Category: Imperialism
Caitlin Johnstone: The lie that a kinder, gentler US Empire is possible
worker | June 14, 2021 | 8:48 pm | Imperialism | No comments

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/526330-caitlin-johnstone-us-israel/

Caitlin Johnstone: The lie that a kinder, gentler US Empire is possible

Caitlin Johnstone: The lie that a kinder, gentler US Empire is possible
The main rift among the American left wing is between people who seek an end to the imperialist murder machine, and people who just want the imperialist murder machine to give them healthcare.

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar has once again been the center of an artificial controversy launched in bad faith, this time over a tweet where she mentioned the United States and Israel in the same breath as Hamas and the Taliban as perpetrators of “unthinkable atrocities”.

“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” Omar said while sharing a video of her wildly unsuccessful effort to get a straight answer from Secretary of State Tony Blinken on accountability for US and Israeli war crimes.

This provoked a bunch of ridiculous garment-rending histrionics from Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats, not because it is absurd to compare murderous warmongering regimes like the US and Israel with vastly less destructive regional forces like Hamas and the Taliban, but because it is considered unacceptable in mainstream politics to suggest that the US and Israel are anything other than beneficent powers who at worst make the occasional innocent oopsie.

This pathetically mild criticism of a power structure which has killed millions and displaced tens of millions just in the last two decades, during a pathetically unsuccessful attempt to get any kind of concession about war crimes and crimes against humanity from a prominent US official, drew so much outrage and vitriol from the US political/media class that Omar was once again forced to issue another pathetic walkback of her comments.

“On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ongoing International Criminal Court investigations,” Omar said in a statement on her congressional website. “To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel.  I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”

And that is it, ladies and gentlemen. That is as far as you are allowed to take criticism of the empire in mainstream American politics. Even that level of feeble, impotent criticism is far outside the boundaries for anyone in the mainstream political/media class.

So, in case it wasn’t already clear to you, progressive Democrats are a joke. They’re not a real thing. If they are literally barred from even meaningfully criticizing the US empire, let alone actually working to dismantle it, they’re a joke. They will never succeed in advancing any kind of real progressive agenda.

There’s this unspoken and unquestioned assumption among progressive Democrats that it is possible to advance progressive agendas without actually ending the US empire. That you don’t need to actually dismantle the US empire and strip down its military to the bare bones in order to get nice things like universal healthcare, a living wage, and more ethical behavior on the world stage.

This is pure fantasy. It will never happen.

As long as the US is the center of a globe-spanning empire, it will be necessary to keep Americans too poor, too busy and too confused to interfere with the operation of the machine. You cannot allow a critical mass of Americans to have enough money to spend on political campaign donations, to have enough free time to research what’s actually happening in their world, to be sufficiently stress-free to look up and realize that your government is murdering children in their name, and also keep the empire running smoothly. You cannot have an imperialist oligarchy who runs things and also have income and wealth equality.

The empire feeds on oppression, exploitation, ignorance, and blood. It is impossible to dominate the planet with a unipolar world order if you don’t use violent force, and the threat of violent force, to uphold that world order. If you’re not strangling people at home and bombing people abroad, then you cannot have an oligarchic empire. Period.

The main rift you see on the leftmost end of the American political spectrum is between people who seek an end to the imperialist murder machine, and people who just want the imperialist murder machine to give them healthcare. The first group faces a very difficult uphill battle to get what it wants. The second group is just masturbating an impossible fantasy.

This is how you can tell who is for real and who is not: do they want to dismantle the oligarchic empire, or don’t they? If they do, they’re fighting for something real, but the oligarch-owned political/media class will not give them a platform. If they don’t, they may get a punditry job or a seat in congress, but they won’t ever actually give you anything besides feel-good empty narrative fluff.

 

The solution, as I always point out, is to work together to destroy and discredit the oligarchic propaganda apparatus which enables the empire to determine who gets a platform and who doesn’t. As long as they are able to uplift vapid fauxgressives who pretend it’s possible to have a kinder, gentler US empire and marginalize people who actually want to dismantle the status quo, there will never be enough public awareness to force real change. All positive changes in human behavior are always the direct result of an expansion of awareness, so spreading awareness of the fact that there is an oligarchic empire which is exploiting and deceiving everyone should be the foremost priority of anyone who wants real change.

It’s not that you can’t beat the machine, it’s that you can’t beat the machine using the tools the machine has given you. A grassroots effort to wake each other up to reality is a very achievable goal, and once enough eyes are open, anything is possible.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Will Congressional quest for answers on Brazil’s Operation Lava Jato reveal it to be yet another CIA coup in the Americas?
worker | June 10, 2021 | 8:46 pm | Brazil, Imperialism, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | No comments

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/526117-lava-jato-us-brazil/

Will Congressional quest for answers on Brazil’s Operation Lava Jato reveal it to be yet another CIA coup in the Americas?

Will Congressional quest for answers on Brazil’s Operation Lava Jato reveal it to be yet another CIA coup in the Americas? 
For years, the anti-corruption probe Lava Jato was hailed as the dawn of a new Brazil, in which democracy and the rule of law reigned supreme. Now, it’s clear it was a shameful set-up – with the US involved every step of the way.

On June 7, a coalition of Democratic lawmakers wrote to US Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting answers about the role of the Department of Justice (DoJ) in Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese), the grand Brazilian anti-corruption investigation launched in 2014 that ignominiously collapsed in February this year.

