Silencing the United States as It Prepares for War — John Pilger | Information Clearing House

Love it! Factual, cogently argued . . . and scary as hell!

“The 2016 election campaign is remarkable not only for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders but also for the resilience of an enduring silence about a murderous self-bestowed divinity. A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington’s boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal – Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.”

Taking Sides

[Hat tip to Paul Craig Roberts]

Silencing the United States as It Prepares for War

John Pilger takes apart the liberal commentariat and points to the need for a genuinely anti-imperialist analysis of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and yes — Bernie Sanders.
By John Pilger

May 27, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “teleSur” –  Returning to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when he was shot and I saw his assassin, preparing to kill him. It was a baptism in the American way, along with the salivating violence of the Chicago police at the Democratic Party’s rigged convention. The great counter revolution had begun.

The first to be assassinated that year, Martin Luther King, had dared link the suffering of African-Americans and the people…

View original post 1,622 more words

What’s Turkey’s problem?

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Turkey hasn’t used the Arabic alphabet for 90 years! Beware of Photoshop!

Some people don’t like Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That’s ok, I guess. Outside of North Korea, there aren’t too many countries where the president gets a 100% approval rating. Even in the USA, the latest poll conducted by NBS News and the Wall St Journal showed Barack Obama with 51% support – and that’s not counting the people who don’t bother registering because of America’s electoral sham. Nevertheless, NBS and WSJ seem to think that’s pretty damn good. It’s the best he’s had for years.

But still, they’re only polling US registered voters. I haven’t seen any indication that anyone over there is asking whether the rest of the world want Hillary or Donald to take over the big job in November – or neither of the above. They don‘t care, do they? So why should Turkey care what Western media say about their president? Or perhaps more to the point, why do Western media think it’s any of their business?

England’s PM David Cameron went on record the other day saying that Turkey could expect to join the European Union somewhere around the year 3000. Apparently he was trying to reassure UK voters, prior to the British referendum on EU membership, that Europe is not about to be overrun by another horde of marauding horsemen from Central Asia. But, to be fair, that’s probably a more honest appraisal of Turkey’s chances than you’ll hear elsewhere.

Successive governments of Western Europe have kept Turkey dangling on a string for more than sixty years. They were quite happy to have Turkey play a buffer role against Soviet Russia during the Cold War, using its convenient location for siting several nuclear missile bases. They accepted Turkey as an associate member in 1963, and magnanimously permitted its government to apply for full membership in 1987. Well, that’s nearly thirty years now, and the odds against seem to be lengthening rather than shrinking.

Why? A recent article in Time Magazine provided some of the answers. ‘It’s time for Turkey and Europe to face reality’ said the headline, but the only argument of any substance was the Cyprus issue. Even that is debatable at best. The United Nations and Britain were supposed to protect the island’s independence, but failed to do so when Greece’s military junta attempted a takeover in 1974, forcing Turkey, as the third guarantor, to step in. UN attempts to find a solution have repeatedly foundered on Greek intransigence. Another dubious argument is geographical. Only 3 percent of Turkey’s territory is, strictly speaking, in Europe’ says the writer – yet the gnomes of Brussels would dearly love to have Ukraine in their club, never mind that two-thirds of that country lies east of Istanbul. Isn’t it time modern Europe let go of the ancient Greek and Roman definition of Asia starting at the Bosporus? So where does it start in Russia, which stretches 7,000 km east from Poland, beyond China, Korea and Japan?

We get nearer to the truth of the matter when the Time correspondent points out that, in 2014, 69% of Germans and 83% of French were opposed to Turkey joining the EU. Again we may ask why? And in a previous post, ‘Why do they hate Turkey?’ I addressed this question. In short, I believe there is a deeply ingrained fear and hatred of an abstract concept of ‘Turks’ going back a thousand years, fed and nourished regularly by political and religious leaders, and in modern times, by the mass media. Criticism of Mr Erdoğan is merely the latest manifestation of this – it really wouldn’t matter who led the country.

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Who’s kidding who?

Istanbul has just finished playing host to the first World Humanitarian Summit under the auspices of the United Nations. Apart from Germany’s Angela Merkel, however, leaders of western First World countries were conspicuous by their absence. The number of refugees from the Syrian civil war now in Turkey is estimated at 2.7 million. Politicians and news media in the West persist in criticising Turkey while adding fuel to a humanitarian disaster that has been raging for more than five years. A spokesperson from MSF (Doctors Without Borders) said it was ‘unlikely that the same countries who are currently shirking their obligations to refugees would turn over a new leaf next week’. Oxfam’s chief executive spoke of a need totackle the repeated failure of governments to resolve conflicts and end the culture of impunity in which civilians are killed without consequence’.

