO media powers and governments say nothing, because they are all complicit in those invasions.” Now, Ukrainian military documents retrieved by the Russian authorities have demonstrated conclusively that their intervention preempted a large scale assault by Ukrainian armed forces against Donetsk and Lugansk, planned for early March this year.

So President Vladimir Putin was right to argue his government was acting in self defense in Ukraine after eight years of Ukrainian attacks on Donestk and Lugansk, since, as Christopher Black argues, Article 51 of the UN Charter applies, namely “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Which renders entirely specious the argument of many widely respected left wing commentators like, for example, Ignacio Ramonet that Russia’s action in self defense “is barely even a fig leaf, a barebones legal skeleton to explain away an unjustifiable attack on Ukraine”. The role of Ramonet, like so many similar commentators, is to cover the Left flank of their social democrat and liberal support networks in the European Union and the United States, giving cover for otherwise inexcusable EU and US policies. Such commentators played a practically identical role in 2011 making excuses for Nato countries’ destructive aggression against Libya, Syria and Ivory Coast.

 

This explains why Ramonet’s claim that it is “difficult to understand why the United States did not do more to avoid this conflict in Ukraine” is fundamentally dishonest and false. Self-evidently the Western corporate elites have used the governments they own in North America and Europe to weaken and, if possible, destroy not just the independence and autonomy of the Russian Federation, but that of the European Union too. Western corporate elites will make enormous profits rearming Germany and the rest of Europe, and also Japan, and ensuring that Europe depends on US and allied country energy and food supplies. Turning Europe into a heavily militarized US vassal region prevents the US from losing the extremely lucrative, for now, European markets to Russia and China.

Also self-evident is the fact that commentators like Ignacio Ramonet and others assign completely disproportionate meaning to the recent UN General Assembly vote on the war in Ukraine which was so symbolic as to be practically meaningless. Countries representing an enormous majority of the world’s peoples chose to abstain or simply not take part in the vote. Here is the list of abstentions: Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikstan, Uganda, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Not taking part in the vote were: Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

So it is completely false to claim that the UN vote in any way at all represented a global condemnation of Russia by the majority of the world’s peoples. This is even more the case because, subsequently, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico have all made clear they are unwilling to apply illegal coercive economic and other measures against Russia. Nor is it likely that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will act to damage their countries’s already fragile economies in the context of global efforts to recover from the effects of measures supposedly addressing Covid-19. These are incontrovertible realities that most Western progressives and radicals seem unwilling to acknowledge.

In turn, this means that what they think is practically irrelevant for the majority world. Very serious and committed anti-imperialist, class conscious writers openly discuss whether any kind of Left worth wanting exists any more in North America and Europe, for example Max Blumenthal and Cory Morningstar or the Black Agenda Report collective. These discussions may well be useful eventually for the cultural, social and political well being of Western countries, but in any case the majority world, despite the evil policies of the US and European ruling elites, will continue working successfully to realize their peoples’ right to a decent life, to their human development and to the sovereign independence of their nations.

[Stephen Sefton is a member of the Tortilla con Sal collective based in Nicaragua.]

WATCH: Negating Colonial Lies About Russia

WATCH: Negating Colonial Lies About Russia

Streamed live on March 20, 2022.

 

Continued discussion on Russia’s defensive war in Ukraine against the global colonial powers.

“The attitude of the Russians were quite different because they are not attitudes that were born, that came from, [that] developed from slavery and colonialism like you find in the so-called West where the colonialism and slavery has its origins, and that continues to dominate the consciousness of white people, here, now. That’s why you see the white left, the so-called leftists in the United States, they are white nationalists. Most of them are like colonialist leftists. They are left colonizers and they’re not, generally speaking, able to unite against the oppression of the peoples of the world – including unite with Russia in this defensive war that is fighting against the United States through Ukraine…

