The best we can hope for when picking up our daily paper is that an attempt has been made to present opinions with at least a passing nod to objectivity. That should not be too much to ask but increasingly opinion is clearly just that: opinion. What happens when propaganda replaces journalism?Mainstream media chastises China, ignoring U.S. crimes
The Republican-led legislature passed a new law presenting another hurdle — felons had to pay off all their fines to vote — but last week, billionaire Michael Bloomberg donated US$16 million to a fund designed to help them do that.No mail-in votes, proof of citizenship: the long history of preventing minorities from voting in the US
SINCE DONALD TRUMP became President, the relationship between the U.S. and China has deteriorated to the point that some observers talk of war. Why is this? In simple terms, America feels threatened by China’s rapidly expanding wealth and influence. Dangerous confrontation has resulted and Australia has been sucked in. How far remains to be seen, but it is not in Australia’s interest to be used by Trump or Murdoch.
Trumpism and the drag on a nation(ODT
According to commander of US Naval Forces in Europe, Africa, and NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Admiral James Foggo:
“NATO can no longer ignore China’s activities in Europe.” Citing no credible evidence, he falsely claimed Beijing aims to undermine the international rules-based order.
Claiming as well that it maintained peace throughout the post-WW II era ignored endless US preemptive wars against invented enemies.
Is US conflict with China inevitable — given the country’s growing prominence on the world stage while the US declines?
China pursues cooperative relations with other countries. So do Russia, Iran, and other nations the US is hostile toward.
Washington’s drive for unchallenged dominance risks unthinkable nuclear war if it pushes things too far against nations able to hit back hard in self-defense if attacked.
By focusing on the historical crimes of Western imperialism, we are in danger of forgetting that some terrible wrongs were done more recently in US-led ‘regime-change’ operations for which no one has yet apologized.
Destruction of Iraq & Libya
War in Syria and Yemen
It’s not as if our standards are wonderful. But by comparison to the revolting practices in the US, our food rules, laid down by the European Union, are a haven of sanity. As well as washing chicken flesh with chlorine to compensate for the filthy conditions in which it is raised and processed, and injecting dangerous substances into cattle and pigs, Big Farmer and Big Food in the US use 72 pesticides that are banned in the UK and food colourings that have been linked to hyperactivity in children, impose no limits on the amount of sugar in baby food and permit cow’s milk to contain twice the amount of pus that the UK allows.
The problem no addressed here is the involvement and irresponsible incitement by Murdoch Media to incite back to work demonstrations in the English speaking world. The demand to go back to the normal rather than progress to a very different economy. The talk of 28 years of GDP growth doesn’t begin to address the increasing income and wealth gap that helped generate it and the public austerity measures that accompanied it leaving us ill-equipped to deal with emergencies we face. Yes, Australia has fared better but I’d suggest it’s more a sake of good fortune than intent. We have always been some years behind first following the British and now the Americans last in line but nevertheless over that cliff. We aren’t our own masters we do have a level of solidarity but when the Oligarchs, LNP IPA and News Corp hold the wealth and power and are now assisted by the ALP what chance is there of a progressive peoples bailout and not just a corporate one in the future? (ODT)
Morrison government setting itself for an aggressive pro-business plan for our post-pandemic economy. Specifically, that means tax breaks for businesses and even a big swing at industrial relations. It’s the road that leads to lower wages, worse conditions and limited tax revenue. And while some of that might end up being an economic necessity, if that’s not done perfectly, it’s a road of austerity and increasing inequality that has proven so destructive elsewhere.
Obviously, all that will depend on the detail. But we should take this chance to heed the warning from those nations that are presently unravelling. Sacrifice a basic level of equality for economic growth and you risk social and political fracture. There will be much we can’t afford after this, but one of them is losing the threads of social solidarity we still have left, because we’ll need them desperately when the next crisis hits.
The 1% impose the intrinsic instability of their system on the entire population, and then get the government to respond with deficits that even further benefit and reward the greed of the very same 1% oligarchs and corporations.
