Dissident Voice

Dissident Voice
25 May 2024 | 9:29 pm

1. In Hoc Signo Vinces

The Son of God Goes Forth to War

In 1812, need I say more, Reginald Heber composed the hymn of the Church Militant, the text of which bears citation in full:

The Son of God goes forth to war, a kingly crown to gain; his blood red banner streams afar: who follows in his train? Who best can drink his cup of woe, triumphant over pain, who patient bears his cross below, he follows in his train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye could pierce beyond the grave; who saw his Master in the sky, and called on him to save. Like him, with pardon on his tongue, in midst of mortal pain, he prayed for them that did the wrong: who follows in his train?

A glorious band, the chosen few, on whom the Spirit came, twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew, and mocked the cross and flame. They met the tyrant's brandished steel, the lion's gory mane; they bowed their heads the death to feel: who follows in their train?

O noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid, around the Savior's thrown rejoice, in robes of light arrayed. They climbed the steep ascent of heaven, through peril, toil and pain; O God, to us may grace be given, to follow in their train.

According to the astute analyst Mr Mike Whitney, Mr Richard Haass (I wonder whether the name originally meant hate i.e. Hass or hare i.e. Haase), a reverend brother of the Rhodes-Rothschild congregation for the propagation of the faith, has arrived at the same conclusions of his brethren in uniform that the battlefield triumph of the legacy SS battalions and reconstituted Ukrainian military product (Kiever Velveeta) is beyond achievement. As Mr Whitney points out, not only outliers like Scott Ritter, Douglas MacGregor or Larry Wilkerson have stopped singing hymns of immanent victory over the reincarnation of Ivan and Stalin, but members of the general staff have changed their tunes.

Whereas the professionals cautiously suggest, if not request, disengagement, the real government for whom Richard Haass is a representative "influencer" complacently advises that the West in NATO assembled must and will now shift gears. If an M1 Abrams cannot manage a 15 degree incline in snow or mud, then it is just a matter of firing more rocketry. That is to the extent that overt military support is relevant.

Clearly Mr Haass also has the strategy of Brzezinski in Afghanistan in mind. Recall the latter's offensive pronouncement that creating the pseudo-Islamic terrorist forces in Afghanistan (actually the beginning of "America's own Ghurka regiments") was justified as a means of destroying the Soviet Union.

Instead of faux-Muslims, Ukraine is run by crypto-Zionist terrorists who operate Ukraine just like Hamid Karzai ran Afghanistan.

Depopulating Ukraine also benefits the criminal cashflow underlying the plunder of the territory still known by that name.

As we have both argued to different degrees, this was war against Russia from the beginning.

Paul Craig Roberts has insisted from the beginning that Putin failed to see the obvious, thus prolonging the campaign to the brink. I disagree. In real politics it makes a difference what you say too. The tacit avoidance of the obvious (and here Stalin was compelled to act the same) has been necessary to prepare and force the other side to escalate in language first.

Of course this is not 1938 and Putin is not leading a state out of civil war. Germany's role has been muted because the "Nazis" are already in the Ukraine. From current reports they are engaged in clearing the corridor for a vain but violent missile cruise to Moscow and Sevastapol. Moreover a great deal of Western war preparation was accomplished by the COVID-19 campaign, whose effects on the Western mass psychology and economy are far from dissipated (as they too are entering a new only vaguely perceivable phase).

Yet one can see that the Istanbul format was an attempt to reach something equivalent to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. That failed – showing that the West learned from its mistake in the last war against Russia.

Why is there such an obvious discrepancy between official US military assessments and those of the Establishment? Let us recall that the notorious Pentagon Papers reported the warrior's pessimistic appraisal of US efforts in Indochina. The late Daniel Ellsberg adroitly "neglected" to include the crucial CIA chapters in his conscientious exposure. Vietnam was a CIA (corporate) war with military cover. The same applies to the Ukraine. Vladimir Putin surely knows that. However there are also rules in covert warfare. One of them is that the general public must remain confused or ignorant of the underlying business driving the visible and tangible hostilities. Mr Putin has repeated that all wars end with negotiation. Hence his refusal to table demands or assertions that could render the malicious incapable of concessions demonstrates a profound belief in diplomacy foreign not only to perfidious Albion but to its genotypes in the Anglo-American Empire.

Therefore, the professional soldiers (as opposed to paramilitary party cadres in cabinet of general staff) can honestly say what they have been educated to see while the political commissariat repeats the substance of their daily briefings.

For the US, WW2 became desperate only once it was clear that the Wehrmacht was on the retreat. The panic of 1944 that precipitated Normandy and the formal abandonment of fascist (Vichy) and occupied France was triggered by a similar adjustment. 1945 delivered Germany and Japan to US occupation where they have remained ever since. [Except for the interregnum of an East Germany state from 1949 to 1990 — DV ed] It also initiated the kind of war that international financial functionary Bernard Baruch was credited with calling "cold".

The physical space has not changed. The strategic objectives remain more or less the same as in the Fourth Crusade (including the sack of major Near Eastern population centers). However, there has been an enormous compression of time and lethality.

The inhabitants of Western Eurasia aka Europe are supposed to be simultaneously impoverished and enlisted as Crusaders, think of the 1212 "Children's Crusade". The masses of psychologically maimed since 2020 are to find their salvation in vicarious battle with the "Ivan". The rabinnical-papal absolutism on the Tiber has long been a patron of perdition. However, there is some irony in the regnal name blessing the slaughter on the Bosporus and elsewhere East. Innocent III was anything but. However innocence and purity, like hygiene and solidarity have become the highest virtues among the quick and the dead of the dissolving Western Empire.

Salvation is just over the rainbow, as the popularity of those banners demonstrates.

In Hoc Signo

The post In Hoc Signo Vinces first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
25 May 2024 | 9:13 pm

2. Could These Arrest Warrants Signal the Beginning of the End for the “Axis of Evil”?

UK foreign secretery Lord David Cameron has told peers: "I don't believe for one moment that seeking these warrants is going to help get the hostages out, it's not going to help get aid in and it's not going to help deliver a sustainable ceasefire. To draw moral equivalence between the Hamas leadership and the democratically-elected leader of Israel I think is just plain wrong."

He misses the point as usual. The warrants have nothing to do with that. They are about bringing those wanted for the most grievous war crimes to justice.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak then said that the move was "deeply unhelpful", adding: "There is no moral equivalence between a democratic state exercising its lawful right to self defence and the terrorist group Hamas."

Even Biden was singing off the same hymn-sheet saying there is "no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas" and that what's happening in Gaza is not genocide…. a hymn of praise for Israel almost.

Of course there is no moral equivalence. As the world has witnessed, Israel's crimes are a thousand times greater than Hamas's and are allowed to continue without let-up, courtesy of the US and UK who dutifully carry on supplying the ordnance and weaponry. It still hasn't penetrated enough Washington and Whitehall skulls that it is the Palestinian resistance who are exercising their lawful right to self-defence – using "armed struggle" if necessary – against Israel's illegal military occupation, brutal 17-year blockade and decades-long murderous oppression (UN Resolutions 37/43 and 3246).

