Thursday, July 31, 2014

‘Jihad’ in Syria: Fallacies of ISIS’ End-Time Prophecies

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, Mr Yang Razali Kassim. 

No. 149/2014 dated 30 July 2014
‘Jihad’ in Syria:
 Fallacies of ISIS’ End-Time Prophecies

By Mohamed Bin Ali

The conflict in Syria has attracted many foreign fighters from across the globe. They have gone to Syria with the belief that it is a Jihad obligation. Many are also drawn to Syria through a strong belief that it is a prelude to the fulfilment of a prophecy of the End of Time (Yaumul Qiyamah).
THE ONGOING conflict in Syria which started as part of the Arab Spring against the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has since turned into a war that has drawn in many regional powers and international players. At the same time, Muslims from many parts of the world have travelled to the country to join the rebel forces.

For over three years since the conflict started in 2011, both the Assad regime and its opponents have committed war crimes that include mass-killings, kidnappings, indiscriminate bombings, executions and murders.
Three-level conflict

Broadly, the ongoing conflict in Syria runs on three levels. The first is a sectarian one between Sunnis and the Shi’ite regime which is also a struggle between Sunni Islam and Shi’ite Islam led by Iran. The second level is the ideologically-motivated attack against the Assad regime.

The rebels are those who join Al-Qaeda affiliated groups on the premise that the Syrian war is part of the global jihad; and others who are driven by end-times prophetic narrative. These individuals believe that they have to be in Syria to be part of the final battle.

The third is the humanitarian level i.e. the conflict is portrayed as a humanitarian crisis as some travel to Syria to render humanitarian and financial aid. Many are radicalised by what they see and who they come into contact with in Syria.

Syria is undergoing a political conflict that serves as the newest hotspot attracting scores of foreign fighters. Its ability to mobilise and draw foreign fighters is unprecedented; surpassing that of even the Soviet-Afghan war. These fighters who claimed to perform the act of jihad against the  perceived infidel Assad regime are factionalised opposition groups comprising the secular nationalist Free Syrian Army (FSA), rebel groups like Al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN or Al-Nusra Front) and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or ISIL).
Political not religious conflict

However, many believe that the ongoing conflict in Syria is not about religion and the war which is taking place is not an act of jihad. Muslim scholars have come forward to clarify that the   political conflict in Syria does not qualify as “jihad”.    

For example, Tunisia’s Mufti, Sheikh Othman Battikh, has described calls for jihad against the government in Syria as a “huge mistake” that is not permitted under Islam. Sheikh Battikh stressed that those who went to fight in Syria under the banner of jihad were “fooled and have been brainwashed.”

Apart from Muslim scholars, some Islamist groups have also agreed that the Syrian conflict cannot be categorised as a religious war and called for peace and reconciliation. Mohammed Sawan, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, said the battle in the Arab region (including Syria) is not about Islam or identity at all. It is about fundamental values of democracy, freedom and rights. It has nothing to do with a clash between Islamists and non-Islamists.
The End-Time narratives
Many fighters who travelled to Syria are swayed by the narrative of performing armed Jihad in Syria. These individuals and many others were influenced by the “doomsday narrative”; that the conflict in Syria is a prelude to the anticipated Yaumul Qiyamah (end of time).

They argue that the Syrian conflict is the start of the end-times. According to them, it is the apocalyptic struggle between the forces of good represented by the Mahdi (the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule before the Day of Judgment and rid the world of evil) and evil as represented, for example, by the Syrian Assad regime. Hence, they argue that it is the religious duty of Muslims, and if they can do so, to go and join the fight to defeat the Assad regime and help usher in the final victory for Islam.

Such narratives are based on sayings of the Prophet (Hadith) which are often misunderstood and taken out of context. Among the narratives used is, for example, a hadith on carriers of the Black Banners (the black banners are used by the current violent Islamist groups as their official flag) narrated on authority of Ibn Majah, a medieval scholar of hadith: “If you see the Black Banners coming from Khurasan go to them immediately, even if you must crawl over ice, because indeed amongst them is the Caliph, Al Mahdi…and no one can stop that army until it reaches Jerusalem.”

Some scholars are also sceptical of the accuracy of the interpretation of the prophecy in the Hadith though few would express such reservations in public for fear of being misinterpreted as doubters of the prophecies.

The role of ideology and Internet

Ideology plays an important role in many conflicts such as in Syria as it appears in a religious guise. These ideas are actively propagated through the Internet and social media by radical preachers who used some of the hadiths of the end-time prophecies. One example of such preachers is the Philippines-based Musa Cerantonio who was arrested in the Philippines. Musa, 29, who was born in Melbourne to an Italian family, converted to Islam at the age of 17 and is now one of the most popular online preachers supporting ISIS. He allegedly used the Internet to publicly urge Muslims to join “jihad” in Iraq and Syria. In a youtube video, Musa described the various Islamist groups such as ISIS, JAN and others including Al-Qaeda and Taliban as warriors of Islam who carry the black banners as described in the prophetic tradition.

Such claims from radical preachers on the end time prophecies should be treated with great care and wisdom. The Prophetic Traditions, just like the Holy Quran, should be studied in a more rigorous, systematic and scholarly manner. Unlike most any ordinary books, it cannot simply be taken literally and without a full understanding of its context. For the Prophetic Traditions, there is also a question of verifying its authenticity as this usually involves a chain of transmitters as compared to the Quran, which was sent directly from God through the Archangel Gibril to Prophet Muhammad.

The audience of such messages should also have the ability to discern certain truths from untruths. For example, the endorsement of Islamist groups like ISIS as warriors of Khurasan (in Central Asia) as claimed by preachers such as Musa Cerantonio is highly questionable and refutable. This is due to the indiscriminately violent nature of ISIS, which contradicts the expected coming of Imam al-Mahdi, which is to bring peace and stability as narrated in another Prophetic Tradition.

Muslims must be able to distinguish political issues from religious ones and be fully aware of politics cleverly couched in religious language. This ability to make a clear distinction will enable them to think with a clear and logical mind, instead of allowing themselves to be emotionally manipulated by religious rhetoric.

On the part of the scholars there is a pressing need to counter such narratives with a rigorous in-depth study of the Prophetic Traditions which have been quoted widely on the Internet. This is to prevent the genuine messages of Islam from being manipulated or misunderstood.