Ironically, we’ve borrowed so much as a nation from the rich, large corporations and some foreign countries that even they now are unsure they want to continue to lending to us because of today’s astronomical debt. To maintain their loan profits, they want us to eliminate/severely reduce programs for poor and sick people with austerity/cuts in all social and public health programs, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.
The absurdity and danger to our community of such an economic policy is exceeded only by its gross injustice.
History of Guns and White men (ODT)
The N.R.A. has supported ‘stand your ground’ deadly force laws which encourage racial violence, and opposed all gun restrictions; it has promoted a reinterpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – on the people right to keep and bear arms – to provide for a nearly unlimited individual right to bear arms.
The United States is a nation where white men have lived and died by the gun. The gun facilitated the genocide of the Native people and the enslavement of American people, and allowed white people to steal land and seize control. Take away the gun, and society begins to chip away at the myth of ‘white supremacy’.
Consider just one. At the end of the class on World War II, I always asked: “What is the moral difference between flying three planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon—killing 3,000 civilians—and using hundreds of U.S. planes to firebomb Tokyo on March 9, 1945—killing some 90,000 civilians?” Suffice it to say that most cadets didn’t like this question at all.
In sum, as we compare the two military organizations, one must conclude, ultimately, that CENTCOM is at least as terrorist as the IRGC. Maybe more.
No doubt many critics will label this assessment “treasonous.” I call it “ethically consistent.”
Let history be the judge.
News Corp Australia follows are we now no longer going to shirtfront Putin?(ODT)
On Sept. 26, 2018, President Donald Trump made an extraordinary accusation against China during his remarks to the United Nations Security Council, saying, “Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration.” He made the claim without offering any evidence, but he did speculate about China’s motivation: “They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”
So don’t tell the global South how corrupt they are for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.
(ANTIWAR.COM) –Â Iraq claimed credit for videos earlier this week showing the use of white phosphorus munitions in densely populated parts of the Old City in Mosul, but their use is becoming even more widespread, with new reports suggesting that the US is also using such shells in both Iraq and Syria. Though white phosphorus shells are not uncommon in the military, and often used as smokescreens, the high temperature at which it burns, and the toxic chemicals emitted makes them wholly unsuitable for populated areas, and their use in any densely populated area or as an incendiary are widely considered
Chief White House strategist pushes economic nationalist agenda at CPAC and continues relentless attacks on media, vowing: ‘Every day is going to be a fight’
Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called on his followers to “target” the new US troops that are about to be sent to Iraq to fight Islamic State. The statement comes after US Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the deployment of 560 more troops.
Chomsky discusses how he thinks the U.S. should respond to the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
As the war against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) rages on, the US has stepped up its air campaign, combining destructive bombs with anti-ISIS leaflets.
But while US propaganda efforts are ostensibly aimed at disrupting ISIS recruitment, overall US involvement has yielded mixed results at best.
On the one hand, Washington is engaging in a psychological campaign designed to dissuade potential ISIS fighters from joining up, with leaflets depicting grisly images of young men being sent into a meat grinder. On the other hand however, the US continues to exacerbate the situation in both Iraq and Syria by providing material support, both directly and indirectly, to the very groups whom they claim to be fighting.
While the US seems to be engaged in a psychological war against ISIS, it is equally involved in a systematic campaign of sabotage against those forces that are actually fighting ISIS on the ground. And so, as it often does, Washington is playing both sides of the conflict in order to achieve an outcome to its own political advantage, and to the detriment of Syria, Iran, and other interested parties.
The US psychological war against ISIS
Since the emergence of ISIS on the world stage, much has been made of the organization’s ability to recruit fighters, produce propaganda, and effectively get its message across to the young Muslims around the world. There have been countless news stories of Muslim youths from the West eagerly joining up to fight in far flung war zones like Syria and Iraq, seemingly translating their disaffection with their own lives into an ideological identification with ISIS extremism.
