Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....
- Name: Bruce K. Gagnon
- Location: Bath, Maine, United States
Saturday, July 19, 2014
INSIDE STORY ABOUT UKRAINE
The Ukranian (Ukie) Army shells civilian targets near Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.
What crime did these targeted people commit? They speak Russian and request to have their language honored and they be allowed to elect their own officials to represent them rather than have them appointed by Kiev and their US-EU sponsors. Also, because they live so close to Russia and have traded with them for a long time they wish to continue a positive trade relationship with their fellow 'Moskols' as the Kiev-based oligarchs and neo-Nazi's seem to call anyone of Russian origin.
Then a plane gets shot out of the sky. Alot of questions yet to be answered such as:
1. Did the plane actually change course as it flew over eastern Ukraine? Why? Who? etc...
2. Is there any truth about the Spanish man working in the control tower of Kiev's airport who repeatedly tweeted that the Malaysian plane was shot down by two of Kiev's own warplanes?
3. Is it true that the so-called talking video, of alleged Russian officer and self-defense forces person 'confirming' the shooting of the plane, was posted on YouTube the day before the event actually happened? I guess the date gets posted on YouTube when you upload a video. Makes sense.
4. In a complicated moment like this how could the US be so sure that it was the fault of Russia? The US declared as much very quickly after the incident happened.
5. Did the announcement of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) new economic development bank, that will be a global rival to IMF and World Bank, have any impact on the creation of this incident?
6. Why is Malaysian airlines being picked for these recent disasters?
7. Who stands to benefit if the US-NATO win the media war and pin this on Putin no matter what the evidence might eventually say? ....the headlines today are all that counts to the power mongers.
- MB and I made the hour long drive to Hallowell, Maine today for their annual parade where we carried this banner. There was a small peace delegation (about 10) that we joined in the parade that passes through the heart of the riverside community. Like always there was a huge crowd of people lining both sides of the downtown portion of the parade route and we got a good reception. Many people took photos of the banner.
- Obama announced yesterday that he wants to privatize more of the public commons. Due to the fact that Republicans and Democrats can't agree on how to fund road repair the president is proposing to turn America's highways over to private investors.
Speaking beside a project to repair a closed interstate highway bridge in Wilmington, Delaware, Obama called for making it easier for states and local governments to access private capital for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
“So far Congress has refused to act,” said Obama, who criticized lawmakers for failing to fully fund federal infrastructure projects through the Highway Trust Fund . “I’m going to do whatever I can to create jobs rebuilding American on my own.”
It seems fairly obvious to me what is going on here. Both corporate dominated political parties play good cop - bad cop and the response is "We have no other choice. We have to privatize in order to keep the roads and bridges open!"
Watch closely and see how public roads, bridges, sewer & water systems and even state and national parks will be increasingly put on the auction block. What's next? Disney takes over Jellystone Park?
Look at what happened to Detroit.... Michigan turned over the running of that depressed city to a private corporation and now they've decided to shut off poor people's access to water.
Solution: Stop spending $1 trillion a year on endless war, space weapons technology, NSA surveillance, nuclear weapons, and the rest of the military madness and we could afford to fix our roads, sewer systems and a whole lot more.
Friday, July 18, 2014
TALK IN CAMBRIDGE
Just discovered this video from a talk I gave in Cambridge, MA during a mid-April conference on US 'pivot' to Asia-Pacific. My job was to talk about creating solidarity with those in the Pacific region who are working so hard to stop the expansion of US military bases on their lands.
FALSE FLAG STINGS ABOUND
THE NEWBURGH STING
A STARTLING EXPOSE OF A CONTROVERSIAL FBI UNDERCOVER OPERATION, DEBUTS JULY 21 ON HBO
On May 20, 2009, four men from the impoverished and largely African-American city of Newburgh, NY, were apprehended for an alleged terror plot. They had no history of violence or terrorist ties, but had been drawn by a Pakistani FBI informant into a carefully orchestrated scheme to bomb Jewish synagogues in Riverdale, a wealthy neighborhood in New York City and fire Stinger missiles at U.S. military supply planes. Their dramatic arrest, complete with armored cars, a SWAT team and FBI aircraft, played out under the gaze of major TV outlets, ultimately resulting in 25-year prison sentences for the “Newburgh Four.”
Amidst the media frenzy surrounding the case, political figures extolled the outcome as a victory in the “war on terror” and a “textbook example of how a major investigation should be conducted,” though others believed the four men were victims of FBI entrapment.