Mohamed Bin Ali is Assistant Professor with the Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. He is also a counsellor with the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG).

Flight MH17 False Flag Conspiracy FULLY EXPOSED! Complete Compilation Of ALL The Evidence! - BUSTED!

Malaysian Plane Downing Heightens War Danger

This article appears in the July 25, 2014 issue of Executive Intelligence Review. This is from last week - I will send an up-dated report on the escalating danger of a war on Russia within a few days.  Mike Billington

Malaysian Plane Downing
Heightens War Danger

by Jeffrey Steinberg
July 22—While it may take days or even weeks to reach a competent forensic determination of the cause of the crash of the Malaysian commercial airliner MH17 over eastern Ukraine July 17, the cries for a confrontation with Russia are growing louder, led by President Obama and his top aides, including American UN Ambassador Samantha Power. As far as Obama and the U.S. establishment media are concerned, the byword is: “Don’t confuse me with facts—my mind is made up.” In this case, the determination is that Russian President Vladimir Putin was either directly or indirectly responsible for the incident, and Russia is to pay a heavy price.
Washington’s snap judgment was matched July 21 by British Prime Minister David Cameron, writing in the London Times, who declared Putin guilty of shooting down the airliner, and demanded that Europe break decisively with Russia.
While the war cry from London, Washington, and the Netherlands, in particular, continues, the United Nations Security Council on July 21 was able to agree on a resolution mandating an international, independent investigation of the jet crash. Among other points, the text demands that “the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unfettered access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities.”
In fact, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) monitors declared on July 20 that they had been given full access to the main crash site. On July 21, before the UN resolution, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that he had reached an agreement with the prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, whereby Malaysia would receive the remains of 282 people, which had been recovered and refrigerated by the militias, and would be given the two “black boxes” which the militias had taken custody of, in fear that they would be tampered with, if handed over to the Kiev authorities.
An official Pentagon statement—issued the same day as a phone call between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov which appeared to agree on an impartial investigation—identified a Russian-made Buk/SA-11 missile as the weapon used in the downing, but offered no evidence as to who carried out the attack.
In contrast, the Russian Ministry of Defense on July 19 issued a statement, spelling out ten crucial unanswered questions, directed at Ukrainian authorities, over whose territory MH17 was flying at the time of the attack (see below).
On Sunday, July 20, Secretary of State Kerry appeared on a number of TV programs to bolster Obama’s own “blame Putin” rhetoric. Kerry’s appearance, reminiscent of Dr. Susan Rice’s now infamous TV appearances days after the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks, claiming they were the result of spontaneous demonstrations against an anti-Islam video, repeated the claims that the Russians had delivered SA-11 anti-aircraft batteries to rebels in eastern Ukraine and had trained them on the use of the sophisticated weapons. News leaks also claimed that CIA agents in Kiev had authenticated an alleged intercepted phone call between Ukrainian rebels and Russian military personnel right after the plane crash, taking credit for the incident.
‘A Doctor Strangelove Situation’
Some sane voices in the U.S. and around the world have warned that the escalating rhetoric threatens to trigger a great powers war. Col. Patrick Lang (ret.), former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s human intelligence division, posted a blunt warning on his widely read website on July 19: “The Yellow Media are creating a Doctor Strangelove situation. They do not seem to grasp the idea that the war between Russia and the U.S.A. toward which they are groping will destroy both countries altogether. Once more, a war between the U.S.A. and Russia will destroy both countries and much of the rest of the world.”
The BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders have all called for an “objective probe” of the Malaysian Airlines disaster in Ukraine that, if carried out, would help to avoid the war that Lang is warning against. “I was shocked,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping at a joint press conference with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
“I hope that a fair and objective probe will be carried out to establish the truth as early as possible.”
In a separate statement, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he hopes “the circumstances of the disaster are established quickly.”
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has also urged a speedy investigation into the terrible tragedy. “First, it should be established what really happened. The Brazilian government will give no assessments until the circumstances are clear,” she said. Rousseff was echoed by South African President Jacob Zuma, who also called for a thorough, transparent, and independent investigation to determine the cause of the incident.
Greatly adding to the danger, is that the Malaysian plane tragedy does not take place in a vacuum. President Obama, just days before the crash, announced harsh new sanctions against Russia—despite the fact that the European Union did not go along with Washington and London’s demands. NATO has announced an expansion of manuevers in the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe on the Russian borders.
What is completely missing from the Washington and London rhetoric is any effort to determine cui bono—who would benefit from such a brutal act of terrorism. From that standpoint, Russia stands to lose the most as the result of the tragedy.
Furthermore, the downing of the MH17 came at the conclusion of the world-changing BRICS Summit in Brazil, where the five nations agreed to establish a New Development Bank and a fund to protect against currency warfare (see this week’s Feature). These new institutions, while not formally replacing the IMF and World Bank, offer a clear alternative to the brutal conditionalities and debt blackmail of the “Washington consensus” system. They come at a time when even the Bank for International Settlements has been warning about an imminent debt blowout of the major trans-Atlantic banks as the result of their out-of-control gambling activities. In the second quarter of the year, derivatives contracts expanded by an annual rate of 19%, with total global derivatives estimated at over $1.7 quadrillion.
Mervyn King, the former head of the Bank of England, recently noted that the biggest financial crash of the 20th Century took place in the Spring-Summer of 1914, and led directly into the Guns of August start of World War I. The parallels between then and now, exactly 100 years later, are stark. The major difference is that the great powers of 1914 did not have overkill arsenals of thermonuclear weapons, as the United States, Russia, and China have today.

