Lebanon – What if it Fell?, by Andre Vltchek

Source: Counterpunch

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Beirut is burning; it is hurt, angry and uncertain about its own future.

Ambulances are howling. Hundreds are injured. Rubber bullets are flying and so is live ammunition.

A Revolution? A rebellion?

Who are those men, stripped from their waist up, muscular, throwing stones at the security forces in the center of Beirut? Are they genuine revolutionaries? Are they there in order to reclaim so badly discredited “Arab Spring”?

Or did they come here in a show of force, because the West is paying them? If the Lebanese state collapses, ISIL could move in, and occupy at least a substantial part of Lebanon. That would suit the West’s interests, and those of Turkey, as well as the Gulf States.

Or Israel could take advantage of the vacuum, and invade Lebanon, once again. Or both ISIL and Israel.

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Bertrand Russell on Education and the Social Order

“Children are instinctively hostile to anything ‘odd’ in other children, especially in the ages from ten to fifteen. If the authorities realize that this conventionality is undesirable, they can guard against it in various ways, and they can place the cleverer children in separate schools. The intolerance of eccentricity that I am speaking of is strongest in the stupidest children, who tend to regard the peculiar tastes of clever children as affording just grounds for persecution. When the authorities also are stupid (which may occur), they will tend to side with the stupid children, and acquiesce, at least tacitly, in rough treatment for those who show intelligence. In that case, a society will be produced in which all the important positions will be won by those whose stupidity enables them to please the herd.

Such a society will have corrupt politicians, ignorant schoolmasters, policemen who cannot catch criminals, and judges who condemn innocent men. Such a society, even if it inhabits a country full of natural wealth, will in the end grow poor from inhability to choose able men for important posts. Such a society, though it may prate of Liberty and even erect statues in her honour, will be a persecuting society, which will punish the very men whose ideas might save it from disaster.

All this will spring from the too intense pressure of the herd, first at school and then in the world at large. Where such excessive pressure exists, those who direct education are not, as a rule, aware that it is an evil; indeed, they are quite apt to welcome it as a force making for good behaviour.”

Bertrand Russell, Education and the Social Order (1932)

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Image: Members of the DJ Fähnlein Hitler Youth (German: Hitlerjugend often abbreviated as HJ in German) a so-called elite branch youth organization of the Nazi Party in Germany and to a lesser extent in Austria. The members of the Hitler Youth were viewed as future “Aryan supermen” and were indoctrinated to believe racism and especially antisemitism by their schoolmasters. The primary aim was to instill the “proper motivation” that would enable its members to become soldiers, to fight faithfully for Adolph Hitler and his Third Reich. Needless to say, there was more emphasis on physical and military training than on academic and intellectual study.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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The myth of a Russian “Threat”, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Sputnik News

Not a week goes by without the Pentagon carping about an ominous Russian “threat”.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey entered certified Donald “known unknown” Rumsfeld territory when he recently tried to conceptualize the “threat”; “Threats are the combination, or the aggregate, of capabilities and intentions. Let me set aside for the moment, intentions, because I don’t know what Russia intends.”

So Dempsey admits he does not know what he’s talking about. What he seems to know is that Russia is a “threat” anyway — in space, cyber space, ground-based cruise missiles, submarines.

And most of all, a threat to NATO; “One of the things that Russia does seem to do is either discredit, or even more ominously, create the conditions for the failure of NATO.”

So Russia “does seem” to discredit an already self-discredited NATO. That’s not much of a “threat”.

All these rhetorical games take place while NATO “does seem” to get ready for a direct confrontation with Russia. And make no mistake; Moscow does view NATO’s belligerence as a real threat.

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REVIEW OF THE NOVEL “BUTTERFLY PRISON” BY TAMARA PEARSEN

Review by: Andre Vltchek

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The Butterfly Prison begins slowly, combining seemingly disconnected stories that are taking place in poor neighborhoods of Australia. The stories are like tiny vignettes; shy, modest, minimalistic but always significant and beautifully told. A fear here, a bitter humiliation there, a dream of a child interrupted by a police officer.

Then suddenly, the stories begin to interconnect, intertwine, and the novel gains speed. Real pain – deep and overwhelming – emerges. Profound hurts, bitterness and injuries are slapping the faces of the characters, and somehow, we are drawn in and begin suffering with them.