Furthermore Hamas are just as legitimate as any Israeli administration having been democratically elected under the scrutiny of international observers, a result immediately rejected at the time by the UK, Israel and the US because it didn't happen to suit their evil purpose in the Middle East.

And why are Hamas proscribed as a terrorist organisation in the UK? Only because a group of Israel's pimps and stooges among Westminster's political elite say so. It would be interesting to take a vote on what the people who put them there actually think, now they know the horrendous situation in Gaza and the West Bank and the long history leading up to it. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to proscribe Likud, Netyanyahu's terrorist party?

Cameron also claims it's a mistake to draw moral equivalence because Palestine is not regarded as a state. Again, he isn't paying attention. 146 of the 193 UN member states recognise Palestine, including Ireland, Norway and Spain who announced recognition just a few days ago. 11 of these are EU states, so what is Cameron drivelling about?

Fortunately, a cross-party group of 105 MPs and Lords has called on the UK Government "to do all it can to support the International Criminal Court" after Prime Minister Sunak's remark that its decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders was "deeply unhelpful". In a letter addressed to Foreign Secretary Cameron they say "there is mounting evidence that Israel has committed clear and obvious violations of international law in Gaza and we strongly believe that those responsible must be held to account". They call on the Government "to take a clear stance against any attempts to intimidate an independent and impartial international court…. The Court, its Prosecutor, and all its staff must be free to pursue justice without fear or favour".

One of the organisers, MP Richard Burgon, said: "At every stage, our Government has failed to fulfil its moral duty to do everything it can to help save lives and prevent suffering in Gaza. It must not fail again. It must back the ICC in ensuring that there is no impunity for war crimes and it must stand up to those seeking to impede justice."

Almost straightaway Sunak, in a surprise move, called a general election for 4 July. This means that MPs immediately cease being MPs but ministers continue in office until a new government is formed. For the next 6 weeks, then, Sunak's crew continue to rule without being accountable to the House of Commons and could do a lot of damage. So this is a doubly dangerous time for our nation.

Meanwhile Cameron and his ignorant friends seem to think the Gaza war only started as recently as October 7. He plays up the release of 134 Israeli hostages when, on October 6 Israel was holding 5,200 Palestinians captive, including at least 170 children, and since then has abducted some 7,350 more. Why do we never hear from Cameron about the Palestinian hostages/prisoners?

And how many Palestinians had Israel killed before October 7? Answer: 10,651 slaughtered by Israel in the 23 years up to Oct 7, including 2,270 children and 656 women (Israel's B'Tselem figures). That's 460 a year. In that period Israel was exterminating Palestinians at the rate of 8:1 and children at the rate of 16:1.

Israel's friends in the West like to think of Netanyahu as the leader of a Western style democracy that shares our values. Actually he's the head of a nasty little ethnocracy with vicious apartheid policies and a 76-year record of terrorism, pursuing an extended military campaign aimed at occupying and annexing another people's lands and resources, and showing no respect whatsoever for British values or international norms of behaviour.

So, putting aside for a moment our dislike of Hamas's methods, shouldn't we be asking our politicians to explain why exactly Hamas must be eliminated and the Palestinians' homeland pulverised in the process, seeing as it is they who are under illegally military occupation and they who have the ultimate right of self-defence?

It's easy to see where Cameron is coming from. After 3 months of genocide in Gaza, he denied Israel had broken international law. He also said it was "nonsense" to suggest that Israel intended to commit genocide. Asked if he thought Israel had a case to answer at the ICJ, he said: "No, I absolutely don't. I think the South African action is wrong, I think it is unhelpful, I think it shouldn't be happening…. I take the view that Israel is acting in self-defence after the appalling attack on October 7. But even if you take a different view to my view, to look at Israel, a democracy, a country with the rule of law, a country with armed forces that are committed to obeying the rule of law, to say that that country, that leadership, that armed forces, that they have intent to commit genocide, I think that is nonsense, I think that is wrong."

So says this self-declared zionist and key stooge for Israel, one of many at Westminster who are desperate to maintain the shady US/UK-Israel alliance. Do Sunak, Cameron & co really want victory for the genocidists? It seems they do. Because they've pledged their undying adoration and support for that rotten apartheid regime and now the world has seen it for what it really is and their position is turning sour.

On the face of it the Hamas trio — Haniyeh, Sinwar and Dief — with competent legal representation seem likely to survive the legal process. And although many are questioning why arrest warrants are being considered for them at the same time as the mega-maniac Netanyahu there is reason to hope that, if they do come to trial, a lot of bad stuff about Israel, the US and the UK will come out. The world will then be much wiser and the 'axis of evil' behind it all will collapse under the weight of its own lunacy.

The UK general election will likely rid us of Sunak, Cameron and the rest of the Tory nitwits. But sitting in the waiting room is Labour's Keir Starmer, another Israel stooge. Yes, the zionists have all angles covered.

The post Could These Arrest Warrants Signal the Beginning of the End for the "Axis of Evil"? first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
25 May 2024 | 9:02 pm

3. Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World

Iri and Toshi Maruki, XV Nagasaki, 1982, from The Hiroshima Panels.

For Prabir, who is now out of jail.

On the evening of 14 May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken climbed onstage at Barman Dictat in Kyiv, Ukraine, to pick up an electric guitar and join the Ukrainian punk band 19.99. Ukrainians, he said, are 'fighting not just for a free Ukraine, but for a free world'. Blinken and 19.99 then played the chorus of Neil Young's 'Rockin' in the Free World', entirely ignoring the implications of its lyrics – much like Donald Trump, who, to Young's irritation, used the chorus in his 2015–2016 presidential campaign.

In February 1989, the day after Young received the news that his band's tour in the USSR fell through, he penned the song's lyrics, resting on his criticisms of the Reagan years and the first month of George H. W. Bush's presidency. While it sounds patriotic on the surface, that song – like Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' (1984) – is deeply critical of the hierarchies and humiliations of capitalist society.

The three verses of 'Rockin' in the Free World' paint a picture of despair ('people shufflin' their feet/ people sleepin' in their shoes') defined by the drug epidemic plaguing the poor (a woman 'puts the kid away/ and she's gone to get a hit'), the collapse of educational opportunities ('there's one more kid/ that will never go to school'), and a growing population that lives on the street ('we got a thousand points of light/ for the homeless man'). Springsteen's song, written in the shadow of the US war on Vietnam ('so they put a rifle in my hand/ sent me off to a foreign land/ to go and kill the yellow man'), also captured the strangulation of the working class in the US, many of whom were unable to get a job after returning from a war they did not want ('down in the shadow of the penitentiary/ out by the gas fires of the refinery/ I'm ten years burning down the road/ nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go').

These are songs of anguish, not anthems of war. To chant 'born in the USA' or 'keep on rockin' in the free world' does not evoke a sense of pride in the Global North but a fierce criticism of its ruthless wars. 'Keep on rockin' in the free world' is pickled in irony. Blinken did not get it, nor did Trump. They want the allure of rock and roll, but not the acidity of its lyrics. They do not understand that Neil Young's 1989 song is the soundtrack of the resistance to the US wars that followed against Panama (1989–1999), Iraq (1990–1991), Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001–2021), Iraq (2003–2011), and many more.

