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British think-tanks call for “US leadership” in Europe

“Rebuilding US leading role is the key for European security” say British experts, but the new political realities inspire doubts Jeremy McCoy January 4, Anonymous hackers released the new batch of documents from the Integrity Initiative – a government-funded program run by the London based Institute for Statecraft. The Institute for Statecraft describes itself as “an independent body dedicated to refreshing the practice of statecraft, to improving governance and to enhancing national security”. The Integrity Initiative: Defending Democracy against Disinformation is one of the Institute’s projects aimed at countering Russian propaganda as well as all kinds of “attempts to influence the policies and undermine the societies of the West”. The released batch inter alia contains the files on the Integrity Initiative efforts in the USA. These documents worth being examined more carefully because they show a questionable approach to European security shared by some British think tankers. The experts believe a reassertion of the US political and military domination in Europe is the only way for the West to counter Russia, China and Daesh/IS. “The …

Dad’s Army’s cover blown

A formidable and secret UK government-funded anti-Russian StratCom (strategic communication) enterprise, its cover having recently been embarrassingly blown, now presents itself as a bumbling Dad’s Army outfit. But don’t be fooled: this pussycat is a tiger. Tony Kevin This published-sources-based story has been around for a few weeks but has so far gone completely unreported in Australian media: which is odd, because it is in my opinion quite an important foreign affairs story for Australia. A lengthy set of files, made up of downloaded (or hacked) Integrity Initiative and Institute for Statecraft papers, was published online in late November by British contrarian writer Tim Hayward, as a ‘working file in progress’, under the title ‘Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative’, with authors Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, and Piers Robinson (who call themselves the ‘Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media’). The URL is here. The authors introduce their set of papers as follows: A close examination of past and present posts held by individuals associated with the Integrity Initiative indicates that [TK- British] …

REVIEW: David Ray Griffin, The American Trajectory – Divine or Demonic?

by David Lorimer     The American Trajectory – Divine or Demonic David Ray Griffin Clarity Press Inc, 2018, 409 pp., $29.95, p/b – ISBN 978-0-998694-795 This penetrating analysis constitutes the background or ‘prequel’ to David’s book Bush and Cheney: How they Ruined America and the World, reviewed in No 126 in April (p. 53) and puts one in mind of the bumper sticker stating ‘Be kind to America, or else we will bring you freedom and democracy.’ The starting point is the self-image of the US as exceptional, moral and a force for good, unlike previous empires. This rhetoric is still asserted within the political mainstream, for instance by President Obama (responsible for an extension of illegal US drone attacks) when he stated that “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.” However, Griffin also reports an interview by President Trump talking about Putin when he asks, “What, you think our country is so innocent?” provoking a rebuke from the New York Times for ‘drawing a moral equivalency between the United …

Faint Signs of Hope in Syria and Afghanistan

James O’Neill In March 2003 Iraq was invaded by military forces led by the United States, and including other military forces from a range of US allies, including Australia. The ostensible reason for the invasion was the Iraqi government’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Possession of such weapons is not of itself a legitimate basis for invasion. The Allies therefore had to embellish the claim. Saddam Hussein was going to attack the United Kingdom, with only 45 minutes warning! He was using these weapons against his own people (a claim later repeated to justify the attack on Syria). He posed a threat to peace and stability in the Middle East (irony bypass required here). It was even hinted, none too subtly, that Saddam was one of the persons responsible for the events of 11 September 2001 (“9/11”). There was not a shred of evidence to support any of these allegations. Absence of evidence has never been a deterrent where imperial ambitions are concerned. The invasion of Iraq was about many things, but …