China’s 50,000 Secret Weapons in the South China Sea

China’s 50,000 Secret Weapons in the South China Sea
The rise of "fishing pole" diplomacy?
Harry J. Kazianis
July 30, 2014
While countless gallons of digital ink have been spilled about China’s growing military might and “salami slicing” tactics that are changing the status-quo in the South China Sea, we rarely get to go behind the scenes, to understand up close the tactics and strategies Beijing is employing. However, thanks to a recent report in Reuters, we now know a little more about China’s stepped up efforts to alter conditions in the water. It may just end up that Beijing’s greatest weapon may not be its military—it might just be its fishing boats.
The report details at length China’s multi-pronged strategy to assert its maritime claims through fishing in various areas of the South China Sea that are in dispute—asserting claims not by “small-stick diplomacy” but now what we might call “fishing pole diplomacy.” Nothing says “sovereignty” more than doing the normal things a nation does in its own territory, like simple fishing. China’s strategy is in part genius, but also setting the stage for possibly violent confrontations with its South China Sea neighbors in the near term. This is of course on top of issuing maps that draw nine or ten-dash lines around the area and claiming it outright, putting oil rigs off rival claimants coastlines, as well as creating a world-class military with strong anti-access/area-denial capabilities (A2/AD) to deter a much more powerful adversary to stay out of the region in the event of a crisis.
According to the piece:
On China's southern Hainan Island, a fishing boat captain shows a Reuters reporter around his aging vessel. He has one high-tech piece of kit, however: a satellite navigation system that gives him a direct link to the Chinese coastguard should he run into bad weather or a Philippine or Vietnamese patrol ship when he's fishing in the disputed South China Sea.
By the end of last year, China's homegrown Beidou satellite system had been installed on more than 50,000 Chinese fishing boats, according to official media. On Hainan, China's gateway to the South China Sea, boat captains have paid no more than 10 percent of the cost. The government has paid the rest.
This is quite significant as Chinese fisherman can not only fish disputed waters with clear government support, but if they get in trouble have essentially a direct hotline to Beijing for help and are paying very little of the cost for such technology. In fact, according to a companion piece in Quartz, China has 695,555 fishing vessels, and while clearly not all would be able to venture out into disputed waters it stands to reason more vessels could be sailing into such territory in the near future.
The article goes on to note:
It's a sign of China's growing financial support for its fishermen as they head deeper into Southeast Asian waters in search of new fishing grounds as stocks thin out closer to home.
Hainan authorities encourage fishermen to sail to disputed areas, the captain and several other fishermen told Reuters during interviews in the sleepy port of Tanmen. Government fuel subsidies make the trips possible, they added.
That has put Chinese fishing boats - from privately owned craft to commercial trawlers belonging to publicly listed companies - on the frontlines of one of Asia's flashpoints.
The mention of declining fishing stocks is also of interest. While issues of nationalism, sea lines of communication carrying trillions of dollars worth of goods, as well as oil and natural gas are commonly mentioned in creating tensions, many times valuable fishing stocks are simply forgotten but are clearly driving Chinese as well as other nations territorial claims. Indeed, the piece makes mention of a study by China’s State Oceanic Administration that explained fishing stocks around the Chinese coast were in decline.
None of this should be any shock to those who have been keeping up with the latest developments in Asia’s Cauldron. For the last several years, China has been using various non-naval and non-military assets to push its claims in disputed regions. What make the above report of interest is the level of outright support China is giving its fishing industry to press its claims on behalf of the government, and how far they could press such claims:
Several fishermen from separate boats said the Hainan authorities encouraged fishing as far away as the Spratlys, roughly 1,100 km (670 miles) to the south.
The boat captain said he would head there as soon as his vessel underwent routine repairs.
"I've been there many times," said the captain, who like the other fishermen declined to be identified because he was worried about repercussions for discussing sensitive maritime issues with a foreign journalist.
Another fisherman, relaxing in a hammock on a boat loaded with giant clamshells from the Spratlys, said captains received fuel subsidies for each journey. For a 500 horsepower engine, a captain could get 2,000-3,000yuan ($320-$480) a day, he said.
"The government tells us where to go and they pay fuel subsidies based on the engine size," said the fisherman.
Added one weather-beaten captain: "The authorities support fishing in the South China Sea to protect China's sovereignty."
Could China’s “fishing pole” diplomacy win the day in the South China Sea? We might just find out.

Harvard Is New Summer Hot Spot as Chinese Students Crowd Boston

Harvard Is New Summer Hot Spot as Chinese Students Crowd Boston

By Kelly Blessing
July 29, 2014 7:00 PM EDT 142 Comments
Students from China touring Harvard University during a three-week summer trip to scout elite U.S. colleges.
Photographer: Kelly Blessing/Bloomberg
Students from China touring Harvard University during a three-week summer trip to scout elite U.S. colleges.
Chinese students have a new favorite summer destination: Harvard University.
So many students and their families are visiting Boston-area schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University that Hainan Airlines Co. started direct flights to Boston from Beijing in June and increased the number from four to seven a week in July and August. Tufts gets so many requests from large organized groups that it runs separate tours for them.
“My parents enjoy listening to my description of schools, such as the campus views, the school culture and the feeling of visiting them,” said Yuhan Wu, 16, from Beijing, who is on a three-week college scouting trip that included Harvard.
Yihan Gao, a 17-year-old high school senior from Beijing, whispered in front of Widener Library in Harvard Yard about how she borrowed her friend’s student card on a previous visit to sneak into the library and explore.
The surge in interest underscores both the prestige of obtaining a degree from Boston-area colleges and the burgeoning affluence of China’s middle class. The number of Chinese students in the metropolitan area almost tripled to 10,913 last year from 3,800 in 2009. That’s faster than growth nationally, which more than doubled, according to the Institute of International Education in New York.
Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Northeastern University and Boston University in Boston, each ranked in the top 25 schools hosting international students in the 2012-2013 academic year, according to the institute. Chinese make up the largest segment of foreign students at 27 percent.

Starting Early

“There’s a healthy influx and desire for them to come here to America for school,” Evan Saunders, chief executive officer of Attract China, a tourism marketing firm, said in a telephone interview. “Chinese families will even visit places like Harvard when their children are five or six. No pressure, right? They’ll come for Harvard but stay for Tufts or BU.”
Tufts has seen an increase in both Chinese visitors and applications to attend the university in the Boston suburb of Medford, said Jen Simons, associate director of admissions. Prospective students often come during the summer as part of organized groups of 20 or 30.
The request for special groups already has “surpassed all of the requests we had last summer,” Simons said.
Wu and Gao came to Boston through Beijing-based Elite Scholars China, which organizes tours and provides college counseling for students interested in studying in the U.S. Its $11,000 three-week summer program includes flights, room, board, SAT and writing classes at Wellesley College and tours of schools around Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York, co-founder Tomer Rothschild said in a phone interview.