Iri and Toshi Maruki, XIII Death of the American Prisoners of War, 1971, from The Hiroshima Panels.

Blinken went to Kiev to celebrate the passing of three bills in the US House of Representatives that appropriate $95.3 billion for the militaries of Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United States. This is in addition to the more than $1.5 trillion that the US spends on its military every year. It is obscene that the US continues to supply Israel with deadly munitions for its genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, including the $26.4 billion it promised to Israel in the new bills while feigning concern for the starvation and slaughter of Palestinians. It is ghastly that the US continues to prevent peace talks between Ukraine and Russia while funding the former's demoralised military (including $60.8 billion for weapons in the new bills alone) as the US seeks to use the conflict to 'see Russia weakened'.

At the other end of Eurasia, the US has, similarly, used the issue of Taiwan in its efforts to see China 'weakened'. That is why this supplemental appropriation allots $8.1 billion for 'Indo-Pacific security', including $3.9 billion in armaments for Taiwan and $3.3 billion for submarine construction in the US. Taiwan is not alone as a potential frontline state in this pressure campaign against China: the newly formed Squad, made up of Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the US, uses solvable conflicts between the Philippines and China as opportunities to weaponise dangerous manoeuvres with the hope of provoking a reaction from China that would give the US an excuse to attack it.

Iri and Toshi Maruki, XIV Crows, 1972, from The Hiroshima Panels.

Our new dossier, The New Cold War is Sending Tremors Through Northeast Asia, published in collaboration with the International Strategy Centre (Seoul, South Korea) and No Cold War, argues that 'the US-led New Cold War against China is destabilising Northeast Asia along the region's historic fault lines as part of a broader militarisation campaign that extends from Japan and South Korea, through the Taiwan Strait and the Philippines, all the way to Australia and the Pacific Islands'. The bogeyman for this build-up in what the US calls the 'Indo-Pacific' (a term developed to draw India into the alliance to encircle China) is North Korea, whose nuclear and missile programmes are used to justify asymmetrical mobilisation along the Pacific edge of Asia. That South Korea's military budget in 2023 ($47.9 billion) was more than twice North Korea's GDP ($20.6 billion) in the same year is just one example that highlights this imbalance. This use of North Korea, the dossier argues, 'has always been a fig leaf for US containment strategies – first against the Soviet Union and today against China'. (You can read the dossier in Korean here).

Iri and Toshi Maruki, XII Floating Lanterns, 1968, from The Hiroshima Panels.

In the early years of the US development of the 'Indo-Pacific strategy', Chinese scholars such as Hu Bo, Chen Jimin, and Feng Zhennan argued that the term was merely conceptual, limited by the contradictions between the countries involved in the development of the Chinese containment strategy. Over the past few years, however, a new view has developed that these shifts in the Pacific pose a serious threat to China and that the Chinese must respond with bluntness to prevent any provocation. It is this situation, characterised by the US's creation of alliances that are designed to threaten China (the Quad, AUKUS, JAKUS, and the Squad) alongside China's refusal to bend before the hyper-imperialism of the Global North, that creates a serious threat in Asia.

The last section of the dossier, 'A Path to Peace in Northeast Asia', offers a window into the hopes of the people's movements in Okinawa (Japan), the Korean peninsula, and China to find a pathway to peace. Five simple principles anchor this path: end the dangerous alliances, US-led war games in the region, and US intervention into the region, and support unity across struggles in the region as well as frontline struggles to end militarisation in Asia. The latter point is being fought on several fronts by those living near Okinawa's Kadena Air Base and Henoko Bay as well as South Korea's Terminal High Altitude Area Defence installation and Jeju Naval Base, to name a few.

Iri and Toshi Maruki, X Petition, 1955, from The Hiroshima Panels.

Several years ago, I visited the Maruki Gallery outside Higashi-Matsuyama city in Saitama, where I saw the remarkable murals made by Ira Maruki (1901–1995) and Toshi Maruki (1912–2000) to remember the terrible violence of the nuclear bombs that the US government dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These murals, in the traditional Japanese ink wash style sumi-e, depict the immense human toll of the ugliness of modern warfare. Thanks to the chief curator Yukinori Okamura and the international coordinator Yumi Iwasaki, we were able to include some of these murals in our dossier and in this newsletter.

In 1980, the South Korean military dictatorship arrested Kim Nam-ju (1945–1994) and thirty-five other leftists on the grounds that they were involved in the National Liberation Front Preparation Committee. Kim was a poet and a translator who brought Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks and Ho Chi Minh's writings into Korean. While in Gwangju Prison for eight years, Kim wrote a range of powerful poetry, which he was able to smuggle out for publication. One of those poems, 'Things Have Really Changed', is about the suffocation of the ambitions of the Korean people over their own peninsula.

Under Japanese imperialism, if Joseon people
shouted 'Long Live Independence!',
Japanese policemen came and took them away,
Japanese prosecutors interrogated them,
Japanese judges put them on trial.

Japan withdrew and the US stepped in.
Now if Koreans
say 'Yankee Go Home',
Korean police come and take them away,
Korean prosecutors interrogate them,
Korean judges put them on trial.

Things have really changed after liberation.
Because I shouted 'Drive out the foreign invaders!',
people from my own country
arrested me, interrogated me, and put me on trial.

The post Keep on Rockin' in the Free World first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
25 May 2024 | 5:57 am

4. Australia’s Anti-ICC Lobby

Throwing caution to the wind, grasping the nettle, and every little smidgen of opportunity, Australia's opposition leader, Peter Dutton, was thrilled to make a point in the gurgling tumult of the Israel-Hamas war.  Israel's leaders, he surmised, had been hard done by the International Criminal Court's meddlesome ways.  Best for Australia, he suggested, to cut ties to the body to show its solidarity for Israel.

Dutton had taken strong issue with the announcement on May 20 by ICC prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan that requests for five arrest warrants had been sought in the context of the Israel-Hamas War. They included Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar, the commander-in-chief of the Al-Qassam Brigades Mohammed Al-Masri, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant.

The measure was roundly condemned by Israel's closest ally, the United States.  US President Joe Biden's statement called the inclusion of Israeli leaders "outrageous".  There was "no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas."  US lawmakers are debating steps to sanction ICC officials, while the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised to cooperate with the measure.

The United Kingdom also struck the same note,  "There is no moral equivalence between a democratically elected government exercising its lawful right to self-defence and the actions of a terrorist group," declared UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a Prime Minister's Questions (PMQ) session in the House of Commons.  When asked if he would, in the event of the warrants being issued, comply with the ICC and arrest the named individuals, a cold reply followed.  "When it comes to the ICC, this is a deeply unhelpful development … which of course is still subject to final decision."

Australia, despite being a close ally of Israel, has adopted a somewhat confused official response, one more of tepid caution rather than profound conviction.  Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese thought it unwise to even take a formal stance.  "I don't comment on court processes in Australia, let alone court processes globally, that which Australia is not a party," he told journalists.

