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Goodbye ‘Freedom and Democracy’ – Hello ‘Rules-based International Order’

Goodbye ‘Freedom and Democracy’ – Hello ‘Rules-based International Order’

The banner and the clarion call of western countries, and their own asserted legitimation – especially when they are engaging in illegal wars and coups – used to be “freedom and democracy”: the precious gift they were generously and selflessly offering to a backward world – or one allegedly in the ‘chains’ of Socialism/Communism. There was “Radio Free Europe”, for example, pushing out western liberal propaganda, primarily against the countries of the former Soviet Union.

The Washington-based “Freedom House” organisation, which claims to be independent, has around 150 staff members in Washington and in ‘field offices’ around the world. Its President is Michael J. Abramowitz, who before joining Freedom House in 2017, was director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Levine Institute for Holocaust Education. Before that, he was National Editor and then White House correspondent for the Washington Post. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former fellow at the German Marshall Fund and the Hoover Institution. He is also a board member of the National Security Archive. The Board of Trustees is chaired by Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush and co-author of the USA Patriot Act.

Since 1972, Freedom House, whose website sports a warm endorsement by none other than Francis Fukuyama, has produced an annual “Freedom in the World” global map (above), which divides the world into countries which are either “free”, “partly free”, or “not free”. The allegedly “free” countries are coloured green, the “partly free” ones a kind of muddy yellow, and the “not free” ones blue.

Its analysis of “freedom” covers “the electoral process, political pluralism and participation, the functioning of government, freedom of expression and belief, rights of association and organization, the rule of law, and personal autonomy and individual rights”.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bertrand Russell Diagnoses Washington War Madness and the Coming Rape of Venezuela

Bertrand Russell Diagnoses Washington War Madness and the Coming Rape of Venezuela

Bertrand Russell Diagnoses Washington War Madness and the Coming Rape of Venezuela

It is a scene depressingly familiar to inhabitants of Political Washington over the past 30 years since US armed invasion of small or vulnerable countries came back into fashion after being briefly discredited following the Vietnam War. This time it is Venezuela and its twice democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro that is being demonized as a Diabolical Menace to the very survival of All That is Good and True.

One does not have to uncritically admire everything President Maduro has done as leader of his country to confidently predict what will happen if the US government succeeds in toppling him and imposing its own ridiculous figurehead – boyish, fearful, eager-to-please little Juan Guiado: Venezuela’s version of Mario Rubio and the nonentity being touted as his country’s liberator (how the spirit of Simon Bolivar must be raging – or laughing uncontrollably!).

Then, the miseries of the unfortunate Venezuelan people will not end: They will only just have begun.

Washington’s Armchair Heroes are determined to transform the Bolivarian Republic into the Gulliverian Republic – a joke of a state presided over by worthless tiny midgets.

We have seen this same infernal script play out in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine with efforts to impose it on Syria and Yemen.

The outcome is always the same: Worse wars, worse suffering, huge increases in civilian death tolls, collapses of economies, violent anarchy, flourishing extreme Islamist and other terrorist groups where previously there were none, enormous rackets sexually enslaving children and young women, soaring per capita drug abuse rates.

The philosopher-statesmen and wise pundit-prophets of Washington shake their heads sadly and move on every looking for new worlds to liberate – and destroy.

Why is this happening yet again as it has remorselessly before under the previous five successive US presidents?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Suspends Nuclear Arms Treaty Compliance

US Suspends Nuclear Arms Treaty Compliance 

In a sign that Russia might soon be deploying those new hypersonic missiles that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been showing off lately, Reuters reported that the US is preparing to suspend compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing four US officials, opening the door to the reintroduction of medium-range ground-based nuclear arms in the area around Russia.

The officials said the the suspension will kick off a six month countdown that could lead to the dissolution of the treaty. However, Washington could opt to remain a part of the pact if Moscow decides to become compliance with the 1987 Cold War-era treaty. 

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The decision comes after the US and Russia revealed on Thursday that they had failed to work out their differences on the treaty, something that analysts have warned could be the first step in a new Cold War-style arms race – or worse. Both sides have accused the other of violating the terms of the historic treaty, which called for a ban on all land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles, according to NBC News.

This latest step comes after the Trump Administration repeatedly warned Russia that it would leave the treaty if Moscow didn’t comply with the family by Feb. 2. Both sides have been meeting in Beijing, but Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that the talks had failed.

