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History or histories: the 20th century


Legendary Member
This thread encourages different histories of events and courses that have shaped the 20th century, as an exercise to break free from the various propaganda systems people everywhere grow up with.

Here's a first kick off.


December 25, 2015
NATO: Seeking Russia’s Destruction Since 1949

by Gary Leupp


In 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. president George H. W. Bush through his secretary of state James Baker promised Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev that in exchange for Soviet cooperation on German reunification, the Cold War era NATO alliance would not expand “one inch” eastwards towards Russia. Baker told Gorbachev: “Look, if you remove your [300,000] troops [from east Germany] and allow unification of Germany in NATO, NATO will not expand one inch to the east.”

In the following year, the USSR officially dissolved itself. Its own defensive military alliance (commonly known as the Warsaw Pact) had already shut down. The Cold War was over.

So why hasn’t NATO also dissolved, but instead expanded relentlessly, surrounding European Russia? Why isn’t this a central question for discussion and debate in this country?

NATO: A Cold War Anti-Russian Alliance

Some challenge the claim that Bush’s pledge was ever given, although Baker repeated it publicly in Russia. Or they argue that it was never put in writing, hence legally inconsequential. Or they argue that any promise made to the leadership of the Soviet Union, which went out of existence in 1991, is inapplicable to subsequent U.S.-Russian relations. But it’s clear that the U.S. has, to the consternation of the Russian leadership, sustained a posture of confrontation with its Cold War foe principally taking the form of NATO expansion. This expansion hardly receives comment in the U.S. mass media, which treats the entry of a new nation into NATO much as it does the admission of a new state into the UN—as though this was altogether natural and unproblematic.

But recall the basic history. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in April 4, 1949, initially consisting of the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Portugal, as a military alliance against the Soviet Union, and principally the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

It was formed just four years after the Soviets stormed Berlin, defeating the Nazis. (As you know, Germany invaded Russia six months before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor; the U.S. and USSR were World War II allies versus the fascists; the key victories in the European war—Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk—were Soviet victories over the Nazis; that U.S. soldiers only crossed the Rhine on March 22 as the Red Army was closing in on Berlin, taking the city between April 16 and May 2 at a cost of some 80,000 Soviet dead. If you don’t know these things, you’ve been denied a proper education.)

In the four-year interim between Hitler’s suicide and the formation of NATO, the two great victors of the war had divided Europe into spheres of influence. The neighboring Soviet Union had contributed disproportionately to the fascist defeat: over eight million military and over 12 million civilians dead, as compared to the far-off U.S., with losses of around 186,000 dead in the European theater and 106,000 in the Pacific.

It might seem strange that the lesser hero in this instance (in this epochal conflict against fascism) gets all the goodies in the battle’s aftermath: the U.S. created a bloc including Britain, France, Italy, most of Germany, the Low Countries, Portugal, and most of Scandinavia, while the Soviets asserted hegemony—or tried to—over their generally less affluent client states. But the Soviets were not in any case interested primarily in drawing the richest nations into their fold; were that the case, they would not have withdrawn their troops from Austria in 1955.

Rather Russia, which had historically been invaded many times from the west—from Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, France, and Germany multiple times—wanted preeminently to secure its western border. To insure the establishment of friendly regimes, it organized elections in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and elsewhere. (These had approximately as much legitimacy as elections held under U.S. occupation in Iraq or Afghanistan in later years, or at any point in Latin America). They brought the Eastern European “people’s republics” into existence.

The U.S. and British grumbled about the geopolitical advances of their wartime ally. In March 1946 former British Prime Minister Churchill while visiting the U.S. alluded to an “iron curtain” falling across Europe. (Perhaps he was unwittingly using the expression that Josef Goebbels had used just thirteen months earlier. The German propaganda minister had told a newspaper that “if the German people lay down their weapons, the Soviets…would occupy all of Europe…An iron curtain would fall over this enormous territory…”) Very scary.

But the U.S. was working hard at the time to consolidate its own bloc in Europe. In May 1947 the U.S. CIA forced the Italian and French governments to purge Communist members of cabinets formed after electoral successes the previous year. (The U.S. had enormous clout, bought through the $ 13 billion Marshall Plan begun in April 1947, designed to revive European capitalism and diminish the Marxist appeal.)

The CIA station chief in Rome later boasted that “without the CIA,” which funded a Red Scare campaign and fomented violent, even fatal clashes at events, “the Communist Party would surely have won the [Italian] elections in 1948.” (Anyone who thinks Soviets rigged elections while the U.S. facilitated fair ones as a matter of principle is hopelessly naïve.)

Meanwhile—before the establishment of NATO in April 1949—the U.S. and Britain had been fighting a war in Greece since 1946 on behalf of the monarchists against the communist-led forces that had been the backbone of the anti-fascist movement during the World War II. The Communists had widespread support and may well have won the civil war if the Soviets had only supported them. But observing the understanding about spheres of influence agreed to at Yalta and Potsdam, Stalin refused appeals for Soviet aid from the Greek (and Yugoslav) Communists. The Greek partisans surrendered in Oct. 1949, six months after the formation of NATO. (But NATO was in fact not deployed in this military intervention in Greece, seen as the first Cold War U.S. military operation under the broadly anticommunist “Truman Doctrine.”)

Just a month after NATO was formed, the pro-U.S. leaders in west Germany unilaterally announced the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany. (The pro-Soviet German Democratic Republic was declared only six months later. As in Korea, the Soviets promoted reunification of occupied sectors. But the U.S. was intent on establishing client states, and dividing nations if necessary to stem Soviet inroads. This was also the case with Vietnam.)

Four months after the creation of NATO the Soviets conducted their first successful nuclear test. The Cold War was underway in earnest.

NATO was thus formed to aggressively confront the USSR and exploit fears of a supposed threat of a westward Soviet strike (to impose the Soviet social system on unwilling peoples). That threat never materialized, of course. The Soviets cordoned off East Berlin from the west by the Berlin Wall in 1961 to prevent embarrassing mass flight. But they never invaded West Germany, or provoked any clash with a NATO nation throughout the Cold War. (Indeed, in light of the carnage visited on Europe since 1989, from civil wars in the Balkans and Caucasus to terrorist bombings in London, Madrid and Paris to the neo-fascist-led putsch in Ukraine last year, the Cold War appears in retrospect as a long period of relative peace and prosperity on the continent.)

Comparing U.S. and Russian/Soviet Aggression during the Cold War

NATO expanded in 1952, enlisting the now-pacified Greece and its historical rival, Turkey. In 1955 it brought the Federal Republic of Germany into the fold. Only then—in May 1956, seven years after the formation of NATO—did the Soviets establish, in response, their own defensive military alliance. The Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation, and Mutual Assistance (Warsaw Pact) included a mere eight nations (to NATO’s 15): the USSR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Albania.

Warsaw Pact forces were deployed only once during the Cold War, to crush the reform movement in Czechoslovakia in 1968. (They were not used during the suppression of the “Hungarian Revolution” of 1956, occurring five months after the founding of the alliance. That operation was performed by Soviet troops and loyalist Hungarian forces.) The Czechoslovakian intervention occasioned Albania’s withdrawal from the pact, while Romania protested it and refused to contribute troops. Thus practically speaking, the Warsaw Pact was down to six members to NATO’s 15. The western alliance expanded to 16 when Spain joined in 1982.

Between 1945 and 1991 (when the Warsaw Pact and the USSR both dissolved themselves), the U.S. had engaged in three major wars (in Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf); invaded Grenada and Panama; and intervened militarily in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Cuba, Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, Haiti and other countries.

During that same period, the Soviets invaded eastern European nations twice (Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968), basically to maintain the status quo. Elsewhere, there was a brief border conflict with China in 1969 that killed around 150 soldiers on both sides. And the Soviets of course invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to shore up the secular regime faced with Islamist opposition. That’s about it. Actually, if you compare it to the U.S. record, a pretty paltry record of aggression for a superpower.

That Islamist opposition in Afghanistan, as we know, morphed into the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the group founded in Iraq by one-time bin Laden rival Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that’s now called ISIL or the Islamic State. Referred to—almost affectionately—by the U.S. press in the 1980s as the “Mujahadeen” (“those engaged in jihad”), these religious militants were lionized at the time as anti-communist holy warriors by Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Brzezinski told the president six months before the Soviets sent in troops that by backing the jihadis the U.S. could “induce a Soviet military intervention.” The U.S., he declared, had “the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War” and could now “bleed” the Soviets as they had bled the U.S. in Vietnam.

(Linger for a moment on the morality here. The Soviets had helped the Vietnamese fight an unpopular, U.S.-backed regime and confront the horrors of the U.S. assault on their country. Now—to get back, as Brzezinski out it—the U.S. could help extreme Islamists whose minds are in the Middle Ages to “induce” Soviet intervention, so as to kill conscript Soviet boys and prevent the advent of modernity.)

The anti-Soviet jihadis were welcomed to the White House by President Ronald Reagan during a visit in 1985. Reagan, perhaps already showing the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, trumpeted them as “the moral equivaent of America’s founding fathers.” This is when the great bulk of U.S. (CIA) aid to the Mujahadeen was going into the coffers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a vicious warlord now aligned with the Taliban. One of many former U.S. assets (Saddam Hussein included) who had a falling-out with the boss, he was the target of at least one failed CIA drone strike in 2002.

Thus the Soviets’ one and only protracted military conflict during the Cold War, lasting from December 1979 to February 1989 and costing some 14,000 Soviet lives, was a conflict with what U.S. pundits have taken to calling “Islamist terrorism.”

The Soviets were surely not facing anticommunists pining for “freedom” as this might be conceptualized in some modern ideology. The enemy included tribal leaders and clerics who objected to any changes in the status of girls and women, in particular their dress, and submission to patriarchal authority in such matters as marriage.

The would-be Soviet-backed revolutionaries faced religious fanatics ignorant about women’s medical needs, hostile to the very idea of public clinics, and opposed to women’s education, (In fact the Soviets were able to raise the literacy rate for women during the 1980s—a feat not matched by the new occupiers since 2001—but this was mainly due to the fact that they maintained control over Kabul, where women could not only get schooling but walk around without a headscarf.)

Those days ended when the Soviet-installed regime of Mohammad Najibullah was toppled by Northern Alliance forces in April 1992. Things only became worse. Civil war between the Pastun Hekmatyar and his Tajik rivals immediately broke out and Hekmatyar’s forces brutally bombarded the capital—something that hadn’t happened during the worst days of the Soviet period.

As civil war deepened, the Taliban emerged, presenting itself as a morally upright, Sharia-based leadership. Acquiring a large social base, it took Kabul in September 1996. Among its first acts was to seize Najibullah, who had taken refuge in the UN compound in the city three years earlier, castrate him, and hang him publicly, denying him a proper Muslim burial.

Just as the neocons were crowing about the triumph of capitalism over communism, and the supposed “end of history,” the Frankenstein’s monster of Islamism reared up its ugly head. There were no tears shed in western capitals for Najibullah. But the Taliban were viewed with concern and distaste and the UN seat remained with the former Northern Alliance regime controlling just 10% of the country.

How the Cold War Encouraged “Radical Islam”

Surely the U.S.—which had packed up and left after the Soviet withdrawl, leaving the Pakistanis with a massive refugee problem and Afghanistan in a state of chaos—had bled the Soviets, and anyone daring to ally with them. And surely this experience contributed to the realization of Brzezinski’s fondest wish: the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But it also produced Islamist terrorism, big time, while the U.S.—having once organized the recruitment and training of legions of jihadis from throughout the Muslim world to bleed the Soviets—was and is now obliged to deal with blow-back, and in its responses invariably invites more terror.

Is it not obvious that U.S. military actions against its various “terrorist” targets in the “Greater” Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya have greatly swelled the ranks of al-Qaeda branches as well as ISIL?

And does not the course of events in Afghanistan—where the Kabul government remains paralyzed and inept, warlords govern the provincial cities, the Supreme Court sentences people to death for religious offenses, much of the countryside has been conceded to the Talibs and the militants are making inroads in the north—convince you that the U.S. should not have thrown in its lot with the jihadis versus the Soviet-backed secular forces thirty-five years ago?

In a 1998 interview by Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn Brzezinski was asked if he regretted “having given arms and advice to future [Islamist] terrorists.”

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

In other words, winning the contest with Russia—bleeding it to collapse—was more important than any risk of promoting militant Islamic fundamentalism. It is apparent that that mentality lingers, when, even in the post-9/11 world, some State Department officials would rather see Damascus fall to ISIL than be defended by Russians in support of a secular regime.

NATO to the Rescue in the Post-Cold War World

Since the fall of the USSR, and the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact, what has NATO been up to? First of all, it moved to fill a power vacuum in the Balkans. Yugoslavia was falling apart. It had been neutral throughout the Cold War, a member of neither NATO nor the Warsaw Pact. As governments fell throughout Eastern Europe, secessionist movements in the multiethnic republic produced widespread conflict. U.S. Secretary of State Baker worried that the breakup of Yugoslavia’s breakup would produce regional instability and opposed the independence of Slovenia.