In light of what seemed like a fudge, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade thought it appropriate to issue a clarifying statement that "there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas."  Treasurer Jim Chalmers followed suit.  "There is no equivalence between Hamas the terrorist organisation and Israel, we have it really clear in condemning the actions of Hamas on October 7, we have made it clear we want to see hostages released, and we want to see the Israeli response comply completely with international humanitarian law."

Albanese's opposite number preferred a punchier formula, coming out firmly on the side of Israel and donning gloves against the ICC and its "anti-Semitic stance".  The PM had "squibbed it", while his response had tarnished and damaged Australia's "international relationships with like-minded nations".  "The ICC," Dutton insisted on May 23, "should reverse their decision and the prime minister should come out today to call for that instead of continuing to remain in hiding or continuing to dig a deeper hole for himself."

Opposition Liberal MP and former Australian ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, is also of the view that Australia examine "our options and our future co-operation with the court" if the arrest warrants were issued.  Swallowing whole the conventional argument that Israel was waging a principled war, he told Sky News that everything he had seen "indicates to me Israel is doing its utmost to comply with the principles of international humanitarian law".

The ears of Israeli officials duly pricked up.  Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister and Observer of its War Cabinet, Ron Dermer, was delighted to hear about Dutton's views.  "I didn't know the head of your opposition had said that," Dermer told 7.30, "I applaud him for doing it."

In a sense, Dutton and his conservative colleague are expressing, with an unintended, brute honesty, Australia's at times troubled relationship with international law and human rights.  Despite being an enthusiastic signatory and ratifier of conventions, Canberra has tended to blot its copybook over the years in various key respects.  Take for instance, the brazen contempt shown for protections guaranteed by the UN Refugee Convention, one evidenced by its savage "Turn Back the Boats" policy, the creation of concentration camps of violence and torture in sweltering Pacific outposts and breaching the principle of non-refoulement.

On the subject of genocide, Australian governments had no appetite to domestically criminalise it till 2002, despite ratifying the UN Genocide Convention in 1949.  And as for the ICC itself, wariness was expressed by the Howard government about what the body would actually mean for Australian sovereignty.  Despite eventually ratifying the Rome Statute establishing the court, the sceptics proved a querulous bunch.  As then Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd noted, "John Howard is neither Arthur nor Martha on ratification of the International Criminal Court."

While serving as Home Affairs minister, Dutton preferred to treat his department as an annex of selective law and order indifferent to the rights and liberties of the human subject. For him, bodies like the ICC exist like a troublesome reminder that human rights do exist and should be the subject of protection, even at the international level.

The post Australia's Anti-ICC Lobby first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
24 May 2024 | 10:08 pm

5. Amazon Rainforest Collapse?

Photo Credit: Rainforest Trust

"A major question is whether a large-scale collapse of the Amazon forest system could actually happen within the twenty-first century." (Source: Bernardo M. Flores, et al, "Critical Transitions in the Amazon Forest System", Nature, February 14, 2024).

It may seem absurd to consider collapse of the Amazon rainforest (65-million-years-old) which seems impossible, too far out, not warranting an article like this, but, sorry to say. it is already happening in early stages, as explained herein in some detail, with facts.

In fact, peer-reviewed studies of ecosystems such as (1) Greenland (2) the Great Barrier Reef (3) vast permafrost regions of the Northern Hemisphere upper latitudes define risks combined with (4) the Amazon rainforest could result in a synchronized collapse 1,2,3,4 sometime in the future, who knows, but it's headed in that direction. All four are noticeably breaking down; no doubt about it, 100% factual. It would likely be geologically catastrophically quick. Each of these tottering ecosystems is negatively impacted by human-generated global warming via fossil fuel emissions, CO2. And it's happening fast.

The potential collapse of the iconic Amazon, one of the planet's biggest, best-known ecosystems, arises after years of failure by world leaders to listen to scientists' warnings to do something about fossil fuel CO2. As a result, by ignoring science, society is its own worst enemy, in denial, unapproachable denial.

A recent Earth.org headline reflects the sobering facts found in the Flores study of the Amazon and supports the uncanny proposition of a potential synchronized collapse of ecosystems: "Up to 47% of Amazon Rainforest at Risk of Collapse by Mid-Century Due to 'Unprecedented Stress' from Global Warming and Deforestation," Earth.org, February 15, 2024.

The Flores study is the first-ever major study to focus on a range of forcings impacting the world's most famous rainforest. Previous research only assessed individual forcing aspects without looking at the entire picture. "This study adds it all up to show how this tipping point is closer than other studies estimated," said Carlos Nobre, an author of the study." (Source: Manuela Andreoni, "A Collapse of the Amazon Could Be Coming 'Faster Than We Thought','' The New York Times, February 14, 2024).

The Flores study combined with NASA research of droughts occurring so frequently that the Amazon no longer has enough time to heal, depict a tenuous ecosystem that could turn the global climate system upside down, putting civilization into a state of stress and confusion. Already, portions of southeastern Amazon have experienced large-scale deforestation that's past the point of recovery.

"The collapse of part or all the Amazon rainforests would release the equivalent of several years' worth of global emissions, possibly as much as 20 years' worth, into the atmosphere as its trees, which store vast amounts of carbon, are replaced by degraded ecosystems. And, because those same trees pump huge amounts of water into the atmosphere, their loss could also disturb global rainfall patterns and temperatures in ways that aren't well understood." (Ibid.)

The Flores study outlines parameters for the rainforest to survive: (1) global warming not to exceed 1.5°C, (2) deforestation kept below 10% of original tree cover, (3) annual dry season cannot exceed five months for the forest to stay intact. "If you pass those thresholds, then the forest could, in principle, collapse or transition into different ecosystems". (Ibid.)

{Footnote to Prior Paragraph: According to the World Wildlife Foundation, 17% of the forest is already lost with another 17% degraded. The Council on Foreign Relations claims 20% has been destroyed over 50 years. According to a recent study in Nature d/d March 1, 2024: "The combined effects of land use change and global warming resulted in a mean annual rainfall reduction of 44% and a dry season length increase of 69%, when averaged over the Amazon basin… Savannization and climate change, via increasing dry-season length and drought frequency, might have already pushed the Amazon close to a critical threshold of rainforest dieback. Increases in the length of the dry season have been reported in several recent studies."}

Are the three above-stated parameters for rainforest survival achievable?

The Flores study says governments must halt carbon emissions and deforestation and somehow restore 5% of the degraded rainforest to keep the ecosystem alive and functioning as a rainforest. Yet, the parameters are threatened: "Dry season mean temperature is now more than 2° C higher than it was 40 years ago in large parts of the central and southeastern Amazon. If trends continue, these areas could potentially warm by over 4° C by 2050." (Flores)

"Keeping the Amazon forest resilient depends firstly on humanity's ability to stop greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating the impacts of global warming on regional climatic conditions." (Flores) Indeed, this is the problem of all problems as fossil fuel producers are intent on increasing production over the foreseeable future into 2050. The health of the Amazon rainforest is not a consideration in oil and gas company business plans.

