Monday, September 30, 2013

Netanyahu in Washington


Netanyahu in Washington

by Stephen Lendman

Haaretz published a live blog Tel Aviv time. At 6:20 PM, protesters outside the White House chanted: "Arrest Bibi. He is a war criminal. No war on Iran. Free free Palestine."

At 6:18PM, Netanyahu arrived at the White House. He and Obama met. 

Reports said Obama told him negotiations with Iran won't take sanctions or possible military action off the table.

Ahead of Netanyahu's arrival, Israeli radio interviewed US ambassador Dan Shapiro. He said Obama remains steadfast. He won't let Iran develop nuclear weapons.

Perhaps he had a hard time saying it with a straight face. US and Israeli officials know Iran has no nuclear weapons program. 

They lie claiming otherwise. Doing so is red herring cover for longstanding regime change plans. 

Israel wants a regional rival removed. Washington wants Middle East dominance. It wants it globally. It wants it unchallenged. 

It wants all independent governments toppled. It wants pro-Western vassal states replacing them.

From the Hague, Israeli President Shimon Peres repeated the Big Lie. "All options" remain on the table to force Iran to cease its nuclear program, he said.

Asked if Israel will join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Peres equivocated saying his government will consider it. 

Israel is one of only five non-signatory Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) states. The others are Angola, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan. 

In 1993, Israel and Myanmar signed CWC. They haven't ratified it. All CWC signatories automatically become OPCW members.

Peres was asked about Iranian President Hassan Rohani's General Assembly speech. 

This writer called it eloquent, straightforward, honest and important. He spoke truth to power. He did so sincerely and candidly.

Israel's delegation walked out. It did so disgracefully. Netanyahu called Rohani's speech "cynical." It was "full of hypocrisy," he claimed.

His presidency represents "no change in Iranian policy." It buys time "to achieve nuclear weapons," he added.

Peres echoed similar sentiments. He criticized Rohani's speech. He repeated the Big Lie about Iran wanting nuclear weapons. 

At the same time, he knows Israel maintains formidable chemical, biological and nuclear weapons arsenals.

According to an unnamed Israeli official, Netanyahu and Obama discussed maintaining pressure on Iran.

Netanyahu wants sanctions sustained. He wants them stiffened. He wants Iran's economy to scream. 

It's taken a heavy tool. Ordinary Iranians suffer. Netanyahu wants them hit harder. 

On Tuesday, he addresses the General Assembly. He'll present Israel's "rights as a nation, our determination to defend ourselves and our hopes for peace." 

"I will speak the truth. Facts must be stated in the face of the sweet talk and the blitz of smiles," he said.

Netanyahu deplores peace and stability. He thrives on conflict, destabilization, subversion and deep-seated anti-Arab/Persian hostility.

On September 30, Reuters headlined "Netanyahu urges Obama to keep sanctions in place on Iran." 

He warned about not being swayed by Iran's "sweet talk." He wants stiff pressure maintained. He wants war. He may get it.

It may take longer to launch than he wishes. For years, he and other Israeli officials lied. They claimed Iran is months away from developing nuclear weapons.

They know Tehran has no intention doing so. So does Obama. He and Netanyahu agreed on maintaining hardline Iranian policy.

Netanyahu said no deal is better than a bad one. Much has been made about an Obama/Netanyahu rift. At times, it's hard separating rhetoric from reality. 

Neither leader appears happy about the other. Disagreement between them is palpable. It's over Iranian red lines and deadlines.

Netanyahu is abrasive and callous. A previous article called him the mouth that roars. It did so for good reason. He repeatedly puts both feet in his mouth. Doing so risks swallowing them.

He's arrogant, offensive, duplicitous, thuggish, and dangerous. He's an embarrassment to legitimate governance. It's hard imagining why Israelis put up with him.

One observer urged him to "set red lines on his malice toward Obama." Israelis and many others are fed up with his bluster. 

He's gone out of his way to alienate support from his closest ally. An unnamed Israeli official said he caused "profound" damage in relations with Washington.

He's irresponsible. He oversteps traditional boundaries. According to a Bulgarian proverb:

"When God wants to punish someone, the first thing He does is take away his brains."

Bibiism is a state of mind. It reflects Netanyahu's hardline authoritarianism. His bottom line is what he says goes. He rejects opposing views.

He's combative and overbearing. Observers call him pompous, domineering, and insufferable.

He engages in the politics of permanent confrontation. He never misses a chance for a good fight. He avoids reconciliation and cooperation.

It's hard putting up with his antics. Former State Department spokesman PJ Crowley witnessed nine face-to-face meetings with Obama. 

There's "a lack of rapport between these two men," he said. "They don't like each other very much. Plus, there are serious differences between our interests and Israel's."

Netanyahu stresses "agenda setting." It's personal with him. He believes his hawkishness got Washington to impose tougher sanctions. He's not about to attack Iran alone.

In a November 2012 press conference, an open microphone caught former French President Nicolas Sarkozy saying "I cannot bear" Netanyahu. He called him "a liar."

Obama responded saying: "You're fed up, but I have to deal with him every day."

According to Netanyahu:

"Leaders are tested at times of differences with our allies, even our closest allies. We face huge challenges." 