Noting it to be a “matter of public record” that DoJ representatives supported Brazilian prosecutors involved in the operation, they stated that an agreement was “evidently” reached between Brazilian and US authorities providing for a “substantial share” of the fines rendered from prosecuting Brazilian companies under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to be given to the very prosecutors and judges involved in Lava Jato, and to fund the creation of a “private foundation in Brazil totally administered and controlled by the same Brazilian prosecutors.”

The lawmakers concluded, “We are particularly concerned that the income produced from the enforcement of important US legislation dedicated to fighting corruption, could have ended up going to ends not entirely consistent with democracy, rule of law, equal justice under the law, and due process – not to mention Brazilian legal and constitutional requirements.”

That Washington was involved in Lava Jato, which saw more than 1,000 warrants issued, 429 people indicted and 159 convicted, and numerous high-profile business leaders and politicians – most notoriously Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president between 2003 and 2010 – jailed, had been clear since 2016, when US federal courts levied record fines against state energy company Petrobras.

ALSO ON RT.COMPower vs people? Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, former president of BrazilHowever, this suspect element of the probe was completely ignored by Western news outlets, as were clear indications from its inception that prosecutions were being pursued on dubious, if not non-existent, grounds.

For instance, Lula’s July 2017 conviction for money laundering and corruption charges was based entirely on the coerced testimony of a sole individual – and in his sentencing, presiding judge Sergio Moro failed to define a specific crime of which the former president was guilty, basing the verdict purely on his own “conviction” that Lula had done “something.”

As a result, Lula was precluded from running for the presidency in 2018, paving the way for the election of Jair Bolsonaro, who subsequently appointed Moro as minister of justice and public security. It was a move enthusiastically received both within and without Brazil, for his crusading efforts had made him something of a media sensation – in 2016, he was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 most influential people,” despite local news outlets that same year having exposed his illegal wiretapping of Lula’s defense team.

It was not until June 2019 that the judge’s mainstream fortunes finally took a turn for the worse, when journalist Glenn Greenwald began publishing a series of articles based on leaked Telegram conversations between individuals involved in Lava Jato.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Humanitarian’ agency USAID was ‘key tool’ for Washington undermining the Venezuelan government, official review revealsThe communications showed that Moro had provided insider information to prosecutors, helped direct their legal actions, briefed them on their media strategy, and requested that operations be launched against relatives of witnesses, to ensure convictions were secured. In November that year, Lula was finally released from prison after 580 days.

More recent leaks have revealed that the Lava Jato team conducted scores of secret, illegal meetings with FBI operatives throughout the seven-year probe. However, Moro’s ties to US state agencies have been a matter of public record since 2010, when WikiLeaks published a State Department telegram related to a week-long US Embassy-sponsored course laid on for judges, police, and prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro.

The document notes that many attendees expressed an interest in receiving further training from the DoJ on prosecuting money laundering cases, and were keen to collaborate with Washington in this field, contrary to Brasilia’s official position, under the auspices of the “fight against terrorism.”

Moro wasn’t a passive presence at the event, leading a talk on the “15 most common issues” he encountered in Brazilian money laundering cases. The telegram goes on to outline a dedicated program, “Projeto Pontes” (Bridges Project), to “bring together US and Brazilian law enforcement in different venues” and “build on our relationships and exchange best practices.”

ALSO ON RT.COMInternal emails reveal that the Dutch government suppressed White Helmets’ financial fraud – what else are they hiding?The following month, Brasil Wire records that he and prosecutor Karine Moreno-Taxman – who was then based in the US Embassy in Brazil, and helped select participants for the week-long training course – were both present at the Brazilian Federal Police Agents Association’s fourth congress in the north-eastern city of Fortaleza. Moro was lead speaker in a panel discussion on corruption and organized crime arguing for changes in the law and more judicial autonomy in investigating crimes against public administration.

Moreno-Taxman then led a panel of her own, which viewed from a present-day perspective gives every appearance of setting out a clear blueprint for the subsequent Operation Lava Jato. For one, she proposed that Brazilian authorities maintain an informal system of collaboration with their US counterparts, circumventing formal cooperation structures as set out in international treaties.

Another key suggestion was manipulating public opinion in prosecutions of high-profile figures to engender loathing of those under investigation. “Society needs to feel that that person really abused the job and demand that he be convicted,” Moreno-Taxman is reported to have said, a message she’d been propounding across Brazil at a variety of US-sponsored events for two years by that point. It seems likely these lobbying efforts formed part of Projeto Pontes.

When Lava Jato collapsed earlier this year, further leaked Telegram conversations exposed how prosecutors cheered Moro’s decision to incarcerate Lula on April 5, 2018, as it prevented a Supreme Court vote that would have allowed defendants to be spared jail pending appeal. The operation’s chief, Deltan Dallagnol, dubbed the news “a gift” from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Had that motion been successful, Lula would have been free to run for president that year – and victory seemed assured, for he was polling 20 points ahead of Bolsonaro.

ALSO ON RT.COMBogus story of Iranian interference in Scottish politics shows Western media to be the true election meddlerToday, polling for the 2022 general election places him in much the same position – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that during his initial seven-year spell in office, Brazil’s economy became the world’s eighth-largest, more than 20 million were raised out of acute poverty, and annual economic growth reached up to seven percent. As Lava Jato is estimated to have damaged foreign investment to the tune of $33 billion and wiped out 4.4 million jobs, a great many Brazilians will be hoping Lula makes a triumphant return to the Palacio da Alvorada.

