This war has already taken a huge toll on civilians and for this young man to still be able to extend a call for peace is inspiring. Eastern Ukraine did not want this war, it was put on them by the United States & Europe via their Nazi allies.
India, where are you? Are you really in the BRICS camp, fighting for a new, free world, or are you now in bed with your former colonial master and her mighty offshoot?
India, a BRICS country, is actually nowhere to be seen while Brazil, South Africa, Russia and China are increasingly facing hostile attacks. India is not helping, as the United States and Europe are now manufacturing all sorts of ‘opposition movements’ inside countries that are still in the West’s path to total and unopposed global dominance.
India, a BRICS country, is silent as both China and Russia are being encircled, provoked and stabbed; at a time when their neighboring countries are constantly being pitched against them, ideologically and militarily.
India, a BRICS country, does not seem to mind as the US increases its military presence in Asia, from Okinawa to the Philippines and Qatar, or when Russia is being demonized and provoked by insane propaganda and by lunatic sanctions, imposed by the West which is actually the one that overthrew the Ukrainian government, putting in place a brutal fascist dictatorship.
And as the Western mass media outlets are now in top gear, spreading propaganda all over the world; the Indian newspapers, magazines and television stations, are dutifully reprinting and repeating the many vitriolic lies and fabrications, in exactly the same way as the Philippine and Indonesian business-owned media outlets are doing. But the Philippines and Indonesia are the West’s client states, and they do not belong to BRICS, while India does, at least on paper.
In the Economic & Political Weekly, published in 2013, Atul Bhardwaj wrote:
“India has got itself trapped into an anti-Chinese matrix set in place by the United States. This has led to a situation where the military is increasing its say in foreign and domestic policy and pushing aggressive postures on to the civilian government. Unless India abandons its aspirations to great power status and pursues a foreign policy which builds on Asian cooperation and strengths, it will continue to become cannon fodder for western strategic aims.”
That’s correct, but it is not only the anti-Chinese matrix; it is the staunchly pro-Western matrix that is serving India’s ruling elites, and it is the matrix of disinformation and ignorance imposed on the members of the underprivileged majority.
I went back to India to see where the country really stands in relation to BRICS. I opted for a very much unplanned, chaotic, jazzy and spontaneous journey. I wanted to speak to those of the Indian majority; to people in the villages and towns, to ask them what they really know about BRICS, about the new winds of freedom and progress that are blowing all over Latin America, about tremendous social changes in China, and about their own lives in the country, which the West continually defines as ‘the largest democracy on earth’.
Two village women are covered from head to toe in colorful fabric, and unlike in Saudi Arabia where only the eyes are visible, but totally. They are carrying huge crooked tin plates on their heads, and those plates are full of cow dung.
The village is called Karora, it is located almost 200 kilometers north from New Delhi, in Haryana State.
It is here that, in 2007, a newlywed couple was murdered in cold blood, after the assembly of village elders, Panchayat, passed ‘the verdict’. Both the girl (18) and boy (23) were only ‘guilty’ of belonging to the same sub-clan.
The Deccan Herald reported then:
“In June 2007, the couple was dragged out of a Karnal-bound bus by the girl’s relatives and was brutally murdered. Their bodies were paraded in the village and then dumped in a canal.”
We did not come here to only discuss honor killing and the horrible lot of Indian women; we came here to this remote corner of Haryana to discuss what the West calls ‘the biggest democracy on earth’, and above all, how India really fits into the BRICS, and to their determined fight against Western imperialism and market fundamentalism.
Yes, India is part of BRICS; but it is feudal in the countryside and capitalist in the cities. It is increasingly close to its colonial master and to the grand Empire.
We could not see the expression on the faces of the two Karora village women when we asked them about democracy, voting, women’s rights, caste oppression and honor killing. But the first female began speaking, bravely if reluctantly, in front of an entire army of onlookers:
“I’m only a poor village woman, how can I know such things? I have to work for 14 hours every day to make out a living for my family. My husband doesn’t have any regular work, and he is an alcoholic. I’m constantly worried about my children going hungry. The government doesn’t care about people like us and I don’t know who else could help. I’m very afraid so I can’t talk more about the caste system or honor killings. Women have no freedom here. “
The second lady echoes her, and then adds:
“I know the family of the eloped couple who suffered at the hands of Panchayat but I can’t talk about it. I’m afraid of such things. Women have no freedom here. Most of us are struggling to survive and I don’t know how things could be better, anytime soon. About democracy: I don’t know how the election could improve living conditions in this village and I don’t know about people’s movement in other countries or about things that are happening elsewhere.”
Soon, the crowd of onlookers begins to participate in the discussion.
The youths surrounded us to find out the reason for our sudden appearance in their village.
A boy named Biswan, wearing a black T-shirt, explained:
“My impression of what they call ‘Indian democracy’ and of the political parties that are participating in this game is… that it is a pattern of appealing for votes by some political party, with the inducement of local liquor by their men to the villagers, one day before every election day, then disappearing, to be never seen again for the next 5 years. We don’t have work here nor can anyone make a decent living with earnings here. I don’t feel this type of democracy works for us… We still haven’t got real freedom.”
Then the village youths begin speaking over each other:
“Money talks here, we are all educated to some degree, but only those who can afford to bribe some officials manage to get regular employment. We are poor villagers and unaware of developments in our own country, then how can we know about China, Latin America or other countries?”
The forlorn expression on the faces of the villagers showed their frustration, even resignation. Most certainly, we saw no hope and no enthusiasm here.
Our driver, Sunil, appeared to be extremely unhappy to be here. “In these villages, they have already torched so many cars belonging to those who came to ask questions!”
I insist that we have to finish our work here, in the heart of Haryana State. The driver fumes. He drives us around, missing the motorway a few times, but after we activate our navigation system, he gives up and just gets us where we want to go.
Later, in Delhi, my good friend and colleague, Anish, calls me and explains:
“Before he dropped me home, he said that he was so mad at you, he was ready to drive into a tree and kill us all.
“Kill us?” I thought I misunderstood.
“Yes. You may want to know that he was a soldier, serving in Kashmir… He told me that much, just a few minutes ago. We had a chat… He said he was court-martialed, because he killed a few civilians there. In Kashmir, in 1996, he was on a mission to capture members of some insurgency group, but things went wrong and the people he was after, had fled… So he opened fire on civilians, killing several of them. He said he used a LMG inside the house, emptying 2 magazines of ammunition, killing at least 3 civilians… Just like that!”
“Why is he driving a taxi?” I asked. “Isn’t he supposed to be in prison?”
Anish just commented, laconically:
“When we discussed this, he was depressed. Not because of what he had done, but because he was caught and punished. He said to me: ‘was I to have managed to kill at least one insurgent, then even if I killed dozens of civilians, I would never have got court-martialed.”
I wondered whether this approach is one that would really serve as an inspiration for the BRICS countries.
Some 1,500 kilometers from Karora Village, in Mumbai, a monster building belonging to the richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, is allegedly the most expensive dwelling ever constructed on this planet.
Arundhati Roy describes Ambani’s home in her book “Capitalism A Ghost Story”:
“…The twenty seven floors, three helipads, nine lifts, hanging gardens, ballrooms, weather rooms, gymnasiums, six floors of parking, and six hundred servants… In a nation of 1.2 billion, India’s one hundred richest people own assets equivalent to one-fourth of the GDP.”
But to own all those billions is not enough. In order to rule, in order to fully control society, this small group of modern day rajas has to always find a way to morally justify their medieval, feudalist behavior.
The most effective way to do it is through almost total control of the media. Arundhati Roy continues:
“Mukesh Ambani is personally worth $20 billion. He holds a majority-controlling share in Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)… RIL recently bought 95 shares in Infotel, a TV consortium that controls twenty-seven TV news and entertainment channels, including CNN-IBN, IBN Live, CNBC, IBN Lokmat, and ETV in almost every regional language. Infotel owns the only nation-wide license for 4G broadband, a high-speed information pipeline which, if the technology works, could be the future of information exchange.”
The criticism of Indian elites does not only come from the Left. Conservative British news magazine, The Economist, recently ran its cover story about Ambani: “An Unloved Billionaire”, asking the rhetorical question “Why Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, needs to reform his empire”:
“Reliance’s relationship with the government is even more troubling. Anti-corruption campaigners claim Mr Ambani is the power behind the throne of India’s political leaders…”
In Indian ‘democracy’, the real rulers of the country pay politicians, to get to the top, while the voters get paid to vote a certain way, which is suitable to the regime. Mass media shapes public opinion constantly, so it stays exactly where the elites want it to stay.
From an amazing tolerance level for medieval oppressive ‘cultural practices’, to the gross cruelty towards women and ethnic/religious minorities, India is hardly a beacon of light for other BRICS nations, or, for the rest of the world. The way its economy, election practices, foreign policy and government systems are structured, the Indian state is much closer to MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey – although in this group, too, there is Mexico, which is, despite everything, culturally and historically, in the Social Democratic camp), a group which, if allowed to join BRICS, would surely destroy their political and social direction: (http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/15/the-challenge-to-the-west/).
