Category: Analysis
Neocon Think Tanks Not Russian Media Are the Enemy Within
| January 12, 2018 | 7:25 pm | Analysis | No comments
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Neocon Think Tanks Not Russian Media Are the Enemy Within

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John Wight

The latest salvo in the ongoing attempt to de-legitimize and demonize Russia-based media has arrived with a directive from the US Justice Department that Sputnik News in the US must register as a foreign agent.

In this regard Sputnik now joins RT America (previously directed to register as a foreign agent) in being stigmatized as peddling propaganda instead of news and news analysis, its journalists and contributors smeared by association, in the context of a wider neo-McCarthyite offensive unleashed with the aim of pushing back against opposition to neoconservative nostrums and influence on Western foreign policy, along with its neoliberal economic counterpart.

What needs to be stressed is that this offensive is being waged not so much against Russian media as against Western dissident voices who dare appear on Russian media. It is an attack on the free speech of US citizens — and also on UK and European citizens given that the same offensive is underway in those parts of the world — on their right to ply their trade as journalists, writers, broadcasters and political analysts.

READ MORE: US Senate Russia Report Lies About Sputnik and Its ‘Disinformation’

The reasoning behind this censorious campaign is not, as claimed, because those dissident voices are engaged in peddling falsehoods, lies and propaganda; instead it is because they deign to expose the actual causes of the seemingly unending wars and economic, social, political and refugee crises that are the norm in our time.

The most penetrating truths are often the most simply expressed, a truism given credence by the life and words of US labor leader and anti-war activist, Eugene Debs at the turn of the last century. “War does not come by chance,” the great man said in the context of his unstinting opposition to the First World War. “War is not the result of accident. There is a definite cause for war, especially a modern war.”

In our time the “definite cause for war” is Washington’s determination to maintain the ability of Western global corporations to rampage across the globe unimpeded, Wall Street to suck up the world’s surplus capital, and the continuing supremacy of the US dollar, backed up by a gargantuan military which stands as a monument not to democracy but imperialism.

READ MORE: US Justice Dept Orders Sputnik US Partner RIA Global LLC to Register Under FARA

Those committed to attacking those Western dissidents who appear on and work for Russian media do so on the basis of defending and maintaining this status quo, providing political and ideological support for regime change without end, no matter the scale of the carnage, human suffering and destabilization that ensues in its vapor trails.

By ‘those’ I refer specifically to the murky network of neocon think tanks such as the Henry Jackson Society, the Atlantic Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations, along with the veritable rogues gallery of funders and sponsors supporting them and their works. The aforesaid think tanks are, along with too many others to mention, institutions in which a coterie of expensively-educated, democracy-denying, regime change cranks work day and night producing papers ‘exposing’ Russian media and strategizing against supposed Russian influence and interference in the internal affairs of Western democracies. This they do while ascribing lurid and sensationalist motives to the actions of countries, such as Russia, whose refusal to bow to Washington marks them as the enemy without at the same time as its media, and by implication those who work for and contribute to its media, as the enemy within.

The pressing problem a world interested in the rule of law and stability has to contend with, however, is not alleged Russian interference in the internal affairs of Western democracies; the problem has and continues to be Western interference — or attempted interference — in the internal affairs of Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Libya, and Iraq, etc. This is the true source of the ills the world is grappling with.When you have a mainstream media outlet in the West such as Foreign Policy magazine carrying an article under the less than cryptic title, ‘It’s Time To Bomb North Korea’, you start to gain an insight into the virulent strain of moral sickness which has those who pen such articles, not forgetting the media that publishes such articles, in its grip. And when you have former NATO staffers such as Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council publishing articles exploring the work of Sputnik contributors, such as myself, with the intention of extrapolating some dark conspiratorial motive for the pattern of said articles, you know you must be doing something right.

As an aside, I would like to extend Mr Nimmo a friendly invitation to come on my Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts, to discuss these matters further. It could be the radio equivalent of Ali-Frazier. I’ll be Ali, gliding round the ring popping him with a righteous jab, exposing his lack of movement, mobility and defense, while he can be Frazier, coming at me in straight lines, bobbing and weaving, trying to land that famous left hook but hitting fresh air.

The claim that Russian media is propaganda is in itself propaganda. The claim that Russia is interfering in ‘our’ democracy is in itself interference in ‘our’ democracy, what with those making this charge arrogating to themselves the right and power to adjudicate over election outcomes and ascribe legitimacy or illegitimacy to them as they deem fit. For such people there are invisible red lines beyond which people tread at their peril.

READ MORE: US Rules Targeting RT, Sputnik May Undermine Trust in Foreign Journalism — UN

Dare, for example, to declaim against NATO as a Western military alliance engaged in the projection of imperial power rather than the defender of peace and democracy it claims to be, you are deemed beyond the pale. Describe the 2003 US-led war on Iraq as a crime entirely compatible with Western cultural values, rather than a mistake wholly out of keeping with those values, and you are deemed beyond the pale. Refuse to accept that head-chopping extremists in Syria are ‘moderate rebels’, and refuse to refer to the Syrian government as the Syrian regime, and you soon find yourself regarded as persona non grata.

