Dissident Voice

Dissident Voice
22 Sep 2023 | 5:28 pm

1. The Other Side of the Story

Dissident Voice
22 Sep 2023 | 4:47 am

2. Mr. Mike’s Mondo Imbroglio or How Not to Launch a Global Anti-Censorship Movement

So, I've been excommunicated from Michael Shellenberger's global anti-censorship movement. It's my own fault. I was sowing dissension. I engaged in harmful speech in the group chat. I was making people feel uncomfortable. I was not playing ball. I was not with the program.

The program, as you may recall, was launched in Westminster, London, in June, when Mike and Matt Taibbi and Russell Brand exposed the Censorship Industrial Complex …

… for 35 pounds sterling a head.

My readers may recall this piece I published about the secret gathering of journalists, authors, artists, academics, and activists that took place after that public event. I couldn't say too much about it at the time, as we were operating under strict OPSEC protocols, and had taken oaths of silence, and so on, which, being excommunicated, I am no longer bound by. I'm still going to be a little cagey, however, as there are a lot of people involved in Mike's movement who I like and respect, and I don't want to harm them with my dissension-sowing any more than necessary.

Also, before I make fun of Mike, and share my somewhat more serious thoughts about how not to launch "a free-speech movement," I want to make it clear that I still support this campaign, and any other anti-censorship campaign, regardless of how flawed or supercilious it may be.

All right, let's get down to it, shall we?

Mike's movement is preparing to publish a declaration. It's a good declaration. I contributed to it. I signed it, although my name will not appear on it now, as Mike has threatened to remove it if I published a piece like this. Mike is an extremely smart guy, but he doesn't seem to get that I don't respond well to threats … or, rather, that this is how I respond to threats. Or, who knows? Maybe he actually wanted me to publish this piece, and goaded me into it, which, I can see how that could be a shrewd PR move.

In any event, it's a good declaration (or it was the last time I had access to it). There is nothing wrong with the declaration. What has taken up most of the last three months of the coalition's time and energy, and has led to my excommunication, is the hunt for Very Important Persons to be included as signatories when the declaration is released.

Apparently, the way it works with such declarations and "open letters," and so on, is that you write up your declaration or letter and then you try to get selected big shots to sign it in order to make it look more impressive to … well, whoever you're trying to impress. The character of your big-shot signatories is critical, because the media, and "the court of public opinion," and your potential major philanthropic backers, are going to judge you by the company you keep.

Mike's anti-censorship coalition has been carrying out this process by "consensus," under the watchful eye and firm hand of Mike. Mike is not the "leader" of this coalition, which is totally leaderless and democratic, of course. He is just the "facilitator," who explains the objectives, makes the final decisions, polices people's speech, and excommunicates suppressive persons whose dissension-sowing threatens to disrupt the "atmosphere of mutual respect" that Mike feels he needs to "maintain" in the group chat.

Yes, Mike has a little control-freak problem. Many non-leader leaders of "movements" do. If you've ever been involved in political activism, you know what I mean. If you haven't, count your blessings.

Anyway, the Hunt for VIP Signatories has been awkward, due to (a) the need to maintain the appearance of "decision-by-consensus" in the coalition's totally non-hierarchical group chat, (b) concern among various coalition members about including "divisive" VIPs, and (c) Mike's behind-the-scenes machinations.

For example, at one point, I offered to contact one of the only VIPs I know to ask him for help with further VIP outreach. Mike jumped into the chat and quashed that idea, as I had made it clear that I was not willing to try to dictate to this Very Important Person who he should and shouldn't reach out to for us. Days or weeks later — I can't remember exactly — one of Mike's employees wrote to me sub rosa and gave me the secret go-ahead from Mike. So, I reached out to this VIP, who then reached out to some other VIPs, many of whom were happy to sign, and some of whom offered to help with further outreach.

Panic broke out at Coalition HQ. Some of the Very Important Persons that my Very Important Person had invited were potentially Divisive Persons, who hadn't been vetted by consensus on the coalition's VIP-vetting spreadsheet. (I kid you not, there's an actual spreadsheet.) So, I was asked to reach out to my VIP and instruct him to cease and desist with further outreach before he reached out to further Divisive Persons, who might reach out to further Divisive Persons, at which point, everything might spin out of control! Needless to say, I declined to do that.

If you're wondering about exactly who qualifies as a "Divisive Person" in the coalition … well, certainly not Very Important Persons like Richard Dawkins, who in 2021 compared folks who "refused" the Covid "vaccines" to "faith-heads releasing rattlesnakes in supermarkets"…

But later admitted that "mistakes may have been made"

Or fanatical New Normalist Slavoj Žižek …

You can watch Slavoj getting extremely worked up in support of Covid "vaccine" mandates, and mocking people who care about "silly" things like their personal bodily autonomy, with Briahna Joy Gray in 2021, if you think you have the stomach for it …

VIPs like Dawkins and Žižek are not "divisive." They are very important A-list persons who are committed to universal human rights, and freedom of speech, and all that kind of stuff, unless, of course, the authorities announce that they need to go full-blown totalitarian and lock down and segregate and censor everyone because of a virus with a 99.8% survival rate, in which case, you know, "Sieg fucking Heil!"

Russell Brand, however, is definitely "divisive." You remember Russell Brand from that poster above advertising the big event in London, don't you? Here's our friend Russell Brand today …

The Russell-Brand-cancellation op was what sealed my fate with Mike's free speech movement. I had been holding my nose for quite a while — for example, I never opposed having people like Dawkins and Žižek on the signatories list, as I understood the PR logic — and I was praying that none of the coalition members would bring up "the revelations" (as one of them put it), but the odds of that not happening were poor. Sure enough, someone brought Brand up, and someone checked, and he had been asked to sign on, but as of Saturday he hadn't responded, at least not according to the VIP-vetting spreadsheet. So that was obviously a huge relief. However, what if he responded now (i.e., post-"revelations") and wanted to sign? Should he still be allowed to? A "risk assessment" was suggested.

And, OK, I got a little snarky and proposed that we skip the "risk assessment" and all the other PR-strategizing bullshit and just uphold the principles we are claiming to defend.

Whereupon Mike Shellenberger needed to reach me, urgently, presumably to shout at me and threaten me again. I'd had an earlier such phone call from Mike, when I criticized his sucking up to Elon Musk and suggested that it made us look not quite neutral. Mike called me at home, apoplectic, that time, and threatened to kick me out of the club if I didn't toe the line, which I found sort of funny, and a bit disturbing, but nothing I couldn't handle. I have known a lot of control freaks in my day. And Mike has done, and is still doing, a lot of great work. And we all have our character flaws, don't we?

Anyway, I wasn't in the mood for another screaming, threatening conversation with Mike, as I was still at my friend's converted monastery in Italy, and I finally had a peaceful day to myself. (The Italian workmen who are jackhammering big holes in the monastery walls don't work on the weekends.) I decided I would call him back later.

Next thing I knew, I was excommunicated.

I'm not a professional movement builder, but I'm pretty sure this is not how you do it. I don't mean my excommunication. I mean the suffocating top-down micromanagement, and the PR-strategizing, and the VIP-idolatry, and the paranoia about alienating mainstream people who are going to be alienated anyway, regardless of how many Hollywood celebrities and Harvard professors you dangle in their faces. The simple fact is, playing by the rules of the system and the "reality" you claim to be opposing a recipe for failure. Or, worse than failure, a diversion, the simulation of success. Which is where I'm afraid Mike's "movement" is headed.

