Monday, April 2, 2018

Trump’s Protectionism and China’s Emergence as a World Economic Power

Trump’s Protectionism and China’s Emergence as a World Economic Power
By Prof. James Petras
Global Research, April 02, 2018

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US Presidents, European leaders and their academic spokespeople have attributed China’s growing market shares, trade surpluses and technological power to its “theft” of western technology, “unfair” or non-reciprocal trade and restrictive investment practices. President Trump has launched a ‘trade war’, – raising stiff tariffs, especially targeting Chinese exports – designed to pursue a protectionist economic regime.
The China-bashers of the western world ignore the developmental experiences of the past two hundred and fifty years, starting with the post-revolutionary United States policy of protecting ‘infant industries’.
In this essay we will proceed to criticize the model underlying the current western attack on China. We will then turn to outlining the experience of countries which overcame backwardness in the course of successfully industrializing their economies.
Development in Historical Perspective
Western ideologists claimed that ‘backward economies’ should follow a development path originally established by successful countries, namely the UK.
They argued that ‘stages of development’ begin by embracing liberal free market policies, specializing in their ‘comparative advantages’, namely exporting raw materials. Economic ‘modernization’ would lead, stage by stage to a mature high consumption society.
The advocates of the liberal stage theory dominated the economic departments of major US universities and served as the planning strategy advocated by US policy makers.
Early on, dissenting economic historians pointed out serious anomalies. For example the ‘early developers’ like the UK secured trade advantages, products of a world-wide empire which forced colonies to exporting raw materials under unfavorable terms of trade, an advantage which ‘later countries’ lacked.
Secondly the post-revolutionary US led by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton successfully promoted protectionist industrial policies to protect US “infant industries” from the established UK Empire. The US civil war was fought precisely to prevent US plantation owners from linking their exports to British liberal free traders and manufacturers.
In the mid-19th and early 20th century, developing countries like Germany, Japan and Soviet Russia rejected the ideology of free trade and open markets in favor of state-centered protected industrialization. They succeeded in overcoming backwardness, competing and overtaking the ‘early developers’ like the UK.
In the post-World War 2 period, after unsuccessful attempts to follow the ‘western free market’ model, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia successfully pursued statist, protectionist export models of development.
Regions and countries which followed western free-market policies specializing in primary goods exports like Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Philippines failed to overcome stagnation and backwardness.
A leading economic historian Alexander Gerschenkron argued that economic backwardness provided emerging countries with certain strategic advantages which involved systematic substitution of imports by domestic industries leading to dynamic growth and subsequently competitive export strategies. (Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective: A Book of Essays)
The successful late developing countries borrowed and acquired the latest productive techniques while the early developed industrializer remained with the existing outmoded methods of production. In other words, the developing countries, guided by the state, ‘jumped’ stages of growth and surpassed their competitors.
China is a superb example of Gerschenkron’s model. Through state intervention, it overcame the constraints imposed by the monopoly controls of existing imperial countries and rapidly advanced through borrowing the most advanced technology and innovations and then moved on to become the most active filer of advanced patents in the world. In 2017 China surpassed the US filing 225 patents in 2017 while the US lagged behind with 91 (FT 3/16/18 p. 13).
An excellent example of China’s advances in technological innovation is the Huawei Group, which spent $13.8 billion on research and development in 2017 and plans to increase its annual R&D budget to $20 billion a year. Chinese companies will lead standard setting in next-generation technologies, including networking (FT 3/31/18 p 12). Washington’s resort to excluding China from US markets has nothing to do with China ‘stealing’ US patents and secrets and everything to do with Huawei’s R&D spending directed at obtaining talent, technology, equipment and international partnerships. The White House’s protectionist Sinophobia is driven by its fear of Chinese advances in fifth generation high-speed data networks, which are undermining the US ability to compete in cutting edge technology.
China’s competitive excellence was the result of the state’s systematic substitution of advanced technology, which allowed the economy to gradually liberalize and out-compete the US in global and domestic markets.
China has followed and exceeded the example of earlier late developing countries (Germany and Japan). It combined advanced industrial export growth as the leading sector with a relatively backward agricultural sector providing cheap labor and low-cost foodstuffs.
China is now moving up the development ladder, deepening its domestic market, advancing its high technology sector and gradually reducing the importance of the low value consumer and rust belt industries.
Cry-Baby Economies Revert to Protectionism
The US failure to compete with China and its resulting trade deficits are a result of its inability to incorporate new technologies, apply them to domestic civilian production, increasing income and upgrading and incorporating the labor force into competitive sectors which could defend the domestic market.
The state has surrendered its leading role to the financial and military elites which eroded US industrial competitiveness. Moreover, unlike China the state has failed to provide leadership in identifying priority targets compatible with intensified competition from China.
While China exports economic products, the US exports arms and wars. The US has a surplus of arms exports and a growing commercial deficit.
China has multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investments in over fifty countries that enhance trade surplus. The US has multi-billion-dollar expenditures in over 800 overseas military bases.
US charges that China has emerged as a world-economic power by unfair trade and theft of US technology ignores the entire history of all late developing countries, beginning with the US rise and eclipse of the UK during the 19th century.
The US attempt to turn back the clock to an earlier stage of protectionism will not raise US competitiveness nor increase its share of the domestic market.
US protectionism simply will result in higher prices, unskilled labor, war debts and financial monopolies. A US “trade war” will simply allow the Chinese state to divert trade from the US to other markets and re-direct its investments toward deepening its domestic economy, and increasing ties with Russia , Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.
The US ‘blame game’ with China is misplaced. Instead it should re-examine its reliance on a laissez faire economy with neither plan nor reason. Its resort to tariffs will increase costs without raising income and improving innovation.
Current US protectionism began ‘still born’. The White House has already downgraded its tariff which targeted competitors. Moreover its $60-billion-dollar tariff on China affects less than 3% of its exports.
Instead of seeking to blame outside competitors like China it would be wiser to learn from its experience and absorb its technological advances and its strategic investments in infrastructure and domestic consumption. Until the US reduces its military spending by two thirds, and subordinates its finance sector to industry and domestic households it will continue to fall behind China.
Instead of returning to the strategy of backward countries relying on protecting infantilized industries, the US should accept its responsibilities to compete through state directed development linked to upgrading its labor force, raising skills and expanding social welfare.
Prof. James Petras is a research associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Why the Nuclear War Is No Longer Unthinkable?