So who are the real guilty ones? Associated Press reported on 29 April that a US AC-130 gunship, ‘bristling with side-firing cannons and guns’, fired on a charity-run hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz for 30 minutes before it was realized that the attack was a mistake and the real target was an Afghan intelligence agency building half a kilometre away. 42 innocent civilians were killed and an unknown number injured in the attack. The U.S. government has made “gesture of sympathy” payments of $3,000 to each injured person and $6,000 to each family of the killed.

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Remains of Kunduz MSF hospital after US ‘mistake’.

Well, at least the US is kind of at war with Afghanistan. Their government seems to reserve the right to take out people they consider enemies wherever they are. 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama confirmed last week that an American drone strike had killed an Afghan Taliban leader IN PAKISTAN as part of a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability’. The deceased gentleman, Muhammad Mansour was apparently considered a threat to American forces in Afghanistan – where the latter have been working for peace for fifteen years. In another positive move towards global peace, Obama was reported on 23 May as announcing an end to the US arms embargo on Vietnam. Vietnam apparently, is emerging as ‘a key strategic partner for the United States’ despite being a police state whose president was formerly head of the Ministry of Public Security, a para-military outfit set up with the assistance of China and Soviet Russia. You can check out a recent report on the state of democracy in Vietnam here.

The justification for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, you will recall, was the demolition of the Twin Towers World Trade Centre back in 2001. It seems certain, however, that the US government has been steadfastly refusing to release documents confirming the role played by Saudi Arabia in the New York attacks. Meanwhile, another recent Time article informed us that Americans want a military general in the White House. God bless them!

Armed Staff at School

ISD = Independent School District. So who’s got problems?

Still if that fails, there’s always Donald Trump. The likely Republican presidential candidate was quoted the other day as suggesting that some teachers in the United States should be armed with guns inside their classrooms. Even if you are one of those who think the big DT is crazy, the fact that he can say it and be reported in reputable news media suggests that it wouldn’t go amiss if some of the billions currently spent on military hardware were redirected to the homeland education system.

That’s not very likely, however. Worldwatch Institute reports that the 5% of the world’s population who live in America consume a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources; and together with Western Europe, 12% account for 60% of the world’s consumer spending. An article in The Guardian reported that the wealthiest 0.01% of US citizens own as much of the nation’s wealth as the bottom 90%. That figure may be marginally less in Western Europe, but nevertheless, it’s pretty evident that such inequality can only ultimately be sustained at the point of a gun.

Turkey’s problem could well be your problem too!

Obama threatens to NUKE North Korea

US President Barack Obama delivered a stern warning to North Korea, reminding its “erratic” and “irresponsible” leader that America’s nuclear arsenal could “destroy” his country.

Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, claimed to have tested a submarine-launched missile last weekend.

warmonger-copyIf the regime does perfect a submarine-launched system then it would, in theory, be able to launch a nuclear attack on the US mainland.

Obama gave warning of the possible consequences. “We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals,” he told CBS News. “But aside from the humanitarian costs of that, they are right next door to our vital ally, [South] Korea.”

But the US were happy to provide Israel with nuclear bomb technology.

Wouldn’t that be a great legacy for Obama, America’s first black president, and former great hope of the intellectual left! “I nuked a country we don’t like. Harry Truman did it, and now ME!”

Come on the Democrats! Let’s see what Hillary can do to beat that! At least Trump is up-front about being a racist war-monger.

Anti-Turkey Bullswool

My New Zealand diplomatic people in Ankara send me regular updates on how they view the security situation in Turkey. Recently I got this one:

‘We now advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel to Ankara and Istanbul due to the heightened threat of terrorism and the potential for civil unrest (High risk). This is an increase to the risk level for Ankara and Istanbul.’

On 9 April 2016, the US Embassy in Ankara advised US citizens of credible threats to tourist areas, in particular to public squares and docks in Istanbul and Antalya.

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While in Brussels don’t forget to ride the Metro

So if you had been thinking of a trip to Turkey in the near future, you may now be reconsidering. On the other hand, Auckland’s number one (and only) newspaper, The NZ Herald, published a travel advisory on 23 March entitled ‘Why you need to visit Belgium’. The piece begins:

‘We love Belgium. This week’s terror attacks in Brussels have cast a pall over a beautiful country.