How a Second Referendum would reach beyond Brexit

Prof. Gloria Moss Voices are braying again for a Second Referendum, adding a familiar chorus to our Seasonal celebrations. We take a break from end of year festivities to look at the arguments advanced and look at what these might mean for the worlds of Sport, Education, Politics and the Law. They would make 2019 and the years following like no other, and make it life as we know it today a distant memory. First, let us take a look at the arguments for a Second Referendum (SR). Second Referendum Arguments There are nine prominent voices, five arguing for a rerun on the basis of the difficulties and controversy now facing Parliament and four on the basis of changing circumstances and voters’ ignorance. Problems in Parliament to blame Of the six arguing for a SR on the basis of a messy situation in Parliament, the most recent voice is that of Dominic Grieve, former Attorney General, Conservative MP for Beaconsfield. Writing in the Guardian on 29 December, he wrote of the need to hand the …

OffG in the New Year

And so the year ends. 2018 is a closed book. The final sentence dotted, a new chapter started. It was a bleak year, politically, for many of us – but not entirely without hope.

The Myth of Reform

This is our second extract from Darren Allen’s book 33 Myths of the System. The first extract can be read here, while the full work is available as a free download here. A protest march is one of Gemma Arterton’s favourite things. ‘Oh, I love going on marches,’ she beams. ‘They’re such an amazingly galvanising, brilliant community.’ She brought her mum along on a women’s march recently, ‘and she loved it, too. She just loved the energy you get off it. It’s like carnival, people really together, and they’re singing and they’re chanting.’ She throws her head back, exhilarated by the memory. ‘It’s like, you feel power!’ Interview in The Guardian Reform is the lightning rod and pressure relief valve of the system. Reform deflects desire for a different system into negotiations for changing the scenery, the actors and the script of the current system · · · The key player in reform is the professional, or ambitious, stagversive, the proto-typical example of which was Karl Marx · · · Stagversives may be good people, …

ODE to 2018

It fogs the mind that Century Twenty-One
Already has a sixth of its span run.
Those born in the first months of the millennium
Can vote – all we can do is to pinchpenny ’em.
The hope is slim they ever can afford
To own a home. It seems a poor reward
For working internships and zero-hours,
No job security as came with ours.
I’m thankful for the age when I was young –
The Swinging Sixties, long gone, fully swung.

To whom was Her Majesty referring in her Christmas broadcast?

Ian Fantom Professor Carrol Quiqley in his now famous book The Anglo-American Establishment wrote in the book’s Preface, “The ability of Englishmen of this [Establishment] class and background to leave the obvious unstated, except perhaps in obituaries, is puzzling and sometimes irritating to an outsider”. One such example arose in the Queen’s broadcast to the nation on Christmas Day, in which she stated: Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding.” The BBC reported: “Her message comes as Parliament remains divided over Theresa May’s Brexit deal, as the UK prepares to leave the EU in March” The Guardian stated: “With parliament deeply divided over Theresa May’s Brexit deal and military conflicts raging in parts of the world, the monarch’s words are likely to resonate with many. … The broadcast was recorded on 12 December, before Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s angry Commons clash in which the Labour leader was accused of calling May a ‘stupid …

A Brief History of the System

This is an extract from the Introduction to Darren Allen’s new book 33 Myths of the System. We’ll be publishing a few more extracts over the coming days. The full work is available as a free download here. Our society resembles the ultimate machine which I once saw in a New York toy shop. It was a metal casket which, when you touched a switch, snapped open to reveal a mechanical hand. Chromed fingers reached out for the lid, pulled it down, and locked it from the inside. It was a box; you expected to be able to take something out of it; yet all it contained was a mechanism for closing the cover. Ivan Illich For hundreds of thousands of years, people lived well in peaceful, egalitarian, healthy societies, at the very least in comparison with what followed. We did not work particularly hard and the work itself (if it could be called work; pre-civilised societies don’t make distinctions between work and play), was enjoyable, meaningful and non-alienating. Activity is alienating if it makes …