Why the Nuclear War Is No Longer Unthinkable?
By Maxim Nikolenko
Global Research, April 02, 2018

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Just a few weeks before his reelection, President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech to the members of the Federal Assembly, setting an agenda for the country’s military and economic development. Internationally, this annual event has gained attention as Russia, apart from other things, announced the enhancement of its nuclear delivery systems. In total, the development of six new delivery systems was announced, with videos demonstrating their strike capabilities. The Kremlin’s show of force was vividly aimed at the international audience, precisely, the powers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The response to Putin’s address was immediate.
“We don’t regard it as the behavior of a responsible international player,” commented the U.S. State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert.
With that note, she was referring to the video animation showcasing Russia’s new intercontinental ballistic missile system called Sarmat. President Putin announced this missile as “a very powerful mighty weapon.” A missile with almost indefinite endurance means “nothing, not even perspective” anti-ballistic missile systems “could be an obstacle for it.” Consequently, this will, according to Putin, restore the balance of power between Washington and Moscow. “Nobody wanted to listen to us” on the matter, he stressed. “Well, listen to us now.”
The theme of Russia being an irresponsible international player was reiterated across the conventional corporate media apparatuses. Washington is, again, talking about the Cold War.
Accordingly, Putin’s address must be taken as a challenge to the U.S, requiring it to make a strong response. “Oddly,” therefore, “Mr. Trump has said almost nothing about the new era of competition with Mr. Putin or Russia,” reported the New York Times on March 1. The presentation of Sarmat cruise missiles “sharply escalated the military invective in the tense relationship between” the two nuclear powers. Reporting on the same day, the liberal American news outlet Vox stated that if Russia has the weapons it demonstrated, then it “purposefully raised the stakes in the decades-long nuclear standoff.” The Washington Post, in the meantime, went to amplify the rhetoric of American’s most aggressive foreign policy strategists: “U.S. defense officials have consistently cited Russia as the most significant strategic threat to the United States, and the primary reason to build up its defense budget.”
Indeed, the enhancement of Russia’s missile capabilities should be taken as a worrying development.
If one looks at this development objectively, however, and, is concerned about the “strategic” security of people, including those living in the U.S, then they would inevitably spot the United States to be the biggest threat to international security, with its “defense budget” feeding the new power rivalry.
The Balance of Power
Conspicuously, warmongering Western media outlets have failed to report the most important point of Putin’s remarks about his government’s defense policy.
“Our military doctrine,” he stated, “says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons solely in response to a nuclear attack, or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, or an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state.”
The reason for the enhancement of the nuclear delivery systems was stated, too. In fact, the statement replicated what the President has already said on numerous occasions. The audience in America, for example, had had an opportunity to learn about Russia’s geopolitical agenda in 2017 from a series of documentary films called The Putin Interviews. They were produced by an American filmmaker, Oliver Stone.
There, Putin criticized Washington for unilaterally withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, a framework established to maintain a balance of power between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War. To put it in Putin’s words, the treaty “was the cornerstone of the system of the international security,” as it limited the number of locations where the two powers could place their anti-ballistic missile systems, installed for defending one side from an incoming nuclear missile attack from the other. Ignoring the fact that both powers have acquired enough nuclear arms to annihilate both each other and the rest of mankind, the treaty provided a framework under which the balance of power between the two sides was measurable. The threat of nuclear war was consequently reduced.
In an environment where the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is no longer in place, Putin stated that “to preserve the crucial element of international security and stability, mainly the strategic balance of power, we would be obliged to develop our offensive capabilities.” This implies the development of the “missiles capable of surmounting any anti-ballistic missile system.”
The “crucial element of international security and stability” has been jeopardized by NATO, or the expansion of the military alliance and its forces into Eastern Europe. Incorporating countries of the former socialist block, the alliance not only maintains a military presence in states such as Romania, Poland and Latvia but uses the power vacuum created from the absence of a missile treaty to install its anti-ballistic missile systems near the Russian border. President Putin has outlined the danger such a trend poses to Russia quite instructively. Admittedly, the first threat is the placement of “anti-ballistic missiles in the vicinity of our [Russian] border.” The second threat arises from the fact that “the launching pods of these anti-ballistic missiles can be transformed, within a few hours, into offensive missile launching pods.”
For bringing the Putin Interviews to the American audience, Oliver Stone was condemned as an apologist for the Kremlin. On the matter, it is worth quoting an article from the Foreign Policy, a reputable news publication. While dismissing the interviews for telling “little about Putin and even less about Russia,” the piece was alarmed that the series amplifies “the Kremlin line”, which, of course, consists of “conspiracy theories.”
Iranian Threat in Europe
Perhaps, we should ignore Putin’s “conspiracy theories” and use Western sources to test whether his concerns about Washington and NATO are valid. On 12 May 2016 Reuters published an article about America’s first operational ballistic missile defense site in Romania. The U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work justified the site for the following reason:
“As long as Iran continues to develop and deploy ballistic missiles, the United States will work with its allies to defend NATO.”
To quote Reuters, the missile defense site in Romania is part of what will be NATO’s “defensive umbrella” on the continent, stretching “from Greenland to the Azores.” Since Iran is presented as the primary threat, the Secretary-General of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, pointed that the missile defense system “does not undermine or weaken Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.”
Not long before Putin’s March 1 address to the Assembly, the United States 2018 Nuclear Posture Review outlined that Washington “does not wish to regard” Russia as an “adversary.” The reality, however, considerably challenges this claim. First, it is worth examining the country that has been described as a threat to NATO. Indeed, the premise of Iran being a threat stems from an alleged nuclear program that Tehran is undertaking. Yet when the United States opened its ballistic missile defense site in Romania, the threat of Iran was dismissed by the Ploughshares Fund, an influential nuclear security think tank based in Washington.
“The system was designed to protect against an Iranian nuclear missile,” stated its President Joseph Cirincione. “There is not going to be an Iranian nuclear missile for at least 20 years. There is no reason to continue with that [defensive umbrella] program.”
It is also worth asking whether Iran’s nuclear program exists in the first place. In 2007, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate judged “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” This, however, did not stop the United States Defense Secretary from persuading Europeans to both take a tougher stance against Tehran and pursue the development of missile defense sites. Released by WikiLeaks, the U.S. diplomatic cable from 2010 reveals the meeting between the Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. Summarizing the meeting, the cable discusses how Secretary Gates was stressing that an “urgent action is required. Without progress in the next few months, we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war prompted by an Israeli strike or both. SecDef predicted “a different world” in 4-5 years if Iran developed nuclear weapons.”
Supported by Gates and announced by President Obama, the European Phased Adaptive Approach was enabled in 2009, starting the work on a defensive umbrella for Europe against the non-existent Iranian threat. Unsurprisingly, the approach was propelled by business interests of the missile defense producers. In 2017, the German Deutsche Welle reported on a $10.5 billion missile defense deal between the United States and Poland. After Romania, Poland will be the next Eastern European country to open a missile defense site. “Made by US defense contractor Raytheon, the missiles are reportedly designed to detect, track and engage unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cruise missiles and short-range or tactical ballistic missiles.” Interestingly, the Iranian threat was not mentioned as an influencing factor in the deal.  “Poland is one of a handful of eastern European nations that has increasingly built up their military capacity in the face of potential Russian aggression.”
The Unipolar Moment in Europe
As we broke down the myth about the Iranian threat, it is now worth examining the threat of “potential Russian aggression.” Apart from providing space for the current and future missile defense sites, Eastern Europe has been hosting thousands of American and European troops in the vicinity of the Russian border. At the end of his term in the White House, President Obama enabled what was reported as the “largest NATO buildup in Europe since the Cold War.” Adding to the existing military contingent were “thousands of additional U.S. and NATO troops,” stiffened by “87 new tanks, 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, 60 additional fighting and transport helicopters, and much other advanced” military “equipment.” Poland’s Undersecretary of State for Defense Tomasz Szatkowski made clear that the deployment responds to Russia’s “aggressive actions in our vicinity,” precisely, its actions in “Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea.”
Indeed, evaluating the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine is impossible if NATO is excluded from the picture. Incorporating into its membership countries of the former Warsaw Pact, including the three Baltic states of the former Soviet Union, NATO has gradually expanded deep into the territories formerly assigned to Moscow’s sphere of influence. This development, however, grotesquely undermines an agreement struck between the Cold War rivals before the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Geopolitically, the final chapter of the Cold War is a unique and extremely revealing period. In negotiations between Washington and Moscow about the future of NATO in post-Warsaw Pact Europe, the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze, was assured with the “iron-clad guarantees” by the U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, “that NATO’s jurisdiction or forces would not move eastward.” Complicating this assurance was the future of Eastern Germany. The Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev perhaps understood that a fragmented Germany creates a rift between the two sides in cooperation. He, therefore, concluded to the reporters in the summer of 1990:
“Whether we like it or not, the time will come when a united Germany will be in NATO, if that is its choice.”
Gorbachev, nonetheless, took the word of his Western counterparts that the Western military presence will not move further eastward.
The “iron-clad guarantees” was a mere lie. After visiting the NATO headquarters in Belgium in July of the following year, the Russian delegation concluded in the memo that
“NATO should make a clearer, more detailed and definitive statement about the need for a gradual decrease in the military efforts of that organization.”
Indeed, it alliance was “lagging behind the current realities” facing Europe. The Russians gave a prophetic warning to Western partners, stressing that vagueness “could be used by the conservative forces in our country to preserve the military-industrial complex of the USSR.”

