on: November 11, 2019, 02:53:29 PM
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|by Stephen Lendman
November 11, 2019
The late William Blum documented CIA coups since WW II.
They’re staged to advance Washington’s aim for unchallenged global dominance. It’s not a pretty picture.
Variations of the same script are used to topple foreign leaders not subservient enough to US interests.
CIA dirty hands orchestrate things — the undemocratic National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, and other US agencies also involved.
Foreign right-wing politicians and military officials are bought like toothpaste to go along with diabolical plots to topple sovereign independent governments, US dark forces wanting pro-Western puppet rule replacing them.
Blum explained how the plot works, saying “on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition,” adding:
“First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.”
“The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy).”
“It uses every (dirty) trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping(s), beating(s), torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination(s).”
“These efforts culminate in a military (or civilian) coup, which installs a right-wing dictator.”
It can be military figures like Pinochet in Chile earlier and el-Sisi in Egypt now, or civilians installed in Brazil, Afghanistan, Iraq, and countless other countries — figures willing to subordinate their nations’ sovereign rights to US interests.
Citing Association for Responsible Dissent data through 1987, Blum explained that “6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations,” what he called an “American Holocaust” — the number no doubt infinitely higher over the past three decades, notably post-9/11.
US coups have nothing to do with eliminating threats to national security, nothing to do with humanitarian intervention, nothing to do with democracy building — the latter Blum called Washington’s “deadliest export.”
They have everything to do with transforming sovereign nations into US vassal states, controlling their resources and populations, along with gaining market control for corporate America, shutting out competition from Russia, China, Iran, and other nations on the US target list for regime change.
Bolivian President Evo Morales is the latest US imperial victim — even though the coup plot to depose him is an ongoing story, its final chapter unwritten.
On Sunday, he resigned under pressure from the country’s armed forces chief General Williams Kalima.
He, other military officials, and opposition politicians were likely bribed by CIA cash in offshore tax havens, or a similar scheme, to go along with orchestrated street violence and heavy pressure on Morales to call new elections and then resign.
On October 20, he was democratically elected, exceeding the 10% threshold necessary to avoid a runoff with lead challenger Carlos Mesa.
No evidence suggests fraud. Morales agreed to have election results audited. He tacticly erred by letting the US-controlled/Washington-based Organization of American States conduct it.
Results were predictable. Its preliminary report suggested irregularities — following the CIA script, a statement dubiously saying:
“The manipulations to the computer system are of such magnitude that they must be deeply investigated by the Bolivian state to get to the bottom of and assign responsibility in this serious case,” adding:
“The first round of the elections held on October 20 must be annulled and the electoral process must begin again, with the first round taking place as soon as there are new conditions that give new guarantees for it to take place, including a newly composed electoral body.”
US policymakers consider electoral results fraudulent when politicians they oppose win — notably Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, model democrats they labeled “strongmen” or “dictators.”
Morales was democratically reelected to a fourth term as Bolivian president. The fate of the nation, himself, and vast majority of its people hang in the balance following post-October 20 events, culminating with dubious OAS accusations, Bolivia’s military abandoning Morales, and his Sunday resignation.
With attribution to baseball great Yogi Berra, the only possible bright spot is “(i)t ain’t over till it’s over.”
Most Bolivians support Morales. Will they rally en masse for him, resisting the US coup plot to replace him with pro-Western fascist rule?
Will they resist what’s going on like masses against social injustice, corruption, and other abuses of power in France, Chile, Brazil, Haiti, Lebanon, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Will they organize, mobilize, take to the streets, and challenge dark internal and foreign forces, wanting Bolivia transformed into a US vassal state — their rights and welfare eliminated if the plot succeeds!
In announcing his resignation on Sunday, Morales explained the following:
“I’m telling the whole world and the Bolivian people that one of the police officers publicly announced that he had been given instructions for my detention, according to the illegal warrant that he received,” adding:
“An aggressive group of people attacked his house.”
Earlier, hard-right opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho said: “It’s confirmed! A warrant has been issued for the detention of Morales! The police and the military are looking for him in Chapare.”
In announcing his resignation, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera stepping down with him, Morales saying:
“We are resigning so that our brothers and sisters, civil servants, are not subjected to attacks and threats.”
Calling what’s happening a coup d’etat against Bolivian democracy, he added:
“Brothers and sisters, I want to tell you that our struggle is not ending. We will continue to fight for equality and peace. Now my duty as president is to find a way to calm the situation.”
According to Bolivia’s Constitution, the country’s line of succession if both president and vice president resign are the Senate’s chairperson (Adriana Salvatierra Arriaza) and Chamber of Deputies head (Victor Borda).
They both resigned, leaving a power vacuum, a situation its dark forces in cahoots with the CIA are going all-out to exploit.
While Bolivian law doesn’t indicate a line of succession beyond the above positions, second Senate second vice-speaker Janine Agnes announced her self-appointment as interim president — perhaps chosen by the CIA to replace Morales until new elections are held.
Conditions in the country remain in flux. What’s going on is a developing story, the outcome yet to unfold. More on the US plot to eliminate Bolivian democracy as events warrant.
Make no mistake. What’s happening in the country is an old-fashioned CIA-orchestrated coup plot to eliminate democratic governance, depose Morales, and replace him with fascist puppet rule subservient to US interests.
The jury is out on whether Langley’s plot will work as planned. Despite resigning on Sunday, Morales said: “The struggle continues.”VISIT MY WEBSITE: stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman). Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
on: October 20, 2019, 12:19:11 PM
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|By Ajamu Baraka, BAR editor and columnist
October 16, 2019 - blackagendareport.com“Western radicals must take a consistent anti-imperialist position despite the internal contradictions or problemsthat existwithin a state in the Global South.”
Despite so many self-defined radicals’ reading and claims to understand Gramsci’s corrective to Marxism-Leninism’s mechanistic understanding of the relationship between the base and the ideological superstructure, the ease by which some radicals are manipulated by the crude ideological machinations of the ruling class is truly astonishing. It is quite understandable that liberals would be manipulated by fairly innovative ideological gimmicks like the notion of “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect,” which relied on the assumption, proving correct, that the liberal consciousness would react favorably to appeals to oppose “authoritarians” and authoritarian systems. However, I suspect that state propagandistsdidn’t realizethe potential effectiveness of this ideological device when they first began to disseminate this framework for its ability to also mobilize radicals to the side of the bourgeois state and imperialist adventures.
The latest misadventures in Syria over the last few weeks revealed just how effective the bourgeois ideological apparatus has been in winning over not only liberals to support the “regime change” policies of the Obama administration in Syria, but also radicals and self-defined revolutionaries throughout the Western world.“The ease by which some radicals are manipulated by the crude ideological machinations of the ruling class is truly astonishing.”
The construction of the narrative in which street demonstrations against the Assad government would go from supposedly non-violent demonstrations to a “justifiable” call for armed struggle in a matter of weeks and gain support from Western radicals was an amazing feat.
Without rehashing the details and timeline of this sad spectacle — which resulted in millions internally displaced and as refugees,hundreds of thousands dead, the Syrian nation divided by sectarianism, and the state constricted with its territory occupied — it is, however, important to be reminded that the armed wing of the rebellion that received uncritical support from liberals and Westernized radicals was the “Free Syrian Army (FSA).”
When some of us warned Western radicals that they were being manipulated, that the so-called revolution in Syria had become fraudulent because it lacked an organic, independent social base, and was being driven by imperialist forces who cared little about democratic reforms, the working class or Syria as an independent sovereign state, we were condemned as “Assadists” and “Putin puppets.”