THE NEWBURGH STING, debuting MONDAY, JULY 21 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, features unsettling FBI hidden camera footage, never before publicly released, and insights from Muslim leaders and high-level Washington insiders, including former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes, Congressman Keith Ellison and former FBI undercover agent Mike German, as well as intimate interviews with the families of the Newburgh Four. Offering startling insights into the state of surveillance in a post-9/11 world, the film is directed and produced by the team of Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (HBO’s Emmy®-winning “Jockey”).
MEETING WITH SEN. KING
|Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)|
Our local Bath-based group called the Midcoast Citizens for Sustainable Economies met with Maine's Sen. Angus King this morning at a church in Brunswick for 45 minutes. We went to talk about the need to diversify Maine's current dependence on military production. Seven of us (including past and current Bath Iron Works employees) urged him to help bring to Maine some funds from the Pentagon's Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) that is available to communities to help plan for diversification and/or conversion of their local military installation or facility.
King commented that doing such a thing was a "Delicate issue psychologically. Now things are going well for the Navy as we shift to the Pacific." He said he had no inherent objection though. "I just don't want to ask for money [OEA] that presupposes closure of the yard."
One of our group reminded Sen. King that we are trying to diversify the shipyard at this stage. We can't assume that federal money for military production will be sustained at its current level and cutbacks are inevitable. We should be prepared and not wait and have to back-peddle once cuts eventually come.
King said he would review the situation and think about it. "The premise is good but on the other hand there are several ships now in line at Bath Iron Works (BIW). But it's like being a lawyer with only one client," he concluded.
King went on to tell us that the US is "pitifully under shipped for the Arctic. Someone needs to build a heavy icebreaker, something I am pushing, the Artic is a very important region for us."
One group member asked King to be more forceful in calling for an audit of the Pentagon and to work harder to cut waste, fraud, and abuse inside the military industrial complex. King commented that an audit is now set for 2017 but ought to be done sooner. "The Intelligence budget is $75 billion a year with alot of duplication," King remarked. He said he wants to do more on finding Pentagon waste.
One person in our group currently works at BIW asked Sen. King if he would support legislation in Maine to create a statewide commission to plan for defense diversification. King said that we needed to go to our governor and the legislature for that - "It's not the business I am in anymore."
King went to Washington as a former governor of Maine and is on the Armed Services, Intelligence Budget, and Rules Committees. These are four of the most important committees in the Senate and likely reflect his power as an Independent - meaning he has the freedom to work with either party in an already closely divided government.
The last part of the meeting turned into a broader discussion about America's role in the world. King acknowledged that most of our wars are for oil and for years he has owned a corporation promoting off-shore wind power to help deal with climate change and growing energy needs. "I am convinced that we are in an entirely different world where most of our enemies aren't governments. What I keep raising is what is our strategy? Killing terrorists one at a time does not work. I'm looking for a modern day strategy of deterrence," King said.
One member of the group reminded King that our population in the US is only 5% of the world population yet we use 25% of global resources. I was the note taker in the meeting but at this point I said to Sen. King that the mission of the Pentagon today is to be the primary resource extraction service for corporate globalization. If we dealt with our energy needs back here by building solar, wind and rail at places like BIW we wouldn't have to go to war for oil all the time. I told him that my partner has to drive 45 minutes to Portland every day for work and we should be building light-rail commuter systems at BIW. I handed him a copy of the UMASS-Amherst study that shows we would get many more jobs if we moved away from military production.
At that point the BIW worker, who gathered more than 800 signatures at the shipyard a few years ago on a petition saying they wanted to build wind turbines, turned to Sen. King and said, "We don't have much time with climate change."
Our group will be requesting similar meetings with other elected officials in Maine during the coming months to discuss these same issues. It would be helpful if other people in Maine would send messages to our elected officials saying that you want them to support diversification of the war economy. Diversification/conversion could offer us the chance to move some tax dollars into sustainable and more peaceful endeavors in our state and across the nation.
GOOD ACTION IN SEATTLE
Stop the Israeli war machine action in Seattle, Washington. Notice at the end they walk through stores.
THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WE GIVE $3 BILLION A YEAR TO IN ISRAEL
Tel Rumeida is a small Palestinian neighborhood deep in the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinian families live directly next to these Israeli occupation settlers and are often virtual prisoners in their homes, subject to the settlers' violent attacks and destruction of property.