Yet already, "the northwestern portion of the biome (in Amazonas and Roraima states) and in the interior of the Para state, as well as other parts of Brazil, such as the semiarid region of Bahia state, in the northeast, and Mato Grosso d0 Sul state in the savanna biome, have already seen extreme temperature increases of more than 3° C (5.4°F) just since the 1960s." (S0urce: "Detailed NASA Analysis Finds Earth and Amazon in Deep Climate Trouble", Mongabay, December  21, 2023).

This "deep climate trouble" statement made by NASA reflects insanely fast temperature increases, and GRACE satellite groundwater readings in dangerous red zones with severe bouts of drought so frequent that the rainforest no longer snaps back, never seen before in NASA's data base. The Amazon rainforest is truly a victim of excessive global warming. All arrows point down.

Moreover, in addition to too much CO2: "Real-time satellite monitoring shows that so far in 2024, more than 10,000 wildfires have ripped across 11,000 square kilometers of the Amazon, across multiple countries, never have this many fires burned so much of the forest this early in the year." (Source: "Fires Imperil the Future of the Amazon Rainforest", Mother Jones, March 18, 2024.) This info is based upon Brazil's own National Institute for Space Research, as excessive wildfires weaken the forests and emit CO2 in competition with human CO2 emissions.

Roraima, which is Brazil's northernmost state within the rainforest and known for its "wet-wet climate" positioned above the equator naturally suppresses forest fires because of its "wetness." However, in late February, according to NASA satellites, widespread intense fire activity 5-times the average for February and 50% above the previous record number of fires. According to Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service: "The intensity and size of many of the fires are also unusual." It's dry, it burns.

Equally concerning for Roraima, during a normal year the fires only cover a few square kilometers, but this year the fires that began in fragmented regions of the rainforest of pastures and recently cleared forest spread into surrounding areas, burning hundreds of square kilometers, not just a 'few." (Source; Shane Coffield, postdoc at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center).

"A new NASA study shows that over the last 20 years, the atmosphere above the Amazon rainforest has been drying out, increasing the demand for water, and leaving ecosystems vulnerable to fires and drought. It also shows that the increase in dryness is primarily the result of human activities." ("Hunan Activities Are Drying Out the Amazon: NASA Study", Vital Signs of the Planet, NASA.)

"Indeed, despite global efforts to protect forest land, deforestation is still rampant, with around 15% of the Amazon already cleared, 17% degraded by human activities such as logging, fires, and under-canopy extraction, and a further 38% at risk due to prolonged droughts. About a third of global tropical deforestation occurs in Brazil's Amazon forest, amounting to 1.5 million hectares each year." (Earth.org)

Based upon simple arithmetic from the preceding paragraph, 70% of the rainforest is (a) already cleared (b) degraded by human activities (c) at further risk due to prolonged droughts. Not a good score card. In fact, horrible.

There are solutions, which have been harped upon by climate scientists for decades, stop fossil fuel emissions, stop CO2 which is 76% of greenhouse gases. At the risk of being overly didactic, world leaders need to consider ramifications when skirting the original precepts of the Paris 2015 climate accord to take bold measures to commence halting CO2 emissions more seriously by 2030 to hold global warming in check at 1.5C pre-industrial, especially as major ecosystems of the world are fast approaching the cliff's edge with global temperatures knocking on the 1.5C door (assuming IPCC decadal calculations for 1.5C) although 1.5C seems to be here now.

Should world leaders, more than 100 typically attend UN climate conferences, "go to the ends of the earth" to demand sticking to the Paris climate accords of 2015 instead of attending the conference just for photo ops with Bono?

Answer: Absolutely, Yes!

The post Amazon Rainforest Collapse? first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
24 May 2024 | 3:29 pm

6. Fishing With Words

With lilacs in the dooryard blooming a week ago, I was struck by a sense of synchronicity so strong that I stood stone still and sniffed the air for its direction.  I had just written a little essay about my youthful days and the first fish I caught at the age of ten and my subsequent basketball obsession.  Now I was out for an early morning walk up the hill by the lake above the town across from the railroad tracks.  As I dawdled in the intoxicating fragrance of the lilacs, it transported me to other springs when my blood raced a bit wilder and I met a brown-eyed girl.  In another bush a catbird sang a song I did not recognize at first.  For some odd reason, I associated it with Van Morrison's tune, The Beauty of the Days Gone By. I want to write these words for you, and like the singer, raise your spirits high, so please listen to the song before you keep reading.  I've heard that these are the days of miracles and wonders, so it is possible to pause, listen, and then continue reading.  Flow  with me.


So let me tell you about my old friend Nick Lyons whom I've never met or talked to.  Sometimes a friendship is forged unbeknownst to the friends. Lives that have intersected without meeting.  I heard about his writing on fly fishing when I was reading something my forgettery has gratefully forgotten.  Forgetting is a lost art.  As that other fisher of intangibles Henry Thoreau said in Life Without Principle, "It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember."  It takes desire to forget the inconsequential.  And desire to remember the profound.

The article said he had written a memoir that sounded interesting to me, for reasons I can't explain.  So I got and read the book, Fire in the Straw: Notes on Inventing a LifeIt was published four years ago and moved me deeply for many reasons.  I felt we had met long ago in some parallel reality, two city boys, one Jewish, the other Catholic, Nick from Brooklyn and I from the Bronx, different in age and other particulars, but joined by a passionate intensity tied to great literature, basketball, and most especially by a mutual sense that life's deepest truths lurked beneath the surface, and in order to catch them, we had to develop an art of playing life well, whether that was in sports or teaching or writing.  An art that could lure meaning out of the deepest depths into consciousness.

Fire in the Straw is just that.  It is a beautiful and masterful book, lit up by such pellucid prose and unsparing self-examination that only an emotionally dead reader would not be deeply touched. Lyons writes in his introduction:

Except for a moment or two, my life I suspect is rather ordinary in its details – and I have persuaded myself to write about parts of it in this brief book only for several reasons: the selfish one of wanting – sometimes desperately – to understand what I did and what happened to me, what it might mean and why, and in the thought that some of my odd journey will interest people who have lived with similar events and strivings.

That is an understatement, for the tale he tells is universal, despite all its particularities.  Or perhaps because of them or the brilliant way he makes them so.  The ordinary concealing the extraordinary.  A life told in luminescent sentences that vibrate in the reader's mind because they were composed by an artist's loving hand.

Call it a memoir, an autobiography, or anything you like, if you are into categorizing books by content alone.  Goethe wrote of the "open mystery" of every form, and although it is often assumed that form and content comprise two separate aspects of writing (and this is true for most mediocre work where readers generally concentrate on the content exclusively), the finest writing consists of a marriage of form and content that ravishes the reader in unassimilable and mysterious ways. A marriage of true minds.

Homer said it best: "Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story."

Nick Lyons heard the Muse and sings his life in this book.

