MintPress News

MintPress News
21 Sep 2023 | 1:43 pm

1. Tel Aviv’s Losing Brands: The Israeli ‘Coup’ and the Death of False Democracy

From its very onset, Israel has constructed a brand for itself, a powerful gimmick that was predicated on two main pillars: democracy and stability.

The main target audience for this brand has been powerful Western states that wielded disproportionate political, economic and military powers.

These Western governments, along with their influential mainstream corporate media, did their part, by polishing Israel's image – as most democratic and most stable – while tarnishing that of their Arab and Palestinian enemies – or anyone else who dared criticize Israel.

It mattered little whether Israel was truly a beacon of democracy and stability, because these terms are often conjured up and used to conveniently fit the interest of those in power.

To maintain the charade, Israel's task was fairly straightforward: conveying a facade of democracy at home – even if this democracy is racially-oriented and exclusionist – and providing enough 'stability' to allow foreign companies to trust that their investments in Israel are safe.

Actual, verifiable truth, in these kinds of situations, is hardly relevant. All that matters are slogans and cliches – and enough people in power who are willing to repeat those slogans, and even believe in the cliches.

Over the years, Israel thus emerged as the "only democracy in the Middle East" and an "oasis of freedom and stability" that is protected by "the most moral army in the world", and so on.

But this pseudo-reality can only exist in relative terms; for Israel to be elevated, the Arabs had to be tarnished and demeaned, despite the fact that it was Israel that illegally occupied Arab land and waged repeated wars on Palestinians and other Arab nations.

The perfect illustration, until recently, of the successful Israel model is a statement made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on September 13, 2012, almost precisely 11 years ago.

Toasting top military commanders at the Israeli Army General Staff Forum on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, Netanyahu summed up Israel's sense of triumphalism in a few words.

"We live in a volatile and stormy region. Its explosions and storms are increasing. The strength of the IDF has helped ensure that we remain an island of stability amidst the storms," Netanyahu said.

Two facts may have escaped Netanyahu, back then. One, that much of the "explosions and storms" in the modern history of the Middle East were outcomes of Israel's own doing – military invasions, occupation and other destabilizing factors.

And, two, in the words of Heraclitus: "The only constant in life is change".

11 years after that declaration, Israel is now learning that it is no longer isolated from the "volatile and stormy region".

It is important to underscore that the long-perceived Middle Eastern 'chaos', as juxtaposed with Israel's 'stability', are not inherent values in history.

The Middle East – in fact, much of the Global South – has remained victim to former Western colonial powers for many decades.

Rarely a coup, a revolution, a political crisis or an economic collapse experienced in that part of the world, has taken place without Western involvement, direct or otherwise.

Arabs, the architects of one of the greatest and longest-lasting civilizations in human history, are not innately 'chaotic', as Israel and its Western benefactors maintained through their relentless propaganda.

Such a conversation is now outdated, anyway, as Israel, itself, now epitomizes political instability and social chaos.

A viral video dating September 7 showed dozens of Israeli soldiers from the 'elite' Golani Brigade destroying their own military base.

The leaked video could be dismissed as an isolated incident if it were not for the fact that at least 10,000 Israeli army reservists have declared that they will not join their military units if Netanyahu's judicial reforms are confirmed.

Thousands have already refrained from returning to the army, and the number is in constant increase, while hundreds of thousands of Israelis continue to occupy the major squares of all Israeli cities, demanding an end to what they perceive as a far-right coup.

Israeli military analysts and highly-regarded journalists are engaging in political and moral questions that would have been, only a few years ago, considered unconceivable: what if the army turns against the people? What if the people overthrow the government? What if Israel is no longer a democracy?

In fact, many already agreed that the latter scenario has already actualized.

They include two former heads of Israel's powerful internal security service, the Shin Bet. In a letter, made public on August 31, they urged US President Joe Biden not to meet Netanyahu.

Such a visit would be seen as "legitimizing the government coup," they wrote, accusing the Israeli leader of "causing severe damage" to Israel, particularly the "strategic relationship between the US and Israel."

The task of marketing Israel as "the only democracy in the Middle East" is no longer an easy sell.

