John Scales Avery (2), Medea Benjamin, Robert J Burrowes, Countercurrents Collective, Pepe Escobar, John Feffer, Margaret Flowers, Daisaku Ikeda, Peter Koenig, Dr Gideon Polya , Nauman Sadiq, Saral Sarkar , Andre Vltchek (2), Kevin Zeese, Eric Zuesse.
Pepe Escobar, The Road toDamascus: How the Syria War was Won
Andre Vltchek, Why Russia andChina Stand Together
Medea Benjamin, 10 Ways that the Climate Crisis and Militarism are Intertwined
John Scales Avery, We Need Peace In The Middle East
Saral Sarkar, Is Collapse of Our Civilization Unavoidable?
Andre Vltchek, US-China “Trade’’ War? No Way. Only The Defeat Of Turbo-Capitalism
Daisaku Ikeda, Climate Change: A People-Centered Approach
John Feffer, The Far Right’s War on Culture
Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Stop The Turkish Invasion Of Syria
John Scales Avery, The Passions of Mankind
Nauman Sadiq, How Al-Baghdadi was not the Equivalent of Osama Bin Laden?
Dr Gideon Polya, Piketty Analysis Of Trumpism – Inequality & Populist Nativists Versus High Education Globalists
Peter Koenig, Syria – The Launch of a Constitutional Committee – a Sign of Hope for Syrian People
Robert J Burrowes, Our Vanishing World: Insects
Eric Zuesse, How the U.S. Regime ‘Justifies’ the Theft of Syria’s Oil
Countercurrents Collective, Major cities of the world could submerge within 30 years due to Global Warming.
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|October 18, 2019||
The Road toDamascus: How the Syria War was Won
by Pepe Escobar , Information Clearing House
What is happening in Syria, following yet another Russia-brokered deal, is a massive geopolitical game-changer. I’ve tried to summarize it in a single paragraph this way:
“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive. And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”
Syria may be the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam.
Yet that hardly begins to tell the whole story.
Allow me to briefly sketch in broad historical strokes how we got here
It began with an intuition I felt last month at the tri-border point of Lebanon, Syria and Occupied Palestine; followed by a subsequent series of conversations in Beirut with first-class Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Russian, French and Italian analysts; all resting on my travels in Syria since the 1990s; with a mix of selected bibliography in French available at Antoine’s in Beirut thrown in.
Let’s start in the 19thcentury when Syria consisted of six vilayets — Ottoman provinces — without counting Mount Lebanon, which had a special status since 1861 to the benefit of Maronite Christians and Jerusalem, which was a sanjak (administrative division) of Istanbul.
The vilayets did not define the extremely complex Syrian identity: for instance, Armenians were the majority in the vilayet of Maras, Kurds in Diyarbakir – both now part of Turkey in southern Anatolia – and the vilayets of Aleppo and Damascus were both Sunni Arab.
Nineteenth century Ottoman Syria was the epitome of cosmopolitanism. There were no interior borders or walls. Everything was inter-dependent.
Then the Europeans, profiting from World War I, intervened. France got the Syrian-Lebanese littoral, and later the vilayets of Maras and Mosul (today in Iraq). Palestine was separated from Cham (the “Levant”), to be internationalized. The vilayet of Damascus was cut in half: France got the north, the Brits got the south. Separation between Syria and the mostly Christian Lebanese lands came later.
There was always the complex question of the Syria-Iraq border. Since antiquity, the Euphrates acted as a barrier, for instance between the Cham of the Umayyads and their fierce competitors on the other side of the river, the Mesopotamian Abbasids.
James Barr, in his splendid “A Line in the Sand,” notes, correctly, that the Sykes-Picot agreement imposed on the Middle East the European conception of territory: their “line in the sand” codified a delimited separation between nation-states. The problem is, there were no nation-states in region in the early 20thcentury.
The birth of Syria as we know it was a work in progress, involving the Europeans, the Hashemite dynasty, nationalist Syrians invested in building a Greater Syria including Lebanon, and the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. An important factor is that few in the region lamented losing dependence on Hashemite Medina, and except the Turks, the loss of the vilayet of Mosul in what became Iraq after World War I.
In 1925, Sunnis became the de facto prominent power in Syria, as the French unified Aleppo and Damascus. During the 1920s France also established the borders of eastern Syria. And the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923, forced the Turks to give up all Ottoman holdings but didn’t keep them out of the game.
The Turks soon started to encroach on the French mandate, and began blocking the dream of Kurdish autonomy. France in the end gave in: the Turkish-Syrian border would parallel the route of the fabled Bagdadbahn — the Berlin-Baghdad railway.
In the 1930s France gave in even more: the sanjak of Alexandretta (today’s Iskenderun, in Hatay province, Turkey), was finally annexed by Turkey in 1939 when only 40 percent of the population was Turkish.
The annexation led to the exile of tens of thousands of Armenians. It was a tremendous blow for Syrian nationalists. And it was a disaster for Aleppo, which lost its corridor to the Eastern Mediterranean.
To the eastern steppes, Syria was all about Bedouin tribes. To the north, it was all about the Turkish-Kurdish clash. And to the south, the border was a mirage in the desert, only drawn with the advent of Transjordan. Only the western front, with Lebanon, was established, and consolidated after WWII.
This emergent Syria — out of conflicting Turkish, French, British and myriad local interests —obviously could not, and did not, please any community. Still, the heart of the nation configured what was described as “useful Syria.” No less than 60 percent of the nation was — and remains — practically void. Yet, geopolitically, that translates into “strategic depth” — the heart of the matter in the current war.
From Hafez to Bashar
Starting in 1963, the Baath party, secular and nationalist, took over Syria, finally consolidating its power in 1970 with Hafez al-Assad, who instead of just relying on his Alawite minority, built a humongous, hyper-centralized state machinery mixed with a police state. The key actors who refused to play the game were the Muslim Brotherhood, all the way to being massacred during the hardcore 1982 Hama repression.
Secularism and a police state: that’s how the fragile Syrian mosaic was preserved. But already in the 1970s major fractures were emerging: between major cities and a very poor periphery; between the “useful” west and the Bedouin east; between Arabs and Kurds. But the urban elites never repudiated the iron will of Damascus: cronyism, after all, was quite profitable.
Damascus interfered heavily with the Lebanese civil war since 1976 at the invitation of the Arab League as a “peacekeeping force.” In Hafez al-Assad’s logic, stressing the Arab identity of Lebanon was essential to recover Greater Syria. But Syrian control over Lebanon started to unravel in 2005, after the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, very close to Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) eventually left.
Bashar al-Assad had taken power in 2000. Unlike his father, he bet on the Alawites to run the state machinery, preventing the possibility of a coup but completely alienating himself from the poor, Syrian on the street.
What the West defined as the Arab Spring, began in Syria in March 2011; it was a revolt against the Alawites as much as a revolt against Damascus. Totally instrumentalized by the foreign interests, the revolt sprang up in extremely poor, dejected Sunni peripheries: Deraa in the south, the deserted east, and the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo.
What was not understood in the West is that this “beggars banquet” was not against the Syrian nation, but against a “regime.” Jabhat al-Nusra, in a P.R. exercise, even broke its official link with al-Qaeda and changed its denomination to Fatah al-Cham and then Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (“Organization for the Liberation of the Levant”). Only ISIS/Daesh said they were fighting for the end of Sykes-Picot.
By 2014, the perpetually moving battlefield was more or less established: Damascus against both Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS/Daesh, with a wobbly role for the Kurds in the northeast, obsessed in preserving the cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Qamichli.
But the key point is that each katiba (“combat group”), each neighborhood, each village, and in fact each combatant was in-and-out of allegiances non-stop. That yielded a dizzying nebulae of jihadis, criminals, mercenaries, some linked to al-Qaeda, some to Daesh, some trained by the Americans, some just making a quick buck.
For instance Salafis — lavishly financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — especially Jaish al-Islam, even struck alliances with the PYD Kurds in Syria and the jihadis of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (the remixed, 30,000-strong al-Qaeda in Syria). Meanwhile, the PYD Kurds (an emanation of the Turkish Kurds’ PKK, which Ankara consider “terrorists”) profited from this unholy mess — plus a deliberate ambiguity by Damascus – to try to create their autonomous Rojava.
That Turkish Strategic Depth
Turkey was all in. Turbo-charged by the neo-Ottoman politics of former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the logic was to reconquer parts of the Ottoman empire, and get rid of Assad because he had helped PKK Kurdish rebels in Turkey.
Davutoglu’s Strategik Derinlik (“Strategic Depth’), published in 2001, had been a smash hit in Turkey, reclaiming the glory of eight centuries of an sprawling empire, compared to puny 911 kilometers of borders fixed by the French and the Kemalists. Bilad al Cham, the Ottoman province congregating Lebanon, historical Palestine, Jordan and Syria, remained a powerful magnet in both the Syrian and Turkish unconscious.
No wonder Turkey’s Recep Erdogan was fired up: in 2012 he even boasted he was getting ready to pray in the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, post-regime change, of course. He has been gunning for a safe zone inside the Syrian border — actually a Turkish enclave — since 2014. To get it, he has used a whole bag of nasty players — from militias close to the Muslim Brotherhood to hardcore Turkmen gangs.
With the establishment of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for the first time Turkey allowed foreign weaponized groups to operate on its own territory. A training camp was set up in 2011 in the sanjakof Alexandretta. The Syrian National Council was also created in Istanbul – a bunch of non-entities from the diaspora who had not been in Syria for decades.
Ankara enabled a de facto Jihad Highway — with people from Central Asia, Caucasus, Maghreb, Pakistan, Xinjiang, all points north in Europe being smuggled back and forth at will. In 2015, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha set up the dreaded Jaish al-Fath (“Army of Conquest”), which included Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda).
At the same time, Ankara maintained an extremely ambiguous relationship with ISIS/Daesh, buying its smuggled oil, treating jihadis in Turkish hospitals, and paying zero attention to jihad intel collected and developed on Turkish territory. For at least five years, the MIT — Turkish intelligence – provided political and logistic background to the Syrian opposition while weaponizing a galaxy of Salafis. After all, Ankara believed that ISIS/Daesh only existed because of the “evil” deployed by the Assad regime.
The Russian Factor
The first major game-changer was the spectacular Russian entrance in the summer of 2015. Vladimir Putin had asked the U.S. to join in the fight against the Islamic State as the Soviet Union allied against Hitler, negating the American idea that this was Russia’s bid to restore its imperial glory. But the American plan instead, under Barack Obama, was single-minded: betting on a rag-tag Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mix of Kurds and Sunni Arabs, supported by air power and U.S. Special Forces, north of the Euphrates, to smash ISIS/Daesh all the way to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.
Raqqa, bombed to rubble by the Pentagon, may have been taken by the SDF, but Deir ez-Zor was taken by Damascus’s Syrian Arab Army. The ultimate American aim was to consistently keep the north of the Euphrates under U.S. power, via their proxies, the SDF and the Kurdish PYD/YPG. That American dream is now over, lamented by imperial Democrats and Republicans alike.
The CIA will be after Trump’s scalp till Kingdom Come.
Kurdish Dream Over
Talk about a cultural misunderstanding. As much as the Syrian Kurds believed U.S. protection amounted to an endorsement of their independence dreams, Americans never seemed to understand that throughout the “Greater Middle East” you cannot buy a tribe. At best, you can rent them. And they use you according to their interests. I’ve seen it from Afghanistan to Iraq’s Anbar province.
The Kurdish dream of a contiguous, autonomous territory from Qamichli to Manbij is over. Sunni Arabs living in this perimeter will resist any Kurdish attempt at dominance.
The Syrian PYD was founded in 2005 by PKK militants. In 2011, Syrians from the PKK came from Qandil – the PKK base in northern Iraq – to build the YPG militia for the PYD. In predominantly Arab zones, Syrian Kurds are in charge of governing because for them Arabs are seen as a bunch of barbarians, incapable of building their “democratic, socialist, ecological and multi-communitarian” society.
One can imagine how conservative Sunni Arab tribal leaders hate their guts. There’s no way these tribal leaders will ever support the Kurds against the SAA or the Turkish army; after all these Arab tribal leaders spent a lot of time in Damascus seeking support from Bashar al-Assad. And now the Kurds themselves have accepted that support in the face of the Trukish incursion, greenlighted by Trump.
East of Deir ez-Zor, the PYD/YPG already had to say goodbye to the region that is responsible for 50 percent of Syria’s oil production. Damascus and the SAA now have the upper hand. What’s left for the PYD/YPG is to resign themselves to Damascus’s and Russian protection against Turkey, and the chance of exercising sovereignty in exclusively Kurdish territories.
Ignorance of the West
The West, with typical Orientalist haughtiness, never understood that Alawites, Christians, Ismailis and Druze in Syria would always privilege Damascus for protection compared to an “opposition” monopolized by hardcore Islamists, if not jihadis. The West also did not understand that the government in Damascus, for survival, could always count on formidable Baath party networks plus the dreaded mukhabarat — the intel services.
The reconstruction of Syria may cost as much as $200 billion. Damascus has already made it very clear that the U.S. and the EU are not welcome. China will be in the forefront, along with Russia and Iran; this will be a project strictly following the Eurasia integration playbook — with the Chinese aiming to revive Syria’s strategic positioning in the Ancient Silk Road.
As for Erdogan, distrusted by virtually everyone, and a tad less neo-Ottoman than in the recent past, he now seems to have finally understood that Bashar al-Assad “won’t go,” and he must live with it. Ankara is bound to remain imvolved with Tehran and Moscow, in finding a comprehensive, constitutional solution for the Syrian tragedy through the former “Astana process”, later developed in Ankara.
The war may not have been totally won, of course. But against all odds, it’s clear a unified, sovereign Syrian nation is bound to prevail over every perverted strand of geopolitical molotov cocktails concocted in sinister NATO/GCC labs. History will eventually tell us that, as an example to the whole Global South, this will remain the ultimate game-changer.
|October 21, 2019||
Why Russia and China Stand Together
by Andre Vltchek, Information Clearing House
The capitalist world is in decay. The West is rotting. Anger and nihilism are pouring from the imperialist empire whose citizens are frustrated; not at peace with themselves.
Imperialist North America and Europe are furious at the countries like Venezuela and Cuba because their thinkers and leaders are exposing the terrible deterioration of values which is streaming from the neo-colonialist and historically imperialist countries.
But it is China and Russia who are at the forefront of spite of the Western nation and their propagandists. It is all grotesque, now. Russia which saved the world from Nazism, and which helped to decolonize dozens of nations, is now “least liked country” in Europe. Germany, which murdered millions of Jews, Roma, Slavs, and others, is the most liked. In the West, nobody seems to care that Germany is still plundering such nations like Venezuela while using its industrial and banking might to strip defenseless nations of their riches.
China, a mighty Communist country, (or call it a “socialist country with Chinese characteristics”), is being mocked and humiliated by Western propaganda. Arrogance of the European and North American indoctrinators and most of their servile pseudo-intellectuals, from the so-called center to the right, has no boundaries. Most of them are suffering from incurable superiority complexes. They feel that they have the right to judge China; to decide for it, whether it is “truly” Communist or not, and whether it is on the correct track.
China is a calm, some could even say timid nation. No matter how mighty it has become, it tries to resolve all conflicts with its self-proclaimed adversaries, harmoniously. It does not attack, and it does not provoke. Historically, it cares for the well-being of its peripheries, and even for the welfare of faraway nations. For millennia, the wisdom went like this: “if the neighbors are doing well, so will do well China itself”.
Chinese leaders and Chinese people are convinced that if the entire world would become prosperous, China would benefit as a result. That is the essence of the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), which is often defined as the “New Silk Road”.
Of course, it is not as simple as this, but in essence, it is. New Silk Road is the flagship of the Chinese internationalism. I saw China “in action”, in such places as Africa and Oceania, and I have been greatly impressed. I am an anti-imperialist, and an internationalist, therefore I decisively support China!
Increasingly, I consider myself a Communist and an internationalist, not a “Marxist”. Karl Marx was a historical, European figure, a good analyst and critic of the old, early capitalist regime. He was preoccupied with mainly European system, without using much energy to attack colonialism and imperialism. In the last hundreds of years, the most horrid problem has been the Western plunder of the planet by the West. Marx did not pay much attention to it.
Countries like the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China, which have been defending those who are defenseless, are consistently and very professionally demonized by London, Paris, Berlin, and Washington, insanely smeared as “equal to the fascists”, while it is clear that the only honest equation could be made between the Nazism/fascism and the European and North American colonialism, or more precisely, neo-colonialist and imperialism.
While perfecting its own socialist system, China learned a lot about the mistakes made by the Soviet Union. It is not going to repeat them. Those of us who are close to the Academy of Social Sciences, or to the Chinese leading universities and media outlets, are doing our best to explain the errors committed in both Soviet Union and the so-called Eastern Block. Based on the analyses of its own past, and of other socialist countries, China is both fighting for the survival of the world, and for the improvement of the standards of living of its own people.
I like her approach; I am proud to be part of the “process”. And I support China with my entire heart because I know that if China falls, if it gets destroyed by the imperialist West, it would be the end of all hopes for our humanity. The West already demonstrated what it would do to the planet, if it would be allowed to continue ruling, unopposed, over the billions of lives of human beings.
United, allied, China and Russia are creating a powerful block of independent nations. Directly and indirectly, they are defending those good countries which are antagonized, brutalized, even terrorized by the West. Both nations are benefiting from working together. Now, dozens of countries on all continents are benefiting, too.
I like what I see. Hope is in the air. It is beautiful. It is full of optimism. And that is why I support; that is why I am celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!
It goes without saying that China is being intimidated and provoked by almost all Western countries, as well as their client states.
Actually, attacking China is turning into the most lucrative career for both the mediocre journalist working for the mass media outlets and for the funding-starved individuals all over the world.
Reasons for these attacks are only too easy to identify: The People’s Republic of China is clearly winning in all fields and areas, over both the imperialism and savage capitalism: ideologically, intellectually and socially.
With only a fraction of the GDP per capita (compared to the West), China is eliminating extreme poverty. Its infrastructure is now better than that in the West. Its progress in the field of ecology cannot be matched by any other part of the world. Its creativity, in the area of culture and science, is colossal. The life of the Chinese people is improving, dramatically. And, it is very hard not to notice, the lives of the people in the countries that are working with China, are getting much better, as well.
More obvious all this is becoming to the people worldwide, more horrified are getting the traditionally colonialist and imperialist countries. They cannot offer anything to the world, as their economies and cultures have been based on looting, already for many long centuries. They are unable to stop, to reform, to work for saving the world. And so, all they can do in order to ensure that the status quo prevails is to smear China and Russia; two determined sisters that are working relentlessly for a much better planet.
For decades, China tried to compromise, to appease the West. It has been doing everything possible and impossible to avoid direct or indirect conflict. Only recently, it realized that the only outcome the West would accept would be if China would kneel, surrender, and give up its “Socialism with the Chinese characteristics” system.
And this is unacceptable to both the government in Beijing and to the people of China.
That is why the parade on Tiananmen Square, on the October 1st, 2019. That is why the clear message to the West: Chinese system is not for sale. China is not going to bend. That is why the new weapons, designed to repel anyone who would dare to attack the PRC, have been introduced.
In Russia, they say: Those who come with the sword, from the sword will die.
China clearly understood the wisdom of this truism.
Of course, China welcomes friends with open arms. It is helping those in need. It is trying to build a better world.
But it will never again tolerate attacks, intimidations, and bare racism. In the past, it got occupied, brutalized and humiliated. Now, after 70 years of tremendous leap forward, under the leadership of the Communist Party, China is confident, strong and proud.
I love this confidence. I admire what China is doing both at home and abroad.
That is why I am celebrating with the Chinese people the 70th Anniversary of their socialist motherland. That is why I am working, day and night, to show to the world all those great achievements of the most populous nation on earth.
I also believe that the union of China and Russia represents the last hope for our humanity. I witnessed the suffering of people on all continents; victims of Western imperialism. I do not buy, even for a second, the propaganda that “all nations are the same and would they be strong enough, they would plunder the world with the same brutality as Europe and North America have been doing for all those centuries”.
I am not too interested in reading and listening to the endless analyses of the Westerners regarding China. I am interested in what the Chinese people have to say about their country!
Now, 70 years after the Victory, the Chinese nation stands as united as ever. And the nations that have been robbed of everything, by the West, are now daring to hope, for the first time in many generations.
That is why, I am saluting the nation which is changing the world, and which, at 70, looks and feels so young, kind and full of optimism!
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are
|September 26, 2019||
10 Ways that the Climate Crisis and Militarism are Intertwined
by Medea Benjamin, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
The environmental justice movement that is surging globally is intentionally intersectional, showing how global warming is connected to issues such as race, poverty, migration and public health. One area intimately linked to the climate crisis that gets little attention, however, is militarism. Here are some of the ways these issues–and their solutions–are intertwined.
1. The US military protects Big Oil and other extractive industries. The US military has often been used to ensure that US companies have access to extractive industry materials, particularly oil, around the world. The 1991 Gulf War against Iraq was a blatant example of war for oil; today the US military support for Saudi Arabia is connected to the US fossil fuel industry’s determination to control access to the world’s oil. Hundreds of the US military bases spread around the world are in resource-rich regions and near strategic shipping lanes. We can’t get off the fossil fuel treadmill until we stop our military from acting as the world’s protector of Big Oil.