Seemingly undeterred by the operation’s unceremonious unravelling, at a June 3 White House press conference a nameless “senior administration official” revealed that “components of the intelligence community,” includingthe director of national intelligence and CIA, would be fundamental in “establishing the fight against corruption as a core US national security interest.”

“We’re just going to be looking at all of the tools in our disposal to make sure that we identify corruption where it’s happening and take appropriate policy responses,” the official said.  

It’s unclear whether an “appropriate policy response” will entail the covert selection and grooming of a fresh anti-corruption taskforce in another foreign country, although legal apparatchiks overseas would do well to think twice before accepting clandestine offers of fame and fortune in return for fitting up troublesome political figures for crimes they didn’t commit. The once-celebrated Moro is now utterly disgraced, and under investigation for seven separate counts of felony judicial bias. Still, the mainstream media seems oblivious, and that’s the main thing.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

German Ambassador Says US Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2 Contradict International Law
worker | June 7, 2021 | 8:14 pm | Germany, Imperialism, Russia | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/world/202106051083078721-german-ambassador-says-us-sanctions-against-nord-stream-2-contradict-international-law/

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The first leg of the pipeline was completed on Friday, Russian President Putin said, as the project was able to overcome pressure from Washington.

German Ambassador to Russia Geza Andreas von Geyr on Saturday stated that Berlin won’t change its stance on Nord Stream 2, also stressing that sanctions against the pipeline, introduced by Washington, contradict international law.

“At the moment, important negotiations between the American and German governments are ongoing, which include the topic of Nord Stream 2, but our stance on the matter is clear, and it will not change: we are convinced that the energy security of Europe, as well as European energy policy should be determined by Europeans only, and not by foreigners”, the ambassador said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

In this handout photo released by the press-service of Eugal, a view shows the Eugal pipeline, in Germany. The Eugal pipeline, which will receive gas from Nord Stream 2 in the future, has reached full pumping capacity, and the second line of the pipeline has been introduced. European gas pipeline link (EUGAL) is a 480km-long natural gas transport network being developed in order to strengthen the supply of natural gas to Germany and Europe.
© SPUTNIK / ПРЕСС-СЛУЖБА EUGAL
In this handout photo released by the press-service of Eugal, a view shows the Eugal pipeline, in Germany. The Eugal pipeline, which will receive gas from Nord Stream 2 in the future, has reached full pumping capacity, and the second line of the pipeline has been introduced. European gas pipeline link (EUGAL) is a 480km-long natural gas transport network being developed in order to strengthen the supply of natural gas to Germany and Europe.

When asked about US-backed sanctions targeting the pipeline, the diplomat noted that those restrictions were against international rules.

“As for the sanctions, our position is that such an instrument – extraterritorial sanctions – is not applicable, as it goes against international law”, he explained.

The United States has been opposed to the project from the very beginning, claiming the pipeline poses a danger to European security, and subsequently imposing sanctions against the companies involved in its construction, despite repeated protests from Russia, Germany, and other European countries.

The Russian pipe layer vessel Akademik Cherskiy is pictured in the waters of Kaliningrad, Russia. Pipe-laying vessel Akademik Chersky is able to complete the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
© SPUTNIK / MIKHAIL GOLENKOV
The Russian pipe layer vessel “Akademik Cherskiy” is pictured in the waters of Kaliningrad, Russia. Pipe-laying vessel Akademik Chersky is able to complete the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

In May, Washington blacklisted 13 Russian vessels and three Russian firms involved in the implementation of Nord Stream 2 – after previous sanctions prompted Swiss pipelaying company Allseas to withdraw from the endeavour, causing a delay in pipelaying work.

The 745-mile-long Nord Stream 2 twin pipeline will carry up to 1.9 trillion cubic feet of gas per year from Russia directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea, passing through Danish, Finish, and Swedish waters. At the moment, the project is nearing its final stage, with over 95 percent of it already having been completed.

US Uses Similar Pretexts to Justify Military Buildup in South China Sea and Arctic, Activist Says
worker | May 27, 2021 | 8:05 pm | Arctic, Imperialism, South China Sea | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/us/202105271083002411-us-uses-similar-pretexts-to-justify-military-buildup-in-south-china-sea-and-arctic-activist-says/

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The US military activities in the Arctic and the South China Sea are fraught with tremendous risk of inflaming conflicts with Russia and China, says American peace activist Jan R. Weinberg. What’s worse, the militarisation of crucial shipping lanes could backfire on international trade and economies, he argues.

During an 18 May press conference with his Icelandic counterpart Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that Russia advances “unlawful maritime claims, particularly its regulation of foreign vessels transiting the Northern Sea Route.”

“The regulatory scheme that Russia has put forward does not give due regard as required by international law to navigation rights, freedoms of the territorial seas and exclusive economic zone,” Blinken said, stressing that Washington “ha[s] and will respond” to this.

Responding to Blinken’s criticism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasised that “it has been absolutely clear for everyone for a long time that this is our territory, this is our land,” referring to Russia’s Arctic coast, related internal waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

New Dimension to Old Maritime Dispute

The US-Russia dispute over the Northern Sea Route (NSR) – also referred to as the Northeast Passage – has been flaring for quite a while and goes as far back as the 1960s. According to Moscow, NSR is a national transport route and subject to national legislation on historical grounds. Most of the NSR goes through Russia’s internal waters or EEZ with special national rules of navigation being applied to the passage.