With the 'democracy' pillar crumbling, the 'stability' pillar is falling apart, as well. And without stability, investors simply run away.

The rush to escape the Israeli market has already begun. The flight of capital, by Israel's own estimation, is so extreme, it took many market analysts by surprise.

The first three months of foreign investments in Israel was a meager $2.6 billion, a drop of 60% compared to the years 2020 and 2022, according to a recent report issued by Israel's finance ministry, which excluded 2021.

Certainly, what is taking place in 'democratic' and 'stable' Israel is truly unprecedented.

Israel's current vulnerability is accentuated by the massive and rapid changes to the political map of the Middle East and the world. As the US-Western stronghold on the region and other parts of the world weakens, Israel's once powerful geopolitical position is growingly compromised.

This should present Palestinians with the opportunity of exposing Israel's losing brands – that of false democracy, social instability and outright apartheid.

Israel must now be pressured to acquiesce to international law which guarantees, in principle, justice and freedom for the Palestinian people, and inalienable 'Right of Return' for their refugees.

Without Palestinian freedom, Israel's future is sealed as that of an unstable country with undemocratic institutions, permanent apartheid and, indeed, perpetual chaos.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is 'Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out'. His other books include 'My Father was a Freedom Fighter' and 'The Last Earth'. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is

The post Tel Aviv's Losing Brands: The Israeli 'Coup' and the Death of False Democracy appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
18 Sep 2023 | 6:40 pm

2. Chris Hedges: Humanitarian Imperialism Created the Libyan Nightmare

Washington DC — (Scheerpost) — "We came, we saw, he died," Hillary Clinton famously quipped when Muammar Gaddafi, after seven months of U.S. and NATO bombing, was overthrown in 2011 and killed by a mob who sodomized him with a bayonet. But Gaddafi would not be the only one to die.  Libya, once the most prosperous and one of the most stable countries in Africa, a country with free healthcare and education, the right for all citizens to a home, subsidized electricity, water and gasoline, along with the lowest infant mortality rate and highest life expectancy on the continent, along with one of the highest literacy rates, swiftly fragmented into warring factions. There are currently two rival regimes battling for control in Libya, along with an array of rogue militias.

The chaos that followed Western intervention saw weapons from the country's arsenals flood the black market, with many snatched up by groups such as the Islamic State. Civil society ceased to function. Journalists captured images of migrants from NigeriaSenegal and Eritrea being beaten and sold as slaves to work in fields or on construction sites. Libya's infrastructure, including its electrical grids, aquifers, oil fields and dams, fell into disrepair. And when the torrential rains from Storm Daniel —  the climate crisis being another gift to Africa from the industrialized world — overwhelmed two decrepit dams, walls of water 20 feet high raced down to flood the port of Derna and Benghazi, leaving up to 20,000 dead according to Abdulmenam Al-Gaiti, Mayor of Derna, and some 10,000 missing.

"The 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," said Professor Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization.

Taalas told reporters last Thursday that "most of the human casualties" would have been avoided if there had been a "normally operating meteorological service" which "would have issued the [necessary] warnings and also the emergency management of this would have been able to carry out evacuations of the people."

Western regime-change, carried out in the name of human rights under the doctrine of R2P (Responsibility to Protect), destroyed Libya – as it did Iraq – as a unified and stable nation. The flood victims are part of the tens of thousands of Libyan dead resulting from our "humanitarian intervention," which rendered disaster relief non-existent. We bear responsibility for Libya's prolonged suffering. But once we wreak havoc on a country in the name of saving its persecuted — regardless of whether they are being persecuted or not — we forget they exist.

Karl Popper in "The Open Society and Its Enemies" warned against utopian engineering, massive social transformations, almost always implanted by force, and led by those who believe they are endowed with a revealed truth. These utopian engineers carry out the wholesale destruction of systems, institutions and social and cultural structures in a vain effort to achieve their vision. In the process, they dismantle the self-correcting mechanisms of incremental and piecemeal reform that are impediments to that grand vision. History is replete with murderous utopian social engineering — the Jacobins, the communists, the fascists and now, in our own age, the globalists, or neoliberal imperialists.