2. The Pentagon is the single largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world. If the Pentagon were a country, its fuel use alone would make it the 47th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, greater than entire nations such as Sweden, Norway or Finland. US military emissions come mainly from fueling weapons and equipment, as well as lighting, heating and cooling more than 560,000 buildings around the world.
3. The Pentagon monopolizes the funding we need to seriously address the climate crisis. We are now spending over half of the federal government’s annual discretionary budget on the military when the biggest threat to US national security is not Iran or China, but the climate crisis. We could cut the Pentagon’s current budget in half and still be left with a bigger military budget than China, Russia, Iran and North Korea combined. The $350 billion savings could then be funnelled into the Green New Deal. Just one percent of the 2019 military budget of $716 billion would be enough to fund 128,879 green infrastructure jobs instead.
4. Military operations leave a toxic legacy in their wake. US military bases despoil the landscape, pollute the soil, and contaminate the drinking water. At the Kadena Base in Okinawa, the US Air Force has polluted local land and water with hazardous chemicals, including arsenic, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and dioxin. Here at home, the EPA has identified over 149 current or former military bases as SuperFund sites because Pentagon pollution has left local soil and groundwater highly dangerous to human, animal, and plant life. According to a 2017 government report, the Pentagon has already spent $11.5 billion on environmental cleanup of closed bases and estimates $3.4 billion more will be needed.
5. Wars ravage fragile ecosystems that are crucial to sustaining human health and climate resiliency. Direct warfare inherently involves the destruction of the environment, through bombings and boots-on-the-ground invasions that destroy the land and infrastructure. In the Gaza Strip, an area that suffered three major Israeli military assaults between 2008 and 2014. Israel’s bombing campaigns targeted sewage treatment and power facilities, leaving 97% of Gaza’s freshwater contaminated by saline and sewage, and therefore unfit for human consumption. In Yemen, the Saudi-led bombing campaign has created a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe, with more than 2,000 cases of cholera now being reported each day. In Iraq, environmental toxins left behind by the Pentagon’s devastating 2003 invasion include depleted uranium, which has left children living near US bases with an increased risk of congenital heart disease, spinal deformities, cancer, leukemia, cleft lip and missing or malformed and paralyzed limbs.
6. Climate change is a “threat multiplier” that makes already dangerous social and political situations even worse. In Syria, the worst drought in 500 years led to crop failures that pushed farmers into cities, exacerbating the unemployment and political unrest that contributed to the uprising in 2011. Similar climate crises have triggered conflicts in other countries across the Middle East, from Yemen to Libya. As global temperatures continue to rise, there will be more ecological disasters, more mass migrations and more wars. There will also be more domestic armed clashes—including civil wars—that can spill beyond borders and destabilize entire regions. The areas most at risk are sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South, Central and Southeast Asia.
7. US sabotages international agreements addressing climate change and war. The US has deliberately and consistently undermined the world’s collective efforts to address the climate crisis by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and speeding the transition to renewable energy. The US refused to join the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord was the latest example of this flagrant disregard for nature, science, and the future. Similarly, the US refuses to join the International Criminal Court that investigates war crimes, violates international law with unilateral invasions and sanctions, and is withdrawing from nuclear agreements with Russia. By choosing to prioritize our military over diplomacy, the US sends the message that “might makes right” and makes it harder to find solutions to the climate crisis and military conflicts.
8. Mass migration is fueled by both climate change and conflict, with migrants often facing militarized repression. A 2018 World Bank Group report estimates that the impacts of climate change in three of the world’s most densely populated developing regions—sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America—could result in the displacement and internal migration of more than 140 million people before 2050. Already, millions of migrants from Central America to Africa to the Middle East are fleeing environmental disasters and conflict. At the US border, migrants are locked in cages and stranded in camps. In the Mediterranean, thousands of refugees have died while attempting dangerous sea voyages. Meanwhile, the arms dealers fuelling the conflicts in these regions are profiting handsomely from selling arms and building detention facilities to secure the borders against the refugees.
9. Militarized state violence is leveled against communities resisting corporate-led environmental destruction. Communities that fight to protect their lands and villages from oil drills, mining companies, ranchers, agribusiness, etc. are often met with state and paramilitary violence. We see this in the Amazon today, where indigenous people are murdered for trying to stop clear-cutting and incineration of their forests. We see it in Honduras, where activists like Berta Caceres have been gunned down for trying to preserve their rivers. In 2018, there were 164 documented cases of environmentalists murdered around the world. In the US, the indigenous communities protesting plans to build the Keystone oil pipeline in South Dakota were met by police who targeted the unarmed demonstrators with tear gas, bean-bag rounds, and water cannons—intentionally deployed in below-freezing temperatures. Governments around the world are expanding their state-of-emergency laws to encompass climate-related upheavals, perversely facilitating the repression of environmental activists who have been branded as “eco-terrorists” and who are subjected to counterinsurgency operations.
10. Climate change and nuclear war are both existential threats to the planet. Catastrophic climate change and nuclear war are unique in the existential threat they pose to the very survival of human civilization. The creation of nuclear weapons—and their proliferation–was spurred by global militarism, yet nuclear weapons are rarely recognized as a threat to the future of life on this planet. Even a very “limited” nuclear war, involving less than 0.5% of the world’s nuclear weapons, would be enough to cause catastrophic global climate disruption and a worldwide famine, putting up to 2 billion people at risk. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set its iconic Doomsday Clock to 2 minutes to midnight, showing the grave need for the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The environmental movement and the anti-nuke movement need to work hand-in-hand to stop these threats to planetary survival.
To free up billions of Pentagon dollars for investing in critical environmental projects and to eliminate the environmental havoc of war, movements for a livable, peaceful planet need to put “ending war” at the top of the “must do” list.
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For a full understanding of the intersection between war and the climate, read Gar Smith’s War and Environmental Reader.
|October 2, 2019||
We Need Peace In The Middle East
by John Scales Avery, in World, Countercurrents.org
We need solidarity to face future stress
Stress can produce conflict. For example shortages of food or water can lead to regional wars. But wars only make original problems worse. Today the world is facing a number of severe problems, and solidarity will be needed to minimize the suffering with which we and future generations are threatened. The problems include shortages of fresh water, rising temperatures due to climate change, and food insecurity. These problems are especially acute in the Middle East, a region that is already torn by bitter conflicts and wars. In order to successfully minimize suffering, it is vital that peace be achieved in the Middle East. Let us look at some of the problems in detail:
Shortages of fresh water
It is estimated that two thirds of the world’s peoples currently live under water stress for at least one month each year. Half a billion people now suffer from water shortages and stress for the entire year. Half of the world’s large cities are currently plagued by water scarcity, and the situation is expected to get worse.
Under many desert areas of the world are deeply buried water tables formed during glacial periods when the climate of these regions was wetter. These regions include the Middle East and large parts of Africa. Water can be withdrawn from such ancient reservoirs by deep wells and pumping, but only for a limited amount of time.
In oil-rich Saudi Arabia, petroenergy is used to drill wells for ancient water and to bring it to the surface. Much of this water is used to irrigate wheat fields, and this is done to such an extent that Saudi Arabia exports wheat. The country is, in effect, exporting its ancient heritage of water, a policy that it may, in time, regret.
Lethal heat events
A new study by C. Mora et al., “Global Risk of Deadly Heat”, published in Nature: Climate Change, on 19 June, 2017, has warned that up to 75% of the world’s population could face deadly heat waves by 2100 unless greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly controlled. The following is an excerpt from the article:
“Based on the climatic conditions of those lethal heat events [studied], we identified a global threshold beyond which daily mean surface air temperature and relative humidity become deadly. Around 30% of the world’s population is currently exposed to climatic conditions exceeding this deadly threshold for at least 20 days a year.
“By 2100, this percentage is projected to increase to 48% under a scenario with drastic reductions
of greenhouse gas emissions and 74% under a scenario of growing emissions. An increasing threat to human life from excess heat now seems almost inevitable, but will be greatly aggravated if greenhouse gases are not considerably reduced.”
Unless efforts are made to stabilize and ultimately reduce global population, there is a serious threat that climate change, population growth, and the end of the fossil fuel era could combine to produce a large-scale famine by the middle of the 21st century.
As drought reduces food production, as groundwater levels fall in China, India, the Middle East and the United States; and as high-yield modern agriculture becomes less possible because fossil fuel inputs are lacking, the 800 million people who are currently undernourished may not survive at all.
According to a report presented to the Oxford Institute of Economic Policy by Sir Nicholas Stern on 31 January, 2006, areas likely to lose up to 30% of their rainfall by the 2050’s because of climate change include much of the United States, Brazil, the Mediterranean region, Eastern Russia and Belarus, the Middle East, Southern Africa and Southern Australia.
Modern agriculture has become highly dependent on fossil fuels, especially on petroleum and natural gas. This is especially true of production of the high-yield grain varieties introduced in the Green Revolution, since these require especially large inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation.
Today, fertilizers are produced using oil and natural gas, while pesticides are synthesized from petroleum feedstocks, and irrigation is driven by fossil fuel energy. Thus agriculture in the developed countries has become a process where inputs of fossil fuel energy are converted into food calories. Therefore there is a threat that the end of the fossil fuel era may produce a very large-scale famine.
The end of the fossil fuel era
The fossil fuel era is ending. The extraction and use of petroleum and natural gas must certainly end within a century because these resources will be exhausted within a hundred years. However, we must remember that human society and the biosphere are threatened by the existential risk of catastrophic climate change unless immediate steps are taken to stop the extraction an burning of fossil fuels. Therefore, one way or another, the fossil fuel era will end. On hopes, for the sake of future generations, that it will end very quickly. The end of the fossil fuel era will have an especially great impact on the Middle East because so many economies of the region are based on oil. Ways must be found to diversify these economies.
Steps towards peace in the Middle East
One of the most important steps towards peace in the Middle East would be to guarantee the security of all the peoples and countries of the region. Perhaps a coalition of the United States, the European Union, Russia and China could act as guarantors.
A nuclear-free Middle East would be highly desirable, but difficult to achieve.
Palistinians who wish to leave Israel or Lebanon should be allowed to do so, and they should be welcomed by the Arab states of the region, where jobs for them should be provided.
These steps could help the Middle East to achieve peace, and peace is urgemtly needed so that the serious future problems mentioned above can be faced with solidarity.
Books and articles on global problems
Many freely downloadable articles and books on global problems can be found on the following two links:
Please circulate the links to your friends and contacts who might be interested.
John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist at the University of Copenhagen. He is noted for his books and research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. His 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution set forth the view that the phenomenon of life, including its origin, evolution, as well as human cultural evolution, has its background situated in the fields of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Since 1990 he has been the Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Between 2004 and 2015 he also served as Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy. He founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and was for many years its Managing Editor. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (19881997).
|October 4, 2019||
Is Collapse of Our Civilization Unavoidable?
by Saral Sarkar , in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
The question put above should not surprise anybody who is informed about the state of the world today. In the past, other civilizations have collapsed or withered away. So our civilization too may not be able to avoid that fate. Currently, this possibility is being associated with global warming,1 But even earlier, the end of the current civilization was speculated on in association with the discovery of limits to growth. With this essay, I am adding my two cents to the discussion.
The Political-Economic Difficulties in Solving the Problem
But I have strong doubts. Our prevailing political-economic system, that today seems to be unalterable, is the big obstacle to solving the problem. The optimists say, we only need to have the will to do the necessary things. But that is only theory. The million Dollar question is: will humanity be able to develop the strong will to take the difficult and complex measures necessary for stopping warming in the given narrow timeframe, i.e. by 2030? We must delve a little deeper in the matter, in order to judge whether that, in reality, would also be possible.
I = P x A x T
(Where I stands for total ecological Impact, of which climate change is only a major part, P for population, A for affluence, and T for technology). That means the more the population grows, the more affluence we achieve, and the more we use sophisticated technologies, the more we impact adversely on our environment.
The Gloomy Perspective
Against this background, is there any reason to be optimistic? The phylogenetic (i.e. innate) behavior patterns of us humans were formed (as those of all animals) by the processes of our biological evolution, the most important of which have been struggle for survival and survival of the fittest. There is not much room there for altruism. Yet, we are now being called upon to (decide to) do things that totally go against the grain of this genetic inheritance: As individuals, we should not act only in our own individual interest, not even only in the interest of our identity group (nation, tribe, ethnic group), but also and primarily in the interest of the whole humanity, and the rest of nature (other animal and plant species) to boot. And we should not even act only in the interest of the currently living generations of humanity, but also in the interest of the future generations thereof. Our politicians should not strive for power, but only desire to serve the people and the future generations. Our economic policies should no longer be oriented toward continuous economic growth, but, on the contrary, toward a contracting (degrowing) economy. We should no longer seek joie de vivre in more consumption of luxury goods and services, but in sacrificing standard of living we are used to. We should e.g. drastically reduce air travel and use, instead of cars, bicycles and boats for travel. In sum, we should drastically reduce use of scarce resources, especially of fossil fuels, the very basis of affluence in our current civilization. Is all that humanly possible at all? Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, a famous German author on the subject, wrote in 1989: “To tell Europeans, Americans, and Japanese that they should wear sackcloth and ashes and forgo prosperity, is a strategy condemned to failure.”2a
If at all possible, it will, in any circumstance, be extremely difficult. Firstly, climate change is a global phenomenon. Though mainly caused by the industrial societies, in the recent decades, all countries have been contributing to it, more or less. It is a typical “tragedy of the commons” situation,3 the commons being here the global atmosphere. We know how difficult it was to achieve the Paris Accord on climate change (2015). India, e.g., resisted accepting any cut in its CO2 emission and had to be pressured by other powers to do so.
Already since the mid1970s, it is clear to discerning people that there are limits to economic growth. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen called the one-off availability of stocks of non-renewable energy sources and other minerals in low-entropy state “the limited dowry of mankind’s existence on earth”. He concluded in 1971:
“Even with a constant population and a constant flow per capita of mined resources, mankind’s dowry will ultimately be exhausted if the career of the human species is not brought to an end earlier by other factors.”6
But politicians and experts, like ostriches, refused to heed their warnings, even pushed back with caviling. Frustrated, Georgescu-Roegen wrote:
“Will mankind listen to any program that implies a constriction of its addiction to exosomatic comfort? Perhaps the destiny of man is to have a short, but fiery, exciting and extravagant life rather than a long, uneventful and vegetative existence. Let other species – the amoebas, for example, – which have no spiritual ambitions, inherit an earth still bathed in plenty of sunshine.”7
This pessimistic but realistic perspective of the 1970s was mainly based on the realization of the limitedness and exhaustibility of non-renewable resources, especially of energy resources. However, for the time being, the danger of sky-rocketing crude oil prices as a result of “peak oil” has been averted through the development of “fracking” technology that opened up shale oil deposits for exploitation. But even that would not save this civilization from the growing resource problems. Today, however, the greatest danger is coming from global warming.
In the light of the analysis presented above, it seems that end of history in Fukuyama’s optimistic sense – worldwide proliferation of a quasi-steady-state liberal-democratic capitalism – will not materialize. What we are observing today is rather the impending end of history in the sense of collapse of our present civilization followed by centuries of chaos, wars, and destruction. But that does not mean that humans as a species would soon become extinct, as the movement Extinction Rebellion seems to suggest. Our present one is not the only possible civilization. No, humans are a tough and intelligent species. In its history, this species has survived some earlier climate changes. And, as for civilization, there have been several ever since humans transitioned from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a sedentary agricultural one. So, in the future too, after the collapse of the present one, a different civilization could be possible, which, hopefully, could be made more peaceful, more ecological and more social.
“We are not fully predetermined by our instincts. We are capable of controlling our nature through culture. … What is decisive is that we are the first creatures that can set goals for themselves, and thus give our life a meaning. By doing this, we, of course, do not free ourselves from [our] nature, but we actively enter into new situations, in which new conditions of [evolutionary-biological] selection act upon us.” 8
But Frans de Waal, famous primatologist and human-ethologist, claims that we do not have to wait for new conditions of selection to arise that would affect our behavior pattern and make it appropriate for a better and just society. Counter to the assumption that animals (so also humans)9 are inherently selfish, he has on several occasions observed in several animals of different species facets of altruism, viz. cooperativeness, empathy, helpfulness etc. He believes, contrary to the narrow understanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution, also these traits of behavior are innate in many mammalian species including humans, part of their phylogenetic inheritance. They have always been among the conditions of survival of these species. We can then also conclude that the phylogenetic foundations for an ecological and better, i.e. more humane, civilization already exist. We only have to set these goals for ourselves.
For reasons described above, just setting these goals may be, in practical-political terms, very difficult. But, at least on paper, a part of them has already been set, long ago – e.g. in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the UN (1948) and in various constitutions of individual states.
This part has also been realized to some extent in some countries, as evidenced e.g. by the compassionate or tolerating reception of political and war refugees as well as illegal migrants in some European countries such as Germany, Sweden etc. Such receptions have also been observed in poorer countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Kenya, Tanzania etc.
1. For the most detailed account, see:
2a. Weizsäcker, Ernst Ulrich von (1989: 14) Erdpolitik. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
Sarkar, Saral (1999) Eco-Socialism or Eco-Capitalism? London: Zed Books.
8a. Deschner, Karlheinz (ed.) (1990) Woran ich glaube, Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn.
de Waal, Frans (2010) The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Saral Sarkar was born in 1936 in West Bengal, India. After graduating from the University of Calcutta, he studied German language and literature for 5 years in India and Germany. From 1966 to 1981, Sarkar taught German at the Max Mueller Bhavan (Goethe Institute), Hyderabad, India. Sarkar is living in Germany since 1982. He is the author of 5 political books(see list in Wikipedia/German) that have appeared in English, German, Chinese, Japanese and (in internet for free downloading) French and Spanish. Sarkar has also published many articles and essays in several journals in India, USA, Germany, UK, Holland, China, Spain. He also writes regularly in two blogs of his own (see Wikipedia/German).
|October 18, 2019||
US-China “Trade’’ War? No Way. Only The Defeat Of Turbo-Capitalism
by Andre Vltchek, in World, Countercurrents.org
It is very popular these days to talk and write about the “trade war” between the United States and China. But is there really one raging? Or is it, what we are witnessing, simply a clash of political and ideological systems: one being extremely successful and optimistic, the other depressing, full of dark cynicism and nihilism?
In the past, West used to produce almost everything. While colonizing the entire planet (one should just look at the map of the globe, between the two world wars), Europe and later the United States, Canada and Australia, kept plundering all the continents of natural resources, holding hundreds of millions of human beings in what could be easily described as ‘forced labor’, often bordering on slavery.
Under such conditions, it was very easy to be ‘number one’, to reign without competition, and to toss around huge amounts of cash, for the sole purpose of indoctrinating local and overseas ‘subjects’ on topics such as the ‘glory’ of capitalism, colonialism (open and hidden), and Western-style ‘democracy’.
It is essential to point out that in the recent past,the global Western dictatorship (and that included the ‘economic system) used to have absolutely no competition. Systems that were created to challenge it, were smashed with the most brutal, sadistic methods. One only needs recall invasions from the West to the young Soviet Union, with the consequent genocide and famines. Or other genocides in Indochina, which was fighting its wars for independence, first against France, later against the United States.
Times changed. But Western tactics haven’t.
There are now many new systems, in numerous corners of the world. These systems, some Communist, others socialist or even populist, are ready to defend their citizens, and to use the natural resources to feed the people, and to educate, house and cure them.
No matter how popular these systems are at home, the West finds ways to demonize them, using its well-established propaganda machinery. First, to smear them and then, if they resist, to directly liquidate them.
As before, during the colonial era, no competition has been permitted. Disobedience is punishable by death.
Naturally, the Western system has not been built on excellence, hard work and creativity, only. It was constructed on fear, oppression and brutal force. For centuries, it has clearly been a monopoly.
Only the toughest countries, like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or Cuba, have managed to survive, defending they own cultures, and advancing their philosophies.
To the West, China has proved to be an extremely tough adversary.
With its political, economic, and social system, it has managed to construct a forward-looking,optimistic and extraordinarily productive society. Its scientific research is now second to none. Its culture is thriving. Together with its closest ally, Russia, China excels in many essential fields.
That is precisely what irks, even horrifies the West.
For decades and centuries, Europe and the United States have not been ready to tolerate any major country, which would set up its own set of rules and goals.
China refuses to accept the diktat from abroad. It now appears to be self-sufficient, ideologically, politically, economically and intellectually. Where it is not fully self-sufficient, it can rely on its friends and allies. Those allies are, increasingly, located outside the Western sphere.
Is China really competing with the West? Yes and no. And often not consciously.
It is a giant; still the most populous nation on earth. It is building, determinedly, its socialist motherland (applying “socialism with the Chinese characteristics” model). It is trying to construct a global system which has roots in the thousands of years of its history (BRI – Belt and Road Initiative, often nicknamed the “New Silk Road”).
Its highly talented and hardworking, as well as increasingly educated population, is producing, at a higher pace and often at higher quality than the countries in Europe, or the United States. As it produces, it also, naturally, trades.
This is where the ‘problem’ arises. The West, particularly the United States, is not used to a country that creates things for the sake and benefit of its people. For centuries, Asian, African and Latin American people were ordered what and how to produce, where and for how much to sell the produce. Or else!
Of course, the West has never consulted anyone. It has been producing what it (and its corporations) desired. It was forcing countries all over the world, to buy its products. If they refused, they got invaded, or their fragile governments (often semi-colonies, anyway) overthrown.