It is a story, told by a man nearly ninety years-old, of a boy emotionally abandoned by his perpetually smiling and good-looking mother who sent him to a boarding school at age five; a boy without a father but with a step-father whom he disliked and a mother whom he couldn't love; a child aware of adult phoniness who discovers in fishing a mysterious source of solace and sustenance; a student bored by school but in love with basketball who practices obsessively and competes fiercely in the Brooklyn schoolyards; a young man who earns a prestigious degree at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania only to find it hollow; a soldier in France who discovers his love of reading and his basketball talent; then a young man trying to find himself and his vocation who holes himself up in a cheap, tiny Greenwich Village apartment with the great books of literature that light a fire in his soul; the professor of literature who takes on a second job at a publishing company to support his painter wife and four children and constantly struggles with debt; and later an independent small press book publisher and writer about fly fishing; a self-questioner always trying to find meaning and a pattern in his life, a life that seemed to race ahead of him; a devoted husband and loving and protective father who was lonely even when only one child was away; a man wildly juggling many balls for many years who finally found "success" and the cushion of money when he sold his small publishing company; a contemplator of his soul-mate wife's paintings where he sought the manifestation in color and stroke of something that he felt he lacked; an artist always trying to answer a Sphinx-like riddle: Who am I? How did I become who I am today? Did I become whom "you" wanted me to be?

None of this is ordinary because Nick Lyons is not ordinary, and with Fire in the Straw he has written an extraordinary book.

Sitting in his dead mother's apartment waiting for the police to arrive, she a lonely seventy-four year-old that he never truly knew, his mother stiffening on a toilet seat, a sight that he only glimpsed and then avoided, he waits and waits cataleptically for the cops and the medical examiner (who, like Godot, never comes), looking at old photographs and musing about his parents' lives and deaths, a father, Nat Ress, whose death preceded Nick's birth, a mystery man, a pleaser with a "good heart" that he also never knew and never once asked his mother about but longed for still, a hole in his heart seeping sadness, thinking of photos of these two intimate strangers when once they seemed happy and in love. For his father had died when Nick's mother was six months pregnant with him, and the fact that both mother and son had survived a very difficult childbirth was a miracle.  Ah, to exist!

I did not find myself a part of the life seeping from the prints at first, then, as the images begat other more fluid, moving, images in my mind, as I sorted through them in some nagging urgency to make sense of them all, some meaning of them, I found the racing of my mind slow and slow again, just as I once had to slow down my life, which had been slipping steadily, inexorably, through my hands.  I had not been able to control it once.  I had been rigged up, like a puppet, playing a role that had been written out for me, a hostage to an alien script.

Hadn't there been something small and mysterious, like a small flame in damp straw, hidden inside me?  I had scarcely known how to fan it forth.  And why?  For what reason?  I had always done what I had to do, little more.  I did what I was told.  I smiled when I was supposed to smile.  I tried desperately to remove those bands from my chest, that extraordinary, constant, unyielding pressure.  I kept looking at the little curly-haired boy in those photographs, now one, now four or five, now almost in his teens. . . . I looked at the photographs and they were part of some drama I could not quite understand, scattered and inchoate, and they were part of me and not a part of me and I tried to let them come closer but I still had a passive center, a place that could let an arrogant police captain swipe some of my mother's few possessions and say nothing.

But the passive puppet becomes the man who keeps fishing in words.  I dare anyone to not be caught by them.  He flicks them out softly, like a fly over a running stream, and although some seem innocuous and part of a pedestrian telling, they suddenly flash and a crack opens in a mystery that stops you, that sends a shiver down your spine.

He tells us about his mother's burial with these words:

A couple of diggers leaned on their shovels, a discreet distance to the left.  The rain had turned all of the exposed soil to mud.  I turned my head slightly, to the stone just to the left of where my mother's stone would go, and there, with some dates, the last one in March 1932, three months before I was born, was my name, Nathan Ress [Nick's original name before the hated step-father changed it].

It was just an old stone, with some dates and a name.  It wasn't much and I'm not sure why, but I felt a heavy shock of disbelief and recognition and felt that the drama was done.

But it wasn't.  His story continued and continues still as he approaches his ninety-second birthday.  We learn of his last journey to the basketball court to try to revive his youthful hoopster dreams, an amusing but futile effort; the death of his half-sister Annie, who suffered abuse at the hands of her father Arthur, Nick's hated step-father; and the last dreamy years with his beloved wife Mari, to whom he was married for fifty-eight years, whose presence, stated or not, remains a light-motif throughout the book.

At one point about twenty years ago when they were in Montana and he was modelling for her, he writes:

It is a rainy day and Mari is painting her Big Enigma, a brown hump like the mountain, me.  She painted me, nearly forty-years ago, naked, in college.  She was always partial to cheap models who did not have to be flattered – herself, me – and I was cheap as dirt, thin then, and would sit for a smile though I couldn't hold the pose for three minutes.

Now I am a mountain of a man, graying by the hour, but I can sit for days, reading or fussing with a few sentences.  Mari says under her breath that I have everything her regular models have, only more of it. . . .

Flashes of the forty years we've had of it together, the tensions and the falling-offs, the quiet moments, nights of passion, delusions, illusions, and, with our children, the great hungry city, the endless pressures of money, of a life crying, like the house of D. H. Lawrence's rocking horse loser, "There must be more money."

But with the ease that more money eventually afforded them, life – their lives – went on as they tend to do, softened by money but still the same.  The years passed and Mari died, as did one son, Paul.  Nick sits by "the sorry little pond" he built on the Catskill hillside near their summer house in Woodstock, New York.  He keeps fishing, always fishing, always fishing.

I like to sit on the dock in the heavy dusk and toss food pellets or pieces of bread to who will have them.  Sometimes I think of Nat, Rose, Arthur, or Annie, and a fire, and classrooms and offices and books and a tiny, snot-green room in Greenwich Village, and sometimes I think of Ice Pond, which I first fished more than three-quarters of a century ago, a close friend or two, and fish in the murky waters of my past.  And always now I think of Mari and Paul. . . .

I am flooded with questions I cannot answer. . . . She was here and she is gone, and Paul is gone, and their absences are raw and pungent and their memories precious. . . . Tonight I lumber back from the pond – a bear of a man, garrulous, bearded, often impatient with myself, walking with a rolling gate and a cane, with titanium hips and too much belly. . . . In the darkened glass of the studio [Mari's], suddenly mirrorlike, I catch a glimpse of an old fellow with a beard and uncombed hair; he looks a little like a badly tied trout fly, but not someone who once thought he had no life. I smile. . . . There is a noise below me, in the sloping field, a whirring of wings.  It is merely a flock of crows rising from the high grasses, making the air tremulous in their departure, like all those years of fear and doubt and striving, of joy and love, rising, fluttering, and then, in a crazy crowd, gone.

"Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story."

Yes, the beauty of the days gone by.

The post Fishing With Words first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
23 May 2024 | 3:45 pm

7. Donald Trump’s Assault on the Wages of American Workers

Although Donald Trump, as president, proclaimed in his 2020 State of the Union address that he had produced a "blue-collar boom" in workers' wages, the reality was quite different.  Using his control of the executive branch of the U.S. government, Trump repeatedly undermined the wages of American workers by blocking raises and imposing wage reductions.

Only the preceding year, Trump derailed vital wage legislation.  In July 2019―with the pathetically low federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25 per hour for a decade and some 13 million workers holding two or more jobs to support their families―the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act.  If enacted, the legislation would have gradually increased the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over a six-year period.  But, instead of supporting the legislation or proposing an alternative, the Trump White House announced that, if the Senate passed the House bill, Trump would veto it.  Consequently, the measure died in the Republican-controlled Senate.  According to the AFL-CIO, the legislation would have raised the pay of 40 million American workers.