Expunged from acceptable discourse was any consideration of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed states, the real geostrategic and economic class and national interests in contention in Syria and the region, or the legality of intervention outside the framework of the United Nations Charter.
Instead, the hegemonic framing of Syria was driven by the convergence of a left-right, paternalistic form of white saviorism ethically legitimized by the concept of humanitarian intervention, itself constructed on the normalized belief in the superiority ofthe white West, be it in its’ current capitalist form or its’imagined socialist future. Politically, the logical stance for both versions of this Eurocentric self-delusion is that any people striving to emulate either of those Eurocentric visions should be supported.“The hegemonic framing of Syria was driven by the convergence of a left-right, paternalistic form of white saviorism ethically legitimized by the concept of humanitarian intervention.”
However, in the case of Syria, that carefully constructed ideological framing is now imploding as a result of its own internal contradictions. The white supremacist “responsibility to protect,” the 21stcentury version of the “white man’s burden,” requires an adolescent bad guy-good guy framing. The dictator/authoritarian figure and the suffering people longing for freedom -- Western style freedom that is- provided a familiar cultural framing for this epic struggle between “good” and “evil.”
In Syria, Assad was the villain and the Kurds the virtuous other who took on the savage forces of ISIS -- that appeared out of nowhere according to this version of the story. While the Kurds were saving Western civilization from ISIS -- and that is how it was framed because
the only way real support is generated for non-European life (you have to be saving white folks) -- the good guy revolutionaries and moderate opposition in the form of the FSA were fighting Assad to liberate the millions of people who didn’t seem to understand that they were being oppressed by Assad.
But all of that has now been turned on its head with the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the Kurds and give a greenlight to the illegal invasion of Syria by Turkey,
with none other than the FSA acting as the point of the spear operating with the Turkish army to crush the Kurds.“The white supremacist ‘responsibility to protect,’ the 21stcentury version of the ‘white man’s burden,’ requires an adolescent bad guy-good guy framing.”
In the anger toward Trump,the corporate press forgot the memo that the FSA were the good guys who had been supported by U.S. authorities from the very beginning of the manufactured war. The new framing became the “Turkish supported FSA,” especially after gruesome videos began to circulate that demonstrated in graphic images what many of us knew, along with the CIA and most of the honest foreign policy community, that the FSA was always al-Qaeda’s Syria operation in the form of Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist militias.
Independent journalist Aaron Mate, who was one of the many journalist smeared as an Assadist simply because he attempted to raise objective questions about what was unfolding in Syria and the impact of U.S. policies in the region,
suggests that now that it is no longer viable to pretend that the FSA and the so-called moderate rebels ever existed, all those who smeared independent analysts on this question should apologize.
I am confident that an apology of that sort will never happen; nor do I think Aaron believes that either because arrogance and self-righteousness is so deeply ingrained into the cultural DNA of most Westerners. Similarly to how U.S. radicals desperately tried to find a revolutionary entity to support in Syria to justify their objective alignment with U.S. imperialism, they will find a way to explain away what everyone can clearly see today, that the war on the people of Syria was a monstrous crime against humanity.“It is no longer viable to pretend that the FSA and the so-called moderate rebels ever existed.”
Instead of apologies, real justice demands that there should be international prosecutions beginning with Obama, Clinton and all the Western leaders who perpetrated this crime.
The ideological struggle is real. It shapes consciousness and informs actions. There is no middle ground. Western radicals must take a consistent anti-imperialist position despite the internal contradictions or problems
within a state in the Global South. This is their task and responsibility, especially of those individuals and organizations that reside at the center of the empire.
What distinguishes the Western radical from its counterparts in the global South is the fact that Southern-based radicals understand that any nation that finds itself in the crosshairs of U.S. and Western imperialism is a nation that, in one way or another, is considered a threat to imperialist domination. It’s time Western radicals understood this as well and stopped aligning themselves with the enemies of collective humanity.Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC). He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. He was recently awarded the US Peace Memorial 2019 Peace Prize and the Serena Shirm award for uncompromised integrity in journalism.https://blackagendareport.com/syria-exposing-western-radical-collaboration-imperialism
on: September 17, 2019, 04:56:19 PM
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|Some of the Many Things Most Americans Never Heard About 9/11By Paul Craig Roberts
September 14, 2019
The “Dancing Israelis” who turned out to be Israeli Mossad agents caught filming and celebrating the destruction of the twin towers. Arrested by police and released without investigation, they were not mentioned in the 911 Commission Report. Later on Israeli TV they said they were sent to New York to film the destruction of the twin towers. Allegedly, there was no advance warning of the event, but obviously the Israelis knew.
The alleged fundamentalist orthodox fanatical Muslims who were prepared to die to be martyrs, but who drank, drugged, and lived with strippers and prostitutes in Florida. They were the patsies paraded through flight schools and left a highly visible public record. They all flunked out and could not even fly small planes, but performed miraculous flight feats in their attacks on the WTC towers and Pentagon that military and civilian airline pilots say are beyond their own skills. These Saudi Arabians were being operated by US or Israeli intelligence to create a record to serve as a parallel patsy operation that could be used to cover up the false flag attack.
Numerous video cameras recorded whatever exploded at the Pentagon, but the FBI has refused to release them for 18 years. Clearly, the videos do not support the official story.
About half of the alleged hijackers have been found alive and well and deny that they had ever left their countries.
In 2001 no cell phone calls were possible from aircraft at the altitudes from which calls were reported.
The airliners that allegedly hit the twin towers were flimsy compared to the steel and concrete of the towers. The airliners would have smashed against the structure and fallen to the street below.
Pre-knowledge of 9/11 was widespread. The stocks of the two allegedly hijacked airlines were sold short prior to the event, resulting in large profits when the stocks fell in response to the hijackings. The short-sellers were swept under the carpet and not investigated.
FBI director Robert Mueller was instrumental in covering up for the false official story of 9/11, a story that has zero evidence in its behalf.
If a handful of young men with no intelligence service or government support can defeat the entire national security state of the United States and all of its NATO and Israeli allies and successfully attack with devastating results both New York and the Pentagon itself—the very symbol of American military supremacy—the Soviet Union could have wiped out the US and all of Europe without detection. Don’t you wonder how we survived the Soviet Union when the “Great American Superpower” was so easily defeated by a handful of young Saudi Arabians?
Four hijacked airliners are alleged hijacked, all at airports served by an Israeli security company. All four airliners allegedly crash. Two into the WTC towers, one into a field in Pennsylvania, and one into the Pentagon. Yet no airliner debris exists. The Pentagon’s lawn is not even scratched.
The President of the United States refuses to testify before the 9/11 Commission unless he is accompanied by his handler, Vice President Cheney. Both refuse to testify under oath. The 9/11 Commission is oh-so-respectful to the distinguished president and vice president.
One member of the 9/11 Commission, a US Senator, resigned from the Commission, saying that “the fix is in.” After the Commission report was issued, the Commission chairman, vice chairman, and legal counsel wrote books in which they said that information was withheld from the Commission, that the Commission was lied to and considered referring the false testimony to the Justice (sic) Department for prosecution, and that “the Commission was set up to fail.” And not a peep from the controlled pressitute media whose only function is to deliver the controlled explanations that the ruling oligarchs want planted into Americans’ minds.
Tenants of the WTC buildings reported constant noises, floors sealed off, service disruptions and that the excuse was the installation of fiber optic cable. If the buildings faced condemnation as reported because of asbestos fireproofing, who would go to the expense of installing fiber optic cable to upgrade the Internet capability of condemned buildings?
