PDF-Version: selected 19.12.2019
Selected articles (December 19, 2019)
Assange in Court
JOURNALISTS SPEAK UP FOR JULIAN ASSANGE
“Julian Assange, founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, is currently detained in Belmarsh high-security prison in the United Kingdom and faces extradition to the United States and criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act. He risks up to 175 years imprisonment for his part in making public the leak of US military documents from Afghanistan and Iraq, and a trove of US State Department cables. The ‘War Diaries’ provided evidence that the US Government misled the public about activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and committed war crimes. WikiLeaks partnered with a wide range of media organizations worldwide that republished the War Diaries and embassy cables. The legal action underway against Mr Assange sets an extremely dangerous precedent for journalists, media organizations and the freedom of the press.
We, journalists and journalistic organizations around the globe, express our grave concern for Mr Assange’s wellbeing, for his continued detention and for the draconian espionage charges.
This case stands at the heart of the principle of free speech. If the US government can prosecute Mr Assange for publishing classified documents, it may clear the way for governments to prosecute journalists anywhere, an alarming precedent for freedom of the press worldwide. Also, the use of espionage charges against people publishing materials provided by whistleblowers is a first and should alarm every journalist and publisher.[…]”
New WikiLeaks Bombshell: 20 Inspectors Dissent from Syria Chemical Attack Narrative. Leaked Documents and Emails of OPCW
By Zero Hedge
December 16, 2019
“Late Saturday WikiLeaks released more documents which contradict the US narrative on Assad’s use of chemical weapons, specifically related to the April 7, 2018 Douma incident, which resulted in a major US and allied tomahawk missile and air strike campaign on dozens of targets in Damascus.
The leaked documents, including internal emails of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — which investigated the Douma site — reveal mass dissent within the UN-authorized chemical weapons watchdog organization’s ranks over conclusions previously reached by the international body which pointed to Syrian government culpability. It’s part of a growing avalanche of dissent memos and documents casting the West’s push for war in Syria in doubt (which had resulted in two major US and allied attacks on Syria).
This newly released batch, WikiLeaks reports, includes a memo stating 20 inspectors feel that the officially released version of the OPCW’s report on Douma “did not reflect the views of the team members that deployed to [Syria]”. This comes amid widespread allegations US officials brought immense pressure to bear on the organization. […]”
OPCW Douma Docs
The US-NATO-Israel Sponsored Al Qaeda Insurgency in Syria. Who Was Behind the 2011 “Protest Movement”?
It Started in Daraa on March 17, 2011
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
December 14, 2019
“Almost nine years since the beginning of the war on Syria in March 2011, so-called progressives have supported the so-called opposition, which is largely made up of Al Qaeda affiliated mercenaries. A US-NATO led war of aggression is portrayed as a “civil war”.
President Bashar Al Assad is casually described as a dictator who is killing his own people. The millions of deaths resulting from US-NATO led wars are not an object of concern.
The anti-war movement died in the wake of the Iraq war (April 2003). Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and counterterrorism prevail.
The war on Syria started more than nine years ago in Daraa on the 17th of March 2011.
The following article first published in May 2011 examines the inception of the jihadist terrorist insurgency. […]”
Syria needs $388 billion to Rebuild: would China play any Role?
December 18, 2019
“ […] The United Nations has estimated the cost of damage in the war-stricken country at more than $388 billion, and the cost of lost productivity to GDP at around $268 billion.
Most experts agree that it will take at least a decade to repair the war damage.
China has for years been trying to revive historic trading links with the Middle East through its Belt and Road initiative, a $1 trillion overseas investment plan […]”.
Glenn Greenwald’s Exclusive Interview With Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Who Was Deposed in a Coup
December 16, 2019
Israel’s Genocide Advisers and Technicians Return to Latin America in Force
By Wayne Madsen
“With the ouster of progressive governments throughout Latin America and their replacement with right-wing neo-fascist regimes, Israeli counter-insurgency advisers, better known as “merchants of death,” have returned to Latin America with fervor.[…]”
“[…] It may become harder for members of US academia to research, write about, or discuss Israeli support for genocidal regimes in Latin America. On December 11 of this year, Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting federal funds to US colleges and universities that permit any criticism of Israel and its policies. Such campus activities are now labeled by the White House as “antisemitic.””