These are the people that US taxpayers are supporting with the $3 billion we give to Israel each year to build their separation wall and arm their military to push Palestinians off their lands.
SAVING A CHILD
Amid scenes of destruction and death caused by Ukrainian airstrike on residential buildings in the city of Snezhnoe in the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic, a 7-year-old child has been miraculously saved from beneath a multi-ton pile of debris.
OPEN AIR PRISON
Gaza has been described as the world's largest open air prison. Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip has had catastrophic results for average Palestinians living there. We look at the the unforgiving realities they face everyday.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
CONNECT THE DOTS - PALESTINE TO EASTERN UKRAINE AND BACK
- Yesterday we saw reports that up to 800 of Kiev's military were surrounded by self-defense forces in the eastern part of the country. Reports said that up to half of them had already been killed and it appeared like many had taken off their uniforms and surrendered. I saw that up to 100 wounded Kiev's forces were being treated inside Russia, quite good of them under the circumstances.
- In a clear rejection of western IMF and World Bank economic supremacy the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have created not only a new $100 billion Development Bank, but also a $100 billion foreign currency reserves pool. This was done officially yesterday and then today a Malaysian airliner was shot down over Ukraine.
Interesting post on Facbook today:
Please friends....I forward this information. There is a Spanish aircontroller working at Kiev Borispol airport...he said that the Malaysian airplane was shot down by two Ukrainian jets. Even the Ukrainian militars know that. Also it looks that the Ukrainian military were organizing a coup against Poroshenko. He says that the air traffic control tower where he is working is now occupied by foreign agents. I reproduce here his twitts. He says that the order to shoot down the Malaysian airline is not coming from the military but from the interior ministry or from outside.
- Another interesting Facebook post today:
Yesterday the US put huge sanctions on Russia. Today paypal have blocked customers who support the Russian backed separatists. Ukrainin SU25 shot down. Separatists rout the Ukrainians. It was all going wrong for Kiev. It is easy to work out. At 33,000ft. It would need to be a large radar controlled missile. The separatists would not have a missile that large but Kiev would.
- Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault (both Mohyeldin and Engel speak Arabic).
- The Israeli military has destroyed el-Wafa orthopedic hospital in the Gaza Strip, after first targeting the facility with five missiles on July 11, 2014. The Israeli military began striking the building around 8:oo pm this evening [July 17] and within two hours all hospital staff and patients had evacuated the only rehabilitation center in the Gaza Strip. As they departed what remained intact from the medical center burned to the ground.
- The Ukrainian military reportedly deployed a battery of Buk surface-to-air missile systems, capable of bringing down high-flying jets, to the Donetsk region the day before the Malaysian passenger plane crashed in the area. Itar-Tass and Interfax news agencies are citing a source familiar with the issue, who said that another battery of Buk systems is currently being prepared for shipment to Donetsk region from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov.
SOUTH KOREAN 'KILL CHAIN'
South Korea's Defense Minister nominee Han Min-koo says he has no plans to adopt a U.S.-designed missile defense system. At his confirmation hearing Sunday, Han said South Korea currently deploys the US Patriot-3 system as a high-altitude defense shield over the peninsula. The nominee also vowed to install the country's indigenous missile defense system as soon as possible to counter any North Korean threats.
He said the defense ministry will push for early establishment of the Korea Air and Missile Defense system -- or KAMD -- and the so-called 'Kill Chain', a pre-emptive missile destruction system. The KAMD is aimed at countering low-flying missiles coming from the North and the 'Kill Chain' will detect and strike the regime's missile and nuclear facilities.
'Kill Chain' is lingo that originates inside of the US Space Command.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?
Years ago while living in Orlando I was approached by some leaders from the Palestinian community in Central Florida. I was working for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice and they asked me to help them organize a pro-Palestinian march through the city. There had never been such a thing done in Orlando before. I said I would be happy to help.
We began by having small meetings at the home of an older Palestinian man. I had previously not worked on the Israel/Palestine issue very much and was grateful for the chance to meet so many wonderful people of Arab origin. The march turned out to be a great success.
Another time I received a phone call from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando asking me to come to their next board meeting. I asked what they wanted to talk about and they declined to answer, instead just saying we'd talk when I arrived. So I went.