But the West is always extremely generous towards its allies and economic cohorts. It promotes and glorifies those countries that are willing to sacrifice their people, throwing them on the sacrificial altar of global market fundamentalism.
Therefore, for the West, both Indonesia and India, two enormous and impoverished countries, are the true democratic and economic stars!
DLF Promenade in Vasant Kunj is a symbol of new wealth, hosting some of the top international retail brands, from Armani to Prada.
There are literally armies of guards, some in their white butler informs, others armed with guns. Photographing is prohibited. Surveillance is constant, just as in every place frequented by the elites.
Situated right near the DLF Promenade is the Khushampur Pahari slum, a place that is miserable and rough. Children move around aimlessly and barefoot. It is not as dirty as many of the much bigger settlements in Mumbai or Calcutta are, but still, people here are clearly desperate and deprived.
Mr. Jagdish is a ‘wage laborer’, not permanently employed:
“I have no regular work and the system is geared for the rich. We, poor people who form the great majority in India, don’t count.”
I ask him about the mall, but he insists on calling it ‘that huge building’:
“There is that huge building, but I don’t go there. They built it nearby, but I would never be allowed to enter. I would be beaten up if I try to go there.”
He looks into the distance:
“We are struggling here to meet basic needs. We don’t have clean drinking water and before each election they offer us free electricity supply and water. Promises that are never fulfilled; they lie to us. And they have always lied, whether it is the Congress Party or BJP…”
Electric poles and wires hang loosely above the roofs of the settlement. I ask whether people here are managing to get free electricity supply, by simply stealing the juice as they do in Peru or in Haiti, but the answer is resolutely ‘no’. They check on them, constantly. In fact, people here suffer from gross overcharging by the private company, Reliance Energy(owned by Anil Ambani, brother of the richest man in the country, the abovementioned Mukesh Ambani), which supplies power to this entire area.
“We are receiving a 1,000 Rs (approximately US$16) bill, every month”, explains an old couple next door. “On top of it we have to bribe employees of the electric company, to keep the connection. We have to go begging to more fortunate neighborhoods for water, and it is not always that the people there are willing to help us.”
An old man in the house actually follows what is happening in the world:
“I am aware of changes that are taking place in China, but our government is not doing the same things for us. Here, things are so bad that if we fall seriously ill, we simply die.”
“What about democracy?” I ask.
“Democracy is for the rich.”
Mr. Jagdish chips in: “As you heard, political parties come here, and they promise us free electricity and water, but nothing happens after the elections. Democracy is not working for us; it is the tool for the people with money to keep in power.”
Down an alley, a lady with a child confirms that there is no supply of clean water to this settlement.
Eventually, small barefoot children begin begging.
The ITC Hotel manager in Jaipur, Rajasthan, philosophizes:
“Arvind Kejriwal from AAM Admi Party (AAP) was very critical of the private media, and the mass media got extremely angry with him… You see; Arvind Kejriwal could become the Indian answer to the Latin American leadership!”
So I go to see him and his people.
On 3 August 2014, at the ancient star observatory, Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, Aam Aadmi party held a mass gathering consisting of around 5,000 local residents, who were demanding fresh elections. There were fiery speeches coming from the podium and the AAP’s leader, Arwind Kerjiwal, agitated the dense crowd with anti-corruption slogans, swearing he would implement reforms, were he to be voted in, back into the office. He was also promising to improve the lot of common man. The reigning cry of the day was of getting rid of the oppressor ruling class through the democratic contest of the ballot boxes.
Here, surely, people knew something about BRICS and the Latin American revolutions?
But it was not the case. The campaign was almost exclusively about corruption.
Mr.Pawan Das, a cable manufacturer from the Shahdara constituency, spoke about the impact of AAP and the ex-chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, and his former 49 days rule in Delhi:
“I noticed the policeman in our factory who used to extort Rs.300 bribe money from me every month, didn’t turn up for 3 months. I egged him on to collect his extortion dues on coming across him, and enquired as to why he didn’t come to get the money, to which he replied, evasively, that he was posted on an election duty. I retorted: ‘were you really engaged in any election duty or got scared by the fear of prosecution instituted by Arvind Kejriwal’s strong anti-corruption measures?’
But BRICS or the fight against Western imperialism – definitely not!
“On asking about their stance on India’s strengthening alliance with the American government and India’s unassuming posture at BRICS meeting, all of them expressed their unawareness about such matters”, explained Anish, in rather decorative language.
Then, at Jantar Mantar, we encountered several individuals who clearly demonstrated the art of sitting on two chairs.
Both Mr. Deepak Lal and his wife voiced their favorable opinion about the strengthening of ties with America:
“It’s in the interest of India to be a great partner in creating alternatives to the dominant paradigm offered by the U.S., but at the same time India-US relations should remain unaffected”.
Another old couple went on in an even more Kafkaesque manner:
“US-India relation is the way to the rise of India along with creating alignments leading to a multipolar world”.
At the May Day Bookstore in New Delhi, after an avant-garde theatre performance, I met my friend Sudhanva. Comrade Sudhanva Deshpande, is the editor of LeftWord Books, as well as a famous Indian intellectual and actor. He explained:
“You are absolutely right posing the question: “Where is India in all this? It is very a good question because it is well known that for the last several years, a decade or more, Indian foreign policy had turned more and more towards the US. A few years ago, India conducted the Indo-US nuclear deal. That led to a lot of opposition back home, here in India, but the government went ahead with the deal. The Hindu right became more and more oriented towards the US. The government also argued for much closer ties with the Israel. As you know, India is the biggest buyer of Israeli arms in the world today.”
“Earlier this year, in May, in the general elections, the party of the Hindu right, which is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), came to power. It is led by Narendra Modi, the man who is widely seen as being complicit in the pogrom of Muslims, in his homestay, Gujarat, in 2002, when he was a chief minister. His campaign was a very muscular campaign, a very macho campaign… He presented himself and his party as aggressively nationalist. The pre-election campaign was marked by anti-Muslim violence and rhetoric. As for foreign policy, there had been a long-term trend for more and more orientation towards the West, towards the US. In the current aggression on Gaza, for instance, the Indian government took the stand of so-called ‘equidistance’ from both Israel and Hamas, and this is really… this is compromising India’s long-term commitment to the cause of Palestinian independence. And this goes back to even the 1940’s, when India was not even independent.
The fact that India itself was a colony, and that it fought an anti-colonial struggle – it all seems now as a distant memory.”
I asked Sudhanva about BRICS, concretely: “Is it even possible that India, where it stands right now, could and should be considered as a member of BRICS?”
“I think right now, Indian foreign policy is trying to calibrate its position”, he replies”.
And he continued:
“On one hand there is a trend towards more and more alignment with the US, and on closer and closer ties with Israel. So that’s on the one side. On the other side there are also hard economic realities. And that is what forced the Indian establishment to look towards formations like the BRICS. If indeed it so happens that BRICS will not be just an economic club, but if it starts taking a more determined anti-imperialist position, then the Indian establishment would have to really decide, where it stands. I don’t see India taking an anti-imperialist stand anytime soon, beyond some lip service.”
We talk about the past, about India’s determined anti-imperialist stand in its post-colonial period. Nehru brought this country to Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955, where the Non-Aligned movement was created.
“India abandoned the Non-Alignment movement, effectively, in the late 80’s. In some sense you can say that it happened in Delhi, in the early 80’s, that it was the swansong of the non-alignment movement… The fact was that India became more and more ambivalent towards the idea of non-alignment, which helped to terminate the movement, because India was such an important part of it.”
And then India took a neo-liberal turn, in the early 90’s, and even the past was forgotten.
What can be expected of the present nationalist government of Narendra Modi, in relation to BRICS?
Benny Kuruvilla is from Kerala, a recognized expert on BRICS, and political lead at the ‘South Solidarity Initiative’. I met him, and his Chilean wife, Susana Barria, a labor organizer, after a demonstration in support of Palestine, in front of the Kerala House, in the center of New Delhi.
Benny readily clarified:
“Modi and his government would be happy to be part of the Western alliance and of the BRICS… This is really an ultra-nationalist government, and it has to reassert its ideology… In the past it was all very different: during the Cold War, India was very close to Cuba, and to the USSR. Now that India has a very pronounced right-wing government, it is very reluctant to side with the anti-Western block. I don’t think India will go along with the idea that the Western concept should be cancelled. Indian Left-wing forces are very weak now, and this government is so happy to be part of big-boy’s club; for them it is the place in the sun! What is happening in BRICS and in Latin America is mainly monitored by the local intelligentsia; mainly by the upper class.”
Susana appeared to be more optimistic and hopeful, believing in change, and in a way she echoed what Noam Chomsky told me about the Arab world, several years ago:
“Look, some 5 years before Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela, everything was bleak, in many parts of Latin America. We did not think that everything would be reversed so fast. We should not underestimate that things could change very fast.”