Libya, like Iraq and Afghanistan, fell victim to the self-delusions peddled by humanitarian interventionists — Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ben Rhodes, Samantha Power and Susan Rice. The Obama administration armed and backed an insurgent force that they believed would do the bidding of the U.S.  Obama in a recent post urged people to support aid agencies to alleviate the suffering of the people of Libya, a plea that ignited an understandable backlash on social media.

There is no official tally of the casualties in Libya that have resulted directly and indirectly from the violence in Libya over the last 12 years. This is exacerbated by the fact that NATO failed to investigate casualties resulting from its seven month bombardment of the country in 2011. But the total figure of those killed and injured is likely in the tens of thousands. Action on Armed Violence recorded "8,518 deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Libya" from 2011 to 2020,  6,027 of which were civilian casualties.

In 2020, a statement published by seven U.N. agencies reported that "Close to 400,000 Libyans have been displaced since the start of the conflict nine years ago — around half of them within the past year, since the attack on the capital, Tripoli, [by Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar's forces] started."

"The Libyan economy has been battered by the [civil war], the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine," the World Bank reported in April of this year. "The country's fragility is having far-reaching economic and social impact. GDP per capita declined by 50 percent between 2011 and 2020 while it could have increased by 68 percent if the economy had followed its pre-conflict trend," the report says. "This suggests that Libya's income per capita could have been 118 percent higher without the conflict. Economic growth in 2022 remained low and volatile due to conflict-related disruptions in oil production."

Amnesty International's 2022 Libya report also makes for grim reading. "Militias, armed groups and security forces continued to arbitrarily detain thousands of people," it says. "Scores of protesters, lawyers, journalists, critics and activists were rounded up and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and forced 'confessions' on camera." Amnesty describes a country where militias operate with impunity, human rights abuses, including kidnappings and sexual violence, are widespread. It adds that "EU-backed Libyan coastguards and the Stability Support Authority militia intercepted thousands of refugees and migrants at sea and forcibly returned them to detention in Libya. Detained migrants and refugees were subjected to torture, unlawful killings, sexual violence and forced labour."

Reports by the U.N. Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) are no less dire.

Libya Floods Feature photo
People search for flood victims in Derna, Libya, Sept. 15, 2023. Ricardo Garcia Vilanova | AP

Stockpiles of weapons and ammunition — estimated to be between 150,000 and 200,000 tons — were looted from Libya with many being trafficked to neighboring states. In Mali, weapons from Libya fuelled a dormant insurgency by the Tuareg, destabilizing the country. It ultimately led to a military coup and a jihadist insurgency which supplanted the Tuareg, as well as a protracted war between the Malian government and jihadists.  This triggered another French military intervention and led to 400,000 people being displaced. Weapons and ammunition from Libya also made their way into other parts of the Sahel including Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

The misery and carnage, which rippled out from a dismembered Libya, was unleashed in the name of democratization, nation-building, promoting the rule of law and human rights.

The pretext for the assault was that Gaddafi was about to launch a military operation to massacre civilians in Benghazi where rebellious forces had seized power. It had as much substance as the charge that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, another example of utopian social engineering that left over a million Iraqi dead and millions more driven from their homes.

Gaddafi — who I interviewed for two hours in April 1995 near the gutted remains of his home that was bombed by U.S. warplanes in 1986 — and Hussein were targeted not because of what they did to their own people, although both could be brutal. They were targeted because their nations had large oil reserves and were independent of Western control. They renegotiated more favorable contracts for their nations with Western oil producers and awarded oil contracts to China and Russia. Gaddafi also gave the Russian fleet access to the port of Benghazi.

Hillary Clinton's emails, obtained via a freedom of information request and published by WikiLeaks, also expose France's concerns about Gaddafi's efforts to "provide Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French Fran (CFA)." Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime adviser to Clinton, reported on his conversations with French intelligence officers about the motivations of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, the chief architect of the attack on Libya. Blumenthal writes that the French president seeks "a greater share of Libyan oil", increased French influence in the region, an improvement in his domestic political standing, a reassertion of French military power and an end to Gaddafi's attempts to supplant French influence in "Francophone Africa."

Sarkozy, who has been convicted on two separate cases of corruption and breach of campaign finance laws, faces a historic trial in 2025 for allegedly receiving millions of euros in secret illegal campaign contributions from Gadaffi, to assist with his successful 2007 presidential bid.

