Category Archives: International Relations

Meet James Kirchick: Neocon propagandist

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By now I am sure we have all heard about the resignation of Liz Wahl, and the public condemnation of Putin by Abby Martin. Both worked/work for Russia Today, and both have created a media storm here in the west. Apparently Liz Wahl just discovered that she was working for a Russian government-funded news outlet and was shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that they had a bias towards Russia. Liz Wahl, of course, got her start interning for the always fair and balanced Fox News. In the background of these stories has been an American propagandist neocon by the name of James Kirchick. Kirchick has been seen in recent days on the three letter corporate controlled news outlets spewing all sorts of lies and slander. He took to MSNBC to call Abby Martin an “out and out lunatic” for questioning the official conspiracy theory of 9/11, and for thinking that industrial fluoride put into our water supply is detrimental to our health. My god, what a nut she is!

His other little pet project has been helping out his fellow neocon Liz Wahl, and going to RT America’s headquarters and calling everyone there a Kremlin puppet. So I though a little background on Kirchick was in order.

Kirchick is first and foremost  an American propagandist. He formerly worked for Radio Free Europe. For anyone unclear, RFE is a US government-funded “media outlet” that takes it’s direction from the State Dept. and CIA. Since then Kirchick has gone on to work for Bill Kristol’s neocon think tank “Foreign Policy Initiative.” Kirchick also has the honor of being a former fellow at another neoconservative think tank called the Foundation for Defense of Democracy. FDD loves democracy so much that it appointed former Director of CIA James Woosley as chairman. And if that’s not enough, Kirchick writes for the corporate-owned Daily Beast.

James Kirchick rose to the spotlight on Wednesday August 21, 2013 when he appeared on RT to discuss the sentencing of Pvt. Manning. You’re asking why was Kirchick invited on in the first place? Well he had just penned a cute little article in the NY Daily News saying that Manning deserved the death penalty for his actions. During the interview, instead of defending this psychopathic idea, Kirchick started attacking Russia and RT in regards to the anti-gay propaganda law. Much to his chagrin he wasn’t cut off immediately, and was allowed to talk for around two minutes. Later off air he was caught saying he only went on RT to “fuck with the Russians.”

In a nutshell Kirchick is no different than those on RT that tow the Kremlins line. He lives in a warped reality where the great and free America must confront the evil oppressive Russia. This mentality is not only dangerous but idiotic. In geopolitics there are rarely good guys and bad guys. By painting the situation in Ukraine as black and white Kirchick ignores the complexities of what is going on. Boiling down the new iteration of the Cold War to good versus evil makes any action by the US seem justified no matter how reckless it may be. Kirchick believes that all US military interventions are good and all Russian ones bad. That is, of course, the same notion we hear from Russia. Furthermore James Kirchick is nothing but a hypocrite. His defense of gay rights only extends to those who don’t hurt his fake image of the “Land of the Free.”

What is happening right now in Ukraine is very serious. Listening to ideologues on either side of the conflict is dangerous. Rather than call for peace the power elite in both Russia and America call for military action. They use their minions like James Kirchick to whip people up into a war frenzy where anything goes. So don’t listen to them. For that matter don’t listen to me. Listen to yourself and your own moral values. War is wrong, ALWAYS. As Randolph Bourne eloquently stated “War is the health of the State.” And right now the State is very healthy.

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Iran still isn’t building a bomb

Once again the United States admits that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. This time around it was in response to the erroneous claims that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has been making to the media in the Jewish state. Barak recently said that the American position on Iran was finally moving closer Israel’s. This was after Haaretz reported that there was a new NIE stating that Iran was in fact constructing a nuclear bomb. The Haaretz report is as false as Barak’s comments. No where in the Haaretz report is new intelligence cited. The same old lies about a supposed “clean up” at the Parchin military facility are cited as evidence by Haaretz, despite it having been debunked already. Haaretz also relies on anonymous Western and Israeli diplomats as sources for this new revelation. The other “reliable” source used by Haaretz comes from the violent Iranian terrorist cult group the MEK. I won’t even take the time here to break down how the MEK has absolutely no credibility.