“Unfortunately, there is no progress,” he told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti according to a translation by Reuters. “As far as we understand, the next step is coming, the next phase begins, namely the phase of the United States stopping its obligations under the INF, which will evidently happen this coming weekend.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

Anti-government protests in Venezuela that seek regime change have been led by several individuals and organizations with close ties to the U.S. government.

Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado- two of the public leaders behind the violent protests that started in February (2014) – have long histories as collaborators, grantees and agents of Washington. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have channeled multi-million dollar funding to Lopez’s political parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, and Machado’s NGO Sumate and her electoral campaigns.

These Washington agencies have also filtered more than $14 million to opposition groups in Venezuela between 2013 and 2014, including funding for their political campaigns in 2013 and for the current anti-government protests in 2014. This continues the pattern of financing from the U.S. government to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela since 2001, when millions of dollars were given to organizations from so-called “civil society” to execute a coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. After their failure days later, USAID opened an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas to, together with the NED, inject more than $100 million in efforts to undermine the Chavez government and reinforce the opposition during the following eight years.

At the beginning of 2011, after being publicly exposed for its grave violations of Venezuelan law and sovereignty, the OTI closed its doors in Venezuela and USAID operations were transferred to its offices in the U.S.. The flow of money to anti-government groups didn’t stop, despite the enactment by Venezuela’s National Assembly of the Law of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination at the end of 2010, which outright prohibits foreign funding of political groups in the country. U.S. agencies and the Venezuelan groups that receive their money continue to violate the law with impunity. In the Obama Administration’s Foreign Operations Budgets, between $5-6 million have been included to fund opposition groups in Venezuela through USAID since 2012.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Washington Follows Ukraine, Syria Roadmap in Push for Venezuela Regime Change 

Venezuela | Political Crisis

Washington Follows Ukraine, Syria Roadmap in Push for Venezuela Regime Change 

What happens in Venezuela going forward will have major consequences for the entire region and the world; and, with the U.S. already pushing countries to pick sides, the world may soon become as divided as it was immediately preceding WW II.

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Since the decision of the Trump administration on Wednesday to recognize a member of the Venezuelan opposition, Juan Guaidó, as an unelected “interim president,” the situation in the South American country has become increasingly tense, with efforts to force the current government of Venezuela — led by Nicolás Maduro — out of power having grown in intensity over the past few days.

Despite the enormous pressure his government faces from both local and international sources, Maduro has managed to maintain his position thanks to a combination of factors. These include the loyalty of the country’s well-armed military, in addition to popular support from Venezuelans who recently voted for Maduro, as well as Venezuelans who may not like Maduro but prefer him to a politician hand-picked and foisted upon them by the United States.

Yet, the long-standing campaign of the United States to effect regime change in Venezuela — a campaign that has been ongoing ever since Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, was elected in 1998 — has shown time and again that the U.S. is unwilling to let go of its dream of installing a “friendly” government in the world’s most oil-rich country. 

For that reason, if the Trump administration’s attempt to simply install a Venezuelan president fails to produce the intended result (regime change), there is substantial concern that the U.S. will turn to other means to bring about a change in government, including the instigation of a new proxy war.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Exceptional Nation Asserts Its Exceptionalism

The Exceptional Nation Asserts Its Exceptionalism

Washington has chosen a president for Venezuela.  I wonder if Trump saw the black humor in doing to Maduro what the Democrats and presstitutes are doing to him.

Few Latin American governments have ever had a government that represents the majority indigenous people or a president who was not of Spanish descent.  Chavez in Venezuela perhaps was the longest lasting indigenous leader.  His successor Maduro is also indigenous.

Indigenous Latin American leaders are unacceptable to Washington, because they tend to be reformers who represent their country’s people instead of American business and financial interests.  Consequently, when a Latin electorate elects a leader who will put them first, Washington overthrows the leader.  This is the history of US/Latin American relations.

In the 21st century alone Washington has overthrown the elected presidents of Honduras, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela and overturned the independence of Ecuador that had provided asylum protection for Julian Assange.  Washington’s coup with the Spanish elite against Chavez in Venezuela initially succeeded.  Chavez was in captivity, but before he could be murdered the Venezuelan people and military forced his release.  

Chavez, either because he lacked the power to move against the traitorous Spanish elite or because he chose to display magnanimity, did not hold those responsible who participated in the coup against his life and Venezuelan sovereignty.  Washington’s agents, the Spanish elite,  were not arrested and retained their control over the media and the economy. Venezuela has substantial oil revenues, but they do not reach the government’s budget or protect the value of the currency.  I do not know who controls the Venezuelan oil, but it appears the revenues are being stolen. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Washington Has Appointed A President For Venezuela

Washington Has Appointed A President For Venezuela

After listening since 2016 to the American presstitutes complain, without providing a mere scrap of evidence, of Russia meddling in US elections, a person would think that the last thing Washington would do would be to meddle in other countries’ elections. 