That same year, Trump's Department of Labor succeeded in rolling back planned wage increases for millions of workers by restricting eligibility for overtime pay.  In 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, the Labor Department had issued a rule substantially raising the income level below which workers were paid time and a half for work done beyond 40 hours per week.  But the Trump Labor Department, seizing on a delay in implementation occasioned by a judicial decision, lowered the level by more than $20,000, thus depriving 8.2 million American workers of the right to overtime pay secured under Obama.

In August 2018, Trump canceled a scheduled 2 percent pay raise for millions of civilian federal employees, leading to criticism even from some Republicans.  This action, plus other administration assaults on the rights of public employees, led to a massive flight of workers from government service.  By the fall of 2019, there were 45,000 vacancies in the Department of Veterans Affairs alone.  To fill these vacancies, the Trump administration hired large numbers of temp workers at low wages and with minimal benefits.

Yet another administration policy that undercut workers' wages emerged with the Trump Labor Department's issuance of a "joint-employer" rule.  The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 had been fashioned to ensure that businesses using staffing companies or subcontractors would be accountable for complying with basic workplace protections.  Even so, the Trump administration's joint-employer rule substantially limited liability for wage and hour violations, thereby making it harder for workers to hold all parties accountable.  As a result, U.S. workers lost an estimated $1 billion annually thanks to subcontracting or wage theft by employers.

Of course, not all Trump administration attempts at holding down wages succeeded.  In 2017, the Trump Labor Department proposed that employers could simply pocket workers' tips, as long as the workers were paid the minimum wage.  Economists estimated that this policy would lead to the loss of $5.8 billion per year in tips for workers, 80 percent of whom were women.  But after the discovery that Trump's Secretary of Labor had gone to great lengths to hide his department's findings about how harmful the new policy would be, Congress stepped in and amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to prohibit employers from seizing the tips of their employees.

Another Trump administration failure occurred in connection with reducing the wages of farmworkers, some of the most exploited, lowest-paid workers in the United States.  In mid-2019, the Labor Department proposed a new regulation that would change the rules of the H-2A visa program, used by agricultural employers to hire migrant farmworkers for seasonal work―for example, by President Trump's wineries.  As one of the rules changes would lower wage rates for H-2A farmworkers and, consequently, for their U.S. counterparts, the United Farm Workers challenged it in federal court and, ultimately, prevailed.

Although the "real wages" (after adjusting for inflation) of American workers did rise during Trump's presidency, the rise was minimal.  According to a 2020 Congressional report, during Trump's first three years in office, workers' "real average hourly earnings increased by an average of just 0.9 percent."  Admittedly, there was a very substantial jump in real average earnings in the fourth year.  But this jump reflected the fact that, in 2020, a disproportionate number of low-wage workers lost their jobs thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and, therefore, were not included in wage calculations.

And even these minimal wage gains usually reflected factors other than administration actions.  Responding to the failure of the federal government to ensure adequate wages for workers, many states and cities enacted minimum wage raises, fueling wage growth for the most poorly-paid.  Indeed, a study by the National Employment Law Project found that the median wage for low-wage workers climbed much more sharply in states that raised their pay floors than in states that didn't.  In addition, a surge in strike activity by teachers and by unionized workers at major U.S. companies during 2018 and 2019 increased wages for yet another portion of the nation's workforce.

Overall, then, far from sparking a wage boom, the policies of Trump and his administration depressed the wages of American workers.

The post Donald Trump's Assault on the Wages of American Workers first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
23 May 2024 | 9:04 am

8. Veterans For Peace Memorial Day Statement May 2024

Memorial Day is a day for remembering the victims of war.

Members of Veterans For Peace remember America's war dead not just once a year, but every day of our lives, with the solemnity they deserve, not the crass commercialism Memorial Day has become.

We remember the war dead and the far greater number of wounded with missing limbs and the even greater number living with invisible, lifelong devils and injuries in their heads.

We remember the lost contributions they could have made to society that they literally bottled up or destroyed in the epidemic of suicide rampant among veterans.

We remember the domestic violence caused by their devils. We remember their children whose lives were more painful and less joyful than they could have been because of those devils. We remember the way the pain echoes through generations, refreshed by each new war. We remember how our communities and our nation are so much less than they should be because of this underserved burden.

We remember all those that our sociopathic, delusional leaders told us were "the enemy." We remember the multitudes of women, children, the old and the sick they obscenely wrote off as "collateral damage."

We remember our innumerable brothers and sisters of Mother Earth who were killed and wounded: the birds, the four-legged, our family in the seas, the trees and life-giving plants destroyed without thought, the crops and animals that sustain human life.

We remember the billions of people who go without clean water, education and health care because war has stolen the money.

This year we also remember the few winners in what Marine Corps General Smedley Butler called the racket of war, the elite who delight in telling their puppets in government to order up another one. And we remember the winners' mantra, "Even losing wars make money."

We remember all the losers of that racket, too; we remember each one. We do not remember some and ignore others. Nor do we glorify warriors or war because there is no glory in war. On Memorial Day we remember all the folly and all the costs of war.

We remember what Jeanette Rankin, the first woman in Congress, said as she voted against declaring war in 1917, "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."

The post Veterans For Peace Memorial Day Statement May 2024 first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
23 May 2024 | 6:58 am

9. A Misplaced Purity: Democracies and Crimes Against International Law

The application for arrest warrants by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan in the Israel-Hamas War gives us a chance to revisit a recurring theme in the commission of crimes in international humanitarian law.  Certain states, so this logic goes, either commit no crimes, or, if they do, have good reasons for doing so, be they self-defence against a monstrous enemy, or as part of a broader civilisational mission.

In this context, the application for warrants regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, merits particular interest.  Those regarding the Hamas trio of its leader Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Al-Masri, the commander-in-chief of Al-Qassam Brigades, and the organisation's political bureau head Ismail Haniyeh, would have left most Western governments untroubled.

From Khan's perspective, the warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant will focus on policies of starvation, the intentional causing of "great suffering, or serious injury to body or health", including cruel treatment, wilful killing or murder, intentional attacks on the Palestinian population, including extermination, persecution and other inhumane acts falling within the Rome Statute "as crimes against humanity".

The ICC prosecutor's assessment follows the now increasingly common claim that Israel's military effort, prosecuted in the cause of self-defence in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks by Hamas, is not what it claims to be.  Far from being paragons of proportionate warfare and humanitarian grace in war, Israel's army and security forces are part of a program that has seen needless killing and suffering.  The crimes against humanity alleged "were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy."

The reaction from the Israeli side was always expected.  Netanyahu accused the prosecutor of "creating a false symmetry between the democratically elected leaders of Israel and the terrorist chieftains".  He rejected "with disgust the comparison of the prosecutor in The Hague between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas".

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also found "any attempt to draw parallels between these atrocious terrorists and a democratically elected government of Israel – working to fulfil its duty to defend and protect its citizens in adherence to the principles of international law […] outrageous and cannot be accepted by anyone."

