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Guest Blogger – Vijay Prashad: Can We Please Have An Adult Conversation About China?

August 12, 2022

Wang Bingxiu of the Shuanglang Farmer Painting Club (Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, China), Untitled, 2018.

(note: a simple request – logical and frankly just what is needed – an “adult conversation about China” and the ever worsening U.S-Chinese relations which just deteriorate that much more with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s belligerent visit to Taiwan which the Biden Administration knew well would poison U.S.-Chinese relations. A planned provocation, nothing less. This morning a friend sent me Vijay Prashad’s piece on China – which I would describe as a reasonable response to the Pelosi visit. I am reposting it in full with a link to the original. Oh yes, I seriously doubt that Washington has any intention of having an adult conversation either about or with China, but that is the task of the times: to pressure Washington to do both. RJP)

Vijay Prishad: Can We Please  Have An Adult Conversation About China?

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

As the US legislative leader Nancy Pelosi swept into Taipei, people around the world held their breath. Her visit was an act of provocation. In December 1978, the US government – following a United Nations General Assembly decision in 1971 – recognised the People’s Republic of China, setting aside its previous treaty obligations to Taiwan. Despite this, US President Jimmy Carter signed the Taiwan Relations Act (1979), which allowed US officials to maintain intimate contact with Taiwan, including through the sale of weapons. This decision is noteworthy as Taiwan was under martial law from 1949 to 1987, requiring a regular weapons supplier.

Pelosi’s journey to Taipei was part of the US’s ongoing provocation of China. This campaign includes former President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’, former President Donald Trump’s ‘trade war’, the creation of security partnerships, the Quad and AUKUS, and the gradual transformation of NATO into an instrument against China. This agenda continues with President Joe Biden’s assessment that China must be weakened since it is the ‘only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge’ to the US-dominated world system.

China did not use its military power to prevent Pelosi and other US congressional leaders from travelling to Taipei. But, when they left, the Chinese government announced that it would halt eight key areas of cooperation with the US, including cancelling military exchanges and suspending civil cooperation on a range of issues, such as climate change. That is what Pelosi’s trip accomplished: more confrontation, less cooperation.

Indeed, anyone who stands for greater cooperation with China is vilified in the Western media as well as in Western-allied media from the Global South as an ‘agent’ of China or a promoter of ‘disinformation’. I responded to some of these allegations in South Africa’s The Sunday Times on 7 August 2022. The remainder of this newsletter reproduces that article. Read more…

Israel Bombs Gaza – “When you can’t hit the donkey, hit the saddle instead”

August 7, 2022

Palestinian Youth, incarcerated in Israeli Prisons

So … Although it is not a formal ceasefire, there is a truce organized between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel, one organized through the good graces of Egypt at Tel Aviv’s request. It was supposed to go into effect tonight at midnight. As it is already midnight in the eastern Mediterranean, it should be in force. Hopefully it will hold for all concerned.

The truce comes after three days of intensive Israeli bombing killing 50 plus Gaza Palestinians including a bunch of children whose innocent faces were plastered all over social media. Palestinians responded with missiles of their own. Israel claims that most of them – 90% – were intercepted, but I read one report, unsubstantiated that 50 % got through. Some landed, I was told, in Tel Aviv and at least one near the main Israeli Lod Airport. I have not seen an stats on Israel statistics.

What was the Israeli pretext for these three days of rage?

The Israeli government claimed that Palestinian Islamic Jihad – their favorite target now that Hamas and before it the PLO can no longer play the role – was planning some kind of military action close against the Israeli military forces bordering the electrified fence separating Gaza from Israel. In response Israel launched a pre-emptive attack. That is the mainstream narrative, as usual, an unverified claim that could not be proven or disproven, the usual excuse for premeditated attacks against Palestinians in the name of self-defense. Nothing new here.

Perhaps…

But let me offer another “narrative”, which admittedly I cannot prove either but I think far more persuasive. Read more…

Remembering Hiroshima Day – August 6, 77 years ago.