The most ‘terrible’ thing that China is doing is: it is producing what is good for China, and for its citizens.
That is, in the eyes of the West, unforgiveable!
In the process, China ‘competes’. But fairly: it produces a lot, cheaply, and increasingly well. The same can be said about Russia.
These two countries are not competing maliciously. If they were to decide to, they could sink the US economy, or perhaps the economy of the entire West, within a week.
But they don’t even think about it.
However, as said above, to just work hard, invent new and better products, advance scientific research, and use the gains to improve the lives of ordinary people (they will be no extreme poverty in China by the end of 2020) is seen as the arch-crime in London and Washington.
Why? Because the Chinese and Russian systems appear to be much better, or at least, simply better, than those which are reigning in the West and its colonies. And because they are working for the people, not for corporations or for the colonial powers.
And the demagogues in the West – in its mass media outlets and academia – are horrified that perhaps, soon, the world will wake up and see the reality. Which is actually already happening: slowly but surely.
To portray China as an evil country, is essential for the hegemony of the West. There is nothing so terrifying to London and Washington as the combination of these words: “Socialism/ Communism, Asian, success”. The West invents new and newer ‘opposition movements’, it then supports them and finances them, just in order to then point fingers and bark: “China is fighting back, and it is violating human rights”, when it defends itself and its citizens. This tactic is clear, right now, in both the northwest of the country, and in Honk Kong.
Not everything that China builds is excellent. Europe is still producing better cars, shoes and fragrances, and the United States, better airplanes. But the progress that China has registered during the last two decades, is remarkable. were it to be football, it is China 2: West1.
Most likely, unless there is real war, that in ten years, China will catch up in many fields; catch up, and surpass the West. Side by side with Russia.
It could have been excellent news for the entire world. China is sharing its achievements, even with the poorest of the poor countries in Africa, or with Laos in Asia.
The only problem is, that the West feels that it has to rule. It is unrepentant, observing the world from a clearly fundamentalist view. It cannot help it: it is absolutely, religiously convinced that it has to give orders to every man and woman, in every corner of the globe.
It is a tick, fanatical.Lately, anyone who travels to Europe or the United States will testify: what is taking place there is not good, even for the ordinary citizens. Western governments and corporations are now robbing even their own citizens. The standard of living is nose-diving.
China, with just a fraction of the wealth, is building a much more egalitarian society, although you would never guess so, if you exclusively relied on Western statistics.
So, “trade war” slogans are an attempt to convince the local and global public that “China is unfair”, that it is “taking advantage” of the West. President Trump is “defending” the United States against the Chinese ‘Commies’. But the more he “defends them”, the poorer they get. Strange, isn’t it?
While the Chinese people, Russian people, even Laotian people, are, ‘miraculously’, getting richer and richer. They are getting more and more optimistic.
For decades, the West used to preach ‘free trade’, and competition. That is, when it was in charge, or let’s say, ‘the only kid on the block’.
In the name of competition and free trade, dozens of governments got overthrown, and millions of people killed.
What is China suppose to do? Frankly, what?
Should it curb its production, or perhaps close scientific labs? Should it consult the US President or perhaps British Prime Minister, before it makes any essential economic decision? Should it control the exchange rate of RMB, in accordance with the wishes of the economic tsars in Washington? That would be thoroughly ridiculous, considering that (socialist/Communist) China will soon become the biggest economy in the world, or maybe it already is.
There is all that abstract talk, but nothing concrete suggested. Or is it like that on purpose?
Could it be that the West does not want to improve relations with Beijing?
On September 7, 2019, AP reported:
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow compared trade talks with China on Friday to the U.S. standoff with Russia during the Cold War…
“The stakes are so high, we have to get it right, and if that takes a decade, so be it,” he said.
Kudlow emphasized that it took the United States decades to get the results it wanted with Russia. He noted that he worked in the Reagan administration: “I remember President Reagan waging a similar fight against the Soviet Union.”
Precisely! The war against the Soviet Union was hardly a war for economic survival of the United States. It was an ideological battle, which the United States, unfortunately won, because it utilized both propaganda and economic terror (the arms race and other means).
Now, China is next on the list, and the White House is not even trying to hide it.
But China is savvy. It is beginning to understand the game. And it is ready, by all means, to defend the system which has pulled almost all its citizens out of misery, and which could, one day soon, do the same for the rest of the world.
[First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook –a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences]
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are China and Ecological Civilization with John B. Cobb, Jr., Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter. His Patreon
|October 19, 2019||
Climate Change: A People-Centered Approach
by Daisaku Ikeda, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
“That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it,” observed Aristotle, highlighting an all-too-common human tendency. His warning is still relevant today, especially in our fight against climate change.
The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, is an international framework to strengthen efforts to mitigate global warming. However, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres warns, “climate change is moving faster than our efforts to address it,” and is posing a threat to the very survival of humankind. This year alone has seen strong heat waves sweeping over Europe and India, and record high temperatures in the Arctic region including Alaska and Siberia.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the long-term trend of rising global temperatures is undeniably related to many of the extreme weather events seen all over the world, and this is likely to continue for some time.
As the phrases climate crisis and climate emergency ring in our ears more and more, the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 will take place in New York on September 23. Our world stands at a crucial crossroads: Will governments be able to step up their concerted efforts to reduce the causes of global warming such as greenhouse gas emissions, and effectively respond to the impact of rising temperatures including loss and damage caused by extreme weather?
The rising sea levels due to the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, as well as heat waves, torrential rain and other extreme weather events have had devastating effects on economies and businesses. Moreover, the effects of climate change are driving more and more people into forced displacement.
The Toda Peace Institute, which I founded in 1996, has been working in recent years on a research program on Climate Change and Conflict that focuses on forced migration. The research has highlighted the extremely grave situation that the people of the Pacific Islands are facing. Affected by rising sea levels, people and communities in the region are being forced to consider relocation, while little attention has been given to what this means to them emotionally and spiritually.
To many Pacific Island societies, one’s ancestral land is like a mother. Being forced to move from the land to which one is deeply connected is almost equivalent to losing one’s fundamental identity. Ontological security that our native land provides cannot be replaced by material security guaranteed by resettlement to a new site. The research program urges that such inseparable connections between people and their lands be included as a vital perspective in planning action to combat climate change.
I am reminded of the Buddhist teaching of the Four Views of the Sal Grove, which illustrates how differences in people’s mental or spiritual state or perspective will cause them to see the same thing in completely different ways.
For example, the sight of the same forest might inspire one person to be moved by its natural beauty and another to calculate its economic value. The problem is that what is missing in one’s perspective will also be completely lacking in one’s overall worldview.
Consequently, the loss of something irreplaceably precious to a certain community can cause great suffering and deprivation without even being noticed by the overwhelming majority of people.
As we develop responses to climate change challenges, we must consider and incorporate the needs and perspectives of those who are affected by the impact of global warming around the world and who are also vulnerable to gender inequalities and other forms of structural discrimination, rather than simply focusing on economic costs that are more easily quantified.
In this regard, I hope that the leaders of governments who will be attending the Climate Action Summit in New York will reexamine the way they engage with the world, and strengthen collaborative action through their deliberations on global warming challenges.
In order to powerfully advance the Paris Agreement, they must take the initiative to find ways to cut greenhouse gases in every sector from power generation and transportation to food production and distribution, as well as finding ways to increase carbon dioxide absorption, including the planting of trees.
As part of the lead-up to the Summit, the UN Climate Youth Summit will take place on September 21, bringing together young people from around the world.
It is certainly not an easy task to halt global warming. But if we take youth initiatives seriously as a starting point from which to develop a hope-inspiring scenario that engages more people to take action, I believe it will certainly be possible to open a way to build a sustainable global society. Indeed the fate of humanity in this century rests on our relentless efforts to follow the lead of our youth in this respect.
Daisaku Ikeda is a Budhist philosopher, peace builder and educator
|October 21, 2019||
The Far Right’s War on Culture
by John Feffer, in World, Countercurrents.org
The far right is on a roll. Just a few years ago, liberals and conservatives would have considered its recent political victories a nightmare scenario. Right-wing extremists have won elections in the United States, Brazil, Hungary, India, and Poland. They pushed through the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. In the most recent European Parliament elections, far-right parties captured the most votes in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Hungary.
Sure, Trump is being impeached, Brexit is a mess, and the far right in Austria and Italy have suffered recent setbacks. Still, looking at the bigger picture, it’s hard not to conclude that such extremists have acquired the sort of mainstream legitimacy across the planet that they haven’t enjoyed in nearly a century.
What’s worse, those electoral victories obscure an even deeper, potentially far more influential success — in the world of storytelling. The radical right has developed a global narrative that, by uniting virulent racists and commonplace conservatives, mass shooters and populist politicians, is already injecting fringe ideas into mainstream culture.
Admittedly, it’s not a story that has either universal appeal or will win any literary awards. Still, by telling it over and over again in different languages to a growing number of listeners, the far right is having a profound impact on global culture. In many places, it may already be winning the crucial battle for hearts and minds.
The radical right’s story is rooted in the most basic plot of all: us versus them. Its main nemesis is determined, so the tale goes, to storm the battlements of the “civilized world” and, in what’s called a “great replacement,” oust its innocent inhabitants. Since this isn’t the Middle Ages, the evil adversary isn’t deploying siege engines or an army of pillagers. Its tactics are more insidious: taking over institutions from the inside, infiltrating culture, and worst of all birthing lots of babies.
But who exactly are the pronouns in this story? The idea of “the great replacement” is based on the fantasy that “they” (especially migrants and Muslims) are intent on replacing “us” (whites, Christians). Some versions of the narrative have an anti-Semitic slant as well, with Jews lurking in the shadows of this fiendish plot. For racists, the Others, of course, have darker complexions. For Islamophobes, the outsiders practice the wrong religion.
If you’re not a member of the far right, if you don’t subscribe to its YouTube channels or follow its burgeoning Twitter accounts, you might have only scant acquaintance with this story. But once you start looking for it, the great replacement turns out to be omnipresent.
Between 2012 and 2019, for instance, 1.5 million tweets in English, French, and German referenced it. You could hear an echo of the phrase at the Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, when neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other demonstrators chanted, “You will not replace us!” But the phrase really broke into the headlines in March 2019 when a mass shooter who opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people, titled the online manifesto he prepared for the occasion, “The Great Replacement.”
By now, it’s become alarmingly clear that an increasing number of people are taking this bizarre, historically deficient, and thoroughly warped story to heart.
Once Upon a Time
At first glance, the man who came up with the idea of the “great replacement” might not seem like your usual suspect. Renaud Camus was a radical student demonstrator in Paris in 1968 and in 1981 voted for socialist Francois Mitterrand for president of France. A noted poet and novelist, he published books on his gay identity that attracted accolades from the likes of intellectual Roland Barthes and poet Allen Ginsberg. By the early 2000s, however, Camus had begun to outline a new philosophy that distinguished between “faux” or false French (immigrants or their children) and real French (those who had lived in the country for many generations). In 2010, he published a book entitled Le Grand Remplacement bemoaning the prospects of a France and a Europe transformed by immigration.
Camus’s work became the foundational text for a growing movement called Generation Identity, a modernized version of white nationalism that has influenced the alt-right in the United States, gained momentum on the Internet, and become a global phenomenon. The “identitarians” embraced Renaud Camus and spread his ideas in a virtual echo chamber all their own. “The playing field is not level,” points out Julia Ebner of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. The far right now has a striking “advantage in terms of algorithms of social media favorable for spreading conspiracy theories and potentially harmful and inciting content.”
And keep in mind that it’s not just explicit racists and Islamophobes who are pushing this meme. A softer version, embraced by mainstream conservatives, transposes the racial anxiety at the heart of the Great Replacement into a cultural key. “Our civilization,” it claims, is now at risk. French culture must be preserved. European civilization is being undermined. The American way of life is endangered. “Africa wants to kick down our door and Brussels is not defending us,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in 2018. “Europe is under invasion already and they are watching with their hands in the air.”
This isn’t a new story. It was so prevalent in the 1920s that F. Scott Fitzgerald lampooned the idea in his famed novel The Great Gatsby when he put such arguments in the mouth of one of his characters. “If we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged,” Tom Buchanan says over dinner in the first chapter. “It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”
Buchanan was then echoing arguments in well-known books like The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant (1916) and Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920). Such arguments would take firm root in Europe as well. Adolf Hitler, for instance, called Grant’s book “my bible.” The Nazis, of course, didn’t just impose immigration controls to ensure the supremacy of the white race. They took Gatsby, Grant, and Stoddard to their logical, genocidal conclusion.
In the wake of the defeat of Nazism, Italian fascism, and Japanese racism in World War II, a global consensus emerged, shared by capitalists and communists alike, that the extreme version of the replacement story had been consigned to the trash bin of history. In the West, the political center would eventually sign on to some variant of multiculturalism in which immigration became an integral part of civilization, not antithetical to it.
The end of the Cold War, however, brought an end to this consensus. Communism was effectively over and union membership declining. Liberal parties attracted to the Third Way politics of President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were abandoning their working-class base. In the industrialized world, economic globalization was creating greater insecurity among the middle class and the working poor. In this context, multiculturalism and immigrants became easy targets for a rising white nationalism. In the 1990s, the growing popularity of previously fringe politicians like Jörg Haider in Austria, Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky in Russia paved the way for future parties and movements that would far more vigorously break the anti-fascist taboos of the past.
In the 1920s, the far right had found an effective way to attract adherents by blaming all the ills of the nation on “degenerate races.” This story of racial eugenics united both conservatives like President Calvin Coolidge and conspiracy theorists like Grant and Stoddard. “The demographic replacement is a similar master frame that can unite both clear extremists and conservatives who might be worried about demographic change,” warns Matthew Feldman of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. “Once you add those two together you have potential majorities in many countries. They’ve found a winning formula. There’s nothing that I’ve seen that comes remotely close to countering that formula.”
Same Old Story
When war broke out in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, it was the first time that bloodletting on that scale had taken place in Europe since the end of World War II. The subsequent fragmentation of the country would also prove a giant step backward for the project of European integration. Here was a multicultural state, the first in line among the former Communist nations of Eastern Europe for membership in the European Community (later, the European Union or EU), that a set of Balkan politicians would tear apart thanks to political expediency, nationalist ideology, and economic arrogance.
At the time, the widespread ethnic cleansing that took place during the Yugoslav wars was generally seen as either a throwback to an earlier era of genocide (ancient hatreds) or a final bout of violence accompanying the end of the Cold War (temporary antagonisms). It was, in either of these scenarios, entirely backward looking.
By now, the Yugoslav successor states have indeed put those wars behind them, with Slovenia and Croatia even joining the EU. But the desire for ethnic purity has not disappeared, not in the Balkans or in Europe as a whole. Only recently, for instance, new walls have appeared in the Balkans — between North Macedonia and Greece, Slovenia and Croatia, Hungary and Serbia — this time to maintain greater homogeneity by keeping out migrants and refugees from the Greater Middle East and North Africa. Meanwhile, the EU is paying Turkey billions of dollars to stop more desperate Syrian refugees from heading for Europe, while investing resources in Libya aimed at preventing migrants and refugees from making their way across the Mediterranean. Fleeing war and poverty, those migrants and refugees have only grown in number as European sentiment against them has reached new heights.
The European far right has risen in the slipstream of such xenophobia. Buoyed by its electoral success, the far right now wants to take a further giant step that might indeed return Europe to the days of ethnic cleansing — not just keeping out immigrants but expelling ones already there. This policy of “remigration” is the active corollary of the great replacement.
For decades, the European right rejected multiculturalism, insisting on the full assimilation of all immigrants. Now, it has given up on assimilation entirely. The platform of the German far-right party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), for instance, reads: “Germany and Europe must put in place remigration programs on the largest possible scale.” Already the biggest opposition party in the German Bundestag, or parliament, the AfD similarly increased its representation in the European Parliament in 2019 and also surged dramatically in the states of the former East Germany in recent local elections. The AfD’s position on immigrants is particularly disturbing given that the Nazis, before they embarked on the Final Solution, promoted their own version of remigration by proposing to send Jews en masse to Madagascar.
Ideas like the great replacement and remigration, having percolated in the identitarian movement for close to two decades, have now circulated back to the states of the former Yugoslavia. The far right has found fertile ground in Serbia and in the Serbian regions of Bosnia. And mass murderers like Anders Breivik in Norway and the Christchurch shooter in New Zealand have drawn a straight line between their brutal acts and the ethnic cleansing supported by war criminals like Serbian politician Radovan KaradÅ¾iÄ‡ during the breakup of Yugoslavia. In this way, the proponents of the great replacement are keeping alive the spirit of the worst war Europe has experienced on its soil since World War II.
Tell Me Something Else
The obvious response to the far right’s great-replacement story, here and in Europe, is to promote more humane immigration and refugee policies and a more inclusive vision of society. But that story — along with celebrations of multiculturalism, nods to the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”), and the endless repetition of the EU’s official motto of “unity in diversity” — has not proven sufficiently compelling to those around the world anxious about their own slipping status in society.
A better story is needed: a story that somehow captures the same “us” versus “them” dynamic.
How about this: believe it or not, the great replacement is indeed actually happening, just not the way the far right imagines. We are about to be replaced by a desperate set of adversaries. This foe is crafty and able to get through nearly all our careful democratic defenses.
The difference with the far right’s narrative boils down to pronouns. The “us” in the counter-story I imagine is not a marginalized group of people. The us is all of us on a fast-heating planet.
As for the “them,” it’s tempting to follow the example of that other Camus — Nobel Prize-winning writer Albert Camus — when he equated fascists with rats in his novel The Plague. The far right and its mainstream collaborators, along with the energy extraction industry, the finance sector, and corrupt oligarchs, are certainly a form of pestilence, a “them” that needs to be countered. Since 1965, just 20 of the major fossil-fuel companies have produced a third of the greenhouse gas emissions sent into the atmosphere. And now they’re aided by Donald Trump and his top environmental and energy officials, intent as they are on heating the planet to the boiling point for their own profits, as well as similar figures around the world.
But here’s the thing, we don’t have to work hard to dehumanize the adversaries they’re letting loose on all of us because they aren’t human at all.
The list of “them” would, for instance, begin with a buzzing mosquito. After all, as a result of rising global temperatures, disease-bearing mosquitos are now spreading far beyond their normal range. That would include the mosquitos responsible for transmitting the Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses. Dengue fever, present in only 10 countries in the 1970s, can now be found in 120 of them. And there is no question that, as the planet heats, malaria-bearing mosquitos will return to the United States after having been eradicated nearly 70 years ago. Climate change may also produce new types of mosquitos that could be even more effective in transmitting disease.
Lest you think that the mosquito is hardly worth losing sleep over unless it’s buzzing around your tent at night, remember that this tiny creature may well be the deadliest adversary humankind has ever faced. In his new book The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator, Timothy Winegard argues that, as a result of the illnesses they’ve transmitted, mosquitos have killed 52 billion people, about half of everyone who has ever lived on the planet. This tiny creature, in other words, has proven a truly genocidal force.
It’s not just mosquitos, of course. The “them” that we’re going to find ourselves up against will include disease-bearing ticks, rats, and a range of crop-devouring insects. Such creatures are all, in essence, standing on the sidelines and cheering climate change on. Their gain, our loss: it’s no more complicated than that.
We don’t need an evil space invader to unite the planet in a common fight. The adversary is just above our heads and right beneath our feet. In combatting a pestilence that affects everyone, we can tell an inclusive story that can appeal even to former supporters of Donald Trump, Hungarian ruler Viktor Orbán, and others. The far right is all about drawing borders and excluding “undesirables.” They will always win at that game.
It’s time to flip the script. We are indeed in the fight of our lives. When it comes to the climate crisis, a great replacement does loom on the horizon. Humans and the civilization that goes with us may, it turns out, be all too replaceable. It’s time for everyone — and I mean everyone — to pull together, forget our superficial differences, and win this epic battle of us versus them.
John Feffer, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands and the director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. His latest novel is Frostlands, a Dispatch Books original and book two of his Splinterlands series.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.
|October 22, 2019||
Stop The Turkish Invasion Of Syria
by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance, in Imperialism, Countercurrents.org
The crisis in Syria has taken a new direction with the Turkish invasion into the Northeast ostensibly to push the Kurdish peoples out. The US has added to this crisis by its green light to Turkey to attack after using the Kurds as a proxy force in the battle against ISIS.
The US’ role in Syria and in the greater Middle East has been destructive throughout this century. The invasion and occupation of Iraq have left destruction and chaos. The illegal bombing of Libya and the brutal murder of its prime minister, Muammar al-Gaddafi, have created a failed state. The US’ alliance with Saudi Arabia in the war against Yemen has resulted in mass murder and destruction. The ongoing conflicts with Iran through illegal unilateral coercive measures (sanctions), regime change attempts, threats of war and military skirmishes have created more instability in the region. And, the US’ ‘special relationship’ with Israel has allowed continued ethnic cleansing and land theft from the Palestinians and has been a tool for instability in the region. The never-ending war in Afghanistan continues to cause destruction as the US remains even though it has been defeated.