But the German foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, and Chancellor Helmut Kohl—flushed with pride at Germany’s reunification and intent on playing a more powerful role in the world—pressed for Yugoslavia’s dismantling. (There was a deep German historical interest in this country. Nazi Germany had occupied Slovenia from 1941 to 1945, establishing a 21,000-strong Slovene Home Guard and planting businesses. Germany is now by far Slovenia’s number one trading partner.) Kohl’s line won out.

Yugoslavia, which had been a model of interethnic harmony, became torn by ethnic strife in the 1990s. In Croatia, Croatians fought ethnic Serbs backed by the Yugoslav People’s Army; in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs quarreled over how to divide the land. In Serbia itself, the withdrawal of autonomy of the provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina produced outrage among ethnic Albanians. In 1995 images of emaciated Bosniak men and boys in Serb-constructed prison camps were widely publicized in the world media as Bill Clinton resolved not to let Rwanda (read: genocide!) happen again. Not on his watch. America would save the day.

Or rather: NATO would save the day! Far from being less relevant after the Cold War, NATO, Clinton claimed, was the onlyinternational force capable of handling this kind of challenge. And thus NATO bombed, and bombed—for the first time ever, in real war—until the Bosnian Serbs pleaded for mercy. The present configuration of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a dysfunctional federation including a Serbian mini-republic, was dictated by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and his deputy Richard Holbrooke at the meeting in Dayton, Ohio in November 1995.

Russia, the traditional ally of the Serbs, was obliged to watch passively as the U.S. and NATO remapped the former Yugoslavia. Russia was itself in the 1990s, under the drunken buffoon Boris Yeltsin, a total mess. The economy was nose-diving; despair prevailed; male longevity had plummeted. The new polity was anything but stable. During the “Constitutional Crisis” of September-October 1993, the president had even ordered the army to bombard the parliament building to force the legislators to heed his decree to disband. In the grip of corrupt oligarchs and Wild West capitalism, Russians were disillusioned and demoralized.

Then came further insults from the west. During Yeltsin’s last year, in March 1999, the U.S. welcomed three more nations into: Czechoslovakia (later the Czech Republic and Slovakia), Hungary, and Poland. These had been the most powerful Warsaw Pact countries aside from the USSR and East Germany. This was the first expansion of NATO since 1982 (when Spain had joined) and understandably upset the Kremlin. What possible reason is there to expand NATO now? the Russians asked, only to be assured that NATO was not against anybody.

The Senate had voted to extend membership to Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1998. At that time, George Kennan—the famous U.S. diplomat who’d developed the cold war strategy of containment of the Soviet Union—was asked to comment.

I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” averred the 94-year-old Kennan. “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever… It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expansion advocates] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are–but this is just wrong.”

NATO Versus Serbia

In that same month of March 1999, NATO (including its three new members) began bombing the Serbian capital of Belgrade, the first time since World War II that a European capital was subjected to bombardment. The official reason was that Serbian state forces had been abusing the Albanians of Kosovo province; diplomacy had failed; and NATO intervention was needed to put things right. This rationale was accompanied by grossly exaggerated reports of Serbian security forces’ killings of Kosovars, supposedly amounting to “genocide.”

This was largely nonsense. The U.S. had demanded at the conference in Rambouillet, France, that Serbia withdraw its forces from Kosovo and restore autonomy to the province. Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic had agreed. But the U.S. also demanded that Belgrade accept NATO forces throughout the entire territory of Yugoslavia—something no leader of a sovereign state could accept. Belgrade refused, backed by Russia.

A “senior State Department official” (likely U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright) boasted to reporters that at Rambouillet “we intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. . . . The Serbs needed a little bombing to see reason.”Henry Kissinger (no peacenik) told the press in June: “The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, and excuse to start bombing. Rambouillet is not a document that an angelic Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form.”

The U.S. had obtained UN approval for the NATO strikes on Bosnia-Herzegovina four years before. But it did not seek it this time, or try to organize a UN force to address the Kosovo problem. In effect, it insisted that NATO be recognized as the representative of “the international community.”

It was outrageous. Still, U.S. public opinion was largely persuaded that the Serbs had failed to negotiate peace in good faith and so deserved the bombing cheered on by the press, in particular CNN’s “senior international correspondent,” Christiane Amanpour, a State Department insider who kept telling her viewers, “Milosevic continues to thumb his nose at the international community”—because he’d refused a bullying NATO ultimatum that even Kissinger identified as a provocation!

After the mass slaughter of Kosovars became a reality (as NATO bombs began to fall on Kosovo), and after two and a half months of bombing focused on Belgrade, a Russian-brokered deal ended the fighting. Belgrade was able to avoid the NATO occupation that it had earlier refused. (In other words, NATO had achieved nothing that the Serbs hadn’t already conceded in Rambouillet!)

As the ceasefire went into effect on June 21, a column of about 30 armored vehicles carrying 250 Russian troops moved from peacekeeping duties in Bosnia to establish control over Kosovo’s Pristina Airport. (Just a little reminder that Russia, too, had a role to play in the region.)

This took U.S. NATO commander Wesley Clark by surprise. He ordered that British and French paratroopers be flown in to seize the airport but the British General Sir Mike Jackson wisely balked. “I’m not going to have my soldiers start World War III,” he declared.

I think it likely this dramatic last minute gesture at the airport was urged by the up-and-coming Vladimir Putin, a Yeltsin advisor soon to be appointed vice-president and then Yeltsin’s successor beginning in December 1999. Putin was to prove a much more strident foe of NATO expansion than his embarrassing predecessor.

Cooperation Meets with Provocation

Still, recall how two years later—after 9/11, 2001, when the U.S. invoking the NATO charter called upon its NATO allies to engage in war in Afghanistan—Putin offered to allow the alliance to transport war material to Afghanistan through Russian territory. (In 2012 Foreign Minister Lavrov offered NATO the use of a base in Ulyanovsk to transport equipment out of Afghanistan.) This Afghan invasion was only the third actual deployment of NATO forces in war, after Bosnia and Serbia, and Moscow accepted it matter-of-factly. It even muted its concerns when the U.S. established military bases in the former Soviet Central Republics of Uzbekistan and Kirghizia.

But in 2004, NATO expanded again—to include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which had been part of the USSR itself and which border Russia. At the same time Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia were admitted, along with Slovakia, which had become separate from the Czech Republic. Russians again asked, “Why?”

In 2007 the U.S. began negotiating with the Poles to install a NATO missile defense complex in Poland, with a radar system in the Czech Republic. Supposedly this was to shoot down any Iranian missiles directed towards Europe in the future! But Moscow was furious, accusing the U.S. of wanting to launch another arms race. Due largely to anti-militarist sentiment among the Poles and Czechs, these plans were shelved in 2009. But they could be revived at any time.

In 2008, then, the U.S. recognized its dependency Kosovo, now hosting the largest U.S. Army base (Camp Bondsteel) outside the U.S., as an independent country. Although the U.S. had insisted up to this point that it recognized Kosovo as a province of Serbia (and perhaps even understood its profound significance as the heartland of Serbian Orthodoxy), it now (through Condoleezza Rice) proclaimed Kosovo a “sui generis” (one of a kind) phenomenon. So forget about international law; it just doesn’t apply.

In this same year of 2008, NATO announced boldly that Georgia and Ukraine “will become members of NATO.” ThereuponGeorgia’s comical President Mikheil Saakasvili bombarded Tskhinvali, capital of the self-declared Republic of South Ossetia that had resisted integration into the current Republic of Georgia since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. In this instance Russia defended South Ossetia, invading Georgia. It then recognized the independence, both of South Ossetia and of the Republic of Abkhazia, from Georgia. (This may be seen as a tit-for-tat response to the U.S.’s decision to recognize Kosovo’s independence from Serbia six months earlier.)

It was a six-day war, resulting in about 280 military fatalities (including 100 on the South Ossetian-Russian side) and about 400 civilian deaths. And there has been no Russian war since. Crimea was not “invaded” last year but simply seized by Russian forces in place, with general popular support. And there’s little evidence that the regular Russian military is confronting Ukrainian state forces; ethnic Russians are doing so, receiving no doubt support from cousins across the historically changeable border. But the charge of a “Russian invasion of Ukraine” is a State Department talking point—propaganda automatically parroted by the official press sock-puppet pundits, not a contemporary reality.

Georgia’s Saakasvili perhaps expected the U.S. to have his back as he provoked Moscow in August 2008. But while he received firm support from Sen. John McCain, who declared “We are all Georgians now,” he received little help from the George W. Bush State Department wary of provoking World War III. Georgia was not yet a NATO member able to cite the NATO charter’s mutual defense clause

Saakasvili left office in 2010 and is now under indictment by the Georgian courts for abuses in office. After a brief stint at the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy in 2014, he acquired Ukrainian citizenship—losing his Georgian citizenship as a result—and (as one of many examples of how crazy the current Kiev leadership including Yatsenyev and Poroshenko can be) was appointed governor of Odessa last May!

Given the debacle of 2008, countries such as Germany are unlikely to accept Georgian admission any time soon. They do not see much benefit in provoking Russia by endlessly expanding the Cold War “defensive” alliance. Still, Croatia and Albania were added to NATO in 2009, in the first year of the Obama administration—just in time to participate in NATO’s fourth war, against Libya.

Again there was no reason for a war. Colonel Gadhafy had been downright cordial towards western regimes since 2003, and closely cooperated with the CIA against Islamist terrorism. But when the “Arab Spring” swept the region in 2011, some western leaders (headed by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, but including the always hawkish Hillary Clinton) convinced themselves that Gadhafy’s fall was imminent, and so it would be best to assist the opposition in deposing him and thus get into the good graces of any successors.

The UN Security Council approved a resolution to establish a no-fly zone for the protection of civilians from Gadhafy’s supposedly genocidal troops. But what NATO unleashed was something quite different: a war on Gadhafy, which led to his brutal murder and to the horrible chaos that has reigned since in Libya, now a reliable base for al-Qaeda and ISIL. Russia and China both protested, as the war was still underway, that NATO had distorted the meaning of the UN resolution. It’s unlikely that the two Security Council permanent members will be fooled again into such cooperation.

We can therefore add the failed state of Libya to the dysfunctional states of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Afghanistan, to our list of NATO achievements since 1991. To sum up: Since the collapse of the USSR, the U.S. and some allies (usually in their capacity as NATO allies) have waged war on Bosnian Serbs, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, while striking targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere with impunity. Russia has gone to war precisely once: for eight days in August 2008, against Georgia.

And yet every pundit on mainstream TV news tells you with a straight face that Putin’s the one who “invades countries.”

What Is the Point of NATO Expansion?

So while NATO has expanded in membership, it has showing a growing proclivity to go to war, from Central Asia to North Africa. One must wonder, what is the point?

The putative point in 1949 was the defense of “Western Europe” against some posited Soviet invasion. That rationale is still used; when NATO supporters today speak in favor of the inclusion of Lithuania, for example, they may state that, if Lithuania had remained outside the alliance—the Russians would surely have invaded by now on the pretext of defending ethnic Russians’ rights, etc.

There is in fact precious little evidence for Russian ambitions, or Putin’s own ambitions, to recreate the tsarist empire or Soviet Union. (Putin complained just a few days ago, “We don’t want the USSR back but no one believes us.” He’s also opined that people who feel no nostalgia for the Soviet Union—as most citizens of the former USSR young enough to remember it say they do—have no heart, while those who want to restore it have no brains.)

As NATO expanded inexorably between 1999 and 2009, Russia responded not with threats but with calm indignation.

Putin’s remarks about the dissolution of the Soviet Union being a “geopolitical tragedy,” and his occasional words addressing the language and other rights of Russians in former SSRs, do not constitute militarist threats. As always the neocons cherry-pick a phrase here and there as they try to depict Putin as (yet) “another Hitler.” In fact the Russians have, relatively speaking, been voices of reason in recent years, Alarmed at the consequences of U.S. actions in the Middle East, they have sought to restrain U.S. imperialism while challenging Islamist terrorism.

In August 2013 Obama threatened to attack Syria, ostensibly to punish the regime for using chemical weapons against its people. (The original accusation has been discredited by Seymour Hersh among others.) Deft intervention by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and the refusal of the British House of Commons to support an attack (insuring it would not, like the Iraq War, win general NATO endorsement), and domestic opposition all helped avert another U.S. war in the Middle East.

But it’s as though hawks in the State Department, resentful at Russia’s success in protecting its Syrian ally from Gadhafy’s fate, and miffed at its continued ability to maintain air and naval facilities on the Syrian coast, were redoubling their efforts to provoke Russia. How better to do this than by interfering in Ukraine, which had not only been part of the Soviet Union but part of the Russian state from 1654 and indeed was the core of the original Kievan Rus in the tenth century?

NATO had been courting Ukraine since 1994—five years before the alliance expanded to include Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Kiev signed the NATO Membership Action Plan in 2008 when Viktor Yushchenko was president, but this was placed on hold when Viktor Yanukovych was elected in 2010. Enjoying the solid support of the Russian-speaking east, Yanukovich won what international observers called a free and fair election.

