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Yemen, Ukraine, and the Hypocrisy of ‘Aggression’

30.03.2015 Author: Eric Draitser



The military intervention in Yemen by a US-backed coalition of Arab states will undoubtedly inflame the conflict both in Yemen, and throughout the region. It is likely to be a protracted war involving many actors, each of which is interested in furthering its own political and geopolitical agenda.

However, it is the international reaction to this new regional war which is of particular interest; specifically, the way in which the United States has reacted to this undeniable aggression by its Gulf allies. While Washington has gone to great lengths to paint Russia’s reunification with Crimea and its limited support for the anti-Kiev rebels of eastern Ukraine as “aggression,” it has allowed that same loaded term to be completely left out of the narrative about the new war in Yemen.

So it seems that, according to Washington, aggression is not defined by any objective indicators: use of military hardware, initiation of hostilities, etc. Rather, the United States defines aggression by the relationship of a given conflict to its own strategic interests. In Crimea and Ukraine, Russia is the aggressor because, in defending its own interests and those of Russian people, it has acted against the perceived geopolitical interests of the US. While in Yemen, the initiation by Saudi Arabia and other US-backed countries of an unprovoked war with the expressed goal of regime change, this is not aggression as it furthers Washington’s interests.

Language Versus Reality

On March 25, 2015 a coalition of Arab states initiated an aerial bombardment (as of writing there has yet to be a ground invasion, though it is expected) of Yemen for the purposes of dislodging the Houthi rebel government which had weeks before toppled the US and Saudi-backed puppet government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The war initiated by Saudi Arabia, along with its fellow Gulf monarchies and Egypt, was motivated purely by Saudi Arabia’s, and by extension the United States’, perceived interests.

Within hours of the commencement of the bombardment, reports from Yemen indicated that dozens, if not scores, of Yemenis had been killed in the airstrikes. Despite the immediate loss of life, to say nothing of the destruction of infrastructure, buildings, homes, and communities, the United States praised the operation as necessary for regional security. Indeed it has been confirmed that, while not providing direct military support in the form of troops or air support, the United States has been intimately involved in the operation.

Speaking directly on behalf of the White House and the Obama administration, the National Security Council spokesperson announced:

Saudi Arabia, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, and others will undertake military action to defend Saudi Arabia’s border and to protect Yemen’s legitimate government…In support of GCC actions…President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations. While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support…the violent takeover of Yemen by an armed faction is unacceptable and that a legitimate political transition…can be accomplished only through political negotiations and a consensus agreement among all of the parties.

So, in Washington’s own words, the aggressive military intervention into Yemen is both legitimate and supported by the US. Moreover, the US has openly acknowledged their direct participation in the campaign in the form of intelligence and logistical support. Exactly what is entailed in “intelligence” and “logistical support” is certainly open to interpretation. Undoubtedly, the US has its covert forces involved in the operation, likely on the ground in Yemen, to say nothing of its vast presence throughout the region.

In fact, it is universally recognized that the CIA has been intimately involved in Yemen for at least the last several years, with CIA Director Brennan having been integral in fostering the relationship. As the NY Times reported in 2012, the Obama administration’s approach in Yemen was “to employ small numbers of Special Operations troops, Central Intelligence Agency paramilitary teams and drones.” It should be further remembered that Hadi himself was handpicked by Washington in the wake of the fall of former President Saleh’s government, and that Hadi, described by the US as the “legitimate” president ran unopposed in a farcically described “democratic transition” sponsored by the US.

Taken in total then, it is objectively true that the United States has been involved militarily in Yemen since at least 2012, propping up their man in Sanaa in order to bolster their geopolitical and strategic position in the region, naturally under the aegis of “fighting terrorism.” So it stands to reason that the White House would refer to the Saudi aggression as legitimate, and praise it as such. It is equally true that the so called “legitimacy” of the military operation, and the Hadi government itself, is dependent on US interests, nothing less.

Now compare the language employed by the US vis-à-vis this war against Yemen, with the talking points endlessly repeated by all US officials, and nearly all media pundits, regarding Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine. Everyone from Republican warmongers like John McCain, to State Department spokesperson (and unwitting comedic icon) Jen Psaki, have all described Moscow’s moves as “Russian aggression.” Indeed, it seems that phrase alone has become something of a mantra in Washington, and on the airwaves of its servile and compliant corporate media, framing the narrative as “clear and unmistakable aggression against Ukraine’s territorial integrity” and other such vacuous phrases.

But consider for a moment the objective facts. Russia’s direct military interests in Crimea, not to mention the safety and freedom of Russian-speakers, was under direct threat after the US-sponsored coup in Kiev toppled the corrupt, but democratically elected, government in February 2014. In response, Russia launched a limited military operation to secure Crimea and its interests. This is critical because this operation was carried out with no bloodshed, no airstrikes, and not a single shot fired. While this aspect may be forgotten amid the din of belligerent shouts and incredulousness from Washington, it must not be forgotten by keen political observers. In point of fact, Russia’s “aggression” in Crimea was entirely peaceful, and as is self-evident, entirely defensive.

On the other hand, the “legitimate” actions of the US, Saudi Arabia and its allies do not constitute aggression. Well, it is clear that the dozens (by now likely far more) of families who have lost fathers and sons, wives and daughters in the airstrikes would certainly call it aggression.

It should also be noted that, unlike in Crimea where the people were given the opportunity to decide their own fate democratically, the people of Yemen are being given no such opportunity. There has been a domestic insurgency for years in the wake of the civil wars and reunification of North and South Yemen, and whatever stability might have been provided by the new Houthi-led dispensation has now fallen by the wayside. Moreover, the notion that Yemen was a functioning country under Hadi would be like saying that France was a functioning country under the Vichy regime. The overthrow of Hadi opened the possibility for a truly independent nation to emerge. This Saudi Arabia and its allies simply could not abide, as it would set a dangerous precedent for its own domestic opposition which, quite correctly, sees the House of Saud as little more than a proxy of the US and Israel.

