Category Archives: US Empire

AFGHANISTAN IS RIGHT HERE! LIES, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, by Andre Vltchek

Text and Photos: Andre Vltchek

Deep ravines of Afghanistan

It often appears that “true Afghanistan” is not here in Kabul and not in Jalalabad or Heart either; not in the ancient villages, which anxiously cling to the steep mountainsides.

Many foreigners and even Afghans are now convinced that the “true” Afghanistan is only what is being shown on the television screens, depicted in magazines, or what is buried deep in the archives and libraries somewhere in London, New York or Paris.

It is tempting to think that the country could be only understood from a comfortable distance, from the safety of one’s living room or from those books and publications decorating dusty bookshelves and coffee tables all over the world.

“Afghanistan is dangerous,” they say. “It is too risky to travel there. One needs to be protected, escorted, equipped and insured in order to function in that wild and lawless country even for one single day, or just a few hours.”

When it comes to Afghanistan, conditioned Western ‘rational brains’ of tenure or emeritus professors (or call them the ‘regime’s intellectual gatekeepers’) often get engaged, even intertwined with those pathologically imaginative minds of the upper class ‘refugees’, the ‘elites’, and of course their offspring. After all, crème de la crème ‘refugees’ speak perfect English; they know the rules and nuances of the game. The results of such ‘productive interaction’ are then imprinted into countless books and reports.

Books of that kind become, in turn, what could be easily defined as the ‘official references’, a ‘certified way’ to how our world perceives a country like Afghanistan. Their content is being quoted and recycled.

How often I heard, from the old veteran opinion makers (even those from the ‘left’) – people that I actually used to respect in the past:

“The Soviet era in Afghanistan was of course terrible, but at least many girls there had access to the education…”

It is no secret that ‘many girls had access to education’ in those distant days, but was it really “terrible”, that era? Was it “of course, terrible?” Baseless clichés like this are actually shaping ‘public opinion’, and can be much more destructive than the hardcore propaganda.

Continue reading AFGHANISTAN IS RIGHT HERE! LIES, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, by Andre Vltchek

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Conversation: Milk-Bar Clausewitzes, Bean Curd Napoleons: In the Reign of Kaiser Don, by Fred Reed

Source: Fred on Everything

Why do those inadequate little men in Washington and New York dream of new wars? Because the empire is near a tipping point.

Washington must either either start a war in Korea, or gets faced down by the North, its carriers ignored, its bombers “sending signals” and making “shows of force” without result. For the empire this is a loss of face and credibility, and an example to others that America can be challenged.

Iran has not caved to Washington’s threats and sanctions and clearly isn’t going to. Another strategic loss, a big one, unless–the hawks seem to think–remedied by a war. Iran wants to trade with Europe and Europe likes the idea. Worse, Iran is becoming a vital part of China’s aim to integrate Europe and Asia economically. To the empire this smelñls of death. The frightened grow desperate.

China shows no signs of backing down in the South China Sea. For Washington, it is either war now, when thinks it might win, or be overshadowed as China grows.

Russia has irrevocably gotten the Crimea, is quietly absorbing part of the Ukraine, and looks as if its side is going to win in Syria. Three humiliating setbacks for the empire. Loss of control of the Mideast would be a strategic disaster for Washington.

Continued control of Europe is absolutely vital. European governments have groveled but now even they grow restless with Washington’s sanction against Russia, and European businessmen want more trade eastward. Growing trade with Asia threatens to loosen Europe’s shackles. Washington cannot allow this.

When you have militarily stupid politicians listening to pathologically confident soldiers, trouble is likely. All of these people might reflect how seldom wars turn out as those starting them expect. Wars are always going to be quick and easy. Generals not infrequently advise against a war but, once it begins, they bark in unison. They seldom know what they are getting into. Note:

The American Civil War was expected to be over in an afternoon at First Manassas. Wrong, by four years and some 650,000 dead.

Continue reading Conversation: Milk-Bar Clausewitzes, Bean Curd Napoleons: In the Reign of Kaiser Don, by Fred Reed

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Mosul’s Bloodbath: ‘We Killed Everyone – IS, Men, Women, Children’

Source: Information Clearing House

Iraqi soldiers receive brutal, final order in last days of battle with IS – Kill anything that moves. Results can be found crushed in the rubble

By MEE Contributor

July 27, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The Iraqi soldier looks out from his tiny three-walled room across a wasteland of rubble that crumbles steeply down to the banks of the Tigris River and contemplates the last days of the savage fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

“We killed them all,” he says quietly. “Daesh, men, women and children. We killed everyone.”

What remains of this part of Mosul’s Old City, where IS militants made their last stand, and what lies beneath betrays the horrific final days of the battle.