Movements are not PR campaigns. Yes, of course, some PR is involved, but the masses are not your employees. And they aren't CGI extras in your narcissistic movie. They are actual living, breathing people, people who do not need us to lead them. Basically, the masses don't give a shit what Richard Dawkins and Slavoj Žižek endorse. The editors of "respected" publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times give a shit, but the masses don't give a shit about them. If you are going to "build a movement" to oppose the Censorship Industrial Complex (which Mike claims he wants to do), at some point, you're going to have to alienate some of your friends and colleagues in NormalWorld and get your hands dirty and connect with the masses, or the "people that no one has ever heard of," as Mike calls them.

The people that no one has ever heard of are not stupid. They know the difference between a serious anti-censorship campaign and a vanity project. There's still time for Mike to turn this thing around, let go of the reins, stop sucking up to the mainstream establishment, and reach out to the masses. Honestly, I hope he will. I wish him and the London gang success. There are millions of people out there who would get on board with a grassroots campaign opposing the Censorship Industrial Complex, but, to get them on board, you have to let go of the wheel and let them steer the ship.

The irony is, when you're "building a movement," when you know you are succeeding is when you lose control of it, when the movement doesn't need you to "lead" it, when it starts moving in directions you never imagined and starts doing things you never intended. But you can't get there if you suffocate it in its infancy, if you are so obsessed with maintaining control that you snuff out every idea and impulse that doesn't conform to your vision of it.

Mike means well. He's got a good heart. And he's a fighter. All of which I respect. I hope he can learn that lesson, quickly. Perhaps the thing he has set in motion will teach it to him as things progress. We could certainly do with an actual global grassroots anti-censorship movement. I hope Mike and the gang can unclench their anal sphincters a bit and help get us there.

Oh, and regarding Russell Brand. I don't know Russell Brand. I have absolutely no idea what he has or hasn't done. Neither do you, probably. Which is not the point. The point is the current global-capitalist crackdown on dissent, which is in full-swing. Russell Brand is just the latest head on a spike, alongside the heads of Assange, Snowden, Trump, Corbyn, Carlson, et al. They are greasing up a spike for Bobby Kennedy's head, and the head of anyone else who challenges them, even people that no one has ever heard of, like me.

I think Max Blumenthal made the point succinctly …

… but, you know, Max is a Russian-sponsored, Covid-denying, conspiracy-theorizing, Trump-loving, transphobic, anti-Semitic Jew, who raped his neighbor's hamster … or whatever. But then, who among us isn't, these days?

Dissident Voice
22 Sep 2023 | 2:18 am

3. Syria and China: a New Pole in the Middle East

Peter Koenig – PressTV Interview – transcript
21 September 2023


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in China on his first visit since the war and foreign-backed insurgency gripped his country some 12 years ago.

President al-Assad arrived in the eastern city of Hangzhou where he will attend the opening ceremony of the Asian Games on Saturday. He and other foreign leaders will then meet Chinese President Xi Jinping there. The Syrian president will also travel to Beijing to discuss bilateral issues and China's help to rebuild his war-ravaged country. Beijing, which has long provided Damascus with diplomatic support, says that Assad's visit will push bilateral relations to a new level. The visit also comes as China expands its engagement in West Asia. This year Beijing brokered a deal that saw Saudi Arabia and Syria agree to restore diplomatic ties and reopen their respective embassies.

PressTV:  Mr. Koenig, what is your take on Mr. Assad's visit to China?

Peter Koenig:  This is excellent news. President Bashar Assad's visit to China and his meeting with President Xi Jinping will further strengthen the already good diplomatic relations, as well as cooperation, between the two countries.

China has an outstanding record in expanding diplomacy and peace initiatives. As you mentioned before, earlier this year Beijing was highly influential in re-establishing diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Syria – a move, paralleled by another Chinese initiative – re-establishing diplomatic relations and de facto peace – between Iran and the Saudis – and Yemen.

What is important, Mr. Assad's visit will likely lead to enhanced support by China for Syria's defense and possibly reconstruction of western initiated war-destroyed infrastructure.

Since January 2022, Syria is also part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, a fact that may further enhance China-Syria collaboration, for example, in the field of hydrocarbon exploitation and protection from western theft especially from the US and Turkey.

President Bashar al-Assad's visit to China comes at a crucial time, just preceding the coming 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), planned for Mid-October 2023 in Beijing.

Regarding the BRICS – although Syria is not yet a candidate for joining the BRICS – this diplomatic visit by the Syrian President to China may spark a common interest in expanding the BRICS with Syria's presence during next year's BRICS summit, sponsored by Russia, in October 2024.

Overall, as China is expanding her engagement in Western Asia and the Middle East, Syria's diplomatic closeness to China is also enhanced, due to Syria's centric geographic location, bordering Lebanon, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, and Jordan to the south.

This potentially also makes for an excellent emissary for China in the region.

PressTV:  You just mentioned the Chinese diplomatic initiatives to reopen Embassies between Teheran and Riyadh and between Saudia Arabia and Syria. Do you think there is a shift of the Middle East breaking loose from the US-led western hegemony?

PK:  Definitely.  This is visible on all fronts. Trade relations between Saudi Arabia and China have already grown rapidly before President Xi's diplomatic initiatives in the region, and that in local currencies. In other words, hydrocarbon deals are made in non-dollar currencies, even though the US-Dollar had been set by the US in the early 1970s as THE trading currency for OPEC.

However, a detachment from the west does not happen overnight. The shift will be gradual, as the dollar dominance will wane gradually, especially with ever-more countries trading in local currencies rather than in US-dollars which, after WWII, was made de facto the world trade currency.

In this de-dollarization, it is expected that the BRICS will play a major role. Consequently, it is also important that countries like Syria and Iran – truly interested in de-dollarization – will join the initiatives of China and Russia, as well as the stated goal of the BRICS.

The trend of disengagement from the West of the Global South, in general, and the Middle East, in particular, is irreversible. Western dollar-hegemonic "sanctions policies" have done enough harm for sovereign countries to take their destiny into their own decision making.

The East, led by China and Russia, is pursuing a brighter future for social and economic development, one of peace and harmony.


Note: Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he worked for over 30 years around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America, writes regularly for online journals, and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and he is co-author of Cynthia McKinney's book When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis (Clarity Press, November 1, 2020). Peter is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Chongyang Institute of Renmin University, Beijing.

Dissident Voice
21 Sep 2023 | 11:33 pm

4. NATO Destroyed Libya in 2011; Storm Daniel Came to Sweep Up the Remains

Shefa Salem al-Baraesi (Libya), Drown on Dry Land, 2019.