But India is not Venezuela. All three of us agreed that the Indian Left is too ‘purist’. It is stuck in theoretical definitions of what Communism or Socialism should be. For its taste, China is not socialist enough; most of the Latin American countries are not really purely Marxist. In the end, much is being discussed here, but very little achieved.
The next day I asked my friend Anish Gopinathan, a former international banker who spent several years working in Dubai, before returning, disgusted, back to India and began studying the Chinese language, and culture, whether all that I asked and heard so far made any sense. He replied:
“Yes. In 2002 MP Modi was the Chief Minister in Gujarat, during the pogrom. For years, there was a US ban on him, a refusal to issue him an entry visa. That ban was lifted around the time of elections…”
The same happened in Indonesia, against Prabowo, an ultra-nationalist who was accused of crimes against humanity in Indonesia and blacklisted by the US Department of the State, but was quickly rehabilitated when he almost won the presidential elections earlier this year.
“Modi is pro-business and pro-West. But in a way, he can also sometimes stand against the West, and for India. You often mentioned the Indian colonial hangover, when Indian elites shamefully idealize the colonial era. Well, Modi is one politician who does not have this hangover… For instance, he insists on using Hindi at international meetings. All our elites were conditioned in the West: Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh… But not Modi! In fact he represents a big break against that colonial hangover… But the price is – he wants his Hindu state!”
Hindu state… We flew to Varanasi, to the ‘holy city’ built on the banks of Ganga River. It is a depressing, oppressed and miserably poor city, but at the same time it is the place that the current MP – Mr. Modi – was elected from.
We went to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, to talk to Brahmin priests, about their vision for India.
The results were shocking.
Mr. Pandey spoke to us in front of two military sentinels guarding the entrance to the temple. He was a Brahmin priest, associated with this place of worship since his childhood:
“I am here, I am a priest, because… actually… I couldn’t get a job anywhere else. Really, no regular employment for me… And so, this is how I make a living… To me, religion is important, because it gives me some income… I like Americans, because they come here, and give us money… Somehow I sense that they feel good, giving us money… I have no idea about the developments in China, Russia or Latin America… I really don’t care.”
Mr. Shyama Prasad Sharma who also works for the temple, clarified his views:
“Latin America? BRICS? No, we don’t have time for stuff like that. We are busy here, at this temple, with business, with trade.”
What about something higher, more enlightened than that?
He walks away.
Anish is outraged:
“This is like some market place; market mentality. It is like some fish market or vegetable market, or stock market! No time for any big questions in life! This is what BJP is fighting for. Hindu state… It is exactly what the mullahs in Pakistan are trying to create in their madrasahs. A cold, religious society; the code of primitive society…”
Desperate, we approach a simple man, a vegetarian food vendor. His name is Mr. Anoop Upadhyaya and he somehow brings things into perspective:
“I voted for Modi because my parents ordered me to do it. I don’t expect much improvement from his government. If they deliver even some 25% of what they were promising us, I would be satisfied. We are always ‘Bhajpa’ (BJP)… That is what we are. We don’t think about it, don’t question it.”
We ask about BRICS.
He does not react, as if we were talking about some distant planet.
At some point I had had enough and I expressed a desire to visit some old-fashioned school to talk to teachers who were already there, teaching, before India entered the pragmatically-oblivious realm.
I was taken to Bhigan, just across the border from the capital, on the very edge of Haryana State, to a well-organized, clean and optimistic looking primary school.
I don’t know if what I saw was true or whether my friends were just being too kind to me, creating a spectacle, similar to that in the film ‘Goodbye Lenin’.
The educators and the principal – Mr. Kuldeep Singh Chavhan, as well as the history and physical education teacher – were extremely kind, knowledgeable and supportive.
We all expressed our admiration for the Soviet Union, and then we condemned Western imperialism.
“Friendship with Russia!” Screamed one of the teachers.
“Israel is the oppressor! US are behind Israel!”
Then the Principal spoke:
“We are very well aware that the US is trying to buy India through its multi-national companies!’
Then I spoke.
It all felt like a scene from a long time ago, even before I was born…
We did not hug, kiss or embrace. We did not sing. But it all felt fantastic.
A dog barked outside.
Children began leaving the school. We were still speaking.
Then I asked about BRICS.
“There is an issue,” the Principal admitted. “I am not really aware of the BRICS’s cooperation with India.”
“But…” I howled: “India is member of BRICS.”
“But Modi went to Brazil!”
“I don’t know”, said the Principal, sadly.
‘It’s better if we sing!’ I thought.
From the other geographical extreme of the country, in the poorest Dalit villages around Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, my dear friend Venkat (he wanted to use only his first name for this report), a Cambridge-educated Brahmin, who was so appalled by the helplessness of the poor people, that he went against all that the upper cast and the elites represent, wrote to me:
“The Indian social and political landscape hasn’t changed in years. Like the distant mirage, new governments come and go giving hope to the parched souls who are soon left out to die with still hope in their eyes!
The new middle class, thanks to the growth of IT, has often been praised and written about but this is only a small percentage although in a country of this size even such small percentages works out to be huge in numbers!
An average rural person is still struggling to make ends meet and still hoping for the “paradise’ that every politician promises! There is no time to read, think, discuss about other issues that affect the nation or the world. Cricket stars, film stars and sleazy politics fascinate conveniently Indian media, as the mass media are only concerned about TRP ratings and not about what people think and want!
So, discussions about BRICS or what happens in Syria or Iraq doesn’t really matter. Many villagers accept the stereotypes that the western media has painted. For example – the US is the land of wealth; China means cheap goods, Latin America – Che on your T-shirts and Cigars, Africa- famine and dangerous diseases, Middle East- only war!
The education system is being so commercialized that Indian youth are actually produced in large numbers, lacking even the skills that Industry wants!
Unless ‘real’ education is given to our children, we may not have a ‘thinking’ population in the future. But only if people are educated, can we hope for a greater critical mass of intellectuals who can guide the country.”
After having our boarding passes scanned at the gate and before entering the airplane, passengers had to go through three more military checkpoints! The entire state of affairs appeared to be thoroughly Kafkaesque. This confused, frustrated ‘police state’ was using its military, cops and other armed forces to intimidate and to keep at bay its own citizens. It has been doing it, for decades, in the most open and despicable way.
I still remember how in Gujarat, after that horrid sectarian pogrom of 2002, the Akshardham Temple killing and both (then) Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Sonia Gandhi, decided to visit the area. A huge crowd gathered, to welcome the politicians. It was a very peaceful crowd, consisting mainly of poor onlookers. But the police began beating the people with batons, savagely, just ‘preventively’ I was told, as if it were the most natural thing on earth: ‘The largest democracy on earth at work’. Nobody dared to protest against such treatment.
After talking to many, it appears that the poor see it all very clearly now: in the villages and in the slums, they laugh and cry or gesticulate angrily whenever the word ‘democracy’ is uttered in front of them. Most of the poor (that is the great majority of the country) have no doubts that they are living in a country whose rulers and oligarchs, backed by the security apparatus, are alimenting on their sweat, misery and blood.
Those ‘educated classes’, including most of the intellectuals from the Indian ‘Left’, live in a continuous and great deception. Most of them are desperately clinging to the notion that has been spread by the old and new Western colonial masters: that India is actually the largest democracy on earth.
Even those individuals in India who see clearly that both European and North American ‘democracies’ are increasingly becoming nothing else other than a grand farce, do not dare to admit that their own, Indian, multi-party system (aped from the West) in which all major political parties are controlled by corporate interests, as most of the mass media is, have been totally failing to represent the interests of the Indian majority.
‘Democracy’ is not a secretive and complicated scientific formula. It only means, in Greek, ‘the rule of the people’. And it goes without saying that most of the long-suffering Indian people that I spoke to, do not feel that they are ruling their own country!
Just before I took off from Delhi, I found myself sitting right next to a member of the new local elites. A Sikh man, who began with the usual line of interrogation: where am I from, where do I live, what is my line of work? Dutifully and calmly, I replied. Then he offered his short biography: he was a manufacturer and owned 3 homes in 3 different parts of the world: one in India, one in Bangkok and one in Vancouver. “I am taking my family back to Bangkok, now”, he explained. “I have a wonderful house there. It is such a great place to live.”
“It is quite complicated there, lately”, I suggested, neutrally. “After the coup…”
My statement shocked him: “Why do you say that? It is all very simple. One and a half months ago it was complicated, but after the army took over, everything is great.”
“For you, maybe”, I said, “And for the Thai elites, as well as for their Western handlers.”
He gave me that look, indicating that I was actually nothing more than a piece of dirt to him; that very look, which has increasingly began appearing on the faces of the new Indian ‘elites’, in those 5 star malls and hotels, in both India itself, and in countries like Thailand and Malaysia, which are now inundated by corrupt Indian officials and businessmen.
The conversation ended: from then on, arrogantly, he refused to reply to anything that I uttered, ignoring my attempts to be at least essentially civil and polite to someone who was occupying the seat next to me.
I did not ask about BRICS. I knew what he would reply: “They should all go to hell!” or something of that nature.