Hundreds of corpses lie half-buried in the broken masonry and rubble that was once a bustling, historic quarter. The stench of decaying flesh, which comes fast in the 50C summer heat, overwhelms the senses.

Feet are the most distinguishable remains; there are many poking from the rubble.

That final killing spree has left its mark, and it is one some appear keen to cover over.

Feet poke from the rubble of the Old City of Mosul (MEE)

Over the last week, armoured bulldozers have trundled back and forth over the crumpled houses, grinding uncounted corpses into the rubble.

But the dead refuse to go away. Rotting body parts glow a reddish-brown amid the pale grey of the undulating heatscape of masonry, dust and broken buildings.

“There are many civilians among the bodies,” an Iraqi army major tells MEE. “After liberation was announced, the order was given to kill anything or anyone that moved.”

Continue reading Mosul’s Bloodbath: ‘We Killed Everyone – IS, Men, Women, Children’

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WHY I REJECT WESTERN COURTS AND JUSTICE, by Andre Vltchek

There is a small courthouse from the ‘British era’, standing right in the center of Hong Kong. It is neat, well-built, remarkably organized and some would even say – elegant.

Earlier this year I visited there with an Afghan-British lawyer, who had been touring East Asia for several months. Hong Kong was her last destination; afterwards she was planning to return home to London. The Orient clearly confused and overwhelmed her, and no matter how ‘anti-imperialist’ she tried to look, most of her references were clearly going back to the adoptive homeland – the United Kingdom.

“It looks like England,” she exclaimed when standing in the middle of Hong Kong. There was clearly excitement and nostalgia in her voice.

To cheer her up even more, I took her to the courthouse. My good intentions backfired: as we were leaving, she uttered words that I expected but also feared for quite some time:

“You know, there are actually many good things that can be said about the British legal system.”

*

I thought about that short episode in Hong Kong now, as I drove all around her devastated country of childhood, Afghanistan. As always, I worked without protection, with no bulletproof vests, armored vehicles or military escorts, just with my Afghan driver who doubled as my interpreter and also as my friend. It was Ramadan and to let him rest, I periodically got behind the wheel. We were facing countless detentions, arrests and interrogations by police, military and who knows what security forces, but we were moving forward, always forward, despite all obstacles.

From that great distance, from the heights of the mountains of Afghanistan, the courthouse in Hong Kong kept falling into proportion and meaningful perspective.

Continue reading WHY I REJECT WESTERN COURTS AND JUSTICE, by Andre Vltchek

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Conversation: THE WEST SPREADING NEW WAVE OF FEEL-GOOD MOVIES AND FALSE HOPES, by Andre Vltchek

Watch blockbuster movies from the “south” and chances are you will start to believe that the world is not really such a desperate place. Perhaps you might even get convinced that under the present imperialist and turbo-capitalist global arrangement things can always get better. If you live in a gutter somewhere in Sub-Continent or Africa, you could simply try hard, you could “believe in yourself and love yourself”, you could “listen to your instincts”, and everything may eventually fall into the right places. You could get acknowledged, rewarded and even catapulted from your misery into some plush pastures that are covering the tall green hills of success.

Think twice! Or… don’t think at all – just bury your head in the sand.

There were always books written and films produced just in order to please the Western funding agencies and propaganda machine. I described the process, colorfully, in my recent political/revolutionary novel “Aurora”.

Just think about Kite Runner written by an Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini, or about all those bestsellers by Salman Rushdie or Elif Shafak, books about India or Turkey, but intended almost exclusively for a Western audience, and often despised in their native countries.

The works of Rushdie and Shafak can at least qualify as “literature”. But now both the Western markets and mainstream media are demanding more and more of ‘feel good’ rubbish books and movies from poor countries, more and more of those simple, picturesque and ‘positive’ stories that are actually confusing and give false hopes to the local population of many poor countries.

Do you still remember Slumdog Millionaire? How realistic a scenario was that? First of all, it was not even an Indian film; it was a 2008 British movie, directed by Danny Boyle, who also had directed Trainspotting. It took place in the Juhu slum of Mumbai.

In 2011, I filmed in the same Mumbai slum where the movie was produced. I asked many, how likely was such a ‘success scenario’ in that filthy and hopeless neighborhood? The dwellers of the Juhu slum just dismissed the entire charade with derogatory gestures; why even waste precious words?

Continue reading Conversation: THE WEST SPREADING NEW WAVE OF FEEL-GOOD MOVIES AND FALSE HOPES, by Andre Vltchek

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Xi’s wild geese chase the Silk Road gold, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

President Xi Jinping invokes Ming dynasty heroes, geopolitical development strategies and wild Asian geese analogies to portray China’s New Silk Roads initiative as the flagship of a trade-focussed new world order.