"As prime minister, it's my duty to insist on Israel's vital interests and to ensure its security and future." 

"The most important interest today is to prevent Iran from continuing its clear effort to obtain nuclear weapons - weapons in the hands of a state that calls for our destruction and is bent on achieving its goal."

As long as he remains prime minister, relations with America and other nations won't be easy. His bluster wore thin long ago.

In 2011, he lectured Obama on Jewish history. He has a knack of making more enemies than friends. He alienates associates around him.

On Tuesday, he'll address UN member states. His comments don't make easy listening. A follow-up article will explain more.

On September 30, Press TV headlined "Obama didn't speak about Iran's right to enrich: Rice."

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Obama didn't comment "about a right of Iran to enrich."

"We have said that as a member of the NPT - in the context of Iran meeting its international obligations - that means fulfilling its responsibilities under the IAEA resolutions, as well as the UN Security Council resolutions, that once it has done that we would recognize that it, like every other nation, as a good-standing member of the NPT has a right to the use of peaceful nuclear energy." 

“But we're some distance from that being achievable, obviously, because right now, Iran remains in non-compliance with its obligations under the Security Council resolutions."

False! Iran fully complies with NPT provisions. It hasn't violated Security Council resolutions.

Rice expresses visceral anti-Iranian sentiment. She's a staunch administration hawk. South African journalist Getahune Bekele called her a "consummate ally of grubby despots."

Obama calls her "extraordinary." Her style matches Hillary Clinton. She deplores peace, nonviolence, diplomacy and social justice. Her outbursts match Netanyahu's.

She endorses US lawlessness. She relishes imperial conquest. She's indifferent to human suffering. 

She's a monument to wrong over right. She's an embarrassment to her country, position and humanity. 

Her abrasive style makes more enemies than friends. She's one of America's worst ever envoys. She can't be trusted. 

Nor can Obama and Netanyahu. Their styles differ. Their policies are more likeminded than different. They want regime change in Iran. 

They differ on tactics and timing. Their bottom line positions are similar. They want Iranian sovereignty destroyed. They're willing to wage war to do it.

Ukrainian/Israeli Poet Hayyim Bialik (1873 - 1934) once wrote about "heart's blood and marrow pay(ing) the price of the blaze." Perhaps he had Obama and Netanyahu in mind.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

What a Way to Run the Country


What a Way to Run the Country

by Stephen Lendman

Americans get the best democracy money can buy. The best, brightest and most honorable are excluded. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

Washington is dysfunctional, out-of-control, corrupt, lawless and self-serving. Miscreants infest the nation's capital.

They do so like crabgrass besets lawns. Both parties represent two sides of the same coin.

At the same time, each one jousts with the other. They do it for political advantage. Self-interest is the coin of the realm. 

Ordinary Americans lose out. No one in Washington represents them. America is a democracy in name only. 

Calling it that is a convenient illusion. Numerous examples explain. A looming government shutdown approaches. What a way to run a country. More on what doing it means below.

The last one occurred in late 1995/early 1996. Most people don't remember. The world didn't come to an end.

Government shut down after Clinton vetoed a Republican-sponsored spending bill. 

Non-essential federal workers were furloughed. They were out from November 14 through November 19 and from December 16 until January 6. 

A temporary spending bill resumed normal operations from November 20 through December 15.

Twenty-eight days were adversely affected. Republicans wanted deeper budget cuts than Democrats. 

A 2010 Congressional Research Service report explained what happened. Several hundred thousand federal workers were furloughed. 

According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the cost was at least $1.4 billion.

Economically it hardly mattered. Ordinary people felt it most. Payments to veterans were suspended. National parks were closed.

An estimated 200,000 passport applications weren't processed. Visa application processing was suspended. 

Airlines and other tourism related businesses lost millions of dollars. About 20% of Washington area contracts were impacted.

So were health services, environmental cleanup, law enforcement and public safety.

A September 2013 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report is titled "Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes and Effects."

The Antideficiency Act (ADA) dates from 1884. Updating amendments followed. The legislation prohibits Congress from incurring obligations or appropriating funds in excess of amounts available.

Federal agencies must stop operating when budgeted dollars run out. So-called "exempted activities" aren't affected. They include the military and other sectors affecting national security.

Some consequences of shutting down government remain unclear. According to CRS:

"Programs that are funded by laws other than annual appropriations acts - for example, some entitlement programs - may, or may not, be affected by a funding gap." 

"Specific circumstances appear to be significant. For example, although the funds needed to make payments to beneficiaries may be available automatically pursuant to permanent appropriations, the payments may be processed by employees who are paid with funds provided in annual appropriations acts."

On or around October 17, America reaches its debt limit. If Congress fails to raise it, the Treasury runs out of money. According to CRS:

"In a debt limit impasse the government no longer has an ability to borrow to finance its obligations." 

"As a result, the federal government would need to rely solely on incoming revenues to" do so.

"If this occurred during a period when the federal government was running a deficit, the dollar amount of newly incurred federal obligations would exceed the dollar amount of newly incoming revenues." 

"In such a situation, an agency may continue to obligate funds, because it has budget authority available for obligation, provided that appropriations are in place." 