The premise that NATO is no longer justified as a military apparatus was unthinkable. As the Soviet Union ceased to exist, there was euphoria in Washington. To understand the mood of those guarding the American power in 1990, it is worth reading the work of a political commentator and proud American imperialist, Charles Krauthammer, who declared “The Unipolar Moment” in an essay for the Foreign Affairs magazine. Indeed, the United States was now the only global empire.
“American preeminence,” Krauthammer points out, “is based on the fact that it is the only country with the military, diplomatic, political and economic assets to be a decisive player in any conflict in whatever part of the world it chooses to involve itself.”
To maintain such a status quo, it is important not to regard “America’s” military “exertions abroad as nothing but a drain on its economy.” The defense spending is indeed vital for the empire. In this context, the relationship within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization can be summarized as following: there is “the United States and behind it the West, because where the United States does not tread, the alliance does not follow.”
The post-Cold War decades have demonstrated that Krauthammer’s extreme far-right judgment represents an overarching establishment view on the strategy of American foreign policy.
Employing its “military, diplomatic, political and economic” supremacy, the United States has aggressively been pursuing its imperial objectives in Eastern Europe, spearheading the expansion of NATO and influencing political processes in countries such as Ukraine and Georgia. The case of Ukraine is particularly revealing, as the events there have been used to justify the militarization of Eastern Europe. Indeed, the West never hid its support for the protests that took place on Kiev’s Maidan Square between November 2013 and February 2014.
“Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991,” emphasized the Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, “the United States has supported Ukrainians,” investing “over five billion dollars” to make an impact on their political and economic structure.
The investment was a success; Ukrainian freedom, as that is how it was conventionally described, was achieved in an undemocratic coup against the elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Coming on his place was the establishment of the current President, Petro Poroshenko, a neoliberal pseudo-fascist and a solid choice for Washington. In 2006, Poroshenko was described in the U.S. diplomatic cable as “our Ukrainian insider.” Turned President, the “Ukrainian insider” drifted the country towards Washington’s consensus, implementing the grotesque package of IMF-drafted economic reforms and welcomed hundreds of Western military advisers on Ukrainian soil. The military advisers are there for a reason: they are training the army to wage war against Russian-speaking secessionists in the Eastern Donbass region, in a conflict that has left over 10,000 people dead and over one million displaced. Admittedly, one would be called mad to claim that there would be war in Ukraine before a Western-backed coup.
Russian has been responding to the developments in Ukraine. There is no doubt that it is providing material support to the rebels in Donbass. President Putin, in fact, has inexplicitly pointed to this while assuring reporters that “the self-proclaimed Republics have enough weapons” to fight against the Ukrainian army. Moscow’s response to the conflict in Donbass, however, strikingly differs from its initial response to the coup, symbolized by its reactionary annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. The reason for that was never a guarded secret. While it is true that most people in Crimea supported unification with Russia, the Kremlin’s rapid decision on the matter had perhaps less to do with the fact that the Crimean population consists of a Russian majority, and more to do with the presence of Russia’s historic Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol. Speaking for Oliver Stone’s documentary film Ukraine on Fire, President Putin summarized the importance of a military base in Crimea for the following reason:
“The base, per us, doesn’t mean anything, but there is a nuance I would like to point out. Why do we react so vehemently to NATO’s expansion? We are concerned with the decision-making process. I know how decisions are made. As soon as the country becomes a member of NATO, it can’t resist the pressure of the U.S. And very soon anything at all can appear in such country – missile defense systems, new bases or, if necessary, new missile strike systems. What should we do? We need to take countermeasures.”
Of course, it is possible to make a case that Ukraine is not a member of NATO. In fact, there seems to be no enthusiasm within the alliance about the prospect of Ukraine’s membership. While for the establishment in Kiev, “membership” in NATO is a “strategic goal,” the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, John E. Herbst, stated that this goal will not be fulfilled anytime soon. The European NATO members “are anxious about provoking Moscow,” he says.
This does not mean, however, that Ukraine cannot be used as a satellite member of the alliance. Without a formal membership, the “Ukrainian insider[s]” of Washington have permitted the West to maintain a military contingent in the country, for example, allowing its naval ships to enter the Black Sea port in Odessa. If Crimea remained a part of Ukraine, it is somewhat plausible that Kiev would have hosted these NATO ships on the peninsula. Perhaps this answers why the annexation caused such an outcry from the West.
Amidst the developments discussed above, Russia’s defense policy can indeed be viewed as a response to NATO’s provocative expansionism and Washington’s zealous pursuit to maintain its “unipolar moment.” This unilateralist position has empowered “the conservative forces” in Russia, who are preserving and enhancing the country’s defense capabilities.
Tensions between the two sides are consequently rising; nuclear war is unthinkable no more.
An Irresponsible Global Player