This propaganda against Russia extends beyond just the war – the Russian people are being targeted in various places in the free world, in the colonial world. The fact of the matter is that this left, this left that comrade Tasha is talking about, this left that supports Ukraine,
is the same left that Lenin was criticizing more than a hundred years ago. It’s the same left. It’s an opportunist left. It’s a colonial base left. So it’s nothing new with how this left is acting. In the United States, or in much of Europe. This left supported French colonialism. At the same time the French claimed to be fighting against colonialism, fascism, in the 1940s – they were oppressing and killing black people in in Algeria – and and they continued to control something like fifteen different countries in Africa today under colonialism. And the communists of those countries supported that. They worked with that. So there’s a difference in a struggle against colonialism. If you don’t understand that – that the entire foundation of so-called western civilization rests upon colonial domination of Black people and other oppressed peoples around the world – that’s why we stand with Russia.”  — Chairman Omali Yeshitela

 

FEATURED SPEAKERS

Chairman Omali Yeshitela, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), Alexander Ionov, President, Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, LIVE from Moscow, Luwezi Kinshasa, Secretary General, African Socialist International (ASI) and Tafarie Mugeri, Director of Organization, ASI Africa Region.

 

 

WATCH: Russia & Ukraine – What’s Really Happening? [Feb 23, 2022]

WATCH: Russia & Ukraine – What’s Really Happening? [Feb 23, 2022]

Uhuru Solidarity

February 22, 2022

 

“African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC) Chair Penny Hess and Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM) Chair Jesse Nevel welcome special guest Chairman Omali Yeshitela for a discussion summing up the situation in Russia and Ukraine, from an African Internationalist point of view.”

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

 

 

Human Rights Industry Protects Imperialism

Black Agenda Report

February 15, 2017

When so-called Human Rights organizations are financed by the one percent they dependably echo the priorities and prejudices of their influential sponsors.  So it is that Amnesty International is an energetic source of war propaganda on behalf of US imperial efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere. Their “report” of a supposed “human slaughterhouse” operated by the Syrian regime is the latest installment in a campaign to justify US intervention in the Middle East.

Humanity is in desperate need of individuals and organizations to speak up for their right to live free from the threat of state violence. Instead we have a human rights industrial complex which speaks for the powerful and tells lies in order to justify their aggressions. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are at the top of this infamous list. They have a pattern and practice of giving cover for regime change schemes hatched by the United States, NATO partners and gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International recently released a report “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison Syria” which claimed that the Syrian government executed between 5,000 and 13,000 people over a five-year period. The report is based on anonymous sources outside of Syria, hearsay, and the dubious use of satellite photos reminiscent of Colin Powell’s performance at the United Nations in 2003. There is plenty of hyperbolic language like “slaughterhouse” and “extermination” but scant evidence of the serious charges being made.

Human Rights Watch joined the fray just days later, with claims that the Syrian government used chlorine gas against civilians fleeing Aleppo. Once again, the claims had little evidence, just mud thrown against a wall in the hope that some of it will stick. It is the al Nusra front which attacked the Aleppo refugees as they struggled to get within the Syrian army lines. One day there is a report on execution, another day chemical weapons, barrel bombs the next day and so on. These phony organizations never mention that the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria was brought about by western intervention and its head chopping jihadist allies.

The Syrian war isn’t over, but that government and its allies are winning and they will determine the future of that nation. It is Russia, Turkey and Iran who are convening peace talks between Syria and the opposition and that is why the effort to discredit them goes on.

Beginning in 2011 the United States used a tried and true method of getting support for imperialism. A foreign leader is accused of being a tyrant who terrorizes his nation. The claims silence critics, get buy in from corporate media and cynical politicians and ultimately lead to death at the hands of the so-called saviors. There are 9 million Syrian refugees precisely because of collusion between the west and its gulf monarchy allies. The suffering of the civilian population is the fault of these parties and it is only the determination of the Syrians and help from their allies which prevented it from going the way of Libya.

Now that the jihadists are on the run and their one-time backer Turkey has switched sides, the jig is up. But the imperialists will not go away quietly. That is why Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reappear at a crucial moment.

New president Donald Trump is quite literally a wild card. During his campaign he claimed he would not support regime change but his personality and policy are erratic. It is never clear what he means or wants. His staff are equally amateurish and the direction of American foreign policy is anyone’s guess. One day he wants better relations with Russia and the next he makes a futile demand that it return Crimea to its neo-Nazi overlords. But republicans and democrats in the war party are quite clear on their plans. They are not giving up in their quest for hegemony and they need all the credibility they can get. Enter Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to provide propaganda at just the right moment.