Harvard Yard

On an overcast Sunday, students from Elite Scholars visited Harvard Yard, soaking in their surroundings around the statue honoring John Harvard, a sea of umbrellas clouding it from view.
While Harvard has always been popular among China’s elite, the 2000 publication of “Harvard Girl,” which chronicles how a Chinese family raised their daughter to gain acceptance into the university, has made the school popular among the growing middle class, said Jamie Fleishman, an Elite Scholars counselor.
Students snapped pictures of everything in sight, including a dusty basement room with little more than an old wooden table, a few chairs and a whiteboard.
Brown University is Gao’s top choice among U.S. colleges. She attended a summer program at the Providence, Rhode Island, Ivy League school before joining the Elite Scholars group.
Several of the students went to academic camps at elite U.S. colleges or high schools, Fleishman said.

Resume Entry

“It’s a bullet point to add to your resume,” said Zhiquan Zeng, another 17-year-old rising senior from Beijing. She didn’t attend an additional program.
Since Elite Scholars’ inception in 2010, the number of Chinese participating in the annual tour has tripled to almost 30 students.
The increased summer visits and enrollment is a function of the growth of China’s economy, especially in the past five years, said Allan Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education. Education is so important to China’s middle class and families save a lot of money for it, he said.
“Made in USA is a very important brand,” Goodman said. “It represents educational quality, opportunity, and an open-and merit-based admissions process that differs from China’s.”
Mingyao Li, a 17-year-old Elite Scholars student, said the freedom and access at American schools appeals most to him.
“In Chinese universities, the professors will teach you knowledge in preparation for the final exams whereas in the U.S., professors guide and help you find your own interests,” Li said.

Full Fare

China’s economy expanded 7.5 percent in the year through the second quarter and the pace of growth has stayed above 6 percent since 2009. In comparison, the U.S. economy grew 1.5 percent in the year through March.
The attraction works both ways. Beyond the diversity that foreign students bring to a campus, many, if not most, pay full fare and don’t rely on direct financial aid or discounts from the school toward the cost to attend. Undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board at Harvard for the 2014-2015 year is $58,607, according to its website. At Northeastern, it’s $57,490. Neither include costs for books, travel and personal expenses.
“Students coming from China are fairly well-heeled,” said Joel Chusid, an executive director at Hainan Airlines. “The kids who come to school here have the financial wherewithal.”

‘Cultural Bridge’

The airline’s decision to start a direct Boston route is more significant than if an American carrier such as Delta had done so, IIE’s Goodman said.
“This really makes a statement in China about the cultural bridge it’s building to Boston,” Goodman said.
When Chinese families go through the decision-making process and compare universities, many parents say they prefer a school if it’s a direct flight from Beijing, Rothschild said.
“Nowadays, people have become more rational and do not only regard the rankings of schools as the only resource,” Li, one of Elite Scholar students, said. “They have understood that really going to see a school will partly guide their choice.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Kelly Blessing in Boston at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at Chris Staiti

Netanyahu’s Dilemma: From the War in Gaza to the War at Home

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, Mr Yang Razali Kassim. 

No. 153/2014 dated 31 July 2014
Netanyahu’s Dilemma:
From the War in Gaza to the War at Home

By James M. Dorsey

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is likely to face significant political problems at home and a far less empathetic diplomatic environment abroad once the guns fall silent in Gaza. Calls in Israel for an inquiry into the government’s handling of the Gaza crisis and what is being described as an intelligence failure regarding tunnels built by Hamas are mounting. In addition, Israel’s relations with its closest allies, the United States and the European Union, have been bruised even if they continue to uphold the Jewish state’s right to defend itself.
ISRAEL’S RATIONALE for its assault on Gaza has shifted during the last three weeks of almost uninterrupted hammering of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, one of the world’s most densely populated territories. The war launched first to counter Palestinian rockets fired in response to an Israeli crackdown on Hamas operatives on the West Bank following the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers has since focused on underground tunnels that potentially allow Islamist militia fighters to penetrate Israel, and in recent days on critical infrastructure such as Gaza’s power supply.

While Israel may be succeeding in severely damaging the military infrastructure of Hamas and other Islamist groups in Gaza, it realizes that international discomfort with its heavy-handed approach that has cost the lives of some 1,300 mostly Palestinian civilians and wreaked devastating material damage that will cost billions to rebuild, means that it does not have a lot of time to militarily achieve its objectives. It also is dawning on Israel that the diplomatic and political price it may have to pay is rising by the day. The war in Gaza will no doubt strengthen calls for a boycott of and sanctions against Israel and could accelerate EU moves to ban dealings with Israeli entities based in occupied territory.

Intelligence Failure

Increasingly, proponents of Israel’s assault on Gaza, who constitute a majority of the Israeli population, question whether Israel could have countered Hamas’ increasing military prowess in ways that would have been less costly. Military analysts, after four wars in the last eight years against non-state actors, the Shiite Islamist militia Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, are calling for a review of Israeli military strategy and reorganization of the armed forces.

Revelations that the government long knew about Hamas’ tunnelling operation but did not consider it a serious enough threat to counter, have sparked demands for an investigation of what the Israeli media and some analysts are describing as an intelligence failure. At the core of the alleged failure is whether the government and the military ignored Hamas’ tunnelling because it had in recent years downgraded the security threat posed by Palestinians and elevated Iran’s nuclear program to the most existential threat the Jewish state was facing. As a result, Israel focused its political, diplomatic, intelligence and military energies on Iran rather than Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups.

The revelations also raise questions on the government’s real motive in first cracking down on Hamas on the West Bank and then launching its attack on Gaza. Critics of Israel charge that the government’s real goal was to prevent the emergence of an effective Palestinian national unity government that would group all factions, and that had tacit support from Israel’s allies, because that would have made it more difficult for Israel to sabotage peace negotiations while maintaining a façade of seeking to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hamas strengthened

An indication of the political fallout that Netanyahu can expect once the fighting in Gaza is brought to a halt, is evident in Hamas’ ability to reject ceasefires despite the punishing Israeli assaults that do not involve a lifting of the seven-year old Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza. Rather than weakening Hamas, Israel’s attacks appear to have strengthened it politically to the degree that it feels it can impose conditions of its own in dealings with Israel rather than simply respond to Israel’s requirements.