August 6, 2022

Remember the victims of the first atom bomb attack on humans in Hiroshima. Hiroshima Memorial. August, 1987

A couple of days ago, while in northern Colorado (Windsor) I spoke with my friend Chester McQueary. We talked about what some of us “old folk” – he in is mid 80s, me in my late 70s – can do to reignite the movement against preparing for nuclear war. We had some ideas – Chester always does – that we hope to follow up on. Today on social media, a couple of friends posted “reminders” of what happened on this day when a mushroom cloud producing explosion killed several hundred thousand people in a flash, creating terror and pain for millions in the years that followed, a long term danger for world peace in what was an unnecessary finale to World War II. The United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Today, August 6, 2022, is Hiroshima Day. I’m a little bit saddened that, to my knowledge, there are no commemorations in Colorado but I will find a way to mark it all the same (including this post), to think about it, about what happened on this day 77 years ago and what happened three days later in Nagasaki, to think about the $ trillion dollar plus funding to modernize and expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In my last years of teaching, I used to take foreign students, many of them Asian, up to Standley Lake (“it looks so beautiful, this couldn’t be polluted” they would say of a lake, the mud of which, contains plutonium and other nuclear contaminants) and then for a ride around the grounds of what used to be the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. Both look so pristine, innocuous, hiding the hundreds of thousands years danger of nuclear contamination in their grounds and streams just 16 miles from downtown Denver.

Humanity is caught in crises of its own making in large measure. Read more…

From Siilis (Finnish Hedgehogs) to Joining NATO …

August 4, 2022

A Finnish hedgehog – siili in Finnish

A Finnish hedgehog (siili) originally posted 11 years ago on social media but the photo itself taken in late 1980s close to the apartment complex where we were living at the time in Kaivoksela (Vantaa) a suburb north of Helsinki. It popped up again as old post sometimes do reminding me of those special, culturally and political rich and “challenging” (for me) years. Shy, gentle creatures, the family was always pleased to discover one in the nearby forests close to our apartment complex where we would wander all seasons of the year, cross country skiing in the winter, searching for wild blueberries in the summer and mushrooms in the fall.

Keep thinking how it is that Finland moved politically from where it was when the family left the country after a nearly five year stay – a neutral country between East and West – with a rich social-democratic political economy that was more and more impressive the longer we stayed there – to a nation moving head first into neo-liberal economic spheres with a population in its overwhelming majority supporting the country’s entry into NATO, and a more antagonistic approach to its eastern neighbor, Russia.

Some of it has to do with geopolitics – neutrality made sense during the Cold War and ceased, at least according to some, once the USSR collapsed, when Finland could jettison its more neutral stance and do what it has long wanted to do – become a more integral part of the European capitalist West… Joining the European Union which the Finns thought them might be able to influence in the realm of its creating something akin to a regional social contract (but they failed here) was ultimately a big step to the right politically as was the Finnish military increasingly joining in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program by which Finnish military leadership became addicted to U.S. high tech weaponry … but there’s more to it than this…

Had many Finnish friends – thirty years on, I’m still in contact with many of them (through social media and other means)… Most of them were, like myself, of the Left, politically and even those that weren’t were, by U.S. standards at the time very liberal (in the good sense of the term). Virtually all support their country’s stampede into NATO… Such is life.

Tunisia Since Independence – Somethings change at the top; Institutionally it all remains the same.

August 2, 2022

the mausoleum of Ferhat Hached, labor leader extraordinaire, main force behind the birth of the General Union of Tunisian Workers *UGTT” which remains today one of the most interesting and influential national trade union confederation not only in the Arab world but in the Global South. Standing at his tomb, his daughter, Djamila Chaari. November, 2011. (photo credit: R. Prince)

 

Whether Kais Saied’s constitutional reforms hold remains to be seen. Yet let’s be clear – this historical sketch is about political changes at the top. What does it matter if power shifts from the Parliament to the presidency – or visa versa – if, in neither case, such political developments are not combined with a socio-economic vision and program to deal with the structural crisis in Tunisian society?

In the case of Ben Ali and Ghannouchi/Ennahdha hopes for serious structural, institutional change were dashed, and that rather early on in both cases. No doubt there is considerable relief that Ennahdha’s days in power are, it appears, now in the past. There was nothing short of a nation-wide sigh of relief. Indeed, the years of Ennahdha rule are referred to as “the black decade.” But if the Said presidency is simply yet another version of “rearranging the chairs on the Titanic” then Saied’s “victory” in outmaneuvering Rachid Ghannouchi are indeed hollow.

Let’s hope for the best, but be cognisant of how little has changed in Tunisian national life by simply changing leadership… without accompanying far reaching institutional reforms it becomes just an exercise of political musical chairs.