Fiasco In Islington – Part 2

Part 1 is available here Richard Hugus More facts have come to light in the case of Gilad Atzmon and his banning by the Islington Town Council from performing at a jazz concert on December 21, 2018. The original scenario was that one e-mail from one person calling Atzmon an antisemite somehow persuaded the Islington council to take the drastic step of removing Atzmon from a town-owned venue. Many who heard the story felt this was a rash decision which would surely be reversed when the facts were brought to light. But the Council voted to uphold its decision and Atzmon was indeed not allowed to play. Now it appears that the single complainant – Martin Rankoff – was not just an anonymous fan of Israel but the UK director of Likud-Herut. Herut (or ‘freedom’) was Israel’s founding nationalist party from 1948 until it later merged with Likud. It is a militant and extreme Zionist organization whose roots go in a straight line from Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin up to Benjamin Netanyahu today. Jabotinsky and …

Fiasco In Islington

Part 2 is available here Richard Hugus Jazz saxophonist and writer Gilad Atzmon was recently banned from playing at an assembly hall in Islington, a borough of London, by order of the Islington Town Council. This came about as a result of an e-mail from one person – Martin Rankoff – saying nothing more than that if Atzmon was going to be at the venue on December 21 he would give a ticket that was given to him to someone else. Rankoff wrote, “Mr Atzmon’s news and beliefs I personally find repulsive and do not wish to be in the same place as him, let alone listen to his music.” Rankoff included links to ADL and Israeli news outlets accusing Atzmon of antisemitism. Incredibly, on the basis of this letter alone, the Islington Council went way out of its way and contacted the show’s promoter to get Atzmon banned—something Rankoff didn’t even ask for. Imagine the situation in reverse: Gilad Atzmon writes a letter to the Council saying he is uncomfortable with Martin Rankoff appearing …

Revolutionary Algorithms

Eddison Flame Can you feel it now? Can you feel the changes coming? Can you feel the electricity in the air? Revolution is coming. It is getting really close now, you can almost reach out and touch it. Actually, if you live in France, you can reach out and touch it. The Gilets Jaunes is the beginning of something that is about to spread to every nation on the planet. Maybe not the name, that’s not for sure, but in principle, the Gilets Jaunes is the beginning. The Gilets Jaunes is the beginning because everyone knows that a revolution has to happen. Everyone knows there has to be a revolution, and, well, now the Gilets Jaunes have started it. Everyone is aware of the situation we are facing right now. Everyone is aware of just how dangerous things have become for us. We all know in our hearts what is going on. We know what the people ruling the world are doing. We know they are destroying the environment all over the world. We know …

MH17: JIT’s expiring mandate

Three and half years on, why are there still so many unanswered questions? Célia Schmidt The year is ending and so is the mandate of the Joint International Team investigating the downing of flight MH17. It’s time to provide the results of the prosecutors’ work. No need to say how it’s important to identify and pursue those responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 in Ukraine. Otherwise, the perpetrators will feel like they have impunity. But as the investigation progresses, more questions to the JIT and more doubts about their ability to find responsible for the death of 298 passengers arise. Loopholes in the JIT report At the press conference in May 2018, the international investigators presented evidence that, according to them, implicated the Russian army in the MH17 crash. From the beginning, this theory, quite realistic indeed, has been the only one developed by the JIT. But should not prosecutors consider all the possible scenarios about the circumstances of the disaster? There is no doubt that a massive Russian …

Syria and the will of God

Kevin Smith In my lifetime, there has never been a greater force of evil than the terror rained down on Syria by foreign nations. Its cruelty and savagery have had no bounds. Nonetheless, Syria has defended itself against the economic might of 2/3 of the world’s great powers and has beaten them all. As a career military officer and student of military affairs, I cannot explain how Syria could accomplish this if it were not the will of God.” These were words spoken by US Virginia state senator Richard Black during a recent visit to Syria. Here is a link to more of what he said. For me, these words are the most profound and thought-provoking I’ve read about Syria. I read them every day. I’ve been observing and researching events in Syria and western government’s role in the chaos for some years now. I have also been thinking about faith and wondering if a god plays a role in world events. Evil versus Syria I think all people, religious or not, who care about …

WATCH: “The WW1 Conspiracy – Part 3”

The third part in James Corbett’s documentary series analysing the roots, and myths, of World War I. A week of rain, wind and heavy fog along the Western Front finally breaks, and for a moment there is silence in the hills north of Verdun. That silence is broken at 7:15 AM when the Germans launch an artillery barrage heralding the start of the largest battle the world had ever seen. Watch Part 1 here, Part 2 here. A full transcript and links to sources are available here.