However, paraphrasing English liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill, better an anti-imperialist pilloried and demonized than a fanatical neocon in clover.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of John Wight and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
Trump is the Ugly American
| January 12, 2018 | 7:22 pm | Analysis, Donald Trump, Immigrants' Rights, UK | No comments
Donald Trump Urinals are all the range in some bars in the UK.

Ex-UK MP: Trump’s Comments on UK, Immigrants Expose ‘Ugly’ American Leadership

© Photo: Raglan Road Irish Bar

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Shocker: US President Donald Trump has put his foot in his mouth. Two recent statements of his have attracted significant controversy: his cancellation of a long-planned visit to the UK due to his disapproval of a move of the US embassy, and his alleged comment that the US received too many immigrants from “shithole countries.”

Brian Becker and John Kiriakou of Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke to George Galloway, a former UK parliamentarian for both the Labour and Respect Parties.

​”I was one of the organizers of Stop the War, possibly the biggest demonstration in British history,” said Galloway. “Two million people just before the [Iraq] war in 2003. We saw the the prospect of organizing an even bigger demonstration that has now been cruelly snatched from us by Donald Trump’s patently absurd statement. Because he doesn’t like the real estate of the new American embassy, he’s decided not to come.”

Galloway wryly added that, despite what Trump said, it wasn’t his predecessor Barack Obama who agreed to move the embassy — it was Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

​”There are many things to blame Obama for, but the new embassy south of the river, which Trump evidently thinks is a bit of an asshole part of town, is a ‘bad deal.’ I don’t care whether it’s a good deal or a bad deal, but I do feel that we have been robbed of the opportunity to send a worldwide message of rejection of Donald Trump’s foreign policies, of his endless stream of excretions over Twitter and of course his most recent racist outburst, which has rightly been condemned all over the world.”

Galloway then turned the conversation to American imperialism. “It’s a good thing that the American leadership is as ugly as it currently is. It would have been worse if Hillary Clinton had been the American leader, because that would have an entirely unjustified veneer of respectability on a set of really ugly worldviews.”

“I’m someone who’s been organizing against American hegemony almost literally all of my life; my first demonstration was when I was 14 in 1968 against the war in Vietnam. As someone who’s been at this for a very long time, I must tell you that those who’ve made a career out of regarding the United States as the leader of the free world must feel pretty foolish nowadays.”

“The United States is not my leader, never has been my leader, still less my father. In encouraging people around the world to stand up for themselves, stand up to the United States hegemony, Donald Trump’s done us all a favor.”

Becker then discussed the troubled history between the US and Haiti, which goes back as long as either nation has existed. The island was under US occupation from 1915 to 1934, an occupation that saw several skirmishes between the US military and Haitian rebel groups. The US also enacted an embargo against the repressive military dictatorship that overtook the island in 1986.

“Donald Trump’s words were unprecedentedly ugly,” said Galloway, referring to Trump’s alleged comment that Haiti, El Salvador and a number of African nations were “shithole countries.” Trump denied making the comment. “But the United States’ actions against Haiti over centuries, not years or decades, were even worse than the ugliest words that Donald Trump can summon up.”

Is Colombia the most dangerous country for trade unionists and social activists?
| January 11, 2018 | 7:22 pm | Analysis, Colombia, Fascist terrorism | No comments

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Is Colombia the most dangerous country for trade unionists and social activists?
Members of right-wing paramilitary terrorist
group in Colombia.
Source: TeleSur.
“It is better not to say anything, it is better not to talk, not to speak, it is better to be silent to stay alive,” a local priest said.
The murder of a social activist has become an almost weekly news event in Colombia as more than 100 community leaders have been killed over the past year by right-wing paramilitaries, Empire Files Abby Martin reports.
Just a year after the signing of what was thought to be the monumental movement towards peace with the country’s largest guerrilla group and Colombian government calling a truce, the violence targeting union and social leaders has rocketed.
In the last year, 170 leaders and social activists known for their various missions in defense of indigenous rights, coca rights substitution, Afro-Colombian rights, labor rights, and LGBTQ. The statistics show a sharp contrast from prior years where 2016 saw 117 and 63 in 2015.
The majority of violence has erupted in sectors left vacant by the guerrilla groups which have since been invaded by paramilitary groups. Of all of these, trade unions have risen to the top in the number of the nation’s homicides and victims of violence and death threats, making Colombia the most dangerous nation for union members in the world.
Over the last 20 years, about 3,000 unionists have been murdered with an outrageous rate of impunity for the homicides measuring at 87 percent with thousands of death threats never being investigated.
“It is difficult to unionize in Colombia. Here, whoever complains is killed… And unfortunately, if we look at the statistics today, here in the municipality of Tumaco, we have roughly almost 60 unionists threatened or killed. We have 17 unionists dead, who are no longer with us just because they claimed the right to a dignified life, to land rights,” Carlos Diaz, Afro-Colombian leader and president of the teachers union, Seupac, told TeleSur.
Diaz related the case of a colleague who was an active representative of the Black communities and a member of the teacher’s union who was arrested and violently beaten within an inch of his life by police authorities after threatening to sue in the defense of educator labor rights.
“Today he is a quadriplegic who cannot speak, he stutters, he loses consciousness, his head was struck, he has multiple injuries all over his body and today, he’s running away…This partner, just because he made a complaint, they tried to silence him. They labeled him an enemy, as a government enemy,” he said, adding that simply sharing his perspective with TeleSur put him in the line of danger.
“In our community the effect is that you cannot talk about anything, you cannot share anything. It is better not to say anything, it is better not to talk, not to speak, it is better to be silent to stay alive,” said a local pastor and spiritual leader of Luz Yeni Montano, a 48-year-old Tumacan activist who was gunned down in her home in November.
Diaz explained that extreme delays in the Colombian judicial process from one department to the next only aided the high rate of impunity to continue. Those who are subject to death threats are left to face their aggressors alone. Police will not react until the body of a unionist turns up on the side of the road, Diaz said. He added investigations will go on for years without ever reaching a conviction.
In an effort to maintain the situation, government officials have increased police forces by 9,000 units, however, many community members are wary of the teams of law enforcement infiltrating the country’s rural agricultural sectors.
“We do not trust them, because of so many things that have happened over the years. We have nothing against the police or against the army. We simply say that this is not the way. It increases the levels of violence instead of lowering them,” the Tumacan priest said.
According to a recent report published by the Institute of Studies for Peace Development, Indepaz, a Colombian non-governmental organization, the murders are highly localized to four regional departments: Nariño (28), Antioquia (23), Valle (14) and Choco (12). There were 32 assassinations alone in the community of San Jose de Apartado Cauca located in Antioquia.
* * * 