Trying to make sense of history, Tunisian history

Trying to get my finger on the pulse concerning the patterns of Tunisian history… I notice certain parallels – Bourguiba to Ben Ali to (behind the scene) Ghannouchi to Kais Said. A shuffling of chairs at the top as leaders become ineffective with age (Bourguiba), corrupt beyond belief (Ben Ali) or so religiously factional (Ghannouchi – Ennahdha) to have split Tunisian society and lost its initial base…. and now Kais Said, who seems to be running into similar problems (more on this later). Each was able to remove – overthrow an increasingly unpopular and ineffective leader from office only to be removed later themselves for failing to address the underlying structural crisis that has plagued Tunisian for so long. In all the cases, promise of “democracy” and “human rights” evaporated into what was little more than attempts to cling to power with all the repression and corruption that entailed, be it in the name of more secular or more Islamic emphasis. The promised changes, needed reforms never happened. Funny thing… and in the end the Bourguiba-Ben Ali-Ghannouchi soup all tasted the same with slightly different seasoning. Will Kais Saied break the mold? Or is he simply more of the same? Read more…

Stop Foreign Interference in Tunisia’s Internal, Domestic Affairs: Statement of Noureddine Taboubi, Secretary General of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), Tunisia’s National Trade Union Movement.

August 1, 2022
tags:

Emblem of the UGTT

Statement of the UGTT on foreign (US, EU) interference in Tunisia’s internal domestic affairs in Arabic July 30, 2022. Tunis.

(Below, an unofficial translation using “Google Translate.” I provide the original in Arabic above in case there are errors in translation)

Statements of the foreign ministers and ambassadors of America and some European countries about the situation in Tunisia have been repeated for some time with the intention to teach us lessons about democracy. These statements have reached the point where they are nothing less than threats and intimidation.

National Executive of the General Union of Tunisian Workers – UGTT strongly condemns the repeated statements of foreign officials on the situation in Tunisia and expresses its absolute rejection of interference in our internal affairs. We warn that the interference in internal affairs was not limited merely to statements, but went beyond them to the policies of ambassadors and embassies in all parts of the country. As a result Tunisians are increasingly subject to human rights violations regarding limiting travel visas or subjecting the forced deportation of Tunisian irregular migrants this with the complicity of the Tunisian authorities and also through international pressures to impose Tunisia’s normalization with the hateful Zionist entity. Read more…

Tunisia has a new constitution; will it be the first step in bring the country out of the socio-economic doldrums … or will the country simply face more of the same?

July 31, 2022

Market place in Sousse, Tunisia, 2015, the same year of a Salafist inspired massacre

 

In 10 years they’ve killed: school, culture, economy, trade, smiles, family, the projects , the future ..

– A Tunisian critique of the Ennahdha Party commenting on social media (July 31, 2022) –  

Tunisia has a new constitution. will it be the first step in bring the country out of the socio-economic doldrums … or will the country simply face more of the same? Only time will tell. The process of revising the constitution, pet project of Tunisian President Kais Saied, has been filled with controversy with eligible voter turnout low and claims of voter manipulation being raised.  Be that as it may, it appears that the small North African country wedged between two oil producing giants with turbulent histories – Algeria and Libya – has entered what might be considered a “post Ennahdha” era. Ennahdha is the Tunisian branch of Moslem Brotherhood. 

The new constitution will replace one that was drawn up and approved in 2014; that constitution was spearheaded by the Ennahda Party, At the time, Ennahda and its leader, Rached Ghannouchi, enjoyed great influence despite the fact the party held back and had virtually no role in the demonstrations which brought the government of Zine Ben Ali to its knees. It’s influence over the country’s political system since the Arab Spring events of 2011 has been pivotal. There is no doubt that it is the biggest loser in the political changes embodied in the new constitution and its supporters are among those who crying “foul” the loudest. The cries of foul of the new constitution aside, if anything, the vote for a new set of political guiding principles for Tunisia is a rejection of Ennahdha’s policies over the past decade where it was, undoubtedly, the power behind the presidency. Read more…

Audio: “Beyond the Fist Bump”: A Tale of Two Cities (and Two Meetings): Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Teheran Iran. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. July 26, 2022

July 27, 2022

Biden-bin Salman “bump fist” – the highlight of an otherwise vapid meeting. Iphoto credit – Reuters)

KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – July 26, 2022 – Part One. Audio: “Beyond the Fist Bump”: A Tale of Two Cities (and Two Meetings): Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Teheran Iran. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. July 26, 2022

I am far from the only one who concluded Biden’s trip was a flop. During the time of Biden’s visit, the newspapers of the entire Middle East has similar conclusions. Within a day of Biden’s visit al Jazeera had an article about it as did the Israeli media. The Jerusalem Post – and others – clearly noted that Biden’s visit to the Middle East was a flop. Why? Because when it comes to what the Israelis hoped the visit would accomplish, it achieved nothing. The Israelis had their own list of demands – or hopes – that Washington would address to influence Israeli interests – support their concerns about Iran – as well as their concerns about Hezbollah. These concerns were not addressed.

Then Biden had this idea in his head that he was going to go to Saudi Arabia and talk to states historically friendly to Washington and that they would listen to “Uncle Biden”, increase oil production, fall in line with the United States (concerning the war in Ukraine, isolating Russia) – but the U.S. president came away with nothing.

— Ibrahim Kazerooni – KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – July 26, 2022 —

Jim Nelson: Good evening.

Thanks for tuning in to this edition of Hemispheres, Tuesday, July 26, 2022. I’m your host, Jim Nelson, and thanks for tuning in to listener community radio – KGNU, Boulder, Denver and Ft. Collins and at www.kgnu.org.

This evening on Hemispheres we continue with the Middle East Dialogues. As usual joining me in these dialogues, as always, are Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince.

This evening we’ll be discussing and analyzing President Biden’s visit to the Middle East concentrating on the meeting that took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Much of the U.S. media focused on the exchange between President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The crown prince is well known for having orchestrated the October 2, 2016 brutal murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

The media highlighted the famous “fist bump” between the two. We’re calling this program “Beyond the Fist Bump” or “A Tale of Two Cities”. During the 2020 presidential campaign Biden referred to the the crown prince as “a pariah” with whom he would never meet. But here he was in Jeddah meeting with bin Salam, appearing to be something approaching begging bin Salman to press Saudi Arabia to release more oil on the increasingly tight global oil market. But that didn’t happen.

If I’ve learned anything over the years from hosting this program, there is always more to the story than that which appears in the mainstream media states’ side. Although the fist bump between Biden and Salman caught the U.S. media’s attention, Ibrahim and Rob were not particularly impressed with this media moment and will cover what the U.S. media failed to report upon. They’ll analyze the media reports from the region (the Middle East).

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Ibrahim Kazerooni: Something that we all have learned by now over the years is that promises are made during election campaigns that turn out to be nothing more than hype. Better not to believe any western politician, or for that matter, any eastern politicians. They promise you a huge amount of whatever, they you get nothing. Read more…

KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – Tuesday, July 26, 2022 @ 6 pm A Tale of Two Cities (and two meetings)… Not London and Paris but Jeddah and Teheran! With Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince

July 25, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Saadabad palace, in Tehran, Iran, Iran, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Sergei Savostyanov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – Tuesday, July 26, 2022 @ 6 pm A Tale of Two Cities (and two meetings)… Not London and Paris but Jeddah and Teheran! With Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince, produced by Jim Nelson

This week’s program is a “Tale of Two Cities” – not the London and Paris of Charles Dickens famous work. These two meetings took place further east – the one in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the other in Teheran. These meetings reflect – very concretely – the shifting balance of power in the broader Middle East, as well as on a broader international level. On a regional level, there is:

  • the increased influence of Iran throughout the region along with the increasingly effective role of the Axis of Resistance.
  • the weakening of what has been for 75 years the U.S. led “alliance” – that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the Emirates… and the growing need of most of these countries to come to some kind of less antagonistic relations with Iran
  • On a more global level, the two meetings reflect the weakening of a U.S. dominated “unipolar” world and the continued strengthening of a multipolar axis led by China and Russia.

All that and more!

Francis Sargent Cheever

July 25, 2022

Courage brother!