Israeli defence and intelligence sources say the threat posed by the tunnels only became evident when Palestinians taken prisoner in the early stages of the Gaza operation disclosed plans for Hamas fighters to infiltrate Israel in a bid to carry out a massive attack during this coming fall’s season of Jewish high holidays. Until then Israel had paid limited attention to the tunnels and discarded various plans involving water ditches, drones, sensors and radars that could have either neutralized the threat or alerted Israel to them in a timely fashion.

The damage to Israel’s reputation and relations with its allies is prompting Israeli leaders to consider whether it should quickly end the fighting in Gaza despite Netanyahu’s warning that Israelis should brace themselves for a long campaign. Those considerations are being complicated by Hamas, which is unwilling to let Israel that easily off the hook and needs to show more than resilience to Palestinians who have paid dearly in the group’s confrontation with Israel. A lifting of the Gaza blockade would fit the bill.

Political accounting and military review

Hamas’ demand also makes it more difficult for Israel to claim that it has inflicted debilitating damage on the group and that it may not survive politically because Gazans will hold it to account. It also puts to rest Israeli claims that Hamas is desperate for a ceasefire. Hamas has moreover demonstrated that its command and control remains intact.

The Israeli drive to continue the assault on Gaza is fuelled by the fact that the resolution of its two earlier conflagrations with the group ultimately failed to produce results. Israel agreed in 2009 to an unconditional ceasefire in the hope that it had sufficiently weakened the group and created enough of a deterrence. Three years later it hoped that a vague, unsigned agreement mediated by Egypt would do the job. Israel’s problem is that continuing the assault would likely force it to expand its ground operations at considerable military, political and diplomatic risk.

With military analysts noting that various incidents in which rockets and mortars have killed Israeli soldiers, questions are being raised about the military’s ability to protect Israeli civilians despite the effectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defence shield. The questions fuel demands for a post-war political accounting and a military review.

“Despite many achievements that the army brass can point to, the current war in Gaza reveals once again the necessity of a comprehensive reorganization of the military. The training of forces, the equipment in use, combat doctrine, and operational plans — all will need to be thoroughly investigated when the hostilities are over,” said Amos Harel, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz newspaper.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title. 

Echoes of the Great War Resonate a Century Later

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Echoes of the Great War Resonate a Century Later

On July 28, 1914, exactly one month after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were shot dead, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The stage was set for World War I, an inevitable result of decades of political maneuvering, militarization, alliances and planning for a conflict that would shatter the great European epoch, laying waste to empires and ascendant nations.

At the heart of World War I was the rise of Germany and the question of its place in the European balance of power. Prussian statesman Otto Von Bismarck had painstakingly crafted a modern, unified German nation through fire and blood, ensuring its survival through shrewd realpolitik diplomacy. The new unified Germany remained wary of potential threats from east and west, a concern reciprocated by nearby states, which harbored deep-seated concerns and fears over Germany's rise that even Bismarck could not allay. With the coronation of Kaiser Wilhelm II, a man known to be possessed of unbridled ambition, the German question increasingly demanded an answer.

With the possibility of a pan-European conflict growing, the Great Powers set about drawing up strategic war plans. Each nation made its plans based on its unique geopolitical position, but the grand designs were also deeply affected by a host of secondary considerations. Constrained by a historic legacy of conquests, alliances and rivalries, and shaped by emotional and political ideology, the war plans of the Great Powers were a clash between seemingly sound strategy and each nation's unique and subjective interests.

China’s Global Resources Drive: A market-oriented strategy for food

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, Mr Yang Razali Kassim. 

No. 152/2014 dated 31 July 2014
China’s Global Resources Drive:  
A market-oriented strategy for food

By Zhang Hongzhou

While China’s overseas agricultural expansion will be led by state-owned companies with strong support from the government, China is more likely to adopt a market oriented strategy to safeguard the country’s food security.  
 IN A paradigm shift in China’s food security strategy, China has been rapidly expanding its agricultural presence overseas. And not surprisingly, the country’s global hunt for food is being led by state-owned agricultural companies with strong government support. A few months ago, COFCO-China’s biggest state-owned agricultural company made a back to back purchase of controlling stakes in two global agricultural traders-Nidera NV and agribusiness division of Noble Group. In June 2014, China Investment Corp-the country’s $650 billion sovereign wealth fund announced that it will invest more in agriculture around the world and across the entire value chain. In addition, China also intends to set up an international agricultural trade fund and an overseas agricultural development fund to facilitate China’s agriculture Going Global efforts.

Apart from major merger and acquisition, China has been acquiring land and other agricultural resources overseas. According to China’s Ministry of Agriculture, by the end of 2013, China has 23 Nongken groups (state-owned agricultural company) setting up 113 foreign subsidiaries or projects in 42 countries, producing 10 million tonnes of grain annually. While the above tends to suggest China is following a neo-mercantilist approach in its global hunt for food as that for oil, a closer  analysis of China’s overseas agricultural activities and global agricultural strategy indicates that China is more likely to adopt a market oriented strategy in its global hunt for food.
The private actors should not be overlooked

Unlike the energy sector which is dominated by state-owned companies, China’s agricultural sector provide employment for over 200 million farmers and there are millions of food related private companies along the whole supply chain. Driven by employment opportunities and profit, numerous Chinese farmers and private agribusiness voluntarily went abroad to undertake agricultural activities. Although national data is not available, data at the provincial level suggest that private companies and farmers are playing a very important role in China’s overseas agricultural expansion. For example, there are over 500,000 entrepreneurs from Zhejiang undertaking business in agricultural sectors in over 40 countries or regions. Also, among the 110 companies from Heilongjiang which undertake agricultural activities in Russia, 58 are joint-equity cooperative enterprises, 40 are private companies and only 12 are state-owned enterprises.

Despite the fact that China plans to consolidate its fragmented food industry and create its own global food players which can lead China’s agriculture Going Global efforts that are capable of competing with global agribusiness giant such as Cargill, the country also intends to let the private sector play a bigger role. A report published by Ministry of Agriculture suggested that in future private capital should play the main role in funding the country’s overseas agricultural expansion and investment should target less on direct acquisition of land resources; instead, contract farming should be promoted.