Scientists have found reacted and unreacted nano-thermite and other elements used in controlled demolition. They have proved the existence of these elements. They have samples from the WTC dust left which they have offered to scientists and governments for testing in order to prove or disprove their own findings. No takers.
Instead, we have the appearance of nonsensical claims that the WTC buildings were brought down by a directed energy weapon and by nuclear bombs. These are preposterous allegations, the purpose of which is the deliberate creation of disinformation in order to focus attention away from the false official story and bury it in disagreements about what caused the buildings to fail.
I have checked with weapons specialists who are critics of US government foreign policy and who monitor every development in weapon systems in the US and Russia. This is what they tell me: “I can confidently state that no direct energy weapon, capable of demolishing such a structure at the Twin Towers, existed in 2001, nor does it exist today.”
Another reported that there are lab tests of directed energy in Russia but no deployed weapon. He suggested that people who believe in this fantasy story should explain the safe source of high energy that the alleged weapon used, and how it was moved on site and removed without detection. Moreover, a directed energy burst would show on detectors which monitor the electromagnetic spectrum. No such evidence exists. Since no such weapon has ever been tested to bring down skyscrapers, why would the government take the risk of using such a weapon for the first time in a public scenario where who knows what could go wrong and explanations would have to be given? And why reveal to foreign powers the existence of such a weapon? Controlled demolition is an old and familiar technology that works. And it did.
I could go on and on.
As I wrote in a previous column, when Americans fell for the 9/11 deception, they lost their country, and peoples in seven countries lost their lives, limbs, and families.Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2019/09/11/some-of-the-many-things-most-americans-never-heard-about-9-11/?fbclid=IwAR0d0Slnuur26otpKrYAA7veq8E7EHsTnOr1Vj0DWYmADC46yB1bTE5Y0Tg
on: September 17, 2019, 04:53:24 PM
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|By Eric Margolis
September 14, 2019https://ericmargolis.com/2019/09/who-was-really-behind-9-11/
A large number of Americans still don’t believe the official version of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. I am one of them.
The government and tame media version – that crazed Muslims directed by Osama bin Laden attacked New York’s twin towers and the Pentagon because they hated ‘our freedoms’ and our religions – is wearing very thin as contrary evidence piles up.
Ever since the attacks, I’ve held the belief that neither bin Laden nor Afghanistan’s Taliban were involved, though bin Laden did applaud the attacks after the fact and remains a key suspect. Unfortunately, he was murdered by a US hit squad instead of being brought to the US to stand trial. Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, was adamant that bin Laden was not behind the attacks.
So who did it? In my view, the attacks were financed by private citizens in Saudi Arabia and organized from Germany and possibly Spain. All the hijackers came from states nominally allied to the US or its protectorates.
Fifteen of the 19 were Saudis. Two came from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and one each from Egypt and Lebanon. Amazingly, during the national uproar after the attacks, little attention was focused on Saudi Arabia, a key US ally (or protectorate) even though most of the hijackers were Saudi citizens, and a planeload of important Saudis were quietly ushered out of the US by the CIA soon after the attacks.
Saudi Arabia was too important to US domination of the Mideast to point any fingers at the Saudis. The Saudi royal regime in Riyadh did not appear to have been involved – why would it since their survival and gravy train depended on US protection?
But the royal regime does not represent all Saudis, as many people believe. Saudi Arabia is a collection of tribes played off against one another by Riyadh and kept in line by the US Air Force from its bases in Saudi and a tribal force, ‘the white army,’ led by American ‘advisors.’ Saudi Arabia has little in the way of a regular army because its rulers fear coups by the armed forces such as occurred in Egypt, Iraq and Syria.
In addition, over 40,000 Americans live and work in Saudi. Another 5,000 US military personnel are stationed there. Much of the kingdom’s technology – banking, telecommunications, airports and flights, trains, military affairs, TV and radio – are supervised by foreigners. This process began in the 1920’s when the British moved into Arabia and helped promote the Saudi tribe to prominence.
A sizeable Yemeni community lives in Saudi. The bin Laden family originally hailed from Yemen. Saudi also has an important Shia Muslim minority, about 20% of the population, with smaller numbers of other Muslim sects. Most important, the reactionary, ultra rigid Wahabi religious sect still dominates the nation and royal family. The Wahabis hate Shia, calling them apostates and heretics. A similar dim view is taken of the nine million foreign workers, principally Indians, Pakistanis and other South Asians, who do all of the Kingdom’s dirty work.
Within the complexities of Saudi Society lie bitterly anti-western groups who see the nation as being militarily occupied by the US and exploited – even pillaged – by foreigners. Arabia was originally the holy land of Islam. Today, it has been westernized, occupied by US military power, and given marching orders by Washington.
While covering the Afghan War in the 1980’s, I met Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a fiery nationalist leader and anti-communist who was bin Laden’s teacher and spiritual mentor.
“When we succeed in kicking the Russians out of Afghanistan,” Azzam told me, “we will go on and kick the Americans out of Saudi Arabia.” I was shocked, never having heard of Americans called ‘occupiers’. Azzam was murdered by a bomb soon after, but his words kept ringing in my ears. He thought of the Americans as much colonialists as the Soviets.
Private nationalist groups in Saudi who bitterly opposed foreign domination of their country could very well have financed and organized 9/11. But, of course, Washington could not admit this. That would have brought into question the US occupation of Saudi.
What’s also pretty clear is that Israel – at minimum – knew the attack was coming yet failed to warn its American ‘allies.’ Israel was the chief beneficiary of the 9/11 attacks – yet its bumbling Arab foes and bin Laden were blamed for this crime.Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. https://ericmargolis.com/
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2019https://ericmargolis.com/2019/09/who-was-really-behind-9-11/
on: September 07, 2019, 07:54:22 PM
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
|The Myth of Whiteness in Classical SculptureGreek and Roman statues were often painted, but assumptions about race and aesthetics have suppressed this truth. Now scholars are making a color correction.
By Margaret TalbotOctober 22, 2018
Mark Abbe was ambushed by color in 2000, while working on an archeological dig in the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias, in present-day Turkey. At the time, he was a graduate student at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, and, like most people, he thought of Greek and Roman statues as objects of pure white marble. The gods, heroes, and nymphs displayed in museums look that way, as do neoclassical monuments and statuary, from the Jefferson Memorial to the Caesar perched outside his palace in Las Vegas.
Aphrodisias was home to a thriving cadre of high-end artists until the seventh century A.D., when an earthquake caused it to fall into ruin. In 1961, archeologists began systematically excavating the city, storing thousands of sculptural fragments in depots. When Abbe arrived there, several decades later, he started poking around the depots and was astonished to find that many statues had flecks of color: red pigment on lips, black pigment on coils of hair, mirrorlike gilding on limbs. For centuries, archeologists and museum curators had been scrubbing away these traces of color before presenting statues and architectural reliefs to the public. “Imagine you’ve got an intact lower body of a nude male statue lying there on the depot floor, covered in dust,” Abbe said. “You look at it up close, and you realize the whole thing is covered in bits of gold leaf. Oh, my God! The visual appearance of these things was just totally different from what I’d seen in the standard textbooks—which had only black-and-white plates, in any case.” For Abbe, who is now a professor of ancient art at the University of Georgia, the idea that the ancients disdained bright color “is the most common misconception about Western aesthetics in the history of Western art.” It is, he said, “a lie we all hold dear.”