As it turns out the board of directors had me approach a podium as they sat on a raised platform like at a city council meeting. The board president launched into a fierce diatribe about the Florida Coalition's antisemitic work and then went on to threaten us with defunding of our organization if we dared to continue such efforts. I was dazed and stunned and could not figure out what they were referring to but then it dawned on me that we regularly shared a complimentary copy of our newsletter (Just Peace) with the federation and the most recent edition had run a story about the Palestinian issue.
I told the Jewish Federation board that we did not receive any funds from their organization, that we gave them our newsletter for free. Then I told them that we would not be intimidated and would continue to share stories about the Palestinian cause when we felt it was appropriate. Needless to say the board president gave me another verbal lashing as I headed for the exit. On the way out a woman rabbi stopped me at the door and sort of apologized. She was younger and likely more sensitive to the fact that the days of Israeli control of American hearts and minds is dramatically changing.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
HAVING A BLAST
Watching the bombs fall and enjoying the show in Israel....."just clear off all the city" one says.... "yes I'm a little bit fascist."
Quite an interesting thing - a Jewish fascist.
RIVAL TO WESTERN CAPITAL - AN ALTERNATIVE TO IMF
New Development Bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size. "BRICS Bank will be one of the major multilateral development finance institutions in this world," Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday at the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil.
BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
DOCTOR REPORT FROM GAZA
A Norwegian doctor in the besieged Gaza Strip has strongly criticized Israel for using cancer-inducing bombs against Palestinian civilians.
Dr. Erik Fosse told Press TV that the majority of patients hospitalized in Gaza are civilians injured in attacks on their homes and about thirty percent of them are children.
Dense Inert Metal Explosive, known as DIME, is an explosive device developed to minimize collateral damage in warfare.
Experts say it has a relatively small but effective blast radius and is believed to have strong biological effects on those who are hit by the bomb's micro-shrapnel.
Fosse, a department head at a university hospital in Oslo, also says some Palestinian in the besieged enclave have been wounded by a new type of weapon that even doctors with previous experience in war zones do not recognize.
Israel also used depleted-uranium and white phosphorus shells in the besieged region during their previous assaults.
This comes as Israel continues to pound the Gaza Strip for the sixth straight day. The latest Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 32 Palestinians in the besieged territory.
Palestinian sources say Israeli fighter jets have hit nearly 200 targets over the past 24 hours.
At least 167 people have lost their lives and more than 1100 others injured in Gaza since Tuesday when the Israeli attacks began.
People have held a funeral in Gaza for the Palestinians who have been killed in Israeli attacks on the coastal enclave. The participants in the funeral condemned the US support for Israel.
The war on the
is one of the most
of all time
are the canary
in the mines
they are the picture
of where Mr. Big
intends to take
all of us
Extract our resources
water, oil, nat gas,
Place don't matter
to the oligarchy
they lost the feel
for la famiglia
comes from a rage
they must feel
to the darkness
as a child
and now take
it out on
are so connected
the cycle of life
they have deep
that keeps resisting
the evil doings
of Mr. Big
this is why people
around the world
stand with them
Two soldiers are tasked with deciding the fate of a terrorist with a single push of a button. As the action plays out in real time, their window to use a deadly military drone on the target slowly closes. With time running out, the soldiers begin to question what the real motives are behind the ordered lethal attack. Eloise Mumford (FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, THE RIVER) and Matt O’Leary (FAT KID RULES THE WORLD, EDEN) star in Rick Rosenthal’s film based on the stage play by Matt Witten and produced by Whitewater Films.
This new film will show in Brunswick, Maine on Friday, August 15 at 7:00 pm at the Curtis Memorial Library.
Monday, July 14, 2014
|Russians inspect a house hit my shells from Kiev's military after they fired into Russia on Sunday|
- The operative question is can and will the regime in Kiev be able to draw Russia into war? On Sunday the US-NATO backed regime fired artillery shells over the border into Russia killing one person and injuring a couple other people. Here is a report from Associated Press:
Russia’s foreign ministry said Sunday that a Ukrainian shell hit a Russian border town, killing one person and seriously injuring two others. Ukraine denied firing a shell into Russian territory.
President Vladimir Putin expressed “grave concern” over the incident, Russian news agencies quoted his spokesman as saying. A statement from Russia’s foreign ministry labeled the event a “provocation,” and warned of the possibility of “irreversible consequences, the responsibility for which lies on the Ukrainian side.”
- Earlier in June two long-range Russian bombers flew within 50 miles of the northern California coast but stayed out of U.S. airspace. CNN reported:
Four long-range Russian Tu-95 Bear-H bombers, accompanied by an aerial refueling tanker, flew into the US Air Defense Identification Zone, an area extending 200 miles from the North American coast, off Alaska, where they were intercepted by US F-22 fighter jets. Two of the Russian bombers peeled off and headed west, while the other two flew south and were identified by US F-15 fighters within 50 miles of the California coast. Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said it was the first time U.S. jets had intercepted Russian military aircraft off California since July 4, 2012.
- It could be that Russia sending bombers near the west coast of the US was a statement and reminder to Washington that it should be careful about the growing tensions and militarization of Ukraine along Russia's western borders. Does Moscow fear the US-NATO want to draw Russia into war? If Russia was to eventually respond to these provocations by Kiev would NATO then use that as pretext for war?
- Long-time peace activist and international law professor Francis Boyle from Illinois writes on this subject:
Obviously, they are trying to provoke Russia to either attack or invade Ukraine. Then they can invoke UN Charter Article 51 the right of collective self-defense to come to Ukraine’s “defense.” So you will see US/NATO forces streaming into Ukraine. Where it will stop I do not know. The Dnieper River? Remember that during the US/NATO war against Serbia over Kosovo, US/NATO General Wesley Clark ordered the British General Mike Jackson to take the Kosovo Airport [which was] under the control of Russian troops. Jackson refused on the grounds that he did not want to set off World War III. So anything is possible here, including a Reverse Cuban Missile Crisis that could go hot.
Interesting video with English subtitles giving the Russian perspective to avoid war if at all possible
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
These are the crimes that the US-NATO are now support in Ukraine. It is sick.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
The US-NATO are pushing for war with Russia. By actively supporting the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev, Ukraine with money, weapons, and military advisers the plan is that Russia will eventually come to the aid of Russian ethnic people in the eastern portion of the country thus giving the US-NATO the pretext to fully enter into war with Russia via Ukraine.
This video about the growing reality of genocide against Russian speakers inside Ukraine is a must watch and a must share. Ukraine is the trigger for war with Russia. Any war with Russia is a suicide pact with the devil for sure.
Seek truth from facts with leading war crimes prosecutor Francis Boyle; US Navy veteran Mark Sleboda; investigative journalist William Engdahl; and George Eliason, who lives with his Ukrainian family in the crosshairs of Kiev's bombing near Lugansk.
MESSAGE FROM UKRAINE
Here is a message from Irina Timofeeva where she gives evidence of genocide in Slavyansk made by so-called "National Guards" and troops of Ukrainian army.
You may have heard that self-defense forces have taken the militiamen families, armaments, and escaped from the besieged town, so long as they were hoping Ukrainian army would stop bombing the town and civilians, besides, DPR Commander Igor Strelkov is after winning the war and not losing the battle as some had hoped. This is what happened thereafter.
Urgent! The truth from Slavyansk about what is happening in the town. In Slavyansk genocide of civilians is in full swing. Here is the information of eye-witnesses.
"Serezha, this info is from a friend...she personally saw it.. When Ukrainian troops came into the town, they already had the information on who was in the militia. They seized a woman and a man, tied them to the armored vehicles by the legs and thus thrust them alive on the square, then the blееding bodies were thrown into a car and taken somewhere.
"Then they broke into an apartment [of a militiaman] and kidnapped a six year old child, made it to the square, nailed him to the advertising board and when his father came running to the square, they murdered him in front of everyone. Igor and his daughter saw this, the girl's stress was so horrific that she began to stutter badly, and she's only twelve. Igor grabbed his daughter and his wife and fled for Belgorod without further ado. I didn't say the main thing. This is how they do the cleansing. They break into apartments and houses, with dogs, men under thirty-five all get shot on the spot, without trial. No talking, no inquiries if a person supports Ukraine, or Novorossia, they don't f.... care... Just shoot the guys before the eyes of their relatives. Igor said they are punitives, he told me this and I started crying and he cried as well on the phone. He's shocked. It was happening yesterday and the day before. It turns out that bombing is more humane than what is happening now in Slavyansk. The corpses lie along the streets, in houses and apartments, no one counts them, or investigates anything, or takes them away."
8 July, 2014
As always, you are kindly requested to spread this and act on this. OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] mission is still in Ukraine, they should investigate this.
PILGER ON PALESTINE & UKRAINE
The Return of George Orwell and Big Brother’s War On Palestine, Ukraine and the Truth
by John Pilger
The other night, I saw George Orwells’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”
Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned. “What a mindfuck,” said the young woman, lighting up her phone.
As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in 1984. “Democracy” is now a rhetorical device. Peace is “perpetual war”. “Global” is imperial. The once hopeful concept of “reform” now means regression, even destruction. “Austerity” is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few.
In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith. “Picasso’s red period,” says an Observer headline, “and why politics don’t make good art.” Consider this in a newspaper that promoted the bloodbath in Iraq as a liberal crusade. Picasso’s lifelong opposition to fascism is a footnote, just as Orwell’s radicalism has faded from the prize that appropriated his name.
A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life”. No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice. Among the insistent voices of consumer- feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital”.
At the National Theatre, a new play, Great Britain, satirises the phone hacking scandal that has seen journalists tried and convicted, including a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World. Described as a “farce with fangs [that] puts the whole incestuous [media] culture in the dock and subjects it to merciless ridicule”, the play’s targets are the “blessedly funny” characters in Britain’s tabloid press. That is well and good, and so familiar. What of the non-tabloid media that regards itself as reputable and credible, yet serves a parallel role as an arm of state and corporate power, as in the promotion of illegal war?
The Leveson inquiry into phone hacking glimpsed this unmentionable. Tony Blair was giving evidence, complaining to His Lordship about the tabloids’ harassment of his wife, when he was interrupted by a voice from the public gallery. David Lawley-Wakelin, a film-maker, demanded Blair’s arrest and prosecution for war crimes. There was a long pause: the shock of truth. Lord Leveson leapt to his feet and ordered the truth-teller thrown out and apologised to the war criminal. Lawley-Wakelin was prosecuted; Blair went free.
Blair’s enduring accomplices are more respectable than the phone hackers. When the BBC arts presenter, Kirsty Wark, interviewed him on the tenth anniversary of his invasion of Iraq, she gifted him a moment he could only dream of; she allowed him to agonise over his “difficult” decision on Iraq rather than call him to account for his epic crime. This evoked the procession of BBC journalists who in 2003 declared that Blair could feel “vindicated”, and the subsequent, “seminal” BBC series, The Blair Years, for which David Aaronovitch was chosen as the writer, presenter and interviewer. A Murdoch retainer who campaigned for military attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria, Aaronovitch fawned expertly.
Since the invasion of Iraq – the exemplar of an act of unprovoked aggression the Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson called “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” — Blair and his mouthpiece and principal accomplice, Alastair Campbell, have been afforded generous space in the Guardian to rehabilitate their reputations. Described as a Labour Party “star”, Campbell has sought the sympathy of readers for his depression and displayed his interests, though not his current assignment as advisor, with Blair, to the Egyptian military tyranny.
As Iraq is dismembered as a consequence of the Blair/Bush invasion, a Guardian headline declares: “Toppling Saddam was right, but we pulled out too soon”. This ran across a prominent article on 13 June by a former Blair functionary, John McTernan, who also served Iraq’s CIA installed dictator Iyad Allawi. In calling for a repeat invasion of a country his former master helped destroy , he made no reference to the deaths of at least 700,000 people, the flight of four million refugees and sectarian turmoil in a nation once proud of its communal tolerance.
“Blair embodies corruption and war,” wrote the radical Guardian columnist Seumas Milne in a spirited piece on 3 July. This is known in the trade as “balance”. The following day, the paper published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the bomber were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This other embodiment of “corruption and war” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered people across the developing world.
In a village in Afghanistan, inhabited by the poorest of the poor, I filmed Orifa, kneeling at the graves of her husband, Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver, seven other members of her family, including six children, and two children who were killed in the adjacent house. A “precision” 500-pound bomb fell directly on their small mud, stone and straw house, leaving a crater 50 feet wide. Lockheed Martin, the plane’s manufacturer’s, had pride of place in the Guardian’s advertisement.
The former US secretary of state and aspiring president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, was recently on the BBC’s Women’s Hour, the quintessence of media respectability. The presenter, Jenni Murray, presented Clinton as a beacon of female achievement. She did not remind her listeners about Clinton’s profanity that Afghanistan was invaded to “liberate” women like Orifa. She asked Clinton nothing about her administration’s terror campaign using drones to kill women, men and children. There was no mention of Clinton’s idle threat, while campaigning to be the first female president, to “eliminate” Iran, and nothing about her support for illegal mass surveillance and the pursuit of whistle-blowers.
Murray did ask one finger-to-the-lips question. Had Clinton forgiven Monica Lewinsky for having an affair with husband? “Forgiveness is a choice,” said Clinton, “for me, it was absolutely the right choice.” This recalled the 1990s and the years consumed by the Lewinsky “scandal”. President Bill Clinton was then invading Haiti, and bombing the Balkans, Africa and Iraq. He was also destroying the lives of Iraqi children; Unicef reported the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five as a result of an embargo led by the US and Britain.
The children were media unpeople, just as Hillary Clinton’s victims in the invasions she supported and promoted – Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia — are media unpeople. Murray made no reference to them. A photograph of her and her distinguished guest, beaming, appears on the BBC website.
In politics as in journalism and the arts, it seems that dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground. When I began a career in Britain’s Fleet Street in the 1960s, it was acceptable to critique western power as a rapacious force. Read James Cameron’s celebrated reports of the explosion of the Hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll, the barbaric war in Korea and the American bombing of North Vietnam. Today’s grand illusion is of an information age when, in truth, we live in a media age in which incessant corporate propaganda is insidious, contagious, effective and liberal.
In his 1859 essay On Liberty, to which modern liberals pay homage, John Stuart Mill wrote: “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” The “barbarians” were large sections of humanity of whom “implicit obedience” was required. “It’s a nice and convenient myth that liberals are peacemakers and conservatives the warmongers,” wrote the historian Hywel Williams in 2001, “but the imperialism of the liberal way may be more dangerous because of its open-ended nature: its conviction that it represents a superior form of life.” He had in mind a speech by Blair in which the then prime minister promised to “reorder the world around us” according to his “moral values”.
Richard Falk, the respected authority on international law and the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, once described a “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence”. It is “so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable”.
Tenure and patronage reward the guardians. On BBC Radio 4, Razia Iqbal interviewed Toni Morrison, the African-American Nobel Laureate. Morrison wondered why people were “so angry” with Barack Obama, who was “cool” and wished to build a “strong economy and health care”. Morrison was proud to have talked on the phone with her hero, who had read one of her books and invited her to his inauguration.
Neither she nor her interviewer mentioned Obama’s seven wars, including his terror campaign by drone, in which whole families, their rescuers and mourners have been murdered. What seemed to matter was that a “finely spoken” man of colour had risen to the commanding heights of power. In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon wrote that the “historic mission” of the colonised was to serve as a “transmission line” to those who ruled and oppressed. In the modern era, the employment of ethnic difference in western power and propaganda systems is now seen as essential. Obama epitomises this, though the cabinet of George W. Bush – his warmongering clique – was the most multiracial in presidential history.
As the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the jihadists of ISIS, Obama said, “The American people made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better destiny.” How “cool” is that lie? How “finely spoken” was Obama’s speech at the West Point military academy on 28 May. Delivering his “state of the world” address at the graduation ceremony of those who “will take American leadership” across the world, Obama said, “The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it. International opinion matters, but America will never ask permission …”
In repudiating international law and the rights of independent nations, the American president claims a divinity based on the might of his “indispensable nation”. It is a familiar message of imperial impunity, though always bracing to hear. Evoking the rise of fascism in the 1930s, Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being.” Historian Norman Pollack wrote: “For goose-steppers, substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”
In February, the US mounted one of its “colour” coups against the elected government in Ukraine, exploiting genuine protests against corruption in Kiev. Obama’s national security adviser Victoria Nuland personally selected the leader of an “interim government”. She nicknamed him “Yats”. Vice President Joe Biden came to Kiev, as did CIA Director John Brennan. The shock troops of their putsch were Ukrainian fascists.
For the first time since 1945, a neo-Nazi, openly anti-Semitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital. No Western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism in the borderland through which Hitler’s invading Nazis took millions of Russian lives. They were supported by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), responsible for the massacre of Jews and Russians they called “vermin”. The UPA is the historical inspiration of the present-day Svoboda Party and its fellow-travelling Right Sector. Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its Nato Enlargement Project. Reneging on a promise made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not expand “one inch to the east”, Nato has, in effect, militarily occupied eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Caucasus, Nato’s expansion is the biggest military build-up since the Second World War.
A Nato Membership Action Plan is Washington’s gift to the coup-regime in Kiev. In August, “Operation Rapid Trident” will put American and British troops on Ukraine’s Russian border and “Sea Breeze” will send US warships within sight of Russian ports. Imagine the response if these acts of provocation, or intimidation, were carried out on America’s borders.
In reclaiming Crimea — which Nikita Kruschev illegally detached from Russia in 1954 – the Russians defended themselves as they have done for almost a century. More than 90 per cent of the population of Crimea voted to return the territory to Russia. Crimea is the home of the Black Sea Fleet and its loss would mean life or death for the Russian Navy and a prize for Nato. Confounding the war parties in Washington and Kiev, Vladimir Putin withdrew troops from the Ukrainian border and urged ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to abandon separatism.
In Orwellian fashion, this has been inverted in the west to the “Russian threat”. Hillary Clinton likened Putin to Hitler. Without irony, right-wing German commentators said as much. In the media, the Ukrainian neo-Nazis are sanitised as “nationalists” or “ultra nationalists”. What they fear is that Putin is skilfully seeking a diplomatic solution, and may succeed. On 27 June, responding to Putin’s latest accommodation – his request to the Russian Parliament to rescind legislation that gave him the power to intervene on behalf of Ukraine’s ethnic Russians – Secretary of State John Kerry issued another of his ultimatums. Russia must “act within the next few hours, literally” to end the revolt in eastern Ukraine. Notwithstanding that Kerry is widely recognised as a buffoon, the serious purpose of these “warnings” is to confer pariah status on Russia and suppress news of the Kiev regime’s war on its own people.
A third of the population of Ukraine are Russian-speaking and bilingual. They have long sought a democratic federation that reflects Ukraine’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are neither “separatists” nor “rebels” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland. Separatism is a reaction to the Kiev junta’s attacks on them, causing as many as 110,000 (UN estimate) to flee across the border into Russia. Typically, they are traumatised women and children.
Like Iraq’s embargoed infants, and Afghanistan’s “liberated” women and girls, terrorised by the CIA’s warlords, these ethnic people of Ukraine are media unpeople in the west, their suffering and the atrocities committed against them minimised, or suppressed. No sense of the scale of the regime’s assault is reported in the mainstream western media. This is not unprecedented. Reading again Phillip Knightley’s masterly The First Casualty: the war correspondent as hero, propagandist and mythmaker, I renewed my admiration for the Manchester Guardian’s Morgan Philips Price, the only western reporter to remain in Russia during the 1917 revolution and report the truth of a disastrous invasion by the western allies. Fair-minded and courageous, Philips Price alone disturbed what Knightley calls an anti-Russian “dark silence” in the west.
On 2 May, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. There is horrifying video evidence. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). The New York Times buried it, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.
On 28 June, the Guardian devoted most of a page to declarations by the Kiev regime’s “president”, the oligarch Petro Poroshenko. Again, Orwell’s rule of inversion applied. There was no putsch; no war against Ukraine’s minority; the Russians were to blame for everything. “We want to modernise my country,” said Poroshenko. “We want to introduce freedom, democracy and European values. Somebody doesn’t like that. Somebody doesn’t like us for that.”
According to his report, the Guardian’s reporter, Luke Harding, did not challenge these assertions, or mention the Odessa atrocity, the regime’s air and artillery attacks on residential areas, the killing and kidnapping of journalists, the firebombing of an opposition newspaper and his threat to “free Ukraine from dirt and parasites”. The enemy are “rebels”, “militants”, “insurgents”, “terrorists” and stooges of the Kremlin. Summon from history the ghosts of Vietnam, Chile, East Timor, southern Africa, Iraq; note the same tags. Palestine is the lodestone of this unchanging deceit. On 11 July, following the latest Israeli, American equipped slaughter in Gaza – 80 people including six children in one family — an Israeli general writes in the Guardian under the headline, “A necessary show of force”.
In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerised Germans; it was her Triumph of the Will that reputedly cast Hitler’s spell. I asked her about propaganda in societies that imagined themselves superior. She replied that the “messages” in her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on a “submissive void” in the German population. “Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked. “Everyone,” she replied, “and of course the intelligentsia.”
- John Pilger is the author of Freedom Next Time. All his documentary films can be viewed free on his website
SHELLING OVER THE LINE
Artillery shells from Ukraine hit a private house in the Rostov region of Russia, killing a citizen and leaving two more injured. The Russian Foreign Ministry promised heavy consequences.
It seems likely that this shelling of Russia by the Kiev regime was timed as Vladimir Putin was on his South American tour. It is a taunt and a challenge to draw Russia into direct war with Ukraine - just what US-NATO has been trying to do for the past several months.