These were the real "crimes" in Libya. But the real crimes always remain hidden, papered over by florid rhetoric about democracy and human rights.

The American experiment, built on slavery, began with a genocidal campaign against Native Americans that was exported to the Philippines and, later, nations such as Vietnam. The narratives we tell ourselves about World War II, largely to justify our right to intervene around the globe, are a lie. It was the Soviet Union that destroyed the German army long before we landed at Normandy. We firebombed cities in Germany and Japan killing hundreds of thousands of civilians.  The war in the South Pacific, where one of my uncles fought, was bestial, characterized by rabid racism, mutilation, torture and the routine execution of prisoners. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were egregious war crimes. The U.S. routinely destroys democracies that nationalize U.S. and European corporations as in Chile, Iran and Guatemala, replacing them with repressive military regimes. Washington supported the genocides in Guatemala and East Timor. It embraces the crime of preemptive war. There is little in our history to justify the claim of unique American virtues.

The nightmares we orchestrated in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are minimized or ignored by the press while the benefits are exaggerated or fabricated. And since the U.S. does not recognize the International Criminal Court, there is no chance of any American leader being held accountable for their crimes.

Human rights advocates have become a vital cog in the imperial project. The extension of U.S. power, they argue, is a force for good. This is the thesis of Samantha Power's book "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide." They champion the R2P doctrine, unanimously adopted in 2005 at the U.N. World Summit. Under this doctrine, states are required to respect the human rights of their citizens. When these rights are violated, then sovereignty is nullified. Outside forces are permitted to intervene. Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, the former president of the U.N. General Assembly, warned in 2009 that R2P could be misused "to justify arbitrary and selective interventions against the weakest states."

"Since the end of the Cold War, the idea of human rights has been made into a justification for intervention by the world's leading economic and military powers, above all, the United States, in countries that are vulnerable to their attacks," writes Jean Bricmont in "Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War."  "Until the U.S. invasion of Iraq, [a] large part of the left was often complicit in this ideology of intervention, discovering new 'Hitlers' as the need arose, and denouncing antiwar arguments as appeasement on the model of Munich in 1938."

The creed of humanitarian intervention is selective. Compassion is extended to "worthy" victims while "unworthy" victims are ignored. Military intervention is good for Iraqis, Afghans or Libyans, but not for Palestinians or Yeminis. Human rights are supposedly sacrosanct when discussing Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, but irrelevant in our offshore penal colonies, the world's largest open air prison in Gaza or our drone-infested war zones. The persecution of dissidents and journalists is a crime in China or Russia, but not when the targets are  Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

Utopian social engineering is always catastrophic. It creates power vacuums that augment the suffering of those the utopianists claim to protect. The moral bankruptcy of the liberal class, which I chronicle in "Death of the Liberal Class," is complete. Liberals have prostituted their supposed values to the Empire. Incapable of taking responsibility for the carnage they inflict, they clamor for more destruction and death to save the world.

Feature photo | Business is Booming – by Mr. Fis

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

The post Chris Hedges: Humanitarian Imperialism Created the Libyan Nightmare appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
18 Sep 2023 | 2:09 pm

3. Israel’s License to Kill: Unraveling the Sabra and Shatila Massacre

The Sabra and Shatila massacre was no accident. Nor should it have come as a surprise to anyone. It had to have been well planned in advance and demanded a great deal of cooperation between the forces involved.

The logistics had to have been worked out first. Closure of the camps, providing supplies and ammunition for the murderers, plans where to dig the mass graves for thousands of bodies, trucks and bulldozers needed to carry the bodies and dig the graves, the flares to light up the skies at night had to be coordinated with the military so that the murders are not interrupted by darkness. Manpower had to be allocated, and the political consequences needed to be considered.

This list is not exhaustive, but it gives us an idea of the careful planning that likely took place and, in turn, required time. It also shows that a very large number of people had to be in on this plan, yet it was never revealed.

The Israeli invasion of Lebanon began in June of 1982, and in no time, the Israeli forces were on the outskirts of Beirut. This means there were more than three months to coordinate between the forces to plan the massacre.