Three days before the Abu Mansur and Al Bilad dams collapsed in Wadi Derna, Libya, on the night of September 10, the poet Mustafa al-Trabelsi participated in a discussion at the Derna House of Culture about the neglect of basic infrastructure in his city. At the meeting, al-Trabelsi warned about the poor condition of the dams. As he wrote on Facebook that same day, over the past decade his beloved city has been 'exposed to whipping and bombing, and then it was enclosed by a wall that had no door, leaving it shrouded in fear and depression'. Then, Storm Daniel picked up off the Mediterranean coast, dragged itself into Libya, and broke the dams. CCTV camera footage in the city's Maghar neighbourhood showed the rapid advance of the floodwaters, powerful enough to destroy buildings and crush lives. A reported 70% of infrastructure and 95% of educational institutions have been damaged in the flood-affected areas. As of Wednesday 20 September, an estimated 4,000 to 11,000 people have died in the flood – among them the poet Mustafa al-Trabelsi, whose warnings over the years went unheeded – and another 10,000 are missing.

Hisham Chkiouat, the aviation minister of Libya's Government of National Stability (based in Sirte), visited Derna in the wake of the flood and told the BBC, 'I was shocked by what I saw. It's like a tsunami. A massive neighbourhood has been destroyed. There is a large number of victims, which is increasing each hour'. The Mediterranean Sea ate up this ancient city with roots in the Hellenistic period (326 BCE to 30 BCE). Hussein Swaydan, head of Derna's Roads and Bridges Authority, said that the total area with 'severe damage' amounts to three million square metres. 'The situation in this city', he said, 'is more than catastrophic'. Dr Margaret Harris of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the flood was of 'epic proportions'. 'There's not been a storm like this in the region in living memory', she said, 'so it's a great shock'.

Howls of anguish across Libya morphed into anger at the devastation, which are now developing into demands for an investigation. But who will conduct this investigation: the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity, headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh and officially recognised by the United Nations (UN), or the Government of National Stability, headed by Prime Minister Osama Hamada in Sirte? These two rival governments – which have been at war with each other for many years – have paralysed the politics of the country, whose state institutions were fatally damaged by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) bombardment in 2011.

Soad Abdel Rassoul (Egypt), My Last Meal, 2019.

The divided state and its damaged institutions have been unable to properly provide for Libya's population of nearly seven million in the oil-rich but now totally devastated country. Before the recent tragedy, the UN was already providing humanitarian aid for at least 300,000 Libyans, but, as a consequence of the floods, they estimate that at least 884,000 more people will require assistance. This number is certain to rise to at least 1.8 million. The WHO's Dr Harris reports that some hospitals have been 'wiped out' and that vital medical supplies, including trauma kits and body bags, are needed. 'The humanitarian needs are huge and much more beyond the abilities of the Libyan Red Crescent, and even beyond the abilities of the Government', said Tamar Ramadan, head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation in Libya.

The emphasis on the state's limitations is not to be minimised. Similarly, the World Meteorological Organisation's Secretary-General Petteri Taalas pointed out that although there was an unprecedented level of rainfall (414.1 mm in 24 hours, as recorded by one station), the collapse of state institutions contributed to the catastrophe. Taalas observed that Libya's National Meteorological Centre has 'major gaps in its observing systems. Its IT systems are not functioning well and there are chronic staff shortages. The National Meteorological Centre is trying to function, but its ability to do so is limited. The entire chain of disaster management and governance is disrupted'. Furthermore, he said, '[t]he fragmentation of the country's disaster management and disaster response mechanisms, as well as deteriorating infrastructure, exacerbated the enormity of the challenges. The political situation is a driver of risk'.

Faiza Ramadan (Libya), The Meeting, 2011.

Abdel Moneim al-Arfi, a member of the Libyan Parliament (in the eastern section), joined his fellow lawmakers to call for an investigation into the causes of the disaster. In his statement, al-Arfi pointed to underlying problems with the post-2011 Libyan political class. In 2010, the year before the NATO war, the Libyan government had allocated money towards restoring the Wadi Derna dams (both built between 1973 and 1977). This project was supposed to be completed by a Turkish company, but the company left the country during the war. The project was never completed, and the money allocated for it vanished. According to al-Arfi, in 2020 engineers recommended that the dams be restored since they were no longer able to manage normal rainfall, but these recommendations were shelved. Money continued to disappear, and the work was simply not carried out.

Impunity has defined Libya since the overthrow of the regime led by Muammar al-Gaddafi (1942–2011). In February–March 2011, newspapers from Gulf Arab states began to claim that the Libyan government's forces were committing genocide against the people of Libya. The United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions: resolution 1970 (February 2011) to condemn the violence and establish an arms embargo on the country and resolution 1973 (March 2011) to allow member states to act 'under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter', which would enable armed forces to establish a ceasefire and find a solution to the crisis. Led by France and the United States, NATO prevented an African Union delegation from following up on these resolutions and holding peace talks with all the parties in Libya. Western countries also ignored the meeting with five African heads of state in Addis Ababa in March 2011 where al-Gaddafi agreed to the ceasefire, a proposal he repeated during an African Union delegation to Tripoli in April. This was an unnecessary war that Western and Gulf Arab states used to wreak vengeance upon al-Gaddafi. The ghastly conflict turned Libya, which was ranked 53rd out of 169 countries on the 2010 Human Development Index (the highest ranking on the African continent), into a country marked by poor indicators of human development that is now significantly lower on any such list.

Tewa Barnosa (Libya), War Love, 2016.

Instead of allowing an African Union-led peace plan to take place, NATO began a bombardment of 9,600 strikes on Libyan targets, with special emphasis on state institutions. Later, when the UN asked NATO to account for the damage it had done, NATO's legal advisor Peter Olson wrote that there was no need for an investigation, since 'NATO did not deliberately target civilians and did not commit war crimes in Libya'. There was no interest in the wilful destruction of crucial Libyan state infrastructure, which has never been rebuilt and whose absence is key to understanding the carnage in Derna.

NATO's destruction of Libya set in motion a chain of events: the collapse of the Libyan state; the civil war, which continues to this day; the dispersal of Islamic radicals across northern Africa and into the Sahel region, whose decade-long destabilisation has resulted in a series of coups from Burkina Faso to Niger. This has subsequently created new migration routes toward Europe and led to the deaths of migrants in both the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea as well as an unprecedented scale of human trafficking operations in the region. Add to this list of dangers not only the deaths in Derna, and certainly the deaths from Storm Daniel, but also casualties of a war from which the Libyan people have never recovered.

Najla Shawkat Fitouri (Libya), Sea Wounded, 2021.

Just before the flood in Libya, an earthquake struck neighbouring Morocco's High Atlas Mountains, wiping out villages such as Tenzirt and killing about 3,000 people. 'I won't help the earthquake', wrote the Moroccan poet Ahmad Barakat (1960–1994); 'I will always carry in my mouth the dust that destroyed the world'. It is as if tragedy decided to take titanic steps along the southern rim of the Mediterranean Sea last week.

A tragic mood settled deep within the poet Mustafa al-Trabelsi. On 10 September, before being swept away by the flood waves, he wrote, '[w]e have only one another in this difficult situation. Let's stand together until we drown'. But that mood was intercut with other feelings: frustration with the 'twin Libyan fabric', in his words, with one government in Tripoli and the other in Sirte; the divided populace; and the political detritus of an ongoing war over the broken body of the Libyan state. 'Who said that Libya is not one?', Al-Trabelsi lamented. Writing as the waters rose, Al-Trabelsi left behind a poem that is being read by refugees from his city and Libyans across the country, reminding them that the tragedy is not everything, that the goodness of people who come to each other's aid is the 'promise of help', the hope of the future.