You do not walk alone

We will walk with you

And sing your spirit home

(a line from a song by Eric Bogle)

“Sarge”

Book Club Reading List for August 13, 2022n Discussion on Ukraine

July 23, 2022

photo credit – Mint News

Evan’s suggested Readings/Video…

Iskra’s suggested Readings/Video… (Note – article is in Bulgarian Cyrillic but if you look at the upper right corner there is a link to translate the article into English)

Mark’s suggested Readings/Video

Mike’s suggested Readings/Video…

Rob’s Suggested Readings/Video…

 

Live Video: A Tale of Two Cities (and two meetings)… Not London and Paris but Jeddah and Teheran! With Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince

July 22, 2022

The multi-polarists: Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Saadabad palace, in Tehran, Iran, Iran, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Sergei Savostyanov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

A Tale of Two Cities (and two meetings)… Not London and Paris but Jeddah and Teheran! (Video produced July 21, 2022)

(note – an error – early in the video I mention “Iran” when it should have been “Ukraine)

Think if air to say that the Biden visit to Saudi Arabia comprehensively failed… For a good discussion on this visit and its aftermath:

Russia prepares big offensive: Putin talks to MBS; ridicules EU on gas; EU scraps food sanctions.

Relevant sections begin at 20 minutes and 30 seconds into the video

U.S. Congressman Perlmutter (D-Colorado) Unsurprising Take on U.S. Proxy War Against Russia in Ukraine

July 16, 2022

(Note: Earlier I published U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper’s (D-Colorado) on the US/NATO war against Russia in Ukraine. Below is U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Colorado) position, not quite so strident although fundamentally the same policy wise as “Hick’s” as we call him. Perlmutter has announced his retirement from Congress. I don’t know what precipitated his throwing in the hat. He was more accessible, and (from where I am sitting) more interesting than others from the Colorado congressional delegation. Ed Perlmutter is the nephew of Jonathan Perlmutter, one of Colorado’s more influential real estate families. rjp)

____________________________________________________________________________

July 5, 2022

Dear Mr. Gregorich:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I appreciate hearing from you on such an important issue because it enables me to better represent the beliefs and values of our district.

The situation in Ukraine remains heartbreaking. Russia’s invasion sends a clear message of aggression which undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and threatens stability and democracy in Eastern Europe. As the grandson of Jewish Ukrainian refugees, I am committed to securing peace and freedom in the region in wake of these reckless and unjustified attacks.

I support the President’s actions to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine and to bring President Vladimir Putin to the bargaining table. I continue to back legislation to aid Ukrainians and hold Russia accountable for their actions. I voted yes on HR 7691, the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act providing over $40 billion dollars of emergency supplemental appropriations for activities to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As Congress continues to consider an economic and diplomatic path forward, I will keep your views in mind.

I encourage you to continue contacting me about the issues important to you. Please visit my website at www.perlmutter.house.gov to sign up for my e-newsletter and receive periodic updates on my activities as your representative in Washington. Additionally, I encourage you to follow me on Facebook (@RepPerlmutter) and Twitter (@RepPerlmutter).

Sincerely,Ed Perlmutter Signature.Ed Perlmutter

Member of Congress

 

____________________________________________________________________________

Mike Gregorich’s response to Ed Perlmutter’s letter on the war in Ukraine:

Unlike Hickenlooper’s letter, I didn’t find Perlmutter’s to be at all humanly offensive.  He does make the common mistakes of thinking that we are fighting for democracy, and that the Russian invasion is “reckless and unjustified.”  Also, Biden doesn’t want to get Putin to the bargaining table.  He wants to bleed the Russians for as long as he can.

Yet, there are several things I like about the letter even while disagreeing with it.  I like that he brings up his ancestry as one reason for his beliefs.  I like that he specifically explains how he voted on a bill.  Not all politicians do this.  Finally,  I like that he at least says that “As Congress continues to consider an economic and diplomatic path forward, I will keep your views in mind.”  He does seem to leave the door open to an evolution in his views.  Especially if public opposition to current policy mounts is my guess.

I know a Vietnam vet who went to Perlmutter and got help with issues he was having with the government.  Perlmutter seems approachable and human.  Unlike Hickenlooper.