If they were at all serious in their stated goal of giving voice to the abused, they could use their ample resources to criticize the United States domestically and around the world. When president George Bush instigated the invasion or Iraq in 1991 they repeated the fable of soldiers killing babies in incubators. They never explained or apologized for their actions. They continued their awful partnership in 2011 when they provided cover for the Obama administration’s attack on and destruction of Libya.

Neither organization will denounce the American carceral state, the world’s worst. They might attack the modern-day police slave patrol which kills three people every day. They could ask why the United States has an implicit right to decide that Libya or Syria or Somalia can be destroyed and their populations be forced to suffer. But taking on those issues would be in defiance of their true mission, creating the conditions necessary to allow the United States to commit aggressions without fear of public opposition.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are not friendly to the people of the world. They pick on the weak and the targets of imperialist attack and tell lies on behalf of those who violate human rights on a mass scale. Despite playing a lead role in the Syrian disaster, the United States was invited to be an observer at the upcoming peace talks. Enter AI and HRW to help make sure that if the Trump administration should participate, it won’t be making any changes they need worry about. The human rights industrial complex is dependably on the side of the evil doers and their dirty deeds.

 

[Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley (at)BlackAgendaReport.com]

Obama’s Legacy: Permanent War and Liberal/Radical Accommodation?

Black Agenda Report

February 18, 2015

by BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka

“African American radicals – unlike many white radicals – cannot afford the luxury of being unclear about the nature and interests of the white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial/capitalist order.”

The announcement by the Obama administration that it will seek congressional authorization to expand the war on ISIS in Syria and possibly send more heavy weapons to its client government in Ukraine did not generate the kind of muscular opposition and sense of urgency that one would expect from the anti-interventionist liberals and significant sectors of what use to be the anti-imperialist and anti-war left.

Outside of a few articles written by some of us confined to the marginalized and shrinking left, the reports that the administration was considering both of these courses of action were met with passing indifference. It is as if the capitalist oligarchy’s strategy of permanent war has been accepted as a fait-accompi by the general public and even significant numbers of the left.

The fact that the U.S. President could launch military attacks in Syria, supposedly a sovereign state and member of the United Nations, for six months without any legal justification and not face fierce criticism in the U.S. and internationally demonstrates the embrace of lawlessness that characterizes the current epoch of Western imperialist domination.

And the acquiescence of much of the left in the U.S. and Europe on the issue of Syria and the U.S.-supported coup in Ukraine reveals the moderating and accommodating forces within the faux left that attempts to bully and intimidate anti-imperialist critics.

To oppose the dismemberment of Syria or criticize the dangerous collaboration between the U.S. and racist neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine was reduced to the silly and intellectually lazy arguments that one was “pro-Assad” or a dupe for Putin!

“It is as if the capitalist oligarchy’s strategy of permanent war has been accepted as a fait-accompi by the general public and even significant numbers of the left.”

The current ideological environment did not evolve by accident or by the particular confluence of historical events. The disappearance of anti-imperialism among the cosmopolitan left in the U.S. and Western Europe is reflective of a monumental ideological accomplishment by the propagandists of empire. The professional propagandists of empire and Western dominance were able to adroitly “introject” into the center of the radical world-view and consciousness a liberal ideological framework that privileged “anti-authoritarianism over anti-imperialism.

The political consequence of this shift in consciousness has been disastrous for oppositional left politics throughout the West but particularly in the U.S. As the U.S. increasingly turned to lawless violence to advance its interests over the last seven years of the presidency of Barack Obama, “leftists” in the U.S. objectively aligned themselves with the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination through their silence or outright support in the name of opposing authoritarian regimes.

The human consequence of this collaboration with U.S. and Western militarization by progressive forces in the U.S. and Europe has translated into unrestrained violent interventions from Libya to Syria and back to Iraq. Along with the escalations of direct military interventions, economic warfare and subversion directed at the state and people of Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and other progressive states in Latin America has resulted in the unnecessary suffering of millions.