BRICS countries have to maintain high standards, if they are to make a significant difference in this world. Their determination to fight against colonialism, imperialism and for true freedom for countries worldwide cannot and should not be diluted.
If states like Indonesia, with governments full of war criminals and mass murderers, and one of the most inhumane economic/social systems on earth, are allowed to join, if Turkey, a member of NATO and one of the closest allies of the West in the Middle East, with several Western air force and military bases, is allowed to join; if India, which is openly and shamelessly collaborating with the West while sitting on two chairs is allowed to maintain its membership, then BRICS will soon lose all of its clout as well as its moral upper-hand.
If such a scenario takes place, the world will lose an alternative, and that would be an enormous tragedy.
India matters. Its people matter! It is a great and important nation. It used to be ‘our nation’. It used to stand firmly against colonialism and imperialism. In many ways, and in many of its parts, it still does.
India should wake up. It is needed. It should rebel against the oppressive system, both domestic and global. And it should become a proud BRICS nation: with all its heart, and not just on paper!
Symbol of Indian democracy
André Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
While most of the world is busy following the turmoil and war theatre in the Middle East and Ukraine, another war is continuing in Pakistan.
There is a revolution brewing which does not bear the hallmarks of the US sponsored kind. And as such is being opposed by every organ of the Pakistani puppet state.
There is a slow motion civil war where 40,000 Pakistanis have lost lives because of America’s Global War on Terror. A gift that keeps on giving as Pepe Escobar so aptly puts it. Thousands of civilians have perished and the government continues to dance to the tunes set by the IMF, United States and it’s cronies & the local puppet oligarchy.
As with most vassal states, the establishment and the status quo is ferociously defended by the Imperial Mouthpieces. And as with most conscious people, the majority of the country has grown weary of the false empty promises of a puppet state masquerading as Pakistan’s embryonic “democracy”.
The most revolutionary voice out of Pakistan right now is Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaaf’s Imran Khan. Who is a popular cricket star turned politician. He has had a string of successes right from the cricketing world to his ambitious social project of a free cancer care hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. He has been in politics for approximately 18 years and has grown year on year, made mistakes, learned from mistakes and has kept marching on. He is a man with a vision and destiny, regardless of what his opponents say.
Imran is an ethnic Pushtun from the central province of Punjab and is unique in his appeal to a cross section of a strong 180 million Pakistani population divided across ethnic and religious lines.
Of course for anyone who speaks about national interest and an independent foreign & domestic policy, Imran Khan is maligned daily by the elitists in Pakistani society. The usual hand picked puppet class vis a vis other client states.
Imran Khan has long been ridiculed in the national English press, especially Dawn. Which is the usual colonial chapter instrument of the Ministry of Propaganda. The NY Times, Washington Post or Kyiv Post of Pakistan. Imran Khan has been called even Taleban Khan for trying to negotiate with the Taleban.
The neoliberal puppet regime’s idea of a solution is to continue US drone strikes and military operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas where every man is a trained,seasoned and willing warrior. What was a few thousand militants has now, thanks to the “War on Terror”, grown into a full blown insurgency with a sympathetic population. Imran Khan has correctly stated that when the local population considers the militants as freedom fighters, then the war is already lost.
To take a gun from a tribal is like trying to take jewelry from a woman. What is the end game here? Kill 1 million Pakistanis so that America will be satisfied?
Of course the only solution is to eliminate the root cause of terrorism; American interference and drone strikes on the innocent civilians of Pakistan. Then only can Pakistan address it’s internal problems with extremism, an inadequate education system and poverty amongst a host of issues that have been left hanging for 60 odd years.
The biggest threat geopolitically to any puppet state is a united nation be it under an ayatollah or a dictator. A sovereign domestic and foreign policy is of primal importance. Without it, there is no democracy. So who benefits from the status quo pathetic excuse for a democracy?
The answer always seems to be the US sympathetic oligarchy (include your industrialists, bankers, waderas etc). Oligarchy is not just restricted to the post soviet space, its a class that exists in most countries in varying shades and may easily work against the national interest.
The current billionaire Prime Minister,who is in power despite unaddressed claims of evidence of electoral fraud (a special Imperial gift to the 3rd world vis a vis Columbia and other vassal states), Nawaz Sharif was hosted in exile by Saudi Arabia and is an ally of the United States of America. Do I really need to explain further?
Everything is being analyzed on a micro level on an insane notion that free market hinged neoliberal democracy (that is literally destroying the planet) is good and will, and here is the kicker, save Pakistan from imminent doom should a social revolution succeed.
The typical establishment apologist jabs, like the one in yesterday’s Dawn newspaper, are replicas of “intellectual opinion” found across the mainstream presstitute media.
The aforementioned piece is essentially centered on two threats, to the social movement’s stated objectives, by the vassal state’s prime ally, the central bank.
The following is very telling of what passes for normal in a vassal state.
“They could continue running the government and meeting its bills by running into overdraft with the State Bank, but they should know that the bank has in the past felt free to bounce provincial government cheques when it felt that the provincial authorities were being irresponsible in managing their finances.”
(Khurram Husain, “PTI’s empty threats”)
Translation: The central government can cut you off financially and watch you starve. A pretty brutal neoliberal “democratic” principle. A completely savage approach to collectively punish a people for dissent.
The idea of force is dismissed out of hand with one quick quip: “… threats that nobody is likely to take seriously.” and then another swift blow is dealt with “Without the revenue, will it also cut expenditures accordingly? “. The author is a classic mainstream journalist the likes of whom are now well known in other Imperial Mouthpieces like the NY Times, Guardian, Economist etc.
I simply do not see why there is such hatred,contempt (and ultimately fear) of a social movement? Why not suggest ideas or perhaps entertain the idea of well, a revolution.
In a revolution, you do use force where necessary. You do perhaps divert revenue from elsewhere and when the centre cuts you off, you march to the capital. But wait, they are already in the capital. This could actually happen, even if the chance is remote. That is why the organs of state are working overtime to kill the threat to the status quo.
Noam Chomsky beautifully sums it up when he says : “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”
The spectrum of Pakistani neoliberal elite opinion rests on the foundations of a unicorn utopian democracy emerging from a corrupt rotten system that murders its citizens for dollars. Not just that but a system that has been pillaging the country for decades. But if any attempt to circumvent this “colonial democracy” is made, it will jeopardise the fairytale chance of Pakistan correcting course via the ballot box (which is routinely rigged in favor of the puppet oligarch of the hour).
Recently the Finance minister flew back from Dubai to answer Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s white paper on government corruption. He was attending the latest round of meetings with the IMF which has been raping Pakistan for decades.
So, who benefits from all this? The establishment,it’s sycophants and the classic hodge podge of neoliberal elites.
 A typical establishment example of journalism http://www.dawn.com/news/1126607
Sometimes a well stated, even though it might be obvious, fact can really jolt you back down to reality.
Russia is doing all it can to avoid a war which seems more and more likely with each passing month. No matter what they do they will always be at fault. It is very hard to maneuver when the opposing power wants war at all costs. It is even more difficult when the behaviour of the offending nation is ungentlemanly.
The Russians are constantly under attack, 24/7. According to the mainstream media, they can never get anything right. They are not only led by an evil demonic Putin but are so under privileged that the so-called sanctions will soon form bread queues vis a visa the 1990’s.
When heads of state compare Putin to Hitler, and others directly hold him responsible on absolutely no evidence then what can you do?
Recently, President Obama said that Russia “…doesn’t make anything” and that “Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. ”  Such language is unbefitting of a head of State. This is not someone who seeks peace, he seeks war.
The United States is on a march to war by any means and it will not drag but take its willing European ruling elite to war. War after all means money and the US has promised much riches in Russia. Everyone will get a share of the spoils.
This of course is a delusional project doomed to failure. But just because it is delusional to us does not mean it is not perfectly sane to the US and its concubines in Europe.
Paul Craig Roberts very eloquently captures the point in his latest piece on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Kiev’s military assault on eastern and southern Ukraine is not going to stop because Europeans finally see the light and object. Europeans not only stood aside for 13 years while Washington bombed civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and organized outside forces to attack Syrians, while isolating Iran for military attack, but also actively participated in the attacks. Europe has stood aside while Israel has massacred Palestinians on numerous occasions. For Russia to rely on Europe’s moral conscience is to rely on something that does not exist.
(Paul Craig Roberts, The ongoing Crisis in Ukraine)
The Russians should (begrudgingly), if they have not already, start their march to war, psychologically at least.
Erase & Rewind is the name of the game. Here is how it goes:
Commit Crime -> Blame Russia & Ignore Evidence -> Release False Evidence & Blame Russia -> Ignore Further Evidence & Erase Incident -> Commit Crime…
The Saker is playing his part in making sure that the world is not again taken for a ride. Do your part and spread the word.