The US does not agree with this approach and considers some of NSR’s straits to be international to which the regime of transit passage applies, citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Sovcomflot LNG ship Christophe de Margerie and Russian icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy traverse the Northern Sea Route in February 2021, the first commercial cargo vessel to do so

While the row has on many occasions been resolved peacefully, the US Department of Defence’s new Arctic doctrine and Secretary Blinken’s renewed criticism of Russia have added a new dimension to this issue, according to Jan R. Weinberg, an American peace activist and founder of ‘Show Up! America’.

The Pentagon’s 2019 Arctic doctrine particularly names Russia a “strategic competitor,” a bit short of “adversary,” Weinberg notes.

According to the DoD, US interests in the region include “maintaining flexibility for global power projection, including by ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.” To that end, the Pentagon undertakes to “strengthen the existing, international rules-based order in the Arctic” to “deter strategic competitors from specific, aggressive acts and from unilaterally seeking to change norms governing access to the region.”

In this Oct. 25, 2016 photo provided by the U.S. Army Alaska, paratroopers secure an area in view of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, during night live-fire training at Fort Greely, Alaska. The battalion spent much of Exercise Spartan Cerberus in subzero temperatures training in Arctic, airborne and infantry tasks.
© AP PHOTO / STAFF SGT. DANIEL LOVE
In this Oct. 25, 2016 photo provided by the U.S. Army Alaska, paratroopers secure an area in view of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, during night live-fire training at Fort Greely, Alaska. The battalion spent much of Exercise Spartan Cerberus in subzero temperatures training in Arctic, airborne and infantry tasks.

US Pursues Its ‘Hegemonic Interests’ in South China Sea and NSR

The Pentagon’s self-declared goal of sustaining a rules-based freedom of navigation order in the Arctic resembles nothing so much as Washington’s justification of its military presence in the South China Sea, the peace activist suggests. In both cases, however, the US vows to protect UNCLOS rules which it has failed to ratify so far, he adds.

“It is patently absurd, while calling out other nations, that the United States has not ratified The United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Weinberg notes. “I have not heard Secretary of State Tony Blinken advocate for the United States to ratify the UNCLOS treaty which would certainly lend authority to his accusations about the misuse of Russian and Chinese claimed Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).”

The South China Sea accounts for a third of global maritime trade with 80 percent of China’s energy imports passing through this waterway. The South China Sea maritime dispute appears to be more complicated than that involving the Northern Sea Route: China is laying claims to a large portion of the sea with all islands and their adjacent waters in accordance with its “nine dash line” concept. Neighboring nations have their own competing claims in the sea which makes it a highly contested area.

The Spratly Islands, comprising Subi Reef, Northeast Cay, Southwest Cay, South Reef, and Sandy Cay, are claimed by China, requiring prior permission or notification of transit under innocent passage in its territorial sea.

The United States, which is not part of the maritime dispute, has nevertheless declared itself an “arbiter” and protector of UNCLOS rules by dispatching warships to the region to conduct regular freedom of navigation operations (FONOP) there without requesting permission or providing notifications. Washington argues that none of the nations involved in the dispute has formally made a legal claim to a territorial sea around these features, according to Harvard’s Belfer Centre. However, Beijing has repeatedly signaled that it considers these passages provocative and a “serious infringement on China’s sovereignty.”

What the US Navy is really protecting in the South China Sea are Washington’s hegemonic interests, according to Weinberg, who asserts that America’s “Pivot to the Arctic” is about the same thing. While the South China Sea is carrying over $3 trillion in trade annually, the Arctic accounts for 22 percent of the world’s hydrocarbon resources, the peace activist remarks. “I believe that is why our military is there, even though they give lots of other reasons,” he notes.

In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region.
© AP PHOTO / JAMES VAZQUEZ
In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region.

Parallels: South China Sea & NSR

To assert its presence in both areas, the Pentagon is conducting a wide range of military exercises in the Arctic and in Indo-Pacific, including those involving the US’ NATO allies and partners, Weinberg notes.

The aforementioned military drills are conducted in close proximity to strategically important maritime routes:

·      the Malacca Strait, a waterway connecting the Andaman Sea and the South China Sea and a key oil trade chokepoint;

·      the Bering Strait, a strait connecting the Pacific and Arctic Oceans between Alaska and Russia and the most eastern point of the NSR.

The US-NATO military deployments near these crucial areas not only pose a threat to China and Russia, but also create a grave danger to international trade by stepping up risks and increasing potential costs, according to the peace activist.

“While Blinken professes to be ‘worried that the increased militarisation [of the Arctic on the part of Russia] will lead to bigger problems’ the United States conducted, under the auspices of the Indo-Pacific Command the Northern Edge 2021 military exercises which are based out of Alaska,” the peace activist says.

The US military deployment in the Arctic under the pretext of the alleged challenge posed by Moscow in its turn creates a threat to Russia, Weinberg highlights. Similarly, Barack Obama’s military deployments in Indo-Pacific region and FONOPs in the South China Sea within the framework of Pivot to Asia were perceived as a threat by the People’s Republic of China.

An MH-60R Seahawk assigned to the “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 lifts off the flight deck of America’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) while conducting operations in the South China Sea.

The similarity of the “Pivot to Asia” and “Pivot to the Arctic” is hardly surprising given that many Obama-era politicians have joined Joe Biden’s cabinet, the scholar points out. Some of them came to politics from the US military industrial corporations through the so-called “revolving doors,” Weinberg notes, referring to Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, who used to work on the board of Raytheon Technologies.

The parallels don’t end here: by beefing up its military presence in the respective regions, the US is equally pouring salt in Russia and China’s wounds, according to the peace activist. Thus, Washington’s agreement with Norway on building new US military deployments near Russia’s borders evokes strong memories of the Cold War and the West’s failure to deliver on its promise to not expand its NATO alliance eastward.