"However, the Treasury Department may not be able to liquidate all obligations that result in federal outlays, due to a shortage of cash, which may result in delays in federal payments and disruptions in government operations."

On September 20, the Washington Post headlined "Wondering about a government shutdown? First thing to know: It all won't disappear."

If Capitol Hill and Obama don't agree by midnight September 30, "much of the federal government is set to run out of money (by mid-October), and large functions of the federal world could shut down Oct. 1."

WaPo discussed "basics of what a government shutdown might look like."

(1) Who's at fault? It depends on your political persuasion.

America's fiscal year ends on September 30. Under current budget law, Congress must approve 12 appropriations bills.

"It almost never happens" on time. Over the past 17 years, "Congress did not meet its statutory deadline for approving the spending bills."

Confrontation today is over Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA). On Friday, the Republican controlled House approved a stopgap funding bill.

It excludes ACA funding. Democrats control the Senate. They passed legislation including it. 

Unless one side blinks, nonessential government operations will cease on midnight Monday night. They'll remain nonoperative until both parties resolve budget impasse disagreements.

(2) Has Washington prepared to shut down?

"Yes. The Obama administration told agencies this week to begin planning for a partial shutdown." 

"A memo issued to agencies said that 'prudent management requires that agencies be prepared for the possibility of a lapse.' "

"Federal managers must review which of their employees would be essential and required to come to work, and which would be non-
essential and sent home during a shutdown."

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed. They'll remain out until budget impasse squabbles are resolved.

(3) "Does the entire government close?" Exempted activities aren't affected. Certain agencies will continue operating with unpaid staff. 

According to the Office of Management and Budget, they include employees who:

  • "Provide for national security, including the conduct of foreign relations essential to the national security or the safety of life and property.

  • Provide for benefit payments and the performance of obligations under no-year or multi-year contract or other funds remaining available for those purposes.

  • Conduct essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property."

Agency managers must decide who works and who doesn't. Borders will still be patrolled. VA hospitals will keep providing healthcare services. They're skimpy during normal times.

Mail will be delivered.

(4) What about Social Security payments and safety net protections?

They're mandatory obligations. At worst, payments will slow. They'll still be made. Beneficiaries won't lose out.

(5) Will federal workers and contractors be paid? Working staff will receive retroactive salaries once normal operations resume.

Congress must decide if furloughed employees will get lost pay. In past shutdowns they did. It's no guarantee they will this time.

They can't substitute vacation time or other paid leave. They can't work voluntarily. Doing so is prohibited.

(6) What about past shutdowns? Between 1977 and 1980, six occurred. From 1981 - 1996, nine followed.

Current budget battles suggest more to come. Things may get uglier than earlier. In 2013, no appropriation bills were enacted.

As of midnight September 30, the entire federal government will be unfunded. For how long remains to be seen.

A greater issue is the looming debt ceiling. If it's not raised, the Treasury runs out of money. It's usually routine to fund it. 

Perhaps this year will be different. By mid-October we'll know. It bears repeating. What a way to run a country. Given the bipartisan criminal class running things, it doesn't surprise.

(7) Weren't many federal employees furloughed earlier this year?

Almost half of them were for short periods. Doing so followed automatic sequestration cuts. The Defense Department furloughed about 650,000 civilian employees. They were out for six days.

Pay for federal workers was frozen three years ago. They've been cheated out of what they rightfully deserve. 

Obama ordered it. He wants social America destroyed. He's going all out to assure it. He prioritizes neoliberal harshness.

He supports capital's divine right. He supplied trillions of dollars of public money to make more of it. He's done it at the public's expense. 

He's dismissive of vital safety net protections. Let 'em eat cake is official administration policy. 

Limitless funding for monied interests and imperial wars alone matter. Ordinary Americans lose out. They're increasingly on their own sink or swim.

(8) Will Obama, Congress and political appointees keep working?

Yes. They're exempt from furloughs. Some White House and congressional staffers aren't. It's up to their bosses to decide.

In past shutdowns, America's judiciary had enough funding for two weeks. If Washington shuts down longer this time, federal courts won't resume operations until budget impasse disputes are resolved.

(9) How do shutdowns end?

Congress and the White House must decide. No legal time limit is mandated. Public pressure works best. 

When politicians feel heat, they react. It remains to be seen what happens this time.

Perhaps voters one day will catch on. Throwing out bums for new ones doesn't work. 

Voting Republican or Democrat is like choosing between death by hanging or electrocution. Either way you're dead.

Each party replicates the other. Disputes are solely for political advantage. Public interests don't matter. 

Democracy in America is a convenient illusion. It's more hypocrisy than real. Rogues, scalawags, and criminals run things. Ordinary people lose out altogether. 

Things are worse now than ever. America's on a fast track toward tyranny and ruin. It's being thirdworldized. Bipartisan complicity assures it.

Change more than ever is needed. Regime change begins at home. Electoral politics doesn't work. Washington is too pernicious, corrupt and dysfunctional to fix. 

It's way too late for scattered reforms. Change requires bottom up action. Ordinary people have enormous power. 

Key is using it. It takes more than marches, rallies, slogans or violence. It takes sustained commitment.