The best thing Kiwi travellers can do? Put Belgium on the list for your next European visit. Here are five reasons to visit the home of Tintin and great chocolate.’

Well, I’m ok with The Herald’s position here. In fact, the best response to terror is to get on with your life and not bow to the fear. I do, however, find the contrasting advice somewhat paradoxical. Especially given the rather limited list of attractions the writer offers to recommend Belgium:

Apparently the food is great, though specifics boil down to chocolate, waffles and hot chips! There’s a comic culture, and it’s not just about Tintin! Beer is plentiful and available in 1,000 varieties. There are lots of markets, and Christmas time is especially lovely. AND THE CLINCHER . . . There are 67 kilometres of coastline! That’s about the same length as Auckland’s Muriwai beach, in the entire country!

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Picturesque Belgian beach

The whole glowing article took 435 words – approximately the number of people you can expect to rub shoulders with per square metre of beach, I’d say, during Belgium’s month-long summer. My guess is, if you don’t have local friends to entertain you, you’ll be lucky to last a week. I’m not going to begin to list the attractions of Turkey. I reckon you could spend 435 days here, and do something memorably different every day.

Sadly, Western news media everyday publish ‘news’ and opinion pieces denigrating Turkey and its government. I have in front of me a page from CNN’s website penned by a Turkish academic and follower of the shadowy ex-pat. Fethullah Gülen. It’s not so long ago that Gülen was arousing much suspicion in his adopted homeland, America, and was the evil bogeyman of Turkey’s secular elite. In the last couple of years, however, there has been an about-face, and the mysterious Muslim cleric seems to have become the darling of anti-government propagandists within the country and abroad. We hear the same criticisms repeated again and again:

President Erdoğan is polarizing Turkish society.

In fact, a noisy minority of Erdoğan-haters has been doing its best to polarize Turkish society since the AK Party was elected to govern in 2002.

The state cracked down brutally on Gezi Park protesters in 2013, and holding public protests has become a life-risking activity.

Political protests in Turkey have always been known for violence. The so-called Gezi Park protests attracted a motley collection of anti-Erdoğanists with nothing in common other than their hatred of him. Some of the protesters may have been well-meaning tree-huggers, but there was the usual hard core of anarchic vandals.

The government is waging a war of terror on peace-loving Kurdish villagers.

The AK Party government made genuine efforts to work out a peace process with its Kurdish minority, including the establishment of Kurdish-language TV channels and the opening of a previously impossible dialogue. The US government, on the other hand, has been supporting and supplying Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria for years for its own ends, making it more difficult to find a solution in Turkey. The PKK is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization.

Opposition media and members of parliament are harassed by the government and its supporters.

Political opposition to government policies is one thing – libelous personal attacks and deliberate incitement to violence quite another. Freedom has its limits.

Erdoğan has been seeking to change the constitution to create an all- powerful, executive-style presidency.

This is what the United States already has. But anyway, Mr Erdoğan can’t change the constitution by himself. There is a democratic process that must be followed. The USA might benefit from public debate on its own incomprehensible electoral system.

Reporters Without Borders call Turkey “the biggest prison for journalists in the world.”

This is nonsense. Who are these journalists that are in prison? Can we see a list of names?

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Memories of Turkey’s 1980 military coup linger on

The writer of this article, Alp Aslandoğan, says: ‘I was a middle school student in the 1970s during another period of instability, when armed groups thrived and thousands of young people were killed. I’m even more worried for Turkey now.’

I would wonder what a 12-year-old child of a privileged Turkish family really understood of the political chaos that reigned in his country in the 1970s; chaos that began with a military coup in 1960 when the Prime Minister was summarily hanged by the coup-leaders, and continued through the 1990s until the most recent military intervention in 1997. Anyone who says that Turkey is less democratic now is either ignorant of his (or her) own history, or deliberately distorting the facts for some ulterior purpose. ‘Thousands of young people were killed’ then – and it’s worse now?

Then there are the accusations of government corruption. Even if these accusations had been proven, which they haven’t, they would pale into insignificance beside previous governments that twiddled their thumbs while presiding over decades of banana-republic inflation, as they allowed 90% of the country to languish in medieval backwardness.

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Not everyone loves him either

Like me, you may have been following with interest the current scandal unfolding as a result of the ‘Panama papers’ leaks. One of my foreign colleagues, outspoken critic of Turkey’s AKP government, expressed surprise that Mr Erdoğan and his people had not been mentioned as involved in this ocean of money-laundering and tax evasion. British Prime Minister Cameron, however, has been named, and is facing calls to resign from his own citizens and local media.