Ukraine, la nouvelle guerre américaine (Ukraine – American’s Latest War)

July 16, 2022

Biden at bat…

(Note – this is an unofficial translation – mine – of an article in French; the link to the original is here.  I translated it because it documents the degree to which this Ukraine war was conceived and then executed by Washington. Much of this information of the intensity of U.S. involvement has appeared in bits and pieces elsewhere, but I have not seen it put together as extensively as the author, Mériadec Raffray, has done. A few weeks ago both the US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin along with another Pentagon spokesperson suggested that Ukraine is fighting the war against the Russian Special Military Operation pretty much by itself, that its decisions are made by the Ukrainian military and the Zelensky government. This is not a claim that anyone can or should take seriously. The Ukraine War was made in Washington DC a long time ago – 2014 probably prior to that – and every aspect of the war is dominated by Washington political and military thinking. It is a classic proxy war with the US/NATO fighting Russia “up to the last Ukrainian” as the expression goes… with probably many willing Polish troops thrown into the bargain)

Mériadec Raffray Published 8 July, 2022,  10:59 am

We are only beginning to put in focus the extent of the United States’ proxy war on behalf of the Kiev government. As of this writing Washington’s Ukraine proxy war strategy since 2014 risks spiraling out of control.

Uncle Sam’s invisible hand is behind every Kiev military operation. At the very beginning of the invasion, thanks to Washington’s information, the defenders seem to have thwarted Russia’s audacious helicopter operation (that included 200 helicopters) to seize Gostomel airport, northwest of the Ukrainian capital. In mid-April, without American P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, the Moskva cruiser might not have been hit by the Neptune missiles fired from the coast.

Without American support, nor would the Ukrainians have succeeded in targeting Russian generals in their headquarters on the front either, as claimed by the New York Times, then, immediately denied by embarrassed official sources on the banks of the Potomac. In its June 25 edition, the Times, favorite daily of the democratic elites, reputed to be close to the CIA, gave further details the way in which “a network of commandos and spies” coordinates military support for Ukraine in Europe.

Shortly before the (Russian) invasion, the American group of advisers in charge of training the Ukrainian elite troops were “discreetly” withdrawn to Germany. In particular, these advisers supervised the routes of arms convoys in an attempt to hide them from Russian surveillance and fire. Several other advisor groups were organized into the “European command of the Pentagon”.

Washington has invested 60 million Euros in Ukraine since February

In Kiev, the Times article continues, the CIA advises Zelensky. From 2015 to February 2022, American instructors are said to have trained 27,000 Ukrainian soldiers in Yavoriv, near Lviv, one of the bases targeted on March 13 by the Russians. Added to all these are other Ukrainian troops who have passed through the hands of military advisers from a dozen countries, including France.

After previous denials, Washington was pressed to admit that in Ukraine, the US/NATO is essentially implementing a proxy war against Russia strategy. A strategy change
occurred at the end of April, during the third meeting of the “Ramstein group”, this informal assemblage that America set up at the start of the invasion on its large air base in Germany. Nearly 40 states were represented. At the same time, speaking in Kiev, Washington’s Defense Secretary, former General Lloyd Austin, declared: “We want to see Russia weakened to such a degree that it cannot do the same kinds of things as the invasion of Ukraine.”

What a contrast with the beginning of the war! After predicting the date of the invasion, the White House muzzles all its relays. Off the microphones, Pentagon generals have softened their rhetoric to the media, claiming that they are, the Americans are not that much involved in Ukraine’s military decisions and that that they, Washington, are avoiding being considered cobelligents in Ukraine’s war. Washington is waiting for Kiev to survive the initial shock of the Russian military operation prior to “Saving Private Zelensky”, the sequel of which is called “We must bleed the Russian bear.”

Yet, the airlift that the Pentagon launched at the beginning of the spring to Germany and Poland is extensive. It is the most visible aspect of US interference in the Ukraine war. Hundreds of U.S. military transport craft flew the Atlantic to deliver their batches of equipment and ammunition, portable missiles, killer drones, armored vehicles, mortars, howitzers, surveillance radars and air defense systems.

Just how extensive this military support has been is reflected in the huge aid sums Washington has granted to Ukraine, now exceeding 60 billion euros, a gigantic sum. This is one and a half times larger than France’s annual military budget. And that’s not the extent of it. At the same time, and much more discreetly, the Americans are completing their total military takeover of Ukraine, this Krajina (march or border, in Slavic languages) where, for years, they have been deploying the means to wage a war by proxy. These plans have surfaced as the smokescreen of the propaganda machines fades.