Original article: The Vineyard of the Saker
Those who organized the MH17 false flag have now clearly given the instruction to their propaganda machine (aka MSM) to forget about this tragedy and to pretend like it never happened. Sure, there are a few courageous sources, such as the World Socialist Web Site, which do ask the right question “Why have the media and Obama administration gone silent on MH17?“, but even most of the “alternative” media has really turned the page and forgotten about MH17.
We cannot allow this.
The Russian Team and the website Polismi in Russia have jointly translated the full detailed expert analysis of the MH17 downing into Russian and they are now asking for our – *your* – help in disseminating it in the Russian media worldwide and with all our – *your* – Russian-speaking friends, relatives and colleagues. Here is their appeal:
Мы предлагаем вашему вниманию экспертный анализ крушения рейса МН17 Малазийской авиакомпании, который был впервые опубликован на сайте “The Vineyard of the Saker”. Команда переводчиков русской версии этого сайта в сотрудничестве с командой сайта http://polismi.ru/o-proekte.
html сделали перевод этого важного документа.
Любые упоминания о расследовании сбитого авиалайнера исчезли со страниц и эфиров Западных СМИ. Он выполнил свою трагическую роль. Как сказал Шиллер в свой знаменитой пьесе: «Мавр сделал свое дело, мавр должен уйти». 298 человек одним росчерком пера были принесены в жертву хладнокровному и расчётливому плану по провокации России. Этот план не удался, но его организаторы продолжают, как ни в чём не бывало, оркестрировать свой гнусный и подлый террор. И не зря своим орудием они выбрали тех, у кого нет никаких зачатков морали, совести, человечности. Эти нелюди сегодня правят Украиной. Они – вампиры, высасывающие не только её живую кровь, но и её душу, чувства и сознание. Что для них какой-то самолёт? У их заморских хозяев в заложниках весь мир. И только родные, близкие и друзья погибших будут до конца дней оплакивать боль своих потерь.
Но те из нас, кто не согласен жить в информационной матрице, делают всё возможное, чтобы прорвать эту блокаду ненависти и лжи. Сегодня мы хотим распространить этот анализ, написанный экспертом по расследованию аварий, как можно большему количеству русскоговорящих людей, особенно на Украине. Возможно, мы никогда не узнаем всей правды об этой трагедии. К сожалению, это уже было не раз. Но тем не менее, этот документ приводит веские и взвешенные аргументы думающим и критически мыслящим людям. Как капля воды точит камень, так и каждая крупинка правды помогает пробивать толстую броню Зла.
Русская команда “Bиноградника Балобана”
The full document in Russian is available here:
I ask you to do everything you can to share this document as widely as possible. One of the most disgusting and outrageous things about this false flag massacre is that most of our elites know what truly happened, but that they apparently have all agreed to cover it up, each one for their own reasons. We cannot allow that to happen and we have to continue to demand answers and full access to all the data, including the recordings of the conversations between MH17 and the Kiev ATC, all the flight data recorders, and all the signal and radar data held by Russia, the USA, NATO, and the junta in Kiev.
Please join us in demanding that the full truth be told about the murder of the people of MH17.
Send the link above, along with this appeal, to all your Russian speaking friends, post it on your blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook pages, share it on mailing lists, send it to your local Russian newspaper or radio station, etc. We need maximal exposure and visibility to force those in power to react.
PS: a new, updated, version of the video analysis made by John Martin about MH17 which I had posted here is now available here: http://youtu.be/czqmeMhWyFo make sure to also check it out!
Ukraine is, slowly but surely, descending into chaos. Chaos that it might not recover from. The east is already lost. It matters not if the resistance has a tactical victory or loss on any given day. What matters is that they will not rest until they are in Kiev.
There was a chance to remain united and perhaps fulfil that Ukrainian imported myth of “territorial integrity” even (minus Crimea) until even a few months ago. But that ship has sailed.
Mayor Klitschko to the rescue
I find it especially amusing when the privileged dish out advice to the ones who suffer from their decisions. This is a hallmark of neoliberalism; Where the tormentor is given the role of the saviour. Only pure idiocy can emerge as advice, and so it was when the government issued guidelines on how to survive the winter in Ukraine.
The central heating will be down during this period of “glorious resistance” in an artificial war created by oligarchs to get richer at the expense of the population. Glory indeed. And so it goes, Klitschko advises:
-The first recommendation is to insulate windows and doors
– Stock up on warm clothing made of natural fabrics, boots and hats
– Paint the central heating in a red or brown color to enhance their heat. (No, this is not a joke)
– Use the winter balcony instead of the refrigerator
Dissent in Western Ukraine
With tens of thousands of troops deployed in the east and fierce battles raging, the growing dissent in other regions is not getting the attention it will probably command in the near future.
As the state disintegrates so does the fabric that holds together a country like Ukraine, the fabric of fear. Fear is how Ukraine is ruled today and not everyone is afraid.
The Zakarpattia Oblast is a region that has changed hands several times in its history during the 20th century. The contiguous cross-border area of Poland, Slovakia and Hungary in western Ukraine has been campaigning for federal status and had asked Russia, US and EU to recognize this.
Of course, the only solution in town is force. Kiev has dispatched 1500 soldiers to Mukachevko and suspected “separatists” have been arrested in Zhitomir.
This is of course not all, there is a lot more going on in western Ukraine. From public protests at the mounting death toll to the conscription for the Nazi-Choco-Army.
Lets make this more fun
Since things are going so well for the Junta, they have decided to take more proactive measures bordering on the clinically insane variety.
The National Guard (read: Nazis) will now be given control of “Nuclear Material” such as nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. 
The sanction recoil
As time pases, the voices grow louder. Everyday there is a new report and statement from disgruntled states forced to bite the bullet because of Europe’s total subservience to the Empire.
Serbia is being rewarded and could see a doubling of exports to Russia. In fact, Serbia is so excited of this prospect that it has been working overtime to stop sanction dodgers.
EU Sanction Dodging
Constant attempts to bypass sanctions are becoming more common place now with Belarus being used as a re-exporter. Of course, these pathetic attempts are being blocked and a warning has already been issued to Belarus.
The Poles have approached Brussels along with other EU countries asking for compensation. This would be fine if the pretend world the EU lives in (at least on the mainstream media) was real. In the real world, the EU has set aside a meagre €125 million when the compensation bills will be in the billions.
Here is a snapshot of the situation:
With Spain losing €337 , Italy €1bn and Poland €1.5bn as just a subset example, things will begin to heat up. The Poles are already pushing for an escalation to the WTO. Something that no one wants, an escalation could be even more costly.
Switzerland has decided to do what it does best, profit from the quarrels of those idiots in the EU. It has rejected appeals of being a conduit to allow the EU to dodge sanctions. Actually, when is the last time you read about the EU dodging sanctions? A twist of fate.
Bulgaria is the only remaining weak link in the Russian South Stream project, which has once again been halted. No doubt under US advice, always ready to help out their minions shoot themselves in the foot. A trademark US speciality: Making your “friends” screw themselves.
In the words of Boris Johnson “the great supine invertebrate protoplasmic jellies” are vibrating under pressure.
Russia readjusting the sanctions to allow speciality food products is an excellent move to once again let the idiots in Europe know that the pain can go away, just like that. If they play ball.
Trade deals are being struck everywhere on the map, and Russia & China are experiencing an unexpected romance. Long delayed opportunities are being picked up and progress being made. Take Mongolia for example, have you heard much about it? Exactly. It has for decades been unsuccessfully trying to court western capital but is now turning to Russia and China. The region has an excellent opportunity at hand and its neighbors are coming bearing gifts. The Chinese and Russian presidents are both due to visit soon.
And just if you forgot, the overall picture is looking even more favorable in the court of public opinion. The resistance is viewed favorably the world over, except in the “International Community” of the decaying old world order.
There has been a lot of speculation about the course of the resistance in Ukraine. There were rumours of Strelkov being wounded, removed and even being dead. Then there were other permutations in the hierarchy which might still continue. Who knows?
Is Putin firmly in control? I doubt it. Are the self-interested oligarchs in control?I doubt it. Does anyone have the sovereign interest of the Russian people at heart? Maybe Putin. Are the rebels winning or are they in the process of being sold out? I do not know.
The resistance as a whole, despite the brave men down in the trenches, is fragmented.The aggressor is not.
The United States is determined, persistent and brutal in its pursuit of total domination. Anyone and anything is expandable. What we see in Ukraine are just the opening moves of the war being unleashed. The US is wounded, it is tired,it is exhausted and it can see its demise. It is weak. That is exactly why it is going bezerk on the global stage.
Sometimes the cold hard truth puts things in perspective. Here is former Assistant Secretary of Treasury Paul Craig Roberts on the nuclear war situation:
Does that sound like a rational player? I am afraid the nightmare scenario The Saker pondered might actually be a statistical double digit probability.
Now, consider the measured and limited Russian sectoral sanctions in response to aggressive US/EU sanctions against her. The western sanctions are based on absolutely nothing. And despite that, Russia, a capable nuclear armed world power, is still trying hard to de escalate the situation. It is desperately trying to send a signal, a warning or hell even a bloody plea for some sanity to prevail.