And while the left and millions of Europeans will mobilize to condemn the 17 lives lost in the incident in Paris and defend “Western values,” there is no massive moral outrage from the Western public for the millions that have died at the hands of Western imperialism and the death and destruction that is promised with policies being considered for Syria and the Ukraine by the ruling elite in the U.S.

Fortunately, despite the political confusion of many leftists and the moral duplicity of liberals, signs of growing opposition to U.S. war-mongering are emanating from a historically familiar place – African American young people.

“While the left and millions of Europeans will mobilize to condemn the 17 lives lost in the incident in Paris and defend “Western values,” there is no massive moral outrage from the Western public for the millions that have died at the hands of Western imperialism.”

Similar to what occurred in the 1960s when opposition to the Vietnam war was catalyzed by the student organizers of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) working on the frontlines of struggle in the deep South, “Black Lives Matter” activists and the many other formations and tendencies crystalizing out of the Ferguson and anti-police violence movements are making the connection between violence and militarization in the internal colonized areas of the U.S. and the state violence being waged by the U.S. state beyond its’ borders.

Resistance to the logic of white supremacist colonialist/capitalist domination on the part of these young activists is leading them to a resolute anti-imperialist and anti-war stance, just like the young black activists of SNCC some fifty years ago.

Alicia Garza one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement offers a welcomed lesson to the faux left:

“There is absolutely a link between the militarization and the use of force to police black communities in the US and the role of the military to police people of color and Black people in the global South. In both scenarios, the police and the military are used to protect private property and the interests of the elite, but are also used to dampen and or eliminate any resistance to the status quo.”

The experiences of these activists in the U.S. and their increasing connections with struggling peoples’ throughout the world is making it clear to them that the slogan “to protect and serve – capital, ” not only applies to the occupation forces that police the racialized colonies inside the U.S. but also the role of the U.S. military abroad.

Black against empire,” is not only a title to a book; it also captures the radical stance that conscious black radicals in the U.S. must assume.

The systemic degradation that characterizes the social experiences of African American workers, the marginalized poor, and working class of all of the oppressed and colonized nations and peoples’ by the U.S. empire, strips away the pretense of a benevolent hegemon. The lived experience of oppression means that African American radicals – unlike many white radicals – cannot afford the luxury of being unclear about the nature and interests of the white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial/capitalist order. It is and will be the primary enemy.

“The slogan “to protect and serve – capital, ” not only applies to the occupation forces that police the racialized colonies inside the U.S. but also the role of the U.S. military abroad.”

On Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the attack in New York city and before it was clear what forces were behind the attack, neoconservative pundits revealing the pre-determined strategy that was to guide U.S. policy in the 21st century, were forcefully arguing that the U.S. must be prepared to use force in the world and in the immediate period to declare war on “militant Islam.” The countries identified for immediate attack included Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Iran, with China thrown in as well.

Permanent war and lawless gangsterism to protect and advance U.S. global economic and political interests was codified in the National Security Strategy (NSS) issued by President Bush on Sept. 21, 2002.

And while the pursuit of that strategy made President Bush the symbol of U.S. arrogance and generated vociferous liberal and progressive opposition, Barack Obama has faithfully carried out that very same neocon strategy becoming the smiling brown face of U.S. polices as morally repugnant as his predecessor – but without progressive, popular opposition.

However, the lack of moral outrage and opposition to the reactionary policies of Barack Obama is changing and will change even more rapidly as the new generation of black activists shift the center of oppositional politics back to the radical black tradition.

When/if that happens, there will be a much needed rebirth of the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement and radical activism in the U.S. will take a qualitative leap forward.

[Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com.]

 

Ukraine’s Weapons in the Information War

Boston Mail

June 17, 2014

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How a small country was able to answer the Kremlin propaganda machine

In recent months, the attention of many Europeans has focused on Ukraine, where nine months ago, political stability gave way to economic and social crisis. Reports from the Donetsk region, where the Kiev authorities are trying to suppress a pro-Russian militia, have become commonplace for European newspapers and television channels – the whole world is watching the progress of the military conflict. However, at the same time, on the internet another war has developed – an information war. In Europe, it is of interest only to a narrow circle of specialists, although it is progressing much more rapidly than the armed confrontation in the Donetsk region. Without stopping for a second, it affects a lot more people, and the financial burden of its execution may exceed the costs of Kiev’s anti-terrorist operation. Its features, tools and key players are covered in detail in a confidential report by the German consulting company Mediasoprotivlenie, which has been obtained by this editorial office.