Consider also the rhetoric of “aggression” regarding Russia’s very limited support for the anti-Kiev rebels of Donetsk and Lugansk. Listening to western media, one would think that Russian military had invaded en masse in those regions and was fighting a war against Kiev’s military. The reality is that, despite dozens of accusations and hundreds of news stories, there is still no evidence of any direct Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine. It is true that there are Russian volunteers and some Russian hardware, but these are hardly evidence of any invasion, let alone even military support of the scale that the US has just authorized sending to Kiev. Even a Russophobic perspective would have to admit, however reluctantly, that Russia’s presence in eastern Ukraine is minimal and indirect.

Now compare that to the outright bombardment using massive military capabilities being carried out by the Saudis and their allies in Yemen. In a matter of hours, this US-backed alliance has employed more military hardware, and wreaked more devastation, than Russia has in more than 12 months. The question of scale is critical. Russia quite correctly perceives a threat to its own borders and interests from the US-sponsored Kiev regime, and it has acted with a great degree of restraint. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, which also perceives a Houthi-controlled Yemen as a threat to its borders and interests, has unleashed a massive military campaign to destroy the movement and effect its own regime change to reinstall Hadi.

It could not be clearer the level of hypocrisy from the US, its allies, and the compliant media. Russia is an “aggressor” while Saudi Arabia is a “defender.” Iran is sponsoring regime change in Yemen, while the US merely supported “democratic forces” in Ukraine. Assad must go, but Hadi must stay. Not to belabor the point, as it is obvious on its face, but legitimacy and illegitimacy is conferred by the US based on its interests, not international law or objective facts.

That this is well known in the non-Western world is undeniably true. However here in the US, and in the West more broadly, the narrative is shaped by those in power who seek to further their own agendas. They choose the words, and they dictate what is and is not acceptable. They are the Ministry of Truth, and the thought-criminals who question their narratives are dangerous subversives and propagandists. In truth however, those who question those narratives are the ones who have consistently been on the right side of history, from Vietnam to Iraq to Libya, Syria, and Yemen. And I, for one, am proud to count myself among them.
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Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

US-led coalition doesn't seek ISIL eradication: Assad

Mar 27, 2015 


In this file photo, released by the US Air Force, a US F-15E Strike Eagle flies over northern Iraq, after conducting airstrikes in Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the US-led military campaign allegedly targeting the ISIL Takfiri militants does not aim to “do away” with the terror group. 

“It is possible that some of these countries don't want ISIS (ISIL) expansion in Syria and Iraq, but they apparently don't want to do away with the ISIS. They want to use this terrorist structure for threatening and blackmailing other countries,” Interfax news agency on Thursday quoted him as saying.

“The so-called 'anti-terrorist coalition' delivers about ten strikes a day in Syria and Iraq. This coalition comprises sixty developed and rich countries. At the same time, the Syrian Air Force, which is relatively small as compared to the coalition Air Force, delivers a lot more strikes every day. Even if you are not a military man, you will understand that it's not logical,” he added.


Noting that a “serious anti-terrorist operation” has not started yet, Assad said, “In terms of politics, an anti-terrorist coalition cannot consist of the state countries that support terrorism.”

Since September 2014, the US along with its regional allies has been conducting airstrikes against the ISIL inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. This is while many of the countries joining the so-called anti-terror coalition, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been the staunch supporters of the Takfiri elements fighting the Syrian government. 

The airstrikes by US and its allies are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against the ISIL positions in Iraq, which started in August 2014. 


Full interview - http://sana.sy/en/?p=33642

Lionesses of the National Defence

  • Syria's female tank drivers: Battalion of 800 women commandos in fierce clashes with rebels on the front-line in Damascus 
  • The women nicknamed 'Lionesses for National Defence' fight in Damascus
  • Part of elite Republican Guard, set up to defend the city and the president
  • After being set up a year ago, 800 now patrol the frontlines of the suburbs 

By FLORA DRURY FOR MAILONLINE  |  26 March 2015

Four years ago, it would have been unheard of for a woman to be part of the Syrian Army, let alone driving one of the tanks and shooting rockets.

But the women pictured here are now part of the Syrian regime's most elite force, the Republican Guard, tasked with defending Damascus' suburbs from rebel attacks.

Women were first recruited to the elite group of soldiers - the only battalion allowed within the boundaries of Damascus - nearly a year ago.

Today, 800 are on the streets of the city, filling in for the soldiers who have been sent out to battle the opposition fighters across the country.

Scroll down for video


Bew: Female Syrian soldiers from the Republican Guard commando battalion sit on a tank during clashes


War: The women are fighting against rebels, who have been demanding democracy since 2011


Unthinkable: Women were only allowed to join the army in 2013, and this group are now part of an elite unit

Nicknamed the Lionesses of Defence, the women patrol the suburbs of the city, monitoring and securing the frontlines with snipers, rockets and machine guns.

The group were pictured this week as they clashed with rebels in the restive Jobar area, in eastern Damascus - just another small battle in a four year war which has left more than 220,000 dead.

But while they look at ease in their new roles, it is a far cry from the Republican Guard envisioned when it was created in 1976.

The battalion - also known as the Presidential Guard - was created specifically to defend the country's capital, and its leaders, from attack.

It is considered the most prestigious of all the battalions with in the armed forced, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is said to have trained with the Republican Guard.

According to the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, only the most loyal are recruited.