Raising the stakes following Putin’s address was, again, the United States. The response to Russia was delivered by the Commander of the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), John Hyten (image on the left). Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee, Hyten carried a message that should frighten anyone concerned about the long-term survival of mankind. “We are ready for all the threats that are out there and no one, no one should doubt this,” stated the General. Continuing from that note, Hyten reassured the committee about America’s preparedness to obliterate Russia:
“By the way, our submarines, they [the Russians] do not know where they are, and they have the ability to decimate their country if we go down that path.”
In Russia, Hyten’s remarks were featured in a news segment with the following question: is “American pursuing global suicide?”
Washington’s war rhetoric is not novel. While being the only country to use nuclear weapons in war, the United States has repeatedly been threatening to destroy the societies it perceives as its strategic “adversaries.” In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America in 2008, then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton emphasized that the U.S. can “totally obliterate” Iran. Clinton’s message was replicated in 2017 by President Trump, though the threats were now directed against a different country. Speaking before the General Assembly of the United Nations, Trump announced to the whole world that Washington is prepared to “totally destroy North Korea.”
Admittedly, there is a serious debate in Washington about employing what they call the “bloody nose policy” against Pyongyang. The total destruction will be inflicted by a “preventive war”, promoted by Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Herbert McMaster, and the incumbent neocon John Bolton. Agreeing with their stance is Henry Kissinger, the National Security Adviser under President Nixon. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kissinger points out that “The temptation to deal with” North Korea “with a pre-emptive attack is strong and the argument is rational.” This is madness. The “rational” argument advocates for a nuclear war and genocide. The North Korean side, moreover, has repeatedly requested for peace negotiations – all rejected by Washington.
Unsurprisingly, however, the “bloody nose policy” was not received well by the American public, amidst the ongoing propaganda campaign about the North Korean threat.
To reverse the words of the U.S. State Department spokesperson, this can’t be regarded “as the behavior of a responsible international player.” While purposely escalating tensions, the United States is driving the world towards war.
Public Opinion vs. Power
The growing threat of war is measured fairly by the Doomsday Clock. Developed and updated by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, since 1947, the clock measures the proximity of a catastrophe that will endanger, if not extinguish, the conditions for an organized existence of human beings on Earth. When America and Soviet Union enabled the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the doomsday clock was set at 12 minutes before the midnight, a point of the hypothetical global disaster. The threat was at its lowest – 17 minutes before the midnight – when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Since then, however, the instability in the world caused by Washington’s desire to retain a unipolar supremacy has increased the risks dramatically. For the year 2018, the clock was set at 2 minutes before midnight. Today, humanity is as close to a catastrophe as it was at the height of the Cold War in 1953.
Operating within the structure of power, ignoring this danger, and perpetuating the status quo that brought us to this point, indeed, is equivalent of committing a crime against humanity. The contemporary rivalry between two nuclear powers can’t be logically justified.
If the leaders of both countries are genuinely concerned about defending the interests of their citizens, then it should be their priority to diffuse friction. Interestingly, while enhancing its defense policy, Russia, still, seems to show greater eagerness for detente than Washington and NATO. In his interview with the Russian leader, Oliver Stone asked why Putin persistently refers to the West as “our partners.” The answer was immediate: the “dialogue has to be pursued further.”
It is, moreover, safe to judge that most people in the world do not regard nuclear weapons as a guarantor of peace. Within the domestic realm of the American empire, 77 percent of people favor elimination of all nuclear weapons. An important message was also delivery by the United Nations General Assembly vote for the resolution L.41, a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” In the 2016, as many as 123 countries, including North Korea, voted in favor of the resolution. Only 39 voted against. Unsurprisingly, the major nuclear powers were among them. Interesting, nonetheless, is the behavior of small NATO states in Eastern Europe: many of them, too, voted for the doctrine of those leading the world towards destruction.
Eliminating the risk, as well as changing the status quo of unilateral extremism and imperialism, is not an impossible task. For they attain enough political influence, the citizens of the empire have always posed a threat to the imperial structure.  As a proud imperialist, Krauthammer understood this threat and summarized it in the following way:
“Can America support its unipolar status? Yes. But will Americans support such unipolar status? That is a more problematic question. For a small but growing chorus of Americans this vision of a unipolar world led by a dynamic America is a nightmare.”
He is right.
Maxim Nikolenko is founder and editor of Alternative Beacon.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Mass Deception and the Prelude to World War