The authors of the document provide detailed analysis of the actions of the Ukrainian side, which has allowed one of the poorest countries in Europe to lead an active propagandistic role in the Russian blogosphere, by using Russian bloggers. The financial assistance provided to Euromaidan by Ukrainian oligarchs and U.S. government funds USAID, NED, IRI and NDI has been of considerable help in backing this goal. Via these channels, organizations have conducted funding to liberal journalists, opposition members and whole parties that are popular in the Russian segment of the Internet. Ukrainian businessmen have entered into a kind of pact to achieve this goal during the political crisis.

The conveyors of Euromaidan’s values in Russia are an already existing network of Internet experts and influential speakers, whose names are also listed in the document. At the same time, the most influential figures in this group are not always known to a wide range of internet users. Thus, the name of Oleg Kozlovsky means little to an ordinary Russian citizen, but it it appears in the report as one of the central elements of the propaganda machine. A small informational note reports that he has been actively cooperating with the IRI fund for several years, and was one of the most important mayoral campaign activists for Alexei Navalny last summer. It reports that his resource Stopfake, which reveals Russian “propaganda,” also received a grant from the American foundation, beating out competitors’ projects. According to experts, the effectiveness Stopfake is at a relatively high level, although in Russia demand for it and its popularity are much lower than in Ukraine. In addition, some “fakes” denounced by the project’s experts are apparently provocations themselves created by Euromaidan activists.

As noted above, in the struggle for a counter-propaganda grant, Kozlovsky outperformed his competitors, and at this point pops up the name of another campaigner for Navalny. Maxim Katz was previously known around the world as a poker enthusiast – he was an active and successful player, and then became a backer who sponsored capable players’ participation in tournaments. However, in 2011 he became interested in politics and he began consistently promoting liberal views and criticism of Russian authorities on his blog. Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, Katz has taken an openly anti-Russian stance, and even for a time ran the Antipropaganda project. Using Katz’s own methodology, it determines the amount of informational distortion in news materials from Russian and foreign media. Antipropaganda’s research results have repeatedly been criticized by pro-Kremlin bloggers – according to its research, Ukrainian journalists did not allow themselves to manipulate the facts while stories in the Russian media studiously avoided the truth. The moment the Russian Federation’s authorities adopted amendments that impose restrictions on anonymous funds transfers, Antipropaganda suddenly closed as quickly as it had opened. Currently the opposition is considering opening a Kiev branch of its urban initiative City Projects, the funding for which is likely to have already been made by European figures.

Another name mentioned by American experts more often than others is Vitaly Shushkevich. This opposition internet technologist makes no secret that he receives funding from the IRI and is a regular at events organized by the foundation in European countries. In March this year he was one of the most aggressive critics of the annexation of Crimea, calling on Ukrainians not to repeat the mistakes of Saakashvili and kill “Russian agents” on the spot. According to information given in the report, Shushkevich is now helping to lead election campaigns of several opposition candidates for the Moscow City Duma.

However, criticism of the government by liberal activists is a rather traditional phenomenon for Russia and does not cause any surprise. What did surprise many was the support for the Ukrainian revolution from the right-wing party Democratic Choice headed by Vladimir Milov. Milov called the burning alive of several dozen pro-Russian demonstrators in Odessa “local resistance in the most vividly illustrated form.” Following this, the politician issued an appeal to the people of Donbass, in which he stated that they were “not Russian” and demanded that they “do not entangle Russia in their internal conflict.” It is noteworthy that one of Milov’s party companions – blogger Stanislav Yakovlev – criticized the liberal opposition and in describing the situation in the Donbass took a consistently pro-Ukrainian side.

According to the information provided in the report, the source of financing of Milov’s political party is structures that are close to the new president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. This explains the sharp ideological turn taken by the party nine months ago.