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New Zealand police dealing with protester

New Zealand, it seems, is one of the countries recommended by lawyers Mossack Fonseca to their mega-rich clients as a reliable place to hide cash. Prime Minister John Key has made no secret of his grand scheme to turn our tiny nation into the Switzerland of the South Pacific. And what exactly does that entail? Mr Key has made a name for himself over the past year for his sponsorship of a project to change NZ’s flag, pushing ahead with referenda despite apparent lack of public support. Just yesterday it emerged that much of the financial backing for Mr Key’s questionable project came from ‘wealthy Chinese donors’ wooed at secret private fund-raising luncheons – which must surely raise speculation as to how much the NZ PM’s political success depends on those same wealthy Chinese donors. Despite his government’s repeated denials, it seems certain that the property boom making Auckland houses amongst the world’s most unaffordable, has been driven by rich Chinese ‘investors’.

Another frequent criticism leveled at Turkey’s government is that they are ‘Islamic-rooted’, whatever that means. So it was with interest that I read on Friday that Democratic presidential hopeful, Bernie Sanders, beloved of the American intellectual Left, has accepted an invitation from Pope Francis to attend a conference in the Vatican just four days before the New York Primary. According to NBC, ‘Since 1972, the winner of the popular vote in every presidential race won the Catholic vote, going by the exit polls. From Nixon in 1972 to Obama in 2012.’ And what has the Catholic Church got to say about a woman’s right to choose? Anyone? Anyone?

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Bernie Sanders – friends in high places

So don’t expect too much from President Sanders, is my advice, even if he does manage to edge out Mrs Clinton for the Democratic nomination – and whichever capitalist ignoramus the Republicans select. Previous darling of the liberal Left, Barack Obama, has had eight years to close Guantanamo Prison as he promised – and those unconvicted inmates are still waiting. On Tuesday, President Obama acknowledged that “civilians were killed that shouldn’t have been” in past U.S. drone strikes, but said the administration is now “very cautious” about striking where women or children are present. Good to hear – especially for those families of civilians killed in previous US drone strikes. Mr Obama went on to say, “In situations of war, you know, we have to take responsibility when we’re not acting appropriately.” As far as I’m aware, however, the United States has not actually declared war on any of those countries whose citizens they are killing with drone strikes. But maybe that’s just a semantic quibble.

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Not the only beach in Turkey – and five months of summer

Anyway, what I really want to say here is, if you were thinking of a trip to Turkey, don’t be put off by the bad publicity. If you’re American, you or your children are probably more likely to be shot by a disaffected nutcase in a random massacre; or if you’re an Asian in New Zealand, to get mugged on the street by young hooligans. It’s a dangerous world – but Turkey is a beautiful country. There may not be a thousand varieties of beer, but there are a thousand-and-one other things to do.

Twitter Democracy – Turkey under siege

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President Erdoğan opens new Islamic cultural centre in Lanham, Maryland

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan is currently visiting the United States of America. Yesterday he officially opened a large mosque and Islamic cultural centre in Lanham, Maryland, a small town just up the road from Washington DC.

President Obama apparently declined an invitation to be present at the opening ceremony – but it is to his credit, and to Americans as a people, that permission was given to build this complex. Of course the President of the United States has to walk a careful line, and needless to say there are plenty of US citizens only to ready to defame Mr Obama as a Muslim, and supporter of terrorists. Being photographed in front of a large mosque complex not far from the White House would undoubtedly have generated a good deal of negative publicity.

So the US President is well aware that not everything published in news media, at home and abroad, is 100% true. As Mr Erdoğan was departing for his American visit, there were some in Turkey saying that Barack Obama would refuse to meet him. That was nonsense, of course, as events subsequently proved. I watched a news programme on a Turkish TV channel the other day showing Mr Erdoğan speaking at the Brookings Institution in the US capital, and answering questions from representatives of the international news media.

Predictably, questions focussed on claims that Turkey’s president is a dictator, that he imprisons journalists who dare to criticise him, and that he is ordering his military to massacre Kurdish women and children in the south east of the country. President Erdoğan handled all of the questions knowledgeably and with dignity, even though he must be totally fed up with foreign media constantly harping on the same issues. He might have said that, were he actually a dictator, he probably wouldn’t have fronted up to such a meeting where he had everything to lose, and not much to gain.