These actions have resulted in more than a million deaths and mass migration, which has not only impacted the region but also Europe, causing political instability and the advance of right-wing, anti-immigrant forces. The Middle East was better off, more stable and wealthier before the disastrous US actions of this century. The illegal wars have cost the US trillions of dollars with no benefit. US policy has not served any positive purposes but has caused instability, conflict, and destruction. It is time for the US to get out of Syria and out of the Middle East.
Syria: A Major Defeat for the US and a Geopolitical Game Changer
The bi-partisans in Washington, DC and the foreign policy establishment are furious at Donald Trump for pulling out of the Kurdish region of Syria and allowing Turkey to invade. These groups were united when the US’ goal was removing President Assad from power, but with the culmination of this failed policy, there is political division.
Pepe Escobar describes Syria as the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam. It is a significant defeat, but US losses in Iraq and Afghanistan are in the running for the worst defeat since Vietnam. Escobar describes the failure “as a massive geopolitical game-changer” that strengthens Assad as he retakes control of Northeast Syria. Russia benefits as a guarantor for Syria and key player in the victory over US regime change. The losers are the United States and Kurds.
The US’ contribution to the current chaos and destruction precedes Trump. While the brutal attacks by Turkey in Syria are being blamed on Trump, in reality, they go back to President Obama. Max Blumenthal reports in The Grayzone that “many [of the Turkish fighters] were former members of the Free Syrian Army, the force once armed by the CIA and Pentagon and branded as ‘moderate rebels.’” Blumenthal cites a research paper published this October by the pro-government Turkish think tank, SETA: “Out of the 28 factions [in the Turkish mercenary force], 21 were previously supported by the United States, three of them via the Pentagon’s program to combat DAESH. Eighteen of these factions were supplied by the CIA ….” Further, the leader of this force is Salim Idriss, who hosted John McCain when the late senator made his infamous 2013 incursion into Syria.
The Turkish attack in Syria has been filled with ugly extreme violence that is causing outrage. Mercenaries are sawing the heads off of Kurdish fighters they have killed, a Syrian Kurdish legislator was pulled from her car and executed along with her driver, unarmed Kurdish captives were filmed as they were murdered, the corpse of a female Kurdish fighter was vandalized, ISIS captives were deliberately freed from unguarded prisons, and in a video message, one of the invading fighters promised mass ethnic cleansing if Kurds in the area refused to convert to his Wahhabi strain of Sunni Islam.
Ajamu Baraka points out that the US created the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), who were the good guys when they were overthrowing Assad, but have now been turned into the “Turkish supported FSA,” especially after the gruesome graphic videos of the Turkish invasion emerged. In reality, Baraka points out, “many of us knew, along with the CIA and most of the honest foreign policy community, that the FSA was always al-Qaeda’s Syria operation in the form of Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist militias.”
Blumenthal concludes: “Left out of the coverage of these horrors was the fact that none of them would have been possible if Washington had not spent several years and billions of dollars subsidizing Syria’s armed opposition.”
These recent events need to be viewed through the context of sixty years of on-again, off-again coups and regime change campaigns that have failed. Timber Sycamore, the regime change project of the Obama administration, was a “secret” plan that allowed the CIA to arm terrorists in Syria. Timber Sycamore, which included Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey working with the US, officially began in late 2012 and ended in failure in 2017. The secret program trained future ISIS members as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting Bashar al-Assad. The US was duplicitous and used terrorism as a tool as documented in the book “The Management of Savagery”.
When Obama’s regime change strategy failed, the US switched to occupying one-third of Syria, including the oil region in the Northeast. In January, Secretary of State Tillerson announced the US was creating a de facto Kurdish State there with a 30,000-strong Syrian Defense Force (SDF) troop, US air support, and eight new US bases. In April 2018, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced the US planned to maintain its illegal presence in Syria.
Obama’s effort to dominate Syria was rooted in the Bush-era. In 2001, former NATO commander Wesley Clark was on record stating that Syria was on a list of targeted nations to be toppled by the US. In 2002, former Secretary of State John Bolton said, in a speech titled “Beyond the Axis of Evil”, that Syria was among a handful of nations the US was targeting. The 2011 protests in Syria were quickly manipulated by the US and foreign powers who sought to destabilize Syria. CIA-backed Muslim Brotherhood assets were in place to snipe at both police and protesters when the demonstrations broke out and Saudia Arabia provided weapons to aid regime change.
Caitlan Johnstone points to more evidence that Syria was not an organic uprising but a foreign regime change effort from the beginning:
Even the Obama era regime change goal needs to be put in the context of over sixty years of the US trying to control Syria. The first coup attempt by the CIA after it’s creation was in Syria in 1949. Controlling Syria has been a consistent policy objective. CIA documents from 1986 describe how the US could remove the Assad family.
Each of Trump’s efforts to get out of Syria has been opposed by bipartisan war hawks. In March 2018, Trump tweeted that the US would soon be withdrawing from Syria. One month later Secretary of Defense Mattis told Congress the US was not withdrawing testifying, “We are continuing the fight, we are going to expand it and bring in more regional support.” In January, Trump called for withdrawal from Syria, which was met with a firestorm of opposition. He was outmaneuvered by war hawks in his administration and Congress.
There continues to be resistance to withdrawal today. The US is not leaving Syria but is merely moving troops from the Northeast to other areas. David Macilwain reports, “The truth of US intentions – to remain in Eastern Syria until they are driven out militarily – has now been emphasized by US Defence secretary Mark Esper. At a press conference where he confirmed the US intention to withdraw 1000 troops from Syria, when asked whether this meant from all of Syria he simply repeated what he had said –’from Northern Syria.’”
It is past time for the US to leave Syria and end its longterm desire to dominate the country. People in the United States and around the world must insist on the US obeying international law, which means the US must leave Syria as it has no legal grounds for being in that sovereign nation.
Kurds in Syria Negotiate Their Future With Damascus
Kurds, who live in Turkey, Syria, Iraq , and Iran, are often regarded as “the largest ethnic group without a state.” With the US withdrawal from Northeast Syria, the Kurds in Syria are now working with Damascus to repel the Turkish invasion and negotiate their future.
In mid-2012, Assad’s forces largely withdrew from the Kurdish area, and the battle against ISIS was left to the Kurdish militias: the YPG (People’s Protection Units) and the YPJ (Women’s Defense Forces), the autonomous women’s militias. When the Free Syrian Army failed, the US funded the Syrian Kurdish militias known as the Peoples Protection Unit using a new name, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The Kurdish never targeted the Syrian government but focused on ISIS.
The Kurdish Rojava cantons are a liberated area in Syria led by socialist-feminists and a population that makes decisions through local councils. Their economy is based on a cooperative model with thousands of co-ops, but private businesses are allowed. The co-ops are initiated and controlled by the communes, i.e. the community assembly structures. Their basic principle is the participation of everyone in production. In the words of a minister of economics: “If a single loaf of bread is manufactured in Rojava, everyone will have contributed to it.”
Their governing model is direct democracy governance without a state, built on local assemblies. There are multiple levels with neighborhood councils, District Councils and a People’s Council for the entire region. And there is also ‘Democratic Self-Administration,’ which is a more conventional government structure of legislative and executive bodies as well as municipal administration. These bodies are not limited to Kurds but open to all religions and ethnicities. Women hold 40 percent of leadership positions at all levels. Three leftist enclaves make up an area slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut.
Some see Rojava’s governance without hierarchy, patriarchy or capitalism as a model for the future of the Middle East and beyond, and as an antidote to capitalism. It is the Communalist Model of Democratic Confederalism, an adaptation of the ideas of the Zapatistas in Chiapas and the work of Murray Bookchin.
In Turkey, Kurds remain part of Turkey and “have formed a political party (Peoples Democratic Party – HDP), which unites progressives of all ethnicities. In the 2015 Turkish election, HDP emerged as the third most popular party and stopped Erdogan’s election domination.” The HDP opposes Turkey’s invasion of Syria.
Turkey is concerned that the Kurds will use the territory they’ve captured to establish an independent Kurdish state for the region’s 25 to 35 million Kurds, roughly 15 million of whom reside in Turkey. Four percent of Kurds reside in Syria, approximately 1.6 million people. Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in the region after Arabs, Persians, and Turks. After the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I, they were not granted a homeland.
Peace activists and popular movements around the world should be in solidarity with the Kurdish people’s desire for a semi-independent territory. A contiguous Kurdish state is an impossible dream and negotiation will be required by each population in the country where they reside.
US Out of Syria and Out of the Middle East
We agree with the US Peace Council, which urges “the US peace movement to organize a united national campaign in support of the Syrian people and demand the total withdrawal of all occupying forces from Syria. Leave Syria to the Syrian People!”
The movement’s first demand must be the US out of Syria and out of the Middle East because the US is not yet leaving Syria or the region. Reports indicate between 200 and 300 U.S. troops will remain at the southern Syrian outpost of Al-Tanf and 1,000 troops will shift into western Iraq adding to the more than 5,000 US troops in Iraq. US forces may conduct operations in Syria from Iraq.
On October 11, the US announced it was sending an additional 1,800 troops to Saudi Arabia. An additional 14,000 US troops have been deployed to the Middle East since spring, including more than 6,000 who are part of a naval strike group. The US is fighting in at least seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Niger, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
We must also be in solidarity with the Kurdish people and call for an end to the Turkish invasion of Syria. The Turkish invasion is already backfiring and people mobilizing against the invasion will lead to its retreat.
And, we must accept immigrants from Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan where migration crises have been caused by US wars. Rebuilding nations destroyed by the United States is a costly endeavor that the US owes to the region. These countries do not want the US meddling in their efforts so compensation must be made through the United Nations without any strings attached.
Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are directors of Popular Resistance
|October 22, 2019||
The Passions of Mankind
by John Scales Avery, in Book Review, Countercurrents.org
A new freely downloadable book
I would like to announce the publication of a book which discusses himan emotions from an evolutionary perspective. The book consists mainly of book chapters and articles that I have previously published, although some new material has been added. It can be frely downloaded and circulated from the following link:
Human emotions: An evolutionary paradox?
Today, our emotions seem to be driving us towards disaster. At first this seems to be a paradox. Our emotions have been produced by evolution, and Darwinian natural selection is supposed to produce traits that lead to survival, rather than to destruction. Examining the question more closely, we can notice that in our species, evolution is divided into two parts, genetic evolution, which proceeds very slowly, and cultural evolution, which moves with lightning-like speed, and is constantly accelerating.
On the time-scale of genetic evolution, it only took a moment for our ancestors to move from making cave-paintings to speculating on the existence of atoms in ancient Greece. In another moment, we had unleashed the terrible power of the atom. During this time our emotions did not change. We face the global problems created by today’s science and technology, and by the exponential growth of population and industry, with our poor cave-man’s brains and our anachronistic stone-age emotions.
Condorcet, Godwin and Malthus
The Enlightenment in Europe was a period of tremendous optimism. Summarizing the ideas of human progress that were current at the time, the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794) wrote an enormously optimistic book entitled “Esquisse d’un Tableau Historique des Progres de l’Esprit Humain”, or in English, “Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind”.
In England, William Godwin (1756-1836) wrote an equally optimistic book, “Political Justice”, in which he maintained that progress would soon produce a world with mechanized agriculture and material plenty in which humans would only need to work very few hours each day to gain their daily bread, the rest of their time being devoted to culture and mental improvement. The savage system of laws of Godwin’s time, in which stealing a handkerchief was punishable by hanging, would not be needed in the future, because in the midst of plenty, no one would be motivated to steal.
A debate between father and son
Thomas Robert Malthus (1755-1834) was introduced to these books by his father, Daniel Malthus, an intellectual English country gentleman and an enthusiastic supporter of the ideas of Condorcet and Godwin. Listening to his father, the thoughts of Thomas Robert Malthus turned to the rapid population growth which, as a clergyman, he had noticed in the records of births and deaths in his congregation. He told his father that all the benefits of progress would be eaten up by growing populations. Impressed by these arguments, Daniel Malthus urged his son to write them out and to publish them. The result was T.R. Malthus’ famous book on population, which he continued to revise an republish until the end of his life. Malthus’ refutation of Godwin’s utopia is particularly interesting.
The laws of nature and the passions of mankind
Malthus discussed William Godwin’s egalitarian utopia, which, he said, would be extremely attractive if only it could be achieved: “The system of equality which Mr. Godwin proposes”, Malthus wrote, “is, on the first view of it, the most beautiful and engaging which has yet appeared. A melioration of society to be produced merely by reason and conviction gives more promise of permanence than than any change effected and maintained by force. The unlimited exercise of private judgement is a doctrine grand and captivating, and has a vast superiority over those systems where every individual is in a manner the slave of the public.”
“The substitution of benevolence, as a master-spring and moving principle of society, instead of self-love, appears at first sight to be a consummation devoutly to be wished. In short, it is impossible to contemplate the whole of this fair picture without emotions of delight and admiration, accompanied with an ardent longing for the period of its accomplishment.”
“But alas!” Malthus continued, “That moment can never arrive…. The great error under which Mr. Godwin labours throughout his whole work is the attributing of almost all the vices and misery that prevail in civil society to human institutions. Political regulations and the established administration of property are, with him, the fruitful sources of all evil, the hotbeds of all the crimes that degrade mankind. Were this really a true state of the case, it would not seem a completely hopeless task to remove evil completely from the world; and reason seems to be the proper and adequate instrument for effecting so great a purpose.”
“But the truth is, that though human institutions appear to be, and indeed often are, the obvious and obtrusive causes of much misery in society, they are, in reality, light and superficial in comparison with those deeper-seated causes of evil which result from the laws of nature and the passions of mankind.”
The passions of mankind drive humans to reproduce, while the laws of nature set limits to the carrying capacity of the environment. Godwin’s utopia, if established, would be very favorable to the growth of population; and very soon the shortage of food would lead to its downfall, because of the overpowering force of population growth.
In “The Passions of Mankind”, I have tried to dscuss the impact of anachronistic human emotions on today’s world.
Other books and articles about global problems are on these links
I hope that you will circulate the links (as well as the link at the start of this article) to friends who might be interested.
John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist at the University of Copenhagen. He is noted for his books and research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. His 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution set forth the view that the phenomenon of life, including its origin, evolution, as well as human cultural evolution, has its background situated in the fields of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Since 1990 he has been the Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Between 2004 and 2015 he also served as Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy. He founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and was for many years its Managing Editor. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (19881997).
|October 30, 2019||
How Al-Baghdadi was not the Equivalent of Osama Bin Laden?
by Nauman Sadiq, in World, Countercurrents.org
Although President Trump claimed in his address to the American public after the killing of al-Baghdadi that he was a “bigger terrorist” than Osama bin Laden, fact of the matter is the Islamic State’s self-styled caliph was simply a nobody compared to Bin Laden.
As a Saudi citizen and belonging to the powerful Saudi-Yemeni clan of Bin Ladens, which has business interests all over the Middle East, Osama bin Laden was almost a royalty. He had so much clout even in the governments of Middle Eastern countries that he was treated like a “royal guest” by Pakistan’s military at the behest of the Saudi royal family for five years from 2006 right up to his death in 2011.
By comparison, even though he assumed the nom de guerre Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in fact Ibrahim Awad was simply a rural cleric in a mosque in Iraq’s Samarra before he assumed the title of the caliph of the Islamic State. As far as the impact of al-Baghdadi’s death is concerned, the real strength of the Islamic State lies in its professionally organized and decentralized Baathist command structure and superior weaponry provided to Syrian militants by the Western powers and the Gulf states during Syria’s proxy war.
Therefore, as far as the Islamic State militancy in Syria and Iraq is concerned, al-Baghdadi’s death will have no effect because he was simply a figurehead, though the Islamic State affiliates in the Middle East, North Africa and Af-Pak regions might be tempted to repudiate their nominal allegiance to the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State.
By contrast, the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011 had such an impact on the global terrorist movement that his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian cleric lacking the resources, charisma and lineage of his predecessor, couldn’t even mediate a leadership dispute between al-Baghdadi and al-Nusra Front’s leader al-Jolani.
Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, the chief of al-Nusra Front, emerged as one of the most influential militant leaders during the eight-year proxy war in Syria. In fact, since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in August 2011 to April 2013, the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front were a single organization that chose the banner of al-Nusra Front.
Although the current al-Nusra Front has been led by Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, he was appointed  as the emir of al-Nusra Front by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, in January 2012. Thus, al-Jolani’s Nusra Front is only a splinter group of the Islamic State, which split from its parent organization in April 2013 over a leadership dispute between the two organizations.
In August 2011, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was based in Iraq, began sending Syrian and Iraqi jihadists experienced in guerrilla warfare across the border into Syria to establish an organization inside the country. Led by a Syrian known as Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, the group began to recruit fighters and establish cells throughout the country. On 23 January 2012, the group announced its formation as Jabhat al-Nusra.
In April 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released an audio statement in which he announced that al-Nusra Front had been established, financed and supported by the Islamic State of Iraq. Al-Baghdadi declared that the two groups were merging under the name the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The leader of al-Nusra Front, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, issued a statement denying the merger and complaining that neither he nor anyone else in al-Nusra’s leadership had been consulted about it.
Al-Qaeda Central’s leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, tried to mediate the dispute between al-Baghdadi and al-Jolani but eventually, in October 2013, he endorsed al-Nusra Front as the official franchise of al-Qaeda Central in Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, however, defied the nominal authority of al-Qaeda Central and declared himself as the caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Keeping this background in mind, it becomes abundantly clear that a single militant organization operated in Syria and Iraq under the leadership of al-Baghdadi until April 2013, which chose the banner of al-Nusra Front, and that the current emir of the subsequent breakaway faction of al-Nusra Front, al-Jolani, was actually al-Baghdadi’s deputy in Syria.
Thus, the Islamic State operated in Syria since August 2011 under the designation of al-Nusra Front and it subsequently changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in April 2013, after which it overran Raqqa and parts of Deir al-Zor in the summer of 2013. And in January 2014, it overran Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Iraq and reached the zenith of its power when it captured Mosul in June 2014.
Excluding al-Baghdadi and a handful of his hardline Islamist aides, the rest of Islamic State’s top leadership was comprised of Saddam-era military and intelligence officials. According to a Washington Post report , hundreds of ex-Baathists constituted the top and mid-tier command structure of the Islamic State who planned all the operations and directed its military strategy.
Regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, despite a few minor discrepancies, Seymour Hersh has published the most credible account to-date of the execution of Bin Laden in his book and article titled: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden , which was published in the London Review of Books in May 2015.
According to Hersh, the initial, tentative plan of the Obama administration regarding the disclosure of the execution of Bin Laden to the press was that he had been killed in a drone strike in the Hindu Kush Mountains on the Afghan side of the border. But the operation didn’t go as planned because a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound and the whole town now knew that an operation is underway and several social media users based in Abbottabad live-tweeted the whole incident on Twitter.
Therefore, the initial plan was abandoned and the Obama administration had to go public within hours of the operation with a hurriedly cooked-up story. This fact explains so many contradictions and discrepancies in the official account of the story, the biggest being that the United States Navy Seals conducted a raid deep inside Pakistan’s territory on a garrison town without the permission of Pakistani authorities.
According to a May 2015 AFP report , Pakistan’s military sources had confirmed Hersh’s account that there was a Pakistani defector who had met several times with Jonathan Bank, the CIA’s then-station chief in Islamabad, as a consequence of which Pakistan’s intelligence disclosed Bank’s name to local newspapers and he had to leave Pakistan in a hurry in December 2010 because his cover was blown.
According to the inside sources of Pakistan’s military, after the 9/11 terror attack, the Saudi royal family had asked Pakistan’s military authorities as a favor to keep Bin Laden under protective custody, because he was a scion of a powerful Saudi-Yemeni Bin Laden family and it was simply inconceivable for the Saudis to hand him over to the US. That’s why he was found hiding in a spacious compound right next to Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad.
But once the Pakistani walk-in colonel, as stated in Seymour Hersh’s book and corroborated by the aforementioned AFP report, told then-CIA station chief in Islamabad, Jonathan Bank, that a high-value al-Qaeda leader had been hiding in a safe house in Abbottabad under the protective custody of Pakistan’s military intelligence, and after that when the CIA obtained further proof in the form of Bin Laden’s DNA through the fake vaccination program conducted by Dr. Shakil Afridi, then it was no longer possible for Pakistan’s military authorities to deny the whereabouts of Bin Laden.
In his book, Seymour Hersh has already postulated various theories that why it was not possible for Pakistan’s military authorities to simply hand Bin Laden over to the US, one being that the Americans wanted to catch Bin Laden themselves in order to gain maximum political mileage for then-President Obama’s presidential campaign slated for November 2012.
Here, let me only add that in May 2011, Pakistan had a pro-American People’s Party government in power. And since Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s military’s then army chief, and the former head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Shuja Pasha, were complicit in harboring Bin Laden, thus it cannot be ruled out that Pakistan’s military authorities might still had strong objections to the US Navy Seals conducting a raid deep inside Pakistan’s territory on a garrison town.
But Pakistan’s civilian administration under then-President Asif Ali Zardari persuaded the military authorities to order the Pakistan Air Force and air defense systems to stand down during the operation. Pakistan’s then-ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani’s role in this saga ruffled the feathers of Pakistan’s military’s top brass to the extent that Husain Haqqani was later implicated in a criminal case regarding his memo to Admiral Mike Mullen and eventually Ambassador Haqqani had to resign in November 2011, just six months after the Operation Neptune Spear.