It takes withdrawing cooperation. It takes breaking entrenched rules. It takes challenging reprisals. It takes resolve.

It takes ordinary people deciding enough's enough. Same old, same won't be tolerated. 

Hardship and discontent motivate people to act. Doing so disruptively works. 

What better time than now to say no more. What better time to stay the course. What better time to demand real change. Nothing less is acceptable.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/way-run-country/

NSA: Rogue Spying Writ Large


NSA: Rogue Spying Writ Large

by Stephen Lendman

No nation in human history ever harmed more millions of people more grievously than America. 

None ever did it more deceptively. None did under the guise of promoting democratic values. None claimed more disingenous nobel intentions.

None expressed more support for human and civil rights while egregiously violating them. None more dangerously threatened humanity. None operated more lawlessly with malicious intent.

NSA is one of many US rogue agencies. It's a power unto itself. It's reckless, ruthless, and out-of-control. It operates extrajudicially. Edward Snowden connected important dots for millions.

Lots more important information awaits to come out. It's all damning. NSA spies globally. It watches everyone. It monitors allies. It's about control. 

It's for economic advantage. It's to be one up on foreign competitors. It's for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.

Domestic spying is longstanding. It's got nothing to do with protecting national security. It's institutionalized. It's unconstitutional. It doesn't matter. Nothing is done to stop it.

Even The New York Times took note. On September 28, it headlined "NSA Gathers Data on Social Connections of US Citizens," saying:

"Since 2010, (NSA) has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials."

It's been analyzing telecommunications and emails to do so. Allegedly it's been to "discover and track" foreign and domestic connections.

NSA ignores rule of law principles. It's Big Brother writ large. It does whatever it wants. It manufactures pretexts to do so.

It claims authorization to conduct "large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness."

It does so extrajudicially. It spies domestically and overseas the same way. It's the world biggest super-snoop.

It augments what it collects with "material from public, commercial and other sources."

They include Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls, GPS location information, property records, and tax data. 

NSA won't say now many Americans it spies on. No one's safe from its global monitoring power.

New disclosures provide more cause for concern. They add to what's already known.

NSA's advanced technology lets it go where no previous spy agency ever went before.

Privacy no longer exists. Congress ignores its lawlessness. On September 26, US intelligence chiefs testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

They urged members to continue supporting what requires committed opposition. They want assurances that legislation won't curb their lawlessness.

They want the right to do whatever they wish. They want nothing done to deter them. 

NSA director General Keith Alexander, DNI head James Clapper, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole refused to disclose the worst of its practices.

Committee chairwoman Diane Feinstein is a longtime NSA apologist. She and likeminded committee members provide no oversight. 

Clapper committed perjury. He admitted it. Feinstein and other congressional members let him get away with it.

Failure to hold NSA accountable lets it operate lawlessly. Today it's totally out-of-control. It's unaccountable. It does whatever it wants. It does so because Congress turns a blind eye.

Senator Ron Wyden is one of the few lawmakers who challenge NSA practices. He condemns what he calls "the intrusive, constitutionally flawed surveillance system."

"A quick read of (US) history (shows) the truth always manages to come out," he said. He underscored his comments, stressing:

"The leadership of NSA built an intelligence collection system that repeatedly deceived the American people."

NSA operates in near total secrecy. Snowden pierced its veil. He did so courageously. Most of what's needed to know about NSA he revealed. Lots more is coming.

Alexander consistently lies. So does an agency spokeswoman. She claims all information collected domestically must have "foreign intelligence justification."

"NSA activities are centered on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and cybersecurity"

False! NSA spies for control and economic advantage. It conducts espionage on allies. It watches virtually everyone all the time globally. It does so for reasons unrelated to national security.

NSA refused to say if its meta-data includes Americans' telecommunications and emails. Documents Showden revealed provided proof.

New information shows how NSA developed software and other tools able to "revolutionize" data collection and analysis. Information unavailable earlier is now collected.

It includes data on US citizens' social connections. It's personal stuff unrelated to terrorism and other national security concerns.

Phone and email records let analysts identify friends, associates and activities. They show where people are at any time, what they're doing and with whom.

According to Professor Orin Kerr:

"Metadata can be very revealing. Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person's cellphone is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up to." 

"It's the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect." It's done with technological ease. It's done extrajudicially. It constitutes an extreme privacy invasion.

NSA sought unrestricted power years earlier. It does what it wants with or without official authorization.

It always operated this way. Post-9/11, rules no longer mattered. They were bent. They were ignored. Congress and courts look the other way. NSA takes full advantage.

It operates under its own guidelines. They permit anything goes. Warrantless spying is standard practice.

In 2008, the Bush administration's "Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis" lets NSA collect and use data "without regard to the nationality or location of the communicants."

In other words, it spies globally. It monitors anyone. It collects whatever information it wishes. It does so for any reason it claims justifies its actions.

NSA is self-regulating. Oversight is absent. It decides what it will or won't do. It takes full advantage.

Alexander wants everything collected. His mandate it get it all. NSA's meta-data capability can amass 20 billion "record events" daily.

Agency analysts can access them within 60 minutes. "Better Person Centric Analysis" is a top-secret document.