But beneath the surface of such ideological explanations is the fact, publicly acknowledged by many counter-terrorism experts, that ISIS propaganda, coupled with the financial benefits the organization offers, is responsible for some of the allure of joining the fight. And so, the US has launched a full scale psychological war for the “hearts and minds” of these naïve youths and poverty-stricken potential fighters.
The Pentagon confirmed that they had dropped tens of thousands of leaflets on the Syrian city of Raqqa in an attempt to dissuade potential recruits from joining ISIS. While this may seem a relatively harmless exercise in counter-propaganda, the reality is that it is at best a poorly conceived, and at worst utterly disingenuous, attempt to counteract ISIS recruitment. Were the US serious about eradicating the cancer of ISIS in Syria, US military officials would be coordinating with their Syrian counterparts in a comprehensive attempt to destroy the organization. For while the US Air Force drops leaflets, the Syrian Arab Army has been fighting ISIS on the ground for nearly three years, paying a very high price in blood to protect its country from the internationally constituted terror organization.
US military planners understand perfectly that it is the Syrian military, not slick propaganda leaflets, which will carry the day in the war against ISIS in Syria. While perhaps useful for the public relations campaign back home, such leaflets will do little to change the tactical or strategic situation on the ground. The same goes for the recently announced expansion of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, the State Department’s attempt at “counter-messaging” ISIS propaganda on social media and in cyberspace generally.
But, while the US presents itself as pursuing a comprehensive psychological war against ISIS, its military and covert actions tell a far different story.
Fighting ISIS by arming them?
The media has been abuzz in recent months with numerous accounts of US weapons and other supplies falling directly into the hands of ISIS, providing the terror group with invaluable material support at a time when it had suffered heavy losses in both Syria and Iraq. As Naeem al-Uboudi, the spokesman for one of the main groups fighting ISIS in Tikrit told the NY Times, “We don’t trust the American-led coalition in combating ISIS… In the past, they have targeted our security forces and dropped aid to ISIS by mistake.”
Indeed, these allegations are supported dozens of accounts of airdropped US weapons being seized by ISIS. As Iraqi MP Majid al-Ghraoui noted in January, “The information that has reached us in the security and defense committee indicates that an American aircraft dropped a load of weapons and equipment to the ISIS group militants at the area of al-Dour in the province of Salahuddin… This incident is continuously happening and has also occurred in some other regions.”
Whether these incidents are simply honest mistakes by the vaunted US military with all its precision bombing capabilities, or they are indications of a more callous attempt to inflict casualties on all sides and prolong the regional war, either way they represent an abject failure of the US strategy against ISIS. But of course, the US policy failure goes much further than just mistakes on the battlefield. Rather, the entire policy of arming so-called “moderates” in Syria has led directly to the growth of ISIS into a regional power.
Since 2012, the US, primarily through the CIA, has been providing weapons and training to terrorists in Syria under the guise of arming “moderates.” Many of these allegedly moderate groups have in recent months been documented as having either disbanded or defected to ISIS, including the little publicized mass defections of former Free Syrian Army fighters. However it has happened, a vast arsenal of US-supplied weapons and other military hardware are now counted among the ISIS arsenal. So much for the US policy of ensuring the weapons don’t “fall into the wrong hands.”
So, while the US has proclaimed to be fighting ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front, they have been simultaneously arming and supporting many of the same forces which now make up much of the rank-and-file of these terror groups. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Washington: Peace broker or arms dealer?
Those who follow US foreign policy are likely unsurprised by these revelations of Washington providing arms and intensifying an already dangerous conflict. In Syria, the US has consistently argued that the Syrian government cannot be seen as a partner for peace, and so they must provide weapons to “moderates.” In Ukraine, where the US has a compliant and servile government that executes its diktats, Washington still supplies the arms, talking of peace and stability while exacerbating the war and human tragedy in East Ukraine.
Last week, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed (348-48) a resolution to provide military support in the form of weapons to Ukraine. As Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee stated, “The people of Ukraine are not looking for American troops. They are just looking for the weapons to defend themselves. They don’t have those weapons. We do.”