In recent years, some international media accused China of grabbing land overseas and producing food for domestic consumption; however, in fact China’s agricultural produce from its investment in foreign soils, particularly in Africa, are primarily sold at the local market. On the surface, this is due to three reasons: sufficient domestic supply, customs control and high cost. However, fundamentally, this is a reflection of the grand vision of China’s overseas agricultural investment.
A market oriented vision

Although there is no official document clarifying the real intention of China’s global agricultural expansion, remarks of high ranking government officials and China’s recent actions could serve as useful references. Chen Xiwen, the deputy head of China’s central agricultural working group revealed China’s intension during a press conference in 2012. He said agricultural produces from the country’s overseas investment need not be transported back to China. As long as China’s overseas agricultural operations could help harness the potential of global food production, the increase in global food supply could be the bulwark against China’s food insecurity.

Furthermore, during a meeting with Heilongjiang Nongken groups in July 2014, Wang Guangkun, Director of the National Agricultural Comprehensive Development Office said agriculture Going Global is a national strategy with political significance and the purpose is to enhance the supply capacity of the international food trade and reduce the unnecessary political risk faced by China in the international market. Wang told the Nongken groups to abandon the old concept of “farming overseas and shipping grain back to China”; instead, he urged Nongken groups to sell agricultural produce in the local market according to local conditions and strive to enhance the market power of China in international grain trade.

Besides, China’s recent attempt to reform COFCO also shows that it intends to become a better market player. The purpose of reform-exploring mixed-ownership and board-led human resources management is to weaken the state background and send a message to the international community that COFCOs overseas expansion is merely corporate action.
China’s intention to follow a market oriented approach is also evident in its strong support for agricultural trade liberalization. At the global level, for instance, in the December 2013 Bali WTO meeting, when India’s strong position on food subsidy nearly led to the collapse of the Doha Round, China told India that China backed a successful WTO meeting, though China appreciated India's strong position on food security. At the regional level and bilateral level, agriculture is included during China’s negotiation of FTAs with other countries, unlike many other FTAs which normally excluded agriculture. For instance, in the case of China-ASEAN FTA, agriculture was negotiated upfront and was the key component of its Early Harvest Program.
Positive stance in global food governance

Fully aware that China’s food security cannot be achieved without a stable and favorable external environment, China has put in a lot of efforts to strengthen global food governance. Apart from donating food to countries that suffered from hunger and famine, China is providing agricultural technological and financial assistance to developing countries around the world to augment their food supplies.

In addition, China shows more willingness to cooperate with other countries particularly the United States on food security cooperation, China is also very active in participating in global food governance via increasing support to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme.

As China’s food demand and supply gap widens, the country’s further integration into global food market is inevitable. Even though its agriculture Going Global push will still be led by the state-owned grain companies, China is more likely to pursue a market oriented approach-safeguarding the country’s food supply and minimizing uncertainty of the global food market through deepening global food trade and strengthening its market power.

Zhang Hongzhou is an Associate Research Fellow with the China Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.

Chinese Missile Forces Pose Threat to U.S. In Future Conflict

Chinese Missile Forces Pose Threat to U.S. In Future Conflict
July 31, 2014 |
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China’s advanced cruise and ballistic missiles pose a significant threat in future conflict with the United States, the chief of naval operations (CNO) warned last week.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the CNO, also said during a security conference Friday that China is building a second aircraft carrier that could be deployed in the not too distant future.

However, China’s current single carrier force is still under development and the Chinese are incapable of conducting aircraft strike operations from the refurbished Soviet-era carrier now called the Liaoning, Greenert said following a recent visit to China, where he toured the carrier.

Asked what Chinese weapons systems he is most concerned about if the United States went to war with China, Greenert noted Beijing’s growing arsenal of cruise and ballistic missiles.

“They have an extraordinary selection of cruise missiles, and a ballistic missile force that they developed,” Greenert told the Aspen Security Forum.

If the conflict were close to China, the missile forces would pose the most serious threat, he said.

“If it’s in their backyard, I’m a little worried about their ballistic missile [force] because of its reach,” Greenert said.

China has developed several types of advanced missile systems, including a unique DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile that is intended to strike U.S. aircraft carriers hundreds of miles from China’s coast.

The DF-21D has been described as a “carrier killer” for which the U.S. Navy has few defenses. Greenert has said earlier that U.S. defenses against the DF-21D would involve breaking the weapons’ “kill chain—the network of sensors and communications links used to guide the missile to its target.

The Pentagon stated in its latest annual report to Congress that the DF-21D “gives the [People’s Liberation Army] the capability to attack large ships, including aircraft carriers, in the western Pacific Ocean.

The missile has a range of more than 930 miles and is armed with a maneuverable warhead.

Another major threat in a future conflict is China’s new guided missile destroyer, the Type 052D that the Pentagon says has deployed the PLA’s first multipurpose vertical launch system that is believed “capable of launching [anti-ship cruise missiles], land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and anti-submarine missiles.” More than a dozen Type 052 destroyers are planned.

China’s H-6 bomber also has been upgraded to carry six land-attack cruise missiles with precision guidance capabilities.

“The development of China’s conventionally armed missiles has been rapid, even in the context of overall Chinese military modernization,” the Pentagon report said, noting that as recently as 10 years ago China could not strike targets far from coasts.

“Today, however, China has more than 1,000 conventionally armed ballistic missiles,” the report said. “U.S. bases on Okinawa are in range of a growing number of Chinese [medium-range ballistic missiles], and Guam could potentially be reached by air-launched cruise missiles.”

Chinese missiles also have grown more accurate and “are now better suited to strike regional air bases, logistics facilities, and other ground-based infrastructure, which Chinese military analysts have concluded are vulnerabilities in modern warfare,” the report said.

The combination of ballistic, ground- and air-launched land attack cruise missiles, and other forces threaten targets throughout the region, the report said.

China’s first threatening cruise missiles were purchased from Russia in the 1990s aboard Sovremenny-class guided missile warships that are equipped with high-speed SSN-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles.

The National Air and Space Intelligence Center lists 14 types of Chinese short-range ballistic missiles, five types of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and two types of land-attack cruise missiles.

Earlier this month, Greenert met in China with PLA Navy chief Adm. Wu Shengli, and the two admirals sought to improve cooperation and coordination.

Greenert said that Wu asked that Chinese naval experts be permitted to visit U.S. aircraft carriers as part of China’s carrier development program, but the request was rejected.

“They want to learn a lot more about our carriers by coming aboard our carriers with experts, and we said ‘well we’re not ready for that,’” Greenert said.