In the early nineteen-eighties, Vinzenz Brinkmann had a similar epiphany while pursuing a master’s degree in classics and archeology from Ludwig Maximilian University, in Munich. As part of an effort to determine what kinds of tool marks could be found on Greek marble sculpture, he devised a special lamp that shines obliquely on an object, highlighting its surface relief. When he began scrutinizing sculptures with the lamp, he told me, he “quite immediately understood” that, while there was little sign of tool marks on the statues, there was significant evidence of polychromy—all-over color. He, too, was taken aback by the knowledge that a fundamental aspect of Greek statuary “had been so excluded” from study. He said, “It started as an obsession for me that has never ended.”
Brinkmann soon realized that his discovery hardly required a special lamp: if you were looking at an ancient Greek or Roman sculpture up close, some of the pigment “was easy to see, even with the naked eye.” Westerners had been engaged in an act of collective blindness. “It turns out that vision is heavily subjective,” he told me. “You need to transform your eye into an objective tool in order to overcome this powerful imprint”—a tendency to equate whiteness with beauty, taste, and classical ideals, and to see color as alien, sensual, and garish.
One afternoon this summer, Marco Leona, who runs the scientific-research department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gave me a tour of the Greek and Roman galleries. He pointed out a Greek vase, from the third century B.C., that depicts an artist painting a statue. Leona said, of polychromy, “It’s like the best-kept secret that’s not even a secret.” Jan Stubbe Østergaard, a former curator at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum, in Copenhagen, and the founder of an international research network on polychromy, told me, “Saying you’ve seen these sculptures when you’ve seen only the white marble is comparable to somebody coming from the beach and saying they’ve seen a whale because there was a skeleton on the beach.”
In the nineteen-nineties, Brinkmann and his wife, Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, who is an art historian and an archeologist, began re-creating Greek and Roman sculptures in plaster, painted with an approximation of their original colors. Palettes were determined by identifying specks of remaining pigment, and by studying “shadows”—minute surface variations that betray the type of paint applied to the stone. The result of this effort was a touring exhibition called “Gods in Color.” Versions of the show, which was launched in 2003, have been seen by three million museumgoers in twenty-eight cities, including Istanbul and Athens.
The replicas often deliver a shock. A Trojan archer, from approximately 500 B.C., wears tight pants with a harlequin pattern that is as boldly colored as Missoni leggings. A lion that once stood guard over a tomb in Corinth, in the sixth century B.C., has an azurite mane and an ochre body, calling to mind Mayan or Aztec artifacts. There are also reconstructions of naked figures in bronze, which have a disarming fleshiness: copper lips and nipples, luxuriant black beards, wiry swirls of dark pubic hair. (Classical bronze figures were often blinged out with gemstones for the eyes and with contrasting metals that highlighted anatomical details or dripping wounds.) Throughout the exhibition, the colored replicas are juxtaposed with white plaster casts of marble pieces—fakes that look like what we think of as the real thing.
For many people, the colors are jarring because their tones seem too gaudy or opaque. In 2008, Fabio Barry, an art historian who is now at Stanford, complained that a boldly colored re-creation of a statue of the Emperor Augustus at the Vatican Museum looked “like a cross-dresser trying to hail a taxi.” Barry told me, in an e-mail, that he still found the colors unduly lurid: “The various scholars reconstructing the polychromy of statuary always seemed to resort to the most saturated hue of the color they had detected, and I suspected that they even took a sort of iconoclastic pride in this—that the traditional idea of all-whiteness was so cherished that they were going to really make their point that it was colorful.”
But some of the disorientation among viewers comes from seeing polychromy at all. Østergaard, who put on two exhibitions at the Glyptotek which featured painted reconstructions, said that, to many visitors, the objects “look tasteless.” He went on, “But it’s too late for that! The challenge is for us to try and understand the ancient Greeks and Romans—not to tell them they got it wrong.”
Lately, this obscure academic debate about ancient sculpture has taken on an unexpected moral and political urgency. Last year, a University of Iowa classics professor, Sarah Bond, published two essays, one in the online arts journal Hyperallergic and one in Forbes, arguing that it was time we all accepted that ancient sculpture was not pure white—and neither were the people of the ancient world. One false notion, she said, had reinforced the other. For classical scholars, it is a given that the Roman Empire—which, at its height, stretched from North Africa to Scotland—was ethnically diverse. In the Forbes essay, Bond notes, “Although Romans generally differentiated people on their cultural and ethnic background rather than the color of their skin, ancient sources do occasionally mention skin tone and artists tried to convey the color of their flesh.” Depictions of darker skin can be seen on ancient vases, in small terra-cotta figures, and in the Fayum portraits, a remarkable trove of naturalistic paintings from the imperial Roman province of Egypt, which are among the few paintings on wood that survive from that period. These near-life-size portraits, which were painted on funerary objects, present their subjects with an array of skin tones, from olive green to deep brown, testifying to a complex intermingling of Greek, Roman, and local Egyptian populations. (The Fayum portraits have been widely dispersed among museums.)
Bond told me that she’d been moved to write her essays when a racist group, Identity Evropa, started putting up posters on college campuses, including Iowa’s, that presented classical white marble statues as emblems of white nationalism. After the publication of her essays, she received a stream of hate messages online. She is not the only classicist who has been targeted by the so-called alt-right. Some white supremacists have been drawn to classical studies out of a desire to affirm what they imagine to be an unblemished lineage of white Western culture extending back to ancient Greece. When they are told that their understanding of classical history is flawed, they often get testy.
Full text here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/29/the-myth-of-whiteness-in-classical-sculpture?utm_medium=social&mbid=social_facebook&utm_social-type=owned&utm_source=facebook&utm_brand=tny&fbclid=IwAR21LTqFSfEZhihKljC5WjEVjLfjzXTQeT0A-itpMlInl3rvX80Pbphaw1E&fbclid=IwAR1xxL2Mt_M7GPNZzC-IvYrfd4rVMrd8A_g2XgnT454MFXBJo5atpuecpB4
on: August 23, 2019, 08:10:50 PM
Started by News - Last post by News
|By Kenneth Good
August 23, 2019 - counterpunch.org
The Congo won independence from Belgium in June 1960 with Patrice Lumumba, age 35, as Prime Minister. Immediately it began to fall apart, under revanchist Belgian assault, Cold War pressures, adjacent settler colonial reaction and collaborationist Congolese elites like Moise Tshombe and Joseph Desire Mobutu. On 12 July Lumumba and President Kasavubu asked UN Secretary General Hammarskjold to urgently despatch military assistance “to protect the national territory of the Congo against the present external aggression” (Katanga had broken away under Tshombe with big Belgian support). In early July, Dag Hammarskjold, UN secretary general, stressed that ONUC (the UN mission, already 3,500 strong was “not under the orders of the [Congolese] government “nor [was it] party to any internal conflict”.
By month’s end ONUC had some 11,000 troops on the ground with its own air capacity. Nevertheless, an attempt to ‘station troops in Katanga in early August failed’, and at much the same time, Hammarskjold visited Elisabethville to meet Tshombe. Additionally, the Secretary General narrowed ONUC’s role even further: “it cannot be used on behalf of the central government…to force the provincial government to a specific line of action.”
Melber observes that ‘as a result, cordial relations with Lumumba ended abruptly.’ Lumumba felt that Hammarskjold was taking sides with the Belgians and Tshombe. When Lumumba sought assistance from the Soviet Union, President Kasavubu dismissed him as Prime Minister on 5 September 1960, as Mobutu, the army strongman, stood by (Henning Melber, Dag Hammarskjold, 2019, 77-79, 81, 84). Shortly after, Hammarskjold backed the decision of his special representative, Andrew Cordier, to close down Leopoldville radio station, effectively preventing the Prime Minister from broadcasting, and closed the airports to all but UN operations.