Responsible: They patrol the suburbs of Damscus, monitoring and securing the frontlines


Battle: They use snipers, rockets and machine guns in their fight against the rebels, who want democracy


+7

Hardened: A female Syrian soldier fires a machine gun during clashes with rebels in the restive Jobar area

When the war first broke out in 2011, the guard was kept within the city at the start of the war.

But by 2012 it had been sent to fight against the various threats facing Assad's regime: the rebels demanding democracy, and later ISIS.

Damascus now describes both groups as 'terrorists' as it desperately tries to keep a grip on power.

In an attempt to bolster the numbers of his armed forces, Assad decided to allow women to join the army in 2013.

Initially, about 500 women were recruited to guard checkpoints and carry out security checks in an attempt to plug the holes left by defections and casualties in his dwindling army.

'Lionesses for National Defence' guard check point in Syria



Shooting: A female Syrian sniper fights alongside her fellow soldiers during Wednesday's clash

Read more:
"Syria's Praetorian Guards: A Primer" (August 2000)


SOURCE | http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3011838/Syria-s-female-tank-drivers-Battalion-800-women-commandos-fierce-clashes-rebels-line-Damascus.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

HRW Watch report on Syria: Rebels’ Car Bombs, Rockets Kill Civilians

Indiscriminate Attacks Strike Government-Held Areas

MARCH 23, 2015


GET THE REPORT:  Download the full report



Site of a car bomb explosion in the Abbasiyah neighborhood of Homs, Syria, on April 29, 2014.

Opposition armed groups in Syria have indiscriminately attacked civilians in government-held territory with car bombs, mortars, and rockets, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The attacks have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure in violation of the laws of war.

The 79-page report, “‘He Didn’t Have to Die’: Indiscriminate Attacks by Syrian Opposition Groups,” documents scores of attacks in heavily populated, government-controlled areas in Damascus and Homs between January 2012 and April 2014, and which continue into 2015. The findings are based primarily on victim and witness accounts, on-site investigations, publicly available videos, and information on social media sites.

Human Rights Watch documented seventeen car bombings and other improvised explosive device attacks in Jaramana, Damascus countryside, one in central Damascus, six in the Homs neighborhoods of al-Zahra and Akrama, and one in the village of Thabtieh in the Homs countryside. Many of these areas have a high concentration of religious minorities, including Christians, Druze, Shias, and Alawites, who are sometimes perceived to be supporting the government.

The car bombings took place in commercial and residential areas, town centers, and in one case at a cemetery during a funeral. In several instances, two bombs exploded, one shortly after the other, in an apparent attempt to maximize deaths and injuries.

Car bombings have continued, including a twin bombing on October 1 just outside an elementary school in Akrama, Homs that media reports said killed dozens of civilians, mostly children.

In all of the car bomb attacks Human Rights Watch investigated, witnesses said there were no Syrian government military targets anywhere near the site. Besides being indiscriminate, many of these attacks seemed primarily intended to spread terror among the civilian population. No armed group claimed responsibility for most of the car bombings, though the extremist Islamist groups Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State (also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for 10 of the 25 attacks documented in the report.

Armed groups opposed to the government also frequently fired mortars, locally-made rockets, and other artillery into Damascus and its environs and Homs, in apparently indiscriminate attacks that caused numerous civilian casualties. Among hundreds of such attacks on Jaramana, at least six struck at or near schools that were full of children, two hit aid and shelter facilities, and four hit central residential areas.

In Homs, armed opposition groups often shelled populated areas under government control. Although they frequently assert in public statements that they are attacking government forces, interviews with witnesses and visits to attack sites uncovered no evidence of military targets in the vicinity, which would make them indiscriminate and possibly deliberate attacks against civilians.

Some armed opposition groups have indicated in public statements that all means are legitimate to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad, saying that those living in areas under government control may be attacked in retaliation for attacks on civilians in opposition areas, and that populations perceived as associated with or supporting the government are subject to attack.

Witness Statements 

“I stumbled on a torn-off hand on the way. People closest to the car were all in pieces. Then I saw my father’s body on the ground. It was intact, but there was an injury – a hole – on the left side of his chest. His leg was broken, sticking out at an angle. I tried to clean his face and embraced him. I felt his last breath.” – Hani, describing the November 28, 2012 car bombing in Jaramana that killed his father and brother (November 2013).

“I heard a low sound, I thought I was dreaming, then I felt the cement shaking, in a fraction of a second I was squeezed in between the rooftop and the floor… I realized that the small girl [my daughter] that was sleeping next to us died… I didn’t want to go to the hospital before I made sure everybody is alright, but they forced me…in the hospital I waited for them to come one after the other, hoping one of them would come in alive. But nobody did.” – Father describing the death of his wife and children in a suicide attack with an explosive-filled truck on November 4, 2013, in Thabtieh, Homs countryside (November 2013).

“Mona was just finishing kindergarten and preparing to start school. We were talking about buying school supplies the following day. I don’t remember what happened, but when I woke up I was in the hospital and they told me that Mona had died.” – Mother describing a rocket attack on June 5, 2013, in Akrama, Homs (November 2013).

“I was watching TV, my daughter was playing on the computer and my wife was sitting on the floor in the middle of the room when the rocket hit. I was conscious, shouting, but I couldn't move because of the debris on top of me.” – Hady, describing a September 9, 2013 rocket attack in Akrama, Homs in which he, his son, 9, and his daughter, 28, were injured (November 2013).
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Opposition armed groups in Syria have indiscriminately attacked civilians in government-held territory with car bombs, mortars, and rockets, Human Rights Watch said. 
http://www.hrw.org/node/133717

Brian Becker, PSL leader, analyzes US strategy in Iran, Iraq and Syria

Brian Becker speaks at a meeting of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.