It is Australia that we don’t know; that we are not supposed to see. After some 40 pages I thought, “it feels little bit like Carpentaria”, but then, just a few pages later, it did not feel like anything else, it only felt and read like the “Butterfly Prison”.

“Then they dreamed the same dream. The whole world had been stolen, and people tumbled about on it like hungry and lost refugees in a foreign land. All spaces seemed to be owned by private companies. And the world had fences in strange places. And many long walls.

Paz couldn’t move, and his real leg jerked as though he had fallen down stairs. Mella murmured. In the stolen world they walked carefully, trying not to upset anything, like visitors. Because it wasn’t their home. Barbed wire between their toes. They bumped into another wall and got a new bruise, and it seemed that there were bluebruised people everywhere discovering new walls.

A queue then to buy back a bit of the world: a little bit of space for $2.5 million, so they could have somewhere to sit down. But they had no money, so they walked and walked and bumped into walls.”

“A stolen world”! That could easily be the second title of the novel.

*

Tamara Pearsen is my friend, and my comrade; she is a true revolutionary.

She is a person who spent several years fighting for the Latin American revolutions, for “the process”, first in Venezuela and then in Ecuador. She gave everything to the revolution, never looked for privileges, and never demanded special treatment. She is pure and she is really strong. She saw it all, from the bottom, from the angle of real people.

When she told me that she wrote a novel, I was almost certain that it would be about South America, based in Venezuela, Ecuador or Bolivia.

But Tamara decided to write about Australia, about her complex homeland.

We sat in a Vietnamese restaurant in Quito, Ecuador, when she said, simply:

“After all these years, it is time to go back; to visit Australia… I am scared.”

But she already went back. Butterfly Prison is her great return home. Instead of explaining Latin American revolutions to Australian people, she depicted an Australian reality through the eyes of a Latin American revolutionary.

An oppressed and humiliated woman, a child living in hopelessness, adults with no future, a chocking and merciless consumerism, a country that already reached its zenith but without managing to bring zeal, enthusiasm and happiness to its people: those are some of many images of Australia that will stay in our sub-consciousness after reading the “Butterfly Prison”.

Australia – the land where native people were robbed of everything and where they are, until now, living in appalling destitute. Australia, which belongs to the elites; Australia where one has to comply with the ruling-class narrative, or to be crushed and humiliated.

Tamara told me why she wrote the novel, “The Butterfly Prison is life and soul wrenched out and turned into a tale, as a way of saying some things that need to be said – of screaming them in fact. It is unravelling dominant ideas so that beauty, for example, can be what it really is, and we can get some hope from that. Its my grain of sand of solidarity with so many others who have been made invisible in different ways, and I hope that it can reach some of those people and connect with them in that magical way that stories do, and even inspire them.”

 In this, she definitely succeeded.

The Butterfly Prison is filled with compassion and solidarity. It is also full of beauty: not that cheap sentimental beauty of the popular literature of the 21st Century, but of profound, lasting beauty found only in life itself, and in the great works of art.

Two lives of Tamara Pearsen have merged in one powerful novel: one of her childhood and sadness of her native land, Australia, and the other, that of her epic battle for better world which she has been fighting for many years in Latin America.

As the novel progresses, it becomes fully international, with many stages built into its pages: those in India, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Argentina… The battles rage… But at closer look, there is really only one battle: that for our humanity, for human dignity, and for human kindness.

Life, as temporary as a kiss on a cheek: already gone, but a little tingle that lingered behind. Mella thought of the things people of her generation had grown up to believe would last forever: countries, poverty, and capitalism. Yet all those things were gone now. Nothing was forever, nothing was so powerful, except for change.

Now a Latin American writer, or more precisely “an internationalist” writer, a socialist realist, a revolutionary, Tamara Pearsen, returned home, on the wings of imagination, through her powerful novel “Butterfly Prison”, uniting several realities into one. She demands change and she does it determinedly but affectionately. And the result is stunning.