Mass Deception and the Prelude to World War
By Colin Todhunter
Global Research, April 02, 2018

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In Libya, NATO bombed a path to Tripoli to help its proxy forces on the ground oust Gaddafi. Tens of thousands lost their lives and that country’s social fabric and infrastructure now lies in ruins. Gaddafi was murdered and his plans to assert African independence and undermine Western (not least French) hegemony on that continent have been rendered obsolete.
In Syria, the US, Turkey, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been helping to arm militants. The Daily Telegraph’s March 2013 article “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’” reported that 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia had been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels. The New York Times March 2013 article “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With CIA Aid” stated that Arab governments and Turkey had sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters. This aid included more than 160 military cargo flights.
Sold under the notion of a spontaneous democratic uprising against a tyrannical political leader, Syria is little more than an illegal war for capital, empire and energy. The West and its allies have been instrumental in organising the war as elaborated by Tim Anderson in his book ‘The Dirty War on Syria’.
Over the last 15 years or so, politicians and the media have been manipulating popular sentiment to get an increasingly war-fatigued Western public to support ongoing wars under the notion of protecting civilians or a bogus ‘war on terror’. They spin a yarn about securing women’s rights or a war on terror in Afghanistan, removing despots from power in Iraq, Libya or Syria or protecting human life, while then going on to attack or help destabilise countries, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives.
Emotive language designed to instill fear about potential terror attacks in Europe or myths about humanitarianism intervention are used as a pretext to wage imperialist wars in mineral-rich countries and geostrategically important regions.
Part of the battle for the public’s hearts and minds is to keep people confused. They must be convinced to regard these wars and conflicts as a disconnected array of events and not as the planned machinations of empire. The ongoing disinformation narrative about Russian aggression is part of the strategy. Ultimately, Russia (and China) is the real and increasingly imminent target: Moscow has stood in the way of the West’s plans in Syria and both Russia and China are undermining the role of the dollar in international trade, a lynchpin of US power.
The countries of the West are effectively heading for war with Russia but relatively few among the public seem to know or even care. Many are oblivious to the slaughter that has already been inflicted on populations with the help of their taxes and governments in far-away lands. With the reckless neoconservative warmonger John Bolton now part of the Trump administration, it seems we could be hurtling towards major war much faster than previously thought.
Most of the public remains blissfully ignorant of the psy-ops being directed at them through the corporate media. Given recent events in the UK and the ramping up of anti-Russia rhetoric, if ordinary members of the public think that Theresa May or Boris Johnson ultimately have their best interests at heart, they should think again. The major transnational corporations based on Wall Street and in the City of London are the ones setting Anglo-US policy agendas often via the Brookings Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, International Crisis Group, Chatham House, etc.
The owners of these companies, the capitalist class, have off-shored millions of jobs as well as their personal and company tax liabilities to boost their profits and have bankrupted economies. We see the results in terms of austerity, unemployment, powerlessness, privatization, deregulation, banker control of economies, corporate control of food and seeds, the stripping away of civil liberties, increased mass surveillance and wars to grab mineral resources and ensure US dollar hegemony. These are the interests the politicians serve.
It’s the ability to maximise profit by shifting capital around the world that matters to this class, whether on the back of distorted free trade agreements, which open the gates for plunder, or through coercion and militarism, which merely tear them down.
Whether it is the structural violence of neoliberal economic policies or actual military violence, the welfare of ordinary folk around the world does not enter the equation. In an imposed oil-thirsty, war-driven system of globalised capitalism and over-consumption that is wholly unnecessary and is stripping the planet bare, the bottom line is that ordinary folk – whether workers in the West, farmers in India or civilians displaced en masse in war zones like Syria – must be bent according to the will of Western capital.
We should not be fooled by made-for-media outpourings of morality about good and evil that are designed to create fear, outrage and support for more militarism and resource-grab wars. The shaping of public opinion is a multi-million-dollar industry.
Take for instance the mass harvesting of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica to shape the outcomes of the US election and the Brexit campaign. According to journalist Liam O’Hare, its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) has conducted ‘behavioural change’ programmes in over 60 countries and its clients have included the British Military of Defence, the US State Department and NATO. According to O’Hare, the use of the media to fool the public is one of SCL’s key selling points.
Among its activities in Europe have been campaigns targeting Russia. The company has “sweeping links” with Anglo-American political and military interests. In the UK, the interests of the governing Conservative Party and military-intelligence players are brought together via SCL: board members include “an array of Lords, Tory donors, ex-British army officers and defense contractors.”
O’Hare says it is clear is that all SCL’s activities have been inextricably linked to its Cambridge Analytica arm. He states:
“International deception and meddling is the name of the game for SCL. We finally have the most concrete evidence yet of shadowy actors using dirty tricks in order to rig elections. But these operators aren’t operating from Moscow… they are British, Eton educated, headquartered in the City of London and have close ties to Her Majesty’s government”
So, what are we to make of the current anti-Russia propaganda we witness regarding the nerve agent incident in Salisbury and the failure of the British government to provide evidence to demonstrate Russian culpability? The relentless accusations by Theresa May and Boris Johnson that have been parroted across the corporate media in the West indicate that the manipulation of public perception is everything and facts count for little. It is alarming given what is at stake – the escalation of conflict between the West and a major nuclear power.
Welcome to the world of mass deception à la Edward Bernays and Josef Goebbels.
US social commentator Walter Lippmann once said that ‘responsible men’ make decisions and have to be protected from the ‘bewildered herd’ – the public. He added that the public should be subdued, obedient and distracted from what is really happening. Screaming patriotic slogans and fearing for their lives, they should be admiring with awe leaders who save them from destruction.
Although the West’s political leaders are manipulating, subduing and distracting the public in true Lippmannesque style, they aren’t ‘saving’ anyone from anything: their reckless actions towards Russia could lead towards a war that could wipe out all life on the planet.
Colin Todhunter is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Scenes From Monday's Stock Market Meltdown

Dow Off Sessions Lows But Still Down 459 Points. Watch What Happened Now!
The bulls got stampeded on Monday.
At one point on the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 758 points. It closed down 459 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite each entered correction territory, down 10% from an all-time high. A one-time hot tech stock such as Netflix (NFLX) was smashed by 5.1%. Even high-yielding General Electric (GE) , by no means a fundamentally solid company at the moment, tanked 3%.
Here are several observations on the session across TheStreet's newsroom.