So let’s be clear so we don’t have to go through with this for the two hundredth time. Iran is NOT building a nuclear weapon. They ceased construction in 2003 and have not begun again. This was the revelation that was made in the 2007 NIE, and it is still true today. As the L.A. Times pointed out five days ago, there is no nuclear program in Iran. It does not exist. For some further clarification on how ridiculous these claims are, here is former US Navy intelligence analyst John Schindler writing on his blog about these false claims:

A couple rules of the road. NIEs are very special things, exceptionally LIMDIS (limited distribution); when I was a full-time spook I didn’t read them – that was way above my pay-grade. That’s for the White House and related bigwigs. And they are always NOFORN: not for foreigners.

So, a few possibilities. Barak and his government are playing one huge head-fake with Obama, whom they openly dislike, even though he just dumped more money on Israel. Or, they have seen it – how, exactly, this former counterspy wonders – and are diming out DC in a very tough game of hardball.

Regardless, the rules of the spy game are clear and have been since Moses was a boy. When intelligence services share information, as they do every day, you don’t pass it to third parties without clearance. Ever. And if you do, eventually you will get burned and nobody will want to play marbles with you.

Barak and the other warmongers in Israel simply can’t wait to bomb Iran. Netanyahu and Barak are both savvy enough politically to understand that the American public by and large is gullible enough to so take that they say as fact. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times government officials or the mainstream media tells the American people that Iran isn’t building a bomb; they just don’t buy it. Netanyahu and Barak use this fact to brainwash Americans into blindly marching into war with Israel’s enemies. Israel’s enemies are not always our enemies. It’s time for Israel to fight their own battles. If that means attacking and oppressing Muslims through out the Middle East then fine, but we can not be dragged into this. The Muslim and Arab world already hates us enough. Can you really fathom what would happen if we worked with or allowed Israel to attack Iran? Can you imagine how fast Iran would build a bomb if they were attacked? All of the liberal western orientated Iranians that Americans love so much would side with the Ayatollah. A regional as well as global conflict involving other super powers could result in world war three. Once again the United States is driving down the road headed towards another 9/11.

Defense Intelligence Agency releases video made in aftermath of Pollard incident

The above video was produced by the security apparatus of the Defenses Intelligence Agency (DIA) as a training video on the dangers of espionage. The short video was made after Jonathan Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel in 1987. Pollard stole and transferred one million classified intelligence documents to the Israeli government. Grant Smith of the Institute of Research: Middle East Policy obtained the video under a Freed of Information Act (FOIA) request. The video is hokey and very 80’s, but it shows just how serious DIA took this incident. Smith believes that President Obama may be close to pardoning Pollard from prison. A pardon for Pollard would show just how willing the US is to please Israel, and represent how Israel is totally above the law when it comes to spying on their closet ally.

UN report on Rwandan support of M23 not good

The UN’s Group of Experts report on Rwandan support and backing of the M23 mutiny in Congo paints a very scary picture. M23 is a group of soilders and officers who have revolted against the central government in Kinshasa. Led by alleged war criminal Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda, M23 has been fighting in the Kivus region of Congo for several months now. Along with Laurent Nkunda and Sultani Makenga, the DRC and now the UN allege that M23 has been receiving direct support from the government of Rwanda including ammunition, arms, health care, fresh recruits, and training. The Group of Experts also alleges that Kigali was instrumental in starting the rebellion; hoping to dominate Congo as well as annex the Kivus, whose population has strong ethnic ties to the Tutsi dominated government in Rwanda. High level face to face meetings between M23 members and Rwandan military and intelligence officials have also allegedly taken place on a regular basis. Rwanda has long interfered in the internal politics of its large neighbor, as well as exploiting it vast mineral wealth in the east. The Unites States, which counts Rwanda as a close ally, is beloved to have been behind the lobbying effort at the UN to stop the report from coming out. For more detailed information on M23 and Congo in general check out Jason Stearns blog Congo Siasa