Israel's staunchest ally, sponsor and likewise self-declared democracy (it is, in fact, a republic created by those suspicious of that system of government), was also there to hold the fort against such legal efforts.  US President Joe Biden's statement on the matter was short and brusque: "The ICC prosecutor's application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous.  And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas."

The democracy-as-purity theme, one used as a seeming exculpation of all conduct in war, surfaced in the May 21 exchange between Senator James Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  Was the secretary, inquired Risch, amenable to supporting legislation to combat the ICC "sticking its nose in the business of countries that have an independent, legitimate, democratic judicial system"?  (No consideration was given to the sustained efforts by the Netanyahu government to erode judicial independence in passing legislation to curb the discretion of courts to strike down government decisions.)

The response from Blinken was agreeable to such an aim.  There was "no question we have to look at the appropriate steps to take to deal with, again, what is a profoundly wrong-headed decision."  As things stand, a bill is already warming the lawmaking benches with a clear target.  Sponsored by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act would obligate the President to block the entry of ICC officials to the US, revoke any current US visas such officials hold, and prohibit any property transactions taking place in the US.  To avoid such measures, the court must cease all cases against "protected persons of the United States and its allies".

The Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer similarly saw the prosecutor's efforts as a pairing of incongruous parties. "The fact however that the leader of the terrorist organisation Hamas whose declared goal is the extinction of the State of Israel is being mentioned at the same time as the democratically elected representatives of that very State is non-comprehensible."

From the outset, such statements do two things.  The first is to conjure up a false distinction – that of equivalence – something absent in the prosecutor's application.  The acts alleged are relevant to each specified party and are specific to them.  The second is a corollary: that democracies do not break international law and certainly not when it comes to war crimes and crimes against humanity, most notably when committed against a certain type of foe.  The more savage the enemy, the greater the latitude in excusing vengeful violence.  That remains, essentially, the cornerstone of Israel's defence argument at the International Court of Justice.

Such arguments echo an old trope.  The two administrations of George W. Bush spilled much ink in justifying the torture, enforced disappearance and renditions of terror suspects to third countries during its declared Global War on Terror.  Lawyers in both the White House and Justice Department gave their professional blessing, adopting an expansive definition of executive power in defiance of international laws and protections.  Such sacred documents as the Geneva Conventions could be defied when facing Islamist terrorism.

Lurking beneath such justifications is the snobbery of exceptionalism, the conceit of power.  Civilised liberal democracies, when battling the forces of a named barbarism, are to be treated as special cases in the world of international humanitarian law.  The ICC prosecutor begs to differ.

The post A Misplaced Purity: Democracies and Crimes Against International Law first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
23 May 2024 | 5:17 am

10. Yes, Foreign Agents Try to Shape Your Opinion about Israel

The merging of Zionist propaganda and anti-China hysteria should embarrass its proponents, but apparently there's a market for this conspiratorial drivel in the "post-truth" era promoted by the far right. They want us to believe the paid foreign agents we should be concerned about are students in $40 tents calling for university divestment, not those working for a foreign-focused lobby with billions of dollars.

Last week National Post columnist John Ivison claimed the Chinese Communist Party was funding the popular uprising against Canada's role in enabling Israel's genocide in Gaza. Of course he supplied absolutely no evidence. The front-page article headlined "Chinese links to protests fit pattern" began: "the public inquiry into foreign interference in Canada has already established that China tried to meddle in the last two general election campaigns. But, if a new report into the funding of the anti-Israel movement in North America is to be believed, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is also linked to the protests that are disrupting cities and campuses across the continent." Notice the hedging? If it "is to be believed". In other words, there is absolutely no evidence that he is willing to cite.

On X, I responded, "A well-financed foreign focused lobby has employed every tactic short of assassination to scuttle a popular uprising against genocide in Gaza and Johnny boy claims those who don't want Canada to enable the slaughter are a Chinese Communist Party front. You are beyond ridiculous."

Ivison retorted, "What's wrong, Yves? Are your paymasters unhappy at any scrutiny of their funding of Canada's legion of useful idiots?" CBC and Globe and Mail commentator Andrew Coyne and former Toronto Sun editor Lorrie Goldstein retweeted Ivison's idiocy to which I responded: "You haven't a scintilla of evidence I've been funded by any foreign, corporate or wealthy interest. You on other hand are paid by a paper set up by Conrad Black and currently owned by a US hedge fund. Are you ashamed of promoting genocide and being such a sycophant of power?"

Since campaigning against Canada's role in overthrowing Haiti's elected government 20 years ago, I've repeatedly been accused of receiving money from Haitian, Venezuelan, Russian, Iranian and Chinese officials. It's common to claim that internationalists and anti-imperialists are funded by foreign enemies. In a bid to delegitimize the anti-genocide movement, especially the student divestment encampments, there's been a burst of these claims recently. In "Hidden hand funds Jew-hating protests, rallies, encampments", Warren Kinsella makes a mockery of himself. The Toronto Sun commentary concluded, "The rest of us know the truth: the Jew-hating protests, rallies and encampments we are seeing are funded, in whole or in part, by outside interests who do not wish to reveal themselves. They are the hidden hand. But the rest of us will not rest until the hidden hand is exposed."

The imaginary "hidden hand" versus documented apartheid lobby truth. It's easy to trace at least part of the mammoth sums the apartheid lobby has used to shape Canadian opinion since all taxpayers subsidize the registered "charities" behind their propaganda. Montreal's Jewish federation has $2 billion in assets. The other federations have hundreds of millions of dollars more. (The federations receive tens of millions of dollars in government grants and tens of millions more in subsidy through tax receipts they offer to donors).

The federations fund a bevy of genocidal organizations and their official advocacy arm is the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. CIJA has a slew of ties to Israel with its top lobbyist, David Cooper, a long-time press officer at the Israeli Embassy. The Jewish Federations of Canada (JFC) and its United Israel Appeal (UIA) calls "the government of Israel" one of its "key strategic partners … that act as agents in the delivery of programs in Israel." Between 1991 and 2022 UIA received over $1.5 billion in donations, which largely came from the federations.

At a broader level, Canada's Jewish Federations have long been formally tied to the Jewish Agency for Israel (Jewish Agency for Palestine until 1948). Its website notes, "Canadian Federations are engaged in unique alliances with the Jewish Agency for Israel" and "founded in 1929, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) is a primary agent for JFC-UIA in carrying out our mandate."

The Jewish Agency for Israel effectively became Israel's government in 1948 with long-time head David Ben-Gurion its first prime minister. Israel's first foreign minister and second prime minister, Moshe Sharett, subsequently led the Jewish Agency while current Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, stepped down as head of the Jewish Agency to take that position. Today the Jewish Agency for Israel is a parastatal organization that seeks to further Judaize Israel, especially far-flung areas.

No corporate media ever discusses the federations' formal ties to Israel. Nor do we hear about the huge sums spent on pro-apartheid campaigning in Canada.

But we know one thing for certain: The paid foreign agents for Israel and its genocide aren't sleeping in $40 tents.

The post Yes, Foreign Agents Try to Shape Your Opinion about Israel first appeared on Dissident Voice.
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