The Russian Sanctions are very carefully designed, as Paul Craig Roberts puts it: “The only way Washington can hurt Russia is by hurting Europe”.
If things could not get worse, here is a Ukrainian MP fostering those cherished European values:
This is far from over. It has merely begun.
The emergence of such initiatives is always a good sign even if it is a little late to the game. I would say that crisis creates change and as such nature has its own way. A number of viewpoints are expressed below both by the authors and our guest editor. Our editor has been most generous in helping publish this piece, bringing in his vast knowledge in Soviet studies and an astute command of the complex Russian perspective.
I would also like to thank the great effort by our translators without whom this would not be possible.
My own views centre more around the need to put a human element in discourse. The heart and mind go hand in hand and as such I am always skeptical when one is ignored. I believe this proposal,fundamentally, has both heart and mind in it.
Written by: Jean-Paul Baquiast and Jean-Claude Emperuer
Originally published by: The French Saker
Translated by: Elena L. & Alice S.
Editor: Rufus Magister
It was decided to write this text, which is still under discussion, on behalf of the editorial committee of “Solidarity of Europe”. It is signed by Jean-Paul Baquiast and Jean-Claude Emperuer (in alphabetical order).
We have previously shown that if Europe does not free itself from more than sixty years of domination by the US, it will forever remain a simple tool, continually exploited for their main project, which is the destruction of Russia. Liberation from this suzerainty should bring Europe closer to the geopolitical formation of the BRICS countries, which is still under construction. Subsequently, Europe and the BRICS [together] will become a force capable of resisting American power, which long remain stronger than the European or the BRICS individually. On this basis, we can draw two conclusions:
* Europe is too diverse and too riddled with American influence for anyone to suppose that it can solidly and quickly enough join, or at least form a strategic partnership with, the BRICS countries. Acting individually, i.e. overcoming the diplomatic limitations dictated by the European Union, European countries would have to take the initiative and negotiate on their own behalf.
* TheBRICS countriesare still toodifferent from,and some of themare quite distantfrom, Europe, which will makecomprehensive negotiationswith themdifficultin the near future; however, incertain circumstances,such would still be possible. The Europeansshould find new preferred [“privliegirovannykh” literally privileged] partnerswho sharewith themas many common goals as possible.
To meet thisdual requirementin the construction ofa broad alliancebetween Europe andthe BRICS, we propose to consider as the first and necessary step a strategic alliance between France and Russia. Since the era of Catherine the Great, and up to the Great Patriotic War, France and Russia — even without any shared land borders — had much in common and very similar interests. Even in the daysof Stalin’s dictatorship, the two nations did not confront each other. Charles de Gaullewas the first head of state to encourage closer ties with Russia.
From the outset,we note thatsuch a planned alliance withRussiacould todaybe extendedto otherEuropean countries, primarily to Germany, Spainand Italy. In each specific case, it is worth noting that having stronger ties with Russia would be beneficial even today, and that may be of further interest to these countries in the future, but such a discussion is beyond the scope of this article.
As for France, you will recall that when Czar Alexander’s troops briefly occupied Paris, after the fall of Napoleon the First, they conducted themselves almost perfectly. Recall also that the Franco-Russian Alliance, concluded on the eve of the World War [“mirovoi voini,” the First World War], was very popular in both countries. The continued success of the eponymous dessert in France is no accident. All this testifies to the profound harmony between the two societies, which is expressed in literature and art, technology and science…
But on what basis should a Franco-Russian alliance be created today, which could become the model for the union of Europe and the BRICS?
A Geopolitical Project
The project should be primarily geopolitical. This term is used to designate a union or a political rapprochement between two countries that share a common geographic area and broad strategic objectives.
Even in times of global trade, it is important to have common interests. Concerning France and Russia,at first glance it is not that clear that they share a geographic space. If we take a closer look at the concept, however, it becomes quite apparent. There are plenty of rail, sea and air connections, and they can be expanded at a very low cost. The similarity of the different parts of the space, which Charles de Gaulle called “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals and beyond”, is undeniable. Today, there are other states between France and Russia, but there is no reason to think that they, or at least their population, would oppose a rapprochement between the two sides of the Union, which could be useful to all of them. In any case, it would only mean bringing the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, back to Europe.
A Plan Based on Reciprocal Scarcities
The primary basis is a complementarity of resources and a commitment mutual development.
The geographic factor: Through France,Russia will gain access to the seas, which today are still very difficult for her to reach– the Atlantic Ocean, the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as all the maritime areas belonging to France through her overseas possessions(a unique situation in the world). France, in turn, would gain access to the polar regions and Siberia which, if they are properly managed, will become more and more valuable(taking into account global warming).
The economic factor: France is very well developed industrially and could help Russia in the development of corresponding industries, and in return receive Russian expertise and resources, including in technology, energy, as well as mining — rich rare-earth metals. In the important area of research and development, we note the possibility of creating programs related to clean energy, all NBIC technologies(nano-, bio-, information and cognitive technologies), as well as space and military technologies.
Finally,the political and diplomatic factors: Inter-amplification is already obvious.In particular, the example of the struggle against radical Islamic movements which are equally threatening in Russia and in Europe, as they are in the Middle East. Now they are even spreading to the countries of southern Africa. Even if France and Russia cope with this problem in different ways, cooperation between them is necessary. And it would be very helpful if France would cease to consider itself obliged to obediently follow the intricacies of American policies: France and Russia together could then have a substantial place in the major negotiations and the conflicts taking place beyond their borders: in Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Kurdish question, etc. The question of differences in their approach to political democracy, civil liberties and morality should not be an obstacle to cooperation. First,over time these differences will diminish, and second, each of the partners must demonstrate its willingness to let the other bear its share of responsibility for societal choices– without trying to change them.
A gradual process
We should not hide the fact that with regard to a Franco-Russian alliance, there are some differences of opinion, especially in France. Political movements and politicians who are convinced that it is necessary would do well to propose a gradual approach, calculated to take hold over a longer period. But this does not rule out making some urgent, even if only symbolic, decisions. Note that if France, bowing to orders from the US, decides not to provide Russia with what, by rights, belongs to her – in this case, two “Mistral” class vessels, designed at Saint-Nazaire — it will be a significant obstacle to hopes for cooperation between the two countries. Conversely,if France and Russia were to deepen their already very fruitful cooperation in space, they could more rapidly develop the launchers, manned modules and ground stations needed to expand cooperation in space research, and exploration of the Moon, of the moons of Mars,and Mars itself. The areas showing the most urgent needs and opportunities for cooperation are numerous, including medicine, robotics, machine translation of languages, social sciences, and politics.
As for us — an Association of those who are confident that such a Franco-Russian alliance is needed — we will expand our activities in this area and will seek to establish a virtual dialogue with other organizations playing a similar role,in France,in Europe, and in Russia,to bring about profound changes in public opinion.
As a former doctoral student in Soviet History, permit me a few observations.
As I find common with technologists, the statement is a compound of astute naiveté.
Baquiast and Emperuer correctly note the long and often cordial relations between the Third Republic and Imperial Russia, and later between the Fifth Republic under De Gaulle and the Soviet Union. France notably absented itself, until fairly recently, from the NATO military command structure.
More recently, however, under Sarkozy and Hollande, France seems to be opting for its own version of the Anglo-American “Special Relationship,” (or as Tony Blair was known, “America’s lap dog;” please insert your favorite “French Poodle” witticism here). She certainly views her former possessions in Africa, and the continent in general, as within her sphere of influence under subcontract to the United States. It is noteworthy that France was a critical proponent of the disastrous “humanitarian interventions” in Libya and Syria.
An aside – why is it that self-serving American “humanitarian interventions” are just and to be accepted uncritically? How is it that similar and far more genuine Russian solicitude for its own people (either in strict ethnic or broader linguistic terms) is somehow a violation of international law? America hypocritically applies its own loose and indeed criminal version of international law to itself and its friends, while holding everyone else to the strictest of standards. Like my fellow readers of VS, I anxiously await the outcome of the Russian aid mission.
I cannot speak to the viability of the rail, road, and air links between the two. Are they sufficient for the proposed traffic from the Volga to the Atlantic? Would their expansion be easy and/or cost effective? I see it as unlikely, however, that the populations of states such as Germany and Poland, under the anti-democratic structure of the so-called European “Union” or “Community,” can effectively change the policies dictated to Brussels by Washington. Perhaps a transport version of the Southern Stream is possible, but I would have greater doubts as to the capacity and scalability.
I would agree, however, that any loosening of the bonds would likely be best achieved on the national level, hopefully as a precursor to a true democratization of the European Union as a whole. Such a version would include, rather than exclude, the Russian Federation. Perhaps mutual interests and complementary resources will prevail. To do so, political action by the masses, rather than techno-utopianism, is needed.