Below are excerpts from the report obtained by Colum Lynch and published in Foreign Policy Magazine:

Since the outset of its current mandate, the Group [of Experts] has gathered evidence of arms embargo and sanctions regime violations committed by the Rwandan Government. These violations consist of the provision of material and financial support to armed groups operation in the eastern DRC, including the recently established M23, in contravention of paragraph 1 of Security Council resolution 1807. The arms embargo and sanctions regimes violations include the following:
*Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory;
*Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23;
*Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23;
*Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23;
*Direct Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23;
*Support to several other armed groups as well as FARDC mutinies in the eastern Congo;
*Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.
Over the course of its investigation since late 2011, the Group has found substantial evidence attesting to support from Rwandan officials to armed groups operating in the eastern DRC. Initially the RDF [Rwandan Defense Forces] appeared to establish these alliances to facilitate a wave of targeted assassinations against key FDLR [The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the armed remnants of Rwanda’s former genocidal government] officers, thus significantly weakening the rebel movement (see paragraphs 37 & 38 of interim report). However, these activities quickly extended to support for a series of post electoral mutinies within the FARDC [The Congolese Armed Forces] and eventually included the direct facilitation, through the use of Rwandan territory, of the creation of the M23 rebellion. The latter is comprised of ex-CNDP officers integrated into the Congolese army (FARDC) in January 2009. Since M23 established itself in strategic positions along the Rwandan border in May 2012, the Group has gathered overwhelming evidence demonstrating that senior RDF officers, in their official capacities, have been backstopping the rebels through providing weapons, military supplies, and new recruits.
In turn, M23 continues to solidify alliances with many other armed groups and mutineer movements, including those previously benefiting from RDF support. This has created enormous security challenges, extending from Ituri district in the north to Fizi territory in the south, for the already overstretched Congolese Army(FARDC). Through such arms embargo violations, Rwandan officials have also been in contravention of the sanctions regime’s travel ban and assets freeze measures, by including three designated individuals amongst their direct allies.
In an attempt to solve the crisis which this Rwandan support to armed groups had exacerbated, the governments of the DRC and Rwanda have held a series of high-level bilateral meetings since early April 2012. During these discussions, Rwandan officials have insisted on impunity for their armed group and mutineer allies, including ex-CNDP General Bosco Ntaganda, and the deployment of additional RDF units to the Kivus to conduct large-scale operations against the FDLR. The latter request has been repeatedly made despite the fact that: a) the RDF halted its unilateral initiatives to weaken the FDLR in late February; b) RDF Special Forces have already been deployed officially in Rutshuru territory for over a year; c) RDF operational units are periodically reinforcing the M23 on the battlefield against the Congolese army; d) M23 is directly and indirectly allied with several FDLR splinter groups; and e) the RDF is remobilizing previously repatriated FDLR to boost the ranks of M23.
* * *
Elevated Standards of Evidence:
In light of the serious nature of these findings, the group has adopted elevated methodological standards. Since early April 2012, the Group has interviewed over 80 deserters of FARDC mutinies and Congolese armed groups, including from M23. Amongst the latter, the Group has interviewed 31 Rwandan nationals. Furthermore, the group has also photographed weapons and military equipment found in arms caches and on the battlefield, as well as obtained official documents and intercepts of radio communication. The Group has also consulted dozens of senior Congolese military commanders and intelligence officials as well as political and community leaders with intricate knowledge of development between DRC and Rwanda. Moreover, the Group has communicated regularly with several active participants of the ex-CNDP mutiny, the M23 rebellion, and other armed groups. Finally, while the Group’s standard methodology requires a minimum of three sources, assessed to be credible and independent of one another, it has raised this to five sources when naming specific individuals involved in these case of arms embargo and sanctions violations.
* * *
Rwandan Support to M23:
Since the earliest stage of its inception, the Group documented a systematic pattern of military and political support provided to the M23 rebellion by Rwandan authorities. Upon taking control over the strategic position of Runyoni, along the Rwandan border with DRC, M23 officers opened two supply routes going from Runyoni to Kinigi or Njerima in Rwanda, which RDF officers used to deliver such support as troops, recruits, and weapons. The Group also found evidence that Rwandan officials mobilized ex-CNDP cadres and officers, North Kivu politicians, business leaders and youth in support of M23.
* * *
Direct Rwandan assistance in creation of M23 through Rwandan territory:
Colonel Sultani Makenga deserted the FARDC in order to create the M23 rebellion using Rwandan territory and benefiting directly from RDF facilitation (See paragraph 104 of interim report). On 4 May, Makenga crossed the border from Goma into Gisenyi, Rwanda, and waited for his soldiers to join him from Goma and Bukavu. Intelligence sources, M23 collaborators and local politicians confirmed for the Group that RDF Western Division commander, General Emmanuel Ruvusha, welcomed Makenga upon his arrival to Gisenyi. The same source indicated that Ruvusha subsequently held a series of coordination meetings with other RDF officers in Gisenyi and Ruhengeri over the following days with Makenga.