U.S. law passed in 1999 currently prohibits the Pentagon from sharing details of U.S. power projection capabilities with China during military exchanges. The law was passed to prevent the Chinese from exploiting U.S.-China military exchanges to bolster their large-scale military build up.

Greenert described the Chinese carrier as “very Russian.”

“It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s onerous,” he said, adding that the refurbishment includes advanced Chinese military gear.

“They will build another carrier, probably relatively soon,” he said. “It’ll look just like this one, they said. Ski ramp. About the same tonnage, 65,000, 70,000 tons.”

While U.S. carrier operations can include the launch and recovery of 100 aircraft routinely, China currently is limited to launching and landing 10 jets at a time, and test pilots are involved in takeoffs and landings.

“But they are moving at a pace that is extraordinary,” Greenert said of the carrier development.

Currently, the Chinese have operated the carrier in the South China Sea, but without aircraft, and in the Yellow sea with carrier-based jets.

Greenert said he is not overly concerned by the Chinese carrier development because the PLA needs more work before the warship can conduct military operations.

Greenert defended allowing the Chinese navy to take part in the recent international military exercises known as Rim of the Pacific. He noted that the Russians had taken part in RIMPAC in the past and there were few protests.

Some in Congress opposed the Chinese navy involvement in RIMPAC because it appeared the United States was rewarding China by allowing Beijing’s participation at a time when China is engaged in bullying most of its maritime neighbors in Asia.

Asked about China’s use of advanced weapons that are designed to allow a weaker power to defeat a stronger foe, Greenert defended the Navy’s development of high tech arms. He highlighted several new Navy weapons programs, including a laser weapon that can shoot down drones

“Number one, we’re looking at lasers,” Greenert said. “And as we speak we have a laser gun in the Arabian Gulf on a ship that we are testing. It’s been demonstrated. It’s shooting down a drone and, if you will, ‘overheating’ a fast craft at this level of power.”

Other advanced systems include unmanned aerial vehicles that can be launched from carriers, and autonomous underwater vehicles that can conduct searches and pass the information to surface vessels.

“We’re into cyber in many ways beyond the classification that we’re talking here,” he said.

“So I too agree just more kinetic [weapons], more missiles that’s not the way ahead,” Greenert said. “The way is the electro magnetic spectrum to get in to spoof, to jam, to fry, if you will, microwave, and that’s the way of the future for us as well.”


EPA Approves New Bee-Killing, Food-Poisoning Insecticide

EPA Approves New Bee-Killing, Food-Poisoning Insecticide
Submitted by Alice on July 30, 2014 – 5:58 amNo Comment


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of a new insecticide, DuPont’s cyantraniliprole (CTP), despite concerns about it getting into the nation’s food supply and the fact that it’s highly toxic to hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of endangered species.

To help protect the public and wildlife from the effects of CTP, three groups — the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety and Defenders of Wildlife – are suing the EPA in federal court.

According to the Center for Food Safety, the complaint filed by the groups stated that the insecticide “kills by causing unregulated activation of ryanodine receptors, which results in unregulated muscle contraction, paralysis, and death.”

The EPA’s own data showed CTP to be toxic, the Center for Food Safety said.

“Based on data showing the concentrations or amounts of CTP that cause direct effects, EPA classified the chemical as ‘slightly to moderately toxic to freshwater fish; slightly toxic to estuarine/marine fish; slightly to very highly toxic to freshwater invertebrates; moderately to highly toxic to estuarine/marine invertebrates, highly toxic to benthic invertebrates; highly to very highly toxic to terrestrial insects’ from acute exposures.”

Concerns About Cyantraniliprole

Here are a few of the other significant concerns:

1. CTP Will Get Into Our Food Supply.

Will this harmful pesticide get into our food supply? Yes. According to the Federal Register, CTP residue will be allowed on foods such as:

    Leafy Vegetables

2. CTP Will Be Hard To Avoid.

You can change your eating habits, but it will be difficult to avoid CTP. After all, the EPA expects that its “use will be widespread.” So it will be used not only for agricultural purposes, but also for use on lawns, ornamental plants, fly baits, and even golf courses.

Sound familiar? It should.

Roundup was also deemed safe; however, we now know just how harmful it is. Likewise, CTP is a chemical that we should stop using now before the damage is done.

3. CTP Will Destroy The Bee Population.

The EPA is aware that CTP is dangerous to bees — but still approved it. Considering that the bee population is dwindling here in the U.S., perhaps the EPA should take a cue from Europe and stop using any pesticides that harm bees. And let’s be honest: We need them to grow food!  Beyond Pesticides says that in the near future, there may not be enough bees to pollinate crops due to the harmful effects of pesticides:

    Beekeepers nationwide have experienced honey bee losses of over 40 percent over the 2012/2013 winter period —2013/2014 winter losses are likely to be released soon— with some beekeepers reporting losses of over 70 percent, far exceeding the normal rate of 10 to 15 percent. Some have even been driven out of business. Current estimates of the number of surviving hives in the U.S. show that these colonies may not be able to meet the future pollination demands of agricultural crops.

4. CTP Will Seep Into Our Water Supply.

The EPA will regulate the amount of CTP that is allowed on crops, but it hasn’t taken any steps to limit the amount of CTP that may get into the water supply.

“EPA’s unlawful and irresponsible approval ignored its own scientists’ warnings that strong protective measures are needed because this pesticide can drift into wildlife habitat,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “The agency also failed to include measures to protect water quality from pesticide run-off despite the urging of local water management authorities.”

How To Protect Yourself And Your Family From Pesticides

For now, CTP is used in the United States, Canada, China and India. While it’s hard to avoid, there are some steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family from CTP and other harmful pesticides.

    Grow your own food, and use organic pesticides and fertilizers on your lawn and garden.
    Buy and eat organic fruits and vegetables.
    Add detoxifying herbs and food to your diet, including: beets, turmeric, Milk Thistle, dandelion greens, Essiac Tea and cilantro.