Finally, although Seymour Hersh claimed in his account of the story that Pakistan’s military authorities were also on board months before the operation, let me clarify, however, that according to the inside sources of Pakistan’s military, only Pakistan’s civilian administration under the pro-American People’s Party government was on board, and military authorities, who were instrumental in harboring Bin Laden and his family for five years, were intimated only at the eleventh hour in order to preempt the likelihood of Bin Laden’s “escape” from the custody of his facilitators in Pakistan’s military intelligence apparatus.
|October 30, 2019||
Piketty Analysis Of Trumpism – Inequality & Populist Nativists Versus High Education Globalists
by Dr Gideon Polya , in World, Countercurrents.org
Economist Thomas Piketty has analyzed the rise of inequality-driven Trumpist populism and increasing support by ignorant and xenophobic poor people for the Right that serves the interests of the wealthy and opposes the Left that is paradoxically increasingly supported by high education and high income voters. Piketty’s “Brahmin Left versus the Merchant Right” analysis deals with France, the US and the UK but is relevant to Trumpist Brazil, Eastern Europe, Australia and BJP-ruled India .
The full title of Professor Piketty’s cogent numerical analysis is ”Brahmin Left versus the Merchant Right: rising inequality & the changing structure of political conflict (evidence from France, Britain and the US, 1948-2017)” . Piketty’s analysis includes numerous Figures that provide the evidential basis for his analytical propositions. Thomas Piketty is famous for his similarly evidence-based book “Capitalism in the Twenty First Century” that provided detailed quantitative data about the rise of massive inequalities of wealth and income in the world (especially in Europe and the Anglosphere) under a dominant neoliberal economic order [2, 3].
In “Capitalism in the Twenty First Century” Piketty argues that massive inequality is bad for economics (the poor cannot buy the good and services they produce) and bad for democracy ( Big Money buys public perception of reality and hence votes). Piketty’s solutions involve global transparency about wealth accumulation, and annual wealth taxes to enable movement towards closing the gap between ordinary Humanity and the One Percenters who now own half the wealth of the world [4, 5]. Thus according to Oxfam “[Its] report, Working for the Few, shows that the wealth of the world is divided in two: almost half going to the richest one per cent; the other half to the remaining 99 per cent” [4, 5]. Indeed France already has an annual wealth tax rising to 1%, and Islam has had an annual wealth tax of 2.5% (zakat) for 1,400 years .
Poverty kills and about 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year on Spaceship Earth with One Percenters in charge of the flight deck . It can be estimated that this Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust (1,500 million such deaths since 1950) could be halted through proper application of a 4% annual wealth tax that would bring all countries up to the per capita GDP of China and Cuba, countries that are poor (relative to European countries) but for which annual avoidable mortality from deprivation is zero (0) .
However, things are set to get far, far worse. Thus several recent reports collectively endorsed by thousands of expert scientists have warned that time is running out to save Humanity and the Biosphere from further catastrophic climate change and further massive biodiversity loss. Massive harm has already occurred due to continuing carbon pollution, population growth and economic growth and it is clear that zero growth in these areas is insufficient – there must be negative carbon pollution (atmospheric CO2 draw-down to about 300 ppm CO2 from the present disastrous 410 ppm CO2 ), negative population growth (a 50% population decline) and negative economic growth (a 50% economic degrowth with the First World bearing most of the burden) to halt and reverse this worsening disaster . Unless requisite action is taken the world faces a worsening Climate Genocide in which 10 billion will perish en route to a sustainable human population of merely 0.5-1.0 billion in 2100 [10- 13].
“Requisite action” has been succinctly summarized by Professor Stephen Hawking of 90-Nobel-Laureate University of Cambridge thus (2007, 2018): “We see great peril if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change” [14, 15]. A 2010 Open Letter by 255 members of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences, including11 Nobel Laureates, concluded: “Delay is not an option”  . The March 2009 Copenhagen Scientific Climate Change Conference concluded that “Inaction is inexcusable” [17, 18]. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently proposed a $75 per tonne CO2 Carbon Tax as the most efficient way of tackling the worsening Climate Emergency and estimated that if all G20 countries brought in a $75 per tonne CO2 Carbon Tax by 2030 then they would save what amounts to 4 million lives from air pollution death over the next 11 years . Trumpist and leading climate criminal G20 member Australia quickly said “No!” and as far as I know no G20 countries have said yes – inaction that if sustained would amount to passive mass murder of 4 million people over the coming decade, not to mention scores of millions of deaths from a worsening Climate Genocide .
The worsening Climate Emergency means that there must be greatly increased sharing of resources that are increasingly scarce from a sustainability perspective. Rational risk assessment by science-informed Ninety Nine Percenters would lead to rapid “requisite action” . However One Percenter domination of Mainstream media means that a significant proportion of the Ninety Nine Percenters have been convinced to paradoxically support an irrational Trumpist position, reject their own interests and support the egregiously greedy short-termism of the super-wealthy One Percenters. Thomas Piketty’s ”Brahmin Left versus the Merchant Right” provides hard data and hard analysis of this proletarian flight from reason and the rise of Trumpism. I describe the irrational, anti-science and xenophobic populism of Trumpism as Stupidity, Ignorance and Egregious Greed (SIEG as in Dr Strangelove and “Sieg Heil!”).
Piketty summarizes his lengthy, 180 page analysis thus: “Using post-electoral surveys from France, Britain and the US, this paper documents a striking long-run evolution in the structure of political cleavages. In the 1950s-1960s, the vote for left-wing (socialist-labour-democratic) parties was associated with lower education and lower income voters. It has gradually become associated with higher education voters, giving rise to a “multiple-elite” party system in the 2000s-2010s: high-education elites now vote for the “left”, while high-income/high-wealth elites still vote for the “right” (though less and less so). I argue that this can contribute to explain rising inequality and the lack of democratic response to it, as well as the rise of “populism”. I also discuss the origins of this evolution (rise of globalization/migration cleavage, and/or educational expansion per se) as well as future prospects: “multiple-elite” stabilization; complete realignment of the party system along a “globalists” (high-education, high-income) vs “nativists” (low-education, low-income) cleavage; return to class-based redistributive conflict (either from an internationalist or nativist perspective). Two main lessons emerge. First, with multi-dimensional inequality, multiple political equilibria and bifurcations can occur. Next, without a strong egalitarian-internationalist platform, it is difficult to unite low-education, low-income voters from all origins within the same party” .
Professor Thomas Piketty successively analyses this Educated Left versus Rich Right dichotomy and the Trumpist transition in France, the US and Britain as outlined below.
Section 1. Introduction.
In his Introduction Piketty observes that “Income inequality has increased substantially in most world regions since the 1980s, albeit at different speeds… This process of rising inequality came after a relatively egalitarian period between 1950 and 1980, which itself followed a long sequence of dramatic events – wars, depressions, revolutions – during the first half of the 20th century… Given the recent evolution, one might have expected to observe rising political demand for redistribution, e.g. due to some simple median-voter logic. However so far we seem to be observing for the most part the rise of various forms of xenophobic “populism” and identity-based politics (Trump, Brexit, Le Pen/FN, Modi/BJP, AfD, etc.), rather than the return of class-based (income-based or wealth-based) politics” (page 2 ).
Trump dissects out this new divide: “Since the 1970s-1980s, “left-wing” vote has gradually become associated with higher education voters, giving rise to what I propose to label a “multiple-elite” party system in the 2000s-2010s: high-education elites now vote for the “left”, while high-income/high-wealth elites still vote for the “right” (though less and less so). I.e. the “left” has become the party of the intellectual elite (Brahmin left), while the “right” can be viewed as the party of the business elite (Merchant right)… I show that the same transformation happened in France, the US and Britain… despite the many differences in party systems and political histories between these three countries. I argue that this structural evolution can contribute to explain rising inequality and the lack of democratic response to it, as well as the rise of “populism” (as low education, low income voters might feel abandoned)” (page 3 ).
Comments. My own country, Australia, has an excellent, compulsory, preferential voting system for the House of Representatives in which if a candidate does not receive 50% of the vote then second preferences of other parties are taken into account.. In an unexpected result in May 2019 the Rightist Liberal Party-National Party Coalition was returned to power with 52% of the “two-party preferred vote” to whit 41.4 % of the primary vote plus most second preferences from the racist, bigoted and populist One Nation Party (3.1%) and the populist United Australian Party of a mining billionaire Clive Palmer (3.4%), with the remainder from preferences from other parties. The ostensibly “Left” Labor received 48% of the “two-party preferred vote”, to whit 33.3% of the primary vote plus most second preferences from the pro-environment and pro-human rights Greens (10.4%), with the remainder from preferences from other parties . Progressive Australians were devastated by the election result but the awful reality was that thanks to oligopoly Mainstream media and $60 million in campaign advertising from a billionaire, a bare majority of Coalition MPs were returned with the preferences of the populist minor parties playing a crucial role. Most Labor MPs were elected due to the preferences of the educated and altruistic Greens. Consonant with Piketty’s analysis, while Labor was traditionally the Left party for workers, in 2019 many of the Labor and Greens supporters were “high education and high income” professionals. Conversely, the rich-supported and rich-supporting Right Coalition was crucially supported by “low education and low income” proletarians to achieve a victory for Stupidity, Ignorance and Egregious Greed (SIEG).
Section 2. France.
Piketty analyses the peculiarities of the French political system and delineates the major changes that have occurred over the last half a century ago: “The general conclusion is clear: we have gradually moved from a class-based party system to what I propose to label a “multiple-elite” party system. Back in the 1950s-1960s, the party system was defined along class lines: the vote for left-wing parties was associated to both low-education and low-income voters, while the vote for right-wing parties was associated to both high-education and high-income voters. The left vote has gradually been associated with higher education voters, and in the 2000s-2010s we have a system where high-education voters support the “left” while high-income support the “right”” (page 22 ). Piketty further observes that the socially-conservative practising Catholics (who tend to vote Right) have declined, and that the Muslims are generally socially conservative but vote for the Left because they are poor and hated by the far Right. Piketty concludes “The interesting point, however, is that the pro-migrants/anti-migrants halves and the pro-poor/pro-rich halves are almost entirely uncorrelated, in the sense that by combining these two questions we obtain four quarters of comparable size, particularly in 2012-2017… The four quarters can be labelled as Internationalists-Egalitarians (pro-migrants, pro-poor); Internationalists-Inegalitarians (pro-migrants, pro-rich); Nativists-Inegalitarians (anti-migrants, pro-rich); Nativists-Egalitarians (anti-migrants, pro-poor)” (pages 27- 28 ).
Comments. The French, while exhibiting the global populist trend, have not descended to the crude depths of Trump America, thereby enhancing their national reputation for being a nation of thinkers and intellectuals as opposed to the more prosaic pursuits of the English being a “nation of grocers” and of the Americans being committed to “making a buck” and ”getting ahead”.
Section 3. United States.
Piketty comments: “The US party system is the best existing example of a two-party system (Democrats vs Republicans). As such, it is much simpler than the French party system, and also much simpler than most party systems observed in Europe (including in Britain) and around the world. Although it is formally simple, the US party system is nevertheless relatively exotic and mysterious for many outside observers in Europe and elsewhere: how is it that the Democrats, which were the pro-slavery party in the 19th century, gradually became the New-Deal party and the “progressives” party over the course of the 20th century?” (page 29 ).
Piketty concludes a detailed analysis of trends by commenting that “Back in the 1940s-1960s, the US party system could be characterized as a class-based system, in the sense that low education and low income voters supported the same party (the Democrats), while high education and high income voters supported the other party (the Republicans). The US have gradually moved toward a “multiple-elite” party system, whereby the high-education elite votes for Democrats and the high-income elite votes for the Republicans. In the same as way for France, it is unclear at this stage whether this “multiple-elite” party system will persist, or whether it will gradually evolve toward a complete realignment of the party system along “globalists” (high education, high income) vs “nativists” (low education, low income) lines” (page 36 ).
Piketty considers the voting trends of Whites, women, African Americans and Latinos in a US that has a massively entrenched culture (outside the intellectual elite) of racism and sexism. Piketty offers the interesting statistics that “From 1964 onwards Black voters have always given overwhelming majorities (80-95%) to Democratic candidates, and that this has become one of the most structuring (if not the most structuring) characteristics of the structure of US political conflict. In contrast, Whites have never given a majority to a Democratic candidate since 1964 (i.e. with a whites-only voting system based on popular vote all Presidents would have been Republicans” (page 38 ) and that “The Latinos and other non-Black minority voters have always given a strong majority to Democratic candidates: between 55% and 70% of the vote in all presidential elections between 1972 and 2016” (pages 38-39 ). Women have been shifting over the decades from favouring Republicans to favouring the Democrats. The young now tend to favour Democrats over Republicans.
Those with higher educational attainments are more pro-Democrat on average: “Above high-school level, the relation between education and Democratic vote is strongly increasing: in particular, 70% of voters with Master degrees (11% of the electorate) supported the Democratic candidate, and 76% of voters with PhD degrees (2% of the electorate), vs 51% of voters with Bachelor degrees (19% of the electorate) and 44% of high-school graduates (59% of the electorate)” (page 33 ).
Comments. As illustrated by Thomas Piketty’s US statistics, the better educated and better informed largely support the more progressive side of politics (i.e. the Left). The Trump populist perversion in America well illustrates the victory of the Stupid, Ignorant and Egregiously Greedy (SIEG) Trumpists over educated, informed and empathic Americans. Professor Walter “Mac” Davis in his book “Death’s Dream Kingdom. The American Psyche since 9-11” describes how sensible humans attempt to understand themselves (through earnest, honest, and painful introspection) and others (through empathic internalizing and analyzing of the suffering of others) – as compared to the psychotic, “ideology-driven” simplicity of “compulsory happiness”, “endless demand”, “axiomatic rightness”, “certainty- and guarantee-demanding”, denial, avoidance of empathy and introspection, and violent externalizing of inner fears by both the Religious Right and contemporary Capitalist America [22, 23].
Ideology and politics aside, a key difference between the Left and Right is commitment to science and truth by the Left. former. However economist Piketty has ignored this fundamental divide in his academic desire to be a neutral and non-partisan observer: “The fact that social policies have been relatively segmented in the US (i.e. targeted toward specific groups) has arguably made it more difficult to develop a sense of common interest and to counteract racist perceptions and other prejudices. Next, even in the absence of any racial divide, one can find some other reasons and mechanisms (e.g. related to educational expansion per se) which might have contributed to the shift from “class-based” to “multiple-elite” party system” (page 40, ).
The truth of the matter is that decent humans as social animals have honest and altruistic behaviours heavily influenced by genes (favourable mutations deriving from natural selection) and memes (societally selected ideas and behaviours). Thoughtful , empathic, altruistic and science-informed people reject neoliberalism that demands maximal freedom for the smart and advantaged to exploit the human and natural resources of the world for private profit, with an asserted trickle-down of benefit for the disadvantaged. Instead a science-based and hence innately truthful Left in its various manifestations seeks to sustainably maximize human happiness, opportunity and dignity for everyone through evolving international and intra-national social contracts [25-30]. The currently dominant neoliberalism is a thoughtlessly greedy and dangerous ideology that has already brought Humanity and the Biosphere to the edge of disaster with the worsening Climate Emergency, Climate Genocide and mass species extinction of the present Anthropocene Era [9-20].
The Right is profoundly dishonest and well illustrates Polya’s Second Law of Economics that mirrors the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy – disorder, chaos, lack of information – inevitably rises) in stating that Deception about the Cost of Production strives to a maximum . Thus our present carbon-based and neoliberal-dominated world economy overwhelmingly ignores the immense cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution – according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the world average Carbon Price is a mere $2 per tonne of CO2, whereas to save the planet the IMF argues for a Carbon Price of $75 per ton CO2 by 2030 [19, 20]. Indeed Dr Chris Hope of 90-Nobel-Laureate Cambridge University has estimated a damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2, 100 times greater than the present carbon-related Cost of Production in our present Carbon Economy . Even the social conservatives Pope Francis I and Pope Benedict XVI have clearly stated: “Yet only when the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations, can those [economic] actions be considered ethical”[33, 34] .
Just as Piketty politely avoids the truthfulness basis of the Left, so he also ignores Religious Right support for Trump in America (although he does consider religion in relation to France and Britain). Professor Richard Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion” quotes a survey published in the scientific journal Nature that found that 93% of members of the US National Academy of Sciences surveyed did not have a personal God . In contrast, only 9% of Americans do not believe in God . Jewish Israeli historian Professor Yuval Harari provides the following appalling statistics about anti-science American attitudes to the Darwinian theory of evolution: “According to a 2012 Gallup survey, only 15 per cent of Americans think that Homo sapiens evolved through natural selection alone, free of all divine intervention; 32 per cent maintain that humans may have evolved from earlier life forms in a process lasting millions of years, but God orchestrated this entire show; 46 per cent believe that God created humans in their current form sometime in the last 10,000 years, just as the Bible says. Spending three years in college has absolutely no impact on these views. The same survey found that among BA graduates, 46 per cent believe in the creation story, whereas only 14 per cent think that humans evolved without any divine supervision. Even among holders of MA and PhD degrees, 25 per cent believe the Bible, whereas only 29 per cent credit natural selection alone with the creation of our species” (page 119 ). The American Right may be good at “making a buck” and “getting ahead” but when it comes to science they are off with the fairies.
Great American journalist I.F. Stone (author of numerous books, including “The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950-1951”) famously told journalism students: “Among all the things I’m going to tell you today about being a journalist, all you have to remember is two words: governments lie” [38-42]. Eminent American writer Gore Vidal went even further:“Unlike most Americans who lie all the time, I hate lying. And here I am surrounded with these hills [in Hollywood] full of liars — some very talented… Yeah, about themselves, about their beliefs, about their histories. Degrees, from universities — this is piled up lies… Americans are not interested in the truth about anything. They assume everybody is lying because they go out and lie everyday about the automobile they are trying to sell you…This is a country of hoax. P.T. Barnum is the god of this republic, which is no longer a republic alas. It is an oligarchy and a rather vicious one” . The shift to the more truthful and more altruistic Left in America is surely connected with increasing university education, and increasing realization of government and corporate lying [41, 42, 44, 45] , with the Internet enabling mass access to alternative perceptions of reality.
Section 4. Britain.
Re gender, Piketty finds that “Regarding gender, I confirm previous findings according to which women have gradually turned from right to level during the past five to six decades… The trends are the same in France and the US, and the levels are closer to France than then to the US: in the US, women used to be moderately right-wing (pro-Republicans) and over time they have turned strongly left-wing (pro-Democrats); while in both Britain and France, women used to be strongly right-wing and over time they have turned moderately left-wing”(page 43 ).
Re age, Piketty finds that: “Regarding age, I again find the same basic pattern as for France and the US: young voters generally tend to support the left substantially more than old voters, but the gap is highly volatile” (page 43 ).
Re education and class, Piketty writes: “The British party system used to be even more “class-based” than the French and US systems: back in the 1950s-1960s, it was very rare for educated individuals to vote for Labour rather for the Conservative; and it took a very long time for the educated elite to shift vote from Conservative to Labour (as compared to France and the US); and when they finally shifted, they did so less massively than in France and the US. This is consistent with the ideological and political origins of the Labour vs Conservative divide in Britain, which are indeed more explicitly class-based (as the very name of the “labour” party indicates) than the cleavages which led to the development of the party systems in the other two countries (page 44 ).
Re religion, Piketty finds that “The proportion of voters reporting “no religion” rose from 3% in 1964 to 48% in 2017 (even more than in France). Just like in France, the Christians vs no-religion divide is strongly associated to Conservatives vs Labour voting pattern (though the magnitude of the effect is somewhat smaller in Britain)… Even more strikingly, British Muslims have always voted massively for the Labour party, typically with scores around 80-95%, just like in France… The basic reason why Muslim and extra-European voters support so massively the Labour party in Britain throughout the 1979-2017 period is also the same as in France: voters with extra-European origins (and especially the Muslims) perceive a lot of hostility from the Conservatives, and more sympathy from the Labour party” (pages 47-49 ).
Comments. Britain is still a very class conscious country and this persists with Royalty providing a significant dead-weight to frank public discussion. A system of Educational Apartheid helps to keep the “lower classes” in their place. Traitorous and mendacious Zionist defamation of the anti-racist British Left has had a big impact. For all that the UK is ostensibly a liberal democracy, it is a very poorly informed one. Thus the UK BBC has an appalling record of lying by omission as set out in the website “Censorship by the BBC” and elsewhere [46-48]. Back in the 18th century, in Chapter 25 of “Candide” entitled “Visit to Lord Pococurante, Venetian nobleman,” Voltaire writes: “Martin noticed some shelves laden with English books. “I trust”, he said, “that a republican must take pleasure in the majority of those books written with so much freedom”. “Yes”, replied Pococurante, “it’s a fine thing to write what one thinks; it’s the privilege of man. In all Italy people write only what they don’t think; those who inhabit the native land of the Caesars and the Antonines don’t care to have an idea without permission of a Dominican. I would be happy with the freedom that inspires the English geniuses if party feeling and party spirit didn’t corrupt everything estimable in that precious freedom” [41, 42, 49].