Rwandan officials have also been directly involved in the mobilization of political leaders and financial backers for M23. Based on interviews conducted with M23 members, ex-CNDP officers and politicians, intelligence officers, FARDC [Congolese Army] senior commanders, the Group [of Experts] has established that Rwandan officials have made extensive telephone calls and organized a series of meeting with Congolese politicians and businessman to promote and rally support for M23.
Throughout the Group’s investigations, it has systematically gathered testimonies from former M23 combatants, M23 collaborators, ex-RDF [Rwandan Defense Forces] officers, Congolese intelligence, FARDC commanders, and politicians which affirm the direct involvement in the support to M23 from senior levels of the Rwandan government.
a) General Jacques Nziza, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, supervises all military, financial, and logistic support as well as mobilization activities related to M23. He has recently been deployed to Ruhengeri and Gisenyi to coordinate M23 assistance and recruitment.
b) General James Kabarebe, the Rwandan Minister of Defense, with the support of his personal secretary Captain Celestin Senkoko, also is a central figure in recruitment and mobilizing political and military support to M23. Kabarebe has often been in direct contact with M23 members on the ground to coordinate military activities.
c) General Charles Kayonga, the RDF Chief of Staff manages the overall military support to M23. Kayonga is frequently in communications with Makenga and oversaw the transfer of Makenga’s troops and weapons through Rwanda.
d) The military support on the ground has been channeled by General Emmanuel Ruvusha, RDF Division commander based in Gisenyi, as well as General Alexi Kagame, RDF Division commander based at Ruhengeru, Both facilitate recruitment of civilians and demobilized soldiers to M23 as well as coordinating RDF reinforcements in Runyoni with M23 commanders.
e) Colonel Jomba Gakumba, a native of North Kivu, who used to be an RDF instructor at the Rwandan Military Academy at Gako, was redeployed to Ruhengeri since the creation of M23, where he has been in charge of commanding locally military operations in support of M23.
Ex-RDF officers, politicians, M23 collaborators also informed the Group that Ntaganda and Makenga have been regularly crossing the border into Rwanda to carrying meetings with any of the above mentioned senior RDF officers at Kinigi, on several occasions. Those same sources also stated that former CNDP chairman General Laurent Nkunda, officially under house arrest by the Rwandan government since January 2009, often comes from Kigali to participate in these meetings.

Annan backs off letting Iran negotiate in Syria

Kofi Annan has been pushing for some time now to have Iran help negotiate an end to the civil war in Syria.  As one of Syria’s few remaining allies Iran could play a very important part in helping to end the violence.  Unfortunately this will not happen.  On Wednesday Annan announced that Iran will not participate in the peace talks scheduled for Saturday in Geneva.  The current roster for the peace talks include the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Turkey.  It’s patently clear that the United States did not want Iran to have a seat at the table.  Letting them participate might have gone towards acknowledging that Iran has power and influence, which runs counter to the narrative concocted by the United States.  The US believes that maintaining the perception that Iran is weak and isolated will help them in succeeding to stop their nuclear program.  Of course this is unfounded and arrogant, but plays well for the domestic audience here that views Iran as a threat.  Congressional push back on Iran as a negotiator was also very loud.  Those in Congress preaching about ending the crisis seem to care more about sticking it to Iran than actually bringing about an end to the violence.