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The West Doesn't Want to End the Syrian Crisis: Just to Exploit the Atrocities


Western Leaders Feign Sympathy for a Crisis They Instigated & Intensified:

Obama in 2014 stated “we must… [pursue] the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all,” Senator McCain as well recently said “But what haunts me even more than the horror unfolding before our eyes in Syria is the thought that we will continue to do nothing meaningful about it.” However it is helpful to ask, are our leaders at all serious in their remarks?

Ever since at least as far back as 2005 the US has been financing and training anti-government oppositions in Syria with a view toward regime-change. When members of these US-funded groups complain about their connections to America, concerned over serving foreign interests rather than the national cause, evidence from Egypt shows that they are quickly ousted from membership. (1) 

The ostensible justification for this funding is ‘democracy promotion,’ however we should remember what International Relations scholar John J. Mearsheimer said about Washington’s democracy promotion activities abroad, referring to the crisis in Ukraine he stated “and when you talk about promoting democracy, what you’re really talking about is putting in power leaders who are pro-Western and anti-Russian… promoting democracy, which was all about putting in power pro-Western leaders.”

However, Syria was in the crosshairs of the empire long before 2005. In a speech given in 2007, General Wesley Clark recounts a conversation he had with then Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in 1991 regarding Operation Desert Storm. He quotes Wolfowitz as saying “one thing that we learned is that we can use our military in the Middle East and the Soviets won’t stop us, and we got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes, Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”

In the same speech Clark recounts another conversation he had 6 weeks after 9/11 with an officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in which the officer quotes a classified memo received from the Secretary of Defense’s office which stated that it was US policy to attack and destroy the governments of 7 different countries in the next 5 years, starting with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finishing off with Iran.

Long before any outrage was spurned at Assad’s crackdown of protesters, and long before any pretexts or justifications were concocted, it was already decided that the US would attack and topple the Syrian government, going at least as far back as 1991. The intention of regime change came first, propaganda and pretexts came later.

Further adding to this evidence is the testimony of former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, who stated on television that roughly 2 years before hostilities began in Syria British officials admitted to him that they were ‘preparing something’ in the country. “England was preparing the invasion of the rebels in Syria,” he said, stating that the officials had asked him to participate, to which he refused. “This is to say that this operation comes from far away. It was prepared, conceived, and organized… in the simple purpose of removing the Syrian government, because, in the region, it is important to know that this Syrian regime has anti-Israel remarks… I’m judging the confidence of the Israeli Prime Minister who had told me a while ago: “We will try to get along with the neighboring states, and those who don’t get along, we will take them down.” It is a policy. It is a conception of history.”

Eventually this policy, this conception of history, coupled with the financing of regime-change opposition groups, deteriorating social conditions, and the legitimate need for reforms, culminated in very minor, small-scale and sporadic anti-government demonstrations in Syria in early 2011. The real unrest began in mid-March when clashes between protesters and police occurred in the southern city of Daraa. From that point the conflict began to escalate. Media reports in the West became flooded with news of Assad’s violent crackdown of protesters, and the Syrian government is in no way justified for violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations and brutal military crackdowns, however little attention was paid to the fact that at this time the protesters had as well been armed, and had been attacking the security forces, or the fact that significant pro-government demonstrations also occurred.

In Daraa the unrest began when demonstrators destroyed governmental buildings which prompted a response from the government. (2) It should be noted however that those protesting in Daraa were largely motivated by genuine desires for change and to oppose abuses of power, much like our own Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements in the West, and the courage shown by these individuals to demonstrate in a state where doing so meant harsh and brutal repressions deserves to be honored and commended. However the possibility of foreign involvement threatened to exploit the unrest and usurp the population’s hardships for non-domestic interests, to use the Syrians blood, sweat, and tears to achieve their own self-interested geopolitical goals. Thus while facing government repression another more daunting challenge faced the local demonstrators as well…

Amidst reports of violent crackdowns, Israeli National News on March 21st would report that “Seven police and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday.” The report indicates that although the government’s response had been brutal, the opposition was not altogether peaceful, but instead were armed and firing at police. There were more police killed than protesters in this incident. (emphasis mine)

On March 29th Reuters would report that tens of thousands of Syrians gathered for a pro-government rally, signifying that many in the country continued to support the government, corroborating later polls organized by Qatar which found that the majority of Syrians (55%) wanted Assad to stay in power.

Tens of thousands of Syrians gather for a pro-government rally at the central bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011. CREDIT: REUTERS/WAEL HMEDAN

By August 1st, Israel’s Debkafile intelligence news source, awarded Forbe’s “Best of the Web” award, would report that “[Syrian forces] are now running into heavy resistance: Awaiting them are anti-tank traps and fortified barriers manned by protesters armed with heavy machine guns… Syrian troops encountered armed resistance… there is no shortage of arms.” (emphasis mine)

These were no typical protests, armed with anti-tank machinery and heavy machine guns. How did they accomplish this without significant foreign assistance?

Debkafile would report on August 15th “NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Turkish high command are meanwhile drawing up plans for their first military step in Syria, which is to arm the rebels with weapons for combating the tanks and helicopters spearheading the Assad regime’s crackdown on dissent. Instead of repeating the Libyan model of air strikes, NATO strategists are thinking more in terms of pouring large quantities of anti-tank and anti-air rockets, mortars andheavy machine guns into the protest centers for beating back the government armored forces… the arms would be trucked into Syria under Turkish military guard and transferred to rebel leaders at pre-arranged rendezvous…

Given Debka’s previous report, these heavy machine guns and anti-tank equipment seem to already have entered Syria. This report would go on to state “Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria.” (emphasis mine)

This have since been verified.