Yanukovich did not want Ukraine to join NATO: he wanted a neutral Ukraine maintaining the traditional close relationship between the Ukraine and Russia. This infuriated Victoria Nuland, the head of the Eurasia desk at the State Department, who has made it her life’s project to pull Ukraine into NATO. This would be NATO’s ultimate prize in eastern Europe: a country of 44 million well-educated people, the size of France, strategically located on the Black Sea historically dominated by the Russian Black Sea Fleet. An ethnically divided country, with a generally pro-Russian and Russian-speaking east, and a more western-oriented Ukrainian-speaking west with an unusually vigorous and fiercely anti-Russian neofascist movement—just there waiting to be used.

Nuland, a former Cheney aide whose neocon worldview drew Hillary Clinton’s favorable attention, resulting in her promotion, is the wife of neocon pundit and Iraq War cheerleader Robert Kagan. (Kagan was a founding member of the notorious Project for a New American Century “think tank”.) The couple represents two wings of incessant neocon plotting: those who work to destroy Russia, and those who work to destroy the Middle East, consciously using lies to confuse the masses about their real goals.

At the National Press Club in December 2013, Nuland boasted that the U.S. (through such “NGOs” as the National Endowment for Democracy) had spent $ 5 billion in Ukraine in order to support Ukraine’s “European aspirations.” This deliberately vague formulation is supposed to refer to U.S. support for Kiev’s admission into the European Union. The case the U.S. built against Yanukovich was not that he rejected NATO membership; that is never mentioned at all. She built the case on Yanukovich’s supposed betrayal of his people’s pro-EU aspirations in having first initialed, and then rejected, an association agreement with the trading bloc, fearing it would mean a Greek-style austerity regime imposed on the country from without.

From November 2013 crowds gathered in Kiev’s Maidan to protest (among other things) Yanukovich’s change of heart about EU membership. The U.S. State Department embraced their cause. One might ask why, when the EU constitutes a competing trading bloc, the U.S. should be so interested in promoting any country’s membership in it. What difference does it make to you and me whether Ukraine has closer economic ties to Russia than to the EU?

The dirty little secret here is that the U.S. goal has merely been to use the cause of “joining Europe” to draw Ukraine into NATO, which could be depicted as the next natural step in Ukraine’s geopolitical realignment.

Building on popular contempt for Yanukovich for his corruption, but also working with politicians known to favor NATO admission and the expulsion of Russian naval forces from the Crimean base they’ve had since the 1780s, and also including neo-fascist forces who hate Russia but also loath the EU, Nuland and her team including the ubiquitous John McCain popped up at the Maidan passing out cookies and encouraging the crowd to bring down the president.

It worked, of course. On Feb. 22, within a day of signing a European-mediated agreement for government reforms and new election, and thinking the situation defused, Yanukovich was forced to flee for his life. The neofascist forces of Svoboda and the Right Sector served as storm troops toppling the regime. Nuland’s Machiavellian maneuverings had triumphed; a neocon Jew had cleverly deployed open anti-Semites to bring down a regime and plant a pro-NATO one in its place.

It seemed as though, after 14 years of expansion, NATO might soon be able to welcome a huge new member into its ranks, complete the encirclement of Russia and, booting out the Russian fleet, turn the Black Sea into a NATO lake.

Alas for the neocons and “liberal interventionists”—the new regime of Nuland’s chosen Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his Svoboda Party allies immediately alienated the eastern Russian-speaking population, which remains up in arms making the country ungovernable, even as its economy collapses; and the notion of expelling the Russians from Sevastopol has become unimaginable.

But what do NATO planners want? Where is all the expansion and reckless provocation heading?

Russia: an “Existential Threat”?

First of all, the NATO advocates, however often they repeat that “We’re not against Russia, this isn’t about Russia,” do indeed posit an enduring Russian threat. Thus General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, the most senior British officer in NATO, stated last February that Russia poses “an obvious existential threat to our whole being.” Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command told the Aspen Security Forum in July that “Russia could pose an existential threat to the United States.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) warned Obama to sign a military appropriations bill because Russia poses “an existential threat” to the U.S. Philanthropist George Soros (who likes to finance “color revolutions”) wrote in the New York review of Books in October that “Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence.”

These are wild, stupid words coming from highly placed figures. Isn’t it obvious that Russia is the one being surrounded, pressured and threatened? That its military budget is a fraction of the U.S.’s, its global military presence miniscule in relation to the U.S. footprint?

But anyone watching the U.S. presidential candidates’ debates—and who can perceive the prevalence of paranoia about Russia, the unthinking acceptance of the “Putin as Hitler” theme, and the obligatory expression of determination to make America more “strong”—can understand why the expansion of NATO is so horribly dangerous.

People who do not think rationally or whose minds are twisted by arrogance can look at the maps of NATO expansion and think proudly, “This is how it should be! Why would anyone question the need for nations to protect themselves by allying with the United States? It’s alliances like NATO that preserve peace and stability in the world.”

(Some are able to believe that, perhaps, but the fact is the world has become less peaceful and far less stable than it was during the Cold War when the two superpowers checked one another’s moves. Thereafter the U.S. emerged as what a French diplomat has called an “hyper-puissance” or hyper-power intervening with impunity in multiple countries and producing new, often ugly forms of resistance.)

People looking at the NATO map of Europe can mentally color in Montenegro too. A tiny republic on the Adriatic with under 650,000 people, it was formally invited by NATO to submit its membership application on December 2. What other countries have yet to sign?

As mentioned, in 2008 NATO announced that Georgia and Ukraine would join. But their cases actually seem to be on hold. Belarus, wedged between Poland and Russia, has been under the self-styled “authoritarian” President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994. The regime, considered close to Moscow, was targeted by an abortive U.S.-funded “color revolution” in March 2006. The U.S. favored Mikhail Marynich, a former ambassador to Latvia and proponent of NATO membership. (He participated in a closed-door NATO “War and Peace” conference in Riga in November 2006.)

Then there is Moldova, the former Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic located between Rumania and Ukraine. To its east is the breakaway republic of

Transnitria, where ethnic Moldovans are a minority and Russians and Ukrainians make up almost 60% of the population. It is a “frozen conflict” zone. The neocon dream is to ultimately change all their regimes and draw them all into the warm embrace of NATO.

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them

One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

in the Land or Mordor where the shadows lie

What do you do after you complete the western encirclement of Russia? Why, you destabilize the country itself, hoping to slice it up! Russia remains a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nation. There are tensions and secessionist movements to exploit in the Caucasus particularly, but also on the Karelian Peninsula and in Siberia.

If Russia is an existential threat, its own existence is a threat, right? So why not cut it up?

Doesn’t the logic of NATO expansion require an enemy, and doesn’t America lead the world in defeating enemies?

Or if not, isn’t NATO itself the real threat? (After all, didn’t it, in its last major project, totally wreck the modern state of Libya, and as a result destabilize Mali?)

Shouldn’t we welcome tensions within NATO, and failures of member states to devote the required 2% of GDP to military expenses? Shouldn’t we welcome resistance to further expansion, complaints about U.S. arm-twisting, and calls for cooperation with Russia rather than confrontation and destruction?

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: [email protected]


Legendary Member
A yesterday-today perspective, but take with a pinch of salt.....

January 1, 2016
Back to the 1930s: Hitler, Da’esh and the West

by Dan Glazebrook


Whilst Da’esh are constantly being compared to the Nazis, the real parallel – the West’s willingness to build up fascism in order to cripple Russia – is often forgotten.

The recent debate in the British House of Commons on bombing Syria saw the comparisons coming thick and fast. “Daesh are the fascists of our time”, said Labour MP Dan Jarvis; “this is the fascist war of our generation” opined Sarah Wollaston; whilst Hillary Benn rounded off the debate by explaining that “we are faced by fascists” and “what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated”.

The parallels are real: the political worldview of Wahhabi’ism – the ideology of Da’esh, Al Qaeda, and Britain’s number one weapons buyer, Saudi Arabia – does indeed have much in common with that of Hitler and Mussolini. In essence, European fascism was an emotional response to national humiliation at the hands of the so-called ‘Great Powers’ – military defeat in the case of Germany, and a denial of the fruits of victory in the case of Italy. The fascists blamed this humiliation on an ‘enemy within’ whose presence was corrupting the nation and sapping its strength, and who therefore must be purged before rejuvenation could take place. We are all aware of the political programme that flowed from this.

Similarly, by the late 1700s, the Ottoman Empire – which just a century earlier had been ‘at the gates of Vienna’ – was also entering a phase of decline. European military prowess was becoming virtually unassailable, and a series of defeats at the hands of Russia led many Ottoman subjects to wonder what lay behind their apparent weakness. Muhammad ibn Al-Wahb, a radical Sunni preacher from the Nejd desert in central Arabia gave them an answer: the Muslims were being punished for their departure from true Islam. In particular, the presence of rival sects such as Sufism and Shiism – which, he argued, did not even count as Islamic at all – were weakening Muslim power. Only by eliminating them from the caliphate – along with any Sunnis who disagreed – could its strength be restored. It is this thinking that motivates the countless executions of Yazidis, Alawites, Christians and others at the hands of ibn Al-Wahb’s modern-day disciples. Just like fascism, Wahhabism is a politics of strength through ethno-ideological purification.

But that is not the whole story. Neither fascism nor Da’esh drew their strength solely from the commitment of their fighters – rather, the rise of both is inextricable from the Western world’s response to its own economic and geopolitical crises.

In the 1930s, fascism was viewed much more favourably by Britain’s ruling elites than Benn’s statement that “this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini” would have us believe. “What has Hitler done of which we can reasonably complain?” asked Conservative MP CT Culverwell in 1938, a year after the Luftwaffe’s devastation of Guernica. Three years earlier, Mussolini had invaded Abyssinia. Hearing of the pending invasion, Labour Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald wrote to El Duce to inform him that “England is a lady. A lady’s taste is for vigorous action by the male, but she likes things done discreetly – not in public. So be tactful, and we shall have no objection”. These views were not untypical; as historian J.T. Murphy has noted, “It was conspicuous that no government in the capitalist world quivered with apprehension when this new power (Fascism) arrived. The world’s conservatives hailed it with glee, and there was not a Tory who, as he nodded approval of the Hitler and Mussolini method of dealing with the “labour problem”, did not feel confident that in the bargain-basement of diplomacy, he could make a deal with the new anti-Bolshevik champion.” Sir Stafford Cripps, British ambassador to the USSR during World War Two, noted of the interwar years that “throughout this period the major factor in European politics was the successive utilisation by Great Britain… of various fascist governments to check the power and danger and the rise of communism or socialism.” In particular, Hitler was seen as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, and was supported by British and US elites throughout the 1930s for this reason.

And so, too, with Da’esh. The West and its regional allies have been the cheerleaders, patrons and armourers of the Wahhabi insurgency in Syria since its very inception: not despite its sectarian nature, but because of it. A recently declassified US Defence Intelligence Agency document from 2012 revealed that the Pentagon were well aware of the nature of the forces they were supporting, noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of DA’ESH] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria”. The same report predicted the establishment of a “Salafist [Wahhabi’ist] principality” but noted this was “exactly what the supporting powers of the opposition [defined as “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey”] want”. Of course, none of this was revealed at the time – just as Hitler received early support from the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, the Western press was still trying to convince the world that the Syrian rebels were valiant freedom fighters, fighting for democracy and equality.

It was not only rhetorical support that Hitler received from Britain, however. The London Stock Exchange Gazette noted in May 1935 that “Without this country as a clearing house for payments and the ability to draw on credits… Germany could have not have pursued her plans… Time and again Germany has defaulted on her obligations, public and private; but she has gone on buying wool, cotton, nickel, rubber and petrol until her requirements were fulfilled, and the financing has been done directly or indirectly through London…” Indeed, British financing of the Nazi war machine was so extensive that German capitalist and Nazi financier Hjalmar Schacht pointed out after the war that “If you want to put on trial the industrialists who helped Germany arm itself you must put on trial your own industrialists.”

Da’esh, likewise, have been generously funded by the West. The US alone has directly provided well over $1 billion of military support to the insurgency in Syria in the form of training and weapons, much of which has found its way into the hands of Da’esh. And, in terms of its financial flows, London is likely to have played a particularly significant role. HSBC has been repeatedly taken to task by US Senators over its relationship with Al Qaeda’s main banking arm in Saudi Arabia, whilst French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, when announcing a new crackdown on terrorist funding last month, specifically singled out the City of London and demanded the world be “vigilant” with Britain given its reputation. Alex Salmond, former Scottish National Party leader claimed in parliament that “Whenever I ask the Prime Minister about [cutting off Da’esh’s funding], he tells me that he is sitting on a Committee. For two years, we have heard nothing. Little or nothing has been done to interrupt the flow of funds and to identify and stop the financial institutions without which Daesh could not have lifted a finger against us or anyone else.”