According to Ludo De Witte, Congolese law gave parliament, not the president, the power to dismiss a prime minister, and on 7 September, after a strong speech, Lumumba won the support of the House of Representatives by 60 votes to 19. On 14 September, then Colonel Mobutu staged his coup. ‘Isolated both by a cordon of Blue Berets and by Mobutu’s men’, a virtual prisoner, Lumumba decided that ‘it was time to try and escape and get back to Stanleyville’ where he had strong popular and organisational support. On 27 November, at night in the rain, he set out. Dayal informed Hammarskjold that “if Lumumba manages to get to Stanleyville the situation would change in a flash” (Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba, 2001, 27, 52).
It was an act of hope and desperation. On 1 December he was taken by Mobutu’s soldiers. Sustained brutality followed, until he and his two comrades were slaughtered on 17 January 1961. Patrice Lumumba was not yet 36, and it was the 201st day of Congo’s independence. De Witte quotes him saying months earlier: “If I die tomorrow, it will be because a white has armed a black” (2001, 119-121).
The obliteration of the bodies followed their killing. Over hours through 22-23 January 1961, the three corpses were dismembered, doused in acid, burnt and pulverised: ‘nothing was left of the three nationalist leaders’ (De Witte, 141). It was a prelude to acts which recurred during the Apartheid Wars in the 1980s.
Hammarskjold was reportedly ‘devastated for days’ after the news of Lumumba’s torture and death, but he also thought it was ‘an entirely senseless act’ (Melber, 7), when it was clearly planned and purposefull. He makes reference to ‘the winds of change’, in Harold Macmillan’s famous phrase. But the winds of reaction were then as or more powerful, and they eminated directly from Pretoria and Salisbury.
The Sharpville Massacre occurred on 21 March 1960, when 69 carefully peaceful marchers were shot dead that day. The British diplomat, Brian Urquhart, said: ‘The assassination was condoned by the United States, which feared that Lumumba was becoming an African Fidel Castro.’
The UN, with its policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of the Congo, abandoned Lumumba. President Kwame Nkrumah’s eulogy was firm: The UN ‘not only failed to maintain the law and order [they’d been invited to preserve], but also denied to the lawful government…all other means of self-protection’. They failed ‘to prevent his arrest by mutineers or his transfer through the use of airfields under [their] control, into the hands of the Belgian dominated government of Katanga’ (De Witte, 2001, 149).
By 1958-1960, Lumumba had ‘broke[n] away from the Congolese elite and its bourgeois ambitions.’ He resolutely decided upon full decolonisation to benefit the people, and tried to ‘shape a nationalism based on three political pillars: revolutionary and coherent nationalism, political action relying on a mass movement, and an internationalist perspective’ (De Witte, 176).
He faced implacable, ruthless opposition, which stemmed down from President Eisenhower. Hammarskjold was a leading Swedish diplomat, completely out of his depth in Congo. He was killed when his DC-6 aircraft (‘Albertina’) was brought down near Ndola on 18 September 1961. Though information still remains hidden, the likelihood is that it was shot down by a Fouga aircraft operating out of Katanga.
In contrast to the ten weeks accorded Lumumba, Mobutu remained in power for over 30 years until July 1997. His presidency was outstanding for its despotism, corruption (one of the world’s richest men) and the neglect of the needs of the people, backed throughout by international political and financial institutions. In the lifetime of Pierre Mambele, a taxi-driver in Kinshasa, ‘Congo had gone from brutal Belgian colonialism, to brief independence under Patrice Lumumba to dictatorshup under Mobutu before the Kabila clan took over. He had met Lumumba at rallies in Kisangani (Stanleyville), and liked him.’ In destroying Lumumba and preserving Mobutu the major Western and regional powers inflicted grave harm on the Congolese.Notes.
1) Cordier with Ralph Bunche were two American members of the small ‘Congo Club’ of staff members involved both in the Secretariat and on the ground. Conor Cruise O’Brien and Rajeshwar Dayal were others. These officials, in the words of Nzongola-Ntalala, “shared a common Cold War outlook with Western policy makers”. Ralph Bunche’s difficulties with Lumumba were a strong example of the political clashes that occurred (Melber, 88-89). ?
2) Ronan Bennett offers a vivid account of Lumumba and his circle at this time, including Larry Devlin, CIA station chief in Elisabethville, a key plotter on the ground, The Catastrophist (1997)
3) ‘Obituary: Pierre Mambele’. The Economist
, 20 July 2019. ?https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/08/23/congos-patrice-lumumba-the-winds-of-reaction-in-africa/
on: August 22, 2019, 08:44:17 PM
Started by News - Last post by News
|By Paul Craig Roberts
August 21, 2019 - paulcraigroberts.org
The main problem with the US economy is that globalism has been deconstructing it. The offshoring of US jobs has reduced US manufacturing and industrial capability and associated innovation, research, development, supply chains, consumer purchasing power, and tax base of state and local governments. Corporations have increased short-term profits at the expense of these long-term costs. In effect, the US economy is being moved out of the First World into the Third World.
Tariffs are not a solution. The Trump administration says that the tariffs are paid by China, but unless Apple, Nike, Levi, and all of the offshoring companies got an exemption from the tariffs, the tariffs fall on the offshored production of US firms that are sold to US consumers. The tariffs will either reduce the profits of the US firms or be paid by US purchasers of the products in higher prices. The tariffs will hurt China only by reducing Chinese employment in the production of US goods for US markets.
The financial media is full of dire predictions of the consequences of a US/China “trade war.” There is no trade war. A trade war is when countries try to protect their industries by placing tariff barriers on the import of cheaper products from foreign countries. But half or more of the imports from China are imports from US companies. Trump’s tariffs, or a large part of them, fall on US corporations or US consumers.
One has to wonder that there is not a single economist anywhere in the Trump administration, the Federal Reserve, or anywhere else in Washington capable of comprehending the situation and conveying an understanding to President Trump.
One consequence of Washington’s universal economic ignorance is that the financial media has concocted the story that “Trump’s tariffs” are not only driving Americans into recession but also the entire world. Somehow tariffs on Apple computers and iPhones, Nike footwear, and Levi jeans are sending the world into recession or worse. This is an extraordinary economic conclusion, but the capacity for thought has pretty much disappeared in the United States.
In the financial media the question is: Will the Trump tariffs cause a US/world recession that costs Trump his reelection? This is a very stupid question. The US has been in a recession for two or more decades as its manufacturing/industrial/engineering capability has been transferred abroad. The US recession has been very good for the Asian part of the world. Indeed, China owes its faster than expected rise as a world power to the transfer of American jobs, capital, technology, and business know-how to China simply in order that US shareholders could receive capital gains and US executives could receive bonus pay for producing them by lowering labor costs.
Apparently, neoliberal economists, an oxymoron, cannot comprehend that if US corporations produce the goods and services that they market to Americans offshore, it is the offshore locations that benefit from the economic activity.
Offshore production started in earnest with the Soviet collapse as India and China opened their economies to the West. Globalism means that US corporations can make more money by abandoning their American work force. But what is true for the individual company is not true for the aggregate. Why? The answer is that when many corporations move their production for US markets offshore, Americans, unemployed or employed in lower paying jobs, lose the power to purchase the offshored goods.