It describes how NSA identifies 94 "entity types." They include phone numbers, email addresses, and IP ones.

NSA correlates 164 social network "relationship types." They include "community of interest" profiles.

Meta-data not accessed immediately can be stored for later use. For "US persons," it can be retained online up to five years. An additional 10 years offline is allowed for "historical searches."

On September 29, AP headlined "Glenn Greenwald working on new NSA revelations," saying:

He and Jeremy Scahill "teamed up to report (on) what one called a 'US assassination program.' "

"The connections between war and surveillance are clear," said Scahill. 

"I don't want to give too much away, but Glenn and I are working on a project right now that has at its center how the National Security Agency plays a significant, central role in the US assassination program."

"There are so many stories that are yet to be published that we hope will produce 'actionable intelligence,' or information that ordinary citizens across the world can use to try to fight for change, to try to confront those in power."

"The really important thing to realize is the desire for surveillance is not a uniquely American attribute," said Greenwald. 

"America has just devoted way more money and way more resources than anyone else to spying on the world."

Doing so while waging war on humanity threatens its survival. Stopping what causes so much harm to so many matters most. 

Truth is the best disinfectant. It's a powerful tool for change. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for October 4, 5, and 6, 2013


Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for October 4, 5, and 6, 2013

Friday, October 4 at 10AM US Central time: Michael Parenti

Parenti is an internationally known, highly respected political scientist and award-winning author and lecturer. 

His many books include Democracy for the Few (in its 9th edition), Superpatriotism, and Inventing Reality on the state of the media.

Major world and national issues will be discussed.

Saturday, October 5 at noon US Central time: Stjepan Mestrovic

Mestrovic is Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University.

He was a consultant and expert witness for the International Court of the Tribunal for Yugoslavia. He provides similar services for US soldiers involved in court-martials and clemency hearings.

His books include "The Good Soldier on Trial: A Sociological Study of Misconduct by the US Military Pertaining to Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq." 

Major world and national issues will be discussed.

Sunday, October 6 at noon US Central time: Robert Abele

Abele is Professor of Philosophy at Diablo Valley College, CA. His books include "Democracy Gone" and "Anatomy of a Deception." It discusses the Iraq invasion, occupation, and preparation for the next deception.

He's currently writing a new book. When completed, it'll be discussed on this program.

Most recently, he contributed 11 chapters to The Encyclopedia of Global Justice.

Access his web site at www.spotlightonfreedom.com.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

New Millennium Resource Wars


New Millennium Resource Wars

by Stephen Lendman

They're ongoing. They represent a modern-day great game. The previous one pit Britain against Tsarist Russia. One powerful empire battled another. 

They did so for territory they both wanted. Conflict lasted about 100 years. Post-WW II, East - West struggles vied for geopolitical influence and control.

Resources became increasingly more important. They very much are today. World supplies are finite. Major powers scramble for as much as they can control.

Oil is especially valued. No one's sure how much is left. America, China, Russia and other major nations want control over as much as possible. They're going all out to get it.

Middle East countries have over half the world's proved oil reserves. Saudi Arabia's amount is second only to Venezuela's.

In the 1940s, the State Department called access to Middle East oil a "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."

The Caspian basin is oil and gas rich. Resource wars are waged in both regions for control. America does it aggressively.

Bush administration 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategy policies (NSS) asserted sovereign right to wage preventive wars against perceived threats.

It did so against any nation challenging US world dominance. In 2010, Obama's NSS replicated Bush policy.

It was rebranded to appear softer. It's old wine in new bottles.

Candidate Obama promised peace in our time. President Obama wages one war after another. He's got new targets in mind.

He wants unchallenged global dominance. He wants control over world resources. 

Energy matters most. They're a strategic source of world power. 

America wages wars for control. Its "imperial grand strategy" prioritizes them.

Preventive or preemptive wars have nothing to do with protecting US security. Claiming otherwise doesn't wash.

Bush administration officials spurned Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions.

Under NPT's Article VI, nuclear nations pledged "good faith" efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. America develops and tests new ones instead.

Having them risks humanity's survival. Washington's unconcerned. It ignores Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty provisions.

It rescinded the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It violates Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention provisions.

It opposes a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. It proposes banning further production for nuclear weapons. It includes highly enriched uranium and plutonium.

Washington wants nothing interfering with its right to wage war on humanity. It wants to do so with state-of-the art weapons of mass destruction.

Obama supports the worst Bush administration policies. He added more of his own.

Doing so reflects nuclear, chemical and biological weapons terrorism. Unchallenged global dominance and resource control matter most. 

Going all out to secure them reflects madness. It doesn't deter Washington's rage to wage war.

Michael Klare addresses resource wars. His earlier book was titled "Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict."

He discussed new millennium wars to control them. His follow-up book is titled "The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources."

He addressed growing dangers. Peace is a convenient illusion. Wars rage for resource control. Demand keeps growing. Available supplies shrink. 

Exploration and drilling intensify. So does competition to control what's left. According to Klare, "easy-resource world" availability no longer exists.

"Hard-resource world" reality reflects today's conditions. Existing oil wells produce diminishing amounts. Once productive sources became stingy.