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Washington routinely meddles but now has gone far beyond mere meddling. Washington has this day (January 23, 2019) declared that the elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is no longer the Venezuelan president. Washington, not the Venezulan people, has decided who is Venezuela’s president. Declaring the elected government to be “illegitimate,” President Trump elected by diktat the Venezuelan president: “Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.” https://www.rt.com/news/449533-trump-recognizes-venezuela-opposition/ 

Clearly, Gaido is in Washington’s pocket or Washington would not have chosen him.

Maduro, like Chavez before him, has committed the unpardonable crime of representing the Venezuelan people instead of American corporate and financial interests. Washington simply does not tolerate Latin American governments that represent Latin American people. As US Marine General Smedley Buttler said, he and his Marines made Latin America safe for the United Fruit Company and investments by US banks.

So, now Venezuela has two presidents. One elected by the people, and one appointed by Washington. How long before Washington does this to Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Turkey, India?

Washington managed to frame and remove from power the female reformist president of Argentina and to replace her with a right-wing Washington puppet.

Washington managed to frame, remove from power, and imprison the leaders of the reformist party in Brazil and to install a right-wing Washington puppet.

Washington managed to dispose of the reformist government in Ecuador, install a Washington puppet, and use him against Julian Assange.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Integrity Initiative And Affiliates Behind Multiple Attacks On Disobedient Media

The influence of the group and its contacts stretches from news outlets in Europe to Washington DC insiders to Silicon Valley. Multiple reports published by Grayzone, the World Socialist Website and others map this infinite array of relationships, which we will not endeavor to outline in full here.

The revelation is not merely an embarrassment to some factions within the British intelligence community, but represents a glimpse into the inner workings of the propaganda machine that keeps the plutocratic class in control of the public.

John Pilger once wrote of Edward Bernays, the founder of modern propaganda: “Bernays’ influence extended far beyond advertising. His greatest success was his role in convincing the American public to join the slaughter of the First World War. The secret, he said, was “engineering the consent” of people in order to “control and regiment [them] according to our will without their knowing about it. He described this as “the true ruling power in our society” and called it an “invisible government.”

It is this same invisible controlling force that has been exposed at work in the anonymous hack of the Integrity Initiative.

Grayzone’s Mohamed Elmaazi and Max Blumenthal summarized the scandal, writing:  

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Washington’s Latest Match Made In Hell

Washington’s Latest Match Made In Hell

Almost Predictable

One of the more enticing things about financial markets is not that they’re predictable.  Or that they’re not predictable.  It’s that they’re almost predictable… or at least they seem they should be.

For a long time people believed – and from what we read and hear, many still do – that economic cycles move in easily predictable, regular time periods. All you had to do was create a chart of the up and down waves of your favorite cycle model and extrapolate it into the future, and presto, your prediction was ready to be sold. But it turns out it is not that simple. The chart above was published by the “Inflation Survival Letter” in the late 1970s and purported to show the future trend of the so-called Kondratiev Wave, a cycle invented by Soviet economist Nikolai Kondratiev (who was eventually deported to the GULAG and killed by the Stalin regime, after a fellow American economics professor denounced him to the communists in Moscow as a “counter-revolutionary”). Interestingly, their forecast of the trend in wholesale prices turned out to be correct, but everything else they predicted in this context was incorrect. According to the K-Wave theory, the year 2000 was supposed to have been the trough of a major economic depression, with extremely high unemployment, a plunging stock market and all the other symptoms associated with a giant bust. In reality, the year 2000 was the peak of a major boom, with unemployment almost reaching a record low and stock prices soaring to unprecedented valuations. There was a time when the seeming elegance and simplicity of models like Kondratiev’s had our attention as well. There are ways of rationalizing such models.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

For Hollywood, ‘Vice’ Remarkably Astute about Politics

For Hollywood, ‘Vice’ Remarkably Astute about Politics

Adam McKay’s movie may be flawed, but it’s still must-see for his depiction of how Cheney amassed power by exploiting Watergate, an inexperienced president and 9/11, writes James DiEugenio.


In 2015, director Adam McKay did something unusual in Hollywood.  He made a good film out of a good book.  In fact, one could argue that McKay’s movie “The Big Short” is even better than Michael Lewis’ book.  It is funnier, has a faster pace and is much more innovative stylistically.