I have reported for years that US jobs are no longer middle class jobs. The jobs have been declining for years in terms of value-added and pay. With this decline, aggregate demand declines. We have proof of this in the fact that for years US corporations have been using their profits not for investment in new plant and equipment, but to buy back their own shares. Any economist worthy of the name should instantly recognize that when corporations repurchase their shares rather than invest, they see no demand for increased output. Therefore, they loot their corporations for bonuses, decapitalizing the companies in the process. There is perfect knowledge that this is what is going on, and it is totally inconsistent with a growing economy.
As is the labor force participation rate. Normally, economic growth results in a rising labor force participation rate as people enter the work force to take advantage of the jobs. But throughout the alleged economic boom, the participation rate has been falling, because there are no jobs to be had.
In the 21st century the US has been decapitalized and living standards have declined. For a while the process was kept going by the expansion of debt, but consumer income has not kept pace and consumer debt expansion has reached its limits.
The Fed/Treasury “plunge protection team” can keep the stock market up by purchasing S&P futures. The Fed can pump out more money to drive up financial asset prices. But the money doesn’t drive up production, because the jobs and the economic activity that jobs represent have been sent abroad. What globalism did was to transfer the US economy to China.
Real statistical analysis, as contrasted with the official propaganda, shows that the happy picture of a booming economy is an illusion created by statistical deception. Inflation is undermeasured, so when nominal GDP is deflated, the result is to count higher prices as an increase in real output, that is, inflation becomes real economic growth. Unemployment is not counted. If you have not searched for a job in the past 4 weeks, you are officially not a part of the work force and your unemployment is not counted. The way the government counts unemployment is so extraordinary that I am surprised the US does not have a zero rate of unemployment.
How does a country recover when it has given its economy away to a foreign country that it now demonizes as an enemy? What better example is there of a ruling class that is totally incompetent than one that gives its economy bound and gagged to an enemy so that its corporate friends can pocket short-term riches?
We can’t blame this on Trump. He inherited the problem, and he has no advisers who can help him understand the problem and find a solution. No such advisers exist among neoliberal economists. I can only think of four economists who could help Trump, and one of them is a Russian.
The conclusion is that the United States is locked on a path that leads directly to the Third World of 60 years ago. President Trump is helpless to do anything about it.Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.
on: July 23, 2019, 01:34:27 PM
Started by News - Last post by News
|UN Report on Venezuela Fails to Reflect the Causes and Severity of the Economic Crisis – Why? (2/2)
July 14, 2019Alfred de Zayas says the UN Human Rights Council's report on Venezuela left out essential aspects in its otherwise damning report on Venezuela because the council has increasingly fallen under the sway of the demands of the US governmenthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHI35Uh8_y0
Story TranscriptGREG WILPERT
It’s The Real News Network and I’m Greg Wilpert in Baltimore. You’re joining us for part two of our discussion about the UN human rights report that was recently released on Venezuela. And joining me to discuss this is Alfred de Zayas. He’s a retired senior lawyer with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as a retired chief of the petitions department at the OHCHR. Thanks again, Alfred, for having joined us today.ALFRED DE ZAYAS
So I think it’s very important, though, before we go onto the question of why this report has been so flawed, is to highlight again the issue of the degree of the severity of the situation in Venezuela. As a matter of fact, a recent opinion article by Francisco Rodriguez, who is an economist at Torino Capital, wrote an opinion article in The New York Times where he said, “Sanctions are now putting the country at risk of a humanitarian catastrophe. In the three months after sanctions were increased in January, Venezuela imported barely a third of what it imported in the same period last year and less than one-tenth of what it bought from the rest of the world back in 2012. Given that most of the population is already living at near-starvation levels and that the country depends on imports to feed itself, further cuts in foreign purchases risk producing the first Latin American famine in over a century. The risks of famine— and what needs to be done to stop it— are lost in the conversation among Washington policymakers and the Venezuelan opposition.”
Now that was Francisco Rodriguez highlighting the severity of the situation. Now, I find it a bit mind-boggling that I think the report itself— and you alluded to this in the first part— completely misses this severity of the sanctions. Now, what do you think about in terms of what the UN ought to be doing, first of all, and in terms of— and I’ve seen you say this before— in terms of the responsibility to protect? What does that mean in the context of Venezuela?ALFRED DE ZAYAS
Precisely, here we have a situation of an artificial crisis. A crisis that has been induced by the United States with the connivance of Canada, the European Union, other countries that have frozen Venezuelans’ money so Venezuela has no access to the money to buy food. Venezuela has billions and billions of dollars, but they’re frozen in the United States, in Great Britain, in European banks, in Portugal actually. In any event, responsibility to protect— that is the responsibility of all of us. The responsibility of all governments are to help a brother nation in trouble, a nation that is asking for help. Obviously, asking for help given without strings attached, without ulterior political purposes, because so-called American humanitarian aid is not humanitarian aid. It is a Trojan horse for regime change. And you cannot be the torturer, you cannot be the tormentor of the Venezuelan people, and suddenly be the benefactor, suddenly be the Good Samaritan who is offering humanitarian aid. Obviously, that humanitarian aid is not being given in good faith.
On the other hand, responsibility to protect means that all European countries and Canada and all countries engaged in the economic war against Venezuela, must end that economic war, must lift the sanctions. Now, the High Commissioner for Human Rights back in 2012— that was Navi Pillay— presented a very strong report which very strongly condemned sanctions. I can quote from that report. It is a report, I can show it there, and is a report of 2012. And among the conclusions we read very clearly, “States must refrain from adopting unilateral coercive measures that breach the human rights obligations under a treaty or customary international law.” Now, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights specifically prohibits this kind of economic war because of its impact on the right to health, because of its impacts on the right food, etc., etc.
Now, The Human Rights Council has repeatedly condemned sanctions, including this year. Last month of March at the 40th session of the council, there was a resolution adopted condemning unilateral coercive measures. Not only those against Venezuela, but also those against Iran and those against Syria, etc., etc. because sanctions kill. And more and more professors of law, professors of political science have come to the conclusion, as I have, that if the victims of sanctions and financial blockades reaches a certain threshold, that would constitute crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Statute of Rome. That is, the Statute of the International Criminal Court. And I had in my report already, back in September 2018, recommended that the issue be brought to the prosecutor. The prosecutor of the ICC should open an investigation into the deaths directly attributable to sanctions.
Mark Weisbrot and Professor Jeff Sachs concluded in their report that in the year 2018 alone, as many as 40,000 Venezuelans died as a result of the sanctions and financial blockade. Now, that has gotten worse since 2018. So responsibility to protect means responsibility to stop these artificial sanctions, which I compare with the siege of towns and cities in medieval times with the one purpose to starve them to death. To have them come out with the white flag and surrender. That is what the United States, that’s what Pompeo and Bolton and Abrams and Trump want. They—GREG WILPERT
Let me ask you something else though. I mean, you point out the difference between the 2012 report and that report that was just released. Now I’m wondering, what has happened to the office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights that such a report could be written? I mean, what kind of changes have happened there? I remember times when the United States was very critical of that commission, saying that they were coddling dictators and things like that. Now, it seems to have taken on a very different direction, even though the United States actually is officially withdrawing from the Human Rights Commission. So what’s going on there?ALFRED DE ZAYAS
Well, they twist a lot of arms behind the scenes. [laughs] Don’t think that the US has abandoned the Human Rights Council. They’re very much there, and they are very much bullying, and countries are afraid. There are consequences when you vote against the interests of the United States. There is a price to pay. Either you are going to suffer economic sanctions, or the United States will find a way to make you suffer for your independence, for your exercise of your sovereignty. But going back to the office, it’s not just the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The OAS, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights— they’ve all been hijacked. They’ve all redefined human rights: human rights are the rights to make money, the right to profit, the right to—What? Do your thing no matter who suffers, no matter what the consequences of your actions are.