Indeed, it seems that US policy is to pursue “peace” at the barrel of a US-made, US-supplied gun. As Secretary of State John Kerry explained in his usual self-contradictory manner “To get peace, you have to defend your country,” a devilishly cynical statement from the man who, entirely without irony, explained in 2014 that “you don’t just invade another country on a phony pretext in order to assert your interests.” Perhaps, rather than invading countries, the Obama administration has decided to simply provide the weapons, training, and logistical and material support in order to assert its own interests.
While Syria and Iraq face an existential struggle against the wildfire that is the Islamic State, the United States arrives, gas can in hand, to make peace. As Ukraine slides deeper into civil war, the US provides all the ingredients for a witches’ brew of violence and bloodshed.
For all its talk of psychological war against ISIS, Washington has embraced an aggressive, multi-pronged approach that leaves little doubt as to the thinking of its strategic planners: the enemy of my enemy is both friend and enemy. As Tacitus famously said of the Romans, “They make a desert and call it peace.” So too do the Americans in the blood-soaked deserts of Syria and Iraq.
Iraq’s Shiite militia, Kurds use U.S. air strikes to further own agenda
Helped by the United States and Iran, Kurdish forces and Shi’ite militia are finally beating back Islamic State militants who overran most Sunni Arab areas in northern and central Iraq nearly three months ago.
But the aftermath illustrates the unintended consequences of the U.S. air campaign against Islamic State.
Kurdish and Shi’ite fighters have regained ground, but Sunni Muslims who fled the violence are being prevented from returning home.
Rather than help keep the nation together, the air strikes risk being used by different factions for their own advantage in Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic conflicts. Yet again with weapons supplied by the West.
The fallout also risks worsening grievances that helped Islamic State find support amongst Iraq’s Sunnis. It allows the militant group to portray the U.S. strikes as targeting their minority sect.
The unlikely coalition of Kurdish peshmerga fighters, Shi’ite militias and the U.S. air force have won for the moment. But the Sunni villagers,
“There is no way back for them: we will raze their homes to the ground,” said Abu Abdullah, a commander of the Shi’ite Kataib Hizbollah militia in Amerli.
The area is now held by Kurdish peshmerga and Shi’ite militia, who have become the most powerful forces on the ground, rather than the Iraqi army, whose northern divisions collapsed this summer when Islamic State attacked leaving the US weapons behind for IS.
Sunni civilians have now fled, fearing for their lives.
“If a regular army were holding the area we could return, but as long as the militias are there we cannot,” said a 30-year-old displaced Sunni resident “They would slaughter us on the spot.”
He admitted some villagers had supported IS, but said it was only one or two for every 70 to 80 households, and that the rest were innocent civilians who were too scared to stand against the militants or had nowhere else to go.
A non aligned family had their son kidnapped. The next time they saw him was in a video on the internet captioned “arrest of an Islamic State member”, which appears to show their son being beheaded by Shi’ite militia fighters.
“We cannot return. Even if the Shi’ite army and militia withdraw, Islamic State will come back and the same will happen all over again,” said the mother.
“Since there is no confidence between Sunni and Shi’ite any more, they need guarantees from a third party, maybe the Kurds, then we can live peacefully together again, as we were.”
Sunni Arabs are also feeling a backlash in villages where they used to live alongside Kurds, who accuse them of collaborating with Islamic State. Kurds, who are also mostly Sunni but identify first and foremost with their ethnicity Kurds no longer trust Arab Sunnis enough to live with them.
“All my neighbors were Arabs. Now most of them are with Islamic State,”
But even during the operation, there were cracks in the coalition: Shi’ite militia and Kurdish forces fought under their own banners and the least visible flag was that of Iraq.Now that the common enemy has been pushed back, the alliance is unraveling. Kataib Hizbollah, which controls access to Amerli, is denying Kurds entry to the town and one peshmerga commander described the militia as the “Shi’ite IS”.
The tensions reflect a struggle for territory which the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad claims, but the Kurds want as part of their autonomous region in the north of the country.All with a renewed armoury