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‘Erdoğan murderer and thief’ Is this press freedom?

My newspaper today reports that Mr Obama told his own news media that he had spoken to President Erdoğan about his concerns over press freedom in Turkey. For his part, Mr Erdoğan asserted that the issue did not arise during their fifty-minute meeting. Interesting! Turkey’s president went on to say that there have been headlines in Turkish newspapers calling him a ‘murderer’ and a ‘thief’. He doubted if such ‘journalism’ would be acceptable in Western countries, and if Mr Obama had raised the matter in their discussion, he would certainly have made that point.

The following opinion piece ran in a Turkish newspaper, Sabah, last week, under the by-line of Mahmut Övür. I doubt if you will see it in any English language news source, so I’m translating it for your edification:

“In the last fifteen years Turkey has been struggling to overcome a century of resistance to change, and at the same time, has faced attacks from the forces of the globalised world.

To clarify, Turkey has been facing constant condemnation in relation to freedom of the press and freedom of speech. With Deep State, PKK, DAESH and other terror organisations attacking from within, and newspapers, TV networks, and social media like Twitter and Facebook from abroad, Turkey has been engaged in an ongoing battle. From time to time it has had to put limits on these freedoms.

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State of emergency in Brussels

While all this has been going on, there has been strong criticism in particular from the EU and the USA via the press and politicians, mounting a campaign to the effect that ‘There is no freedom of the press or freedom of speech in Turkey’.

Under the guise of promoting freedom, they are implementing a deliberate policy of vilifying Turkey. In other words, since 2010 they have put Turkey in a state of siege.

Now one ugly incident has brought this plan out into the open. The other day President Erdoğan went to the USA to attend a NATO Security Summit.

This meeting was very important for a number of reasons and it happened at a very critical time, while Turkey has been the object of criticism over matters related to freedom of the press and freedom of speech, and its management of internal conflicts.

In the forefront of the critics were former US ambassadors to Turkey. What happened all of a sudden? A new campaign was started on Twitter, symbol of freedom in the modern world: #WeLoveErdogan. The #WeLoveErdogan hashtag attracted enormous interest in a short time and raced to first place on the TT list with 300,000 tweets.

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Democracy in Turkey in the good old days – 1980

So, what did Twitter do, this symbol of global democracy? This Twitter, which had stirred up so much controversy because it had been closed down for a short time, couldn’t stand this hashtag for more than two hours. They closed it down and, in a move worse than censorship, replaced it with a disgraceful tweet #TurkishdictatorintheUSA which received a mere 900 hits.

What can we say about this? We know that some of our own ‘intellectuals’ will remain silent, but I wonder what the freedom-fighter politicians in the EU who are so ready to criticize Turkey, will have to say?

Is freedom to be defined only by their narrow limits? We know that the West is quick to forget democracy and freedom when it suits them. So they could ignore the military coup in Egypt. And they could ignore the massacre of 400,000 people in Syria.

We saw the same thing when terrorism hit them at home. After the bombings in Paris and Brussels they announced a state of emergency, and they poured soldiers into the streets – but if we do a tenth of that, we are called a dictatorship.

Of course the EU represents a system of values, but those values should not apply just to some people, and some countries – they should apply to all humanity . . . Our world cannot accept this double standard.

Turkey knows itself. We have some serious problems, particularly in our legal system. We still do not have a modern, democratic constitution. But this does not mean that democracy in Turkey is as bad as those other countries are trying to make out. We have made great progress and we are continuing to move forward.”

Well, there are always critics who will accuse this man of paranoia, and of embracing unfounded conspiracy theories. On the other hand, what are we to make of recent rumour-mongering in neo-con US media that there is a possibility of a military coup in Turkey to overthrow its democratically-elected government? Turkey’s military high-command felt obligated to issue a statement denying the existence of such a possibility. In fact, one of the major achievements of Turkey’s AK Party government has been distancing the military from direct involvement in the nation’s politics, and returning the armed forces to the proper role they play in all democratic countries – subservient to the elected government, not above it.

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Edward Snowden vs Hillary Clinton

There is a saying in Turkish, ‘Hem suçlu, hem güçlü’, which can be rendered in English as ‘The person who is most guilty is often the most noisily indignant in attacking others.’ I have been following the intricate proceedings of an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of her private email server to carry out official business when she was Secretary of State. In updating the issue, a Time article made references to earlier times when Mrs Clinton and her President-at-the-time husband were found to have engaged in, to say the least, extremely dubious behaviour. There was the ‘Whitewater’ case, where there was evidence of White House involvement in deliberate blocking of investigators. Later, there were President Clinton’s official pardons, issued on his last day oin office, to wealthy supporters previously convicted of tax evasion.