The rain
Exposes the drenched streets,
the cheating contractor,
and the failed state.
It washes everything,
bird wings
and cats' fur.
Reminds the poor
of their fragile roofs
and ragged clothes.
It awakens the valleys,
shakes off their yawning dust
and dry crusts.
The rain
a sign of goodness,
a promise of help,
an alarm bell.

Dissident Voice
21 Sep 2023 | 4:03 pm

5. Conspiracy Theorist or Expert?

Dissident Voice
21 Sep 2023 | 7:59 am

6. The Danger that Lawfare against Trump Presents to the Progressive Movement

Many have noted that the indictments of Trump ring of lawfare by the Biden administration. Donald Trump has now been indicted four times, and in blatant overkill, now faces 91 criminal charges. In New York alone  he was hit with 34 felonies for the payments to Stormy Daniels. Trump also faces felony charges for claiming the 2020 election was the byproduct of fraud and then seeking to invalidate the outcome of that election through allegedly unlawful means.

These criminal cases rest on the assumption that Trump knew his claims of election fraud were false, making his actions to overturn the election an illegal conspiracy. However, what anti-Trumpers declare disinformation is what Trumpers and others consider their First Amendment free speech right to speak the truth. So far, the US has no official 1984-style Ministry of Truth or "science" that declares what is misinformation – though Biden sought to create one with the Nina Jankowicz Disinformation Governance Board.

Trump challenged the election results in some states and asked officials there to find evidence of fraud. Later he asked Vice President Pence to reject the Electors from those states. A candidate in any election has the right to challenge the vote count. The Constitution presents some procedures for doing this, which Trump followed.

Yet, in 2000, 2004, and particularly in 2016, when Democrats lost the election, they also challenged the final vote. The US clearly has undemocratic presidential elections, where winning the popular vote does not mean you win the election, a consequence of the Constitution giving us no right to vote for president.

In 2000, the Supreme Court did intervene to stop the recount of votes for president in Florida that would have made Al Gore the president. In 2004, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and others objected to certifying the Ohio elector votes for Bush, which would make him the victor. In 2016, after the Hillary Clinton-CIA-FBI Russia collusion hoax – the biggest national security state hoax since their WMDs in Iraq – had failed to stop Trump, Democratic activists tried to convince electors to switch their votes from Trump. Two did. Some even received death threats if they voted for Trump. No one was charged with obstructing an official proceeding in either case.

Trump stands accused of violating the Espionage Act, treason, by possessing classified documents in his private mansion – something we know Biden did as Vice President and Clinton did as Secretary of State. Trump – unlike Biden or Clinton at the time – was President of the United States, the highest official of the Executive Branch of the government. Even the American Bar Association states the President has "broad authority to formally declassify most documents."

Glenn Greenwald asked:

What is it that Donald Trump did exactly that was illegal? He definitely sued in court multiple times and lost, which is absolutely his right to do. He told Mike Pence what he heard from his lawyers was Mike Pence's ability to do, even if it wasn't, which was act as that vice presidential role and reject as certified results, ones that he regarded had evidence of fraud and send them back to the states. He arranged for an alternative state of electors to be ready to be anointed in the event he could prove that there was a fraud. But what about this is criminal? Which of these steps is illegal?

In Georgia state court Trump was charged with 13 felony conspiracy counts under their RICO anti-racketeering law used against mobsters. The law makes everyone who did anything as part of the conspiracy a full member of the criminal ring and equally responsible for crimes committed by others, as long as they were committed as part of the conspiracy. The prosecutor outlandishly claimed this conspiracy began one day after the 2020 election, when Trump gave a speech saying he won. This is criminalizing our First Amendment free speech rights.

National Security State Lawfare to Fix 2024 Election for Biden

The Biden administration is using the Department of Justice to eliminate his only serious challenger in the presidential race. This lawfare election fixing is unprecedented in US history, though presidents have been "elected" in underhanded ways, as in 1824, 1876, 1960, 2000. Even more ominously, this lawfare is being engineered by the national security state. They have opposed Trump since he first condemned US wars in the Middle East during the 2016 Republican primary debates, and called out the national security state hoax of weapons of mass destruction to instigate the war on Iraq.

It now looks like the 2024 presidential election will not be decided by our vote, but by the national security state intervening beforehand to remove Biden's most formidable challenger.

Trump could have brought the same charges against Biden in 2020, when Biden, years after no longer holding a government position, had secret documents in his house. However, there would have been national outrage and popular mobilizations against "fascism" if Trump's Department of Justice had indicted Biden for treason in the run-up to the election. But today, progressive people either approve of lawfare against Trump, or are silent.

In 2020, during the Black Lives Matter mass protests, people called for defunding the police and prison network, and regarded prosecutors as covering for police brutality. Now, the left and liberals champion the prosecutors of Trump, not questioning their credibility. Greenwald noted, "They really have come to be a political movement that reveres institutions of power because they regard them as being their political allies."

Voters for Democrats now Trust the FBI and CIA

A Gallup poll a year ago, before the indictments of Trump corroborates this: 79% of Democrat voters say the FBI is doing an excellent or good job; only 29% of Republican voters do. And 69% of Democratic voters say the CIA is doing a good job; only 38% of Republican voters do. We live in a different era from what we grew up in, even 20 years ago at the start of Bush's war on Iraq. Now most Democrats like the CIA and FBI and most Republicans don't. Now all the Democrats in Congress vote to continually fund the war in Ukraine, while only Republicans vote against.

It's a bygone era when Republicans were the war hawks and a wing of the Democrats were pro-peace. Unfortunately most leftists and progressives still live in that era.

Today many who want to defend free speech, stop endless war, stop censorship, oppose the "deep state," find a hearing with Trump Republicans, while the Democrats have become advocates of war and state censorship.

Lawfare Indictments against Trump will be directed against us

These lawfare charges to remove Trump from the presidential race, presented by the national security police agencies along with the Democratic Party and neo-con Republicans, will be used against viable future third parties. They will be a threat to our constitutional rights and our ability to organize against the 1%. Already, in part thanks to the absence of progressive outcry, the RICO law prosecution of Trump in Georgia is used against Stop Cop City protestors in Atlanta.

We should protest the indictments against Trump and the harsh criminal sentences against his January 6 supporters because if the left would ever move off the sidelines and become a force, they will be subject to similar prosecutions, only in an even more draconian way. Working class forces who effectively take on the bosses will suffer the same treatment.

McCarthyism of the Left

Unfortunately, anti-Trump sentiment infects and blinds much of the left milieu. Very few oppose these national security police state attacks on Trump or the lawfare manipulation of the 2024 election. We protest the New York Times' McCarthyite attack on anti-war activists, but McCarthyism also exists in the left, where people are baited, and fear being baited – not as Reds, but as Trump supporters often simply for not condemning him enough. Consequently, they either participate in Trumper-baiting themselves or are intimidated into not standing up to it. This left McCarthyism is widespread and functions to push people towards voting for the supposed "lesser evil" Democratic Party and towards defending the actions of the national security police state.