- See more at:

Malaysian scholar refutes MH 17 lies

34 International EIR August 1, 2014
Guest Commentary
Who Stands To Gain?
by Chandra Muzaffar
Dr. Muzaffar is the President of the International
Movement for a Just World
MALAYSIA, July 26—The Russian
military has released military monitoring
data which challenges allegations
circulating in the media pertaining to
the MH 17 crash in the Donetsk Region
of Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.
Questions have been raised about Kiev
military jets tracking MH 17, Ukrainian
air traffic controllers, and the deployment
of Buk missile systems. Kiev
should also release military data on the
circumstances leading to the crash. So
should the Pentagon, which reportedly has relevant intelligence
and satellite data.
Since military data is hardcore information, Kiev
and Washington should be persuaded to be transparent
and accountable. The UN Secretary-General can play a
role in this since there is a specialized agency within the
UN, the ICAO, dedicated to international civil aviation.
Military data from Moscow, Kiev, and Washington
should be scrutinized by the independent international
panel that is supposed to probe the MH 17 catastrophe.
Such data carries much more weight than videos
purportedly revealing the role of the pro-Russian rebels
and the Russian government in the crash. One such
video showing a Buk system being moved from Ukraine
to Russia is a fabrication. The billboard in the background
establishes that it was shot in a town—Krasnoarmeisk—
that has been under the control of the Ukrainian
military since May 11. Similarly, a YouTube video
purporting to show a Russian general and Ukrainian
rebels discussing their role in mistakenly downing a civilian
aircraft was, from various tell-tale signs, produced
before the event.
The public should be wary of fabricated “evidence”
of this sort, after what we have witnessed in the last so
many years. Have we forgotten the monstrous lies and
massive distortions that accompanied the reckless allegation
that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction
(WMD), which led eventually to the invasion of that
country in 2003, and the deaths of more than a million
people? Iraq continues to bleed to this day.
What about the Gulf of Tonkin episode of 1964,
which again was a fabrication that paved the way for
wanton U.S. aggression against Vietnam
that resulted in the death of more
than 3 million Vietnamese?
The “babies in incubators” incident
in Kuwait in 1990 was yet another
manufactured lie that aroused the anger
of the people and served to justify the
U.S. assault on Iraq.
Just last year we saw how an attempt
was made by some parties to pin
the blame for a sarin gas attack in
Ghouta, Syria upon the Assad government,
when subsequent investigations
have revealed that it was the work of
some militant rebel group.
A False-Flag Operation?
From Tonkin to Ghouta, there is a discernible pattern
when it comes to the fabrication of evidence to justify
some nefarious agenda or other. As soon as the
event occurs before any proper investigation has begun,
blame is apportioned upon the targeted party. This is
done wilfully to divert attention from the real culprit,
whose act of evil remains concealed and camouflaged.
The colluding media then begins to spin the correct version
with the help of its reporters and columnists who
concoct “fact” out of fiction. Any other explanation or
interpretation of the event is discredited and dismissed
derisively to ensure that the “credibility” of the dominant
narrative remains intact. As the narrative unfolds,
the target, often embodied in a certain personality, is
demonized to such a degree that he arouses the ire of the
public and becomes an object of venom.
The pattern described here is typical of what is
known as a “false-flag” operation in which blame for
some dastardly deed is consciously transferred to one’s
adversary. It has happened right through history, and
many contemporary nation-states—and not just the
United States—are guilty of flying false flags.
To protect ourselves from being deceived by such
operations, the general public should always ask: Who
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar
August 1, 2014 EIR International 35
stands to gain from a particular episode? Cui Bono is in
fact an important principle in the investigation of a
crime. In the case of the MH 17 carnage, the pro-Russian
rebels do not benefit in any way from downing a
civilian airliner. Their goal is independence from the
Kiev government, which is why they are fighting Kiev
through sometimes violent means, including shooting
down its military planes. Massacring 298 passengers in
a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur does not
serve their cause. Moscow, which backs the rebels to an
extent, also gains nothing from involving itself in such
a diabolical carnage.
The Demonization of Putin
Ten days after the carnage, it is now clear who is
trying to reap benefits from that terrible tragedy in the
skies. The demonization of the Russian President,
Vladimir Putin, orchestrated from various Western capitals,
including Kiev, after Crimea voted to join the
Russian Federation, thus thwarting one of the primary
strategic goals of NATO’s eastward expansion, has now
reached its pinnacle. After MH 17, it has become a lot
easier to convince people—even without an iota of evidence—
that Putin is a “mass murderer.” The tarnishing
of Putin’s image is crucial for those in the West who
want to curb Russia’s political re-assertion so that the
U.S. and its allies can perpetuate their global dominance
without hindrance.
MH 17 has helped the elite in Washington in yet another
sense. It has strengthened its push for tougher
sanctions against Russia which began after the Crimea
vote. Given their extensive economic ties with Russia,
many European countries such as Germany, France,
Netherlands, and Italy have been somewhat lukewarm
about widening and deepening sanctions. But will that
change now? Will an outraged European public, incensed
by the MH 17 massacre, demand that their governments
punish Moscow?
It is obvious that those who seek to punish Russia
and the pro-Russian rebels, namely, the elite in Washington
and Kiev, are poised to gain the most from the
MH 17 episode. Does it imply that they would have had
a role in the episode itself? Only a truly independent
and impartial international inquiry would be able to
provide the answer.
In this regard, we must admit that while elites in
Kiev and Washington may stand to gain from MH 17,
those who actually pulled the trigger may be some other
group or individual with links to the powerful in the two
capitals. It is quite conceivable that a certain wellheeled
individual equipped with the appropriate military
apparatus and with access to air-control authorities
in the region may have executed the act of evil itself.
Because of who he is, and where his loyalties lie, that
individual may have also decided to target Malaysia.
Was he giving vent to his anger over our principled stand
on the question of justice for the Palestinians? Was he
also attempting to divert public attention from Israel’s
ground offensive against Gaza, which time-wise coincided
with the downing of the Malaysian airliner?
As we explore MH 17 from this angle, would we be
able to connect the dots between MH 17 and MH 370,
between July 17 and March 8, 2014?
We should not rest till the whole truth is known and
the evil behind these two colossal catastrophes punished
We owe this to every soul who perished on those
fateful flights.
This article is dedicated to the cherished memory of
all those on MH 17—especially the 80 children who
were on board.
Feature Film
Eight months
before the
September 11,
2001 attacks,
Lyndon LaRouche
forecast that the
United States was
at high risk for
a Reichstag Fire
event, an event that would allow those in power to manage,
through dictatorial means, an economic and social crisis
that they were otherwise incompetent to handle. We are
presently living in the wake of that history.