25 July 2017. 
Right-wing paramilitary forces continue to operate throughout the country inflicting terror on social and political movements, as well as on the civilian population.
While the peace process in Colombia has been welcomed by broad sections of Colombian society, the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia has brought with it the swarming of paramilitary groups to rural regions the rebels left behind.
According to Leon Valencia, director of the Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, there are whole families who are currently at risk due to the expansion of right-wing military groups who had once been deterred by the presence of the left-wing guerrilla group.
A month ago, the FARC handed in the last of its weapons to United Nations officials effectively ending 53 years of military war with the state. Many expected the demobilization of the country’s largest and most influential rebel group to mark the end of the devastating violence that has ravaged the country for decades.
However, the reality is that right-wing criminal bands continue to operate throughout the country inflicting terror on social and political movements, as well as on the civilian population in general.
According to Periodistas en Español, for example, paramilitary groups have only recently re-entered San Jose de Apartado, a village that 10 years ago was the victim of one of Colombia’s worst modern day massacres at the hands of armed right-wing groups. Their presence in the area has been attributed to the FARC’s demobilization.
What’s even more concerning is that local military forces have been seen acting in cooperation with the paramilitaries with local residents reporting “commonplace meetings” between the two forces.
At a press conference Monday, FARC leader Ivan Marquez warned that the government’s lack of commitment to security protocols established in the peace accord was giving way to a resurgence of a “dirty war” by the ultra-right.
Since the demobilization process began, six demobilized rebels have been assassinated by paramilitary forces raising the concern of a repetition of the violence inflicted on the Patriotic Union party in the 1980s and 90s.
Juan Manuel Santos’ government, which has previously denied the existence of paramilitary groups in the country, could eventually seriously dent or even lose the hard won peace agreement due to its failure to act to stop these increasingly destructive terrorist elements.
The Sultan and the Fascists: MHP Party to support Tayyip Erdogan in 2019 presidential elections
| January 10, 2018 | 7:49 pm | Analysis, Iraq, political struggle, Syria, Turkey | No comments