Whatever happens in Syria will have an impact on Iran.  As both a friend and neighbor to Assad, Iran will be a factor in whatever happens.  By cutting them out of the discussion Annan has insured that the role Iran plays will be more adversarial towards the West and those pushing for regime change than if they were involved in peace talks.  This represents yet another example of how the civil war in Syria is being fought over by world powers in a very complicated game of geopolitical chess.

The U.S. needs to stop with the moral superiority over Russia

In the last few months the civil war in Syria has become a diplomatic battle between Russia and the United States. This fight has focused around Russia’s arms sales to the Assad regime. Listening to American officials and the western media, a narrative has unfolded that pits the poor Syrian rebels against the evil Assad government; battling with little more than assault rifles and RPG’s against the superior military might of Russian made arms. Yet this narrative is both false and highly hypocritical.

There is no doubt that Russia is selling arms to the Assad regime. Both nations have had a long term deal with regards to arms trading stemming all the way back to the 1950’s. In the 1990’s Hafez al Assad relied heavily on Russian arms sales to suppress the Islamist uprising with in Syria. The problem with this narrative is that it is only one half of the story, and serves as a justification for neo-cons and liberal interventionists to push us into war with yet another Muslim nation.

Let us first examine a few facts that the West seems to forget when talking about the crisis in Syria. The U.S. is the single biggest arms dealer in the world, period. At a June 14th news conference Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro boasted that, “Despite the global economic strain, demand for U.S. defence products and services is stronger than ever.” Shapiro confirmed that in this fiscal year alone government to government arms sales have exceeded 50 billion dollars. It is worth noting that between 1950-1990, Russian arms sales to Syria totaled just 34 billion dollars. It is important to note that the top ten buyers of U.S. weapons in this fiscal year, which won’t end until September, are all gross human rights abusers. These ten reputable American allies include Honduras, the U.A.E, Algeria, Peru, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Israel, Qatar, and Djibouti. All of these nations are guilty in one form or another of suppressing civil society, freedom of speech and assembly; use of violence against religious and ethnic minorities; forced disappearance and extra judicial killings; threat of rape; and in the case is Israel, the 45 year occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. And don’t forget that peace loving America has not stopped the 1 billion dollar military aid program to Egypt. A billion dollar program to a military junta that has dissolved parliament, usurped power from the presidency, and is most likely working towards ensuring that Mubarak’s crony Shafik will be president. And yet, Russia is the evil actor in this perverse geopolitical drama.

The second part of this hypocritical morality lesson is the underreported and ignored fact that the United States is funneling weapons into Syria. Just the other day the NYT reported that the CIA was operating in Turkey; vetting various rebel groups to determine
who should receive arms. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also guilty of sending arms into Syria. These two Gulf nations are simply a front for U.S. arms trafficking into Syria. This allows the U.S. plausible deniability that they are in providing weapons to rebel groups that may in fact be hostile to America. How is this any different from what Russia is doing?

This post is not meant to be an endorsement of Russian arms sales to Syria. Assad is no doubt an evil man guilty of killing his own people. Russia is certainty guilty of helping to slaughter Syrian people. But, this does not mean that America is good. America is culpable of suppressing human rights and slaughtering people around the world. America instead views helping their allies as somehow different.

Russia did not start arming Shia protesters in Bahrain while the U.S. backed government tortured and killed hundreds if not thousands. Bahrain is in America’s sphere of influence and was seen as out of bounds. In general Russia never calls out America for empowering their corrupt allies. Russia fully understands that in the game of geopolitics no power is good or bad. World powers do whatever they believe is in the national interest of their nation. Syria represents Russia’s last sphere of influence in the Middle East. If arming the Assad regime is deemed necessary to Russia’s national interest then they will arm them. Conversely, American elites believe that regime change in Syria and weakening Iran is in their interest. President Obama and Secretary Clinton care as much about the Syrian people as President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavarov do. Not at all.