When it comes to China, the US naval presence in the Indo-Pacific coupled with Britain’s dispatching of an aircraft carrier strike group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth there brings to mind the West’s Opium Wars against China and the Century of Humiliation, according to Weinberg.

The peace activist insists that those at the helm in NATO nations should bear these historic reminiscences in mind to avoid further escalation before it’s too late.

Pivot to Arctic: What’s Behind US-NATO Military Buildup in High North?
worker | May 26, 2021 | 9:11 pm | Imperialism | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/us/202105221082963833-pivot-to-arctic-whats-behind-us-nato-military-buildup-in-high-north/

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The US is stepping up its military presence in the Arctic region together with its NATO allies, while at the same time calling on other nations to restrain from Arctic militarisation. What’s behind Washington’s self-contradictory stance and the latest push in the ice-cold region?

The Biden administration is bringing the Arctic into focus as glaciers are melting, expanding the region’s shipping lanes and increasing access to natural resources, Foreign Policy Magazine noted on 20 May, citing Antony Blinken’s official visit to Greenland and Iceland as well as NATO’s growing presence in the “high north”.

The magazine outlines three elements of a new emerging pattern:

·         First, on 16 April, Washington struck the Supplementary Defence Cooperation Agreement with Norway, which will allow the US to build infrastructure at three air bases and a navy facility along the Norwegian coast.

·         Second, American Virginia-class submarine the USS New Mexico (SSN-779) arrived in Tromso, Norway on 10 May.

·         Third, the Pentagon and its NATO allies are stepping up joint naval and air drills in the region: on 18 May, 10 countries kicked off Exercise Formidable Shield in the North Atlantic.

Foreign Policy admits that despite warning against a military buildup in the Arctic, Washington appears to be doing the opposite: “Hypocrisy? It depends on who you ask. Top Russian officials certainly think so. But some Western experts say no”, the magazine writes, suggesting that the US is “simply bulking up deterrence and dusting off the Cold War-era cobwebs on militaries practicing operating in the North Atlantic”.

Washington’s vested interests in the Arctic region are obvious given that the latter accounts for 22 percent of the world’s hydrocarbon resources, according to the United States Geological Survey. By 2040, the Arctic could have almost no summer sea ice, providing shorter shipping routes and bolstering trade opportunities.

An Arctic dawn
© SPUTNIK / ALEXANDER LISKIN
An Arctic dawn

The Pentagon’s New Arctic Doctrine

The US’ renewed pivot to the high north stems from the Donald Trump era and is well reflected in the Department of Defence’s 2019 Arctic Strategy. In subsequent years, every major US military service branch came up with their own specific Arctic doctrines. The US Coast Guard published its Arctic Strategic Outlook in April 2019; the Air Force came up with its blueprint in July 2020; the Navy released its own Arctic strategy in January 2021, while the US Army unveiled its “Regaining Arctic Dominance” on 16 March 2021.

“The United States maintains strong defense relationships with six of the seven other Arctic nations. Four are NATO Allies: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland), Iceland, and Norway; and two are NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partners: Finland and Sweden. They are highly capable, with immense experience in high latitude operational environments”, the DoD doctrine says.

In this Dec. 6, 2012 photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, soldiers assigned to 6th Engineer Battalion utilize snow shoes during Arctic Light Individual Training on the Bulldog Trail in sub-zero conditions at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.  ALIT is the United States Army Alaska's Cold Weather Indoctrination program. It gives all soldiers, regardless of their job, the foundation to successfully work, train, and go to war in some of the harshest environments in the world.
© AP PHOTO / JUSTIN CONNAHER
In this Dec. 6, 2012 photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, soldiers assigned to 6th Engineer Battalion utilize snow shoes during Arctic Light Individual Training on the Bulldog Trail in sub-zero conditions at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. ALIT is the United States Army Alaska’s Cold Weather Indoctrination program. It gives all soldiers, regardless of their job, the foundation to successfully work, train, and go to war in some of the harshest environments in the world.

At the same time, the document regards Russia as NATO’s biggest “competitor” and, apparently, a hurdle to US-NATO ambitions in the region. The country accounts for 53% of the Arctic Ocean coastline and has the largest Arctic population with roughly two million people – around half of the people living in the high north worldwide.

In addition to this, Russia maintains control over the Northern Sea Route (NSR), the shortest maritime route from Europe to Asia, which almost entirely goes through Russia’s territorial waters or the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Russian law stipulates that the NSR is a “historically developed national transport corridor”, while the US is trying to challenge this stance by claiming that the route is “an international strait and it is open for transit passage”, as Commandant of the US Coast Guard Admiral P. Zukunft outlined in his statement in spring 2018.

The Pentagon’s Arctic doctrine specifically targets the NSR arguing that Russia’s position lacks legal basis and threatens to “challenge excessive maritime claims” in the region and “deter strategic competitors from specific, aggressive acts and from unilaterally seeking to change norms governing access to the region”.

It further claims that Russia poses an “effective offensive threat” to the US in the high north, adding that its “modernized subsurface and surface naval presence” will have “a strategic effect on US homeland defence”.

Russia is not the Pentagon’s only headache in the high north: China is also increasing its operations in the region. Beijing is planning to use the NSR as a “Polar Silk Road” – part of its ambitious global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – and is developing joint energy exploration projects with Russia in the Arctic.