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Sultan and the Fascists: MHP Party to support Tayyip Erdogan in 2019 presidential elections
Devlet Bahceli, leader of MHP, gestures during
an election campaign.
* MHP (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi), the Nationalist Movement Party is an anticommunist, neo-fascist nationalist party, founded in 1969. Its paramilitary wing, known as “Grey Wolves” is a fascist terrorist organization, known for participating in numerous massacres, bombings and assassination attempts. 
The following article is from sOL international: Turkey’s fascist Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli overtly supports President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the presidential election in 2019. Not surprisingly, he has lent a help to Erdoğan since the foundation of the AKP party, rallying to rescue the government whenever it has faced political challenges.
Founded in 1969 in the Cold War era as an anti-communist fascist party, Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and its leader Devlet Bahçeli have become a hot topic recently as the party lends an overt support to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
As some claim that the failed coup in July 2016 became a breaking point for the fascist MHP party’s apparent support to Erdoğan and AKP government, Turkey’s recent political history shows that the fascist party and its leader Bahçeli have always backed Erdoğan’s manoeuvres whenever he faced political challenges.
By the time Erdoğan founded the AKP party in August 2001, Turkey had been governed by the coalition government of then-Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit’s Democratic Left Party, Bahçeli’s MHP party and Mesut Yılmaz’s Motherland Party.
However, the coalition partner MHP called for early elections scheduled to be held in November 2002, culminating in the victory of Erdoğan’s newly-born AKP party while all the three coalition parties could not pass the 10% electoral threshold. Bahçeli’s fascist party played a key role in paving the way for Erdoğan’s longstanding rule in Turkey.
The Turkish parliament rejected a proposal in March 2003 that would enable the U.S. to use the country as a launch pad for the invasion of Iraq as tens of thousands of protesters chanted slogans, “No to war!”, near the parliament building.
Bahçeli and Erdoğan became unpleased with the parliamentary voting results. “The parliament predominated by the AKP in 2003 could not agree on the memorandum, weakening Turkey in Iraq,” Bahçeli said regretfully although his party was out of the parliament.
As Turkey witnessed the mass Republic Protests in 2007, just before the start of the presidential election process, to prevent the victory of an Islamist candidate from the AKP party, the constitutional court decided that a quorum of two-thirds of the parliamentary seats was necessary, which was impossible without opposition support against the ruling AKP party.
As Erdoğan’s governing party nominated Abdullah Gül for the presidency, Bahçeli declared his decision not to boycott the elections in favour of the AKP party, eventually leading to the presidency of Islamist Gül, Erdoğan’s predecessor.  
When Turkey’s Constitutional Court launched a closure trial of AKP in 2008 for becoming ‘a centre for anti-secular activities’, Bahçeli and his MHP party backed the ruling party on the grounds that “the closure trial would lead to deeper political impacts.”
The fascist MHP party has unconditionally supported Erdoğan and his party in the government’s Islamic and misogynist attacks particularly in the field of education and cultural life until today.
Furthermore, the MHP party has always advocated the government when anti-worker laws and regulations were passed in the parliament. Thus, the AKP could easily privatize all the public entities of the country.
Bahçeli’s anti-labour and pro-market stance has remained at the forefront all the time. His party also supported the government during all the parliamentary memorandums to attack Turkey’s neighbours Syria and Iraq.
The biggest support of MHP to Erdoğan’s government came in 2016 following the failed coup. As the AKP government was planning for a presidential system in Turkey in the aftermath of the coup attempt amid state of emergency, Bahçeli said, “If the AKP brings its plans to parliament … I believe a reasonable outcome will be achieved,” hinting that his party would back the project. 
As Erdoğan’s party decided to hold a constitutional referendum in April 2017, Bahçeli became the leading megaphone of Erdoğan’s ‘yes’ campaign in order to change Turkey’s parliamentary system to a presidential system that brings grip on executive power.    
In this process, the Bahçeli leadership expelled all the dissident party members, who declared to participate in the ‘no’ campaign, from the MHP party. This led to the birth of the ‘Good Party’ under the lead of Meral Akşener, yet another ultra-nationalist figure and an ex-interior minister.
Having announced in April 2014 that “Erdoğan could not be a president”, Devlet Bahçeli totally reversed his tone and has become the feverish sycophant of Erdoğan. So much so that he supports the AKP-led state of emergency and unlawful decrees more than the AKP seniors do.
Even if Erdoğan himself has not declared his candidacy for the presidential election scheduled to be held in 2019, Bahçeli has already announced that his MHP party will support Erdoğan and his government.
Having left his mark on the Turkish political history as a man who paved the way for Erdoğan’s longstanding AKP rule, the President’s yes-man Devlet Bahçeli and his fascist MHP party seem to give Erdoğan a blank check on the road to a presidential system in the country.
‘Iran Does Not Bow: This is Its Real Crime in the Eyes of Western Ideologues’
| January 8, 2018 | 9:13 pm | Analysis, Imperialism, Iran | No comments

‘Iran Does Not Bow: This is Its Real Crime in the Eyes of Western Ideologues’

Pro-government demonstrators march in Iran's holy city of Qom, some 130 kilometres south of Tehran, on January 3, 2018

‘Iran Does Not Bow: This is Its Real Crime in the Eyes of Western Ideologues’

© AFP 2017/ Mohammad ALI MARIZAD

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John Wight

That Iran is not a free country is a self-evident truth. How could it possibly be free when it exists in the crosshairs of US imperialism?

In this respect, Iran shares the same status as Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and China – in other words it is one of a select group of countries that do not kowtow to the diktat of ‘Rome’. For strip away the obfuscation, the dissembling words proffered by the usual parade of well fed and handsomely remunerated Western ideologues, and the only reason, the single reason that Iran is being depicted as a “terrorist state” in which human rights are non-existent, is because under its current government it refuses to bow to Washington or its vassals in western Europe and the region itself.

This is not to suggest that the protests that have broken out across Iran have no basis in legitimate grievances. As British journalist and Middle East correspondent, Patrick Cockburn, points out in a recent article, “grievances [in Iran] are similar to those in other oil states where there is long-suppressed anger against corruption and inequality. Youth unemployment was 28.8 percent last year. The nuclear deal with the US and other major powers in 2015 reduced sanctions, but has not produced the benefits that many expected. A 50 percent increase in the price of fuel was announced in the budget in December. Egg and poultry prices recently rose by 40 percent.”

As night follows day, sudden price hikes of this magnitude are guaranteed to bring those impacted out onto the streets — and understandably so. People’s ability to survive, to feed themselves and their families, is a fundamental right that any government impedes or undermines at its peril. The problem for an economy such as Iran’s is that while it may assert political and geopolitical independence, they exist in a neoliberal economic reality, trading in a global marketplace dominated by economic nostrums devised in and which emanate from Washington.As such, until Iran, along with its other dissenting counterparts, makes a decisive break with neoliberalism, which by necessity also means breaking with the dollar as the international reserve currency, it will always be vulnerable to global economic downturns and shocks, such as occurred back in 2008. More crucially, it will be vulnerable to the machinations of dollar diplomacy, whether delivered via Washington directly, or indirectly via the IMF or World Bank. Ultimately, there can be no independence from the ‘Rome’ until there is independence from its currency.