That Brookings Institution where Mr Erdoğan was interrogated by the foreign press is known as one of the United States’ foremost think tanks. According to Wikipedia, among its major sources of funding are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and the State of Qatar. It has been influential in guiding government policy on financial deregulation and ‘tax reform’, and has published books including one entitled America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. Maybe you’ll tell me they are working towards a better world for all of us – but I’m not so sure.

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Ottoman siege of Vienna 1529 – and they still haven’t forgiven Turkey

A recent comment on another of my posts suggested that Europe has never got over its humiliation at Gallipoli in 1915. I would go further, and suggest that the West has never got over being expelled from Anatolia and Istanbul by Turkish nationalists in 1923. That they still harbour historical resentment related to the centuries they lived in fear of being overrun by the Ottoman Empire (whom they preferred to call ‘Turks’). That there is a residual memory of the fear and hatred incited by the 11th century Pope, Urban II, who, for his own interests and those of his church, launched nearly four centuries of military aggression (a.k.a. the Crusades) against the Muslim world.

Terrorism is no new phenomenon. I applaud the Obama administration for allowing the building of that Islamic cultural centre. In the final analysis, bridge-building and education will do more to ensure world peace than stirring up hatred and fear, and seeking revenge for past wrongs.

Who Hijacked the Left? Armenians?

I remember the 1970s. There was a sense of idealism in the air that I fear is sadly lacking from the lives of young people in this cynical post-modern world. Back then I and a group of like-minded friends scraped enough money together to purchase a small run-down farm in a remote area in the far north of New Zealand. The aim was to set up a self-sufficient community away from the capitalist, imperialist, war-mongering, consumer-driven, crassly materialist society we saw all around us. The dream didn’t last, sad to say, though one of my friends, more committed and determined than the rest of us, is still there, doing his thing.

vote-puppet-on-the-left-puppet-on-the-right-choose-your-puppet-disclaimer-if-voting-could-truly-change-the-system-it-would-be-illegalSome of us had worked for the election of a Labour government in 1972, naively believing they would work to help us build a better world. They didn’t. From the disillusionment emerged a party calling itself ‘Values’, forerunner of today’s Greens, espousing policies aiming at a more egalitarian society based on sustainable use of natural resources. It was a trend common to most ‘developed’ nations at the time – though European reformers, for example the Germans, with more representative electoral systems, unlike New Zealand, did manage to gain some representation.

But something went wrong. Germany’s Greens, originally springing out of the environmentalist and peace movements, opposed to pollution, nuclear power, militarism and exploitative industrialisation, in 1993, after national re-unification, joined forces with ‘Bündnis 90’ (Alliance 90), an alliance of three non-Communist political groups in East Germany’. Well, I’m no big advocate of Communism, but subsequently Germany’s Greens seem to have lost their way. The latest evidence of this is their sponsoring a resolution to the Bundestag calling on the German government to support the ‘Armenian genocide’ lobby.

Now I have no problem with Green’s leader Cem Özdemir believing whatever he likes on any issue – but I do question whether the 1970s peacenik environmentalist founders of his party would have considered championing this dubious cause to be a useful way of advancing their goal of a more socially and environmentally friendly world. I know you’ll tell me there are many high-profile people in the world supporting this Armenian genocide business – Kim Kardashian and Amal Clooney to name but two. But I have to say in response that I have cause to question the leftist credentials of these no doubt well-meaning ladies.

Leaving Mrs KK West aside, for self-evident reasons, Mrs Clooney probably has claims to be taken more seriously. Nevertheless, pro-Armenian lobbyists’ disparaging opponents for being in the pay of Turkish interests seems a trifle hypocritical when they see no problem is hiring a lawyer like Mrs Clooney to advance their own case. Of course, you wouldn’t expect anyone to front up to a meeting with a world leader like Angela Merkel dressed in a hemp sweater and jeans, but Amal Clooney’s fashion website gushed that their icon was, for the occasion, wearing Versace, Oscar de la Renta, Dior etc gear to the value of more than $8,000.