 Biographic note: Jean-Paul Baquiast was formerly a senior technologist in the French government. He founded the website “Admiroutes” (www.admiroutes.asso.fr), which his webpage describes as “an unofficial and user-friendly resource for the Internet based modernisation of public services….” He also edits the internet magazine “Automates Intelligents.” His essay on “Europe paneuropéenne superpuissance” was published by Editions Automates Intelligents along with co-author Jean-Claude Emperuer’s “Essai suivi de Indépendance de l’Europe et technologies de souveraineté” in April 2003. From http://www.jean-paul-baquiast.fr/
 See, in French “Europe is the epicenter of destructive conflict”, http://www.europesolidaire.eu/article.php?article_id=1433&r_id=)
 Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa, for those few who may be unfamiliar with the term.
 This is to me suggestive of the diplomatic term “most favored nation,” a type of trade-tariff relationship. Here and throughout the rendering of the Russian text is in the gender and case used in the document.
 This is the common rendering of “Velikoi Otechestvennoi voini” literally the Great Fatherland War, the Soviet and later Russian styling of the Second World War II.
 This treaty, signed in 1892, united the Third Republic with Czarist Russia against their mutual rival, the rising German Empire. It was a critical step toward the First World War.
 I believe they are referring to the napoleon. According to Wikipedia, as the “mille feuilles” the pastry predates the First Empire, but was refined by the French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833). It had no direct connection to Bonaparte. Appearing in Russia early in the 1800’s, it gained especial popularity during the centenary of Borodino and subsequently became a staple of Soviet cuisine. The article goes onto describe variations throughout the world. Carême also created the Charlotte russe, which Wikipedia describes as “a dessert invented by who named it in honor of his former employer George IV’s only child, Princess Charlotte, and his current, Russian employer Czar Alexander…. It is a cold dessert of Bavarian cream set in a mold lined with ladyfingers.”
 “vzaimodopolnyaetmost’” – This seems to be a neologism, perhaps by the authors.
 It seems at this time that Hollande government, for commercial reasons, will permit delivery of the two ships, “Vladivostok” and “Sevastapol.” They are helicopter and amphibious assault carriers, with command and control capabilities. The French state-owned company DCNS designed the vessels, three of which France presently deploys. They were built at the Chantier de Atlantique at Saint-Nazaire. Now owned by STX Shipbuilding of Korea with a French government minority stake, this yard built such historic vessels as the liners “Normandie” and “France.” See Wikipedia and the websites of the companies involved.
It was Fidel Castro’s birthday just two days ago, he is now 88. He is perhaps the grandfather of all statesman and revolutionaries, a true legend. A life devoted to a righteous cause and still strong of mind. Here is Fidel in his own words.
Originally appeared in Granma and then Counterpunch.
By Fidel Castro
I think that a new, repugnant form of fascism is emerging with notable strength, at this time in human history when more that seven billion inhabitants are struggling for their survival.
None of these circumstances have anything to do with the creation of the Roman Empire, around 2,400 years ago, or with the U.S. empire which, in this region only 200 years ago, was described by Simón Bolívar who exclaimed, “…the United States appears to be destined by providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.” England was the first true colonial power to use its dominion over a large part of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, North America, and many Caribbean islands, in the first half of the 20th century.
On this occasion I will not talk about the wars and crimes committed by the United States empire over more than 100 years, but will only state what it wanted to do to Cuba, what it has done to many other countries in the world, and only served to prove that “A just idea in the depth of a cave is stronger than an army.”
History is much more complicated than everything I have said, but that is the was it is, in broad strokes, as the inhabitants of Palestine know, and it is likewise logical that the modern communications media reflect the news which arrives daily, as has occurred with the shameful, criminal war in the Gaza Strip, a piece of land where the population lives in what remains of what was independent Palestine only 50 years ago.
The French agency AFP reported August 2, “The war between the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas and Israel has caused the deaths of close to 1,800 Palestinians,… the destruction of thousands of homes, and ruined an economy which was already weakened,” although it does not indicate, of course, who initiated the terrible war.
Added later, “… As of Saturday at midday the Israeli offensive had killed 1,712 Palestinians and injured 8,900. The United Nations was able to verify the identities of 1,117 dead, in their majority civilians … UNICEF counted at least 296 dead minors.”
“The United Nations estimates …some 58,900 persons homeless in the Gaza Strip.”
“Ten of the 32 hospitals were closed and another 11 damaged.”
“This Palestinian enclave of 362 km² does not have the infrastructure needed for 1.8 million inhabitants, above all in terms of the provision of electricity and water.”
“According to the IMF, the rate of unemployment surpasses 40% in the Gaza Strip, territory subjected to an Israeli blockade since 2006. In 2000, unemployment was 20%, and in 2011, 30%. More than 70% of the population depends on humanitarian aid during normal periods, according to Gisha.
The Israeli government declared a humanitarian truce in Gaza at 07:00 GMT on Monday, nevertheless within a few hours, it broke the truce attacking a house, injuring 30 persons, in their majority women and children, and an eight-year-old girl died.
In the dawn hours of this same day, 10 Palestinians died as a result of Israeli attacks in all of Gaza and the number of Palestinians murdered has already increased to 2,000.
The killing has reached the point that, “French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius stated this Monday that Israel’s right to security does not justify the massacre of civilians taking place.”
The Nazi genocide of Jews outraged all the earth’s peoples. Why does this government believe that the world will be insensitive to the macabre genocide which today is being perpetuated against the Palestinian people? Perhaps it is expected that the complicity of the U.S. empire in this shameful massacre will be ignored?
The human species is living in an unprecedented stage of history. A crash between military planes or warships which are closely watched, or other similar events could unleash a conflict with the use of sophisticated, modern weapons, which could become the last known adventure of Homo sapiens.
There are events which reflect the almost total inability of the United States to face the world’s current problems. It can be stated that there is no government in this country, no Senate, no Congress, CIA or Pentagon which will determine the final outcome. It is truly sad that this should happen when the dangers are so great, but the opportunities to move forward are great as well.
When the great patriotic war took place, Russian citizens defended their country like Spartans, underestimating them was the worse error made by the United States and Europe. Their closest allies, the Chinese, who like the Russians achieved their victory on the basis of the same principles, constitute today the earth’s most dynamic economic force. Countries want yuan and not dollars to acquire goods and technology, and increased trade.
New, indispensable forces have emerged. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – establishing links with Latin America and the majority of countries in the Caribbean and Africa struggling for development – constitute the forces which in our era are willing to collaborate with the rest of the world’s countries, without excluding the United States, Europe or Japan.
Blaming the Russian Federation for the in-flight destruction of the Malaysian airplane is a stunning oversimplification. Not Vladímir Putin, nor Serguéi Lavrov, Russia’s minister of Foreign Relations, or any other leader of this government would ever come up with such nonsense.
Twenty-six million Russians died in the defense of their homeland against the Nazis. Chinese combatants, men and women, inheritors of a millennial culture, are people of uncommon intelligence and an invincible spirit of struggle. Xi Jinping is one of the strongest and most capable revolutionary leaders I have met in my life.
Fidel Castro’s column appears in Granma.
The Saker is reaching a whole new generation of people across cultures and locations. We now publish in French, German and Russian with the help of a very enthusiastic community.
The Oceania Saker will bring you more varied voices, analysis and opinion from around the world. What better way to begin our journey than with Andre Vltchek, whose spirit so accurately captures what this blog will be about.
by André Vltchek
They hate us, because we are alive, and because we are walking and moving forward, sometimes stumbling, sometimes unsteady, but walking nevertheless.
All the while they are dragging all of humanity back into, dark nihilism, into terrible moods, dark sarcasm, and a feeling of hopelessness.
They hate us because we insist on doing things our own way, and because we put our people first, and sometimes we put deprived people all over the world, first. We do it more and more, often, whenever we can afford it.
While ‘they’ are putting their economic interests first, and in doing so, they torture, destroy and humiliate those that refuse to succumb, to kneel and to lick their boots.
For ages have been trying to destroy us, but we stood firm and we fought back, proudly. They invaded, ruined, burned our lands, and they murdered the people of Russia, of China and of the entire part of the world, now called Latin America. They, of course, also murdered and destroyed tens or hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East, in Africa, Asia and Oceania.
When I say ‘they’, I mean the West, and once again I refuse to make any distinction between the old colonial devils, Europe, and the new ones that come from the same roots, the same ‘culture’, but kill under the shade of their relatively new flags.
They hate us because we bled and cried over our dead, but we never gave up the struggle.
They only ‘acknowledge’ and glorify those who accept their regime, who have decided to collaborate, partially or fully: countries like India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kenya, and dozens of other “client” states, countries that are feeding that horrendous capitalist monster with the flesh of their own citizens.
‘They’ even invented ‘political correctness’ so the ‘culture’ of the oppressive and brutal regimes loyal to neo-colonialism, would evade being criticized or ridiculed in those ‘polite circles’ (lackey academia, mass media, etc.). Political correctness is not there to protect the majority of Indian or Indonesian people, but to shield their usurpers and exploiters, who wrap themselves hypocritically in their flags, as well as religions and cultural gowns.