Neoliberalism is the economic arm of US hegemony. Yet as an economic model it has been completely discredited as a result of the 2008 financial crash and ensuing global economic depression. The so-called Arab Spring of 2011, which morphed into an Arab winter with the eruption of Salafi-jihadism in Libya and Syria, was the product of this aforesaid crisis in neoliberalism. And in the Middle East, one of the most serious symptoms of this crisis has been the very youth unemployment that has bedeviled Iran. This particular social malaise was indeed a key factor in the tumultuous events that engulfed Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria back in 2011.Compounding Iran’s economic problems has been the sanctions regime imposed on it by Western governments, led of course by Washington. The much-heralded P5+1 nuclear deal, reached in 2015 between Tehran and member states of the UN Security Council plus Germany, is considered to have been the landmark achievement of Obama’s foreign policy, trading the lifting of economic sanctions in return for the guarantee that Iran’s nuclear development program would remain non-military in its objectives.

READ MORE: Peaceful Pro-Government Demonstrations Take Place in Iran — Reports

But lest we lapse into any romantic illusions when it comes to Obama’s tenure in the White House, we are obliged to recall that prior to the agreement the Obama administration had done its utmost to derail Iran’s nuclear program by nefarious means. US author and historian, Perry Anderson, reveals how the Obama administration “launched a massive joint US-Israeli assault on Iranian computer networks to cripple the development of its nuclear programme. A blatant violation of what passes for international law, the projection of the Stuxnet virus was personally supervised by Obama.”

This episode of US and Israeli covert actions in Iran, which also included the assassination of Iranian scientists working in the country’s nuclear program by the Israelis, should be borne in mind when we read various commentators dismissing out of hand allegations by the current Iranian government of Western involvement in the wave of demonstrations that have taken place during the current crisis. Too, no serious analysis of Iranian affairs today can abstract the role of the joint US-UK covert operation, Operation Ajax, that was mounted to topple the country’s democratically elected president, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953 in response to his decision to nationalize the country’s oil.

Replacing Mossadegh was Washington’s placeman the Shah. Over the next three decades Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to give the Iranian dictator his real name, set about plundering the country’s wealth for the enrichment of himself and his own, whilst keeping dissenting voices in check with his dreaded secret police and domestic security service, known by its acronym SAVAK, whose methods were a by-word for savagery even in a region where security services are notorious for their brutality. The point is that this history of Western imperialist intrigue in Iran and its internal affairs must be factored into the current crisis, as well as the overall state of the country’s development if we are to arrive at anything approximating to an accurate rendering.

Returning to the P5+1 deal, rather than the result of any Obamaesque reaching out to a former enemy, it was the product of realpolitik, recognition that Iran was just too tough a nut to crack militarily or by dint of economic sanctions, and that the received truth embraced by every US administration since the Iranian revolution of 1979 – namely that the Islamic Republic was a mortal enemy whose overthrow and destruction was non-negotiable – was no longer viable.However in Donald Trump we are dealing with probably the most capricious US president in history, whose animus towards the Islamic Republic — to the manifest delight of both the Saudis and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu — is all-consuming. Trump has made known his opposition to the P5+1 deal, and at his behest, the US Treasury reintroduced sanctions against Iran, which came on stream in July.

READ MORE: US Sanctions Five Iran-Based Entities as Key Parts of Ballistic Missile Program

The reasoning for the new tranche of sanctions has been given as “Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East which undermine regional stability, security, and prosperity. Iran continues to support terrorist groups such as Hizballah (sic), Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that threaten Israel and stability in the Middle East. Iran has maintained its steadfast support for the Assad regime, despite Assad’s atrocities against his own people.”

In the upside-down world that passes for reality in Washington, we are expected to believe that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism when in truth its role in combatting terrorism in the region has been crucial. Sorry guys but such base and transparent solecisms simply will no do. And neither will the blatant attempt to turn the UN Security Council into a rubber stamp of US foreign policy.The day that Trump’s otherworldly UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, blatantly abused the Security Council, scheduling a debate on events in Iran during which she took the opportunity to unleash a barrage of condemnation against the country’s government, irony died. Fortunately, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, was on hand to deliver a righteous slapdown. “If your logic is to be followed,” he told Haley, “Security Council meetings should have been called after the well-known events in Ferguson, Missouri, or when violence was used against Occupy Wall Street demonstrations on Manhattan.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
Breitbart Billionaire Board Bashes Bannon
| January 8, 2018 | 9:06 pm | Analysis, Jack Rasmus | No comments

Breitbart Billionaire Board Bashes Bannon (print)

Breitbart Billionaire Board Bashes Bannon (print)

Since the run-up to the election of 2016, the ruling elite in America who control the two wings of the single Corporate Party of America (CPA)—the Republican and Democratic Parties—have been battling it out with ‘right populist’ challengers over who will define US policy in the decade ahead. Thus far in 2017 the elite have been clearly winning.

The likely sacking this coming week of Breitbart News’s CEO, Steve Bannon—which follows his banishment from the White House earlier in 2017—is but the latest example of the elite’s post-election objective of bringing their right populist challengers to heel, and in the process herding Trump himself back under their policy umbrella.