We see this left McCarthyism with cheering the harsh sentences of January 6 defendants, most of who were non-violent. We see it in progressives' not demanding answers for what the 100-200 undercover FBI and other police agency undercover agents in the crowd were actually doing that day. We see it in their not demanding answers about what the federal agents who had infiltrated the Proud Boys and other groups months before January 6 actually knew of January 6 plans. Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers, was in regular contact with the Secret Service for months prior to January 6. We see it in progressives' failure to question the reasons behind the deliberate lack of defense of the Capitol. We see it in progressives not standing up for Rhodes and Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who were non-violent on January 6, and did not even enter the Capitol, but were given 18 and 22 years for a charge often used against radicals: "seditious conspiracy." These sentences are precedents that will be used against us. But left McCarthyism, fear of being baited as soft on Trump, makes progressives keep their mouths shut.

Unfortunately, as the Democratic Party shifted far to the right, and now is in open collusion with the FBI and CIA, becoming increasingly owned by the national security state, more and more of the left has capitulated to the identity politics ideology of that Party and the belief that it represents the "lesser evil" to Trump "fascism." How far this left will degenerate, and how long until there is a national reaction to national security state fixing the 2024 election is unclear. The left is digging themselves into a hole, and giving the police state the opportunity to cover them up when they try to get out of it.

Dissident Voice
20 Sep 2023 | 3:44 pm

7. The Mass-Media Memory Hole: Blair, Ukraine and Libya

A key function of state-corporate media is to keep the public pacified, ignorant and ill-equipped to disrupt establishment power.

Knowledge that sheds light on how the world operates politically and economically is kept to a minimum by the 'mainstream' media. George Orwell's famous 'memory hole' from 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' signifies the phenomenon brilliantly. Winston Smith's work for the Ministry of Truth requires that he destroys documents that contradict state propaganda:

When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

— Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949, Penguin edition, 1982, p. 34

The interests of power, hinging on the domination of an ignorant population, are robustly maintained:

In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.

— Ibid., p. 36

As the Party slogan puts it:

Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

— Ibid., p. 31

In today's fictional 'democracies', the workings of propaganda are more subtle. Notably, there is a yawning chasm between the rhetoric of leaders' professed concern for human rights, peace and democracy, and the realpolitik of empire, exploitation and control.

As Declassified UK observed earlier this year, the UK has planned or executed over 40 attempts to remove foreign governments in 27 countries since the end of the Second World War. These have involved the intelligence agencies, covert and overt military interventions and assassinations. The British-led coup in Iran 70 years ago is perhaps the best-known example; but it was no anomaly.

If we broaden the scope to British military interventions around the world since 1945, there are as many as 83 examples. These range from brutal colonial wars and covert operations to efforts to prop up favoured governments or to deter civil unrest, including British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1953, Egypt in the 1950s, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 (more on this below).

The criminal history of the US in terms of overthrowing foreign governments, or attempting to do so, was thoroughly documented by William Blum, author of Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower.

These multiple invasions, coups and wars are routinely sold to the public as 'humanitarian interventions' by Western leaders and their propaganda allies of the 'mainstream' media.

A Feted War Criminal

Tony Blair, the arch British war criminal, is largely treated by the UK political and media classes as a wise elder statesman on domestic and world affairs. It sums up the way this country is run by a corrupt and blood-soaked establishment. Proving the point, the Financial Times recently tweeted:

Sir Tony Blair is back. Once vilified as a "war criminal" by some in Labour, his influence within the party is growing again under Sir Keir Starmer. The FT speaks to the former UK premier: https://on.ft.com/3PDkIpE

You've got to love the FT's insistence on using 'Sir', as though that bestows some measure of respectability on a man who waged devastating wars of first resort in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Costs of War project, based at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, estimates that the total death toll in post-9/11 wars – including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen – could be at least 4.5-4.7 million. Blair is one of the Western leaders who shares complicity for this appalling death toll. That fact has been essentially thrown down the memory hole by propaganda outlets who welcome him with open arms.

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark once explained how, following the 9/11 attacks, the US planned to 'take out' seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. It is remarkable that this testimony, and compelling footage, has never been deemed credible evidence by 'mainstream' media.

The notion that Blair was 'once vilified' as a war criminal – and let's drop those quotation marks around 'war criminal' – as though that is no longer the case is ludicrous. In any case, what does the carefully selected word 'vilify' actually mean? According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, it can mean two things:

  • 1: to utter slanderous and abusive statements against: defame;
  • 2: to lower in estimation or importance.

The FT would presumably like to implant in readers' minds the idea that Blair has been unjustly accused of being a war criminal; that the suggestion is a slander. But Blair, along with Bush and the Cheney gang, was one of the chief accomplices behind the mass terrorist attack on Iraq in 2003. It was the 'supreme international crime', judged by the standards of the Nuremberg trials held after the Second World War.

The accompanying FT photograph of a supposedly statesman-like 'Sir' Tony Blair was overlaid with a telling quote:

[Britain's] a country that is in a mess. We are not in good shape.

Unmentioned is that Blair had a large part to play in creating today's mess in Britain. Other than his great crimes in foreign affairs, he is an ardent supporter of the destructive economic system blandly titled 'neoliberalism'. He continued along the path laid down by Tory leader Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Indeed, when Thatcher was once asked what she regarded as her greatest achievement, she replied: 'Tony Blair and New Labour'.

As for Blair, he has described Thatcher in glowing terms as 'a towering political figure' whose legacy will be felt worldwide. He added:

I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them.

The current Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer – another 'Sir' and stalwart of the establishment – is unashamedly casting himself as a Blairite figure. They have even appeared in public together to 'bask in each other's reflected glory', as one political sketch writer noted.

Jonathan Cook observed of Blair:

It says everything that Sir Keir Starmer, the UK's former director of public prosecutions, is actively seeking to rehabilitate him.

That's the same Starmer who helped smear his leftwing predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

The 'Unprovoked' Invasion of Ukraine

The mass-media memory hole is proving invaluable in protecting the public from uncomfortable truths about Ukraine. Western leaders' expression of concern for Ukraine is cover for their desire to see Russian leader Vladimir Putin removed from power and Russia 'weakened', as US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin admitted earlier this year. Austin was previously a board member of Raytheon Technologies, a military contractor, stepping down with a cool sum of $2.7 million to join the Biden administration: yet another example of the 'revolving door' between government and the 'defence' sector.

Australian political analyst Caitlin Johnstone noted recently that:

Arguably the single most egregious display of war propaganda in the 21st century occurred last year, when the entire western political/media class began uniformly bleating the word "unprovoked" in reference to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Pointing out that the West 'provoked' Russia is not the same as saying that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was justified. In fact, we were clear in our first media alert following the invasion:

Russia's attack is a textbook example of "the supreme crime", the waging of a war of aggression.

As Noam Chomsky pointed out, the 2003 invasion of Iraq was totally unprovoked, but:

nobody ever called it "the unprovoked invasion of Iraq." In fact, I don't know if the term was ever used; if it was, it was very marginal. Now you look it up on Google, and hundreds of thousands of hits. Every article that comes out has to talk about the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Why? Because they know perfectly well it was provoked. That doesn't justify it, but it was massively provoked.'

Bryce Greene, a media analyst with US-based Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), observed that US policy makers regarded a war in Ukraine as a desirable objective:

One 2019 study from the RAND Corporation—a think tank with close ties to the Pentagon—suggested that an effective way to overextend and unbalance Russia would be to increase military support for Ukraine, arguing that this could lead to a Russian invasion.