Oil Tanks

So much for oil being a bright spot.
Oil stocks were slammed Monday as prices tumbled amid fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate futures contracts for May delivery fell 3.2% to $62.85 at 5 p.m. New York time. Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, fell 2.7% to $67.49.
The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) , which holds oil giants including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) , Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Action Alerts Plus holding Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) , fell 2% to $66.06.
WTI futures had been rising above $65 a barrel headed into the week after the long holiday as the decline in active rigs eased some concerns about surging shale production. U.S. oil producers brought seven rigs offline for the week ending March 29, cutting the U.S. oil rig count to 797, according to oilfield services giant Baker Hughes. While it was the first decrease in oil rigs in three weeks, there are an additional 135 active oil rigs than there were during the same period last year.
Investors searching for early signs of an impact from the budding U.S./China trade war need not look any further than oil prices. If declines persist, it may signal economic slowdowns in each country later this year.

Selling Persists in Tech

Beset by concerns about regulation and government action, Big Tech continued to weigh the broader market down on Monday. This time, though, there was an assist from chip stocks, as a report that Action Alerts Plus holding Apple (AAPL) would be ditching chips made by Intel (INTC) in its Macintosh personal computers sent Intel's shares down as much as 9%, although they closed down 6%.
The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) fell 3.7%.
Overall, the Nasdaq fell 2.7% on Monday, turning the index negative for the year. Among notable losers were Action Alerts Plus holding Amazon (AMZN) (down 5.2%), Tesla (TSLA) (down 5.1%), Netflix (down 5.1%) and Action Alerts Plus holding Nvidia (down 4.6%). The only big cap tech company that emerged relatively unscathed was Apple, likely on optimism about its move to design its own PC chips.

Source: Bloomberg
Source: Bloomberg

The Broader Markets

The S&P 500 closed below its 200-day moving average for the first time since late June 2016. But it wasn't just that occurrence that should have investors spooked, it's how ugly the tape was for most of the session. Stocks coming off their lows into the close have all the feel of a sucker's rally on Tuesday morning that lends way to another nosedive later in the session.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Who is Behind Fake News? The Brussels Terror Attacks: Fake Videos and Images. “The Man in the Hat”

Who is Behind Fake News? The Brussels Terror Attacks: Fake Videos and Images. “The Man in the Hat”
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, February 13, 2018

Url of this article:
The mainstream media is currently waging a campaign against the alternative and independent media including Global Research.
Progressive online media is accused of propagating “fake news”. Are these allegations justified?
Read this April 20, 2016 Global Research report on the MSM coverage of the March 2016 Brussels terror attacks. The corporate media routinely use fake images and videos with a view to misleading the public in its coverage of controversial events including the “war on terrorism”. Who are protagonists of “fake news”?
Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 13 February 2018
After a month of exhaustive police investigations, the Belgian authorities have identified and arrested the alleged (surviving) terror mastermind of the airport bombing, the “man in the hat” Mohamed Abrini. The other four alleged terrorists involved in the kamikaze bombing attacks at the airport and the metro station are reported dead. 
According to reports, Abrini was identified on a Brussels airport still photo released by one or more airport video security surveillance CCTV cameras.
This photo –which identifies three of the terror suspects– has become a central piece of evidence in the police investigation.
In this still photo, the mystery “man in the hat” allegedly Mohamed Abrini is seen accompanying the two alleged suicide bombers, who according to reports blew themselves up in Brussels airport.
Moreover, Abrini happens to be, according to French police investigators, the main surviving suspect of the Paris November attacks.
The official story is that the attacks in both Paris and Brussels were ordered by the ISIS, which just so happens to be supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia in close liaison with Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels. (The issue of US-NATO-Israel support of the Islamic State is amply documented).
According to media reports:
The revelation that a Paris attacks suspect escorted two of the Brussels bombers to their deaths at the city’s airport is the strongest sign yet that the Islamic State attackers who brought mayhem to both European cities — killing a total of 162 people — were intimately linked. (See Guardian April 9, 2016)
Abrini is said to have confessed “his presence at the crime scene,” according to the official communique
The Authenticity of the Still Photo of the Three alleged Terrorists at Brussels Airport 
Our analysis below will largely focus on the authenticity of the still photo allegedly from the Brussels airport CCTV surveillance cameras.  CCTV systems are able to to take high resolution images on a time lapse basis.  The still picture could also have taken by closed-circuit digital photography (CCDP), which is used to generate still digital images.
TIMELINE [March 22, 2016]
To address this issue, it is important to recall the timeline:
7:55 am local time: “Surveillance footage shows three suspected attackers exiting a taxi and pushing luggage trolleys through Brussels Airport. Surveillance captured still images of the three suspects.” (See image ab0ve)
ONLY Three minutes later, it sounds absurd: Explosion According to reports the kamikaze bombers blow themselves up.
7.55-7.57am: Very much in a hurry, Abrini is said to have left the airport between 7.55am and 7.57am. before the blast occurred at 7.58am
7:58 am. Gunfire is reported in the departures terminal followed by an explosion. There were two blasts: a second blast erupts 10 seconds later.
8.20 am: The airport is closed. all roads and railway to the airport are closed.
9.07 am, (Dernière Heure), one of Belgium’s largest print and online media released an exclusive video footage of the bomb attack recorded by the CCTV surveillance cameras of the airport. This video was aired on all major TV networks, the images went round the World.
The SOURCE OF THIS VIDEO  released by at 9.07am  did not emanate from the CCTV cameras of Brussels airport [22/03/216, logo pasted on the Moscow 2011 footage], it was a rerun of a 2011 bomb attack at Moscow international airport. (see image below)
Below is the screenshot of DH’s video release.