It has been an open secret that there has been a steady supply line of arms and fighters from Turkey into Syria, Vice President Joe Biden even admitting as much, and recently Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) veteran Önder Sığırcıkoğlu has stated that all weapons supplies and militant incursions into Syria from Turkey were organized by MIT. Estimates as well attest to the fact that not only thousands, buttens of thousands of foreign fighters hailing from over 80 different countries have made their way into Syria to fight for the opposition. Reports surfacing later would as well detail the kinds of ‘Muslim volunteers’ that were being recruited and supported, Christian rights groups would document attacks on Christians amidst the chants “Alawites to the grave and Christians to Beirut!”, the New York Times would report that the flow of arms was going “largely to hard-line Islamists,” and other reports detailed how the rebels recruited and trained by the US were largely going on to join extremist elements like ISIS.

This all tells us that from the beginning of clashes in March the protesters were armed, and that by August they bore the resemblance of a full-on insurgency incorporated with extremist elements, yet how could this be possible without foreign sponsorship?

The reports also demonstrate that at least by August the West was drawing plans for an insurgency, however further evidence attests to the fact that this foreign intervention actually began much sooner.

In a series of reports in November and December, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, described as credible by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, would break the story that US and NATO, accompanied by hundreds of soldiers, were operating a secret training camp in Turkey to “organize and expand the dissident base in Syria,” since April-May of 2011, where operations were conducted to smuggle US weapons into Syria, conduct psychological and information warfare, and to help funnel intelligence and military operators across the border. Sibel quotes high-level, insider governmental sources from both the US and Turkey, as well as journalists and eye-witnesses on the ground, who had first contacted main-stream news outlets who had refused to cover the story, one BBC reporter even being detained and barred from reporting on the matter. It would be picked up by Turkish and Iranian media. (3)

These accounts, verified by high-level sources and foreign media outlets, further corroborate Debkafile’s reports of NATO arming and facilitating fighters to the opposition, though revealing that this had already begun long before Debka learned of it, and helps to explain the violent nature of the conflicts beginnings, a time when Western media was only reporting on the violence of government crackdowns, refusing to cover this story, and refusing to cover the violence of the protesters, all of this further suggesting that the violent nature of the opposition was largely a product of foreign involvement and that the Western press would not cover this fact.

A month before these revelations in September, WikiLeaks cables of Stratfor communications would attest to the violent nature of the protests “The opposition remains largely nonviolent,” and would go on to verify that the protests movements were incapable of large armed resistance, the kind that Debkafile had reported was already present, without substantial foreign involvement “the opposition is very unlikely to overwhelm and topple the regime without substantial foreign military and financial backing… Without foreign backing, the opposition movement is unlikely to acquire enough money or gain enough traction to acquire large quantities of weaponry, let alone achieve regime change. The movement is simply too small and too ill equipped.” (emphasis mine)

Sibel’s revelations of foreign aid beginning in April, corroborated by reports of armed protesters beginning at the end of March, Stratfor’s assessment that that a viable armed resistance was only possible through substantial foreign backing, and Debkafile’s reports of a heavily armed opposition by August, further verify the foreign hand in instigating and facilitating the beginning of the crisis; without substantial foreign backing the relatively small-scale protests would never have been able to spawn into the armed resistance that they did; the ‘civil war’ was a product of foreign intervention.

Further corroborating these assertions is a PressTV article quoted by Sibel in her reports, which cites Syrian state media detailing confessions made by captured rebels about receiving foreign aid “Confessions by a number of Syrian rebels about foreign-sponsored plans to carry out armed operations and killing ordinary people as well as security forces prove that recent developments in the country are part of an attempt to incite a revolt in the strategic country neighboring the Israeli regime, aiming to overthrow the current government and replace it with a US-backed regime... Damascus blames the violence on foreign-sponsored terrorist groups, with the Syrian state TV broadcasting reports showing seized weapons caches and confessions by terrorists describing how they obtained arms from foreign sources.”

A month after these reports in December another WikiLeaks cable would prove this foreign involvement. 

The cable accounts a December 2011 meeting at the Pentagon between Stratfor personnel and United States Air Force (USAF) officers at the Lieutenant Colonel level, who would detail how Special Operations Forces, presumably from the US, UK, France, Jordan, and Turkey, were “already on the ground focused on recce[reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces.” The USAF officials would state that “there isn't much of a Free Syrian Army to train right now,” further validating the claim that the armed resistance was not domestic but instead was a product of foreign intervention. 

The officials would detail the nature of their mission “the idea 'hypothetically' is tocommit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within,” no mention of freedom or democracy mind you, the goal was regime-change, the same goal behind the financing of opposition since 2005, and they were willing to use violence to do it. (emphasis mine)

That same month Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, would corroborate this information citing CIA sources “NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy… The intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was invoked to justify Libya…

“Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum [sic] on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council... French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause…

“CIA analysts are skeptical regarding the march to war. The frequently cited United Nations report that more than 3,500 civilians have been killed by Assad’s soldiers is based largely on rebel sources and is uncorroborated. The [Central Intelligence] Agency has refused to sign off on the claims. Likewise, accounts of mass defections from the Syrian Army and pitched battles between deserters and loyal soldiers appear to be a fabrication, with few defections being confirmed independently.Syrian government claims that it is being assaulted by rebels who are armed, trained, and financed by foreign governments are more true than false.” (emphasis mine)

Another enlightening revelation is gleaned from the previous WikiLeaks cable, especially in light of the pretexts used to justify the US bombing campaigns. The Lt. Col. USAF officials were acutely aware that bombing was only possible if there was enough media attention on a massacre committed by Assad (read- the false claims that, now debunked, Assad had used chemical weapons in 2013) “They dont [sic] believe air intervention would happen unless there was enough media attention on a massacre, like the Ghadafi move against Benghazi. They think the US would have a high tolerance for killings as long as it doesn't reach that very public stage.” Thus we see that there was an intention to bomb long before any ‘red-lines’ were crossed, long before any ISIL was present, and they needed perceived massacres by Assad to do it. One need only look at Western media headlines to see this playing out in the supreme, laser-like focus that is given to Assad’s bombings, with nowhere near comparable attention given to massacres committed by US-backed rebels, even though death-toll figures indicate that the rebels are responsible for the majority of the deaths overall, and not Assad’s forces. (emphasis mine)