The history of the traditional elite vs. right populist challengers goes back at least to the emergence of the so-called ‘Contract with America’ in 1994 followed soon thereafter by their effort to impeach then president, Bill Clinton. Clinton’s hard shift to the right after 1994 on economic, social and foreign policy deflated the challengers’ offensive, albeit temporarily. Then there was the so-called ‘Tea Party’ faction after 2001 that ran primary candidates and disrupted the elite’s Republican wing electoral strategy. With the assistance of the Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce, the Teaparty version of ‘right populist’ challengers were purged in 2014 from Republican primary races and candidacies.

The challengers were not defeated, however. With the financial and organizational aid of the power behind the so-called ‘populist right’—i.e. the Koch brothers, the Mercers, Adelsons, Paul Singers and other radical right big financial supporters backing them—they returned with a vengeance in the 2016 election backing Trump, who opportunistically welcomed their organizational, media and ideological support as the traditional elite consistently rejected him. They bet their Trump Card and gained the White House. The contest did not stop there, however.

In 2017 the contest with the Republican wing of the elite continued. The ‘right populist’ mouthpiece within Congress, the US House ‘Freedom Caucus’, was able to prevail over other Republican colleagues and launch a full frontal assault on repealing Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. They recklessly rolled the dice on their first toss…and lost. Check one for the traditional elite right out of the box in early 2017.

Another subsequent 2017 ‘win’ by the Republican wing of the elite was to get Trump to go slow on reversing NAFTA and other free trade agreements. Another was the driving of Steve Bannon and his allies from their perch as White House advisers. Yet another elite 2017 success was to convince Trump to back off from campaign promises to reorganize NATO and reset relations with Russia, and instead to continue providing strategic weapons to east Europe and, most recently, the Ukraine. That policy shift is now in acceleration mode. Then there was the defeat of Moore for Senator in Alabama, who Trump and the right populists both endorsed. The Republican wing of the traditional elite—both in and out of Congress—abandoned Moore and joined with the Democrat wing to ensure Moore’s defeat. To have supported Moore would have signaled that the Republican elite’s strategy since 2014, a strategy denying right radicals from formal Republican (and Chamber of Commerce) support, was no longer in effect. A Moore victory would have brought even more radicals from the right demanding to run on Republican electoral tickets. The Chamber could not permit that again.

But the very latest event in the internal battle was last week’s public rift between former right populist Trump election strategist and White House adviser, Steve Bannon, and Trump himself. A rift that, this writer predicts, will almost certainly lead to Bannon’s sacking as CEO of the influential right populist media organ, Breitbart News, this coming week or soon thereafter.

The Bannon sacking will clearly reveal that Bannon is not the driving force behind Breitbart. Nor is the radical ‘right populist’ movement itself an independent force. Bannon and Breitbart are but a mouthpiece. For what? For the real force behind the Breitbart media outlet, Bannon, and similar media organizations and talking heads pushing far right political alternatives and economic policies—i.e. the billionaire money interests that fund them and make the strategic decisions for them behind the scenes. It is the billionaires who sit on the Breitbart board, and other boards of similar right populist organizations who fund the Breitbarts, the Bannons, and those like them that came before and will come after.

It is those billionaires in particular who have become super-wealthy since the 1990s by speculating in commercial property and trusts and shadow banking; the billionaires over-represented from the ranks of private equity firms, real estate REITs, hedge fund capitalists, asset management companies, etc. On the level of individual capitalists, it is the Adelsons, Paul Singers, the Mercers, the Mays, and others—all billionaires—who have been bankrolling the ‘right populists’ from the very beginning, giving them a public soapbox with which to promote their views, ideology, and mobilize public opinion. More traditional economic sector billionaires, like the Kochs, are also among their ranks, of course. But they are especially over-populated with speculators and financial manipulators (much like Trump himself) who want a more deregulated, winner-take-all kind of capitalism they see as necessary to compete with challengers globally in the coming decades.

These billionaires are the election campaign financiers that all the major candidates for national office trek to every election cycle, genuflect before, hold out their hats to for donations. And with their money comes a ‘Faustian’ bargain: they are allowed to define policies once their candidates get elected. They are the silent sources that Trump regularly calls in the early morning hours from the White House to ask their advice and input.

Late last week, the billionaire Mercer family, that bankrolls and finances Breitbart News let it be known it was breaking relations with Bannon. Bannon quickly and contritely offered a public statement supporting Trump and calling him a ‘great man’, which Trump just as quickly retweeted. The Bannon retreat followed a reported statement he made to author Michael Wolf, who in his new book out last week quoted Bannon as saying Trump was psychologically unbalanced and “had lost it”. Calls for Breitbart News to fire Bannon as its CEO quickly followed, and the Mercers statement was made public in turn.

So Bannon’s days are numbered and perhaps in hours not days. He will be gone, relegated to the speech circuit for right wing demagogues, joining the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, and others that occasionally over-estimate their influence with the capitalist ruling elite and their usefulness to them. And then find themselves on the outside looking in.

What the Bannon sacking will represent is that the ‘right populist’ movement will now ebb, albeit temporarily once more. It will be resurrected when needed, with another figure(talking)head replacing Bannon. The Becks, the Limbaughs, the Hannitys and the Bannons are all expendable, and replaceable with another cookie-cutter ideologue whenever the elite consider it necessary.