They hate us for our dreams and for our laughter, for our confidence and determination. We are often hated not only by the Western global regime, but also by the majority of Western people, who are part of the system or at least to some degree, are beneficiaries of it.
The more they steal all over the world and the less we do than them, the more they smear us and claim that ‘we are the same’, robbing and ‘pushing for our interests’ in Africa and elsewhere. They own the mass media and they spill the poison of their lies through their press agencies and television networks, as well as the internet. Elites all over the world, owners of most of the local media, are then happy and always ready to disseminate these lies.
They hate us because they actually suspect that we are different, and the more they suspect it, the more they hate us; then the more they shout and scream that we are exactly like them, and perhaps even worse!
If the world they have created is total shit, then, they insist, the entire universe, even humanity itself, has to be swimming in the excrement.
But we are not like them.
They may be masters of propaganda, great puppeteers, but we, most of the time, refuse to lower ourselves to their level. We are trying to play fair, fighting fair and honest battles. We are trying to win honestly, not like the deceptive and sadistic scum. It is simply because we do want to play fair and also because we are so horrified by their bloodstained hands and mouths that we simply do not want to be like them, even when they are fighting us with all their might; even when they are trying to wipe us out, off the face of the earth.
For that, they hate us, too.
The more sincere we are, the more they slander us.
The more considerate we are, the more they accuse us of demagogy and deceit.
The more peaceful we are, the more they accuse us of being the aggressors.
The more pure our goals, the dirtier are their comments about our deeds.
Those right now that are collaborating hate us for not surrendering, because the collaborators always hate those that are free and proud, and resolute. Cowardly and angry servants, and slaves, are often much more vicious than their masters. Not always, but they often are.
The more comrades we lose, the more they hate us, because we refuse to kneel, and to beg them to stop killing us. We just grin through our teeth and keep walking forward. For humanity, for our beloved people…
The more united we are, the more they hate us. Latin America and China, as well as Russia, are now together. And several other great nations are joining us. We embraced. We embraced standing, proudly, voluntarily!
The nearer we are to achieving our main goal – the creation of a socialist, more humane and decent society on this planet – the more they hate us. They would rather obliterate our countries; even destroy them – nuke us – the entire planet, instead of accepting a global egalitarian society built on principles of social justice, true respect and non-interference.
The more reasonable and egalitarian we are trying to become, the more they hate us. We may not always succeed but they still hate us when we try, but fail. But when we get it right, when we succeed, then they go into top gear in their odium, assassinating our leaders, manufacturing and funding an ‘opposition’ in our countries, preparing and executing military coups against our leaders. How many ‘successful’ and failed coup attempts have we had, recently? Let us just recall a few: Honduras, Paraguay, Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine, and Libya…
But back to the main point: we do not yield! Not anymore. We refuse to yield. Their grotesque, idiotic, nihilist turbo-capitalist, neo-colonialist system and other fundamentalist dogmas, are as terrible as death itself. We are working night and day to resist it, to expose its maliciousness. We feel obliged to work and to fight, not because we are always so great and honorable ourselves, but simply because they are so horrid, murderous, cynical and inhuman!
And so they bathe us in dirt, they vomit their toxic poisons at us, pitching our neighbors against us, planning and triggering coups and ‘opposition movements’, as well as ‘student revolts’ and ‘color revolutions’. The targets are China and Russia, Cuba and Venezuela… Bolivia and Ecuador. Smeared are, Brazil and South Africa, Argentina and Zimbabwe, demonized are Eritrea and North Korea…
In a way, they – our enemies – are pathetic, ridiculous and sad… For those who know the world, they are just a bunch of sadistic lunatics… mighty but uncool, stinky echoes of previous loud and toxic colonialist/imperialist/racist farts.
But they are managing to scream louder. They are publishing billions of sheets filled with lies. They are using their money (mostly stolen from us and others) to twist all logical observations and analyses, presenting the emptiness they are spreading, with their soulless gadgets and consumerism, as something hip and human. And so the new generations in their countries and in their colonies are being manufactured and shaped – they are confused, tired ever since their cradles; empty, lacking poetry and creativity, obsessed with form whilst rejecting substance.
We keep telling them what they are doing to the world, and the more we tell them, the more they hate us.
But what do we really want? What truly unites countries as diverse as Cuba and China, Russia and Venezuela, Bolivia and South Africa?
It is a great desire for freedom. Not ‘their’ twisted concept of freedom! But the freedom to choose our own path, to use our resources to feed our children, to heal our sick, and to educate both adults and children! All for free. All as our patriotic and humanist duty!
We want our countries to exist only in order to create, to facilitate a good, healthy, meaningful life for their citizens. We want people to wake up and not to be scared that they will end up on the street, or that if they get sick, they will die just because they can’t pay their medical bills. We want people to think about the journey, about where they are going and what they will do at their destination, instead of constantly agonizing over where they will they get the money to buy a new car!
We want people to be free and to have the time to decide ‘where they are going’, and to have knowledge, to release their creativity and energy for the improvement of life, all over our beautiful planet.
And the more we want that, the more they hate us.
We want to be; many of us want to be, ‘naive’ again… to be able to dream, to communicate with each other, to work with our hands and our brains, to put our entire hearts into this life. And we want people to feel safe, not to be scared of waking up every morning, of being ridiculed for simply being good, decent; for being human!
This is what socialism or communism mean to me. This is what it meant to Chavez and what I think it means to Evo. This is what it means to my dearest friends in Beijing.
Venezuela, Bolivia or China are not perfect, damn it! We are all human; we all make mistakes. But we are trying. We are doing our best. We want to pull hundreds of millions out of poverty and we are doing it, step by step. Each of our countries is doing it in its own way, depending on its culture and history. And we want to do it our way and only in our own way, and that is why they hate us!
I don’t care or mind if someone runs his or her private hotel, or restaurant, or a newspaper… I don’t mind at all. I am not some dogmatic freak. But I do mind when entire nations are destroyed simply because they want to go their own way!
I do mind when ‘democracy’ is reduced to only what the Western bullies say it should mean. I mind when people are converted into serfs for the rich in their own countries, and then into serfs for the Empire. I do mind when they have no choice. I do mind when they are constantly fearful of something, when they get humiliated again and again. And not only do I mind, I want to clench my fists and fight for justice.
The more I mind, the more others like me mind, the more they hate us.
More and more of us actually do mind.
Now we have this great new wave of cooperation between four wonderful parts of the world. Soon we will have an alternative to the horrid institution called the World Bank. And eventually we will create an alternative to the United Nations, which by now has become a toothless, kidnapped institution, unable to punish or even name those true gangsters and true terrorists!
They hate us! But we do not like them, either! How could we like fascists and bigots?
They run this world by employing fear, just as for centuries, they used to run their colonies. They killed hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, in the last millennia. They would not think twice of killing a few hundred million more.
On top of it, they are also scared, and the more scared they are, the more bellicose and aggressive they are becoming. They suspect that this cannot last – this twisted, psychopathic arrangement of the world. They just hope it will last for another few decades, while they are still alive.
The more scared they are, the more they are trying to scare others, too… to provoke conflicts, to antagonize people, to spy on them, to lock millions up, to brainwash billions worldwide.
Those corporations of the Empire, the governments that they select… they make normal people want to puke. And we tell them this, straight to their faces! Now we have our own block of countries, our organized resistance, our media, (this publication is an integrated and strong part of it)!
We tell them who they are.
And they hate us for that.
We tell them: you do what you want at home. As long as your people tolerate it, accept it, or even endorse it. We will not be attacking you or ‘liberating you’. But do not dare to come to our homes again, and plunder, loot and corrupt.
If you do, our nations and our people will fight.
They know it, and they hate us for that!
We tell them: Our people will fight against you and for what is human, and for the normal development of mankind – development, which you have derailed in such a brutal, Machiavellian manner, for centuries.
For centuries, you used slavery in order to compile your riches. You are enslaving billions of men and women even now, although you do not use that “s” word.
Our people will fight against you if you try to impose slavery on us once again.
We will also fight for kindness, poetry – for that dreamy, naive and at the same time creative and secure world, which almost all of us humans desire from the bottom of our hearts.
And this is why ‘they’ really hate us – we want to stop this horrific experiment on human beings. We want human life to be much more important than the profits of some corporations and twisted individuals. We want to be proud again of being part of the human race.
They want us to produce and to consume, submit to their designs and on top of it, stay quiet and scared.
While we want to build and we want to sing, to dream and to invent, for other people, not just for cash. We want to help each other. We do not want to succumb to a system where those who are brutal and aggressive are enslaving those who are gentle and kind.
We want to prove that humans are not just cynical and selfish beasts. They are not! They only behave like that when they are injected with high doses of repulsive psychological toxins.
We want the end of this corporate and colonialist tyranny. Millions have fought it for centuries, and millions have already died, fighting for a much better world.
We are not going away! We are not deserting. We are not scared, anymore. Before falling, Hugo Chavez shouted: “Here nobody surrenders!” Well said! We feel the same. Aqui no se rinde nadie!
And that is why they hate us!
And we should be proud that they do.
Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.