Now compare this to
Moscow airport attacks (January 2011) Video 1 scan (Moscow airport, January 2011)

9:10 am: A blast is reported on a train at the Maalbeek metro subway station, near the headquarters of the European Commission.
AGAIN: The video broadcast of the Maalbeek metro explosion was not from the CCTV cameras as reported by the police and the media. It was from the Minsk, Belarus metro bomb blast in April 2011.
(see photo scans at the foot of this article)
What we can conclude is that:
1) Dernière Heure broadcast a video of the Moscow airport bomb attack instead of the Brussels blast (recorded by CCTV camera) airport attack. Was it sloppy journalism or something else? This is a matter for the police to investigate. (The broadcast of the video footage of the Minsk metro attack was equally misleading).
2) The official CCTV airport security video was not available to Dernière Heure at 9.07am and the public was misled by the release of the Moscow  video. 
One would therefore assume that if the CCTV video footage of the blast had been available to Dernière Heure, they would have broadcast it instead of the Moscow footage
3) Assuming that the airport CCTV video footage was not available to Dernière Heure at 9.07am, how come they were able to get their hands on still images from the CCTV video surveillance system showing the three alleged terrorists. 
10.25am, less than an hour and a half following the release of the “fake” Moscow CCTV surveillance video of the bomb attack (i.e. Moscow) by Dernière Heure, a still image is released by Dernière Heure of the three alleged suspects walking with trolleys in the airport at 7.55am, three minutes before the first blast in the departure terminal.
The image allegedly from an airport CCTV surveillance camera in the departure terminal was released by at 10.25am, it was tagged EXCLUSIVE, No other media had early access to this alleged airport CCTV video and the still images.  The latter were presented with some confusion as photographic evidence pertaining to the identity of the terror suspects.  
Most media reports acknowledged that the mysterious photo of the alleged suicide bombers was released by the Brussels police rather than
The twitter entries below confirm the exact time at which the airport photos were released:
First Release by at 10.27am (entitled “Photo Exclusive” by
12.58pm, is the time at which the still image is “officially” released by the police in liaison with the office of the prosecutor. (procureur)
Release by Politie Brussel/Police de Bruxelles: 12.58pm   

In an unusual twist, it would appear that Dernière Heure had access to the alleged CCTV still images from the surveillance cameras BEFORE the police.
The media reported that the photo was from federal police sources and was provided on the instructions of the federal prosecutor [procureur]:  released the still image of the three alleged terrorists at 10.25am, two and a half hours before its official release by Brussels police at 12.58pm, which suggests that the exclusive image published by Dernière Heure DID NOT emanate from the police authorities.
There is always the possibility that a police and/or  airport surveillance personnel made these still images available to Dernière Heure prior to their official release by Brussels police at 12.58pm. It is also possible that the still images were taken by a CCTV camera which was live streaming  and that this video livestream was accessible to the public.
The third possibility is that the Brussels police took cognizance of the photograph which Dernière Heure described as a still image from the CCTV airport surveillance system and decided to release it without verifying its original source.
On April 7, new video footage showing the man in the hat leaving the airport, circa 7.56am-7.57am was made public. The still image of him leaving the airport is stamped 7.54am  

Now let us recap: released both the Moscow 2011 video of the bomb attack at 9.07am (instead of the Brussels airport CCTV footage) as well as the still image allegedly from the same CCTV airport source (in the departure terminal) of the three terrorists at 10.25am. 
Did have access to the security CCTV cameras?
At 9.07am, they did not have access to the CCTV video footage. They presented Moscow footage (in lieu of Brussels footage) at 9.07am under the byline: “video de surveillance a l’aeroport”. They then claimed that the still image released at 10.25am was from the same source, namely the CCTV camera system at Brussels airport, departure terminal.
Let us play the devil’s advocate: If had been in possession of the real surveillance video footage at 9.07am, why on earth would they have released the  Moscow airport footage and then one and a half hours later come up with an allegedly authentic image from the CCTV airport cameras.
There is another important caveat. While police and surveillance authorities would be able to view and analyse almost immediately the camera footage of the bomb explosion, the same does not apply to the process of identifying three passengers with trolleys mingling amongst several hundred airline passengers also with trolleys in the departure terminal.
In other words, to identify three individuals from a large number of airport CCTV cameras with hundreds of passengers travelling early morning would not have  been an easy fast-track undertaking: the still images pertaining to hundreds of passengers would have had to be examined, compared to police photographic records, etc: An almost impossible task to achieve in a matter of two hours after the blast, assuming that Dernière Heure had access to the CCTV surveillance video data.  Normally, journalists would not have had access to the CCTV camera footage prior to the police authorities.
Moreover, the airport was immediately evacuated and closed down at 8.20am, twenty-two minutes after the blast. A state of chaos prevailed. And we are led to believe that the journalists of Dernière Heure managed in collaboration with CCTV camera surveillance personnel and/or police to get hold of the still image of three alleged terrorists, which they released at 10.25am, prior to the conduct of a police investigation and less than two and half hours following the 7.58am bomb blast. 

Video 2 scan (Minsk Metro, April 2011)
Here is a screenshot of  the Minsk 2011 video footage broadcast on Belgian network TV and on the internet depicting the explosion in the Metro in Brussels, March 22, 2016

Now Compare the above to the screenshot of  the Minsk April 2011 attacks.

These are the questions for police investigators. 

1. Why did Dernière Heure deliberately broadcast at 9.07am the video footage of the January 2011 Moscow airport terror attack?
Why did the media broadcast the video footage of a Minsk, Belarus  metro terror attack in 2011 in lieu of the surveillance video of the metro?
In other words both the metro and airport videos were “fake”.  
2. Did Dernière Heure interface with Belgian police and  intelligence prior to releasing the Moscow airport video which was broadcast Worldwide?
3. Who authorized the release of this fake video?
4. What are the legal implications of this negligence on the part of Dernière Heure?
5. Where did Dernière Heure get the still image from which they released as an EXCLUSIVE at 10.25am prior to the conduct of a police investigation?
6. Was there evidence of them having access to the CCTV cameras? Did the CCTV airport surveillance personnel provide Dernière Heure with access to CCTV footage? Assuming they did, how on earth did the Derniere Heure journalists manage to single out a still image of three passengers, establish and corroborate their identity in the absence of a police investigation and without immediate access to police records.
7. Did the police corroborate the identity of these three individuals prior to 10.25am and communicate the results of their investigation to Dernière Heure?
Highly unlikely: lest we forget, the police released the still image at 12.58am, two and a half hours later. By that time, the EXCLUSIVE picture by Dernière Heure had been  picked up by the news chain, it had circled the globe prior to its official release by the Brussels police.
Concluding Remarks
People in Belgium who are living the dramatic aftermath of this national catastrophe and loss of life: Draw your own conclusions. Is your government telling the truth?
The Belgian police, by addressing these seven questions, should be in a position to establish the authenticity and the source of the still pictures of the three men at the airport. Will they undertake this task?
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

When Is There Going to be Accountability for US Wars and Aggression?