A proper democracy requires an informed electorate. However numerous examples can be given of extraordinary British censorship that would rival that of authoritarian states and clearly impacts electoral behaviour. The most extraordinary example is non-reportage of the WW2 Bengali Holocaust (WW2 Bengal Famine, WW2 Indian Holocaust) in which the British with Australian complicity deliberately starved 6-7 million Indians to death for strategic reasons in Bengal and in the neighbouring provinces of Assam, Bihar and Orissa. This atrocity (the first WW2 atrocity to have been described as a “holocaust”) was also associated with large-scale civilian and military sexual abuse of starving women and girls. Yet this immense atrocity has been largely deleted from British historiography and from general public perception. [50- 54]. By way of comparison, just imagine if histories of Germany overwhelmingly ignored the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million Jews killed through violence or imposed deprivation) [55, 56].
Section 5. Multi-dimensional models of inequality and political cleavages.
In this section Piketty applies a mathematical modelling and statistical approach to his huge collection of political cleavage data.
Section 6. Conclusions.
Piketty concludes thus: “In this paper, I have used French, US and British post-electoral surveys covering the 1948-2017 period in order to document a striking long-run evolution in the structure of political cleavages. In the 1950s-1960s, the vote for left-wing (socialist-labour-democratic) parties was associated with lower education and lower income voters. It has gradually become associated with higher education voters, giving rise to a “multiple-elite” party system in the 2000s-2010s: high-education elites now vote for the “left”, while high-income/high-wealth elites still vote for the “right” (though less and less so). I have argued that this can contribute to explain rising inequality and the lack of democratic response to it, as well as the rise of “populism”. In effect, globalization and educational expansion have created new dimensions of inequality and conflict, leading to the weakening of previous class-based redistributive coalitions and the gradual development of new cleavages… Unequal access to political finance, medias and influence can contribute to keep electoral politics under the control of elites. The class-based party system that emerged in the mid-20th century was due to specific historical circumstances, and proved to be fragile as social and economic structures evolved. Without a strong and convincing egalitarian-internationalist platform, it is inherently difficult to unite low-education, low-income voters from all origins within the same party” (page 62 ).
Thomas Piketty’s detailed paper is a valuable contribution to dissecting out (for France, the US and the UK) the change over recent decades away from a class-based, Left versus Right dichotomy to a state in which prosperous, educated elites and the informed poor vote for the Left while ever-greedy high-income/high-wealth elites support the Right with the present-day assistance of a disillusioned, right-wing, xenophobic and uneducated Trumpist proletariat.
Implicit in Thomas Piketty’s analysis is the importance of education in the rise of a progressive and prosperous educated elite. However this advance has been paralleled by a dumbing down, deception and radicalization of a Trumpist working class. Philosopher Hannah Arendt found common causes of genocidal Western European imperialism and colonialism on 5 continents and of genocidal 20th century European fascism as an “alliance between the mob and capital”, with a commonality in this union of extreme nationalism, lying, rapacity, atrocity-justifying racism and anti-humanism. Today American Trumpism is ferociously anti-intellectual, anti-humanist, anti-globalist, nationalist and racist, with genocidal Trump threats to “totally destroy” or “obliterate” particular countries. Rampant US Trumpism is paralleled by UK Brexiteers, and by burgeoning Central European, Brazilian and Australian neo-fascists and Trumpists [57, 58].
The present-day “alliance between the mob and capital” is no accident and has been effected through One Percenter ownership and perversion of Mainstream media. Just as some huge American corporations backed the rise of German Nazism  and many members of the British upper class did likewise [62, 63], so today sections of the wealthy Establishments are keeping progressive parties out of power by cementing a neo-fascist “alliance between the mob and capital” . The wealthy overwhelmingly vote in their economic self-interest but the Trumpist poor have been paradoxically persuaded to vote for the Right and against their personal and “class” interests on the basis of anti-globalism and xenophobia. Western Democracy has become Kleptocracy, Plutocracy, Murdochracy, Lobbyocracy, Corporatocracy and Dollarocracy in which Big Money purchases people, politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality, votes, more power and more private profit.
The great thing about democracy is that it permits an ostensible change of government without bloodshed. However the worsening Climate Emergency and Climate Genocide  has revealed that this proposition is now highly disputable. Thus Humanity and the Biosphere on which it critically depends are existentially threatened by anthropogenic climate change. “Business as usual” (BAU) democracy in practice means massive input from and for the super-wealthy, with this perversion being assisted by a Stupid, Ignorant and Egregiously Greedy (SIEG), anti-globalist, racist and neo-fascist Trumpist proletariat. In harsh global reality this means that 8 million people die from air pollution each year, 1 million people die from climate change annually, and (in the absence of requisite action) about 10 billion people will die this century en route to a sustainable human population of a mere 0.5-1.0 billion in 2100 .
What can decent Humanity do in the face of this existential catastrophe? In this worsening Climate Emergency all of Humanity must commit to sustainable and sharing eco-socialism. We cannot leave the fate of our children, grandchildren and future generations in the hands of the Socially Conservative and Unscientific Malefactors (SCUM) of the Stupid Ignorant and Egregiously Greedy (SIEG) neoliberal Right. The time for “respectful conversation” is well and truly past. Decent people must (a) inform everyone they can, (b) insist that the past, present and future Cost of Production is “fully borne” by the polluters, and (c) urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, politicians , parties, collectives, corporations and countries disproportionately involved in the worsening Climate Genocide. The future political dichotomy in an existentially threatened world is not “wealthy elites” versus “educated elites” but simply whether you are part of the problem or part of the solution.
|October 30, 2019||
Syria – The Launch of a Constitutional Committee – a Sign of Hope for Syrian People
by Peter Koenig, in World, Countercurrents.org
Transcript of a PressTV Interview – Following a live press Conference by the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey at the UN Geneva, Switzerland
GENEVA, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) — The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, said here on Monday that the Constitutional Committee’s launch should be a sign of hope for the long-suffering Syrian people.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Pedersen said that the creation of the Constitutional Committee is a shared promise to the Syrian people to try in earnest to agree on new constitutional arrangements for Syria’s future.
Russia, Iran and Turkey have stressed that Syrian constitutional committee must work independently from any foreign intervention to gain maximum support from the people in the Arab country.
Sergey Lavrov was reading a joint statement made by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara ahead of a meeting of Syria’s constitutional committee in Geneva. Lavrov also highlighted the importance of Syria’s unity and territorial integrity. He expressed the readiness of Russia, Iran and Turkey to cooperate with the United Nation’s special envoy for Syria to facilitate the work of the constitutional committee. Lavrov urged the volunteer and safe return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. The Russian foreign minister also described the presence of the U-S troops in Syrian oil fields as illegal.
PressTV – Question
And as Mr. Pederson says,“Syrians, not outsiders, will draft the constitution. And the Syrian people must popularly approve it.” – This is an absolute must.
But we should not forget -and I do not think this is a coincidence, that President Trump just decided to leave troops in Syria – under whatever pretext is unimportant.
And I do not think that he wants to either protect nor steel Syrian oil.
Let’s backtrack to 2008 and then 2011 – when the CIA first recruited, trained, funded and armed the terror groups in 2008 up to 2011 – when they launched the so-called “civil war” – as part of the Arab Spring – which as we all know, has nothing to do with a civil war, but it’s a US mercenary war against the legitimate Syrian Government.
Why is it important to remember this?
Because, Washington has made it its goal to ultimately control Syria – Syria is part of the list countries mentioning in the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) that must fall – in order for the US to reach full global hegemony. To reach that goal, the Middle East is a key square on the geopolitical Chess Board.
This should always remain in the back of the heads of those who negotiate and draft the new Constitution – the idea of new Constitution is good, but even if all parties agree, it will only be possible to apply it when the US leaves Syria. That is a must.
So, while the negotiations and drafting of the Constitution goes on, observed by Russia,Iran, and Turkey and of course the UN – it is extremely important that the US leaves Syria – letting Syria take full and sovereign control of her territory.
And more so, as the US does not even have an observer role in the drafting of the new Constitution, unlike, Russia, Iran and Turkey – and of course the UN.
Washington could easily disrupt the process by launching again a false flag attack, by re-mobilizing the ISIS / Al Qaeda terror, or by calling NATO to “secure and protect”the Syrian oil fields. There is no shortage of potential interference by the US.
This is not to put a negative spell on the process of the Constitutional Committee. But let’s be conscious of the dangers, while this worthwhile initiative is moving forward.
The designated observers’ awareness and constant presence in Geneva and in Syria, is, therefore, of utmost importance. Let’s it also be reminded, Russia and Iran are invited in Syria by President Assad, the presence of the US is illegitimate. Peace can be secured only once the US leaves Syria, be that by diplomatic or economic pressure. For the America, leaving Syria is like stepping back from their objective of Middle East and world hegemony. And that does not come voluntarily.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organizationaround the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; Greanville Post; Defend Democracy Press, TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.
|October 30, 2019||
Our Vanishing World: Insects
by Robert J Burrowes, in Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
About 12,000 years ago, late stone age humans precipitated the neolithic (agricultural) revolution that marked the start of the steady rise to civilization. Coincidentally, this occurred at the same time as the beginning of what is now known as the Holocene Epoch, the geological epoch in which humans still live.
However, since the industrial revolution commencing in about 1750, just 270 years ago, humans have been destroying Earth’s biosphere with such tremendous ferocity that the Earth we inherited at the beginning of the Holocene Epoch is vanishing before our eyes. And life is vanishing with it.
While this catastrophe first gained significant public attention with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Springin 1962, efforts in response to her effort to raise the alarm, credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement, have paled in comparison to the ongoing human effort to silence Spring.
In fact, we are destroying the biosphere with such ruthless efficiency that the global extinction rate is now 200 species per day, with another million species ‘under threat’. Moreover, according to the recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services researched and published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – the scientific body which assesses the state of biodiversity and the ecosystem services this provides to society – ‘Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.’
So severe is the crisis through which we are now living that the normally sober tone of scientific papers is vanishing too, with words such as ‘biological annihilation’, a ‘frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation’ and the ‘sixth mass extinction’ event in Earth’s history are being used with increasing frequency. See, for example, ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’.
So how extreme is the threat?
Well, despite the number of elite-controlled intergovernmental processes and corporate scientists paid to promulgate delusion about our timeframe, an increasing number of scientists are now warning that existing and accumulating evidence indicates that human extinction is likely to occur by 2026 (assuming that we can prevent nuclear war and prevent the deployment of 5G in the meantime). Unfortunately, too, the full extent of this unfolding catastrophe is readily masked if the many interrelated factors – emotional, political, economic, social, climatic, environmental, military, nuclear, geoengineering and electromagnetic – synergistically shaping this outcome are not each and all considered. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.
For example, it is poor science to measure climate impacts in isolation from the cascading impacts they generate ‘downstream’ (such as the adverse impact of temperature increases on insect populations in rainforests and what this means for the rainforest habitats they occupy) and to predict outcomes for humanity based on the climate impacts alone. If enough insects are gone – whether through destruction of habitat, extensive pesticide use, 5G electromagnetic radiation, climate impacts… or a combination of these and other factors – before we reach the critical climate ‘tipping point’, then human food chains will collapse rapidly followed by the human population whatever the state of the climate at the time.
However, rather than reiterate the comprehensive evidence in relation to the synergistic threats to human survival here, let me instead present the evidence only in relation to the decimation of the global insect population – variously given such labels as ‘insectageddon’ and ‘insect apocalypse’ in an attempt to convey the gravity of the crisis – including what is driving it and what it means.
The Importance of Insects
So how important are insects? According to one recent study conducted by Caspar A. Hallmann and eleven associates, insects are vital to ecosystem functioning:
‘Insects play a central role in a variety of processes, including pollination, herbivory and detrivory [an organism, such as a bacterium, fungus or insect, that feeds on dead plant or animal matter], nutrient cycling and providing a food source for higher trophic levels such as birds, mammals and amphibians. For example, 80% of wild plants are estimated to depend on insects for pollination, while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source. The ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the USA. Clearly, preserving insect abundance and diversity should constitute a prime conservation priority.’ See ‘More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas’.
To underscore the importance of insects, in their study Bradford C. Lister & Andres Garcia simply note that ‘arthropods comprise over two-thirds of terrestrial species’. See ‘Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web’.And, as Robert Hunziker observes: without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses. See ‘Insect Decimation Upstages Global Warming’.
However, despite their crucial role in maintaining the habitable biosphere, insects have been in decline for several decades. And the decline is accelerating.
The Decline of Insects
Any study of insect populations readily confirms their rapid decline. For example, in the recent study by Lister and Garcia, they note that ‘Arthropods, invertebrates including insects that have external skeletons, are declining at an alarming rate. While the tropics harbor the majority of arthropod species, little is known about trends in their abundance.’ Hence they compared arthropod biomass in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo rainforest with data taken by Lister back in 1976. They found that ‘biomass had fallen 10 to 60 times’ and their analyses revealed ‘synchronous declines in the lizards, frogs, and birds that eat arthropods’. Moreover, they noted, over the past 30 years forest temperatures have risen 2.0 °C and their study indicated that ‘climate warming is the driving force behind the collapse of the forest’s food web’. Ominously, they observe: ‘A number of studies indicate that tropical arthropods should be particularly vulnerable to climate warming. If these predictions are realized, climate warming may have a more profound impact on the functioning and diversity of tropical forests than currently anticipated.’See ‘Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web’and ‘Insect collapse: “We are destroying our life support systems”’.
Why? Well although climate warming is disrupting the entire biosphere at an accelerating pace, the rate is generally slower in tropical habitats. Nevertheless, the evidence still clearly suggests that tropical ectotherms (organisms reliant on environmental heat sources) may be particularly vulnerable to the warming climate. Citing an earlier report based on research by Daniel H. Janzen – see ‘Why Mountain Passes are Higher in the Tropics’– Lister and Garcia note that tropical species that evolved in comparatively aseasonal environments have ‘narrower thermal niches, reduced acclimation to temperature fluctuations, and exist at or near their thermal optima. Consequently, even small increments in temperature can precipitate sharp decreases in fitness and abundance. These predictions have been verified in a variety of tropical reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.’ See ‘Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web’.
In another recent report ‘Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers’, Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G. Wyckhuys present ‘a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers’. In essence, their research reveals ‘dramatic rates of decline’ with the main drivers being i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanization; ii) pollution, mainly by synthetic pesticides (glyphosate, neonicotinoids and others)and fertilisers; iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and iv) the climate catastrophe. ‘The latter factor is particularly important in tropical regions, but only aﬀects a minority of species in colder climes and mountain settings of temperate zones.’
Moreover, they note, the general studies of insect declines are ‘in line with previous reports on population declines among numerous insect taxa (i.e. butterflies, ground beetles, ladybirds, dragonflies, stoneflies and wild bees) in Europe and North America over the past decades. It appears that insect declines are substantially greater than those observed in birds or plants over the same time periods and this could trigger wide-ranging cascading effects within several of the world’s ecosystems.’
But perhaps the most alarming report is the one written following research conducted by Caspar A. Hallmann and his associates. Noting widespread concern about insect loss, they observe that ‘Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services.’ Employing a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (with 96 unique location-year combinations) their analysis estimated ‘a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study’. Moreover, the decline was apparent regardless of habitat type. ‘This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.’ See ‘More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas’.
Just one cascading impact of the rapid decline of insects in Germany is the ‘decimation’ of the bird population. See ‘“Decimated”: Germany’s birds disappear as insect abundance plummets 76%’.
In summary, from the study by Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys: More than 40 percent of the world’s insect species are on the fast track to extinction. See ‘Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers’.
Why are insects declining?
In essence, apart from the causes of insect decline noted above, such as destruction of habitat, poisoning (using glyphosate, neonicotinoids and other pesticides) – see, for example, ‘Trump EPA OKs “Emergency” to Dump Bee-killing Pesticide on 16 Million Acres’ – and the climate catastrophe, insects are also adversely impacted by light – see ‘Light pollution a reason for insect decline’ – ingestion of plastic – see ‘Microplastic ingestion by riverine macroinvertebrates’ – wars, nuclear contamination – see, for example, ‘Fukushima butterflies highlight heavy cost of nuclear disaster’ – and will be further and horrifically impacted, along with all life on Earth, if 5G is deployed. For an earlier study identifying the existing problem of electromagnetic radiation on life, see ‘Bees, Birds and Mankind: Destroying Nature by “Electrosmog”’, but for recent updates on the extraordinary hazards of 5G to all life, see ‘5G and the Wireless Revolution: When Progress Becomes a Death Sentence’and ‘Western Insanity and 5G Electromagnetic Radiation’.
In essence, without sufficient diversity and density of insects the existing biosphere will collapse and homo sapiens will join the fossil record. And we are rapidly approaching that particular tipping point.
Part of the problem is that far too much attention is being directed at the climate catastrophe while ignoring the vast evidence from other disciplines offering highly instructive research not only in relation to climate impacts but to other human behaviours that are negatively impacting ecosystem functioning.
This has a range of negative impacts, including that it deludes people into seeking outcomes that are hopelessly inadequate if we are to address the full extent of the crisis in our biosphere.
Is anything being done?
Not much. The elite’s corporations have enormous political power so have little trouble resisting efforts to contain their destruction of the biosphere, including of insect populations.
Hence, while scientists routinely offer fine suggestions, such as the following one, they are also routinely ignored.
‘A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide. In addition, eﬀective remediation technologies should be applied to clean polluted waters in both agricultural and urban environments.’ See ‘Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers’.
But, to reiterate, it is corporations that have political power and that also control the media narrative; not scientists.
So what can we do?
Given that the insect apocalypse is deeply connected to other issues of critical importance to human survival, as always it is vital that this issue is addressed strategically from a holistic perspective. For that reason, we must approach the issue by addressing fundamental drivers but also several vital symptoms that arise from those drivers. Let me explain what I mean.
The fundamental question is this: Why are humans behaving in a way that destroys Earth’s biosphere? Surely, this is neither sensible nor even sane. And anyone capable of emotional engagement and rational thinking who seriously considers this behaviour must realize this. So why is it happening?
Fundamentally it is because our parenting and education models fail utterly to produce people of conscience, people who are emotionally functional and capable of critical analysis, people who care and who can plan and respond strategically.
Given the preoccupation of modern society with producing submissively obedient students, workers, soldiers, citizens (that is, taxpayers and voters) and consumers, the last thing society wants is powerful individuals who are each capable of searching their conscience, feeling their emotional response to events, thinking critically and behaving strategically in response. Hence our parenting and education models use a ruthless combination of visible, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence to ensure that our children become terrified, self-hating and powerless individuals like virtually all of the adults around them.
This multifaceted violence ensures that the adult who emerges from childhood and adolescence is suppressing awareness of an enormous amount of fear, pain and anger (among many other feelings) and must live in delusion to remain unaware of these suppressed feelings. This ensures that, as part of their delusion, people develop a strong sense that what they are doing already is functional and working (no matter how dysfunctional and ineffective it may actually be)while unconsciously suppressing awareness of any evidence that contradicts their delusion. See ‘Why Violence?’, ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’,‘Do We Want School or Education?’and ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.
So if we are going to address the fundamental driver of both the insect apocalypse and destruction of the biosphere generally, we must address this cause. For those adults powerful enough to do this, there is an explanation in ‘Putting Feelings First’. And for those adults committed to facilitating children’s efforts to realize their potential and become self-aware (rather than delusional), see ‘My Promise to Children’.
Beyond this cause, however, we must also resist, strategically, the insane elite corporations that are a key symptom of this crisis by manufacturing and marketing a vast range of insect (and life)-destroying products ranging from weapons (conventional and nuclear) and fossil fuels to products made by the destruction of habitat (including rainforests) and the poisoning of agricultural land (to grow the food that most people eat) while now planning the imminent worldwide deployment of 5G. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.
But we can also undermine this destruction, for example,by refusing to buy the products provided by the elite’s corporations (with the complicity of governments) that fight wars (to enrich weapons corporations) to steal fossil fuels (to enrich energy, aircraft and vehicle-manufacturing corporations) or those corporations that make profits by destroying rainforests orproducing poisoned food, for example. We can do this by systematically reducing and altering our consumption pattern and becoming more locally self-reliant as outlined in‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’or, even more simply, by committing to The Earth Pledge (below). In a nutshell, for example, if we do not buy and eat poisoned food, corporations will stop poisoning our food and this will save vast numbers of insects (and many other life forms besides).
You can also consider joining those working to end violence in all contexts by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.
The Earth Pledge
Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:
In response to a range of synergistically impacting behaviours, homo sapiens is on the fast track to extinction. Just one critical and largely ignored variable in this rush to extinction is our decimation of the world insect population denying us an ever-expanding range of ecological services.
On this count alone, we have already crossed a dangerous tipping point that will cause increasing problems over time. Whether we can stop short of the ultimate tipping point depends on what you decide.