Klare believes key resources peaked. No one knows for sure. Peak oil advocates earlier were proved wrong. 

Societies haven't run out of technological advances to secure oil and gas in ways impossible earlier. Nothing suggests they won't find better ones ahead.

The fullness of time will tell. At the same time, hydrocarbons are finite. Some day peak oil and gas proponents will be right. Knowing when is pure speculation.

Importantly is potential ecocide. The race to locate and produce hydrocarbons pollutes. It destroys environmental viability.

Productive farmland is scarcer in more areas from overuse, desertification, urbanization, and other forms of destructive over-consumption.

Growing demand assures greater strains. "Natural" scarcity will increase. BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are some of the world's fastest growing.

They account for over 20% of world GDP. Their population exceeds 2.8 billion. It's 40% of the world total. By 2020 or earlier, China's expected to become the world's largest economy. 

It has enormous energy needs. It's going all out for new sources. So do other fast-growing economies. Commerce depends on them. Nations vie with each other for reliable supplies.

According to Klare:

"The world is entering an era of pervasive, unprecedented resource scarcity."

Governments and energy producers believe "existing reserves are being depleted at a terrifying pace and will be largely exhausted in the not-too-distant future."

"(T)he only way for countries to ensure an adequate supply of these materials, and thereby keep their economies humming, is to acquire new, undeveloped reservoirs in those few locations that have not already been completely drained." 

"This has produced a global drive to find and exploit the world's final resource reserves."

At stake is available energy, mineral resources and arable land. Today's great game reflects a scramble to secure them.

Previously inaccessible or unprofitable areas are targeted. They include deep ocean sites, remote African regions, northern Siberia and Arctic locations.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS):

"The Arctic is an area of high petroleum resource potential, low data density, high geologic uncertainty and sensitive environmental conditions." 

"A large portion of the remaining global endowment of oil and gas resources has long been thought to exist in the high northern latitudes of Russia, Norway, Greenland, United States, and Canada."

Their "quality, quantity, and distribution" remain "poorly understood."

USGS estimates 13% or more of undiscovered world oil reserves exist in the region. 

It believes it holds about 30% or more of yet to be discovered gas. Russia is estimated to hold over half of total Arctic resources. USGS calls what it controls "the big prize." 

It has the largest amount of gas. It discovered 20 major oil and gas provinces and basins. Half or more have significant hydrocarbon potential.

America may have the region's largest potential oil reserves. According to USGS, "high-cost, high-risk resources are increasingly commercially exploitable and affordable, given the current and expected price of oil."

Nations always competed for available resources, notes Klare. Today they do so more aggressively.

"Whereas previous centuries generally witnessed conflict between just a few dominant powers, today many more countries are industrialized or on the path to industrialization," notes Klare.

"(S)o the number of major contenders for resources is greater than ever before." 

"(N)ew challengers also often harbor large and growing populations, whose desire for consumer goods of all sorts cannot be long denied." 

"At the same time, many existing sources of supply are in decline while few new reservoirs are waiting on the horizon." 

"(W)ith more nations in the resource race and fewer prizes to be divided among them, the competition is heating up and governments are being pressed to assume a more active role."

None does more so than America. War is its option of choice. It remains to be seen what tactics are employed in the Arctic and other remote resource rich regions.

Another concern is potential ecocide. Examples include BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster, other offshore catastrophes, hydrofracking, Canadian tar sands development, and shale oil and gas operations.

At the same time, governments, bankers, wealthy investors, and hedge funds are scrambling to acquire arable farmland.

In 2009 alone, an estimated 110 million acres were bought. It's an area the size of Sweden.

Africa is one of two final frontiers. The Arctic is the other. African land is very inexpensive. It promises a high rate of return.

Intensive resource exploration and extraction goes hand-in-hand with supporting regional despots. Ordinary people are denied. They're ruthlessly exploited. According to Klare:

"Ever since the early Cold War period, when Niger was still under French rule, uranium extraction has been a significant industry in the country, but it has mostly enriched only a few well-connected government officials and the companies that own the mines" 

"Few of Niger's sixteen million people have ever seen any benefits from the mining, and two-thirds of them still live on less than $1 per day, making Niger one of the poorest nations on earth."

Scrambling for scarce resources increases the chance for war to secure them, observes Klare.

"In all probability, countries with major resource deposits will receive more weapons, military training, technical assistance, and intelligence support from states that wish to curry favor or establish closer ties." 

"At the same time, combat forces will be deployed abroad to defend friendly regimes and protect key ports, pipelines, refineries, and other critical installations."

Locations at great risk for conflict include Africa, East and South China Seas, as well as Arctic areas.

Klare notes a viable alternative exists. A "race to adapt" could replace the "race for what's left."

Doing so would require "major political and corporate powers to become among the first to adopt new materials, methods, and devices that will free the world from its dependence on finite resource supplies." 

It would "reward the governments, companies, and communities that take the lead in developing efficient, environmentally friendly industrial processes and transportation systems."

Replacing "finite natural resources with renewables" as well as focusing on "increasing efficiency" could let global economies "escape from the trap of diminishing resource supplies."

It would free them from "military pacts and other diplomatic arrangements currently employed to cement ties to foreign resource providers."