The rationale was outlined in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by John Deni of the Atlantic Council, a US think tank with close links to the White House and the arms industry, headlined "The Strategic Case for Risking War in Ukraine". Greene summarised the logic:

Provoking a war would allow the US to impose sanctions and fight a proxy war that would grind Russia down. Additionally, the anti-Russian sentiment that resulted from a war would strengthen NATO's resolve.

Greene added:

The consensus among policymakers in Washington is to push for endless conflict, no matter how many Ukrainians die in the process. As long as Russia loses men and material, the effect on Ukraine is irrelevant. Ukrainian victory was never the goal.

As Johnstone emphasised in her analysis:

It's just a welldocumented fact that the US and its allies provoked this war in a whole host of ways, from NATO expansion to backing regime change in Kyiv to playing along with aggressions against Donbass separatists to pouring weapons into Ukraine. There's also an abundance of evidence that the US and its allies sabotaged a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine in the early weeks of the war in order to keep this conflict going as long as possible to hurt Russian interests.

She continued:

We know that western actions provoked the war in Ukraine because many western foreign policy experts spent years warning that western actions would provoke a war in Ukraine.

But you will search in vain for substantive reporting of such salient facts and relevant history – see also this piece by FAIR – in 'mainstream' news media.

A recent interview with the influential US economist and public policy analyst Jeffrey Sachs, former director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, highlighted just how serious these media omissions are in trying to understand what is going on in Ukraine. In a superb 30-minute exposition, Sachs presented vital truths, not least that:

I think the defining feature of American foreign policy is arrogance. And they can't listen. They cannot hear red lines of any other country. They don't believe they exist. The only red lines are American red lines.

He was referring here to Russia's red-line plea to the West not to continue expanding NATO right up to its borders; something, as mentioned above, Western foreign policy experts have been warning about for more than three decades. Would Washington ever allow a Russian sphere of influence to extend to US borders, with Mexico and Canada under the 'evil spell' of the Kremlin? Of course not.

Sachs added:

It's pretty clear in early 2014 that regime change [in Ukraine] – and a typical kind of US covert regime change operation – was underway. And I say typical because scholarly studies have shown that, just during the Cold War period alone, there were 64 US covert regime change operations. It's astounding.

What is also astounding, but entirely predictable, is that any such discussion is impermissible in 'respectable' circles.

Sachs described how the US reassured Ukraine after the Minsk II agreement in 2015, which was intended to bring peace to the Donbass region of Ukraine:

Don't worry about a thing. We've got your back. You're going to join NATO.

The role of Biden, then US Vice-President and now President, was to insist that:

Ukraine will be part of NATO. We will increase armaments [to Ukraine].

On 17 December 2021, Putin drafted a security agreement between Russia and the United States. Sachs read it and concluded that it was 'absolutely negotiable', adding:

Not everything is going to be accepted, but the core of this is NATO should stop the enlargement so we don't have a war.

Sachs, who has long had high-level contacts within successive US administrations, then described an exchange he had over the telephone with the White House. 'This war is avoidable', he said. 'Avoid this war, you don't want a war on your watch.'

But the White House was emphatic it would give no commitment to stop enlargement. Instead:

No, no! NATO has an open-door policy [i.e. any country can supposedly join NATO.]

Sachs responded:

That's a path to war and you know it. You've got to negotiate.

Click. The White House hung up.

Sachs told his interviewer:

These people do not understand anything about diplomacy. Anything about reality. Their own diplomats have been telling them for 30 years this is a path to war.

Sachs also related how Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zelensky was so taken aback when the Russian invasion began on 24 February 2022, that he started saying publicly, within just a few days, that Ukraine could be neutral; in other words, not join NATO. This was the essence of what Russia was seeking. But the Americans shut down that discussion, as Sachs went on to explain.

By March 2022, Ukrainian and Russian officials were holding negotiations in Turkey. Meanwhile, Naftali Bennett, who was then Israel's Prime Minister, was making progress in mediating between Zelensky and Putin, as he described during a long interview on his YouTube channel. But, ultimately, the US blocked the peace efforts. Sachs paraphrased Bennett's explanation as to why:

They [the US] wanted to look tough to China. They were worried that this could look weak to China.

Incredible! The US's primary concern is to look strong to China, its chief rival in world affairs. This recalls the motivation behind the US dropping atomic bombs on Japan at the end of the Second World War as a show of might to the Soviet Union.

Infamously, Boris Johnson, then the British PM, travelled to Ukraine in April 2022, presumably under US directive, telling Zelensky not to negotiate with Russia.

If we had truly democratic, impartial news media, all these facts would be widespread across national news outlets. BBC News correspondents would continually remind viewers and listeners how the West provoked Russia, then blocked peace efforts. Instead, the memory hole is doing its job – inconvenient facts are disappeared -and we are bombarded with wall-to-wall propaganda about Russia's 'unprovoked' invasion of Ukraine.

Libya: A Propaganda Masterclass

The memory-hole phenomenon is a huge factor in media coverage of Libya which, as we wrote last week, has suffered terribly in recent flooding and the collapse of two dams. The city of Derna was washed into the sea after 40cm of rain fell in twenty-four hours, leaving 20,000 people dead.

But vital recent history has been almost wholly buried by state-corporate media. In 2011, NATO's attack on Libya essentially destroyed the state and killed an estimated 40,000 people. The nation, once one of Africa's most advanced countries for health care and education, became a failed state, with the collapse of essential services, the re-emergence of slave markets and raging civil war.

The massive bombing, heavily involving the UK and France, had been enthusiastically championed (see our 2011 media alerts here and here) by Western politicians and state-corporate media, including BBC News, as a 'humanitarian intervention' to get rid of an 'autocratic dictator', Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The tipping point was the alleged threat of a massacre by Gaddafi's forces in Benghazi. A senior government official serving under then Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated:

There was a very strong feeling at the top of this government that Benghazi could very easily become the Srebrenica of our watch. The generation that has lived through Bosnia is not going to be the "pull up the drawbridge" generation.

The reference was to the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in July 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces. The threat of something similar happening in Benghazi was a relentless theme across the airwaves and newspaper front pages. The Guardian, in line with the rest of the supposed 'spectrum' of British newspapers, promoted Cameron as a world-straddling statesman. The Arab Spring had 'transformed the prime minister from a reluctant to a passionate interventionist.' The paper dutifully helped his cause with sycophantic pieces such as the bizarrely titled, 'David Cameron's Libyan war: why the PM felt Gaddafi had to be stopped.'

In August 2011, serial Guardian propagandist Andrew Rawnsley responded to NATO's overthrow of the Libyan government:

Libyans now have a chance to take the path of freedom, peace and prosperity, a chance they would have been denied were we to have walked on by when Muammar Gaddafi was planning his rivers of blood. Britain and her allies broadly got it right in Libya.

The BBC's John Humphrys opined that victory had delivered 'a sort of moral glow.' (BBC Radio 4 Today, 21 October 2011)

There are myriad other examples from the Guardian and the rest of the 'MSM'. The pathology of this propaganda blitz was starkly exposed by a 2016 report into the Libya war by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. The report summarised:

The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.