But why? Why was Britain so keen to finance Hitler then, and so reluctant to crack down on Da’esh’s financing today? The Nazis were supported, as we have seen, as a bulwark against communism, and in particular as a force to be hurled into action against the Soviet Union. The terrorist insurgency in Syria, meanwhile, was viewed by the West as a means of crippling an independent state with an independent foreign and monetary policy – and in the process, undermining its allies Iran and, once again, Russia. In both cases, the ultimate target was Russia, and by extension the entire non-Western geopolitical project of which Russia was and is a leading part.

This being the case, what lessons can be drawn from the experience of the 1930s and 40s? What policies should Russia pursue in the face of Western-sponsored fascism/ terrorism?

There were three main aspects to Russia’s anti-fascist policy in the 1930s – all of them correct in my view, and all with clear lessons for today.

Firstly, the USSR clearly understood that fascism relied on foreign support, and tried to break the West away from supporting it. Proposals for a ‘grand alliance’ were constantly being put forward to Britain and France. France, especially, was seen as ‘wavering’ in its commitment to German fascism, for obvious reasons, and so particular effort was made to pull France into such an alliance – with some degree of success (the 1935 Franco-Soviet pact). Britain was more of a lost cause, but the spectacle of Britain repeatedly rejecting an anti-fascist alliance did at least help to cut through the rhetoric and expose the British government’s true attitude towards fascism. All of this applies as much to Wahhabi terrorism today as it did to fascism then.

Secondly, if Russia were not able to convince the West to stop supporting fascism, she moved to militarily defeat it herself. Once Germany and Italy had made it clear they would not respect the non-intervention arrangements agreed by the League of Nations over the Spanish civil war, the USSR moved to crush the fascist uprising itself. Similarly, once it became clear that the West would not respect Syrian sovereignty, Russia moved to smash the Wahhabi’ist insurgency directly.

The real masterstroke of Soviet diplomacy in that period, however – and the one that ultimately allowed Russia to defeat Germany – was the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Doing the seemingly unthinkable – a peace treaty with Hitler – not only bought Russia time to prepare for war, but divided Hitler from his former British, French and American patrons. It ensured that Russia would not fight alone when the time came, and would not be fighting an enemy still supported by the West.

I am not advocating a peace treaty with Da’esh here (although Russia’s moves to divide the insurgents and bring as many as feasible to the table is laudable); it is too late for that. That would be like negotiating a peace treaty with Hitler in 1943. Molotov-Ribbentrop was based on the principle that the alliance between fascism and the West had to be broken, and so if the West could not be pulled away from fascism, then fascism would have to be pulled away from the West. By the same token, the alliance between Wahhabi terrorism and the West must be broken. In practical terms, the main regional state sponsors of Wahhabi’ism – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Turkey – must be pulled from out of the West’s orbit. This is obviously easier said than done: Erdogan has thrown in his chips with NATO, and Saudi Arabia was virtually a creation of the British Empire. Yet, their leaderships cannot be blind to the fact that there is no future in hitching their wagons to the West’s flaming chariot. That way lies only destruction – and it is becoming clearer by the day that the West is pushing Turkey to a frontline position in an ever-wider conflagration with Russia. This is not in Turkey’s interests. The true interests of the Turks, and indeed the Saudis – as of all humanity, ultimately – lie in realigning themselves with the global South and the BRICS, rather than continuing to act as the agents of its destruction: the minute they themselves realise this, and realign their diplomacy accordingly, the West’s war games are over.

This article was originally published by RT.com

Dan Glazebrook is a political journalist and author of Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis


Legendary Member
January 25, 2016
Winston Churchill: Britain’s Greatest Briton Left a Legacy of Global Conflict and Crimes Against Humanity

by Garikai Chengu


Sunday marked the anniversary of the death of one of the most lionized leaders in the Western world: Sir Winston Churchill.

The current British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called Churchill “the greatest ever Prime Minister”, and Britons have recently voted him as the greatest Briton to have ever lived.

The story that British schoolbooks tell children about Churchill is of a British Bulldog, with unprecedented moral bravery and patriotism. He, who defeated the Nazis during World War II and spread civilisation to indigenous people from all corners of the globe. Historically, nothing could be further from the truth.

To the vast majority of the world, where the sun once never set on the British empire, Winston Churchill remains a great symbol of racist Western imperialist tyranny, who stood on the wrong side of history.

The myth of Churchill is Britain’s greatest propaganda tool because it rewrites Churchill’s true history in order to whitewash Britain’s past imperialist crimes against humanity. The Churchill myth also perpetuates Britain’s ongoing neo-colonial and neo-liberal policies, that still, to the is day, hurt the very people around the world that Churchill was alleged to have helped civilise.

The same man whose image is polished and placed on British mantelpieces as a symbol of all that is Great about Britain was an unapologetic racist and white supremacist. “I hate Indians, they are a beastly people with a beastly religion”, he once bellowed. As Churchill put it, Palestinians were simply “barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung.”

In 1937, he told the Palestine Royal Commission: “I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

It is unsurprising that when Barack Obama became President, he returned to Britain a bust of Churchill which he found on his desk in the Oval office. According to historian Johann Hari, Mr. Obama’s Kenyan grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was imprisoned without trial for two years and was tortured on Churchill’s watch, for daring to resist Churchill’s empire.

Apart from being an unrepentant racist, Churchill was also a staunch proponent of the use of terrorism as a weapon of war.

During the Kurdish rebellion against British dictatorship in 1920, Churchill remarked that he simply did not understand the “squeamishness” surrounding the use of gas by civilized Great Britain as a weapon of terror. “I am strongly in favour of using gas against uncivilised tribes, it would spread a lively terror,” he remarked.

In the same year, as Secretary of State for War, Churchill sent the infamous Black and Tans to Ireland to fight the IRA. The group became known for vicious terrorist attacks on civilians which Churchill condoned and encouraged.

While today Britons celebrate Churchill’s legacy, much of the world outside the West mourns the legacy of a man who insisted that it was the solemn duty of Great Britain to invade and loot foreign lands because in Churchill’s own words Britain’s “Aryan stock is bound to triumph”.

Churchill’s legacy in the Far East, Middle East, South Asia and Africa is certainly not one of an affable British Lionheart, intent on spreading civilization amongst the natives of the world. To people of these regions the imperialism, racism, and fascism of a man like Winston Churchill can be blamed for much of the world’s ongoing conflicts and instability.

As Churchill himself boasted, he “created Jordan with a stroke of a pen one Sunday afternoon,” thereby placing many Jordanians under the brutal thumb of a throneless Hashemite prince, Abdullah. Historian Michael R. Burch recalls how the huge zigzag in Jordan’s eastern border with Saudi Arabia has been called “Winston’s Hiccup” or “Churchill’s Sneeze” because Churchill carelessly drew the expansive boundary after a generous lunch.

Churchill also invented Iraq. After giving Jordan to Prince Abdullah, Churchill, the great believer in democracy that he was, gave Prince Abdullah’s brother Faisal an arbitrary patch of desert that became Iraq. Faisal and Abdullah were war buddies of Churchill’s friend T. E. Lawrence, the famous “Lawrence of Arabia”.

Much like the clumsy actions in Iraq of today’s great Empire, Churchill’s imperial foreign policy caused decades of instability in Iraq by arbitrarily locking together three warring ethnic groups that have been bleeding heavily ever since. In Iraq, Churchill bundled together the three Ottoman vilayets of Basra that was predominantly Shiite, Baghdad that was Sunni, and Mosul that was mainly Kurd.

Ask almost anyone outside of Iraq who is responsible for the unstable mess that Iraq is in today and they are likely to say one word, either “Bush” or “America”. However, if you asked anyone within Iraq who is mainly responsible for Iraq’s problems over the last half century and they are likely to simply say “Churchill”.

Winston Churchill convened the 1912 Conference in Cairo to determine the boundaries of the British Middle Eastern mandate and T.E. Lawrence was the most influential delegate. Churchill did not invite a single Arab to the conference, which is shocking but hardly surprising since in his memoirs Churchill said that he never consulted the Arabs about his plans for them.

The arbitrary lines drawn in Middle Eastern sand by Churchillian imperialism were never going to withstand the test of time. To this day, Churchill’s actions have denied Jordanians, Iraqis, Kurds and Palestinians anything resembling true democracy and national stability.

The intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict can also be traced directly back to Churchill’s door at number 10 Downing Street and his decision to hand over the “Promised Land” to both Arabs and Jews. Churchill gave practical effect to the Balfour declaration of 1917, which expressed Britain’s support for the creation of a Jewish homeland, resulting in the biggest single error of British foreign policy in the Middle East.

Churchill’s legacy in Sub-Saharan Africa and Kenya in particular is also one of deep physical and physiological scars that endure to this day.

Of greater consequence to truth and history should be a man’s actions, not merely his words. Whilst Churchill has become one of the most extensively quoted men in the English speaking world, particularly on issues of democracy and freedom, true history speaks of a man whose actions revolved around, in Churchill’s own words, “a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples”.

One such war was when Kikuyu Kenyans rebelled for their freedom only to have Churchill call them “brutish savage children” and force 150,000 of them into “Britain’s Gulag”.

Pulitzer-prize winning historian, Professor Caroline Elkins, highlights Churchill’s many crimes in Kenya in her book Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya. Professor Elkins explains how Churchill’s soldiers “whipped, shot, burned, and mutilated Mau Mau suspects”, all in the name of British “civilization”. It is said that President Obama’s grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama never truly recovered from the torture he endured from Churchill’s men.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has proved how in Bengal in 1943 Churchill engineered one of the worst famines in human history for profit.

Over three million civilians starved to death whilst Churchill refused to send food aid to India. Instead, Churchill trumpeted that “the famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.” Churchill intentionally hoarded grain to sell for profit on the open market after the Second World War instead of diverting it to starving inhabitants of a nation controlled by Britain. Churchill’s actions in India unquestionably constituted a crime against humanity.

Churchill was also one of the greatest advocates of Britain’s disastrous divide-and-rule foreign policy.

Churchill’s administration deliberately created and exacerbated sectarian fissures within India’s independence movement, between Indian Hindus and Muslims that have had devastating effects on the region ever since.

Prior to India’s independence from Britain, Churchill was eager to see bloodshed erupt in India, so as to prove that Britain was the benevolent “glue holding the nation together”. For Churchill, bloodshed also had the added strategic advantage that it would also lead to the partition of India and Pakistan. Churchill’s hope was this partition would result in Pakistan remaining within Britain’s sphere of influence. This, in turn, would enable the Great Game against the Soviet empire to continue, no matter the cost to innocent Indian and Pakistanis. The partition of India with Pakistan caused the death of about 2.5 million people and displaced some 12.5 million others.

According to writer, Ishaan Tharoor, Churchill’s own Secretary of State for India, Leopold Amery, compared his boss’s understanding of India’s problems to King George III’s apathy for the Americas. In his private diaries Amery vented that “on the subject of India, Churchill is not quite sane” and that he didn’t “see much difference between Churchill’s outlook and Hitler’s.”

Churchill shared far more ideologically in common with Hitler than most British historians care to admit. For instance, Churchill was a keen supporter of eugenics, something he shared in common with Germany’s Nazi leadership, who were estimated estimated to have killed 200,000 disabled people and forcibly sterilised twice that number. Churchill drafted a highly controversial piece of legislation, which mandated that the mentally ill be forcibly sterilized. In a memo to the Prime Minister in 1910, Winston Churchill cautioned, “the multiplication of the feeble-minded is a very terrible danger to the race”. He also helped organise the International Eugenics Conference of 1912, which was the largest meeting of proponents of eugenics in history.

Churchill had a long standing belief in racial hierarchies and eugenics. In Churchill’s view, white protestant Christians were at the very top of the pyramid, above white Catholics, while Jews and Indians were only slightly higher than Africans.

Historian, Mr. Hari, rightfully points out, “the fact that we now live in a world where a free and independent India is a superpower eclipsing Britain, and a grandson of the Kikuyu ‘savages’ is the most powerful man in the world, is a repudiation of Churchill at his ugliest – and a sweet, ironic victory for Churchill at his best.”

Amid today’s Churchillian parades and celebratory speeches, British media and schoolbooks may choose to only remember Churchill’s opposition to dictatorship in Europe, but the rest of the world cannot choose to forget Churchill’s imposition of dictatorship on darker skinned people outside of Europe. Far from being the Lionheart of Britain, who stood on the ramparts of civilisation, Winston Churchill, all too often, simply stood on the wrong side of history.

Churchill is indeed the Greatest Briton to have ever lived, because for decades, the myth of Churchill has served as Britain’s greatest propaganda tool to bolster national white pride and glorify British imperial culture.

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on [email protected].

Dirty Dragon

Well-Known Member
A history of the atrocities committed against Germany at the closing of WW2. While this documentary lacks historical or military context, it does illustrate the policy of systematic large scale terrorism unleashed deliberately on German civilians in order to permanently break the spirit of the nation.


Dynamite Joe

Well-Known Member
On September 11th 1973 a military coup orchestrated by the Nixon administration and the CIA was started by Augusto Pinochet which removed the democratically elected leader of Chile. This film recounts the event from witnesses and archive footage of 'The Other 911'.



Legendary Member
A history of the atrocities committed against Germany at the closing of WW2. While this documentary lacks historical or military context, it does illustrate the policy of systematic large scale terrorism unleashed deliberately on German civilians in order to permanently break the spirit of the nation.