The report also notes the extreme effectiveness of the opposition movement’s anonymous, humorous Twitter accounts. Due to the lack of actual control over the system of microblogging and anonymous authors, fighting their posts is practically impossible for the Russian authorities, and Ukrainians are actively taking advantage of this in Russia.

Experts note that the increase in the number of blogs and social media users in Russia to a certain point played into the hands of the liberal public, primarily because the middle class had access to it and they tend to be liberal thinkers. However, in the last few years the main growth in this area has been achieved by the inhabitants of the provinces, among whom are high numbers of supporters of the authorities. This phenomenon significantly changed the balance of opinion in the Russian blogosphere, and, according to experts, the promotion of propaganda among this section of the population is currently the most important task of Ukrainian “agents.”

Photo by bloomberg.com

The Weaponized Naked Girl

manyfesto

July 15, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.18.04 PM

The 1976 film Network is the story of a failing television channel and its scheme to improve ratings by putting a crazy man on television. Howard Beale is driven out of his mind after he’s laid off to shield the bottom line. He is a widower, no real friends – a victim of the economic rearrangement of the 1970s. Promising to blow his brains out on live TV, Beale is suddenly the savior of the network as the ratings are higher than ever as a result of this outburst. He appears on television and delivers emotive appeals to his audience, reasoning that while he doesn’t know what do to fix the situation, he at least encourages everyone to “get mad”. But no mass movement erupts. Once his shares start to dip, the network assassinates him to pull their ratings out of the fire.

This is the usual synopsis you’ll receive. Network’s other story lines, the ones about Faye Dunaway’s sexually aggressive yet sexually vacuous character, the cynical manipulation of Black Power politics, are usually ignored. Everyone loves a story about a maniac street preacher. But Network is also about how the media is manufactured, how our pain and frustrations regarding the state of the world are manipulated for ratings, and how legitimate grievances are monetized under capitalism.

It’s a shame we miss out on that, because the media we consume today is just as cynically manipulated. It’s just as weaponized against the population as the media of a hundred years ago, but has now adopted new marketing techniques to sell, promote, and defend imperialism and capitalism. This is not to say that older techniques are not still used – some corruption is still as blatant as taking money or gifts – but other techniques have not been as examined, as thoroughly condemned. While sex and race are just as common as ever in the media’s worship of imperialism and capitalism, the new neoliberal strategies of atomization and the cult of the individual gives the old tropes of manipulation a fresh coat of paint:

We live in an era of flux. The old model of a creator or creative type—a person who does one thing well, and depends on institutions for support—is falling by the wayside. The creator of the future is a super-connected trans-disciplinary mutant: engaged and intellectually rebellious. Molly Crabapple has created everything from Occupy Wall Street posters and arts journalism of collapsing countries to murals on the walls of the world’s most exclusive nightclubs.  On stage, she delivers an energizing, take-no-prisoners talk on how creators—how everyone—can create a life of their own design, without asking permission. (Emphasis mine, from Lanvin Agency)

Atomization is the isolation of a person from their “institutions of support”, meaning, essentially, not just their fellow human being, but also the traditional ways of reading and perceiving knowledge, though history or dialectical reasoning. The atomized individual is “intellectually rebellious”, cut off from the ability to reason correctly and confused by constantly shifting parameters – relying on their own atomized and manipulated environment in order to successfully parse reality. A strategy as old as time is to successfully make the person feel like they came up with the idea to oppress themselves. The fresh coat of paint here is to make everyone relate to their own oppression in an intimate, ego-shaping way. The individual’s decision – once they choose oppression, of course – is a sacred decision; their reasoning and their motivations are private and autonomous. The oppressed are oppressed whether they choose to be or not – but the propaganda encourages the oppressed to accept it anyway, because it makes things easier for domination and atomizes society faster.