This U.S. dominated military build up began in early 2014, after “the Maidan Revolution” broke out in kyiv. The CIA is active in Ukraine under the supervision of diplomat Victoria Nuland, responsible for the Ukrainian file under Obama; her responsibilities were expanded under Biden. Washington’s goal in 2014 was to replace President Viktor Yanukovych “with a leader ready to cut the umbilical cord with Moscow.” A few weeks later, the (Russian speaking regions in the Donbass rose up and Washington increased its interference. A string of American (and British) military advisers were sent to the front. The US/UK military build up after 2014 was justified as a response to Russian military assistance given to the (Donbass) secessionists. With this military aid ( that included advanced communication systems, portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons) Ukrainian military commandos worked “miracles”; all the same, the war against Donetsk and Lugansk separatists did not go well; the latter held their ground. On February 12, 2015, Kiev was pressured to sign the Minsk II agreements with the two self-proclaimed republics of Donbass. France, Germany and Russia guaranteed the agreement’s fulfillment. The cease-fires was conditional, in particular, on the establishment – and recognition by Kiev of a statute of autonomy for the two territories and the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Nearly a third of Western weapons turn up on the black market.

Piotr, a Ukrainian very committed to his country’s defense, a former legionnaire in the 2nd foreign parachute regiment, says: “We saw the Anglo-Saxons on the front line handling the missiles themselves. The corruption within the (Ukrainian) army was such that the Americans did not want to run the risk of these weapons being immediately resold on the black market and used elsewhere against American soldiers. Seven years later, the pressure of the military confrontation swept away this reluctance to hand US (and other) weapons’ systems evaporated. The following scenario became a reality, commonplace: nearly a third of Western weapons entering Ukraine have been diverted to the blakc market, this, according to specialists. Moreover, in Donbass, foreign special forces (fighting for Kiev) no longer wield missiles on the front line, otherwise there would be “deaths among them”, a high-ranking European confided. Instead they, the foreigners fighting have a new role; they are busy managing and supervising the army of “civilians” employed on the spot by private companies, European and especially American, to whom Washington has delegated a range of tasks on an unprecedented scale.

“Previously, these “contractors” (a polite term for “mercenaries) supplemented the American army; now, they replace it, ”insists a French expert. In Iraq and Afghanistan, where recourse to their “services” was systematized, there were around 200,000 in total, essentially occupied with peripheral functions: logistics, security of rights-of-way, mine clearance and training. In Ukraine, a new threshold has been crossed, with the externalization of the war itself. Since the onset of this conflict, these “contractors” that include Canadian, British and Baltic “partners” fight alongside the Ukrainians and their U.S. Army advisers.

There are supported by its Canadian, British, Baltic partners and the battalions of its “civilian” subcontractors, began by restructuring the Ukrainian army. The Pentagon also has plans to transform Ukrainian citizens into “resistant-combatants”.

A new mode of action called “war through the social milieu”, (I believe this translates as hybrid warfare), an elaboration of what in the past was simply called “political warfare”. It is a question of putting “all the means at the disposal of a nation, with the exception of war, to achieve its objectives, to increase its influence and its authority, and to weaken those of the adversary”, summarizes battalion commander Raphaël Chauvancy in the National Defense Review. A development also documented by Colonel Laurent Bansept, seconded to the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri), author of a noted note on “relay actors” in “grey areas”.

Americans were also involved in Ukraine’s effort to build extensive defensive fortifications in the Donbass, which were called a “Maginot Line” (reference to the defensive fortifications Paris constructed to confront a Nazi invasion… which simply went around it). The backbone of Kiev’s Maginot line included a those cities and towns currently targeted by the Russian offensive. Moscow notes that this Maginot line was more than defensive, and was a springboard, a base from which Kiev could launch a military operation to reconquer the territories it lost to the separatists in 2014. It included concrete defenses lined with electronic sensors, connected to a string of fuel, food and ammunition depots scattered at the rear. Islets sometimes cut off from each other which are based on a very compartmentalized terrain favorable to defense, intermingling urban areas, hills, woods and rivers.

Referred to as “hedgehogs” these defensive fortifications did manage to slow down “the Russian steamroller”. One source noted: “Isolated, the units opposed a decentralized defense which proved to be formidable. They were able to operate in an agile mode, because they were autonomous in designating targets, opening fire and ensuring their logistics. They benefitted from two critical sources of information: : the mass of American intelligence coming from above and data from Turkish drones as well as information coming from smart phones of those elements of the population friendly to Kiev’s cause.