The Bannon development more importantly signals that more traditional Republican elite policies and legislation will now even further supplant the right populist initiatives in Congress. The Trump tax cuts just passed benefit clearly the wealthiest 1% and their corporations, and not the middle class, the embittered blue collar workers of the Midwest and Great Lakes, or any other voting constituency in America.

The demise of Bannon also signals that Donald Trump, if he wishes to continue as president, will agree to continue his shift toward policies adopted by the Republican wing of the elite. He has been in synch totally with the recent passage of the Trump Tax Cut act—the elite’s #1 policy objective which is now achieved. Trump will now continue to back off of radical restructuring of free trade, especially NAFTA. He will fall in line with NATO and policies toward east Europe and Russia. He’ll provide more advanced weaponry to eastern Europe and the Ukraine. He will be satisfied with a token Wall and back off from disrupting immigration relations. And he will continue to soft-pedal his tweeting with regard to North Korea and support trade deals with China the elite want him to deliver.
This does not mean Trump’s troubles with the traditional elite are over, however. The events of the past year, culminating in the Bannon purge, only reflect Trump coming to terms with the Republican wing of the elite, as he tactically moves under their political protective umbrella. The Democrat wing of the elite will continue trying to build a case against him.

The Democratic wing of the elite will continue to exert pressure on Trump through its powerful media organs and its deep connections with and influence within the State bureaucracy (FBI, NSA, State and Justice departments, DEA, military intelligence arms, etc.). This second front against Trump and his former right populist allies is reflected in the on-going investigation into a Russia-Trump connection during the 2016 election cycle—which that wing of the elite hopes will lead, if not to outright collusion with the Russians, then to evidence of some form of obstruction of justice by Trump; or perhaps uncover in the process past criminal activity by the Trump business organization with regard to tax evasion or foreign bribes for contracts with Russian oligarchs and mafia. This second front has recorded some success over the past year, as former FBI director, Mueller, has been able to extract evidence from suspected principals, Michael Flynn, Paul Monafort, and Papadopoulos.

The second major development of the past week was the publication of the Michael Wolf book on Trump. With the publication a new issue has been thrown into the political hotpot: Now it is not just whether Trump has colluded with the Russians, or obstructed Justice to stop the Mueller investigation, or engaged in illegal bribes and deals with Russian oligarchs. Now the new mantra is Trump is psychologically unbalanced—as evidenced in his own Tweets and in the constant flow of leaked statements by his own administration about his basic ‘child-like character’(Senator Corker), his functioning at a level of ‘an idiot’ (Secretary of State Tillerson), or that he “has lost it” (Bannon).

In the months ahead the Republican wing—for whom Trump has nicely delivered in the form of tax cuts in the trillions of dollars and with whom Trump is now playing ball with regard to free trade—will circle the wagons on behalf of Trump. The Republican party wing of the traditional elite don’t want to drive Trump from the White House. They want him tamed and continuing to deliver their policy agenda. So they have already begun to circle the wagons on Trump’s behalf—and to launch a counteroffensive in his defense. The past week’s reopening of the investigation of Clinton’s foundation and demands to indict the author of the ‘Trump dossier’ published over a year ago are but two examples of the counteroffensive.

And watch what happens after Trump eventually fires FBI investigator, Mueller, should he provide evidence of obstruction of justice or, more likely, fraudulent Trump tax returns and/or bribes to Russian oligarchs. They’ll block the appointment of an independent prosecutor once Mueller is gone. And that means there won’t be any impeachment in 2018 regardless what Trump does. All that could change, however, should Trump’s historic low approvals slip still further and result in the Republican loss of either the House or Senate in November 2018. Then watch the two wings of the elite unite in efforts to push Trump out and replace him with their preferred man, vice-president Pence.

Jack Rasmus,
January 7, 2018

Dr. Rasmus is the author of the August 2017 book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at and hosts the weekly radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network. His twitter handle is @drjackrasmus.