It’s very weird how the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Luis Almagro, how Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have sold out basically to the establishment. I see them as an alibi to maintain the neoliberal status quo. So if you attempt an alternative social-economic model as Salvador Allende did in 1970, you’re odd man out. And human rights have been weaponized in order to defame you, to demonize you, and to make it palatable that a military intervention under the guise of a humanitarian intervention could be carried out. Now, this is almost blasphemy— how you can take the noble concept of human rights, how you can take the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of Eleanor Roosevelt, and then use it as a weapon.
I would like to see a comparison of the situation in Honduras, and in Guatemala, and in Colombia, and in Brazil where [the] Indigenous have been massacred and are still being massacred, where social leaders are being murdered every day, where there’s a very high level of homicide or criminality in the streets. But we focus only on Venezuela so that it becomes palatable for world public opinion to say, “No that has to change. We have to get rid of the government.” Now, I applaud the fact that Michelle Bachelet went to Venezuela, and part of the problem with her report is that obviously it’s not her report. The report was written long, long, long before she went to Venezuela. And 82% of the interviews conducted were not conducted in Venezuela. They were conducted outside Venezuela from individuals who are obviously opposition leaders and people who oppose the current government of Venezuela.GREG WILPERT
Okay.ALFRED DE ZAYAS
So the report is very unbalanced. It needs equilibrium. And if I want to see the silver lining: the High Commissioner has engaged, the High Commissioner has been there, the High Commissioner has left two of her staffers permanently in an office in Venezuela. Now, I am optimistic thanks to the reports of people like Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot. Thanks to articles and books by Professor Tinker Salas and by Dan Kovalik and by Pasqualina Curcio. That gradually, people will come to understand that the situation is far more complex than we think, and that there is a responsibility to protect the Venezuelan people. To protect them from whom? From the United States. To protect them from sanctions. To protect them from the financial blockade.GREG WILPERT
Okay. On that note, unfortunately we’re going to have to leave it there for now. I was speaking to Alfred de Zayas, retired senior lawyer with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Thanks again, Alfred, for having joined us today.ALFRED DE ZAYAS
Thanks for having me.GREG WILPERT
And thank you for joining The Real News Network.https://therealnews.com/stories/un-report-on-venezuela-fails-to-reflect-the-causes-and-severity-of-the-economic-crisis-why-2-2
on: July 23, 2019, 01:28:39 PM
Started by News - Last post by News
|De Zayas: UN Human Rights Council’s Report on Venezuela is ‘Unbalanced’De Zayas: UN Human Rights Council’s Report on Venezuela is ‘Unbalanced’ (1/2)
July 12, 2019Former lawyer for the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Alfred de Zayas, says that High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet's report on human rights in Venezuela mostly ignores the severity and responsibility of US sanctions against Venezuelahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHI35Uh8_y0
Story TranscriptGREG WILPERT
It’s The Real News Network and I’m GREG WILPERT in Baltimore. Last week, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, released a report on the human rights situation in Venezuela. The report can safely be described as being quite scathing of the human rights situation. Here is an excerpt of Bachelet’s presentation of the report.MICHELLE BACHELET, UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
As the report makes clear, essential institutions under the rule of law in Venezuela have been eroded. The exercise of freedom of opinion, expression, association, and assembly, and the right to participate in public life entails a risk of reprisals and repression. Our report notes attacks against actual or perceived political opponents and human rights defenders ranging from threats and smear campaigns to arbitrary detention, torture and ill treatment, sexual violence, killings, and forced disappearance.GREG WILPERT
The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slammed the report for being one-sided. The Foreign Ministry said the report mostly ignored the impact of US economic sanctions on Venezuela, as well as information presented by Venezuelan human rights NGOs that highlighted the violence committed by opposition supporters.
Joining me now to discuss the UN Human Rights report on Venezuela is ALFRED DE ZAYAS. He’s a retired senior lawyer with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as a retired chief of the petitions department at the OHCHR. Back in late 2017, he visited Venezuela as an independent expert from the UN. So let’s start out with the report in general. What is your reaction to the report on Venezuela given what you know about the human rights situation there? Was it balanced?ALFRED DE ZAYAS
I’m rather disappointed because I had the opportunity of briefing Michelle Bachelet’s assistant for an hour and delivering a considerable amount of documentation. I also pointed out which were the conclusions, findings of my own report for the Human Rights Council, and how I thought that a constructive dialogue with the government of Venezuela should be conducted so as to help the Venezuelan people. It’s not a question of giving aid and comfort to the government. It’s a question of helping the people who are suffering. Why are they suffering? Primarily because there is a major economic crisis. What are the causes of the economic crisis? First of all, that drastic drop in the price of oil back in 2014. Venezuela has less than half the income that it used to have. But most importantly, the economic war, which is not new.
The economic war started in 1999 when Chavez became President of Venezuela and there was, of course, a coup d’état of 2002. And then, the sanctions imposed by Obama and later by Trump. Now, these sanctions are the direct cause of death. The direct cause of death through malnutrition, death through lack of access to certain medicines. The government is bending over backwards to buy the necessary medicine, to buy the necessary food. Venezuela is not self-sufficient. This is not something that is the fault of the Chavez or the Maduro government. I mean, this has been the model of the Venezuelan economy for 100 years. They are dependent on the sale of oil. Now, if the United States confiscates or freezes billions and billions of dollars that belong to the Venezuelan people, if the bank in England similarly refuses to return $1.5 billion-worth of gold, and if some 40 bank institutions in the world have frozen more than $5 billion— how is Venezuela going to purchase the food and the medicines that it needs?
It still does a remarkable job of doubling the available resources, but then, there is the problem of sanctions. Any businessman, any entrepreneur who wants to do business with Venezuela knows that he is risking major penalties. I’m not talking about $10,000. I’m talking about $50,000, $100,000, $200,000. So if you are an entrepreneur and you know it’s going to cost you that kind of money, why are you going to take the risk? So you pass over Venezuela. Going back to the report of Michelle Bachelet, on the optimistic side I can say bravo. She personally has been in Venezuela. She has spoken with both the opposition and the government, with many ministers. She has been given an enormous amount of information. Why is their report so deficient? And it is very deficient. It is very disappointing. Why? Because it was drafted by the same team that had drafted the reports of Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Michelle Bachelet has inherited a team. In this team—GREG WILPERT
I want to get into that issue in a moment, but first, I just want to ask you something else about the report itself. I mean, one of the things, and you touched on this already, but I just want to quote from the report because I think it’s kind of interesting. One of the things that she says in the report, or I don’t know if it’s her, or her assistants say, “The government has not demonstrated that it has used all resources at its disposal to ensure the progressive realization of the right to food, nor that it has unsuccessfully sought international assistance to address gaps.” Then it goes on also to say that, “Violations of the right to health resulted from the Government’s failure to fulfill its core obligations, which are non-derogable, even for economic reasons.” And then finally, she does say something about the economic sanctions, but basically ends up dismissing them. Now one of the things, and I think it’s important to always keep in mind that the report also of course talks very scathingly about the political freedoms, and also about the 5,000 or plus people that have been killed in confrontations with the police, which it calls extrajudicial killings basically. Now that’s a very serious allegation, but on the other hand, from what I have just quoted, the report seems to ignore the sanctions for the most part. And according to one analysis that is by Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs, as many as 40,000 people were killed or died due to a lack of access to medicine and to food. Now, given the—ALFRED DE ZAYAS
That was low in 2018. This year is much—GREG WILPERT
Right, right. Now given all of that, what would you say should actually be the UN’s role in dealing with this kind of a situation?ALFRED DE ZAYAS
Coordinating all the agencies. When I was in Venezuela, I called in the FAO, and WHO, UNHCR, UN Women, etc. to say, look, how can we help the Venezuelan people? Indeed, shortly after my visit, new arrangements were made between some of these United Nations agencies and the government, and they are helping the government. So do the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, so there is some progress. But the report is unfortunately, fundamentally flawed. The major problem is methodology. When you are a researcher, it doesn’t even have to be a legal investigation, even if you are a historian, you have to listen to all sides. You have to evaluate all of the evidence, and then you have to reflect it professionally.
