US ‘deep state’ sold out counter-terrorism to keep itself in business

By Gareth Porter

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman outraged many readers when he wrote an opinion piece on 12 April calling on President Trump to “back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria”. The reason he gave for that recommendation was not that US wars in the Middle East are inevitably self-defeating and endless, but that it would reduce the “pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah”.

The whole war on terrorism has been, in effect, a bait-and-switch operation from the beginning

That suggestion that the US sell out its interest in counter-terrorism in the Middle East to gain some advantage in power competition with its adversaries was rightly attacked as cynical.

But, in fact, the national security bureaucracies of the US – which many have come to call the “Deep State” – have been selling out their interests in counter-terrorism in order to pursue various adventures in the region ever since George W Bush declared a “Global War on Terrorism” in late 2001.

Continue reading the original here…

French election demonstrates Europe’s strength

By Jonathan Power

The result of the first round of the French presidential election has given the Euro-pessimists a knock over the head. About time too.

The European Union is not going to face break up. Big crises come but they also go. The Euro currency crisis was not dealt with as well as it should have been – austerity was the policy of the long way round – but it passed.

The great immigration crisis has been contained and the number of would-be refugees has fallen sharply.

The British say they are leaving, but how the biggest political paradox of my lifetime will be squared remains to be seen – a parliament with a majority of its members in favour of staying in Europe but with a government trying to get out as fast as it can with the support of most MPs of the two largest parties.

Moreover, there is another quite counterproductive consequence of Brexit – pushing Scotland to break from the United Kingdom. Leaving big, grand, Europe to become a truncated little England makes no sense at all. When the penny finally drops I expect the UK to reverse course on Brexit – or to disintegrate.

With or without Britain the EU will remain the world’s best example of political unity. Peoples who have fought each other for thousands of years no longer do. No other part of the planet is so Read the rest of this entry »

Syria – two perspectives illustrated

By Jan Oberg

“The Debate” on April 16, 2017 with Richard Millett and Jan Oberg illustrates quite well two distinctly different perspectives on conflicts in general and Syria in particular.

Its focus is on the difference in media coverage of the terrible events in Khan Seykhoun and al-Rashideen but there is much more to it.

I’ll keep on struggling for the conflict and peace perspective against the violence perspective that sees black-and-white only and continues the seemingly eternal blame game – and thus legitimates more, rather than less, warfare.

Happy if you care to share and continue the – meta – debate!


The Debate – Brutal Bloodshed by presstv

Reducing urban violence

By Johan Galtung

World Forum on Urban Violence, Madrid, 19-21 April 2017

Mayors from around the world, Ladies and Gentlemen!

To reduce direct violence in cities we have to move from urban violence culture to an urban peace culture and from urban structural violence to a structure of peace. The center of a city should not be a place of shame reeking of the Inquisition. And urbanization should not be justified as modern, seeing smaller town and villages, less violent, as traditional.

Street names should not glorify wars and violent heroes but peace and their heroines, often women. Move warrior on horseback monuments close to the cemetery for symbolic burial. Sculptors could glorify the peace in a sweet family having breakfast, caressing each other–.

And Oslo where I grew up? The police report a different kind violence, by younger perpetrators, even children, unrelated to poor vs rich wards (KK 17 Mar 2017). But the main street celebrates a French general who as King of Sweden and Norway became a bastion of neutrality.

The media matter, indeed–pathologically attracted to violence–they have to reinvent themselves. The cities offer anonymity and places to hide. Media must report violence, but less, and less prominently. Big cities produce the best arts-science-business and the worst violence and exploitation; less in towns, villages and isolated farms. However, violence reporting can be scaled down, be less upfront.

The media must learn to report peace more, and more prominently, focusing not only on violent but on the peaceful wards, exploring why. Thus, the local police and others may offer local deals to gangs, like stopping violence against impunity. Or the whole context may be more peaceful, to be explored and reported upfront.

Media could be rated on violence vs peace reporting, and NGOs could boycott violent and support peaceful media, sustained by prominent actors. Needed, because peaceful media may be economically weak, e.g. run by peace-minded women, in still patriarchic societies.

Families matter, indeed, and Read the rest of this entry »

Getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear bombs

By Jonathan Power

April 18th 2017.

There are 29 states which have at one time or another set about becoming nuclear weapons powers or have explored the possibility. Most have failed or drawn back. Only the US, Russia, France, UK, China, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea have crossed the threshold. Only the first five have long range, nuclear-tipped, missiles. North Korea wants to walk in their footsteps.

The common belief that when a state has decided to do so it goes for it as fast as it can is wrong. Sweden, Japan, Algeria, Australia, Italy, Yugoslavia, West Germany, Egypt, Iraq, Switzerland, Syria, Brazil, Argentina, Taiwan, South Korea, Norway, South Africa, Pakistan and India all sought to acquire nuclear weapons but their pace and commitment were different.

In the end all but Pakistan and India became convinced to kill their programs off. For many years Indian leaders, unconvinced of their value or of the morality of use, stalled the urge of nuclear scientists to step up the pace of research and engineering.

Nuclear weapon possession is usually counterproductive. Vipin Narang, in Harvard’s “International Security” has shown that “on average, states pursuing nuclear weapons face more armed conflict”.