 *

The Butterfly Prison on Amazon, in print, kindle edition, from the publisher’s website, and more about the book from the author’s website.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western Imperialism.  Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western TerrorismPoint of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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The Douma Market Attack: a Fabricated Pretext for Intervention?, by Eric Draitser

Source: Counterpunch

The August 16, 2015 attack on a market in the Syrian town of Douma, just outside the capital Damascus, has caused international outrage. Condemnations of the Syrian government have poured in from seemingly all corners of the globe as President Assad and the Syrian military have been declared responsible for the attack, convicted in the court of media opinion. Interestingly, such declarations have come well before any investigation has been conducted, and without any tangible evidence other than the assertions of the rebel spokespersons and anti-government sources. Indeed, there has been an embarrassing dearth of investigative questions asked as corporate media, who have been far from objective these last four and half years, have rushed to fit the facts to their long-standing narrative of “Assad the Butcher.”

This author fully understands that, in asking difficult questions, he will be called an “apologist,” an “Assad propagandist,” or some other such nonsense. Frankly, such name-calling means very little when compared to the suffering of Syrian people, and the untold brutality that will be visited upon them if the western corporate media and warmongers get their way and yet another imperialist so-called intervention is carried out in the name of “humanitarianism.” The goal is to ask the right questions, to cast doubt on the already solidifying propaganda narrative that will undoubtedly be used to justify still more war.

Those who work for peace must be prepared to interrogate the received truths of the media machine, to confront head on that which is uncomfortable, and to do so knowing that their motives are just. The victims of this war, both past and future, deserve nothing less.

Questioning the Douma Narrative

When carefully scrutinizing the documentary evidence of the attack, and comparing that to the claims made throughout western media, some troubling irregularities emerge. Not only do the claims seem to be exaggerated, but when placed within the historical context of this war, they seem to fit into a clear pattern of distortion and misinformation disseminated for political purposes, rather than objective reportage. Indeed, the raw footage taken on the scene goes a long way to contradicting some of the claims made by witnesses and “activists” (an interesting term in itself) often quoted in the media.

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The Age of Imperial Wars, by James Petras

Source: Global Research

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From Regional War, “Regime Change” to Global Warfare

2015 has become a year of living dangerously.

Wars are spreading across the globe. 

Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.

Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.

These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.

There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders.  Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.

 Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia:  NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China.  Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?

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‘Tel Aviv sur Seine’ – as a rather ‘sick Jewish joke’ bites the dust, by Paul Matthews

'Samson in the Temple of Dagon, destroying his enemies, and himself' - Wood Engraving  Gustav Doré La Bible : Traduction de Bourassé et Janvier, appelée aussi Bible de Tours, 1866
‘Samson in the Temple of Dagon, destroying his enemies, and himself’ – Wood Engraving
Gustav Doré La Bible : Traduction de Bourassé et Janvier, appelée aussi Bible de Tours, 1866

“Frederick John Westcott (26 March 1866 – 18 September 1941), best known by his stage name Fred Karno, was an English theatre impresario of the British music hall. He is credited with popularizing the custard-pie-in-the-face gag. During the 1890s, in order to circumvent stage censorship, Karno developed a form of sketch comedy without dialogue. Cheeky authority-defying playlets such as “Jail Birds” (1896) in which prisoners play tricks on warders and “Early Birds” (1903), where a small man defeats a large ruffian in London’s East End, can be seen as precursors of movie silent comedy. American film producer Hal Roach stated: “Fred Karno is not only a genius, he is the man who originated slapstick comedy. We in Hollywood owe much to him.” Among the music hall comedians who worked for him were Charlie Chaplin and his understudy, Arthur Jefferson, who later adopted the name of Stan Laurel. These were part of what was known as “Fred Karno’s Army”, a phrase still occasionally used in the UK to refer to a chaotic group or organisation. The phrase was also adapted by British soldiers into a trench song in the First World War, as a parody of, or rather to the tune of, the hymn The Church’s One Foundation … “. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Karno.

Writing again from Occupied France, I’ve just watched ‘The Anna Tuv Story’ (q.v.) She lost an arm, her husband Yuriy, and their 11 year old daughter Katya when, in May 2015, their house in Gorlovka was shelled, probably by Ukraine’s 1st howitzer division. But with ‘soundbites’ scripted mostly by the swivel-eyed hasbara merchants, the news was never reported. Neither were the 800 artillery rounds falling on Donetsk to greet the UK’s visiting Defence Secretary. As London and Washington manifested their support for putschists in Ukraine and Brazil, police, journalists and protestors heavily outnumbered pro-Israeli ‘pleasure seekers’ at the Paris Plages fiasco.