From my perspective not as nearly as what Germans deserved.

They can cry me a river.


Legendary Member
Much of the extremism that brought about the holocaust can be traced back to the treaty of Versailles and its abuses of the German people. Violence begets violence.

Gypsies, Jews, Slavs, mentally handicapped Germans, etc ... have nothing to do with Treaty of Versailles and whatever violence you are talking about.

Dirty Dragon

Well-Known Member
Gypsies, Jews, Slavs, mentally handicapped Germans, etc ... have nothing to do with Treaty of Versailles and whatever violence you are talking about.

The masses of German civilians, women, and children who were deliberately firebombed in allied air raids had nothing to do with Gypsies, Jews Slavs etc. Of course I don't expect you to condemn the strategy of mass displacing civilians ;)


Legendary Member
The masses of German civilians, women, and children who were deliberately firebombed in allied air raids had nothing to do with Gypsies, Jews Slavs etc. Of course I don't expect you to condemn the strategy of mass displacing civilians ;)

This came after and deservedly so, as I said earlier - from my point of view they can cry me a river.

Dynamite Joe

Well-Known Member
Gypsies, Jews, Slavs, mentally handicapped Germans, etc ... have nothing to do with Treaty of Versailles and whatever violence you are talking about.

I'm not making excuses for Nazi atrocities. What I should have said more accurately is oppression begets extremism. The Versailles Treaty was oppressive of the German people, who didn't deserve it. It created the conditions for fascism to rise and seize power. A lesson Israel should have learnt from with its treatment of the Palestinians. Much of the extremism in Palestine today is because of your oppressive ways.


Legendary Member
I'm not making excuses for Nazi atrocities. What I should have said more accurately is oppression begets extremism. The Versailles Treaty was oppressive of the German people, who didn't deserve it. It created the conditions for fascism to rise and seize power. A lesson Israel should have learnt from with its treatment of the Palestinians. Much of the extremism in Palestine today is because of your oppressive ways.

I understood exactly what you meant, I was waiting to this old "palestinian" canard to come up eventually.

Regarding so called Palestinians:

First of all, contemporary (Arafat's/Andropov's) Palestinians are Arabs who are occupiers of Jewish land and who did not wish to share and do not wish still - not the same as situation with Nazi Germany, is it.

Second, Jews have offered peace and coexistence great many times and every time offer was refused - not the same as situation with Nazi Germany, is it.

Third, Jews are not killing Arabs just because Arabs happened to be - not the same as situation with Nazi Germany, is it.

Fourth, Jews did not try to kill Germans just for the heck of it - not the same as situation with dear "Palestinians", is it.

Fifth, Jews did not commit atrocities against Germans - not the same as situation with dear "Palestinians", is it.

Sixth, Jews are not trying to build Arabrein/Arabfrei state (btw, Abu Mazen stated many times that he wants Judenfrei in "Palestine") - not the same as situation with Nazi Germany, is it.

Looks like your comparison not quite as valid as you thought it would be.

Dynamite Joe

Well-Known Member
I understood exactly what you meant, I was waiting to this old "palestinian" canard to come up eventually.

Regarding so called Palestinians:

First of all, contemporary (Arafat's/Andropov's) Palestinians are Arabs who are occupiers of Jewish land and who did not wish to share and do not wish still - not the same as situation with Nazi Germany, is it.

Second, Jews have offered peace and coexistence great many times and every time offer was refused - not the same as situation with Nazi Germany, is it.

Third, Jews are not killing Arabs just because Arabs happened to be - not the same as situation with Nazi Germany, is it.

Fourth, Jews did not try to kill Germans just for the heck of it - not the same as situation with dear "Palestinians", is it.

Fifth, Jews did not commit atrocities against Germans - not the same as situation with dear "Palestinians", is it.

Sixth, Jews are not trying to build Arabrein/Arabfrei state (btw, Abu Mazen stated many times that he wants Judenfrei in "Palestine") - not the same as situation with Nazi Germany, is it.

Looks like your comparison not quite as valid as you thought it would be.

Jewish land? In the mind of Judeo-fascists and their apocalyptic allies in America's bible belt.

The occupied and oppressed don't have to accept the terms of the occupier.

If the Arabs were Jews, you wouldn't be oppressing them so it's no different than fascists.

At the beginning of your post, when you praised the starvation and oppression of the German people prior to WW2, and later the indiscriminate but organized killing of innocent civilians, you rendered yourself unfit to discuss issues of morality.


Legendary Member
Jewish land? In the mind of Judeo-fascists and their apocalyptic allies in America's bible belt.

The occupied and oppressed don't have to accept the terms of the occupier.

If the Arabs were Jews, you wouldn't be oppressing them so it's no different than fascists.

At the beginning of your post, when you praised the starvation and oppression of the German people prior to WW2, and later the indiscriminate but organized killing of innocent civilians, you rendered yourself unfit to discuss issues of morality.

The only way to peace is to make these two steps:

1. Jews leave Arabia
2. Arabs leave Judea

And step #1 has already been completed.


Legendary Member
March 7, 2016
The West’s Flawed Desire to “Liberate” the Middle East

by Robert Fisk

As General de Gaulle set out for the Middle East in April of 1941, he famously wrote that “towards the complicated Orient, I flew with simple ideas”. They all did. Napoleon was going to “liberate” Cairo, and Bush and Blair were going to “liberate” Iraq; and Obama, briefly, was going to “liberate” Syria.

A magnificent book by the French Saint Cyr Military School historian Henri de Wailly, Invasion Syria 1941, has just been published for the first time in English – and at what a moment. As Stalingrad-size casualties mount in civil war Syria today, here is the story of how the French – and the British — thought they could create “modern” Lebanon and Syria by driving across the border from what was then Palestine and taking over the Levant from the 35,000 demoralised Vichy troops who had been forced since the summer of 1940 to serve Marshal Petain’s pro-German collaborationist regime.

It turned out rather differently, but some things never change in the eyes of the Westerner. Here, for example, is Vichy General Tony Albord on the local Alawite and Lebanese soldiers he commanded – the Alawites, of course, being the same Shia sect to which today’s President Bashar al-Assad of Syria belongs. “The Alawite soldier is capable,” Albord wrote, “the Syrian simple and disciplined, but anti-authority, easily upset and uncultured. His martial spirit is reduced. The Lebanese are conscientious mercenaries, civilians dressed in military uniform. The Lebanese and Syrian middle classes have no esteem for the army; their sons must be lawyers.”

And so they still must be. But back in 1941, things went badly wrong for de Gaulle’s tiny Free French army. The “Army of the Levant” – officially fighting for Vichy France – did not surrender. Anxious to avoid the shame of the French military collapse before the Nazi Wehrmacht in April and May of 1940, it fought with great bravery against both de Gaulle’s rag-tag army and the British and Australians who accompanied them.

The Australians and the Vichy soldiers both hated de Gaulle’s men, and the British also distrusted the Free French. Almost the entire Vichy force – invited to join de Gaulle’s forces to save “the honour of France” – chose to be repatriated to their half-occupied country, many of them in a ship displaying a large banner upon which was written “Vive Petain”.

For the first time, we have this sorry tale written not just from British but from Vichy French archives, wherein we learn that out of 37,000 men fighting for Vichy, 32,380 chose to return to Petainist France, just 5,848 joining the Free French – but 66 per cent of them were African troops who had no interest in the European war. And among the Frenchmen to join de Gaulle, “many were married to Lebanese Christian women and had created families locally that they could not abandon.” Astonishingly, more than a hundred Free French deserted de Gaulle and were smuggled home to France – half of which was occupied by the Nazis – along with their Vichy comrades.

And here, a remarkable coincidence. As I was reading de Wailly’s book, I took a call from British artist Tom Young – the same painter whose efforts to save Beirut’s Ottoman “Pink House” were recorded in this column two months ago – who told me that he’s now trying to preserve the magnificent 1873 Boustani House in a Christian suburb of Beirut. It was built by a Lebanese banker, Salim el-Boustan, whose wife Adele – owner of one of the first pianos in Lebanon (it still survives) – had six children, one of them a beautiful daughter called Georgette.

Back again now to the 1941 Allied invasion of Lebanon. Among the British forces was Sergeant Major Frank Armour, almost certainly fighting in a Scottish Commando unit that was badly hit in the first stages of the attack. He and his fellow officers arrived in “liberated” Beirut and were billeted on the top two floors of Salim Boustani’s home, and last week I walked through their rooms with their beautiful Italian architrave window frames and views over the Mediterranean, a glorious olive garden and banana plantation next door.

But like the French soldiers who married Lebanese women and chose to stay in Lebanon, Frank Armour — whose father was Scots and mother Russian — fell passionately in love with the gorgeous Georgette, married her, and lived on in the Ottoman mansion for the rest of his life. Behind the garden is a Phoenician tomb.

Frank died not long afterwards, the civil war still exploding around the house, Georgette less than a decade ago.

The house was sold to a Kuwaiti and then to a Syrian, Nader Kalai, CEO of the Syrian mobile phone company, Syriatel, and a chum of – you guessed it — Bashar al-Assad.

But you’ve got to be careful in the Middle East. Bashar has accepted Russian military support and may well survive. General Dentz, the Vichy commander in Lebanon, was forced to allow the German Luftwaffe to refuel at French airfields in Lebanon and Syria — at Aleppo, right beside the airfield that is mortared by Nusrah Front rebels to this day — and to hand over weapons to pro-Nazis in Iraq; he was sentenced to death by de Gaulle’s courts in 1944. A Saint Cyr man and a convinced anti-Nazi, he tried to uphold the “honour of France” but as a soldier, he obeyed Marshal Petain and only de Gaulle saved him from execution. Dentz’s army fought so well against the Allies that its exploits have hitherto been largely expunged from French and British – and Australian — histories of the period.

Dentz did not face the firing squad, but he died a slow death, deliberately brought about by a nation which imprisoned him in dank, freezing cells, dripping with water. On 22 November 1955, he wrote in his diary: “They have taken away my overcoat and scarf…I am writing absolutely numb in mind and body.” December 13: “The walls are running like little waterfalls…the best time is when one goes to bed…and, for a few hours, everything is forgotten.” They were his last words.

Petain shared Dentz’s fate. De Gaulle became president of France. Assad remains president of Syria. Better to be a small soldier, I suppose, like Frank Armour. He, too, came to the complicated Orient. Surely not with simple ideas. I guess he fell in love with the place.

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Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared.


Legendary Member
December 12, 2014
The Easy Lesson of World War I
by Jean Bricmont

There at least two things that are easier to start than to end: a love affair and a war. No participant in WWI expected it to last as long as it it did or to have the consequences that it had. All the empires that participated in the war were destroyed, including eventually the British and French ones.

Not only that, but one war leads to another. The British philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell remarked that the desire of the European monarchs to crush the French Revolution led to Napoleon; the Napoleonic wars produced German nationalism that itself led to Bismarck, the French defeat at Sedan and the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. That in turn fueled French revanchism that gave rise, after World War I, to the Versailles Treaty, whose inequities gave a strong boost to Nazism and Hitler. Russell ended the story there, but it continues. Hitler’s defeat gave rise to the Cold War and the creation of Israel. The Western “victory” in the Cold War led to the current desire to crush Russia once and for all. As for Israel, its creation produced endless strife and an intractable situation in the Middle East.

What is the way out of this dialectic? I would suggest the idea of institutional pacifism. Not pacifism in the sense of refusing violence under any circumstance, or as amoral exhortation, but in the sense of building institutions that can help the preservation of peace. The United Nations and its charter, at least as it was originally conceived, is probably the best example of such an institution.

The very starting point of the United Nations was to save humankind from “the scourge of war”, with reference to the two World Wars. This goal was to be achieved by defending the principle of the equal sovereignty of all states, in order to prevent Great Powers from intervening militarily against weaker ones, regardless of the pretext. But since there is no international police to enforce international law, it can only be enforced by a balance of power and, most importantly, by the pressure of the citizens of the various countries to constrain their governments to adhere to common rules.

However, the way the end of the Cold war was interpreted in the West, as an unilateral victory of Good against Evil, led to a total disregard for international law or even for caution and diplomacy in the West. This was a consequence of the ideology of human rights and of the right of humanitarian military intervention that was developed by influential Western intellectuals, starting from the mid-70’s, who were often supporters of Israel, which may seem odd given Israel’s human rights record.

This “right” of humanitarian intervention has been universally rejected by the majority of mankind, for example at the South Summit in Havana in April 2000 or at the meeting of the Non Aligned Movement in Kuala Lumpur in February 2003, shortly before the US attack on Iraq, which issued the following declaration: “The Heads of State or Government reiterated the rejection by the Non-Aligned Movement of the so-called ‘right’ of humanitarian intervention, which has no basis either in United Nations Charter or in international law” and “also observed similarities between the new expression ‘responsibility to protect’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’ and requested the Co-ordinating Bureau to carefully study and consider the expression ‘the responsibility to protect’ and its implications on the basis of the principles of non-interference and non-intervention as well as the respect for territorial integrity and national sovereignty of States.” But in the West, this right of intervention is almost universally accepted.