In the case of the US and the Soviet Union (now Russia) it led to an arms race that enabled each side to blow up each other’s civilization not just once but many times.

North Korea is today’s hot potato. Clearly the regime is moving things forward just as fast as it can. But in past years – during the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama – North Korea was prepared to compromise. Read the rest of this entry »

Did Trump lie about the gassing in Syria?

By Jonathan Power

April 11, 2017

Are our governments economical with the truth, if not maliciously misleading? Do governments the world over lie? Of course yes, because there are always occasions when realpolitik appears to demand it.

Most recently, many are arguing, we have seen an attempt to obfuscate the truth when President Donald Trump ordered missiles to be fired at an airbase in Syria in, he said, retaliation for an attack using sarin gas by the Syrian government on unarmed civilians. Critics blame the rebels.

I’m no chemical weapons expert but an hour chasing links on Wikipedia has taught me that making sarin gas without enormous scientific expertise and without a sophisticated manufacturing set up is not easy. Indeed too difficult for any of the rebel groups now operating in Syria. Moreover, if they wanted to mount a chemical weapons’ attack they would have chosen mustard gas which can be made in the “kitchen sink”.

This suggests since it was not mustard gas but sarin that was used, it is probably true, as Trump claims, the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is behind it. Even though the government is supposed to have given up all its chemical weapons in a deal brokered jointly by the US and Russia it wouldn’t have been hard to hide away the small amount necessary for this attack.

Why do people on the left rush to assume that in this case Trump has lied? Read the rest of this entry »

US/NATO increasing tension with Russia – focus Syria: New frosty Cold War

TFF Live
April 12, 2017

The secretaries of state, Tillerson and Lavrov meet today. We seem to enter a stage of what must appropriately be perceived as a frosty new Cold War.

In the worst of cases this can lead to a new Cuban Missile Crisis. God forbid!



TFF PressInfo # 413: The U.S. Attack on al-Shayrat Airfield

By Richard Falk

In early morning darkness on April 7th the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian al-Shayrat Airfield from two American destroyers stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean. It described the targets as Syrian fighter jets, radar, fuel facilities used for the aircraft. It asserted prior notification of Russian authorities, and offered the assurance that precautions were taken to avoid risks to Russian or Syrian military personnel.

Pentagon spokespersons suggested that in addition to doing damage to the airfield, the attack had the intended effect of “reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.”

President Donald Trump in a short public statement justified the attack as a proportionate response to the Syrian use of chemical weapons against the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the western Syrian province of Idlib a few days earlier, which killed an estimated 80 persons, wounding hundreds more.

Although there were denials of Syrian responsibility for the attack from Damascus and Moscow, a strong international consensus supported the U.S. view that Bashar al-Assad had ordered the attack allegedly as a means of convincing opposition forces concentrated in Idlib that it was time to surrender.

In the background, is the conviction among the more militaristic policy advisors and political figures, including Trump, that President Barack Obama’s failure Read the rest of this entry »

TFF Live: US bombing Syria – How could they be so sure?

By Jan Oberg

With this sad event we introduce TFF Live on Facebook.

You’ll find the original on Jan Oberg’s public page here and that is where you can best comment on it and share it (only if you are at Facebook).

Or comment below here.

Meanwhile – around the world

By Johan Galtung

Starting with EU at 60, making small states (Luxembourg!) big by being members of something bigger, but making bigger, even imperial, states smaller by being “members”. The Netherlands is small: Wilders suffered a humiliating defeat. But the UK is big with imperial past: old, rural people voted Brexit out of EU anonymity, but into what? Master in their own house? With problems with Ireland and the Celtic fringe–Scotland, Wales–even threatening UK survival? Can Anglo-America, UK even more under USA, compensate for that? They may want back; the obvious EU strategy being to adjust to many Brexit points.

France is also big and imperial. But Le Pen-Front National will not defeat a majority seeing EU as a French creation (Monnet, Schuman) and the Communauté Française as carried by the mystique of the French language anyhow. Frexit would make France smaller. France will stay.

Germany and Italy were imperial: Hitler once ruled the biggest Europe ever, Mussolini some of Africa. But they were defeated and defined as illegitimate, not “civilizzatrice“. Italy’s apology for the 1911 warfare may have model character. They will both stay in the EU.

UK outside and France inside are now paying the heavy immigration price for devastation wrought by their empires; with no EU solidarity.

The EU will survive, two- or multi-speed with the euro as common, not single currency. Strengthened by having no US Trojan horse, UK, controlling EU foreign-defense policy. Weakened into irrelevance by the neoliberalism of their constitution. See Alan Johnson “Why Brexit is essential for Britain” NYT 29 Mar 2017, a view from the left.

Russia–czarist, Bolshevik, Putin Orthodox Christian–and China–nationalist, Mao communist, Xi Shi Youming Buddhist, his Zhengding friend (NYT 25-26 Mar 2017): unforgivably big in area and population, well above the 27 EU members. The USA is no. 3 on both, giving a total rank of 6; China 5, Russia 10. EU is in that Big League.

China, economic growth at 6,5%, is still a world growth engine, and SCO benefits from India and Pakistan membership. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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