“The Arctic has the potential to become a contested space where United States’ great power rivals, Russia and China, seek to use military and economic power to gain and maintain access to the region at the expense of US interests”, the US Army’s 2021 blueprint reads.

In order to “regain Arctic dominance”, the US Army is seeking to “employ calibrated force posture and multi-domain formations to defend the homeland and pose dilemmas for great power competitors” in close cooperation with its network of NATO allies, which it sees as a huge strategic advantage in the region.

A B-1B Lancer flies with a Danish F-16 during a training mission for Bomber Task Force Europe, May 5, 2020.

US Military Buildup in the Arctic

The Pentagon walks the talk: it has beefed up its military presence in Alaska, increased the number of ground troops, and stationed more fifth-generation fighter planes there “than exist in any other location on the planet”, according to War on the Rocks. The US Navy has reactivated the Second Fleet, which achieved full operational capabilities on 31 December 2019 in a bid to return to the great power competition in the Northern Atlantic.

In March 2021, the US Air Force dispatched four B-1 and B-2 strategic bombers from a base in Norway to conduct a mission over the Arctic Circle. According to Forbes, it was “a clear demonstration of strength for two audiences: America’s NATO allies and Russia”.

In addition to deploying nuclear-powered submarines in Norwegian ports and stepping up joint NATO military drills, as mentioned above by Foreign Policy, Washington is encouraging its allies and partners to project further power in the high north.

On 17 May, US Secretary of State Blinken endorsed Denmark’s plans to boost its military presence in Greenland and the North Atlantic. In February, Denmark allocated 1.5 billion Danish kroner ($245 million) in military investment for surveillance drones in Greenland and a radar station on the Faroe Islands.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gesture as they arrive for a meeting at the Harpa Concert Hall, on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial summit, in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 19, 2021
© REUTERS / POOL
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gesture as they arrive for a meeting at the Harpa Concert Hall, on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial summit, in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 19, 2021

Ahead of the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Reykjavik, Secretary of State Blinken reiterated Washington’s claims that Russia, which assumed the rotating chairmanship of the body this year, “advance[s] unlawful maritime claims, particularly its regulation of foreign vessels transiting the Northern Sea route”.

Moscow resolutely dismissed the US criticism and in response questioned NATO’s motives in deploying strategic bombers and nuclear-powered submarines to the area.

“It has been absolutely clear for everyone for a long time that this is our territory, this is our land”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow earlier this week, referring to Russia’s Arctic coast and related EEZ. “When NATO tries to justify its advance into the Arctic, this is probably a slightly different situation and here we have questions for our neighbours like Norway, who are trying to justify the need for NATO to come into the Arctic”.

During the Reykjavik summit, which took place on 20 May, Lavrov noted that “Russia, as the largest Arctic power, believes that its priority at the Arctic Council is to promote the region’s balanced and sustainable social, economic and environmental development”, stressing that “the Arctic is a territory of peace, stability and constructive cooperation”.

GALLOWAY: Weeks after dying, Robert Fisk is savaged by liberal war propagandists. Why? Because he was a brave anti-imperialist
worker | December 1, 2020 | 8:21 pm | George Galloway, Imperialism, struggle against imperialism, Syria | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/508268-robert-fisk-death-anti-imperialist/

GALLOWAY: Weeks after dying, Robert Fisk is savaged by liberal war propagandists. Why? Because he was a brave anti-imperialist

George Galloway
George Galloway

was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator. Follow him on Twitter @georgegalloway

GALLOWAY: Weeks after dying, Robert Fisk is savaged by liberal war propagandists. Why? Because he was a brave anti-imperialist
For almost 50 years, British journalist Robert Fisk single-handedly exposed the truth of the West’s wars. It’s only now he’s gone that shameful, kow-towing cowards have come out to try to smear a man who can no longer fight back.

I first fell in love with Robert Fisk’s journalism almost 40 years ago when he wore the unlikely guise of foreign correspondent for the London Times, nowadays – as it had been for centuries – the house journal of war and imperial adventure, but then playing host to that rarest of writers: unbribed, untwisted, and unguided by the missile projectors.

I had been in Beirut in 1982, with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, when the news came through from London that the Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov had been shot by the renegade terrorist Abu Nidal, who was based in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. We both knew what would happen next. And while scarpering was the easy option for me, no such possibility existed for Arafat.

A massive Israeli invasion of Lebanon swiftly followed. It eventually, after stiff resistance (most memorably and ironically in the Crusader fortress of Beaufort Castle), smashed through the gates of the Arab capital city itself. The rest, the massacres at the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps and all, is history.

During the siege of Beirut, Fisk introduced his readers, including me, to the use of white phosphorus by the Israeli forces. I remember almost verbatim decades later his description of how the phosphorus slowly cooked from the inside the child victims he was visiting in a Beirut hospital. Having inhaled it, it was a fire neither the victim nor the doctors could extinguish.

While the rest of the media prattled on about “terrorist targets” being attacked, Fisk, like me, knew what was actually being razed to the ground: the miserable refugee existence of generations of Palestinians marooned in camps many miles from their homes, in which foreigners now slept, waking to pick the oranges from their trees.

I had no voice then, but Fisk did, and he used it courageously, shaming most of his journalistic colleagues by so doing.

I followed Fisk to the Independent, then the great hope of those seeking, well, independent journalism. That hope didn’t last long. The Indy became just like all the rest, before being bought (then partially sold) by a former spy of the KGB in London and becoming a small, discredited website with few readers.

But we always had Fisk.