McKay has now done something even more unusual for Hollywood.  He has made a good film about an unattractive and unlikeable character, former Vice-President Dick Cheney. Appropriately, the film is called “Vice.” I am going to say some critical things about “Vice.”  But let me start by recommending that everyone who reads this website see this film. It’s not often that Hollywood produces a film this honest, ambitious and intelligent about the contemporary American political scene.

Vice: Portrait of the abuse of power. (@vicemovie on Twitter)

Early in his life, Cheney flunked out of Yale and was tagged with two DUI’s.  His wife Lynne—who later became a prolific author—helped straighten him out  and put him on a path toward a political career.  From that point on, McKay, who also wrote the script, frames Cheney with the following epigraph, which is written across the screen at one point:

“Beware the quiet man.  For while others speak, he watched. And while others act, he plans.  And when they finally rest, he strikes.”

The warning applies to three key sections covered by the film.

Watergate Power Vacuum

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rough Times Ahead, But Liberty Can Still Win

Rough Times Ahead, But Liberty Can Still Win

While Congress and the president fight over funding a border wall, they continue to ignore the coming economic tsunami caused by the approximately 22 trillion dollars (and rapidly increasing) federal debt. President Trump may not be troubled by the debt’s effect on the economy because he believes he will be out of office before it becomes a major problem. However, the crisis may come sooner than he, or most people in DC, expects.

The constituency for limited government, while growing, is still far outnumbered by those wanting government to provide economic and personal security. From lower-income Americans who rely on food stamps, public housing, and other government programs, to middle-class Americans who live in homes they could not afford without assistance from federal agencies like Fannies Mae and Freddie Mac, to college students reliant on government-subsidized student loans, to senior citizens reliant on Social Security and Medicare, to billionaire CEOs whose companies rely on bailouts, subsidies, laws and regulations written to benefit politically-powerful businesses, and government contracts, most Americans are reliant on at least one federal program. Many programs are designed to force individuals to accept government aid. For example, it is almost impossible for a senior citizen to obtain health insurance outside of Medicare.

The welfare state is fueled by the Federal Reserve’s easy money policies, which are also responsible for the boom-and-bust cycle that plagues our economy. The Federal Reserve’s policies do not just distort our economy, they also distort our values, as the Fed’s dollar depreciation causes individuals to forgo savings and hard work in favor of immediate gratification. This has helped create an explosion of business and individual debt. There has been a proliferation of bubbles, including in credit card debt, auto loans, and student loans. There is even a new housing bubble.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Rage for Endless Wars Threatens World Peace in the New Year

US Rage for Endless Wars Threatens World Peace in the New Year

Washington’s hegemonic aims, under Republicans and undemocratic Dems, represent the greatest threat to world peace and humanity’s survival.

At his annual marathon Q & A news conference last week, Vladimir Putin warned about possible nuclear war, a growing threat because of Washington’s reckless geopolitical agenda, including withdrawal from the Iran (JCPOA) nuclear deal and INF Treaty, as well as its reluctance to negotiate extending New Start (April 2010) on reducing and limiting strategic weapons, expiring in February 2021 if not renewed.

Based on bad advice from regime hardliners, Trump falsely called New Start a bad deal favoring Russia. It’s nothing of the kind. It’s even-handed, shifting things to less war and more peace globally.

Last October, John Bolton called for withdrawing from New Start. He convinced Trump to abandon the JCPOA and INF Treaty. He advocates greater US toughness against all sovereign independent countries.

Before becoming Trump’s national security advisor, he urged terror-bombing Iran and North Korea, sanctions not enough, he said, diplomacy “a waste of time.”

He claimed “Iran will not negotiate its (nonexistent) nuclear (weapons) program.” He urged “military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq…”

He said “(t)he way to end (North Korea’s nuclear program) is to end the North.”

New Start calls for reducing the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers by half. It limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,500.

It also limits the number of ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers, and nuclear capable heavy warplanes. 

It calls for satellite and other monitoring, as well as annual on-site inspections to assure both sides comply with terms agreed on.

Bolton, Pompeo, and other Trump regime hardliners want restraints on its weapons development and deployments eliminated, part of Washington’s permanent war agenda.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

If Truth Cannot Prevail Over Material Agendas We Are Doomed

If Truth Cannot Prevail Over Material Agendas We Are Doomed

Throughout the long Cold War Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University was a voice of reason. He refused to allow his patriotism to blind him to Washington’s contribution to the confict and to criticize only the Soviet contribution. Cohen’s interest was not to blame the enemy but to work toward a mutual understanding that would remove the threat of nuclear war. Although a Democrat and left-leaning, Cohen would have been at home in the Reagan administration, as Reagan’s first priority was to end the Cold War. I know this because I was part of the effort. Pat Buchanan will tell you the same thing.