The SIPRI Top 100 arms-producing and military services companies, 2018
By Dr Aude Fleurant, Alexandra Kuimova, Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Dr Nan Tian, Pieter D. Wezeman and Siemon T. Wezeman
“Arms sales of the world’s 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies (the SIPRI Top 100) were $420 billion in 2018. This was an increase of 4.6 per cent compared with 2017 total Top 100 arms sales.
This Fact Sheet lists the SIPRI Top 100 for 2018 from the updated SIPRI Arms Industry Database and describes the trends in international arms sales that are revealed by the new data.”
The Afghanistan Fiasco and the Decline and Fall of the American Military
By Philip Giraldi
December 19, 2019
“ […] Together the Bakken book and the Afghanistan Papers reveal just how much the American people have been brainwashed by their leaders into believing a perpetual warfare national narrative that is more fiction than fact. Donald Trump may have actually appreciated that the voters were tired of the wars and was elected on that basis, but he has completely failed to deliver on his promise to retrench. It suggests that America will remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future and the inevitable next war, wherever it might be, will be another failure, no matter who is elected in 2020.”
Mapping European Leverage in the MENA Region [Middle East and north Africa]
(European Council on Foreign Relations)
“[…] This project maps Europe’s influence across the Middle East and north Africa, making the case that it should take on a greater role to protect its core interests. Some European officials will likely argue that the EU and its member states have done enough to address the challenges of migration and terrorism, given the bloc’s structural deficits. Yet this would be to underestimate Europeans’ potential influence in the region and the risks that a largely hands-off approach poses.
The project has three main components. Firstly, it maps and quantifies European tools of influence across the MENA region – covering political, military, and economic capabilities – in a series of interactive data visualisations. Secondly, it includes 12 essays on European regional influence, written by experts from key states in the MENA region and beyond. Finally, it sets out the views of MENA officials and experts from all 28 EU member states on European assets and ambitions.
The project shows that, in the region and beyond, there is a worrying degree of disdain for Europe’s position and a sense that its influence is waning. Even some Europeans acknowledge this – with one high-profile official telling ECFR that Europe’s position across MENA has “never been so divided and weak” (ECFR interview, 2019). Indeed, more than 60 percent of respondents to ECFR’s survey described the EU’s regional role as “fairly ineffective”.
But the project also demonstrates that the EU has the potential to exert greater influence by focusing its efforts on specific areas. The components of the project highlight the fact that Europeans have leverage, as well as the capacity to act in a more coordinated, strategic manner – and that a stepped-up European role would have an impact on regional actors. Importantly, the project reveals that there is an appetite among a coalition of member states – if not the full 28 – to work together with greater unity to protect their critical interests across the region.
Of course, overcoming internal and external challenges is never easy; it requires considerable time, effort, and political capital. But Europeans facing a tumultuous neighbourhood – one in which the forces of competitive multilateralism grow ever fiercer – need to consider how they can act to greater autonomous effect. […]”
Expert Q&A: Trump’s Executive Order on Campus Antisemitism
December 18, 2019
“[…] The tactic of accusing Palestine advocates of antisemitism and using civil rights laws to undermine a human rights movement is just one of many being employed by Israel and its supporters to crush this growing, diverse, grassroots and intersectional movement for Palestinian freedom. We’ve seen McCarthyite efforts to publish blacklists of individuals accusing them not only of antisemitism but also support for terrorism because they speak out for Palestinian rights. Twenty-seven states have passed laws punishing boycotts for Palestinian rights. Dozens of pro-Israel groups are working to file lawsuits aimed at supporters of Palestinian rights, and pressure institutions to censor Palestine speech.