The reason for this opposition of views is probably that the rest of the world has a very different memory than the West about the latter’s interventions in the internal affairs of other countries.

US intervention is multi-faceted but constant and always violates the spirit and often the letter of the United Nations charter. Despite claims to act on behalf of principles such as freedom and democracy, US intervention has repeatedly had disastrous consequences: not only the millions of deaths caused by direct and indirect wars, in Indochina, Central America, Southern Africa and the Middle East, but also the lost opportunities, the “killing of hope” for hundreds of millions of people who might
have benefited from progressive social policies initiated by people like Arbenz in Guatemala, Goulart in Brazil, Allende in Chile, Lumumba in the Congo, Mossadegh in Iran, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, or Chavez in Venezuela, who have been systematically subverted, overthrown or killed with full Western support.

But that is not all. Every aggressive action led by the United States creates a reaction. Deployment of an anti-missile shield produces more missiles, not less.

Bombing civilians – whether deliberately or by so-called “collateral damage” – produces more armed resistance, not less. Trying to overthrow or subvert governments produces more internal repression, not less. Encouraging secessionist minorities by giving them the often false impression that the sole Superpower will come to their rescue in case they are repressed, leads to more violence, hatred and death, not less. Surrounding a country with military bases produces more defense spending by that country, not less. The possession of nuclear weapons by Israel encourages other states of the Middle East to acquire such weapons.

The ideology of humanitarian intervention is actually part of a long history of Western attitudes towards the rest of the World. When Western colonialists landed on the shores of the Americas, Africa or Eastern Asia, they were shocked by what we would now call violations of human rights, and which they called “barbaric mores” – human sacrifices, cannibalism, women forced to bind their feet. Time and again, such indignation, sincere or calculating, has been used to justify or to cover up the crimes of the Western powers: the slave trade, the extermination of indigenous peoples and the systematic stealing of land and resources. This attitude of righteous indignation continues to this day and is at the root of the claim that the West has a “right to intervene” and a “right to protect”, while turning a blind eye to oppressive regimes considered “our friends”, to endless militarization and wars, and to massive exploitation of labor and resources.

The West should learn from its past history. What would that mean concretely?

Well, first of all, guaranteeing the strict respect for international law on the part of Western powers, implementing the UN resolutions concerning Israel, dismantling the worldwide US empire of bases as well as NATO, ceasing all threats concerning the unilateral use of force, lifting unilateral sanctions, stopping all interference in the internal affairs of other States, in particular all operations of “democracy promotion”, “color” revolutions, and the exploitation of the politics of minorities. This necessary respect for national sovereignty means that the ultimate sovereign of each nation state is the people of that state, whose right to replace unjust governments cannot be taken over by supposedly benevolent outsiders.

Proponents of humanitarian intervention claim that this is interventionism is done by the international community. But nowadays, there is no such thing as a genuine international community. Actually, nothing can better illustrate the hypocrisy of the the human right ideology than the contrast between the West’s reaction to Kosovo’s demands for independence and to the Eastern Ukrainian’s demand for autonomy. There is refusal to negotiate in both cases, but with total support for independence in one case and total opposition to autonomy in the other.

The promoters of humanitarian intervention present it as the beginning of a new era; but in fact it is the end of an old one. The major social transformation of the 20th century has been decolonization. It continues today in the elaboration of a genuinely democratic, multipolar world, one where the sun will have set on the US empire, just as it did on the old European ones.

The viewpoints expressed here are shared by millions of people in the “West”. This is unfortunately not reflected in our media. In the recent anti-Russian hysterical campaigns, our media seem to have totally abandoned the critical spirit of the Enlightenment that the West claims to uphold. The human rights ideology, which portrays us as being good versus them being bad, has the characteristic of all religious faiths, and is particularly fanatic. Let us not forget, among all the criticisms of secularism that I have heard here, that in World War I, all sides thought that they had God on their side, although, a far as I know, the Almighty was not kind enough to let us know on which side he was. Maybe he was too busy putting in heaven and hell the souls of the deceased soldiers who died invoking his name. The human rights ideology has replaced the old faiths, but it functions as a religion, and is the basis of a new nationalism, the one of the US and of the EU.

Some people think that all this ideological agitation and warmongering is due to rational economic calculations by cynical profiteers. I think this view is too optimistic and ignores, to quote Russell again, “the ocean of human folly upon which the fragile barque of human reason insecurely floats”. Wars have been waged for all kinds of non-economic reasons, such as religion or revenge, or simply to display power.

If the citizens of the West do not manage to mobilize themselves against their governments and their media in order to stop the current madness, it will be up to other countries to fulfill that role. It is to be hoped that they can achieve that task without adding another bloody chapter to the history that started with the desire of the European monarchs to crush the French Revolution.

JEAN BRICMONT teaches physics at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is author of Humanitarian Imperialism. He can be reached at [email protected]


Legendary Member
Revisiting Stalingrad: An Inside Look at World War II's Bloodiest Battle
By Michael Sontheimer
Frank Interviews With Red Army Soldiers Shed New Light on Stalingard - SPIEGEL ONLINE

A German historian has published a collection of unusually candid interviews with members of the Red Army that provides the first precise account of the battle of Stalingrad from the perspective of ordinary soldiers. They show that this chapter in history deserves a reappraisal.


At dawn on Jan. 31, 1943, the bloodiest battle of World War II came to an end for the top German commander in Stalingrad. Russian soldiers stood at the entrance to the basement of the Univermag department store in which the top-ranking German officers, including supreme commander Friedrich Paulus, had taken refuge. One day earlier, Adolf Hitler had promoted the leader of the German troops in Stalingrad to the rank of field marshal -- not so much as a sign of recognition as an implicit order to end his life rather than allow himself to be captured.

Lieutenant Colonel Leonid Vinokur was the first to catch sight of Paulus: "He lay on the bed when I entered. He lay there in his coat, with his cap on. He had two-week-old beard stubble and seemed to have lost all courage." The final hideout of the commander of the German 6th Army resembled a latrine. "The filth and human excrement and who knows what else was piled up waist-high," Major Anatoly Zoldatov went on record as saying, adding: "It stank beyond belief. There were two toilets and signs above them both that read: 'No Russians allowed'."
It was only after a while that the Germans were forced to hand over their weapons. "They could have easily shot themselves," said Major General Ivan Burmakov. But Paulus and his staff chose not to do that. "They had no intention of dying -- they were such cowards. They didn't have the courage to die," said eyewitness Burmakov.

A Turning Point

The battle of Stalingrad marked a psychological turning point in Nazi Germany's war of conquest and annihilation. "The news from Stalingrad had a shock effect on the German people," admitted the Reich minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, on Feb. 4, 1943. As British historian Eric Hobsbawm summed up the situation: "From Stalingrad, everyone knew that the defeat of Germany was only a question of time."

Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives in the duel for prestige between the two dictators, Hitler and Stalin. Some 60,000 German soldiers died in the siege. Of the 110,000 German prisoners captured in Stalingrad, only some 5,000 ever returned home. On the Soviet side, between half a million and 1 million Red Army soldiers died.

Now, nearly 70 years later, it's possible to grasp with unprecedented clarity how the victors experienced this fateful battle on the Volga River. These new insights were originally the work of Moscow historian Isaak Izrailevich Mints. In 1941, he founded the Commission on the History of the Patriotic War. The idea was for everyone in the armed forces, from common soldiers to high-ranking officers, to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences as a model for others -- but with no embellishments.

In 1943, three historians interviewed over 20 Soviet soldiers who were on hand when Paulus and his men were captured. This is the first precise account of this event from the perspective of ordinary soldiers.

Researchers conducted interviews with a total of 215 combatants in Stalingrad -- some during the battle and some shortly thereafter. Some of the statements reflect the official character of the interview situation, but the soldiers also spoke of their fears and cowardice, and even criticized decisions by their superiors.

The accounts were so candid that the Communists later only published a small portion of them. After 1945, the Soviet leadership was not interested in impressions of bloody battles, but rather in glorified heroic epics in which Stalin played the leading role. The roughly 5,000 protocols compiled by the historians' commission disappeared into the history department archives at the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In 2001, German historian Jochen Hellbeck, who teaches at Rutgers University in New Jersey, heard about this treasure. Seven years later, he was able to secure over 10,000 pages in Moscow.

A New Version of Events

Hellbeck has now published "Die Stalingrad-Protokolle" (or "The Stalingrad Protocols"), which consist of interviews, including in some cases photos of the interviewed soldiers, along with background information on the interviews. In light of these documents, the history of the Battle of Stalingrad may not have to be rewritten, but it does need correcting on a number of points. These latest findings completely undermine the argument -- put forward by the Nazis and repeated by the West during the Cold War -- that the Red Army soldiers only fought so fiercely because they would have otherwise been shot by members of the secret police.

There is no doubt that there were executions on the front. Lieutenant General Vasily Chuikov, supreme commander of the 62nd Army, personally told historians how he dealt with "cowards": "On Sept. 14, I shot the commander and commissar of a regiment, and shortly thereafter I shot two brigade commanders and commissars. They were all astonished."

But the extent of the executions had apparently been overestimated. For instance British historian Antony Beevor cites over 13,000 executed Red Army soldiers in Stalingrad alone. By contrast, documents discovered in Russian archives show that there had been fewer than 300 executions by mid-October 1942.

The "Stalingrad Protocols" reveal that the Soviet soldiers' willingness to make sacrifices could not be solely attributed to such repressive measures. A key role was played by so-called "political officers,"
who repeatedly assured the enlisted men that they were risking their lives for their people's freedom. They endeavored to motivate the soldiers and address their concerns to boost their fighting morale.

The interviews also show that devoted Communists felt that they had to play a leading role everywhere. Brigade Commissar Vasilyev said: "It was viewed as a disgrace if a Communist was not the first to lead the solders into battle." At the front in Stalingrad, the number of card-carrying party members rose between August and October 1942 from 28,500 to 53,500. Political officers distributed fliers in the battle zone portraying the "hero of the day," including large photos of the honored soldiers. They sent portraits of the award winners to the proud parents
The concept was that this was a people's war. "The Red Army was a political army," says historian Hellbeck.

In addition to lecturing the soldiers on the wartime situation, the political officers engaged them in personal conversations. "At night," said Lieutenant Colonel Yakov Dubrovsky, "the fighters are more inclined to speak openly, and one can crawl inside their souls." Battalion Commissar Pyotr Molchanov added: "A soldier is stuck in the trenches for an entire month. He doesn't see anyone aside from his neighbor, and suddenly the commissar approaches him, tells him something, says a friendly word to him, greets him. This is of enormous importance."

At critical moments, the political officers occasionally also distributed chocolate and mandarines to the demoralized comrades. One of them, Izer Ayzenberg, from the 38th rifle division, used to tour the trenches with his "agitation suitcase." Aside from brochures and books, it contained games like checkers and dominoes.

The aim was for the soldiers to no longer be driven by fear, but instead to use their political awareness to overcome their distress. Consequently, the Communists saw it as a sign of weakness when captured German soldiers described themselves as apolitical. In their opinion, the true will to win could only be developed by those who believed they served a higher purpose. The Communists saw the Red Army as more politically and morally steadfast than the Wehrmacht.

But aside from the agitation and propaganda, it was primarily the Soviet soldiers' hatred of the invaders that boosted their morale to fight the
initially superior 6th German Army. What's more, the Germans flamed this hatred with their brutal occupation. Already on its way to the Volga, the 6th Army made its contribution to the Holocaust. Civilians were terrorized.

"One sees the young girls, the children, who hang from the trees in the park," said sniper Vasily Zaytsev, adding that "this has a tremendous impact."

Major Pyotr Zayonchovsky told of a position that the Germans had abandoned. When he arrived there, he discovered the body of a dead comrade "whose skin and fingernails on his right hand had been completely torn off. The eyes had been burnt out and he had a wound on his left temple made by a red-hot piece of iron. The right half of his face had been covered with a flammable liquid and ignited."

Hell on Both Sides

Before the war, many Russians had admired the Germans as a nation of culture -- and respected them for their engineering ingenuity. Some of the interviewees said that they were shocked by the Germans that they encountered during the war.

Major Zayonchovsky described the nature of a "the Germans" as follows: "The robber mentality has become such second nature to them that they have to steal -- whether they can use it or not."

An officer in the intelligence agency, who interrogated German prisoners, expressed surprise that attacks on civilians and thefts "have become such an integral part of the daily life of German soldiers that the prisoners of war occasionally told us about this without any compunction at all."

According to Captain Nikolay Aksyonov, one could feel "how every soldier and every commander was itching to kill as many Germans as possible."

The sniper Anatoly Chechov recalled in his interview how he shot his first German. "I felt terrible. I had killed a human being. But then I thought of our people -- and I started to mercilessly fire on them. I've become a barbaric person, I kill them. I hate them." When he was interviewed, he had already killed 40 Germans -- most of them with a shot to the head.