Imperialism, too, wants invitations for military advisors, trade agreements, and foreign direct investment. Wars and battles can be disagreeable. Usually it’s preferable both morally and logistically when the oppressed ask for their own subjugation, argue for it themselves. Likewise, patriarchy seeks to subjugate by invitation. Women are told that patriarchy really does have nothing but the best intentions, that she can cleverly twist patriarchy on her own to make it “work for her”. In this way, we can compare the woman who feels violent pornography is empowering to the country which feels monoculture depending on the imperial markets is empowering. Under this paradigm, we the audience, must believe that if they are asking for it, we must respect their agency. Systems of oppression, however, do not simply disappear because they are somehow passively (or actively!) accepted by the oppressed. Indeed, systems prefer the acquiescence of the oppressed to conflict. This is why it is so important for us to be told that women love being prostitutes and how much happier developing countries are under capitalism. In many cases, this functions as a sort of shield for oppression – it’s their choice, after all! And we must respect that. And if not their choice, well then, certainly NATO has their best interests as individuals at heart. An argument about imperialism successfully becomes an argument about agency.

All of this is not just a successful tool for atomization, it is also a savvy marketing strategy for oppression. For this essay, I am going to write mainly on how imperialist-marketing techniques specifically corrupts feminism. While women who stand against oppression and imperialism are often excluded from public platform, or labeled as “crazy” otherwise, when standing for imperialism, misogyny, racism, and capitalism, women are seen as strong and independent-minded. When their representations of the aforementioned are attacked, these otherwise “modern” women simply melt back into stereotypical gender roles, and are posited as victims. I will present three case studies for this phenomenon that will seek to make this connection between feminism, traditional gender roles, agency and imperial aggression.

For the first case study, let’s take a look at a so-called feminist, modern group of women: FEMEN. The marketing strategy of this Ukrainian group is pretty simple to grasp. A photo of any FEMEN action usually includes a half naked blonde woman, political slogans scrawled across her breasts, her face contorted in pain and fear as a police officer or soldier, generally a man, attempts to tackle and arrest her. Here we have a twofold approach: one strategy is that instead of holding placards, these women use their bare breasts as “weapons” (their word, not mine) to trick an otherwise apathetic and disinterested male population into buying whatever it is they’re selling, while courageously doing this as wielders of their own agency, allegedly wielding it in the name of atomized feminism (what I call elsewhere “postfeminism“). This is greatly analogous to marketing strategies which seek to utilize female sexuality – we can see examples of this on any convention showroom floor.  They are simultaneously empowered by using their sexuality to sell their politics, while at the same time cynically bowing to traditional gender roles. The second part of the marketing strategy is to usually include the police. Their groping hands put these lovely blonde ladies in danger. They roughly claw at their exposed flesh. Like King Kong, these women are generally presented as helpless against their attackers, suspended in midair by the ruddy paws of the enemy who seeks to destroy us all. We are winked at by the titillating vision of half-naked attractive white women, offering their politics on their breasts as a way of appealing to the so-called essential nature of of piggish men, appreciative of their strong choices, angry that a man would stand in their way. 

WATCH: ‘Democracy Projects’ Are Not Democratic: The Case of Ukraine & Russia

LPAC TV

Video published on Feb 20, 2014

The recent gaffe of Victoria Nuland being caught using her post in the U.S. State Department to push a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi into the presidency of Ukraine reveals a far more contemptible role being played by leading transatlantic forces, desperate to bring Eurasia under its control for its own political/economic survival.

Subverting Sovereignty

Skookum: *An online journal of the American psyche in transition*

by Jay Taber

November 4, 2012

 

As reported at Wrong Kind of Green, the expulsion of USAID from Russia and Latin America is long overdue, and given the history of USAID’s involvement in overthrowing and destabilizing governments unwilling to yield to US dictates, it’s surprising that it took so long. This doesn’t mean that the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency will stop spying on governments that seek independence from the US; it simply means that US spies and provocateurs will no longer be able to work undercover as USAID operatives.

As noted in other WKOG articles and special reports, though, US spies and provocateurs will still be able to work undercover as employees of NGOs, funded by foundations established by US elites to undermine opposition to US hegemony. With help from the Rockefellers, Ford and Soros, subverting sovereignty and derailing democracy worldwide will continue, albeit in a manner that puts authentic non-profits and independent journalists at risk.

While this is a risk that US elites are more than willing to take, it is understandable that some countries will see classifying all Americans visiting their countries as possible spies as a precautionary principle. It’s merely the logical consequence of a half century of perverted US foreign policy.