This intention of utilizing mass killings to justify military intervention is well known. In 1997 Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, co-founder of the Trilateral Commission, and current un-official aid and mentor to President Obama, wrote that “[America] may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat… It [a consensus on foreign policy issues during WWII] was rooted, however, not only in deeply shared democratic values, which the public sensed were being threatened, but also in a cultural and ethnic affinity for the predominantly European victims of hostile totalitarianism.” (4) (emphasis mine)

Surely the consensus fashioned from perceived victims of Assad’s government is not the product of a shared affinity with other Europeans, however we can see how the same kind of consensus against hostile totalitarianism has been formed in the case of the Syrian crisis, and further how a US bombing campaign, and overt US military involvement more generally, necessitated this kind of perception amongst the public, something that is well known to high-level policy planners.

Without the hyper-focus on Assad’s crimes, and the complete media black-out of the nature of the armed insurgency, their presence as well as their aggressive actions, a foreign policy consensus for overt foreign involvement in the Syrian crisis would not have been possible.

Following these developments reports started to openly admit the foreign nature of the conflict, however while still portraying it as a domestic ‘civil war’ and not a proxy insurgency. Yet we can see that this representation is not at all the reality, and that this conflict was instigated and started by the very same Western leaders who claim to want to see it end, erroneously blaming Assad for starting a conflict that their actions actually facilitated. Remember that a violent and armed opposition was not possible without foreign intervention, that there was not ‘much of a Free Syrian Army’ present until NATO arrived, that Syria was in the crosshairs of the empire long before any ‘red-lines’ were crossed, and that as soon as Western involvement began throwing money, guns, and foreign fighters into the mix, the clashes between an armed opposition and the Syrian security forces began, and all blame was placed upon Assad because an affinity for ‘victims of hostile totalitarianism’ was needed to ‘fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues,’ and justify Western involvement in the eyes of the public.

How are we then to believe that our leaders are honestly seeking an end to the hostilities, when those very same leaders are the ones who began them? When they as well continually insist on escalating the violence and bloodshed by pouring more money and weaponry into the country? 

The truth is they have never wanted to see it end, lest Assad was ousted and they themselves gained power over Syrian policy-making. The recent calls by John Kerry for a negotiated settlement, if serious, represent a concession from the West that they have failed in their military goals, and are resorting to a political solution as a final resort. Their real intent from the very beginning was always to foment unrest with a view toward regime-change, and then to highlight Assad’s inevitable crackdowns while supporting an armed insurgency against him, obfuscating the fact that there was an armed insurgency of their own making directed against government forces, and to use the violence of the government as justification for further attacks, thus making their attacks appear defensive rather than an offensive, which of course they were not.

Therefore, what occurred in Daraa was not simply an authoritarian regime violently cracking down on peaceful protesters but instead was a situation whereby the violent clashes involved significant foreign involvement. The protest movement was hijacked by foreign powers who would seek to exploit the unrest for their own ends, and therefore the ‘revolution’ was actually anything but, and was instead the result of a proxy insurrection and attack upon the Syrian state by foreign powers which displaced the sincere protest base and eliminated any prospects for actual reforms, reforms which could have been possible had the Syrian people been left free from foreign intervention to determine their own affairs. This is corroborated by the Syrian opposition activist Dr. Haytham Manna who was involved in the uprising since its inception “The first negative result of the use of arms was to undermine the broad popular support necessary to transform the uprising into a democratic revolution… the pumping of arms to Syria, supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the phenomenon of the Free Syrian Army, and the entry of more than 200 jihadi foreigners into Syria in the past six months have all led to a decline in the mobilisation of large segments of the population… and in the activists' peaceful civil movement. The political discourse has become sectarian; there has been a Salafisation of religiously conservative sectors.”

The media would then walk in lock-step with the narrative that suited the US establishment’s interests, even going so far as to detain journalists and block reporting when credible insider information came to light, thus obscuring the true nature of the situation in the eyes of the Western public, which made it possible to fashion a consensus for this specific foreign policy issue.

Surely the small scale and sporadic protests that began before March in 2011 were met with violent repression from the Syrian state, and none of these findings absolve the Assad government from blame for this, however it is also true that these opposition movements were financed, trained, and advised by the US through ‘democracy promotion’ endeavors, that evidence shows that when members of these groups complain about their connections to Washington they are subsequently ousted from membership. The goal of financing these groups is regime-change, intended in Syria for 2 decades, and from the very beginning the US was arming and training the opposition to attack the state. Money, weaponry, and foreign fighters flowed in and were facilitated by the US special forces from the onset with a view towards targeted assassinations and eliciting a collapse from within. The government needed justification for this which was accomplished by the media’s refusal to report on information that ran counter to the official narrative. 

Open-source information detailed in this report demonstrates that what is commonly referred to as the Syrian “civil war” is more accurately described as a proxy insurgency that exploited the social unrest in the country to go about achieving a long-standing policy goal of regime-change in Damascus. This further belies the stated claims of Western officials that they are at all serious about ending a crisis which they themselves instigated and escalated, and suggests that the only way the crisis will end is if the West achieves its stated goal of regime-change or if they are forced to accept a political settlement in the face of a military defeat or stalemate.