It's common knowledge that Stalingrad was hell for soldiers on both sides. But thanks to these testimonies, we now have a vividly clear idea of precisely what it was like in the never-ending house-to-house combat for which the soldiers had not been trained. How ash, dust and smoke robbed them of all orientation. How individual detonations were drowned out by the constant din of the battle. How they fought for days to take individual buildings, where in some cases the Soviets had taken position on one floor, while the Germans were entrenched on another.

"In this street fighting, hand grenades, machine guns, bayonets, knives and spades are used," said Lieutenant General Chuikov. "They face each other and flail at each other. The Germans can't take it." Nevertheless, the Wehrmacht managed at first to take the city, with the exception of a narrow strip along the Volga.

Then the Red Army encircled the Germans, who were only able to receive meager supplies from the air. The German soldiers suffered from hunger and didn't even have warm uniforms to ward off the bitter cold of winter. Commander Paulus exhorted his troops not to give up: "Hold out, the Führer will smash us out," was the slogan of the day. Operation Winter Storm, which sought to break the encirclement, ended in failure. On Jan. 6, Soviet General Konstantin Rokossovsky offered Paulus an honorable surrender. At Hitler's behest, the German commander rejected the offer.

Four days later, the Red Army began to advance and tighten the ring around the city. After 10 days, the Germans had hardly any food or ammunition. When Paulus and his staff allowed themselves to be taken prisoner at the end of January instead of committing suicide or fighting to the death, Hitler flew into a rage.

"The Earth Breathed Fire"

The price was also high for the winners of the battle. Vasily Zaytsev, for instance -- without a doubt the Red Army's best sniper at Stalingrad -- claimed that he shot 242 Germans, but made the following, sobering comment: "You often have to remember, and the memory has a powerful impact," he said one year after the battle. "Now, I have unsteady nerves and I'm constantly shaking."

His comrade Aksyonov added: "These five months experienced in Stalingrad were the equivalent of five years in our subsequent lives." It seemed to him that "the earth in Stalingrad breathed fire for days." These are things that the Communists simply didn't want to hear after the war. An "informative, historic book written by the battle participants themselves," as championed by the historian Mints, was never published. During Stalin's anti-Semitic purges, Mints was even stripped of his professorship, allegedly for being a "rootless cosmopolitan." It was only after the dictator's death that he was rehabilitated. He hid the interview protocols.

Hellbeck, who found them along with Russian colleagues, is already planning to release the next volume of interviews, this time focusing on the German military occupation of the Soviet Union. The Russian edition of the "Stalingrad Protocols" is due to be published next year.

Translated from the German by Paul Cohen


Legendary Member
Long but worthwhile read.
More so on the origins of the EU, and France's role v.US/UK/Germany


July 1, 2016
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
by Evan Jones


Apart from the substantive issues for the European elites of the Brexit referendum victory, two ancillary lessons have been thrust upon us, if we were not already wise to them.

One, the contemptible character of the mainstream media. Two, the crucial importance of historical understanding.

The mainstream media

One, the elite mainstream media, especially the financial media, is intolerable. Tabloids of and for the opinion makers. If one has been inclined to put a peg on the nose and tolerate the smell for the odd bit of useful information, the Brexit coverage should surely show that the daily sacrifice is not worth the candle.

Universal hysteria has reigned. It has been a tsunami of shit.

This from the super smug Financial Times:

“Britain takes a leap into the dark. …Britain’s decision to leave the EU is the biggest shock to the continent since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

The bloody dismantlement of Yugoslavia and the financial coup d’État in Greece were apparently of minor significance.

The Economist, if at times sober, declaimed:

“After the vote, chaos. … June 23rd will be a landmark in British and European history.”

John Lloyd (a contributing editor at the Financial Times no less) blesses Reuters readers with a condescending inconsequential piece titled “… the chaos that will be felt around the world”. Well no it won’t.

Said the Guardian, now running on empty:

“Britain was heading into a period of unprecedented political, constitutional and economic crisis on Saturday night as European leaders stepped up demands for it to quit the EU as soon as possible.”

Beyond ground zero, other countries’ MSM joined in the shock horror clamor.

This from France’s L’Obs (formerly Le Nouvel Observateur), just before the vote:

“Après le Brexit, l’apocalypse?”

And on 24 June:

“Un suicide économique: après le Brexit, la City se réveille en panique”

France’s MSM is now overwhelmingly the plaything of the mega-rich. L’Obs could do well to hone in on the economic suicide perpetrated on its own turf.

Down under, in the colonies, The Sydney Morning Herald (deteriorating by the week with large-scale retrenchment of seasoned staff), dutifully reproduces whatever Anglo-America is saying. Thus the Washington Post appears, with:

“Brexit vote raises global recession fears”

Tabloid-style front page graphics inform us of:

“Anarchy in the UK … Broken Britain as the world reels”

The pot has been simmering, suppressed

Broken Britain indeed. The geographical distribution of the voting patterns highlights a predictable disparity that wasn’t generated the day before yesterday.

The afore-mentioned John Lloyd, from his Oxonian watchtower, declaims (of Scotland and Northern Ireland, but of general application):

“London and the southeast region generate the surplus they help to spend.”

What? As the City funnels its lucre to tax haven satellites (the Channel Islands aptly named), the regions will be appreciative of Lloyd setting the record straight on their mendicancy.

Here is the fundamental problem of the frenzy. The Brexit vote merely reflects a pre-existing condition. Why the supposed shock reaction?

The shock is because ‘the masses are revolting!’ They are supposed to know their place. We, the quality MSM, tell them what’s what, we set the agenda. That we report selectively, that we lie to them as a matter of principle, this is none of their business. It’s their role to take their medicine and be grateful. The universal franchise has been a problem from the beginning; we thought we had it under control, and these wretched people don’t know the rules. Non-stop propaganda not entirely successful, disenfranchisement here we come.

MSM failings have led to the birth of media watch outfits like the British Medialens and the French Acrimed. And now, praise the Lord, we have Off-Guardian, product of the precipitous decline of that once admirable masthead. Off-Guardian nails the MSM’s hysteria:

“You’d be forgiven for thinking that the referendum had been for turning off the sun, banning talking, or killing the first born son of every family in Britain…rather than a return to a state of affairs that has existed for all but the last 40 years of human history. Such is the level of the destruction.”

Thank you and goodnight to the ‘quality’ MSM.

Washington to the rescue?

Before moving on, there appeared an instructive piece emanating from the colonial cringe-worthy political culture in Australia, courtesy of a local academic ‘defense expert’, Stephen Fruehling. We discover that the evil Putin, everybody’s anti-Christ, is the major beneficiary of Brexit: The cad!

“Brexit is a great setback for the security of the Western world … [Fruehling] branded the successful exit vote a victory for Russia, which under Vladimir Putin has been trying to drive wedges into Europe. For Russia, this is a great win as it demonstrates that the institutions that hold together the West are cracking, and can be prised apart … Russia … will be encouraged to step up its corrosive and subversive influence on domestic debates in the EU member states.

Critically for Australia, it would leave Washington less time to focus on its ‘pivot’ to Asia. The turmoil to come can only reinforce the recent tendency of US re-engagement with Europe on the security front. Washington now has yet another crisis to manage in Europe, and will have even less time for allies in Asia.”

‘Washington now has yet another crisis to manage in Europe’? Has our expert let something out of the bag here?

(Real) history matters

But on to issue two – the importance of historical understanding.

Escaping from harsh reality, I was recently watching a re-run of the BBC B-grade copper sitcom, New Tricks, and there was handed down a word of advice from a petty crim to an honest- ex-cop trying to reclaim his integrity from a murky past.

“The past is a foreign country. It’s not a tourist destination. I should leave well enough alone if I were you!”

Quite. And an elitist catechism of general applicability. Leave history to your betters. Control the past and it’s easier to dictate the present.

It’s true that the European Union has been a scapegoat for what Conn Hallinan calls ‘a very British affair’. But the palaver confidently handed down from the MSM over Brexit has universally steered clear of the disaster that is the European Union. A few minor problems, slow to recover after the GFC blah, a refugee tide coming from a whacko sectarian bloodbath nothing to do with us, plebeian xenophobes thrusting for attention, etc.

The strategic myopia, the dishonesty regarding the stench emanating from Brussels is comprehensive. And that’s before TAFTA is promulgated.

The conventional wisdom is that (Inigo Thomas, LRB): “The European Union was formed with the idea of diminishing the power of any country to wage war; the nation state was believed to be part of the problem.” In this regard, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman are credited as key visionaries and progenitors of economic integration, the ‘fathers’ of the European Union.

The New York Times’ Roger Cohen, long time European correspondent, has been an ardent expositor of this line, allowing him to blithely ignore the trajectory of Europe’s damnable flaws.

But the creation of the European Union didn’t prevent war; it merely pushed it elsewhere, with the connivance of the EU’s leadership. This neglected point has been recently highlighted by Joseph Richardson on this site. Europe’s integration into NATO, and its subservience to US imperatives therein, guarantees the institutional artillery for endless aggression. A collectivity of states can wage war as well as a single nation state, indeed with more intemperance, especially under a belligerent hegemon.

What price the conventional wisdom?

A century down the track from World War I has prompted re-examination of its origins and after-effects. Recent cathartic events within Europe (the debacle of Greece, the refugee influx, Brexit) provide the incentive for a re-examination of the origins of the EU.

By coincidence, I happen to be reading Alexander Werth’s France: 1940-1955 (published in 1956). Werth, a Russian-born English journalist, long-time Moscow correspondent, was by then living in France. He is an unjustly neglected author. Werth’s account of post-War French politics is minutely detailed and iconoclastic.

Monnet’s Plan of December 1945 was designed to engineer faster French re-industrialization. It was integrally dependent on German coal (and incidentally German prisoners of war/peace), which involved simultaneously limiting German re-industrialization. In effect, Versailles redux. The results were paltry, not least because Monnet’s ideas (especially regarding French agriculture) were fanciful.

By mid-1948, the agenda was essentially being set by the US, and Monnet fell into line. The priority was to bring what was to become West Germany into the Western camp – vehicle for the West’s own Iron Curtain. The scene was set with the March 1948 Treaty of Brussels which established the Western European Union (France, Britain, Benelux). France’s attempt to appropriate and/or dominate the German coalfields permanently (the Ruhr, the Saar) could no longer be tolerated.

In mid-1949 the US government instructed Schuman, then French Foreign Secretary, that he had to come up with a plan to deal with the German coal problem. Schuman handed the job to Monnet, who handed it to his bureaucrats. Thus was devised the so-called Schuman Plan, which appeared in ‘bare skeleton’ form in May 1950. This was the beginning of the coal-steel pool, to become the European Coal and Steel Community. There appeared for the first time the idea of a federalist Europe and of the creation of supra-national authorities.

The mis-named ECSC was compromised from the start, as Britain (major coal miner and steel maker) declined to join it. Some French envisaged the creation of a ‘third force’ industrial powerhouse that would balance the US and the Eastern bloc. That idea readily succumbed to US interests and British concerns for its sovereignty.

Schuman and Monnet consulted no-one in the French government, and parliament had no idea. The government, parliament and the public were hostile to the plan. Schuman and Monnet themselves were out of their depth. With the US in Korea, the Schuman Plan soon became integrally linked to US pressure for Western European re-militarization through the creation of a supra-national European army, to include German troops.

In late 1950, the US was even considering incorporating Spain into defense of the ‘free world’. The cynics quipped: “If Syngman Rhee, why not Franco?”.

France was naturally opposed, for economic as well as security reasons. ‘Neutralism’ (the then buzz word) was France’s ‘sound instinct of self-preservation’. West Germany at that stage preferred emphasis on the return of its sovereignty and on re-industrialization. So much for facilitating Franco-German cooperation.

Werth reproduces an excerpt from the French press in April 1948, foreshadowing this trajectory:

“The transformation of the Marshall Plan into a Holy Alliance against Communism means that priority is to be given to military aid, and that the European countries will also be expected to increase their military expenditure, thus adding to their inflation. Secondly, it means the intensification of the Cold War. … What its advocates represented a few months ago as America’s way of saving peace at the lowest possible price has now become one of the greatest war dangers since the Liberation.”

But France was broke, thankful for Marshall Aid, bogged down in Indochina (hoping for American support there), and the US and Britain were relentless. In September 1950, President Truman and Secretary of State Acheson announced that Europe had to have sixty divisions, ten of them German. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, speaking for Britain, immediately fell into line. Ditto Schuman, speaking for himself.

The Pleven Government buckled in its proposed 1951 budget, with a planned 75 per cent increase in military expenditure, to the detriment of civil infrastructure. The Radical Party deputy Pierre Mendès-France was excoriating of the government. He noted, citing the truncated original Monnet Plan, that industrial robustness was a precondition for military preparedness and to prioritize military spending would entrench France’s then economic fragility.

By 1953, the French leadership thought that the idea of a European army was dead. The Americans thought otherwise. In January Life magazine brutally lampooned French politics (the American media has been doing it ever since). The incoming Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, known on the continent as ‘Europe’s Bully No 1’, exclaimed (Werth):

“The USA had already spent thirty billion dollars in Europe since the war, and this money had been ‘invested’ in the hope that Europe would achieve unity. But if it was found that France, Britain, and Germany were each to go their own way, it would be necessary to ‘give a little re-thinking’ to America’s policy in Europe.”