Italy- Communist Party: The time is now!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Italy- Communist Party: The time is now!
The time is now: 
united for the Communist Party.
Translation: Srećko Vojvodić
Just a bit less than a month ago, the Communist Party has announced its intention to participate in political elections 2018. Since that day, we have received hundreds of messages of support, proposals of active and specific help, as well as militant joining of our project. We thank everybody and will keep on connect you these days with our local representatives.
Following the developments of these hours, of the discussion in the communist formations and the choices made by the leadership groups, often despite broad opposition of the base of those parties, we want to make a further appeal to the comrades to take note of the choices made and mobilize to actively support the Communist Party, starting from the campaign for the 2018 elections.
Decisions of the Communist Refoundation (Rifondazione Comunista) and the Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista Italiano), to join the common list of the left, Power to the People (Potere al Popolo), are proofs that the strategy of these parties is moving in a direction, opposite and irreconcilable to the communist reconstruction. As we have already pointed out several times during last couple of years, the communist question is a question of strategic choice and not of simple unitary proclamations, devoid of ideological clarity and political perspective.
Unitary list of the radical left has as its models Podemos, SYRIZA and post-communist movements. It is firmly anchored in the international reference of the Party of the “European Left”, movement built by Bertinotti, whose purpose is dissolution and transformation of communist parties in generic left forces, which accept the capitalist system and European Union, which, due to its perspective, is directly responsible for the social massacre in Greece. In some cases, even the confusion is such that one even looks at the English Labor Party of Corbyn, in Her Majesty’s opposition!
No communist reconstruction is possible within the furrow of the “European Left”. Everyone in the history of Italian communists who had renounced the symbol of the hammer and sickle, and supported the necessity to build a wider front, from Bolognina onward, moved in the direction of overcoming the communist question, which is the question of workers’ emancipation from capitalist exploitation, and of socialist construction.
Do not be fooled again! Communist reconstruction will not pass by yet another watering down into a common list, one more radical than another only by the choice of institutional parties; today in the Free and Equal (Liberi e Uguali), which have “downloaded” the Brancaccio and which were ready to leave, but which carries the same basic contradictions that are already affecting even the most genuine parts of that movement.
Communist reconstruction goes along another perspective. It goes through choices of those who are carrying forward the process of reconstruction of an autonomous and independent field of communists coherently and against many difficulties.
As we have already declared, we are making the list of the Communist Party open to contributions of all communists who do not want to resign themselves and turn themselves into an umpteenth bankruptcy and renunciation project. Imposed deadlines for list presentation are rigid and the time is short. However, the unitary strengthening of the communist reconstruction process is worth more than anything else. The CP is ready to evaluate in any possible way individual and collective contributions of comrades who want to join and support the communist cause, demonstrating in facts and not in words a real willingness to open a unitary process, in the direction indicated by our Party long time ago.
The time is now: united for the Communist Party.
* * * 
Poco meno di un mese fa il Partito Comunista ha annunciato l’intenzione di correre alle elezioni politiche 2018. Da quel giorno abbiamo ricevuto centinaia di messaggi di sostegno, proposte di aiuto attivo e concreto, adesioni militanti al nostro progetto. Ringraziamo tutti e continueremo in questi giorni a mettervi in contatto con i nostri referenti locali.
Seguendo gli sviluppi di queste ore della discussione nelle formazioni comuniste e le scelte operate dai gruppi dirigenti,  spesso nonostante ampie contrarietà della base di quei partiti, vogliamo fare un ulteriore appello ai compagni e alle compagne a prendere atto delle scelte operate e mobilitarsi per sostenere attivamente il Partito Comunista a partire dalla campagna per le elezioni 2018.
La decisione di Rifondazione Comunista e del Partito Comunista Italiano di aderire alla lista comune di sinistra, Potere al Popolo, sono la prova che la strategia di questi partiti si muove in una direzione opposta e inconciliabile rispetto alla ricostruzione comunista. Come più volte abbiamo sostenuto in questi anni, la questione comunista è questione di scelte strategiche, non di semplici proclami unitari, privi di chiarezza ideologica e di prospettiva politica.
La lista unitaria della sinistra radicale ha come propri modelli Podemos, Syriza e i movimenti post-comunisti. E’ saldamente ancorata al riferimento internazionale del Partito della “Sinistra Europea”, movimento costruito da Bertinotti, che sta operando per lo scioglimento e la trasformazione dei partiti comunisti in forze genericamente di sinistra, che accetta il sistema capitalistico, l’Unione Europea, che grazie alla sua prospettiva è direttamente responsabile del massacro sociale in Grecia. In alcuni casi addirittura la confusione è tale che si guarda persino al partito laburista inglese di Corbyn, all’opposizione di sua maestà!
Dentro il solco della “Sinistra Europea” non è possibile alcuna ricostruzione comunista. Chiunque nella storia dei comunisti in Italia abbia rinunciato al simbolo della falce e martello e sostenuto la necessità di costruire fronti più ampi, dalla Bolognina in poi è andato nella direzione del superamento della questione comunista, che è la questione dell’emancipazione dei lavoratori dallo sfruttamento capitalistico e della costruzione del socialismo.
Non fatevi ingannare ancora una volta! La ricostruzione comunista non passerà per l’ennesimo annacquamento in una lista comune, più radicale delle precedenti solo per scelta dei partiti istituzionali, oggi in Liberi e Uguali, che hanno “scaricato” il Brancaccio e quanti erano già pronti a salirvi su, ma che porta le medesime contraddizioni di fondo, che già stanno intaccando le parti più genuine persino di quel movimento.
La ricostruzione comunista passa per un’altra prospettiva. Per le scelte di quanti coerentemente e tra mille difficoltà stanno portando avanti quel processo di ricostruzione di un campo autonomo e indipendente dei comunisti.
Come abbiamo già dichiarato, facciamo della lista del Partito Comunista la lista aperta al contributo di tutti i comunisti che non vogliono rassegnarsi e consegnarsi all’ennesimo progetto fallimentare e rinunciatario. Le scadenze imposte dalla presentazione delle liste sono rigide, il tempo è poco. Ma il rafforzamento unitario del processo di ricostruzione comunista, vale più di tutto. Il PC è pronto a valorizzare in ogni modo possibile i contributi individui e collettivi dei compagni che vorranno unirsi e sostenere la causa comunista, dimostrando nei fatti e non a parole la volontà reale di aprire un processo unitario, nella direzione da tempo indicata dal nostro Partito.
Il tempo è adesso: uniti per il Partito Comunista.