Recent developments suggest that they have failed in their attempts to oust Assad; the pro-government forces are too well equipped and the government maintains too large of a domestic support base. Impediments to the West accepting the inevitable political solution consist of the intent to further inflame the conflict as a means to keep Syria weak and unstable, using that as leverage to force concessions from Damascus and weaken the resistance bloc of Syria, Iran, and Russia, the fears from US allies that the jihadi’s they have been backing for years would turn against their own regimes in light of a cessation of hostilities in Syria, and the US and its allies insistence on molding Syrian policy-making to conform to their own interests, shown in their persistence that Assad must step down. Until these impediments are overcome, or until domestic populations force their leaders to stop committing these crimes, atrocities, and aggressions, the best we can hope for is to watch Syria’s secular society deteriorate until it falls victim to the fate of countless other recipients of Western ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy.’

The hope is that domestic populations overcome the propaganda narrative propagated by the main-stream media and the ideological supporters of state-terror and expose the Syrian crisis for what it really is, and demand to hold those guilty accountable for their crimes.

The Syrian population is strong and resilient in the face of imperial aggression, we in the West who are privileged enough to not be suffering a similar fate thus have a great responsibility to use all of our resources and democratic freedoms to reverse the tide of the unjust policies committed in our names by our governments, which constitute nothing less than crimes against humanity. This is by no means impossible, and we in the West have the unique ability to oppose state policy with a great degree of freedom. We should use this opportunity to combat imperialism, to give the Syrians back the sovereignty they deserve, and to restore back to America the values and ideals that are actually worthy of the people who inhabit it, those that we were taught our country represented in school, yet that since we have learned were mere ideological cover for something much worse. 

But we can change that.

We should be as strong as the Syrians who face with courage untold terror committed against them on a daily basis by our governments, and never let ourselves forget that “It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

And perhaps most absent from analysis on Syria are the voices of the Syrian people themselves, their thoughts, desires, feelings, and pronouncements. Their experiences, the ones aggressor nations claim to represent, unfortunately fall upon deaf ears in the West.

To counter this, here I have quoted a lost voice from Lattakia, Afrona, a Syrian born architect, as she recounts her experience under the ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ that Washington had brought to her country, and the foreign involvement they had attempted to hide from the prying eyes of their domestic civilian populations:  

“It was 2011 , the year of the color revolution , arab spring , the real color was black , and the real season was without features ,Obama and the global society never feel shy to announce it as it is a freedom revolution! 

syrian people was worried of what was going on in Egypt at that time , total mess , also was sad for Libya and the war crime against people there by the NATO. 
we recognized there is something planned for us , it is our turn ,as in domino game 
Here it is they started in my city, savage groups was rushing in streets with shameful slogan repeating it non stop (christian should displace to Beruit ,alawit will be in cemetery ) , they trained them to look like civil war , And the mainstream media started to talk about peaceful protests in Syria 
one of their first victims was a person in his way to his work , those gangs caught him , gathered as wolves around him and slaughtered him , his guilt was his religion , they want it to be real civil war , they want people to take revenge and kill each other by the name of religion 
at that time our government issued , that it is allowed to everyone to join demonstration , and it is not allowed to any police man to bother them , the result was those gangs killed young police man they shot him ,, they were armed gangs 
we realized more and more that we are under dirty war , not revolution at all , Then that scene we used to see in Afghanistan and those countries under terror groups as Al-Qaeda which is ,CIA” made , that scene of suicide bombers , car bombs , took place in Syria , not important for the world if the victims were kids students and innocent civilians , the western media turned blind eyes , and instead of reporting the truth , they were spreading lies 
later the horrible crimes started by cannibals’ Free Syrian Army , Al-Nusra front , start to beheaded , eat livers , rape women , burn people alive …that was by FSA under the slogan Allaho Akbar, not by what they call now ISIS or Daesh , countries which r under FSA control suddenly ended up to ISIS , USA now invades my country to fight ISIS ! , but they still arming financing and funding FSA . 
who is ISIS , who is FSA who is Moderate rebels ? they are their doll here to invade Syria , clever plan , don’t forget The Creative Chaos of Condoleezza Rice , and her preaching of new middle east ! , please keep Syria safe ,”
Given the fact that polls consistently show that the majority of Syrians support the government, this is not an isolated viewpoint.

For more on Afrona’s story, watch interviews here and here. For further accounts of voices from Syria that the main-stream-media won’t report upon, follow Eva Bartlett at www.ingaza.wordpress.com, who regularly travels to Syria to account the voices of the voiceless.

“Please, keep Syria safe…"

Notes:

  • 1.) Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, “U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show”, April 17, 2011. “The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad… Classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria… The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005.”; AFP, “US trains activists to evade security forces”, April 8, 2011. “The US government, Posner said, has budgeted $50 million in the last two years… And it has organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world.”; Ron Nixon,New York Times, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings”, April 14, 2011. “American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states… But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections… Affiliating themselves with the American organizations may have tainted leaders within their own groups… some members of the group had accused… leaders of “treason”… the group ousted the members who were complaining…”
  • 2.) Joseph Holliday, Institute for the Study of War, “The Struggle for Syria in 2011”, December 2011.
  • 3.) Sibel Edmonds, BoilingFrogsPost, “BFP Exclusive: Syria- Secret US-NATO Training & Support Camp to Oust Current Syrian President”, November 21, 2011. Sibel breaks the story on the secret US-NATO base in Turkey, and further explains its operations, to organize and expand the dissident base, smuggle in weapons, psychological operations and information warfare, and to funnel intelligence and military operators across the border; Sibel Edmonds, BoilingFrogsPost, “US Media: Distorters of Reality & Gravediggers of Truth”, December 3, 2011. Sibel follows up to her first story, citing insiders in Turkey and government insiders in the US. She notes how Iranian media has picked up her story, but not the Western press. She asks one of her inside sources why they hadn’t taken their information to the main-stream-media outlets first, to which they replied that they had tried but the Western press wouldn’t touch the story without State Department approval; Sibel Edmonds,BoilingFrogsPost, “War on Syria Cover-Up Update: Who is Breaking the Blackout?”, December 9, 2011. Sibel recounts how Turkish and Iranian media have picked up her story, noting that US media did not have the guts to run the story even though it was backed by credible military sources in the US and abroad. She states that she has further been contacted by additional credible sources, including a high-level military official in Syria; Sibel Edmonds, BoilingFrogsPost, “BFP Exclusive- Developing Story: Hundreds of US-NATO Soldiers Arrive & Begin Operations on the Jordan-Syria Border”, December 11, 2011. Sibel details how estimates of hundreds of foreign military personnel were seen amassing near the Jordan-Syrian border, that US forces had left Iraq and were re-routed to Jordan at a NATO Command Center there, and that according to Jordanian reports Western officials had requested the Jordanian King to establish a spy station near the border for the purpose of contacting Syrian officers to convince them to instigate a military coup; James Corbett, CorbettReport, “BREAKING: US Troops Deploying on Jordan-Syria Border”, December 11, 2011. James Corbett reports on the developments from the BoilingFrogsPost story, conducting an interview with former Syrian journalist Nizar Nayouf, previously imprisoned for 10 years for speaking out against the Syrian government, who accounts how hundreds of foreign soldiers were seen moving back and forth near the Jordanian-Syrian border; Sibel Edmonds, BoilingFrogsPost, “Syria Coverage Update: BBC Reporter was detained & Prevented from Covering US-NATO- Syrian Operations in Turkey!”, December 15, 2011. Sibel details how a BBC reporter who went to Turkey to follow up on her story was placed under surveillance, prevented from following the story, stopped from interviewing key personnel, and how BBC subsequently excused the scandal.
  • 4.) Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Conclusion,” The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives (New York, 1997), pg. 211.


Additional sources:



By Steven Chovanec - an independent geopolitical analyst and writer based in Chicago, IL. Undergraduate of International Studies at Roosevelt University conducting independent, open-source research into geopolitics and social issues. Follow on Twitter @stevechovanec & Facebook facebook.com/stevechovanec & Tsu http://www.tsu.co/stevechovanec & e-mail: schovanec@mail.roosevelt.edu

John Pilger: New threats of war and fascism

Saturday, March 14, 2015 | By John Pilger



Had the US not initiated its war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost 1 million people would be alive today.

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness.

Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery.

They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and '40s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, NATO launched 9700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed.

The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.”

His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew ... that if we waited one more day,” said President Barack Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”.

Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for NATO's inferno, described by Britism Prime Minister David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain's SAS, many of the “rebels” would become IS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by NATO bombers.

For Obama, Cameron and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi's true crime was Libya's economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa's greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power.

Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.

After NATO's attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya's Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.

The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent NATO to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo.

David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59” might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”.

The West's heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the NATO bombing over, and much of Serbia's infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”.

A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The NATO attack had been fraudulent.

Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned.

This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia.

By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.

In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. NATO, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer's duplicitous tactics.

The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia ― a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation ― and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets.

No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; NATO bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.

Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations ― 69 countries ― have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America's modern fascism: They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”.

The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.

“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” These were opening words of Obama's 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, about 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment.

“The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records. The majority have been killed ― civilians and soldiers ― during Obama's time as president.

The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if the US is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion ... Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation.”

He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan's first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

A popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform program that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of.

By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan's doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers.

“Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, “could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music.

“It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.”

The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]”. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.

On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorised support for tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan's first secular, reformist government.

In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States' larger interests ... would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan”. The italics are mine.

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA.

Hekmatyar's specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”. His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region.

In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them.

Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia.

This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah - who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help ― was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.

The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer's message was and remains: "You are with us or against us."

The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The US invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collateral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered.

In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.

Today, the world's greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama's victims.

According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die.

His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.

“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s.

As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said: “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up Americanism, the world's dominant ideology.

That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture.

I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.

The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places ― just as the President himself kills them.

The embodiment of Hollywood's violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, American Sniper, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Timesdescribed it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.

There are no heroic movies about America's embrace of fascism. During the World War II, the US (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens ― as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America.

Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space program.

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of NATO, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity.

Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.

This reached its apogee last year when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.

No Western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe ― with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine.

At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”.

It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D Kagan, a leading “neo-con” luminary and co-founder of the extreme right-wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.

Nuland's coup did not go to plan. NATO was prevented from seizing Russia's historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea ― illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 ― voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleansing. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns.

They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia.

In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The NATO commander, General Breedlove ― whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove ― announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.

These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine ― a third of the population ― have long sought a federation that reflects the country's ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow.

Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev's attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.

On May 2, last year in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”.

In the US and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).

The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington's new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims ― “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.

If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine.

On January 29, Ukraine's top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”.

There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion. This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev's deputy foreign minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.

On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise US arms for the Kiev regime. In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes.

It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell's fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of the US's most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently: “No European government, since Adolf Hitler's Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly.

“Yet across the West's media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established...

“If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three ― much as it did into world war one a century ago ― all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack ...

“In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.” In The Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war.

“Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns.”

He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.

In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones.”

He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”. In 2006, he wrote: “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran.”

The outbursts ― or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” ― are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader.

The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash's piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for a US Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain.”

This US “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world. In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an rise in military spending.

Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy.

Kiev's new finance minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship.

They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; US Vice-President Joe Biden's son is on the board of Ukraine's biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine's rich farming soil.

Above all, they want Ukraine's mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia's long Arctic land border.

Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country's economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.

The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states.

Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.

www.johnpilger.com