In time, I too had a voice, and spent a lot of time in Beirut (too much), but I never crossed paths with him despite jogging past his seaside apartment a thousand times. But I never failed to read his work. In war after war after war, he shone the light of reason through the fog of Western propaganda, mainly in wars against the Arabs, but in Yugoslavia, too. Fisk stood out not just because of his own stature, but because of the flatness of the surrounding landscape.

Not since the US war on Vietnam – with the likes of Seymour Hersh and John Pilger – had the mainstream media given a platform to such a forensic critic of imperial wars. And, moreover, one like Fisk, whose prose was purple indeed, capable of moving the reader’s sensibilities dramatically.

That made him a dangerous man.

Such was his stature, his awards and accolades, Fisk was bullet-proof from the hitmen of the brigade of stenographers who, in the last 20 years, have become the masked ranks of the Propaganda Army of Empire. Whilst alive, they preferred to ignore Fisk rather than confront him. A ploy made easier by the drift of the Independent newspaper to the margins.

Neither could they avoid the panegyrics of the inevitable eulogies which accompanied his death last month at the age of 74.

And so they bided their time. For a short while. This week a blizzard of cowardly abuse has swept the media landscape. Fisk was apparently “a fraud,” a “fake” who “couldn’t speak Arabic,” “a propagandist” (particularly rich, that one), and “a falsifier.”

Somebody has clearly taken the initiative, and integrity has become the first casualty.

The proximate cause of the reburial in unconsecrated ground of Robert Fisk is, of course, his virtually lone debunking of Douma, the unmasking of the White Helmets as the ambulance brigade of Al Qaeda, and the exposure of the oceanic lie-machine mustered (and paid for by unsuspecting taxpayers, as the recent Anonymous dump showed) by the Western gang that couldn’t shoot straight in Syria.

ALSO ON RT.COMGeorge Galloway: Kiss of death – The winner of the most coveted Henry Kissinger endorsement is… Joe BidenWhat else did Fisk write about to upset them? The failure of the West’s gigantic operation – military, political, financial, diplomatic and propaganda – to overthrow the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The defeat by the Syrian Arab Army (and its legal international allies) of one of the worst, most murderous hordes to invade a country since Genghis Khan. The humiliation of the Western powers (and their Gulf satrapies), and the enormous boost to the prestige of Russia produced by that failure, cannot easily be forgotten. Not since Vietnam has there been such a defeat as this for the Empire.

Bashar did not “go,” he prevailed. As did Robert Fisk, for more than 40 years. The attempted trashing of his memory is all these pathetic losers have left. If you look closely, you can see their bitter tears of failure on the pages of their invective. Not one of these would-be literary assassins is a household name, nor ever will be. While Robert Fisk has written his name in the stars. It’s all too much for the chicken-hawk liberals to bear…

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Modern imperialism goes on trial, and is found guilty
worker | February 4, 2018 | 2:19 pm | Imperialism | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/417776-imperialism-ireland-event-liberal/

Modern imperialism goes on trial, and is found guilty

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Modern imperialism goes on trial, and is found guilty
Imperialism – which today is usually referred to by the euphemism ‘liberal interventionism’ – went on Trial at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland this week.

Five passionate and well-informed speakers, who included the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, detailed the carnage and chaos that has been unleashed around the globe by the aggressive, warmongering policies of the US and its closest allies.

The event could have been called ‘War on Trial.’ It might have been called ‘Regime Change on Trial.’ Or ‘Economic Sanctions on Trial.’ But it was – thanks to organizer Gregory Sharkey – called ‘Imperialism on Trial’ and, as the first speaker, the writer and broadcaster John Wight declared, that in itself was highly significant.

For the truth is the ‘I’ word is the elephant in the room in contemporary discourse. We’re not supposed to acknowledge its existence. Imperialism, according to the dominant Establishment narrative, ended when the European empires gave their colonies independence in the 1950s and 60s. In fact, the ‘old’ imperialism was only replaced by a new variant which is even more destructive, and certainly more dishonest. At least the British Empire admitted it was an empire.

Today’s US-led neoliberal empire, which has Britain as its junior partner, does no such thing. Entire countries have been destroyed, with millions killed, and it’s been done under a ‘progressive’ banner trumpeting concern for ‘human rights’ and ‘enhancing freedoms.’

In an electrifying address, Wight lambasted the pro-imperial propaganda to which we are relentlessly subjected to in the West. How absurd is it, he asked, that NATO troops are on Russia’s borders, while Russian troops have been fighting in Syria the same ISIS/Al-Qaeda terrorist groups who have been killing British citizens back home? Citing Marx, Wight reminded the audience of how the ideas of the ruling class become the dominant ideas, and the demonization of Russia is a classic example of this. Ordinary Britons don’t regard Putin as a ‘threat’ as they go about their daily business, but they do – rightly – regard the terrorist groups that Russia has been fighting as a danger to them. But the ruling class hate Russia because it has thwarted its imperial ambitions.

Wight said that opponents of imperialism should never go on the back foot when confronted by supporters of criminal wars of aggression, such as the Iraq War – which has led to the deaths of around 1 million people and the rise of ISIS. He mentioned that these people hate the fact that there are now alternative media channels such as RT which challenge the dominant neocon/neoliberal narrative.

“Alternative media and those who go on it are under attack because they have the temerity to ask the most subversive question in the English language which is: Why? Why did we go to war in Iraq? Why are there sanctions on Cuba? Why are we going after Iran but are close friends with the Saudis? This question is so powerful. We are attacked because we ask the question, why? I am reminded of the African proverb that until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Now with the alternative media, the lions have their historians. We can put the case for the Syrian people; we can put the case for the Venezuelan people; we can put the case why Russia should not be our enemy.”