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is email@example.com and his website is here.
|October 31, 2019||
How the U.S. Regime ‘Justifies’ the Theft of Syria’s Oil
by Eric Zuesse , in Imperialism, Countercurrents.org
Only starting on 28 October 2019 — after seven years of the U.S. and its allies stealing Syria’s oil — did U.S. ‘news’-media start to apply the word “theft” or “steal” (or any equivalent term) to what was happening to Syria’s oil; and, even then, the blame for stealing it was focused only against U.S. President Donald Trump, who was bold about doing it, and never focused against his predecessor Barack Obama, who (along with America’s allies) had started doing it as early as 2012. The breakthrough news-report, which finally ended the U.S. propaganda-media’s embargo against calling it by such terms as “theft” or “stealing,” occurred when ABC News headlined on October 28th, ‘“‘We’re keeping the oil’ in Syria, Trump says, but it’s considered a war crime”, and finally reported that “seizing it would be pillaging, a technical term for theft during wartime that is illegal under U.S. and international law.” Among the hundreds of reader-comments to that news (after the seven-year-long embargo was, at last, lifted) the top-liked or “Best” was “So America has been reduced to thieves and pillagers? Truly a sad moment in American history.” Many of the reader-comments there were focused specifically against Trump, such as, “Gee Mr. Trump, maybe there’s some works of art we can confiscate too?” but not only did this news-report not mention anything about how long the theft had been going on, but it propagandistically and falsely alleged “Most of that oil is sold to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the strongman who has waged a war against his own people and is opposed by the U.S.” That was thrown in so as to focus the blame against Syria’s Government (for these massive thefts FROM Syria’s Government), instead of against America and its allies, who had recruited and armed and brought into Syria tens of thousands of jihadists to serve as America’s proxy-forces there, in order to overthrow and replace that Government. The presumption in those propaganda-media has always been that Syria’s Government should simply have quit and let the royal Saud family, the owners of Saudi Arabia, appoint the ruler of Syria. This wasn’t news-reporting; it was instead propaganda-spreading.
For seven years, there has been not only a disinterest, by all of the U.S. mainstream news-media, in the ongoing systematic theft of Syria’s oil by the U.S. Government (and by its allies there, including especially ISIS, who were funded mainly by sales of this oil); but also a consistent refusal by the media to call it “theft” or “stealing” by the U.S. and by its allies. All of this theft has had the purpose of depriving Syria’s Government — the legal owner of that oil — of the income from Syria’s oil. The ultimate purpose of these thefts is the collapse of Syria’s Government, and its surrender to the U.S.-and-allied forces, so that the royal family of Saudi Arabia can select for Syrians a new leadership team, consisting of fundamentalist Sunnis. The Israeli regime has supported these efforts. America’s CIA has been trying for this objective, on and off, ever since 1949, but only after the CIA-encouraged “Arab Spring” in 2011, did the U.S. regime commit itself intensively to this invasion/occupation of Syria, and to the now long-ongoing theft of oil from Syria. It didn’t start with Donald Trump; it started with Barack Obama. And the U.S. news-media treat the entire matter far more as constituting, for them, a U.S. propaganda-operation, to justify the whole thing, than as constituting an authentic journalistic matter, to inform the American public honestly. The purpose of the following will be to make clear how this international war-crime has been ‘justified’ by the U.S. Government, and by its press.
Here’s the actual history about it, starting from now, and working backward to the beginnings:
On October 26th, the New York Times headlined “Keep the Oil’: Trump Revives Charged Slogan for New Syria Troop Mission” and opened by saying that “in recent days, Mr. Trump has settled on Syria’s oil reserves as a new rationale for appearing to reverse course and deploy hundreds of additional troops to the war-ravaged country.” They closed with a statement from Bruce Riedel, retired from the CIA: “‘Let’s say he does do it,’ Mr. Riedel said. ‘Let’s say we establish the precedent that we are in the Middle East to take the oil. The symbolism is really bad.’” The propaganda-value of a ‘news’-report is concentrated in its opening, and especially in what the ‘reporter’ (fulfilling the intentions of his editors) selected to be at the very end (such as Riedel’s statement). However, is what’s wrong with taking Syria’s oil actually the “symbolism,” as Riedel said, or is it instead the theft — the reality (and why did the NYT pretend that it’s the former)? Nowhere did that NYT article use the word “theft,” or anything like it, but that is the actual issue here — not mere ‘symbolism’.
Trump had been so lambasted by the Democratic Party’s ‘news’-media (such as the NYT) and by all the rest of the neoconservative (or pro-U.S.-imperialist) ‘news’-media (the Republican ones), for his trying to withdraw forces from Obama’s regime-change war against Syria, that he’s now switched to trying to ‘justify’ continuation of America’s invasion-occupation of Syria, by his promising to steal the oil there — but the ‘news’-media had never used that term (“theft”), or anything like it, to describe what the the U.S. regime now, for the first time publicly, says it is aiming to do there. They themselves have been propagandizing the American people to oppose American withdrawal from Syria, which would mean ending Obama’s invasion-occupation of Syria — something they’ve all supported. Publicly acknowledging that theft is the reason why we’re there is too shocking for them to report; and, so, Trump’s now saying this has caught them off guard. Both the Republican and the Democratic Parties, and their ‘news’-media, have been full-bore “Assad must step-down.” None of America’s ‘news’-media had stated, either, that America’s invasions-occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, have all been disasters (though they all were), and that all of them have been and are defeats for America (though they all were that, on all of America’s leaders’ lies about ‘protecting human rights’, and about ‘bringing democracy’, and about what would have been producing improved lives — instead of producing continued bloodshed and misery — for the residents in the countries that we had invaded and occupied). It’s all lies, nothing but that; and any ‘news’-media which operate this way will find themselves increasingly trapped in their lies, like the politicians themselves are. The only way ‘out’, for any of them (including for Trump, and for both the Republican and the Democratic press) is yet more lies — and all of these lies are cover-ups, by the press and by the politicians. (This is why they’re torturing Julian Assange to death: he has seriously challenged that ongoing deceit, in which they all participate.) Unless the public stop the media from doing it — by cancelling their subscriptions, and otherwise demonetizing the ones who have been doing it — the lies, and deceits, and invasions, and destructive U.S. national expenditures of tens of trillions of dollars (being paid to corporations such as Lockheed Martin, and not only to our soldiers) will continue. This enormous counterproductive expenditure will drain America’s abilities to fund health care, education, etc. It is bringing the U.S. economy down, and not merely bringing America to an ethically lower and lower point. The more that America’s leaders try to continue expanding the American empire, the more that they will both embarrass, and weaken, America. This is real. It is no propaganda, at all. It’s “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” It’s too true to report. It contradicts the propaganda. So: they didn’t report it.
On October 24th, USA Today headlined “Pentagon planning to send tanks, armored vehicles to Syrian oil fields”, and stated that “The Pentagon is preparing to send tanks and armored vehicles to Syrian oil fields, according to a U.S. official – a stunning reversal of President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the war-torn country after he declared victory over ISIS.” Those oil fields don’t belong to the U.S., but to Syria’s Government, and their operation is vital to funding Syria’s reconstruction, which the U.S. regime is determined to prevent; but USA Today’s ‘news’-report says nothing about any of that. The U.S. Government is trying to steal Syria’s oil fields — but this USA Today article says nothing about that, either. American troops are invaders of Syria, unlike Russian troops, who are defenders of Syria, and who had been invited into Syria by Syria’s Government (the only government Syria has) in order to help defend Syria’s sovereignty, over Syria’s own land, including its oil wells, against the U.S.-and-allied invasion. All of that vital context is missing from this deceptive report.
That report said “Now, Russian troops, which are in Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and Turkish forces, are operating in the region previously patrolled by U.S. and Kurdish forces.” It’s saying that, whereas the region had been “patrolled” — instead of invaded and now occupied — by U.S. and Kurdish forces, “Russian troops … and Turkish forces … are in Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad,” though his ‘regime’ is actually the only legitimate Government of Syria. But the U.S. regime claims the right to force Assad to be overthrown.
This report stated that “The deployment of armor is aimed at Russia and Syria, not ISIS, said Nicholas Heras, an expert on Syria with the Center for a New American Security. … ‘Pure and simple,’ he said, ‘the Pentagon is making contingencies for a big fight with Russia for Syria’s oil.’” But Russia isn’t trying to seize Syria’s oil — the U.S. regime is doing that, actually. Russian forces are in Syria only in order to assist Syria to defend its oil, and its land. If the U.S. regime will go into World War III so as to steal Syria’s oil, then the likelihood of Russia’s letting this theft happen is slight: that would be Russia’s capitulation without a fight, and Russia has never given any indication it would do such a thing. (And Russian media DO refer to this as being “theft”; they’re not trying to hide the fact. Russia already is fighting the U.S. regime in Syria. For example, on October 26th, Russia’s Sputnik News headlined “The Russian military described the US scheme as nothing less than ‘international state banditism’,” and reported that, “According to Russian intelligence, the illegal US-supervised extraction of Syrian oil was being carried out by ‘leading American corporations’ and private military contractors, with US special forces and air power used for protection. Konashenkov said the estimated monthly revenue of this ‘private enterprise’ was over $30 million.”) This is the territory of Syria, which is a Russian ally. The thief here is clearly the U.S. regime, not Syria, and not Russia. It is no one else than the U.S. regime that is aiming to steal Syria’s oil by sending in tanks. Nowhere does the USA Today article even so much as hint that this is the case.
An October 21st Wall Street Journal article reported the U.S. Government’s theft of Syria’s oil, but it was instead headlined with the misleading, more innocuous, and less attention-grabbing “Trump Calls for Defense, Use of Syrian Oil Fields” — nothing about any “theft” — and it opened with the seemingly U.S.-or-Syria defense-related statement (as if U.S. troops were in Syria as defenders, instead of as attackers and thieves) that “President Trump said he is planning to keep a small number of troops in northeast Syria to protect the oil fields there and suggested that an American company might help the Syrian Kurds develop the oil for export.”
However, since when does a thief break into your residence in order to “protect” anything? And since when does such a thief have a right to sell your property, or to determine what people (such as “the Syrian Kurds”) will sell it?
Was that article news, or was it instead propaganda? It certainly misrepresents. What it reports, is reported as if this thieving operation were only being contemplated, and would be new, but the thieving is actually nothing new — it’s an already-existing, and longstanding, coordinated and international operation, by the U.S. regime and its allies, as will here be documented.
America’s mainstream media now (such as in USA Today, WSJ, and NYT) are normalizing this theft. This normalization is being done by their propaganda, which now is for a Republican Government, but formerly was for a Democratic Government. Previously, Democrats had done the same hiding of the regime’s evil, when their Democratic President Barack Obama was the person who was perpetrating it.
This theft — and the normalization of it — are actually bipartisan, and longstanding. When the ‘news’ presents false historical context, it lies; it is propaganda, and that’s what the American nation’s mainstream ‘news’-media now are. They are deceptive garbage, regime-propaganda.
On October 20th, Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, and Republican Maria Bartiromo of Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures,” discussed the Republican Trump’s plan to steal Syria’s oil, and they both agreed that it might turn out to be an excellent policy. This show was headlined “Sen. Lindsey Graham: I am increasingly optimistic we can have historic solutions in Syria.” It was a remarkably bold defense of the U.S. Government’s — and of its allies’ — thefts from Syria. Already, the U.S. Government had said that it won’t pay even a cent in order to provide restitution for the estimated $388 billion in damages to Syria from the invasion of Syria by the U.S. and by its allies such as Al Qaeda and the Sauds, but this show presented an endorsement by those two Republicans, backing the Republican U.S. President’s plan to steal Syria’s oil, which goes beyond merely supporting zero restitution to the invaded country. No mention was being made, by them, on this ‘news’-medium, that (as will be documented here) those thefts by the U.S. Government, and by its allies, have, in fact, been going on ever since the invasions of Syria by them and their proxies (or “agents” — such as Al Qaeda) had started in 2012. No mention was made by them that this was the policy of Democratic President Barack Obama and that it’s merely being continued further by Trump. To the exact contrary: Trump was being praised by these propagandists for starting this program, and, so, their praise was not just evil; it was actually entirely false.
Right before the interview, Bartiromo had been pretending to be a critical non-partisan journalist instead of the propagandist that she is, and so she stated that “my biggest issue here is the strength of Iran [as if Iran had ever invaded or even threatened to invade the United States, and as if Trump’s anti-Iran policies aren’t sufficiently stringent, or maybe even are vastly too stringent, or maybe even are altogether unjustified]. And I feel like the administration had the Iranians on their heels and ruining the economy through sanctions, through this pressure campaign. And now we give up and leave Syria.” The Senator disagreed with her make-pretend criticism of the Republican President, and he said that, instead,
The big thing for me is the oil fields. President Trump is thinking outside the box. I was so impressed with his thinking about the oil. Not only are we going to deny the oil fields falling into Iranian hands. I believe we’re on the verge of a joint venture between us and the Syrian Democratic Forces, who helped destroy ISIS and keep them destroyed, to modernize the oil fields and make sure they get the revenue, not the Iranians, not Assad. … That’s why what President Trump is proposing in Syria, a joint venture dealing with the southern oil fields in Syria, between our allies, the Kurds and the Arabs who helped us destroy ISIS, is a historic change that could pay dividends for the region. And, quite frankly, we could generate revenue to pay for our commitment in Syria. … I am increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions in Syria that have eluded us for years, if we play our cards right.
Bartiromo replied “Wow. … You actually do see a way forward after you have spoken with the president on his plan to secure those oil fields.”
This theft is pushed by all of the U.S. mainstream media, and Trump knows that he will need at least some degree of support from them if he is to be able to win re-election. This is the reason why he keeps contradicting himself — trying to appeal to the “No More War” crowd, while still drawing donations from the “military-industrial complex” or owners of America’s ‘defense’ contractors. (There’s a lot of crossover between the controlling owners of those firms and the controlling owners of the ‘news’-media — and of the ‘non-profit’ foundations.) America’s major ‘news’ media have always buried the truth about this long-ongoing theft.
And not only was the theft of Syria’s oil the policy of Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama, but it was participated in by his coalition, which included both EU heads-of-state and Arab heads-of-state, and this policy began in 2011. Here’s how it, in fact, developed:
On 28 November 2012, Syria News headlined “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Machinery in Broad Daylight” and accompanied it by video of the alleged event. (At that time, Qatar and Turkey were allies of the U.S. arming the ‘rebels’ in Syria to overthrow Syria’s Government; so, they were part of America’s broader operation, and were also profiting from it.) But that video is no longer active. A subsequent description of that video was posted under the headline “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Excavators – No Translation”. Another posting of the video online has lasted from 6 October 2013 to the present time, under the headline “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Excavators – BiffiSyrien”, where it still can be viewed.
By no later than 12 December 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama made the decision to hire Al Qaeda in Syria (called “Al Nusra”) to train and lead almost all of America’s proxy-forces on the ground in Syria to overthrow Syria’s Government. (Kurds were assigned to be America’s lead proxy-forces in far northeastern Syria.) (Obama was so determined to protect Al Qaeda in Syria as to sabotage on 17 September 2016 his own Secretary of State, John Kerry’s, just-signed Syrian ceasefire agreement with Russia, because that agreement allowed not only ISIS, but also Al Qaeda forces, to continue to be bombed in Syria by Russia. Obama was protecting Al Qaeda in Syria.)
On 22 April 2013, the AP headlined “EU lifts Syria oil embargo to bolster rebels” and reported that
The European Union on Monday lifted its oil embargo on Syria to provide more economic support to the forces fighting to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime. The decision will allow for crude exports from rebel-held territory. … The oil exports could open an important revenue stream for Syria’s opposition. …
While Syria was never one of the world’s major oil exporters, the sector was a pillar of Syria’s economy until the uprising, with the country producing about 380,000 barrels a day and exports — almost exclusively to Europe — bringing in more than $3 billion in 2010. Oil revenues provided around a quarter of the funds for the national budget. Being able to take advantage of the country’s oil resources will help the Syrian uprising “big time,” said Osama Kadi, a senior member of the Syrian opposition.
On 27 April 2013, the New York Times headlined “Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy” and reported that
Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of. … The religious agenda of the combatants sets them apart from many civilian activists, protesters and aid workers who had hoped the uprising would create a civil, democratic Syria. … Of most concern to the United States is the Nusra Front, whose leader recently confirmed that the group cooperated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and pledged fealty to Al Qaeda’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s longtime deputy. Nusra has claimed responsibility for a number of suicide bombings and is the group of choice for the foreign jihadis pouring into Syria.
Another prominent group, Ahrar al-Sham, shares much of Nusra’s extremist ideology but is made up mostly of Syrians. …
In the oil-rich provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasaka, Nusra fighters have seized government oil fields, putting some under the control of tribal militias and running others themselves.
“They are the strongest military force in the area,” said the commander of a rebel brigade in Hasaka reached via Skype. “We can’t deny it.” …
“We all want an Islamic state and we want Shariah to be applied,” said Maawiya Hassan Agha, a rebel activist reached by Skype in the northern village of Sarmeen. He said a country’s laws should flow from its people’s beliefs and compared Syrians calling for Islamic law with the French banning Muslim women from wearing face veils.
On 1 May 2013, TIME bannered “Syria’s Opposition Hopes to Win the War by Selling Oil” and reported that
Without an embargo, European companies can now legally begin importing barrels of oil directly from rebel groups, which have seized several oil fields in recent months, mostly around the eastern area of Deir Ezzor. That would provide the opposition with its first reliable source of income since the revolt erupted in Feb. 2011, and in theory hasten the downfall of Bashar Assad’s regime, by giving rebels the means to run skeletal local governments and consolidate their control.
On 15 June 2013, Global Research headlined “Former French Foreign Minister: The War against Syria was Planned Two years before ‘The Arab Spring’” and Gearóid Ó Colmáin reported that
In an interview with the French TV station LCP, former French minister for Foreign Affairs Roland Dumas said:
“I’m going to tell you something. I was in England two years before the violence in Syria [in other words, in 2009] on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria.
This was in Britain not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer minister for foreign affairs, if I would like to participate.
Naturally, I refused, I said I’m French, that doesn’t interest me.”
Dumas attributed it to Israel, not to the U.S., nor to the Sauds (who actually had always been the CIA’s choice to appoint the leaders of Syria), and he didn’t even so much as mention either of those, except to say that “this will enable it [Israel] to replace the United States as a global hegemon” (which is a crackpot idea). Though his interpretation was ridiculous, his allegation that in 2009 “top British officials … confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria” is a factual matter, which is either true or false. (Back in 2009, there is actual evidence that American’s President Barack Obama was aiming to overthrow Assad. Furthermore, Obama’s team started by no later than 23 June 2011 to plan both the coup in Ukraine which succeeded and the coup in Syria, which failed. And as the great investigative journalist Gareth Porter reported on 5 January 2017, “In August 2011, national security officials began urging Obama to call on Assad to step down,” but at that time “He wasn’t willing to go along with anything except small arms,” until CIA Director David Petraeus — who soon thereafter became a member of the Bilderberg group — persuaded him to go all-out in arming the ‘rebels’. Furthermore, “when Obama was making crucial Syria policy decisions in September 2011,” his advisors assumed that both Russia and Iran would stay out of the matter and just let the U.S. and the Sauds take-over Syria. Obama respected his advisors. And, then, Porter headlined on 22 June 2017, “How America Armed Terrorists in Syria”. So: this theft-operation was extensively armed by the U.S. regime, and funded by the Sauds.)
In any case, the EU was certainly helping ISIS and other such groups to steal Syria’s oil, so as to help fund their overthrow-Assad operation. So, the participation also of UK was likely, even if not, at that time, proven.
On 14 October 2015, the Financial Times headlined ”Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists” and reported that “Selling crude is Isis’ biggest single source of revenue. … While al-Qaeda, the global terrorist network, depended on donations from wealthy foreign sponsors, Isis has derived its financial strength from its status as monopoly producer of an essential commodity consumed in vast quantities throughout the area it controls.” (In other words, when TIME, on 1 May 2013, bannered “Syria’s Opposition Hopes to Win the War by Selling Oil” and said “That would provide the opposition with its first reliable source of income since the revolt erupted in Feb. 2011,” the “opposition” being referred to there was actually ISIS, not Al Qaeda. The EU was buying its black-market oil from ISIS.)
On 1 December 2015, another great investigative journalist, Nafeez Ahmed, bannered “Western firms primed to cash in on Syria’s oil and gas ‘frontier’” and he reported:
US, British, French, Israeli and other energy interests could be prime beneficiaries of military operations in Iraq and Syria designed to rollback the power of the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) and, potentially, the Bashar al-Assad regime.
A study for a global oil services company backed by the French government and linked to Britain’s Tory-led administration, published during the height of the Arab Spring, hailed the significant “hydrocarbon potential” of Syria’s offshore resources.
The 2011 study was printed in GeoArabia, a petroleum industry journal published by a Bahrain-based consultancy, GulfPetroLink, which is sponsored by some of the world’s biggest oil companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Total, and BP. GeoArabia’s content has no open subscription system and is exclusively distributed to transnational energy corporations, corporate sponsors and related organisations, as well as some universities.
On 28 August 2018, Abdel Bari Atwan, one of the Middle East’s most respected journalists, headlined “Carrots and Sticks” and reported that
Damascus has been inundated with secret offers in recent weeks as part of a carrot-and-stick policy, two of which are particularly significant.
The first, reported on Tuesday by the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese daily al-Akhbar and the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency, was conveyed by a senior US military officer accompanied by representatives of various intelligence agencies. They flew to Damascus on a private UAE jet, and were met by the head of the National Security Bureau Gen. Ali Mamlouk, intelligence chief Gen. Deeb Zaitoun, and deputy army chief-of-staff Gen. Muwaffaq Masoud. Their meeting lasted four hours. The Americans reportedly offered to withdraw all US forces from Syria in exchange for Damascus complying with three demands: to pull Iranian forces out of areas of southern Syria adjoining Israel; to guarantee US oil companies a share of Syria’s oil east of the Euphrates; and to hand over all information about terrorist groups and their members in Syria.