Israel itself, along with billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, Robert Kraft, and Ronald Lauder, are investing tens of millions to make sure that Israel maintains the status quo. The result is an all-out assault on our rights to organize, to speak about, to research, and to try to effect change on this country’s policies towards Israel. Trump’s order merely brings home his commitment to bolstering Israel’s military occupation and annexation of Palestine by trying to prevent the movement in the US from continuing to shift US public opinion towards support for Palestinian rights and away from the bipartisan chokehold Israel has had for decades. […]”
Capitalism and Robbery
The Expropriation of Land, Labor, and Corporeal Life
By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Hannah Holleman
Monthly Review, Volume 71, Issue 07 (December 2019)
“[…] Thus, historical capitalism cannot be understood aside from its existence as a colonial/imperialist world system in which the violent exercise of power is an ever-present reality. In order to uncover the material conditions governing concrete capitalism, including its interface with land, nonwage labor, and corporeal life, it is therefore necessary to go beyond the inner reality of exploitation, and address expropriation, or the process of appropriation without equivalent (or without reciprocity) through which capital has sought to determine its wider parameters.[…]”
“[…] We focus on three historical moments of massive expropriation of people and the earth: Moment I: The Industrialization of Agriculture and the Metabolic Rift; Moment II: Dust Bowls of Empire; and Moment III: Imperialism in the Anthropocene. The intention here is obviously not to provide a detailed, much less comprehensive, analysis of any of these critical phases of development, but rather to highlight in each case how a historical-materialist method encompassing expropriation as well as exploitation can help capture the various contradictions and conflicts of capitalism within a wider lens. If Marx famously said that the main (internal) barrier to capital was capital itself, he also indicated that capital’s main external limit was its refusal to accept any limits whatsoever, turning all boundaries into barriers to be transgressed by the capitalist juggernaut. Faced with capitalism’s destruction of the Irish ecology in the nineteenth century, he raised the question of “ruin or revolution”—a question even more relevant in the twenty-first century in the context of capitalism’s disruption of the entire Earth System.[…]”
From Mass Incarceration to Mass Coercion
By Mark Jay
Monthly Review, Volume 71, Issue 07 (December 2019) https://monthlyreview.org/2019/12/01/from-mass-incarceration-to-mass-coercion/
“From the mid–1960s to the late 2000s, the number of people locked in U.S. prisons and jails, and forced onto parole or probation, increased from less than eight hundred thousand to more than seven million. From the beginning, this explosive growth, known commonly as mass incarceration, has been about containing, stigmatizing, and exploiting the poorest sectors of the working class.]…]”
“[…] This article focuses on another reason to be suspicious of contemporary prison reform: private forces have attempted to co-opt the reform movement and have implemented and profited from the forms of mass coercion proliferating throughout society. Mass coercion reflects the expanding institutional pressures that present poor and working-class people with the following choice: either allow yourself to be exploited by capital, submit to degrading and low-paying jobs, pay onerous user fees, present yourself for observation at an endless array of institutional checkpoints, or face the alternative—getting locked in a cage. In short, prison remains the ultimate so-called stick for those who refuse to submit, but mass coercion signifies all the ways that people are controlled and exploited by the criminal justice system outside the penitentiary. What we are seeing with today’s prison reform is not necessarily progress, but rather the emergence of an insidious new form of social control, one with support across the political spectrum.[…]”
After the Iran protests: How Europe can keep diplomacy alive
By Ellie Geranmayeh
(European Council on Foreign Relations)
December 10, 2019
“Washington will use the recent unrest to argue against Europe engaging with Tehran. Europeans, led by Emmanuel Macron, must lead the efforts for détente.[…]”
“[…]In the meantime, it is imperative that Emmanuel Macron pursue his initiative to reduce tensions between Tehran and Washington. Senior US officials have vowed to continue the “maximum pressure” campaign, and its proponents are likely to view the recent protests as proof that the policy is working. But Europeans should make clear that the policy has so far backfired in terms of softening Iran’s posture on the nuclear and regional files and only succeeded at pushing the country into a greater state of securitisation and internal oppression. Macron should seek to quickly use the positive, and most likely short-lived, political momentum from the US-Iran detainee exchange to impress on both sides that diplomacy can deliver concrete outcomes, and that it is much the preferred option to another cycle of escalation.”
For more articles on Iran see: https://handsoffiran.com/