Speaking next, Peter Ford, the former British Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain, drew on his firsthand experience of many years as a diplomat and UN official based in the Middle East, to explain the current geopolitical situation.

“People who are not regular readers of the Morning Star might be forgiven for thinking that imperialism ended when the colonies became free. Nothing could be further from the truth. We now have a new more insidious but more powerful form of imperialism – one which hides behinds words in order to extend its hegemony. Expressions like ‘protecting our allies,’ ‘countering weapons of mass destruction’ or ‘defending human rights’ – and this one applies as much to the left as the right.”

“We on the left have to be particularly alert to ‘liberal interventionism’: this is actually the new version of ‘carrying the white man’s burden,” Ford continued. “In each case we are intervening in less developed parts of the world which are generally not able to strike back. Consider the appalling war in Yemen – one of the poorest and weakest countries in the world. It used to be a British colony but independence has not made it free. When the Yemenis dared to get rid of their pro-Saudi government, the Saudis, with British and American backing, started bombing and blockading Yemen. Conditions under siege and bombardment have led to a terrible epidemic of cholera.”

Any genuine humanitarians would be greatly concerned with the dire situation in Yemen, but guess what? The ‘liberal interventionists’ who egged on ‘humanitarian interventions’ elsewhere have been silent.

Looking at the global picture, Ford described how the US Empire operates.

“The Americans have nearly 800 bases around the world, spread over about 70 countries and territories. You show me a country with an American base and I’ll show you a de facto colony or vassal state. It’s almost mediaeval: You have to pay homage to the sovereign – America. That is our (the British) condition today. We are equivalent to a vassal state,” he said.

In my address, I stressed how important it was to see the US-led attacks, interventions and destabilization campaigns against sovereign states of the past 20 years as part of the same war, one waged for total global domination. Independent, resource-rich countries usually with socialist/socialistic governments and economies which weren’t controlled by global corporations, have been targeted, one-by-one. In each case, the leaders of the countries concerned were relentlessly demonized. They were called dictators, even though in the case of Hugo Chavez and Slobodan Milosevic they had won numerous democratic elections and operated in countries where opposition parties freely operated.

The ‘target states’ were subject to draconian sanctions which created economic hardship and a ‘pressure cooker’ environment, which usually resulted in street protests against the government, egged on by the US. The governments were then told ‘the world is watching you’ and ordered not to respond, even when violence was used by protestors. The same strategy was deployed in Yugoslavia in 2000, Ukraine in 2014, and Venezuela in 2017. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we had a full-scale invasion (based on the ‘fake news’ that Saddam possessed WMDs) and in Libya (and Yugoslavia) a NATO bombing campaign.

There has been endless war for the past twenty years and it won’t end until we understand what’s been going on and demand a new foreign policy in place of the current racist one which holds that the US and its closest allies have the right to say who should or shouldn’t be in charge of other countries, but denies the same rights to the ‘inferior’ countries targeted.

Intrepid journalist Eva Bartlett, who had travelled all the way from Canada, came next and began by describing her experiences in the DPRK, another country that’s under threat of attack from the US.

“Many people believe that what is happening in North Korea is about a madman with a bad haircut and an itchy finger on the nuclear button. But no, it’s not about Trump,” she said to laughter from the hall.

Bartlett told how we’re encouraged to see North Korea as a threat but no context is usually given, nor is there mention of the utter devastation caused by US bombing back in the 1950s. Down the decades, there have been regular threats from leading US figures to obliterate North Korea.

“What the North Koreans are doing is defending themselves,” Bartlett said.

Having seen what has happened to Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and other countries targeted by the US in recent years, who can possibly blame them?

In addition to visiting the DPRK in 2017, Bartlett has also been to Syria seven times since the conflict started there in 2011. She described her experiences in the country and explained how the situation on the ground was often very different from the dominant imperialist narrative which holds the Syrian government and President Assad responsible for every evil. She gave as an example the liberation of eastern Aleppo from terrorists in December 2016, which was portrayed as a terrible thing by much of the Western media and the political establishment.

“Corporate media described Aleppo as falling, while Syrians were celebrating the full liberation of the city and Christians were able to celebrate Christmas for the first time in years,” she said.

The final speaker of the evening was the legendary George Galloway who dazzled us with his oratory, humor, and sheer bloody brilliance. Galloway quoted Dr. Samuel Johnson, saying that “the grimmest dictatorship of them all is the dictatorship of the prevailing orthodoxy. And that’s the dictatorship under which we live. We can argue about the color of the paint on the walls of Westminster, but on the things that really matter the parameters are very narrow. Neoliberal economics and neoconservative imperialist politics abroad – that’s the prevailing orthodoxy. So anyone who challenges it must by definition be portrayed as – and turned into – an outlaw. Isn’t that the world in which we live?”

Reminding people on the pivotal role the Soviet Red Army had played in the defeat of the Nazis, he declared “we live in an era where we’re encouraged to hate and fear Russia. But I will never, ever hate Russia and remain silent while others generate hate against her.”  

At time of writing the video of Imperialism on Trial on the RTUK Facebook page

has had 35K views. The event was such a success that a ‘Roadshow’ is already being planned. The ‘I word’ needs to be openly discussed. Because if we don’t speak out forcefully and fearlessly against modern imperialism, and call it out for what it is, we could well be heading for Armageddon.

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.