What has happened here is that an enormous amount of information that was made available to the High Commissioner—And not just during her visit because her team was there already in March. She went now for three days, but at least 50 nongovernmental organizations on the ground in Venezuela—Such as, Fundalatin, which is a very old Venezuelan NGO. It’s not a GONGO. It’s not a government NGO. Fundalatin, Grupo Sures, and Red Nacional de Derechos Humanos did give Michelle Bachelet material. But when did she receive that material, and why was it not taken into account? Because you don’t find a footnote in her report to any of these sources, nor do you find a footnote to my own report, or to my findings and conclusions, so there’s something wrong. And I attribute that—Because I am a former staffer of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and I know how things work. There are people with prejudices. They have an axe to grind and they grind it and they omit information that just doesn’t fit the matrix that they want to put forward.
Now this, of course, is not just a problem of methodology. This is also a problem of ethics. I find that the professional ethics of a staff member must include a true reproduction of the information received from all sources. Obviously you can discard information if you think this just comes from the press, this is fake news, this is not serious. But the information given to the High Commissioner, I have seen much of that information, which also dates back to 2017, and none of it was ever reflected by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and is also not reflected by this new report. So that my recommendation— and I’ve already put it in writing, and I’ve already informed the office of my opinion— I think it is necessary for the credibility of the office to change the team that has been doing these reports in the past because they have proven not to be objective. They have proven not to follow what I would consider the minimum requirements of any serious research.
I think that not giving appropriate weight to the violence of the guarimbas, of the opposition, not going into the dislocation, the disturbance of repeated attempts at overthrowing the government, the coup d’état, the unilateral declaration of the presidency of Guaido, followed by the so-called humanitarian aid that the United States was going to force from Colombia into Venezuela, followed by the call to the army to overthrow Maduro on the 30th of April last, etc., the attempts on the life of Maduro himself—All of these things have an impact on the functioning of any government. And you mentioned the figure of 5,000 persons who are said to have lost their lives in the context of resistance to state authority. My understanding is that that figure actually encompasses common criminals, encompasses persons engaged in sabotage, persons engaged in contraband who have of course resisted the government. But back in 2017, and I’ve seen the videos, the opposition used Molotov cocktails. The opposition used real bullets. The opposition burned alive seven human beings.GREG WILPERT
Okay. Well, we’re going to have to conclude this part one, this first part of our discussion with you. And I invite people to tune in for the second part where we will go into the details of why it is that this report has been flawed, according to you. So I was speaking to ALFRED DE ZAYAS, retired senior lawyer with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Thanks again, Alfred, for having joined us. And again, as I said, join us for part two.https://therealnews.com/stories/de-zayas-un-human-rights-councils-report-on-venezuela-is-unbalanced-1-2
on: May 20, 2019, 05:29:59 PM
Started by News - Last post by News
|By Chandra Muzaffar
May 20, 2019https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/20/targeting-iran/
A dangerous flashpoint has emerged in world politics at the moment. There is widespread fear that the United States and its allies might launch a military operation against Iran at any time. A US aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers are already deployed in the region. The alleged sabotage of four oil tankers, two of them Saudi, and the attack on a major oil pipeline are being linked in certain circles without an iota of evidence to Tehran. There is no need to repeat that scenarios of this sort are often manufactured to justify military aggression.
For more than a year now since unilaterally repudiating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal forged between Iran and six world powers, the US has not only re-imposed economic sanctions upon Iran but has also forced other states that trade with Iran to reduce drastically their interaction with Tehran. US targeting of Iran is a grave travesty of justice for the simple reason that the UN’s nuclear inspection agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has reiterated over and over again that Iran has complied with the nuclear deal. It should not therefore be punished with old or new sanctions. This is also the position adopted by the other signatories to the deal, namely, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
But US president, Donald Trump is determined to act against Iran partly because of the growing influence of the Israeli government led by Benyamin Netanyahu and a segment of the Israeli lobby in the US upon his administration. Though Israel has harbored deep distrust of the Iranian leadership since the 1979 Islamic Revolution because of the latter’s proven commitment to the Palestinian cause, it is only in recent years that it has begun to sense that a combination of three factors renders Iran and its people a formidable challenge to Israel’s goal of establishing its hegemonic power over West Asia. Iran’s oil and gas wealth has been reinforced by its scientific knowledge and capabilities underscored by a passionate devotion to the nation’s independence and sovereignty derived from both its historical experience and its attachment to a spiritual identity. Besides, the Iranian government is a staunch defender of the Syrian government which refuses to yield to Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, in itself a gross violation of international law. Iran is also linked to the Hezbollah which has successfully resisted Israeli attempts to gain control over Lebanon, thus threatening the tiny nation’s sovereignty.
There is also perhaps another reason why Israel and the US are hell-bent on targeting Iran at this juncture. Very soon, leaders of these two states will announce the so-called “deal of the century”, a farcical attempt to resolve the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict. Because the deal from what little is known of it, is so palpably unjust to the Palestinian people, the Palestinians and the majority of the people of West Asia are expected to reject it outright. According to various sources, the deal condemns the Palestinians to perpetual apartheid. Iran and its allies can be expected to spearhead the opposition. It explains to some extent why Iran has to be hobbled immediately.
As an aside, it is ironical that Israel is showing such hostility to Iran when the Iranian Constitution not only recognizes the Jews as a minority but also provides the community with representation in its legislature. This is unique in West Asia. Israel’s failure to appreciate this is perhaps proof that its real commitment is not so much to the well-being of the Jews as the triumph of its Zionist ideology with its goal of expansionism and hegemony.
It is not simply because of Zionism or Israel that the US Administration is seeking to emasculate Iran. Weakening and destroying Iran is foremost on the agenda of another of Trump’s close allies in the region. The Saudi ruling elite also saw the Iranian Revolution of 1979 as a mortal threat to its position and power because it overthrew a feudal monarch, was opposed to US dominance of the region and sought inspiration in a vision of Islam rooted in human dignity and social justice. As Iranian influence in West Asia expanded especially after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the Saudi elite became even more apprehensive of Iran and wanted the US to curb Iran’s role in the region. In this regard it is worth observing that if Iran has become more influential in the region in the last 15 years or so, it is not only because of the astuteness of the Iranian leadership but also because of the follies of the Saudi and US ruling elite. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein through an Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 for instance paved the way for the ascendancy of Shia politicians more inclined towards Iran.
How and why Saudi and Israeli elite interests and ambitions are intertwined in the US push against Iran is not highlighted in the media including the new media. Consequently, only a small fraction of the public understands the real causes for the escalation of tensions in West Asia centering on Iran. It is largely because the media conceals and camouflages the truth, that a lot of people see the victim as the perpetrator and the perpetrator as the liberator. Or as Malcolm X once put it, “If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/20/targeting-iran/