Enter Tesla: It transforms civilian smartphones into military terminals

Billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation was able to construct this digital network. The owner of the favorite car brand of wealthy bobos, Tesla, the favorite brand of the rich, provided this turnkey communication system which transformed civilian smart phones into military terminals by connecting to their apps. Example: using an application called DIAA, originally launched in 2020 by the Ukrainian state to allow citizens to digitize all their official documents, the system has been used since the start of the war to geolocate and designate enemy command posts in real time. From the photo of a dead Russian, the algorithms of the Clearview AI facial recognition tool sift through social networks to identify him and then send the snapshot to his family: information warfare is not the prerogative of neither camp. A cowardly expert: “The Americans have set up a giant Pegasus in Ukraine. The formula refers to Israeli bugging software that caused a scandal in the summer of 2021, following revelations about states that allegedly used it to spy on our leaders. And to protect this giant digital web from Russian cyberattacks, Americans rely on their cybersecurity companies. It is from a subsidiary of Google that kyiv directly subtracts all its digital warfare.

“The nature of high-intensity warfare has not changed”, French soldiers observe: the effect of large coordinated military operations remains decisive in this “clash of wills” (Clausewitz). What counts most is always the balance of power in terms of men and equipment. True it could reverse at the end of the summer, with Kiev announcing an upcoming counter offensive. In the meantime, if the Ukrainian the defensive wall cracks, the Russians will be able to say: “We have beaten the Americans and NATO. “The members of the latter have understood this so well that at the summit in Madrid, at the end of June, they took a new series of measures which bring the world that much closer to a state of co-belligerence…

 

 

 

 

 

Ilhan Omar’s meddling in Horn of Africa earns boos at Somali American concert – The Gray Zone Strikes Again

July 15, 2022

The Horn of Africa

Once again, the Gray Zone with its hard hitting excellent research team strikes out where few others (like the Nation, Democracy Now) dare to go…

The  article below is about Ilhan Omar’s “contribution” to US policy of destabilizing the Horn of Africa and undermining Ethiopia’s “new dawn”. I realize that when it comes to domestic policy – Omar is pretty good, like AOC one of the better representatives in Congress. Hate to admit it, but where foreign policy is concerned – which most Americans don’t give a hoot about – both AOC’s and Omar’s policies (and those of Bernie S.) start to unravel.

AOC supports sanctions against Venezuela as well as the attempted US back coup there. In Omar’s case, her policies have dovetailed with those of U.S. Imperialism to continue to destabilize the Horn of Africa. One has to wonder if someone higher up in the Democratic Party and or the State Department warned these progressive Congresswomen:: “You may criticize this administration’s domestic policies BUT if you start criticizing US foreign policy in Latin America or Africa you’ll regret it” – or something along those lines.

This is a fine piece by Ann Garrison, a California-based radio and print journalist whose knowledge of the Horn of Africa is pretty unique. She recently spent time in Ethiopia from which she produced a series of high quality reports. Here, quite fairly frankly, she takes Omar to task and deservedly so. The article is about much more than Omar being booed at a concert by Somalis in Minnesota.

One anecdotal note.

I was surprised when the Biden Administration began to institute sanctions against Ethiopia given how long it had been a stable U.S. ally in the Horn, if not an American proxy. Perhaps British Prime Minister Henry John Temple’s maxim about the British Empire having no permanent friends, only permanent intersts applies to Washington as well?  Some of it has to do with Washington’s fixation of countering Ethiopia’s growing relations with China – a global no-no for Global South countries. But a big part of the sanctions is targeting – not without some success – Ethiopian/Eritrean cooperation in countering the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) military offensive meant to topple to government in Addis Ababa, an effort clearly supported by Washington. Such a move goes against Washington’s effort to isolate Eritrea, the only country in Africa to refuse cooperation and troop deployments by AFRICOM. Eritrea also refuses to accept World Bank and IMF structural adjustment conditioned loans.

Ethiopian-Eritrean reconciliation angers – no, infuriates – Biden, Blinken and the band of State Department neo-cons that have taken over U.S. foreign policy and Ethiopia is being punished for attempting to improve relations with its neighbors in the Horn of Africa.

Long detailed article – worth the time…

Ilhan Omar’s meddling in Horn of Africa earns boos at Somali American concert