As for the alleged threat of a massacre by Gaddafi's forces in Benghazi, the repeated rationale for the intervention, the report commented:

the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence…Gaddafi's 40-year record of appalling human rights abuses did not include large-scale attacks on Libyan civilians.' (Our emphasis)

More on this, and the propaganda blitz that enabled NATO's attack on Libya, can be found in our 2016 media alert, "The Great Libya War Fraud".

Behind the rhetoric about removing a dictator was, of course, the underlying factor of oil; as it so often is in the West's imperial wars. In 2011, Real News interviewed Kevin G. Hall, the national economics correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, who had studied WikiLeaked material on Libya. Hall said:

As a matter of fact, we went through 251,000 [leaked] documents… Of those, a full 10 percent of them, a full 10 percent of those documents, reference in some way, shape, or form oil.' ('WikiLeaks reveals US wanted to keep Russia out of Libyan oil,' The Real News, 11 May 2011)

Hall concluded:

It is all about oil.

In 2022, Declassified UK reported that:

British oil giants BP and Shell are returning to the oil-rich north African country just over a decade after the UK plunged it into chaos in its 2011 military intervention, which the British government never admitted was a war for oil.

There were additional 'benefits' to the West. As WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange explained in an interview with John Pilger, Hillary Clinton intended to exploit the removal of Gaddafi as part of her corporate-funded bid to become US president. Clinton was then US Secretary of State under President Barack Obama:

Libya's war was, more than anyone else's, Hillary Clinton's war…who was the person who was championing it? Hillary Clinton. That's documented throughout her emails [leaked emails published by WikiLeaks]'.

Assange added:

She perceived the removal of Gaddafi, and the overthrow of the Libyan state, something that she would use to run in the election for President.

You may recall Clinton's gleeful response to the brutal murder of Gaddafi:

We came, we saw, he died.

Also, as Assange pointed out, the destruction of the Libyan state generated a catastrophe of terrorism and a refugee crisis, with many drowning in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe:

Jihadists moved in. ISIS moved in. That led to the European refugee and migrant crisis. Because, not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people then fleeing Syria, destabilisation of other African countries as the result of arms flows, the Libyan state itself was no longer able to control movement of people through it…. [Libya] had been effectively the cork in the bottle of Africa. So, all problems, economic problems, civil war in Africa – people previously fleeing those problems didn't end up in Europe.

Very little of the above vital history and context to the recent catastrophic flooding in Libya is included in current 'mainstream' news reporting. At best, there is token mention. At worst, there is deeply deceitful and cynical rewriting of history.

A report on the Sky News website went about as far as is permissible in detailing the reality:

Libyans are worn down by years and years of poor governance many of which date back to 2011 and the NATO-backed ousting of the country's autocratic dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, during the period which became known as the Arab Spring.

Gaddafi was killed and the country dived into instability with rival armed militias vying for power and territory.

An article for the BBC News Africa section gave an even briefer hint of the awful truth:

Libya has been beset by chaos since forces backed by the West's NATO military alliance overthrew long-serving ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.

This was the only mention in the article of Western responsibility for the disaster. The shameful propaganda censorship was highlighted when the article was posted by the BBC Africa Twitter/X account. So many readers pointed out the glaring omissions that a Twitter/X warning of sorts appeared under the BBC's tweet:

Readers added context they thought people might want to know.


Due to NATO intervention in Libya, several problems such as the lack of a unified government, the re-emergence of slave markets and collapse of welfare services have made the country unable to cope with natural disasters.

If such 'context' – actually, vital missing information – were to regularly appear under BBC tweets because of reader intervention, it would be a considerable public service; and a major embarrassment for the self-declared 'world's leading public service broadcaster'.

A major reason for the appalling death toll in the Libyan city of Derna was that two dams had collapsed, sending 30 million cubic metres of water into the city in 'tsunami-like waves'. These dams were built in the 1970s to protect the local population. A Turkish firm had been contracted in 2007 to maintain the dams. This work stopped after NATO's 2011 bombing campaign. The Turkish firm left the country, their machinery was stolen and all work on the dams ended. This was mentioned briefly in a recent Guardian article, but NATO's culpability was downplayed and it certainly did not generate the huge headlines across the 'MSM' that it warranted.

Further crucial context was also blatantly flushed down the media's memory hole: NATO had deliberately destroyed Libya's water infrastructure in 2011. Investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed reported in 2015:

The military targeting of civilian infrastructure, especially of water supplies, is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Yet this is precisely what NATO did in Libya, while blaming the damage on Gaddafi himself.

Ros Atkins, who has acquired a huge profile as an expert 'explainer', with the moniker 'BBC News Analysis Editor', narrated a video for the BBC News website 'on the floods in Libya – and the years of crisis there too.' Once again, NATO's appalling role in the 2011 destruction of the country was glossed over. The BBC's 'explanation' explained virtually nothing.

Meanwhile, the Guardian ran a wretched editorial which is surely one of the worst Orwellian rewritings of history it has ever published:

Vast fossil fuel reserves and regional security objectives have encouraged foreign powers to meddle in Libya.

As noted above, that was emphatically not the story in 2011 when the Guardian propagandised tirelessly for 'intervention'. The editorial continued:

Libyans have good reason to feel that they have been failed by the international community as well as their own leaders.

In fact, they were also failed by Guardian editors, senior staff, columnists and reporters who did so much to sell 'Cameron's war' on Libya. Nowhere in the editorial is NATO even mentioned.

And beneath this appalling, power-serving screed was a risible claim of reasons for supporting the Guardian:

Our fearless, investigative journalism is a scrutinising force at a time when the rich and powerful are getting away with more and more, in Europe and beyond.

This assertion is an audacious reversal of truth from one of the worst perpetrators of memory-hole journalism in the Western world.

Dissident Voice
20 Sep 2023 | 3:02 pm

8. A Return to Masking?

It looks like the Trudeau government in Canada is preparing to mandate masking again, despite the science, in randomized control trials, revealing no prophylaxis effect of masking compared to non-masking against respiratory viruses.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, is setting up a return to enforced masking of Canadians.

Dissident Voice
20 Sep 2023 | 6:03 am

9. Fighting the Diaspora: India’s Campaign Against Khalistan

Diaspora politics can often be testy.  While the mother country maintains its own fashioned narrative, governed by domestic considerations, the diaspora may, or may not, be in accord with the agreed upon story.  While countries such as China and Iran are seen as the conventional bullies in this regard, spying and monitoring the activities of their citizens in various countries, India has remained more closeted and inconspicuous.

Of late, that lack of conspicuousness has been challenged.  On September 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed that there were "credible allegations" that agents in the pay of the Indian government had murdered Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a vocal supporter for an independent Sikh homeland known as Khalistan and deemed by Indian authorities since 2020 to be a terrorist.  He was alone in his truck when he was shot to death on June 18 outside the Surrey temple, Guru Nanak Gurdwara.

While the death remains under investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Trudeau was convinced enough time had lapsed to warrant open mention.  After all, Pavan Kumar Rai, the Canadian head of New Delhi's foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), had been expelled by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly as a direct consequence of the acts.

In his statement to the House, Trudeau revealed that Canadian security agencies had been pursuing such links between New Delhi and the Nijjar's death. "Our top priorities have therefore been 1) that our law enforcement and security agencies ensure the continued safety of all Canadians, and 2) that all steps be taken to hold the perpetrators of this murder to account."  The matter had also been raised with Indian President Narendra Modi at the G20 summit.