In 1974 a notorious cold warrior, Albert Wohlstetter, absurdly accused the CIA of underestimating the Soviet threat. As the CIA had every incentive for reasons of budget and power to overestimate the Soviet threat, and today the “Russian threat,” Wohlstetter’s accusation made no sense on its face. However he succeeded in stirring up enough concern that CIA director George H.W. Bush, later Vice President and President, agreed to a Team B to investigate the CIA’s assessment, headed by the Russiaphobic Harvard professor Richard Pipes. Team B concluded that the Soviets thought they could win a nuclear war and were building the forces with which to attack the US.

The report was mainly nonsense, and it must have have troubled Stephen Cohen to experience the setback to negotiations that Team B caused.

Today Cohen is stressed that it is the United States that thinks it can win a nuclear war. Washington speaks openly of using “low yield” nuclear weapons, and intentionally forecloses any peace negotiations with Russia with a propaganda campaign against Russia of demonization, villification, and transparant lies, while installing missile bases on Russia’s borders and while talking of incorporating former parts of Russia into NATO.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Psychoanalysing NATO: The Diagnosis

Psychoanalysing NATO: The Diagnosis

Psychoanalysing NATO: The Diagnosis

In previous essays I argued that NATO tries to distract our attention from its crimes by accusing Russia of those crimes: this is “projection“. NATO manipulates its audience into thinking the unreal is real: this is “gaslighting“. NATO sees what it expects to see – Moscow’s statements that they will respond to medium range missiles emplaced next door are re-jigged as the “threats” which justify NATO’s earlier act: this is “confirmation bias“. And, finally, NATO thinks Russia is so weak it’s doomed and so strong that it is destroying the tranquillity of NATOLand: this is a sort of geopolitical “schizophrenia“. (I must acknowledge Bryan MacDonald’s marvellous neologism of Russophrenia – a condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world.)

I wrote the series partly to amuse the reader but with a serious purpose as well. And that serious purpose is to illustrate the absurdities that NATO expects us to believe. NATO here being understood as sometimes the headquarters “international staff”, sometimes all members in solemn conclave, sometimes some NATO members and associates. “NATO” has become a remarkably flexible concept: Libya was a NATO operation, even though Germany kept out of itSomalia was not a NATO operation even though Germany was in it. Canada, a founding NATO member, was in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. Some interventions are NATO, others aren’t. The NATO alliance today is a box of spare parts from which Washington assembles its “coalitions of the willing”. It’s Washington’s beard.

NATO and its members are inexhaustible sources of wooden language and dishonesty. Take Washington’s demand that Iran get out of Syria while US forces stay there. Syria has a recognised government, that government invited Iran in; no one invited the USA and its minions in.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fed Is Panicking

The Fed Is Panicking

This week I’ve been in Washington, D.C. for high level meetings focused on the economy. While meeting with senior officials and members of the House and Senate, it became clear that a troubling phenomenon is building.

Nomi at the Eccles Building in D.C.

Your correspondent at the Eccles Federal Reserve
Board Building in Washington D.C.

In the wake of recent stock market volatility and uncertainty surrounding monetary policy, it seems that political figures are starting to grow concerned.

There is growing consensus that the makings of a financial crisis of some sort is building — and could drop sooner rather than later. While there is speculation over whether it will be as big as the last one, and whether it will come in waves, the belief is that something is wrong.

With those fears, I turned the Federal Reserve itself. While meeting at the Fed, I was given the impression that bank regulators have been routinely chastised by Wall Street bankers. What I learned is that some of the biggest playmakers in finance don’t want to disclose the true nature of their positions and money-making schemes. This confirmed my own experiences as an former investment banker.

In addition, it became clearer that Fed Chairman, Jay Powell, and Vice Chairman, Randal Quarles, will be closely studying real economic and bank data when rendering decisions about the path of interest rates. Many have speculated about such dealings, and whether they will be swayed by President Trump’s pressure.

The truth is that the leaders at the Fed have a firmer understanding of what’s really going on in the economy than they allude to publicly. Even though the Fed has been able to avoid another financial crisis the last decade, with quantitative easing (QE) policy — or what I call dark money — their “toolkit” might not render us “safe enough.” They need to grapple with this reality.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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