And That’s The Way It Is

The Essential U.S. Journalism Books of 2018 James McEnteer Two very different reporters dig deep beneath the mainstream media chatter to find the authentic, arrhythmic heart of America. Charlie LeDuff (Sh*t Show!: The Country’s Collapsing… and the Ratings are Great) and Chris Hedges ( America: The Farewell Tour), both former New York Times writers, are resourceful investigators who go their own ways to find stories. Beyond that instinct for truth, and independence from the media pack, they have radically different methods. Read together, their books complement and corroborate each other. LeDuff gathers anecdotal evidence from “the fringes” of the country, including minorities and the poor, who rarely have a voice or make an appearance in media until some tragedy befalls them. His made-for-TV antics are gutsy and amusing (a la Michael Moore) but his points are deadly serious. Hedges’ relentless jeremiad reveals the pathologies of America’s failed institutions, the impotence of our corporate political parties, the rise of the Christian fascism and infotainment that brought Trump to power and the concomitant cruelties of word and …

UPDATED: Maria Butina Endgame

I wrote in some detail in Off-Guardian on 29 July about the 15 July arrest by the FBI in Washington DC of a 29 year old Russian national, a postgraduate student in Washington DC and gun enthusiast, Maria Butina.

I was not expecting Maria Butina to be still languishing in solitary confinement in a high-security prison in Virginia awaiting trial as an agent of foreign influence, over four months later. Yet this is what has happened to this unfortunate young aspiring lobbyist for better US-Russian relations.

Bleak See on the Black Sea

Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarević Following the latest events in and around the Black Sea, two old questions are reappearing. Both are inviting us for a repeated elaboration: If a Monroe doctrine (about the hemispheric security exclusivity) is recognised at one corner of the globe, do we have a moral right or legal ground to negate it at the other corner? This irrespectively from the fact that Gorbachev-Yeltsin Russia unilaterally renounced the similar explication – the Brezhnev doctrine about irreversibility of communist gains. Clearly, the ‘might-makes-right’ as a conduct in international relations cannot be selectively accepted. Either it is acknowledged to all who can effectively self-prescribe and maintain such a monopoly of coercion, or it is absolutely (revoked and) condemned as contrary to behaviour among the civilised nations. Next to the first question is a right of pre-emption. It is apparent that within the Black Sea theatre, Russia acts in an unwilling, pre-emptive and rather defensive mode. That is not a regime change action on the other continent following the rational of extra security demand by …

BOOK REVIEW: Injustice – The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five

Vacy Vlazna Survive prison I must, for when I come out I would hold no grudges, or hate, or resentment. My belief system tells me that whatever comes upon me is a matter already decreed by Allah. He knows better.” Shukri Abu-Baker, HLF5 Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five is about a grave and cruel injustice wielded by both the the USA and Israel, and paradoxically the book’s foundations are friendship, human dignity, and trust bound together by the integrity of the author, Miko Peled. Peled’s credentials, as an Israeli dissident, as uncle of Smadar (13), a victim of a Palestinian suicide bomber and as son of an Israeli General gives compelling credibility to the findings of his comprehensive investigation. INJUSTICE A decade of innocence caged. It is now 10 years since a Machiavellian travesty of US justice sentenced, between 15 – 65 years, the innocent Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Mufid Abdulqader, and Abdulrahman Odeh, who were senior staff of The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) …