In October, a speech by Churchill to the Party faithful, drippingly condescending to the French, claimed that Germany would be rearmed, with or without the proposed European Defence Community.

As the French noted, Britain refuses to be integrated in Europe but wants to dictate, with its US masters, the terms on which France has to do so. The clip from Yes Minister currently doing the rounds has substance behind the farce.

De Gaulle responded in a November speech, contemptuous and prescient:

“Since victorious France has an army and defeated Germany has none [he parodied Monnet] let us suppress the French Army. After that we shall make a stateless army of Frenchmen and Germans, and since there must be a government above this army, we shall make a stateless government, a technocracy. As this may not please everybody, we’ll paint a new shop sign and call it ‘community’; it won’t matter, anyway, because the ‘European Army’ will be placed at the entire disposal of the American Commander-in-Chief.”

On the contrary, de Gaulle considered that it was time to revive the Franco-Russian alliance, given that they remained formal allies. That recommendation went down like the proverbial …

At the December 1953 Bermuda Conference, the French Prime Minister Laniel and Foreign Minister Bidault were profoundly humiliated by Churchill. Eisenhower demanded that the EDC be ratified by 15 March. More, just when finally France wanted to sue for peace in Indochina, the US insisted that it was moving in there itself. Following the Bermuda Conference:

“The demand that EDC be ratified without delay became increasingly peremptory. The agitation against EDC in France became correspondingly more violent. …

“… despite assurances, promises and other ways of keeping the United States in an at least relatively good humour, all the French governments from the end of 1950 (Pleven Plan) till the actual rejection of EDC in 1954, knew that at no time was there a majority in the National Assembly or in the country, to sanction EDC.

“If finally, in 1955, German rearmament was agreed to in a different form, it was only because of two years of ever-growing American and especially British pressure and threats, which, it was thought, could no longer be ignored.”

Mendès-France became Prime Minister in June 1954. By now he feared for France’s isolation from the Atlantic Alliance and sought a compromise proposal in August from his Cabinet on the EDC. Bitter conflict resulted in a series of protocols qualifying the original, which Mendès-France took to the Six-Power Conference in Brussels. Mendès-France was confronted by “a general Anglo-American-German gang-up”, supported by the Belgian Conference Chair Paul-Henri Spaak and the Dutch Foreign Minister Johan Beyen. The protocols were laughed out of court. Spaak concluded the conference (at. 2.35 am) with:

“The failure of this conference is a catastrophe. France will be completely isolated. There will be an EDC without her. Western Germany will rearm … We must, must make Europe. The military side isn’t everything. What matters more is the integration of Europe. EDC is only a step in that direction, but if there is no EDC, then everything falls to the ground …”

Mendès-France defied the will of the Conference gang and immediately took the EDC issue to the Assembly, which chucked the whole thing out again “in a stormy and highly emotional debate”.

There was more fury from the foreign press. Churchill told Mendès-France that Germany would be rearmed within NATO if necessary.

Instructive is the fact that the Nazi General Carl Oberg, supreme overseer in France of Jewish deportations and repression of the Resistance, already condemned to death by a British court, was being tried again in October 1954. If the trial’s disclosures reinforced French public hostility to German rearmament, it was of no interest to Britain or to the US. Earlier in 1954 the British Foreign Office, via the Lord Chancellor, had attempted to prevent the publication of Bertrand Russell’s The Scourge of the Swastika. This skirmish was part of a propaganda battle being waged in Britain over official attempts to forge West Germany as an ally amongst civilized nations.

In June the Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz was overthrown by a US-engineered coup. Le Monde, in September, likened Mendès-France to Árbenz and France as a United Fruit Republic.

In October, the Paris agreements were signed over France’s ‘head’, legitimizing the rearmament and sovereignty of West Germany. On Friday 24 December, Mendès-France took the ratification bill authorizing a German army to the Assembly, which the Assembly promptly rejected. With more fury from London and Washington. Noted Werth, the British Foreign Office “had gone off the deep end”. The Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee also rejected the bill.

During the next week, the Assembly debated for three days. A wise voice said that rearmament was now by the by; the priority henceforth was to stop the bomb! By that stage, exhaustion and resignation had set in. Mendès-France got his ratification bill passed by a bare margin. Having got France out of Indochina, Mendès-France couldn’t bridge the massive gulf between France and its dictatorial ‘allies’. He was out of office within two months.

The EU a Cold War project

In short, the European Union has its origins not in the mutual thrust for economic cooperation and harmonization of interests but as an American-Anglo Cold War project.

West Germany was to be the core of Cold War Europe, and France was to become frankly irrelevant. West Germany (later a unified Germany) became an Atlantic Alliance satrap but in return obtained carte blanche to become, by whatever means, the industrial and economic powerhouse of the Union. More, it would dictate the terms on which closer economic integration took place. France got, as consolation prize … the Common Agricultural Policy.

And sixty years later? For all its evolution, the EU remains a Cold War project. The ex-Soviet satellites – Eastern Europe and the Baltic states – were incorporated into the Union within that ambit. NATO, the replacement for the ultimately unachievable EDC, dictates military and even foreign policy imperatives. Europe bowed to, facilitated, the dismantlement of Yugoslavia. Europe kowtows to US dictates regarding sanctions on Russia over the Magnitsky Affair and then over the Russian response to the coup in Ukraine.

To European subordination to ongoing American-Anglo Cold War against Russia is added its subordination to American-Anglo (plus Israeli) imperatives in the Middle East. Thus Europe signs up for the sanctions against Iran.

The economic cost to European national economies of these sanctions has been significant. For example, it has been estimated that France’s cancellation of the Mistral carriers that it was building for Russia will cost it ultimately losses of the order of €2 billion. France’s loss of markets (especially for autos) in Iran has been significant.

Then there’s the refugee tidal wave, mostly courtesy of those same imperatives. This is the cost of Europe’s subordination, and it is incalculable. And its leaders have yet to put 2 + 2 together.

Out of the blue, the German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has broken ranks, and said, ‘enough is enough’. Is there a sign of a rare rationality amongst the European leadership in the wings?

Lessons from Brexit

This story is removed from the Brexit front line, but it is a large elephant in the room.

Which particular European Union does the Remain coalition and its Continental supporters have in mind when they imply that the European status quo is the greatest thing since sliced bread? And with what conception of Europe will they fight to overturn Brexit?

The Brexit catharsis provides the ideal opportunity to re-examine the history and character of the European Union. No whitewashes this time around please. With this prospect, the mainstream media, on its wretched record, has automatically disqualified itself from the job.

Evan Jones is a retired political economist from the University of Sydney. He can be reached at:[email protected]


Legendary Member
July 8, 2016
From Churchill to Blair: How British Leaders Have Destroyed Iraq for Over a Century
by Garikai Chengu


360b | Shutterstock.com

After seven years, the Chilcot report has delivered a damning verdict on Tony Blair’s role in the war on Iraq, but British Prime Ministers playing a destructive role in Iraq is a centuries old practice.

Britain has used its military might and commercial prowess to subjugate Iraq and control its oil resources for over one hundred years.

Churchill invented Iraq.
The end of World War I left Britain and France in command of the Middle East and the allies carved up the region as the defeated Ottoman Empire fell apart. Winston Churchill convened the 1912 Conference in Cairo to determine the boundaries of the British Middle Eastern mandate. After giving Jordan to Prince Abdullah, Churchill, gave Prince Abdullah’s brother Faisal an arbitrary patch of desert that became Iraq.

Historian Michael R. Burch recalls how the huge zigzag in Jordan’s eastern border with Saudi Arabia has been called “Winston’s Hiccup” or “Churchill’s Sneeze” because Churchill carelessly drew the expansive boundary after a generous lunch.

Churchill’s imperial foreign policy has caused a century of instability in Iraq by arbitrarily locking together three warring ethnic groups that have been bleeding heavily ever since. In Iraq, Churchill bundled together the three Ottoman vilayets of Basra that was predominantly Shiite, Baghdad that was Sunni, and Mosul that was mainly Kurd.

Britain set up a colonial regime in Iraq. British oppression in Iraq intensified and an uprising in May 1920 united Sunni and Shia against the British. Winston Churchill, the responsible cabinet minister, took almost a decade to brutally quash the uprising leaving 9,000 Iraqis dead.

Churchill ordered punitive village burning expeditions and air attacks to shock and awe the population. The British air force bombed not only military targets but civilian areas as well. British government policy was to kill and wound women and children so as to intimidate the population into submission.

Churchill also authorized the use of chemical weapons on innocent Iraqis.

In 1919 Churchill remarked, “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes… It will cause great inconvenience and spread a lively terror”.

Churchill, saw Iraq as an experiment in aerial technological colonial control as a cheaper way to patrol the over-extended empire. Almost one hundred years since Churchill sought the use of aerial technology to cling onto influence over a restive Iraq, Blair’s government began flying deadly drones over Baghdad and Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

To Britain’s imperial Prime Ministers, aviation has always promised to be the trump card, the guaranteed way of keeping native peoples and their resources under control. Arthur “Bomber” Harris, who was to lead the aerial bombardment of Germany 20 years after bombing Iraq, boasted that he had taught Iraqis “that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or wounded”.

The British Royal Air Force maintained its military control over Iraq until World War II, even after Iraqi independence in 1932. Despite formal independence, British political and economic influence in Iraq barely receded.

Britain’s relationship with Iraq has always revolved around the issue of oil. Churchill viewed Iraq as an important gateway to Britain’s Indian colony and oil as the lifeblood for Britain’s Imperial Navy.

Britain established the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) as the vehicle through which Iraqi oil would be exploited. British Petroleum (BP), or the Anglo-Persian Oil Company as it was known back then, was also heavily involved in plundering Iraqi oil.

British oilmen benefited incalculably from Iraq’s puppet regime until the Iraqi masses rose up against British influence. This led to the Iraq revolution of 1958 and the rise and eventual Presidency of Saddam Hussein.

British and US intelligence helped Saddam’s Ba`ath Party seize power for the first time in 1963. Ample new evidence shows that Saddam was on the CIA payroll as early as 1959, when he was part of a failed assassination attempt against Iraqi leader Abd al-Karim Qassem. During the 1980s, the United States and Britain backed Saddam in the war against Iran, providing Iraq with weapons, funding, intelligence, and even biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.

In 2003 the Guardian reported that a chemical plant, which the United States said was a key component in Iraq’s chemical warfare arsenal, was secretly built by Britain in 1985
behind the backs of the Americans. Documents show British ministers knew at the time that the $14 million dollar British taxpayer funded plant, called Falluja 2, was likely to be used for mustard and nerve gas production.

British relations with Saddam Hussein only began to sour when Hussein nationalized the Iraq Petroleum Company in 1972. As a result of Iraq’s oil revenues finally flowing directly into the Iraqi Treasury, the nation experienced a massive windfall when oil prices quadrupled in 1973.

The Iraqi nation grew increasingly wealthy, as oil revenues rose from $500 million in 1972 to over $26 billion in 1980, an increase of almost 50 times in nominal terms.

During the 1990’s, Britain supported severe economic sanctions against Iraq because of Saddam’s increasing resource nationalism. The United Nations estimated that 1.7 million Iraqis died as a result of the sanctions. Five hundred thousand of these victims were children.

The British and American sanctions on Iraq killed more civilians than the entirety of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons used in human history.

Glaring similarities between Britain’s 1917 occupation of Iraq and the modern military debacle in Iraq are too salient to dismiss or to ignore.

They told us that Iraq was a nuclear threat; Iraq was a terrorist state; Iraq was tied to Al Qaeda. It all amounted to nothing. Since the 2003 invasion, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died and over a million have been displaced because of this lie.

Prior to 2003, Iraq had zero recorded suicide bombings. Since 2003, over a thousand suicide bombs have killed 12,000 innocent Iraqis.

Tony Blair recently admitted to CNN that the 2003 invasion of Iraq played a part in the rise of the Islamic State militant group, and apologized for some mistakes in planning the war.

It is important to note that Al Qaeda in Iraq did not exist prior to the British-American invasion and that terror organization eventually became ISIS.

Former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told the House of Commons that Al Qaeda was unquestionably a product of Western intelligence agencies. Mr. Cook explained that Al Qaeda, which literally means an abbreviation of “the database” in Arabic, was originally an American computer database of the thousands of Islamist extremists, who were trained by the CIA and funded by the Saudis, in order to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan.

Blair’s legacy in Iraq is ISIS. Blair has recently called ISIS the “greatest threat” faced by Britain.

Shortly after British general Stanley Maude’s troops captured Baghdad in 1917, he announced, “our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.”

Almost a century later in 2003 Tony Blair said, “Our forces are friends and liberators of the Iraqi people, not your conquerors. They will not stay a day longer than is necessary”.

History has a habit of repeating itself, albeit with slightly different characters and different nuances. Iraq may well go down in history as Britain’s greatest longstanding foreign policy failure.

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Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on [email protected].