The second offer was revealed by Lebanese Hezbollah MP Nawwaf al-Mousawi in a discussion programme on the Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen, at which I was also a panellist. He said that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin-Salman sent an envoy to Asad offering to support him remaining president for life and provide generous Saudi support for Syria’s reconstruction in exchange for him severing ties with Iran and Hezbollah.
Both offers were categorically turned down by the Syrian leadership.
The American delegation was told that its troops in Syria were occupying forces which would be treated as such, that Syria could not abandon its strategic allies, and that issues such as US participation in the oil industry and exchanging intelligence could be discussed once political relations were re-established.
On 2 September 2018, the German intelligence analyst who blogs anonymously as “Moon of Alabama” headlined “Syria Sitrep – U.S. To Stay To ‘Create Quagmires’” and he reported:
The claim that the U.S. is there to fight ISIS is a lie. ISIS is still active in two places in Syria. Both are under U.S. control. …
The U.S. is not fighting ISIS in Syria. It is building semi-permanent bases, trains a large proxy force, and controls Syria’s oilfields. Its aim is still regime change, the same aim it had when it launched the war on Syria seven and a half years ago. To achieve that it will continue to sow as much chaos as possible.
As CIA and Pentagon mouthpiece David Ignatius wrote this week:
“[T]he administration has stopped the dithering and indecision of the past 18 months and signaled that the United States has enduring interests in Syria, beyond killing Islamic State terrorists — and that it isn’t planning to withdraw its Special Operations forces from northeastern Syria anytime soon.
‘Right now, our job is to help create quagmires [for Russia and the Syrian regime] until we get what we want,’ says one administration official, explaining the effort to resist an Idlib onslaught. This approach involves reassuring the three key U.S. allies on Syria’s border — Israel, Turkey and Jordan — of continued American involvement.”
But what seems ultimately to endure is: Steal the oil.
On 26 February 2019 the Syrian National News Agency reported that Syria’s Government accused the U.S. Government of having stolen from ISIS so much gold that ISIS had received as payment for oil that ISIS had stolen from Syria, so that the U.S. Federal Reserve was enriched by at least 40 tons of gold. The accusation is that this black-marketed oil produced that gold for the U.S. Government, and purchased “safe passage for the terrorists.”
So: Trump, and Fox News, and U.S. Senators, etc., are planning to continue the operation that Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the U.S. CIA, and Britain’s MI6, and the rest of the U.S. regime and its allies, were trying to do even before the “Arab Spring” began. As I have previously reported, Obama, even when he came into office in 2009, was aiming to take control of Syria, for it to become ruled by agents of the Saud family, and he started planning the ‘revolution’ in Syria by no later than 23 June 2011.
So: the faker Donald Trump is really just old hat, nothing at all new. He’s merely trying to do what Obama was trying to do, but using different tactics to do it.
And, so, what is the ‘justification’ for this theft? It is America’s alliances:
BARTIROMO: Why are we sending troops to Saudi Arabia then?
GRAHAM: Well, because Saudi Arabia is an ally and Iran is an enemy.
And Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet. …
The official position of the U.S. Government is that Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism and that the Sauds (whom in diplomatic cables and other internal communications the U.S. regime acknowledge to be the biggest financial backer of Al Qaeda) isn’t even a state sponsor of terrorism, at all, but is instead a U.S. ‘ally’.
So: that’s how they ‘justify’ it. They ‘justify’ it by the rest of the gang — the very same gang that the U.S. regime itself leads. Their ‘justification’, of themselves, is empty. It is only propaganda, for fools to believe. Nothing more, than that. On Friday, October 26th, the Washington Post headlined “Trump decided to leave troops in Syria after conversations about oil, officials say”, and — like all of the regime’s stenographic reporting of the regime’s ‘news’ — reported the regime’s more official ‘explanation’, which was: “Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper confirmed on Friday that troops would remain in eastern Syria to prevent the oil fields from being retaken by the Islamic State.” This is just more of the same: it’s just citing ‘ISIS’ as being the ‘enemy’, instead of citing “Syria” as being that. They are asserting that they can steal Syria’s oil so as to prevent ISIS from stealing it. First, ISIS and other U.S. allies stole it; and, then, the U.S. seized ISIS’s gold from those sales; and, now, the U.S. will be stealing Syria’s oil directly.
Similarly, in 2002 and 2003, the U.S. regime, and its stenographic press, kept shifting their ‘explanation’ as to why Iraq had to be immediately invaded. Americans believed it then, and they believe it now. The American public never learn. This is now 17 years later. There has been no change, except in whom the occupant of the White House is. But fortunately, this time, there is Russia that perhaps can say no to this plan. Only time will tell if it will. And, if it does, then will Trump pull his nuclear trigger — an invasion of Russia, WW III, an aggression against the other superpower? I doubt it, but it could happen. To overestimate the greed and the stupidity of the international Deep State is hard to do. These billionaires didn’t get to be billionaires by being intelligent or being good — cunning and ruthless, yes, but that’s very different. After all, the announced highest aspiration of Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, is to send a trillion people out into space, “getting humanity established in the solar system”. Even conquering the world wouldn’t be enough to satisfy some of these individuals.
On 20 August 2018, Russia’s RT News headlined “‘Secret directive’ bans UN agencies from helping rebuild Syria until ‘political transition’ – Lavrov” and reported that Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that the Executive branch of the U.N., the U.N. Secretariat, had issued in October 2017 a “secret directive” (violating two resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly — the U.N.’s Legislature), and that this secret directive ordered U.N. agencies to do nothing to help rebuild Syria unless the U.S. first had approved of a new person to replace Syria’s existing President, and unless that person had already become installed to lead Syria.
According to the anti-Russian Haaretz newspaper in anti-Russian Israel, on 31 August 2018,
One country that is likely going to stay out of the infighting over the reconstruction process is the United States. The Trump administration has no clear policy on the “day after” in Syria, except for one principle: No American money will be spent on it.
The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, made that point clear at a speech she gave on Tuesday in Washington, explaining that Russia and the Assad regime “own” Syria now. “You broke it, you own it,” Haley said at a summit organized by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies [an organization that zionist Jews had set up in the U.S.]. …
Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, expressed a similar view, writing in the British newspaper The Independent: “Long before any talk of providing reconstruction assistance for Syria, which in any event would require lifting separate targeted sanctions, European governments should call out Russia’s complicity in Syria’s war crimes and vigorously press the Kremlin to end these atrocities and stop underwriting Syria’s repression.”
It was the deployment of the Russian air force three years ago that tilted the scales of the war in favor of Assad, who at that time controlled only a quarter of the country’s territory. Even today, Russia maintains its military presence in Syria to ensure the regime’s upper hand.
This is similar to the policy of imperial Rome toward Carthage — a resisting city-state — in 146 BC, when the Emperor ordered the resisting city-state destroyed at the end of the final, the Third, Punic War, except that, in the present instance, the imperial ruler is (on and off, depending on his whim of the day) quitting his efforts to conquer that land, and is instead (but this being consistent) commanding his agencies never to assist to restore Syria, unless and until it finally will surrender to the empire. In that sense, Syria may be considered to be today’s Carthage. (Another difference is that Syria, unlike Carthage at that time, is no expansionist — or “imperialist” — power.) So: Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, Maria Bartiromo, Barack Obama, the U.S. Congress, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, and the other agents and agencies of the U.S. empire, are in an imperial tradition that goes back thousands of years, if not longer.
However, though Syria is an ally of Iran, and of Russia; and so the U.S. regime want regime-change there, Donald Trump might have reached the limit of his regime-change aspirations when on 10 September 2019 he finally fired John Bolton, who (along with his predecessors) had failed against Iran, failed against Venezuela, failed against Russia, and failed against China. Trump’s most intensive regime-change effort has been against Iran (though Fox’s Maria Bartiromo thinks it’s not enough). On 5 July 2018, the excellent investigative journalist Sibel Edmonds headlined at her Newsbud site her 33-minute video “Breaking: Insiders Reveal Secret Deal to Topple Iran Government!” revealing (starting at 19:00) that ever since Trump entered office in 2017, his Administration was planning to execute an operation not only to terminate the Iran deal and re-institute sanctions but to enforce sactions so stringently against any country that would continue trading with Iran, so as to strangle Iran’s economy and thus impose such misery upon the Iranian population so that they would welcome a military coup in order to end their (U.S.-imposed) misery. This operation had a Plan A and a Plan B. In Plan A, Iran’s generals who would participate in the coup would institute an ‘anti-American’ ‘independent’ government which would buy U.S.-made weapons from EU countries and thus not be viewed by Iranians as a U.S.-stooge regime (though becoming a U.S. stooge regime); the sanctions would be lifted, and Iran’s economy would be restored. In Plan B, 3-3.5M Iranians would be killed by the bombing, and all of Iran’s generals would be among them. Plan A would be Iran’s generals ‘standing up for the Iranian people’, a ‘nationalistic’ (instead of capitulationist) coup, to remove the ‘dictatorship’. Plan B would be a much bigger slaughter of Iranians. Edmonds said (27:30) the coup “would take place, I would say, in less than six months.” (29:00) “There is a large, powerful military faction that have said Yes [to Plan A]. … How sure of this am I? 100%.” But she was wrong in this prediction; she hadn’t considered the bigger picture. What’s that? Trump was getting too close to his own re-election campaign. And not enough Iranian generals could be corrupted to become traitors; the coup didn’t occur. Bolton, etc., had been too rosy in their predictions that the threats would be enough and that the patriotism of enough of Iran’s generals could just be bought off. (Perhaps the corrupt Americans had expected Iranians to be as corrupt as they themselves were.) Plan B was thus supposed to become imposed — an outright U.S. invasion of Iran. But what would this invasion have done to Trump’s re-election chances? The Deep State had actually suckered him. That’s why Bolton (part of the Deep State) was fired. And, so, now, Congress and the U.S. media are finally out for Trump’s scalp, because he wouldn’t follow through with the Deep State’s plan. Maybe he’ll do it if he becomes re-elected, but they can’t trust him; they want President Mike Pence. That’s become their new Plan B: impeachment in the House, and forced removal in the Senate. His intensified effort, now, to steal Syria’s oil, isn’t enough to stop that.
The reason why Julian Assange, ever since 12 June 2012, has been under various forms of imprisonment — and now torture — without there having been any conviction for anything, and not even any trial being held in his case, is that the U.S. and its allied regimes need to keep their secrets, and therefore need to eliminate him. To publishers, and to journalists, throughout the U.S.-and-allied world, his case is the ultimate warning of what each one of them could face. This is how the real law actually operates, throughout the empire. Assange is simply the personification of it, for everyone. However, as might logically follow from this situation, the only country in the world where Assange — who is globally viewed more favorably than unfavorably — is widely despised, is the United States, where the handwriting against him is “on the wall,” almost everywhere. America’s ‘news’-media have been uniquely devoted to doing their job. But, of course, authentic news-media perform a different job. And Assange’s case is the most effective possible warning to whatever authentic news-media might still exist within the U.S. empire. To call this empire a ‘democracy’ anywhere, insults that noble term.
NOTE: This article was rejected (no explanation provided) by Columbia Journalism Review, which bills itself as “a media watchdog” in America. This is the type of ‘media watchdog’ that exists in this ‘democracy’.
PS (after all of the preceding was written and finalized): Five hours ago (as this is being written), Fox News headlined “Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy more consistent with homicidal strangulation than suicide, Dr. Michael Baden reveals” and reported about a person who had known too much dirt on too many billionaires and top political leaders. Epstein had hidden blackmail cameras in every room; he was in the ideal position for a terrific plea-deal landing him a cushy sentence for testifying against those elite; but now the entire case against him is closed because the suspect is dead, so can’t even be tried, at all. What’s on those videos won’t become public. Who had a bigger motive to kill him: Epstein — or the individuals who were shown on those videos? And now there seems to be also physical evidence that it wasn’t Epstein. How reasonable, then, is it for the U.S. regime to pontificate against ‘America’s enemies’, about the need to impose there ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’, and to assert this barbaric regime’s ‘responsibility to protect’ the people in those other countries, when it’s actually coming from such a dictatorship as this? Does any limit exist, at all, to the U.S. regime’s hypocrisies? And how much longer will it continue to be able to fool its public? The U.S. ‘news’-media have succeeded, thus far.
|October 31, 2019||
Major cities of the world could submerge within 30 years due to Global Warming.
by Countercurrents Collective, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
Major cities of the world are at risk of being submerged under rising sea levels over the next 30 years. This could put hundreds of millions of people at risk – their homes and jobs lost. A new study finds this. New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.
A new digital elevation model known as CoastalDEM indicates that as many as 630 million people around the world live on land that lies below projected annual flood levels for 2100.
The study findings, published in the journal Nature Communications (Kulp, S.A., Strauss, B.H. New Elevation Data Triple Estimates of Global Vulnerability to Sea-level Rise and Coastal Flooding, volume 10, article number: 4844, 2019) on October 29, 2019, show that some 340 million people will be living on land that falls below the levels of average annual coastal land by 2050 – up from the previous NASA estimate of 250 million.
People at risk of annual floods live in countries that include Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand. The population in these countries face the threat of being entirely submerged making the areas at risk of being uninhabitable.
London Shanghai Hong Kong
According to the study by Scott A. Kulp and Benjamin H. Strauss, cities vulnerable in Asian countries include Jakarta, Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong while the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and the entire southern tip of the country could be flooded.
Nineteen other countries, including Brazil and the UK could also see land being lost beneath the waves. In the UK, London is predicted to be affected.
The study report said:
Most estimates of global mean sea-level rise this century fall below 2 m. Employing CoastalDEM, the study shows, 190 million (M) people currently occupy global land below projected high tide lines for 2100 under low carbon emissions, up from 110 M today, for a median increase of 80 M. Under high emissions, CoastalDEM indicates up to 630 M people live on land below projected annual flood levels for 2100, and up to 340 M for mid-century, versus roughly 250 M at present.
The scientists estimate one billion people now occupy land less than 10 m above current high tide lines, including 250 M below 1 m.
The study report said: “Recent work has suggested that, even in the US, sea-level rise this century may induce large-scale migration away from unprotected coastlines, redistributing population density across the country and putting great pressure on inland areas.”
The study report said:
“Driven by climate change, global mean sea level rose 11–16 cm in the twentieth century. Even with sharp, immediate cuts to carbon emissions, it could rise another 0.5 m this century. Under higher emissions scenarios, twenty-first century rise may approach or in the extremes exceed 2 m in the case of early-onset Antarctic ice sheet instability. Translating sea-level projections into potential exposure of population is critical for coastal planning and for assessing the benefits of climate mitigation, as well as the costs of failure to act.”
“Central estimates in the recent literature broadly agree that global mean sea level is likely to rise 20–30 cm by 2050. End-of-century projections diverge more, with typical central estimates ranging from 50–70 cm under representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 70–100 cm under RCP 8.5, though more recent projections incorporating Antarctic ice sheet dynamics indicate that sea levels may rise 70–100 cm under RCP 4.5 and 100–180 cm under RCP 8.5, and could even exceed 2 m or more in far-tail scenarios. Via a structured elicitation of opinion, experts now estimate there is a 5 percent chance 21st century sea-level rise will exceed 2 m. Both sets of projections are conditional on global carbon emissions; RCPs 2.6 (low emissions), 4.5 (moderate emissions), and 8.5 (high emissions) are considered for this analysis. These models use 2000 as the baseline year (zero sea-level rise), which we treat as present-day with respect to sea level for relevant vulnerability estimates. The results we present here are based on median sea-level projections, along with 90% credible intervals when derived from K14, and 90% intervals from simulation frequency distributions when derived from K17.
“The majority of people living on implicated land are in developing countries across Asia, and chronic coastal flooding or permanent inundation threatens areas occupied by more than 10% of the current populations of nations including Bangladesh, Vietnam, and many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by 2100.”
The results the study found include:
The number of people on land that may be exposed to coastal inundation — either by permanently falling below MHHW, or temporarily falling below the local annual flood height. Coastal defenses are not considered, but hydrologic connectivity to the ocean is otherwise enforced using connected components analysis. Future population growth and migration are also not considered; rather, we use 2010 (essentially current) population density data from Landscan to indicate threats relative to present development patterns.
For one moderate future scenario, sea levels projected by 2050 are high enough to threaten land currently home to a total of 150 (140–170) million people to a future permanently below the high tide line, or a marginal increase of 40 (30–60) million. Total and marginal exposure each rise by another 50 (20–90) million people by end of century. A total of 360 (310–420) million people are on land threatened by annual flood events in 2100, or an extra 110 (60–170) million beyond the contemporary baseline. This case reflects greenhouse gas emissions cuts roughly consistent with warming of 2 °C and assumes a mostly stable Antarctic.
In the case of Antarctic instability, a total of 300 (270–340) million people today live on land indicated as vulnerable to an annual flood event by mid-century, rising to as many as 480 (380–630) million by 2100. These values represent marginal increases of 50 (20–90) and 230 (130–380) million from the present, respectively. All 90% CIs given originate from uncertainty in sea-level projections.
More than 70% of the total number of people worldwide currently living on implicated land are in eight Asian countries: China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan.
In several developing countries south of China, ECWL exposure may be an order of magnitude more serious than previously expected as based on SRTM. Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam come to rival China in the median number of people living on land implicated by 2100, totaling 21–30 million even under the low emissions scenario, compared to 9–19 M today, and with another 10–25 million on land threatened by annual storm surge. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines see a 5-fold to 10-fold change in estimated current populations below the projected high tide.
In Asia, even with deep cuts to carbon emissions, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Thailand may, by end-of-century, face high tide lines higher than land now home to 19 (15–25)%, 26 (23–31)%, and 17 (15–18)% of their people, respectively, before accounting for episodic flooding events.
Continued high emissions with Antarctic instability could entail land currently home to roughly one-third of Bangladesh’s and Vietnam’s populations permanently falling below the high tide line. It follows that some coastal municipalities within these nations will see even larger proportions of their populations threatened with displacement.
Except for Djibouti, Guyana, and the United Arab Emirates, all of these are island nations, and thirteen are classified by the UN as Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The study report said:
Results should therefore not be taken as projected impacts. Rather, they reflect the portion of presently developed land at risk in the future, which we interpret as a threat indicator. In addition, behavioral and economic responses to rising seas are likely to be unpredictable, due to the largely unprecedented nature and scale of the problem.
Furthermore, this analysis assumes a static coastal topography, with the exception of a linear model of vertical land motion implicit in the sea-level projections used. Erosion, wetland migration/accretion, and other morphological processes are not considered. It is difficult to predict how these factors affect the uncertainty of our results, especially since sea-level change may trigger complex process responses. However, we note that armored, developed, and maintained shorelines in urban areas, where vulnerable populations are concentrated, may generally be less susceptible to such factors than undeveloped land.
This study focuses on estimating populations occupying land below future high tide lines or annual flood levels, but results also indicate that some 110 M people live below MHHW today (with many more below annual flood lines).
Globally at present, levees and seawalls protect low-lying populations in many major deltas, such as around Shanghai, the Netherlands and New Orleans, and in areas experiencing rapid subsidence, such as parts of Jakarta and Tokyo.
Fourth and finally, many people today do live in unprotected areas subject to frequent coastal flooding (if not below the high tide line), such as in Bangladesh, or in boats or structures on or above the water (such as homes on stilts). These possibilities are likely to be most common in developing countries, and to be poorly documented.
The levees, seawalls and other defenses and accommodations currently protecting tens or hundreds of millions of coastal-area residents globally point to the potential for protecting ever-larger areas as seas rise. At the same time, current coastal defenses should not be assumed adequate to protect against future sea levels and storms without continued maintenance and, likely, enhancement. These countervailing possibilities point to the merits of reporting results based both on total ECWL exposure and on marginal increases in exposure from the contemporary baseline. Total exposure recognizes the potential vulnerability of all populations on low-lying coastal lands as sea levels rise. Marginal exposure highlights new populations of concern, while leaving out populations in areas that may be defended at present, and thus may be more likely to be defended in the future.
Even in light of the limitations identified, this research, using a significantly improved model of coastal elevations, provides new best estimates of the vulnerability of populated low-lying areas to rising oceans at global and national scales. Reliability increases with the size of the area evaluated, and with the water level considered; thus, global assessments for end-of-century sea levels and floods, under high sea-level scenarios, should be considered most robust. Analysis reveals a developed global coastline three times more exposed to extreme coastal water levels than previously thought. Even with low carbon emissions and stable Antarctic ice sheets, leading to optimistically low future sea levels, we find that the global impacts of sea-level rise and coastal flooding this century will likely be far greater than indicated by the most pessimistic past analyses relying on SRTM. These results point to great need for the development and public release of improved terrain elevation datasets for coastal areas, for example via the high-resolution imagery and lidar point clouds increasingly collected by satellite today. There is also great need for improved population data; data on the location, height and condition of coastal-area levees and seawalls; and improved global sea level and tidal models.
If our findings stand, coastal communities worldwide must prepare themselves for much more difficult futures than may be currently anticipated. Recent work has suggested that, even in the US, sea-level rise this century may induce large-scale migration away from unprotected coastlines, redistributing population density across the country and putting great pressure on inland areas60. It is difficult to extrapolate such projections and their impacts to more resource-constrained developing nations, though historically, large-scale migration events have posed serious challenges to political stability, driving conflict. Further research on global-scale modeling of the timing, locations, and intensity of migratory responses to increased coastal flooding is urgently needed to minimize the potential human harm caused by such threats.