If adopted, it would be a global win-win. Old ways are hard to change. Klare and other observers don't expect resource wars to end.

On September 24, Michel Chossudovsky reposted an important August 2007 article he wrote. It's headlined "North American Integration and the Militarization of the Arctic."

His earlier view is relevant today. He called "The Battle for the Arctic part of a global military agenda of conquest and territorial control." 

"It has been described as a New Cold War between Russia and America. 

"Washington’s objective is to secure territorial control, on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants, over extensive Arctic oil and natural gas reserves." 

"The Arctic region could hold up to 25% of the World’s oil and gas reserves, according to some estimates."

"From Washington’s perspective, the battle for the Arctic is part of broader global military agenda."

It's related to earlier planned North American integration. It's called the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) North American Union (NAU).

Plans launched in March 2005 are sidelined. They're delayed. They're not abandoned. They reflect a tri-national agreement secretly hatched in Washington.

SPP unmasked isn't pretty. It's a corporate-led coup d'etat. It involves destroying the sovereignty of three nations.

It's to let America dominate weaker partners. It's about creating a borderless North America without trade and capital flow barriers.

It's to insure dominant US corporations get unrestricted access to continental resources. Mainly oil, gas and water are wanted.

It's to create fortress North America. It's NAFTA on steroids combined with Pax Americana militarized enforcement.

So-called "deep integration" tolerates no outliers. Sovereign rights no longer matter. Nor do people needs.

SPP expands GHW's 1990 New World Order pronouncement. He called it "a unique and extraordinary moment (to eliminate) the threat of terror."

He highlighted a new order "quite different from the one we've known."

He had global wars in mind. Waging them for unchallenged dominance and resource control continues.

They show no signs of ending. "The Arctic is no exception," said Chossudovsky.

It's "an integral part of the 'Battle for Oil.' It is one of the remaining frontiers of untapped energy reserves."

It's resource rich enough to wage war for exploration, drilling and extraction rights. 

Middle East/North African/Central Asian countries know the curse of oil and gas. Arctic countries may experience it next.

At risk is the next great world battleground. Pitting Russia against America threatens world peace. 

Whether it can be preserved remains to be seen. Given America's rage for war, the worst of all possible outcomes can't be discounted. 

Nations that live by the sword use it. America's addicted to war. It's been that way from inception.

It believes war is peace. It's part of the national culture. It's self-destructive. It risks mass annihilation.

It doesn't matter. Global dominance and resource control count more.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/new-millennium-resource-wars/

Syrian Chemical Weapons Deal: What Follows?


Syrian Chemical Weapons Deal: What Follows?

by Stephen Lendman

It's all over but the beginning. More on that below. 

On Friday, Security Council members unanimously adopted Resolution 2118: Security Council Requires Scheduled Destruction of Syria's Chemical Weapons.

Ir rules out military force. It's "fully consistent with the Russian-US Geneva agreements," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"This is the result of coordinated efforts of Russia and the United States backed by all members of the UN Security Council and the majority of other states."

"The resolution does not fall under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter and does not authorize the automatic use of measures of compulsion." 

"It reaffirms the agreement reached at the Russian-US meeting in Geneva to make a breach of its provisions and the use of chemical weapons by any side a subject of thorough investigation at the UN Security Council, which will be prepared to act under Chapter 7 of the Charter." 

Naturally, (it will act) proportionately to the severity of violations, which must be proven to be 100% true," Lavrov stressed.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is in charge of destroying Syria's stockpile.

According to Lavrov:

"We firmly believe that OPCW and UN experts on Syria mission will be professional and unbiased and fully respect the sovereignty of that country." 

"Everything must be done to put Syrian chemical arsenals under control in line with the OPCW Executive Council's decision in an efficient way and within a period sufficient for observing all the safety norms."

"The Syrian government is not the only side responsible for the fulfillment of this resolution." 

"The Security Council demands that the Syrian opposition also must cooperate with international experts." 

"Therefore, the reports to be submitted to the Security Council during the implementation of the OPCW decision and the newly adopted resolution must be objective and present the situation applicably to all sides of the Syrian conflict." 

"Those who support and sponsor the opposition bear the special responsibility. They must prevent extremists from coming into possession of chemical weapons," Lavrov stressed.

"Syria has begun to fulfill its commitments with the submission of a detailed declaration of the status of its chemical arsenal to the OPCW. We expect Damascus to continue its conscientious and constructive interaction with the international inspectors."

"Hopefully, the increasingly disconnected units of the Syrian opposition will finally announce their readiness to participate in the international conference without preconditions, like the Syrian government did a long time ago."

"Russia is ready to participate in the forthcoming operation in Syria in all its components," Lavrov said.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow will be involved in destroying and/or transporting Syria's CWs if called on to do so.

Syria's obligated to destroy its production facilities by November 1. It must eliminate its CWs by mid-2014. No specific date is mandated.

OPCW's governing council is fully in charge. Syria must give its personnel "immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites."

An accelerated timetable is planned. On Friday, OPCW officials agreed on what follows. 

On October 1, its inspectors will arrive in Syria. They'll examine its CWs, delivery systems and production facilities.