The Atrocities Prevention Board will achieve nothing

President Obama announced today the formation of the “Atrocities Prevention Board”, which will be tasked with helping to prevent such horrible acts like genocide. The White House press release on this new initiative is basically a long list of talking points which will have no real impact on human rights, or genocide prevention. Many of these talking points are so obvious to the prevention of genocide, that it begs the question, why did the President feel the need to create this board? While others have simply never worked.

The section of the press release devoted to diplomatic efforts lays out this ground breaking new way of preventing atrocities:

“Diplomatic Initiative: The United States will engage with countries and other stakeholders around the world to expand and deepen international commitment and capacity to prevent and respond to atrocities.”

Mr. President, with all due respect this has pretty much been standard practice for diplomats when trying to prevent atrocities.

The section following this in the press release is devoted to the failed practice of sanctions. Sanctions are a colossal failure. Sanctions have not toppled the regimes in Iran or Syria; nor will they ever. Similarly, they were not successful in getting rid Saddam Hussein, and have had no impact on the Castro brothers grip on power in Cuba. Sanctions are quite successful at making those at the very bottom suffer.

The Presidents new Atrocities Prevention Board will also be tasked with “denying impunity” both in the U.S. and abroad for those accused of genocide and other mass crimes. Certainly one of the more laughable demands of the president’s new panel in light of the immunity deal they helped hammer out for former President Saleh.

The list goes on and on. Dominating much of this new initiative is the notion that the president wants the ability to be made more aware of when atrocities are happening. This insinuates that somehow world leaders are kept in the dark when war crimes are being committed. Somehow the intelligence community will now be better tasked with reporting information when these events are taking place.

The intelligence community will work internally and with our foreign partners to increase the overall collection, analysis, and sharing of information relating to atrocity threats and situations.

Here is yet another fallacy espoused by the president. World leaders, and the president of the United States in particular, know full well when war crimes and other atrocities are taking place. A reconfiguration of intelligence gathering will not lead to less atrocities taking place, because there is no intelligence gap when in comes to intel on atrocities.

Today’s announcement of the formation of the Atrocities Prevention Board will do nothing to stop genocide and war crimes from being committed. Instead it will create more bureaucracy, leading to nowhere, and hampering real methods to stop these despicable acts. The announcement is a nauseating display of political theater. Unable to do anything to stop the bloodshed in Syria, the president wants to give the impression that there will never again be another Syria. Instead of truly empowering the UN and other existing institutions tasked with preventing war crimes, the President decides to create another government entity to tell him what he already knows. Exploiting the civil war in Syria to make himself seem like a caring and just leader is not the way to fight war crimes.

Much needed change at ICC

Gambian prosecutor Fatima Bensouda will become the new chef prosecutor of the ICC. She will take over from her boss and the current head of the court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, who has shrouded the court in controversy. Ocampo has been criticized for only prosecuting African leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity. As The Economist points out

All 26 of the suspects publicly indicted by the court have been African; of those in the court’s custody, four are Congolese and one a Rwandan wanted for crimes in Congo.

This marks a huge victory for African nations and people’s. There have been many awful crimes that have been committed by African rulers in the past decade but we need to broaden the scope of the court. Rather than act as a deterrent against committing war crimes; ICC under Ocampo is now viewed as racist and unfair by leaders and people across Africa. How come no one in Israel has been charged with dropping white phosphorus on civilians in Gaza? Why has the Sri Lankan government been spared a serious investigation into war crimes committed in their push to defeat the Tamil Tigers?

International law should not be viewed
as unfair and biased. It makes bad leaders flaunt the law and do as they please. We need to strengthen the power to prosecute bad leaders, while at the same time make sure to prosecute people aside from those residing in Africa.

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