The arms trade is booming. With their ham acting and weasel words from White House Apparatchiks, la Mère Hidalgo in Paris, le Père Porochenko and the Right Honourable Tory MP Michael Fallon in Kiev fanning the flames of hatred and intolerance, farce competes with tragedy to sharpen our appetite for truth, justice and peace. The threatened coup d’Etat to oust Dilma Rousseff is deeply disturbing. In a rare moment of optimism, I had considered renaming my, as yet unpublished, research «La décheance du peuple élu – à quand la fin d’une élite autoproclamée ?». But can one translate that into English ? Is there any reason to warrant the belief that we, or any other dissident group, make any impact on this loathsome, repressively Permissive Society of ours ?

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The Refugees Are Coming!!!, by Andre Vltchek

Source: Counter Punch

Calais – anti refugee walls.
Calais – anti refugee walls.

I don’t really know, I don’t understand how it feels: to live in a rich European country, which is rich mainly because it has been directly plundering many poor nations around the world. Or it has been plundering by association, through its membership in some extremist organization like NATO. To live there, refusing to acknowledge why it is rich, how it became rich.

Palaces, theatres, railroads, hospitals and parks in that rich country are built on broken skeletons and restless specters, on lakes of blood and shameless theft.

Then, when one looted country after another begins to sink, when there is nothing left there, when children begin dying from hunger and when men commence fighting each other over tiny boulders and dirty pieces of turf, pathetic boats, or dinghies, begin crossing the waterways, bringing half starved, half-mad refugees to the European sea-fronts decorated with marble.

What a horrifying sight! As if a woman, her hair waving in disarray, her lips broken, comes begging a man who raped her after killing her husband – begging for shelter and at least some work and piece of bread. She decided to abandon all her pride, because her children are sick and starving, because it is either this, or death.

That is what you reduced the world to, Europe – you, and your huge, insatiable offspring – North America!

Too egocentric, too cruel, you lost the ability to judge, to feel. All moral standards collapsed. There are no higher principles, anymore, only self-interest.

In Calais and Kos, in Paris, London, Stuttgart, and Prague, I heard the same questions posed with absolutely straight faces: “How are we going to absorb all those hordes of immigrants?”

Almost no one in the West is wondering aloud: “How did the people on other continents manage to endure those long centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism, of shameless plunder, of slavery, of constant locust-like onslaught of corporate and neoliberal cannibalistic hordes? Wouldn’t a set of keys issued to each and every citizen of robbed, formerly or presently colonized country, be the tiniest, the most basic token of justice?”

Congolese refugees in Goma.
Congolese refugees in Goma.

Is it morally acceptable that a thief, an arsonist, a rapist, a liar, a serial killer, all in one, would be allowed to live in a mansion, surrounded by slums housing his victims?

In the West, in the Christian West, in fundamentalist West, such arrangement is obviously tolerable.

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The world after the Washington/Teheran agreement, by Theirry Meyssan

Source: Voltaire Network

The cease-fire decreed between the United States and Iran redefines the conflicts in the Near East and moves the war towards the Black Sea. Even though it is yet too soon to predict the way in which the rivalry between Riyadh and Teheran will evolve, and also what will become of Turkey, it is already clear that we are moving towards peace in Yemen and Syria.

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The opposition between the United States and Iran, which had dominated Near-Eastern politics since the speech given by Imam Rouhollah Khomeiny at Teheran cemetery on the 1st February 1979, to the signature of the bilateral agreement with the government of Cheikh Hassan Rohani on the 14th July 2015, no longer exists. As from now, Washington and Teheran are both pusuing the interests of the same global ruling class.

At the time, President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Council advisor Zbigniew Brzeziński had to deal with the desertion of Iran, which, until then, had been Washington’s «local police force ». They reacted first by soliciting the Saudis for help in countering the Imam’s revolutionary, anti-imperialist message – this signalled the beginning of the Wahhabisation of world Islam – then by deciding to control the Near Eastern reserve of hydrocarbons.

During his « State of the Union » speech of the 23rd January 1980, Jimmy Carter declared – « Let our position be absolutely clear – any attempt by a foreign power to take control of the Persian Gulf region will be considered as an attack on the vital interests of the United States of America, and any such attack will be resisted by all necessary means, including military force. »

With this objective, the Pentagon organised a regional command for its army, the Central Command (CentCom), whose zone of competence included all the states in the region with the exception of Israel and Turkey.

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