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Innocent Armenian maidens crucified naked by barbaric Turks

Still, I don’t want to be accused of mounting a purely ad hominem (or worse, ad mulierem) argument here. I pay regular visits to the Yahoo news website while checking one of my email accounts. They dip into international news media, and I occasionally find snippets of interest. I have been getting increasingly annoyed, however, at the seemingly endless recycling of an item entitled ‘The Forgotten Genocide: Why it Matters Today.’ This piece is dated April 24, 2013, and the significance of that date is Armenian lobbyists chose it as their day for holding demonstrations around the world in support of their cause. THREE YEARS! Can I be excused for wondering whether the people at Yahoo have a vested interest in pushing this particular issue?

What I particularly object to, however, is the large picture on the page showing eight young naked women crucified on wooden crosses on a desolate landscape. This evocative image frequently appears on websites arguing for the recognition of an Armenian genocide, purporting to exemplify the inhuman atrocities carried out against innocent Armenians by barbaric Turks.

Well, I’m not going to delve into questions of how many Armenians died, what their people had done to justify punitive action, whether there was a deliberate and concerted attempt to wipe out an entire nation, and whether Turks were/are responsible for whatever happened. Simply I want to draw your attention to posters and newspaper articles that appeared in 1919 promoting a Hollywood movie entitled ‘Auction of Souls’. The film was based on a book, ‘Ravished Armenia’ purportedly written by Arshaluys (Aurora) Mardiganian about her personal experiences in the ‘Armenian Genocide’.

Auction_of_Souls_(1919)_-_Ad_7According to one poster, ‘Society people, adults only, paid $10.00 [$143.00 in 2016 dollars] per seat in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago to see this remarkable motion picture.’ Thousands were reportedly turned away, not surprising, perhaps, given the ‘adults only’ tag, and the prurient advertising:

‘Along the Trail of the Unspeakable Turk’

‘Not a picture for children’

‘The Armenian beauty who escaped to America after two years in the hands of Kurdish slave traders and Turkish harems’

‘You’ll see what they went through before and after they were sold’

‘A film that will make the blood of American women boil’

‘Sole survivor of half a million Armenian girls’ who had been ‘sold in Turkish slave markets’, ravished in the desert by ‘wild Turkish bandits’, buried in desert sands by their desperate mothers ‘to save them from the attacks of brutal Turks’, and more. This particular magazine article presents eight stills from the move, all of which feature young beautiful ‘fearful’, ‘helpless’, ‘unwilling’ Armenian girls, with not a red-blooded Armenian male in sight to stand up for them.

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Does that image look familiar?

Later on, ticket prices dropped to more reasonable levels at reruns in Cleveland and elsewhere as the film travelled around the county. Unfortunately, no complete copy has survived, but extracts can be seen on Youtube, and, perhaps more interestingly, stills from the movie, including the one of the naked crucified maidens, keep turning up on websites arguing for the ‘truth’ of the Armenian genocide. I wonder if Cem Özdemir and his German Green Party friends are aware of this monumental con trick.

The saddest thing, however, is how these self-styled leftist politicos keep getting away with throwing crumbs in support of trendy issues to gullible young (and not-so-young) voters, while propping up the financial/military/industrial complex that condemns billions of human beings world-wide to lives of virtual slavery and misery.

Bernie Sanders may be a wonderful man, and perfectly sincere in his socialist beliefs. Certainly his Wikipedia page presents a glowing testimonial, and I have no desire to disillusion American voters who see him as one capable of returning a semblance of reality to the American dream. Unfortunately, I remember a similar sense of euphoria surrounding the election of Barack Obama back in 2008. Subsequently he took responsibility for a $700 billion bailout of Wall St, and showed scant sympathy for the ‘Occupy’ movement of 2011. According to an article in The Independent, President Obama has authorised the bombing of seven countries, none of whom his government has actually declared war on – and launched eight times as many drone strikes as his predecessor, George Dubya. Apparently he is still trying, eight years on, to fulfil his promise to close the US torture facility at Guantanamo in Cuba – but don’t hold your breath. According to some sources, he has been running the most hidden, most clandestine and most secrecy-obsessed administration in American history.’ To be fair to Armenians, though, they have as much right as everyone else to feel aggrieved, given that Mr Obama promised, prior to election, that he would give official recognition to the Armenian genocide – but is unlikely now to get around to it.

obama_puppet2It’s a sad business. I read an article in The New Zealand Herald the other day bewailing the state of the country’s education system, and ascribing blame to Prime Minister David Lange’s Labour government that held the reins of power from 1984 to 1990. The writer is absolutely right, and he could have gone a good deal further. Sweeping to power behind Lange’s glib friend-of-the-people rhetoric, his government implemented economic and social ‘reforms’ beyond the wildest dreams of contemporary right wing ideologues, Margaret Thatcher in the UK, and America’s own free market wizard, Ronald Reagan.