According to OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu:

"This decision sends an unmistakable message that the international community is coming together to work for peace in Syria beginning with the elimination of chemical weapons in that country."

Syria's UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafair said Resolution 2118 includes most of his government's concerns.

Damascus is fully committed to comply, he said. At the same time, he expressed concern about "some delegations adopting a negative interpretation of the resolution in order to derail it from its lofty purposes."

America, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar must commit to its provisions, he stressed. They must stop arming insurgents. They must be held accountable if they continue to do so.

"You can't bring terrorists from all over the world and send them into Syria in the name of jihad and then pretend that you are working for peace," he added.

Plans are for a mid-November Geneva II peace conference. Syria agreed to participate. It'll do so with no preconditions. It remains to be seen how opposition elements react. 

On September 19, Syrian National Coalition (SNC) president Ahmad Jarba said he'll participate if "all parties agree that the purpose of the conference will be the establishment of a transitional government with full executive powers."

Weeks earlier he refused to do so unless Assad agreed to step down. On September 27, he said he's prepared to participate conditionally.

He wants assurances of a "clear timetable" for achieving results. He's against an "open-ended dialogue" with Syria's government. 

He wants Assad allied foreign groups excluded. He alluded to Iran and Hezbollah. He said nothing non-Syrian anti-Assad insurgents involved in daily fighting.

About a dozen "rebel" groups broke ranks with SNC. Infighting's gone on for months. Competing factions are their own worst enemies. 

Internecine fighting continues. Disputes aren't just over weapons and tactics. They reflect a desire to usurp power. Extremist elements want religious rule imposed. 

They comprise the vast majority of fighters. Assad believes they constitute from 80 - 90%. His front line forces are in the best position to know. 

Whatever Geneva II achieves won't stop Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and other extremist elements from continuing to fight. Stopping them depends on refusing to supply more arms, munitions, funding, training and direction. 

Washington calls the shots. Other anti-Assad countries go along. On the one hand, Obama and Kerry urge diplomatic conflict resolution.

On the other, they continue waging war. They're using proxy death squads. They have no plans to stop. They want Assad ousted. They want pro-Western puppet governance replacing him.

Geneva I (June 2012) agreed on lofty guidelines and principles. They included "a political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people." 

Efforts going forward require "facilitat(ing) a Syrian-led political process" representing all its citizens.

Transitional government must be "genuinely democratic and pluralistic." 

Syrians alone must "determine the future of the country." 

"The sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected."

Conflict resolution must be achieved through peaceful dialogue and negotiation. Force was ruled out. 

Washington ignored Geneva provisions. It systematically violated them repeatedly. It still does so. 

Whatever Geneva II achieves won't matter. Obama wants Assad toppled. War is his bottom line option to do so. He didn't launch it to quit.

Escalating it is delayed. It's not deterred. America's addicted to war. Obama believes war is peace. 

The business of America is war. One segues into another. They rage without end. They do so while homeland needs go begging.

They do it to advance America's imperium. At issue is eliminating all independent sovereign governments. Washington wants puppet ones replacing them. It wants unchallenged global dominance.

Waging war lets racketeering profiteers gorge themselves at the public trough. Millions of lost lives don't matter. 

Profits and power alone count. Pursuing them involves ravaging and destroying one country after another. 

Eisenhower warned about the "potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power. (It) exists and will persist," he said.

Imagine what he'd say about today's fortress America. Imagine his reaction to America waging one war after another. Imagine his horror about unconscionable amounts spent. 

Imagine his reaction to global wars. Imagine his condemnation of out-of-control imperialism. Imagine how he'd address possible mass annihilation. 

Imagine his outrage about America heading for tyranny and ruin. Hannah Arendt addressed it decades earlier. She did so in her book titled "The Origins of Totalitarianism."

She said tyrants are "never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism (and) a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within."

She called it dictatorship based on:

"(1) an elaborate ideology;

(2) a single mass party;

(3) terror;

(4) a technologically conditioned monopoly of communication;

(5) a monopoly of weapons; (and)

(6) a centrally controlled economy."

These characteristics reflect today's America. Wealth, power, privilege and dominance alone matter.

Duopoly power runs things. Monied interests control it. State terrorism is official policy. Waging war on humanity reflects it.

Media scoundrels march in lockstep. They support unconscionable policies. They regurgitate Big Lies. They do it consistently. They facilitate mass slaughter, destruction and homeland police state harshness.

Banks and other corporate favorites run things. They decide policy. US-style democracy is the best money can buy.

Genocidal wars are waged for profit and power. Afghanistan is America's longest conflict. It shows no signs of ending. It could persist for another decade or longer.

America's legacy in Iraq and Libya is anarchy, horrendous daily violence, poverty, unemployment, disease, hunger, homelessness, deprivation and human misery.

Syrians suffer the same way. The worst may be yet to come. Make no mistake. Obama wants full-scale war. He intends to get it.

It's as simple as another false flag Big Lie. UN resolutions and peace conferences don't matter.

Cruise missile diplomacy is official US policy. Bombs away could happen any time. Stopping Obama's rage to war matters most. 

Never in human history was a global peace offensive more needed. Humanity's survival depends on it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour