If you’re going to lie, make it a big one. And nowhere are they bigger than from the mouths of our leaders, writes Richard Hil. It’s not unusual for the powerful to distort, manipulate and deceive. Orwellian doublespeak, spin and obfuscation have become the everyday stuff of power elites. It’s been like this for aMore
He may be the subject of worship from London’s Parliament Square to the Oval Office in Washington DC, but Winston Churchill was little more than a mass murderer, with as much blood on his hands as Hitler does. That’s according to the Indian politician and author Shashi Tharoor, whose new book ‘Inglorious Empire’ chronicles the …
The long read: For a century, the East India Company conquered, subjugated and plundered vast tracts of south Asia. The lessons of its brutal reign have never been more relevant
Some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s establishment. One organization is taking Israelis to visit the ruins of the abandoned villages, to learn about the Palestinian ‘Nakba,’ or tragedy. Read more about Nakba remembrance: Turning entire Palestinian villages invisible How we learned to forget the villages we destroyed For Israelis, Palestinian refugees are a constant, lurking threat
Picturing the deadly legacy of America’s secret war in Laos.
This NAIDOC Week, Indigenous rights campaigner Julian Cleary explores some of the interesting, humbling, and downright inspiring facts whitewashed from our history lessons.
The stories of the British aristocrats who converted to Islam.
The Islamic State group dominates global headlines but do we really understand what it’s trying to achieve?
In 1838 white settlers murdered 28 Aboriginal men, women and children near Myall Creek Station. For the first time in history some killers were tried and hanged.The massacre is a harrowing reminder of Australia’s colonial violence.
Despite years of Jewish education, much of which focused on Israel, this young American Zionist was still ignorant of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. By David Sarna Galdi The Israeli occupation of the West…
The 1966-76 Cultural Revolution is a history too long and too tragic to fully conceal.
Before the advent of Zionism and Arab nationalism, Jews and Palestinians lived in peace in the holy land. Menachem Klein’s new book maps out an oft-forgotten history of Israel/Palestine, and offers some guidance on how…
Gratuities were once an excuse to shortchange black people. In fact, they still are.
OPINION: The party of safe economic hands? Not so much. It’s time to blow this hard-to-kill myth out of the water, writes Costa Avgoustinos. 1) Bad Social Values Mean Bad Economic Decisions Like everyone, the Liberals’ economic decisions are tied to their social values. And they make bad economic decisions because of that. They seeMore
Original Analysis by +972 Magazine’s bloggers and op-ed contributors
Source: Analysis | +972 Magazine
Another skirmish in the history wars. A guide – not a directive – to the University of New South Wales Diversity Toolkit has said that Australia was not settled peacefully, it was invaded, occupied and colonized.
Source: The idiot section | The Monthly
Debate about Aboriginal history in Australia always descends into hysteria because it bruises our misplaced national pride.
No matter the Arab leaders’ achievements, it is their shortcomings and failures that define the current era.
It’s been more than 50 years since Allen Dulles resigned as director of the CIA, but his legacy lives on. Between 1953 and 1961, under his watch, the CIA overthrew the governments of Iran and Guatemala, invaded Cuba, and was tied to the killing of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected leader. We speak with David Talbot, author of “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government,” about how Dulles’ time at the CIA helped shape the current national security state.
Part 2 of our interview with David Talbot, author of “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government,” about how Dulles’ time at the CIA helped shape the current national security state.
What you need to know to understand Syria’s civil war — and the refugee crisis it created.
Tyrant, confused daydreamer… So who was Saddam, really?
80s business tycoon Alan Bond has paid a billion dollars for a small patch of Heaven that Kerry Packer first bought for $80 five years ago.
Mr Bond, who was desperate to make his mark in the afterlife, said Packer was not willing to budge from his initial price of $1 billion. “So I made a few phone calls and managed to put together enough for the asking price. It’s a stunning little plot of land,” Mr Bond said.
Before the purchase, the land was independently valued at $180.
Mr Packer said he was pleased with the transaction. “You only get one Alan Bond per afterlife, and I’ve had mine”.
Friday’s ISIS suicide bombings in Yemen and Saudi Arabia – killing a total of at least 43 people – is yet more bitter fruit of the policy pursued by Britain, the US and France and their Gulf allies for the past eight years.
This strategy – of fostering violently sectarian anti-Shiite militias in order to destroy Syria and isolate Iran – is itself but part of the West’s wider war against the entire global South by weakening any independent regional powers allied to the BRICs countries, and especially to Russia.
The strategy was first revealed as far back as 2007 in Seymour Hersh’s article “The Redirection”, which revealed how Bush administration officials were working with the Saudis to channel billions of dollars to sectarian death squads whose role would be to “throw bombs… at Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran and at the Syrians,” in the memorable words of one US official.
More evidence of precisely how this strategy unfolded has since been revealed. Most recently, last Monday saw the release of hundreds of pages of formerly classified US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) documents following a two year court battle in the US.
These documents showed that, far from being an unpredictable “bolt from the blue,” as the mainstream media tends to imply, the rise of ISIS was in fact both predicted and desired by the US and its allies as far back as 2012.
The DIA report, which was widely circulated amongst the various US military and security agencies at the time, noted: “There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).” Elsewhere, the “supporting powers to the opposition” are defined as “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey”.
In other words, a Salafist – that is militantly anti-Shia – “principality” was “exactly” what the West wanted as part of their war against not only Syria, but “Shia expansion” in Iraq as well. Indeed, it was specifically acknowledged that “ISI [the forerunner of ISIS] could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
The precision of the declassified predictions is astounding. Not only was it predicted that the terrorist groups being supported by Washington and London in Syria would team up with those in Iraq to create an “Islamic State,” but the precise dimensions of this state were also spelt out: recognizing that “the Salafist[s], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The report noted that the consequences of this for Iraq would be to “create the ideal atmosphere for AQI [Al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.”
Mosul, don’t forget, was taken by ISIS in June 2014, and Ramadi fell earlier this week.
Recent months have seen the West and its regional allies massively stepping up their support for their anti-Shiite death squads. In late March, Saudi Arabia began its bombardment of Yemen following military gains made by the Houthi (Shiite) rebels in that country. The Houthis, the only effective force fighting Al Qaeda in the country, had taken key territories from them last November, and were subsequently threatening them in their remaining strongholds. This was when the Saudis began their bombardment, with US and British support, naturally, and, unsurprisingly, Al Qaeda have been the key beneficiary of this intervention, gaining a breathing space and regaining valuable lost territory, retaking the key port of Mukulla within a week of the commencement of the Saudi bombardment.
Al Qaeda have also been making gains in Syria, taking two major cities in Idlib province last month following a ramping up of military support from Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. And of course, Britain has been leading the way for a renewed military intervention in Libya in the guise of a “war against people smuggling” that, as I have argued elsewhere, will inevitably end up boosting the most vicious gangs involved in the trade, namely ISIS and Al Qaeda.
So why the sudden urgency on the part of the West and its allies to step up support for Al Qaeda et al now?
The answer lies in the increasing disgust at the activities of the death squads across the region. No longer perceived as the valiant freedom fighters they were depicted as in 2011, their role as shock troops for the West’s “divide and ruin” strategy, promising nothing but a future of ultra-violent trauma and ethnic cleansing, has become increasingly obvious. The period between mid-2013 and mid-2014 saw a significant turning of the tide against these groups.
It began in July 2013 with the ouster of Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi following fears he was planning to send in the Egyptian army to aid the Syrian insurgency. New President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi put an end not only to that possibility, but to the flow of fighters from Egypt to Syria altogether. The West hoped to step in the following month with airstrikes against the Syrian government, but their attempts to ensure Iranian and Russian acquiescence in such a move came to nought and they were forced into a humiliating climbdown.
Then came the fall of Homs in May 2014, as Syrian government forces retook a key insurgent stronghold. The momentum was clearly with the government side; that is until ISIS sprang onto the scene – and with them, a convenient pretext for a US-led intervention that had been ruled out just a year before.
Meanwhile, in Libya, the pro-death squad parties decisively lost elections to the first elected House of Representatives in June 2014. Their refusal to accept defeat led to a new chapter in the post-NATO Libyan disaster, as they set up a new rival government in Tripoli and waged war on the elected parliament. Yet following a massacre of Egyptians by ISIS in Libya in February of this year, Egypt sent its airforce in on the side of the Tobruk (elected) parliament; it is now, apparently, considering sending in ground troops.
Losing ground in Yemen, in Libya, in Egypt and in Syria, the West’s whole strategy for using armed Salafists as tools of destabilization was starting to unravel. Thank goodness, people in certain quarters must be thinking, for ISIS.
Tony Abbott’s rating as a leader flounders somewhere between asbestos and Ebola, and history suggests he doesn’t have the time to turn this image around and stave off a backbencher attack, writes Toby Ralph.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a politician in possession of a bad public image is very probably charming in private.
This curiously counter-intuitive phenomenon tends to work equally successfully in reverse. It perplexed me for years until I realised that the gruesome business of cultivating mass acceptability invariably requires the sacrifice of authenticity, just as those that remain authentic customarily surrender popularity.
Political image matters, but is oft misunderstood. Many conflate likeability and leadership, but were congeniality the criteria by which we selected our politicians Kylie Minogue would be PM with Wil Anderson Treasurer, ably supported by a cabinet of the Wiggles and Bananas in Pyjamas.
Australians recognise the need for a bit of mongrel in our leaders – we hire them to do difficult and unpopular things – but it’s a fine line as Campbell Newman has just discovered.
Sacking 14,000 public servants to repurpose a billion bucks or more annually while simultaneously increasing public sector efficiency was no small achievement, while the decision to go to the election on the wobbly platform of leasing state assets was politically heroic.
If you get too tough too fast you’d better have a deep reservoir of goodwill to drain, or you’ll be publicly thanked for your decisive action with an unemployment slip.
Ms Minogue might have sold it: Can-Do Campbell couldn’t.
Which brings us to the comings and potential goings of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
It is often said of our Prime Minister that if you want to hate him you’d best not meet him – but a fraction of one per cent of our 23,734,369 strong population has the luxury of forming this view – while the millions that do not increasingly line up to scoff at his actions.
Unwarranted or not, his rating as a leader flounders somewhere between asbestos and Ebola, causing some parliamentary colleagues to question if replacement might be more prudent than renovation.
The truth is that image, once damaged, is formidably difficult to repair.
In opposition Mr Abbott positioned himself as a fierce combatant, surrounding himself with a team that excelled at attack. That skill and team have been carried into Government, and his finest moments in office thus far have been those in which he could oppose something: Russians shooting down planes, turbaned terrorists and people smugglers.
However, he has yet to create a sturdy leadership narrative, so his image is being characterised by largely inconsequential but seemingly haphazard decisions like the perplexing knighting of a Duke.
Worse still his time may have run out, for the media smell blood and backbenchers are fretting in public.
How does a politician fix unpopularity fast? A well-trod path is to find a bigger menace and stand against it based on the notion that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
War works rather well.
In 1982 Margaret Thatcher was the least popular leader in recent British history. Then, apparently miffed by Argentinian involvement in an island of 1820 souls off their coast, she launched a naval task force.
A year and a thousand deaths later she was re-elected in a landslide.
Sadly an invasion of the Australian Antarctic Territory seems unlikely and were the Cocos to annex Christmas Island or New Zealand endeavour a hostile seizure of Tasmania I suspect few would care, so that seems to rule out a military adventure.
Without the drama of conflict, image repair requires the tedious slog of explaining what is envisaged, then why it will be of benefit and how it will happen.
Traditionally this is the domain of spin doctors, pollsters and other backroom ne’er-do-wells who conjure up uber-researched glib three word slogans in the patronising hope that punters will accept and echo them.
This hasn’t worked for Mr Abbott since he won the fancy office and the big car with the flag, and I would counsel against it, for repeating a strategy that has manifestly failed would be foolish.
Authenticity and a prudent well-communicated plan with seamless execution pave the road to redemption.
But is there time to create that path?
History suggests not, for once backbencher clamour for change moves from their back rooms to our lounge rooms a dreadful inevitability looms.
Shakespeare had a view:
There is no help.
The bitter disposition of the time
Will have it so.
Toby Ralph is a marketing, strategy and communications consultant who has worked on nearly 50 elections across three continents.
If you made a list of countries you hope have learned from their past hundred years of mistakes, Germany would have to be at the top. Happily, the staunch opposition to a nativist fringe that the nation’s government and citizenry have shown in recent weeks makes it clear, again, that Germany understands the costs of bigotry and the virtues of tolerance.
Unhappily, it has not learned the costs of a mad adherence to fiscal orthodoxy, despite the fact that its prosperity is rooted in the decision of its World War II adversaries to allow West Germany’s postwar government to write off half of its debts.
Harold Meyerson writes a weekly political column that appears on Thursdays and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. View Archive
Indeed, the policies that Angela Merkel’s government have inflicted on the nations of Southern Europe could not be more different from those that European leaders and the United States devised in the early 1950s to enable West Germany to rebuild its damaged economy. Since the crash of 2008, Germany, as Europe’s dominant economy and leading creditor, has compelled Mediterranean Europe, and Greece in particular, to sack their own economies to repay their debts.
Germany’s insistence has reduced Greece to a condition like that of the United States at the bottom of the Great Depression. Unemployment has soared to 25 percent, and youth unemployment to more than 50 percent ; the economy has shrunk by 26 percent and consumption by 40 percent. Debt has risen to 175 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. And the funds from the loans that Germany and other nations have extended to Greece have gone almost entirely either to cover interest payments or repay past loans; only 11 percent has actually gone to Greece’s government. Stuck on a treadmill of debt repayment and anemic economic activity, Greece, as the Financial Times noted, has been reduced to a “quasi-slave economy” run “purely for the benefit of foreign creditors.”
Not surprisingly, when Greek voters went to the polls Sunday, they elected a new government that is demanding a renegotiation of its debt. German and European Union officials have responded with adamant opposition to any such changes.
Fortunately for Germany, its own creditors took quite a different stance after World War II. In the London Debt Agreement of 1953, the 20 nations — including Greece — that had loaned money to Germany during the pre-Nazi Weimar Republic and in the years since 1945 agreed to reduce West Germany’s debts by half. Moreover, they agreed that its repayments could not come out of the government’s spending but only and explicitly from export income. They further agreed to undervalue the German mark, so that German export income could grow. By the consent of all parties, the London Agreement, and subsequent modifications, were crafted in proceedings that made West Germany an equal party to its creditors: It could, and sometimes did, reject the creditors’ terms and insist on new negotiations.
The United States was particularly insistent on making the terms of West Germany’s repayments as lenient as possible. It needed the nation to be a strong ally in the Cold War. Besides, West Germany’s government, headed by Christian Democrat Konrad Adenauer, was (presumably) Nazi-free. To further punish Germany, its onetime mortal enemies concluded, was strategically — and, just maybe, morally — unwise.
No such scruples have informed Germany’s current policies toward Greece. As a member of the euro zone, Greece cannot undervalue its currency, and rather than enabling Greece to increase its exports, Germany has done everything possible to increase its own trade balance with Greece and its European neighbors. Far from rebuilding the economies of Southern Europe, Germany pillaged them in the name of fiscal rectitude.
But the considerations that informed Germany’s creditors six decades ago are just as pertinent today. Strategically and economically, it would be a disaster for Germany if Greece were compelled to repudiate its debts and leave the euro zone, as such a move would threaten the zone’s continued existence. The new Greek government represents at least as clean a break with Greece’s previous mis-rulers as the Adenauer government did with Hitler’s. Its early appointments signal a novel development in Greek governance: a fight against the corruption and crony capitalism that have long corroded the nation’s economy.
Why can’t Germany apply the lessons of its own past to today’s economic challenge? As Jurgen Kaiser noted in a brilliant paper for the think tank of Germany’s Social Democrats, “little knowledge about Germany’s debt relief is to be found among the broader public in Germany.”
The world will be a better place when Germans know their history — all of it.
Read more from Harold Meyerson’s archive or follow him on Twitter.
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By Dave Harrison
When Osama bin Laden was killed in cold blood in Pakistan and many demanded to see his death-photos for verification, President Obama refused and said, “That’s not who we are,” which begs the question: Who are the Americans?
Are Americans the ones who annexed the Philippines, denied them their own republic and then engaged in a war (1899-1902) with those who opposed them at the cost of 1.4 million Filipino lives? Are they the ones who burned villages, murdered their entire populations, and rounded up all boys over ten and young men and had them executed? Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who supported, supplied with arms and intelligence-gathering and bolstered many, brutal South and Central American dictatorships like Batista and Pinochet whose death-squads callously murdered tens of thousands of people in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s simply because they believed in social justice by way of a social-minded government?
Are Americans the ones who experimented with atomic weapons on Hiroshima which killed over 80,000 people – including innocent men, women, and children – who were not actively involved in the war and then repeated its massacre on Nagasaki? Hiroshima had no military value and American bomber pilots were warned not to drop conventional bombs on it lest they ruin their precious experiment. Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who succeeded the French in Vietnam, picked up an already lost war and made it their own all based on a faulty thesis known as the “Domino Effect” which later proved to be nonsense? And while they pursued this baseless theory, put an entire country to the torch at the cost of another 2,000,000 Vietnamese lives and 58,000 of their own, the American military-industrial complex thrived. Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who burned villages, shot the villagers’ animals, destroyed their crops and in one instance evacuated an entire village of 504 defenseless old men, women, children and even babes in arms in Mi Lai in 1969 and then shot them down like dogs in a ditch with their M-16 rifless? Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who provided the experimental drug LSD to a Montreal asylum to test out on Canadian patients including one MP’s wife in the 1960s without their knowledge or consent? Are they the ones who sprayed a Canadian city (Winnipeg) to make long-term chemical tests on Canadian civilians rather than risk their own? Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who entered Korea on a “police action” and then engaged in the “Forgotten War” at the cost of 2,000,000 civilian Korean lives? How can Koreans forget? Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who followed George Bush and his senseless side-kick, Dick Cheney, to invade Iraq based on outright lies and half-baked intelligence, which almost everyone else knew was completely untrue? Are they the ones who headed the “Coalition of the Willing” to wilfully destroy a complete country and its infrastructure, kill 50,000 of its soldiers defending their own country, kill another 100,000 civilians, displace over a half million Iraqi citizens and then occupy it and rebuild it under the direction of Halliburton Company which was once headed by Dick Cheney himself? Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who set off their first, atomic test in the Nevada desert on July 16th, 1945 with American and Canadian soldiers present within 1000 yards of the blast without any radiation protection whatsoever, marched them to Ground Zero through the atomic dust afterward, and then casually swept them off with corn brooms to show that it was harmless? When they later died off like flies from cancer, victims were told, “Prove it.” Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who deviously tested Agent Orange in New Brunswick, Canada along transmission lines before they used it inVietnam at the cost of many Canadian lives and the tortured lives of thousands of Vietnamese? Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who incarcerated hundreds of individuals at Guantanamo Bay and left them without any legal rights, tortured them in various ways – like water boarding and sleep deprivation – and then threw away the keys? Is this who they are?
Are Americans the ones who send in drones to kill one individual whom they suspect of being a terrorist – without arrest and a fair trial but only their suspicions – and without any consideration for the rights of hundreds of innocent victims? And, when they anonymously kill dozens of innocent victims – women and children included – they simply issue an apology for the mistake and do it again later. Is that who they are?
Are Americans the ones who place on their coins, “In God we trust“? We are left to ponder: Which God is that? (It’s certainly not the one I know.) Is that who they are, or is that how history will remember America?
In decades to come, America will be judged harshly.