That Labour government’s election win was facilitated by the brief appearance on the political scene of a party founded and funded by a multi-millionaire property tycoon. Bob Jones’s party was credited incorrectly at the time with engineering the defeat of New Zealand’s traditional conservative party (National). National’s leader was almost universally unpopular, and the party would have lost anyway. What the property tycoon succeeded in doing was bringing about the political extinction of the Social Credit Party whose chief platform was monetary reform, and ensuring that the ‘Labour’ government had an absolute majority to rule alone – a mandate which they proceeded to egregiously abuse bysurprisingly for an ostensibly socialist party, implement[ing] free market reforms’.

As far as I know, none of those involved were Armenians.

U.S. Pursued Secret Contacts With Assad Regime for Years

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Assad and US Under-secretary for political affairs, William Burns. Trust the US? Sure can!

The Wall St Journal this week reported that the US Obama Administration began tying to instigate the overthrow of Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria in 2011. They didn’t say that this is what started the civil war in that country, but we may like to draw that conclusion. The WSJ article goes on to say that when the US’s attempts to precipitate an overthrow from within came to nothing, they began to support the rebels in 2012. Again there is no mention of military support – but how have those rebels managed to maintain the war for four years without running out of bullets, rockets etc? There is no way Turkey is rich enough to have provided military supplies at that level.

On the other hand, the USA, in 2010, had completed the biggest arms sale ever when they provided a $60 billion package to their Saudi Arabian friends. More recently, in 2014, they sold $11 billion worth of attack helicopters and missiles to Qatar. Both of these Arab states have been major suppliers of arms to the Syrian rebels. Who’s going to tell me the Obama Administration didn’t know where that stuff was going?

Effort to limit violence and get president to relinquish power failed

By Nour Malas and Carol E Lee Dec. 23, 2015

The Obama administration pursued secret communications with elements of Syria’s regime over several years in a failed attempt to limit violence and get President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

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Bringing peace to the Middle east

Early on, the U.S. looked for cracks in the regime it could exploit to encourage a military coup, but found few.

The efforts reflect how President Barack Obama’s administration has grappled to understand and interact with an opaque Middle East dictatorship run for 45 years by the Assad family.

Unlike the secret White House back channel to Iran, however, the Syria effort never gained momentum and communication was limited. 

This account is based on interviews with more than two dozen people, including current and former U.S. officials, Arab officials and diplomats. Most of these contacts haven’t been previously reported.

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Whose bombs? And with whose approval?

In 2011, as the regime began to crack down on protests and soldiers began to peel away from the army, U.S. intelligence officials identified officers from Mr. Assad’s minority Alawite sect who potentially could lead a regime change, according to former U.S. officials and current European officials.

“The White House’s policy in 2011 was to get to the point of a transition in Syria by finding cracks in the regime and offering incentives for people to abandon Assad,” a former senior administration official said.

But regime cohesiveness held, and the crackdown continued.
 In August 2011, Mr. Obama publicly called for Mr. Assad to step down. The administration’s core message never strayed from the U.S. line that Mr. Assad ultimately has to step down. But instead of persuading Mr. Assad to exit, the covert communications may have fed his sense of legitimacy and impunity.

That helped fuel the current wrangling among world powers over the Syrian leader’s future in any settlement. It also hampered the effort to consolidate the international fight against Islamic State.

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Syrian refugee family on Istanbul street

By the summer of 2012, the White House strategy of orchestrating regime change had failed. The U.S. moved to support the rebels.

The rise of Islamic State in 2013 caught the U.S. administration off guard. Mr. Assad found in it a better opening to position himself as a partner in a fight against terror consuming the region, and rippling to the West.

By 2014, when the U.S. expanded airstrikes against the militants from Iraq to Syria, State Department officials were making phone calls to their counterparts at the Syrian foreign ministry to make sure Damascus steered clear of U.S. jets in Syrian skies, U.S. officials and others familiar the communications said.

Today, when Washington wants to notify Damascus where it is deploying U.S.-trained Syrian fighters to battle Islamic State so the fighters aren’t mistaken for rebels, Samantha Power, the U.S. envoy to the U.N., dispatches a deputy to talk to the Syrian envoy, Bashar Jaafari, these people said.

The White House says the notifications are not collaboration with the regime. But Mr. Assad has used them to his advantage. Read the whole article