When Is There Going to be Accountability for US Wars and Aggression?
By Rick Sterling
Global Research, February 03, 2018

Url of this article:
It’s WMD all over again.
Anonymous “US officials” are once again accusing a targeted “regime” of using “chemical weapons” and threatening that the U.S. military may have to “hold it accountable”. Once again, western media is broadcasting these accusations and threats without skepticism or investigation.
The Washington Post story is titled “Trump administration: Syria probably continuing to make, use chemical weapons”.  Jane’s Defence Weekly quotes a U.S. official saying “They clearly think they can get away with this ….”
Jerusalem Online says
“A US official says Syrian President Assad’s forces may be developing new types of chemical weapons, which which could reach as far as the US..”
The Reuters story in the New York Times says
“US officials have said the Syrian government may be developing new types of chemical weapons, and President Donald Trump is prepared to consider further military action…. President Bashar al Assad is believed to have secretly kept part of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile….”
The Washington Post article concludes with the threat,
“If the international community does not take action now . . . we will see more chemical weapons use, not just by Syria but by non-state actors such as ISIS and beyond,” the first official said. “And that use will spread to U.S. shores.”
Based on a review of facts from recent history, it is very likely the story is false and is being broadcast to deceive the public in preparation for new military aggression. Anyone who thinks that politicians don’t consider timing and marketing needs to only recall the statement of a GW Bush official that
“from a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
The “product” was the PR campaign to get the American public to accept the invasion of Iraq.
When is there going to be some accountability for the US military industrial complex and their political and media enablers and promoters?
The invasion of Vietnam with over 500 thousand US soldiers was preceded by the phoney Gulf of Tonknin incident where a US ship was supposedly attacked by a North Vietnamese vessel. It was untrue and President Johnson knew it. The resolution was passed unanimously (416-0) in the House and only Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening had the integrity and insight to oppose it in the Senate. Was anyone ever held accountable for the lie that led to 55 thousand dead US soldiers and millions of dead Vietnamese? No.
The 1991 attack on Iraq and subsequent massacre of Iraqi soldiers and civilians was preceded by the fabricated testimony of the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter pretending to be a nurse who had witnessed Iraqi soldiers stealing incubators and leaving Kuwaiti babies on the floor. Were the marketing officials Hill & Knowlton and politicians such as Tom Lantos who managed this deceit ever held accountable? No.
In 2003 the US launched the invasion of Iraq leading to the death of over a million Iraqis based on the false and fabricated evidence provided by the CIA and uncritically promoted by the mainstream media. For example,  Michael Gordon and Thomas Friedman promoted and lauded the invasion at the NY Times. Were they held to account?  No, they carry right on to today.
In 2011 the US led NATO attacks on Libya with the stated purpose to “protect civilians” from massacre. This was explained and encouraged by journalists and pundits such as Nicholas Kristof and Juan Cole. NATO officials bragged about their operation. After the brief western euphoria, it became clear that the campaign was based on lies and the real result was an explosion of extremism, massacres and and chaos which continues to today. Accountability? None. One rarely hears about Libya today. Out of sight, out of mind.
In August of 2013 we heard about a massive sarin gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus. Human Rights Watch and others promoting a western attack quickly accused the Syrian government. They asserted that Assad had crossed Obama’s “red line” and the US needed to intervene directly. Subsequent investigations revealed the gas attack was not carried out by the Syrian government. It was perpetrated by a Turkish supported terrorist faction with the goal of pressuring the Obama administration to directly attack Syria. Two Turkish parliamentarians presented evidence of Turkey’s involvement in the transfer of sarin. Some of the best and most time-proven US investigative journalists, including Robert Parry and Seymour Hersh, researched and discovered the evidence points to Turkish supported “rebels” not Syria. Despite the factual evidence exposing the “junk heap” of false claims, mainstream media and their followers continue to assert that Assad committed the crime.
In April 2017 it was the same thing: US and allies made accusations which were never proven and ultimately discredited. The UN / OPCW investigation team never visited the scene of the crime. They discovered the curious fact that dozens of victims in multiple locations showed up at hospitals with symptoms of chemical injuries before the attack happened. This is strong evidence of fraud but that investigation was not pursued. With or without awareness of the deceit, Trump ordered missile strikes on a Syrian air base which killed 13 people including four children. Accountability? None.
Recently it has become clear that dark forces in the US government ad military do not intend to stop their efforts to destroy Syria. Despite confusion  and contradictory claims in the US administration, a core fact is that the US is training and supplying a sectarian military militia inside northern Syria against the wishes of the Syrian government. The US said they were in Syria to get rid of ISIS but now that ISIS is largely gone, the US military says it is not leaving. On the contrary, the US military helped escort ISIS fighters from Raqqa to al Bukamal and the US is now training ISIS fighters to be reincarnated as yet another anti-Assad “rebel” force.
As always, US aggression needs some measure of political support. To gain that, they need a justification. Thus it’s WMD all over again. Once again. the “bad guys” are using chemical weapons on their own people. Supposedly the Syrian government is incredibly stupid …. they just keep on using chemical weapons and giving the US a justification to act as judge, jury and executioner.
Most of the American public is too busy, distracted or overwhelmed with problems to investigate U.S. government claims. Mainstream media, including some alternative media, are failing badly. They are supposed to be holding government to account, critically questioning the assertions, investigating the facts, exposing contradictions and falsehoods. Along with the politicians and government, they have some responsibility for the ongoing wars and aggression. They all should be accountable. When is that going to happen?
Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.