Chinese President Xi Jinping at a news conference that marked the end of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China May 15, 2017. Photo: REUTERS

President Xi Jinping used the two-day New Silk Road international forum in Beijing to establish China as the flagship of a new, benign trade-focussed world order. This was, said Xi, a “new model of win-win and cooperation” that will prevail over gunboat diplomacy.

At the start of the conference, China’s state broadcaster Xinhua made clear that the initiative — officially first called One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and now Belt and Road (BRI) — was not “neocolonialism by stealth.”

“China needs no puppet states,” said Xinhua, while essentially repeating what Xi delivered in his keynote delivery.

“China is willing to share its development experience with the rest of the world” said Xi, “but we will not intervene in other nations’ internal affairs, export our social system and development model, nor force others to accept them.”

The Forum communiqué – a summary of the main points developed in Xi’s keynote speech – reported that the nations represented in Beijing had pledged to promote “practical cooperation on roads, railways, ports, maritime and inland water transport, aviation, energy pipeline, electricity and telecommunications”.

Big business too was represented and, reportedly, is enthusiastic.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma, so committed to advancing an electronic World Trade Platform, spoke to Chinese media at the Forum and hailed BRI’s “inclusion of young people, women, smaller enterprises and developing countries.”

On the final day of the forum, Beijing even engineered a sort of New Silk Road United Nations, in the form of a Leaders Roundtable, with the microphones open equally to all. The event was a nifty illustration of how Xi wants the world to see this initiative.

“The primary intention and the highest goal of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is to allow each member to jointly address global economic challenges, find new growth opportunities and drivers, achieve a win-win situation and keep moving toward a community with joint destiny,” said Xi.

Xi went onto offer exhortations for Ming dynasty navigation master Admiral Zheng He – as a “friendly emissary” – before delivering a metaphor for the new world trade order that he had just outlined.

“Wild swan geese,” he said of the large, rare and wild bird found in Asia but not in Europe, “are able to fly far and safely through winds and storms because they move in flocks and help each other as a team.”

Continue reading Xi’s wild geese chase the Silk Road gold, by Pepe Escobar

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REFLECTING ON SYRIA, A Photo Essay by Andre Vltchek & Yayoi Segi

by Andre Vltchek

All photos by Ms. Yayoi Segi

Damascus – city of dreams

Ms. Yayoi Segi is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and she has worked in Syria for almost 3 years. She is extremely passionate about the country, which she admires and tries to support in her position as an accomplished specialist in national education development.

She agreed to share her collection of personal photos from Damascus, Homs and Aleppo.

I asked about her impressions regarding Syria and its people, and she replied, frankly:

“Syria is not what the mainstream media wants us to believe it is. One has to see it, to understand. Seeing is believing! It is an extraordinarily exceptional country. All that we have been told about Syria and its people is a lie.”

And what is the war doing to the country?

“The war… it is devastating the country. Life is of course tough now, but it never stopped; it definitely goes on. Electricity is cut often and water supplies are limited, but still life goes on. People endure; they even socialize. Syrians are very humble, very caring, warm and gentle people. They like to joke. They believe in their nation, in themselves; they are truly remarkable.”

Yayoi has been literally dedicating her life to the Syrian nation. She is ‘building schools’ there, and she is defending the nation whenever she goes. She is drawn to the Syrian people and she admits that she is philosophically close to them. She says:

One of gates of Damascus – martyrs and heroes

“It is extremely important, what goes on in Syria, especially on the ideological front in highly politicized field of education, because ideology shapes education, and vice versa.”

“Even in the time of crises that was implanted from outside, the Syrian people still maintain tremendous sense of solidarity towards those whose lives have been shattered for decades, mainly Palestinians.”

Continue reading REFLECTING ON SYRIA, A Photo Essay by Andre Vltchek & Yayoi Segi

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Conversation: Henry Kissinger’s Food Occupation Of Iraq Continues To Destroy The Fertile Crescent

Published on Mar 30, 2017

Today, Iraq is plagued by violence and extreme poverty. But this wasn’t always the case.

The country in the Fertile Crescent has a long and rich agricultural history that has been decimated since the 2003 U.S. invasion. Once the country’s invaluable seed bank was destroyed and its institutions turned to dust, it set the stage for foreign agribusiness giants to swoop in and forever change the face of Iraqi agriculture.

Join Mnar Muhawesh for this segment of ‘Behind the Headline’ as she speaks to Iraqi agriculture expert Dr. Nakd Altameemi. They explore the devastating tolls that war, sanctions and Western corporations have had on Iraq’s once-bustling agriculture sector.

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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