Trudeau went on to reiterate the standard protocols that had been outraged in such matters.  "Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.  It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves."  Canada's "position on extra-judicial operations in another country is clearly and unequivocally in line with international law."

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc also added further detail on the contact between Ottawa and New Delhi.  "The national security and intelligence adviser to the prime minister and the director of CSIS have travelled on a number of occasions in recent weeks also to India to meet their counterparts in India to confront the intelligence agencies with these allegations."

The Indian response was predictably sharp, with New Delhi also expelling a "senior Canadian diplomat," asking the individual to leave within five days.  Prior to that, the Canadian high commissioner to India, Cameron MacKay, was summoned for a bit of an ear-bashing, while the Indian Ministry of External Affairs expressed the "Government of India's growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities."

For its part the MEA rebuked Canada for its sympathies for what it called Khalistani terrorists.  "Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India's sovereignty and territorial integrity."  It was also a "matter of deep concern" that "Canadian political figures [had] openly expressed sympathy for such elements".

The interest by New Delhi in the tetchier elements of the Khalistan movement would have been sparked by a smattering of reports that seem to add weight that a resurgence was in the offing.  The Conversation, for instance, thought it significant enough to note acts of vandalism against the Indian consulate in San Francisco in March, and discuss the activities of a "group of separatists" who had "blocked the entrance to the Indian consulate in Brisbane, forcing it to close temporarily." And just to note the gravity of these acts, the publication went on to document attacks on three Hindu temples in Australia, a point that gave Prime Minister Modi the chance to moralise and vent to his Australian counterpart, Anthony Albanese, in a visit in May this year.

That same month, Sydney's Blacktown City Council cancelled a June 4 booking that would have featured a purely ceremonial, symbolic "Khalistan Referendum".  A similar event had taken place in Melbourne's Federation Square earlier in the year, an initiative of the US-based Sikhs for Justice.  A Blacktown City Council spokesperson called the booking "in conflict with adopted Council policy," posing "risks to Council staff, Council assets and members of the public".

A frontline against the Khalistan movement has become violently visible.  While Indian authorities maintain a watch on Sikh activists at home and initiate arrests (this, along with keeping a tight rein on other dissident movements in line with Modi's all suffocating notion of Hindutva), killings have taken place in other countries.

Paramjit Singh Panjwar, designated the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) chief, was gunned down in Lahore in May.  Indian reports on the killing took a certain glee in the brutal demise of Panjwar, who had "fled to Pakistan in 1990 with the help of its spy agency ISIS, which allegedly provided him a safe house in Lahore and a new identity: Malik Sardar Singh."

Another, Harmeet Singh, leader of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), suffered the same fate in January 2020, also on Pakistani soil.  His death was put down to either the tawdry business of a love affair with a married Muslim woman from Pakistan, or a dispute over drug money.

Not to be outdone, certain members of the Sikh diaspora in the United Kingdom have also expressed concern that the death of Birmingham-based Avtar Sigh Khanda remains suspicious.   Khanda is said by Indian security sources to be responsible for grooming the prominent Khalistani separatist Amritpal Singh, who was arrested in April.  West Midlands police, however, found nothing to warrant opening an investigation into Khanda's death.  The same, it would seem, cannot be said about Nijjar, whose assassination has taken some of the shine off Modi's garish publicity machine.

Dissident Voice
19 Sep 2023 | 4:13 pm

10. A few thoughts on the Russell Brand furore

There are times when we would all be best advised to keep quiet and wait. But given that almost no one seems willing to hold their tongue on the latest claims being made about Russell Brand, I feel compelled – wisely or unwisely – to make a few tentative observations: not on the allegations, but on all the noise.

Let me preface these comments with an additional observation: It should be quite possible to hold more than one thought in one's head at the same time. In fact, it is normally a pre-requisite for having anything interesting to say.

1. Allegations of sexual assault and rape are very serious indeed. They need to be investigated by police and, if found credible, tested in a court of law, where the alleged victims and the suspect are given the chance to make their case. Trial by TV is no substitute for such an investigation and trial. Pointing this out does not mean one is condoning rape or sexual assault.

2. Brand has admitted to his past as a sex and drug addict. The Dispatches programme appears to have intentionally conflated long-standing, and well-known, "bad boy" behaviour with far more serious, potentially criminal allegations. That conflation does not strengthen the case against Brand. It muddies the waters. Pointing this out does not mean one is condoning rape or sexual assault.

3. The media companies now fuelling the public mood via trial by TV are the very same companies that delighted in Brand's sex-addict persona. As the Dispatches' archival footage and testimonies make clear, those media corporations willingly exploited his persona – even allegedly at the risk of putting members of their staff and audiences in danger – to increase corporate profits. No one should regard them as good-faith actors in this latest development. Pointing this out does not mean one is condoning rape or sexual assault.

4. In recent years, Brand has often argued that he went on a long and difficult personal journey of redemption, and that he is ashamed of the way he behaved in the past. There is at least ostensible evidence to back up Brand's claims. There is zero evidence that the Dispatches documentary represents any kind of act of contrition by the media corporations now publicly reviling Brand for his behaviour. They haven't seen the error of their ways. They are simply cashing in on Brand again – this time by bringing down the very celeb they built up. It's all money in the bank for them. Pointing this out does not mean one is condoning rape or sexual assault.

5. It is deeply unhelpful to focus on why these women delayed for so long in coming forward with their testimonies. It takes a lot of courage to take on a celeb when he or she is the toast of the world's most powerful media corporations, and especially when the celeb in question is being celebrated by these powerful corporations precisely for flaunting their sexually predatory behaviour.

It does not follow, however, that the timing of these allegations is purely coincidental or of no interest. Most likely, these women are being listened to now, both because Brand is no longer the toast of Tinseltown, and, perhaps even more signifiicantly, because he has become an outspoken critic of the very corporations that once feted him. He speaks to many, many millions of young people with the authority of a celeb-turned-whistleblower. He is possibly the most influential critic of capitalism in the English language (depending on how one defines influential).

The fact that people over the age of 35 mostly don't feel this way about him – or capitalism – is irrelevant. Or at least it is irrelevant to someone like Rupert Murdoch, who once made lots of money off Brand, and is now using his papers to pretend that the Murdoch empire cares about Brand's alleged victims, rather than seeing them as a chance both to make more money from the Brand brand (this time without his consent) and damage an increasingly irritating high-profile critic of capitalism and corporate power. Pointing this out does not mean one is condoning rape or sexual assault.

6. There has been a long-running, and annoying, tendency on the left to treat Brand as "rightwing" because he refuses to stick to the Democratic party line. I have written about this preposterous "left" yardstick before. Brand is on the left because he consistently and publicly supports the key issues that concern the left, as I explained here. The fact that he demurs from some of the left's most unthinking, knee-jerk positions, and is prepared to consider some on the right as potential allies or listen to their arguments, doesn't make him rightwing, except to the most unthinking, knee-jerk devotees of the left.

But these allegations are being cited by sections of the tribal left as definitive evidence that Brand is rightwing – apparently because they have decided, absent a trial, that he is guilty of sexual assault. This is childish. People on the left can, quite separately from their politics, be sexual predators. Pointing this out does not mean one is condoning rape or sexual assault.

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