I was still in the midst of my mandatory military service at the time. I was home on leave that day, and I recall being called to return to the base. My role was completely non-combative. I taught first aid to medics in a base near Tel Aviv, and I found it strange that I was called in on a Saturday night.

The official day of the beginning of the invasion was Sunday, June 6, but I recall being called to return on Saturday night. You could tell just by driving along the highways between Jerusalem, where I lived, to the base where I served and which was located just south of Tel-Aviv, that something was going on. I remember seeing tanks being sent north and thinking that was never a good sign.


It was inevitable

By 1982, Israel had been responsible for countless atrocities in which Palestinian men, women, children, the elderly, medical workers, journalists, writers, poets, clergy and political leaders were massacred or assassinated in their beds. So how was this massacre not foreseen, especially when all the signs were there?

The timeline of the buildup to the massacre in the Sabra and Shatila camps was presented in an Aljazeera report from 2022. In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. While the declared objective was to defend the Galilee from attacks from southern Lebanon, its aim was to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Sabra and Shatila
Bodies of victims lie in the grounds of Sabra Refugee Camp near Beirut, Sep. 18, 1982. Photo | AP

The PLO withdrew from Lebanon by September 1, 1982. Assurances were provided by the United States and a multi-national force that the remaining Palestinian refugees and civilians would be protected. Once again, the world stood idle as Israel slaughtered Palestinians and Lebanese.

Then, the leadership of the PLO and the Palestinian fighting forces were given no choice but to leave Lebanon and sail to Tunis. The assurances by the United States regarding the safety of the Palestinians who remained without any protection were useless, unenforceable and disingenuous.

Two weeks after the PLO leadership and fighters departed, the Israeli military closed off the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. It provided cover for the Phalange, a right-wing Lebanese militia who were allies of Israel, allowing them to carry out the mass killings. Israeli commanders on the ground saw what was happening; they saw mass graves being dug, and they notified the chain of command all the way to the Minister of Defense, Ariel Sharon. Sharon was, of course, in on the planning and said that Israel should not trouble itself by intervening when "Arabs kill Arabs."


A license to kill

The agreement under which the PLO left Lebanon was published in the New York Times on August 21, 1982. It is a pretty straightforward document. The clause dealing with guarantees for the safety of Palestinian civilians being left behind should have raised a red flag. It reads as follows:

Law-abiding Palestinian noncombatants left behind in Beirut, including the families of those who have departed, will be subject to Lebanese laws and regulations. The Governments of Lebanon (GOL) and the United States (US) will provide appropriate guarantees of safety in the following ways:

∗ The Lebanese Government will provide its guarantees on the basis of having secured assurances from armed groups with which it has been in touch.

∗ The United States will provide its guarantees on the basis of assurances received from the Government of Israel (GOI) and from the leadership of certain Lebanese groups with which it has been in touch. 

Sabra and Shatila
The body of a victim lies in the ground of Sabra Camp two days after the Israeli-led massacre on Sep. 18, 1982. Photo | AP

In other words, the safety of the Palestinians in Lebanon was guaranteed by two governments, the Lebanese and the American. The guarantees were based on assurances given by parties that these governments do not control. The Lebanese government had no control over the armed groups within the country, and the United States government had no control over Israel. This, in effect, means that the guarantees were not given by the parties who were the most likely to attack the Palestinians – Israel and the armed groups within Lebanon – and so they were not bound by the agreement.

I asked my friend journalist Charles Glass, who has written extensively about Lebanon, about the Sabra and Shatila massacre. This was his response:

A Palestinian friend of mine, who grew up in Ain el Helwe refugee camp near Sidon, told me that summer that the Christian militias would begin massacres as soon as the commandos left. He said they were cowards who would kill people once their protection was gone. I saw it happen in Tel el Zaatar camp in 1976 when Arafat pulled the commandos out. Many such precedents. The Sabra-Shatila massacre was anything but a surprise."

In 1982, the Palestinians in Lebanon were left with no one to defend them or even guarantee their safety. Just as they are today, just as they have been since 1948, Palestinians are left alone and unable to protect themselves while Israel is given a license to kill.

Feature photo | Palestinian residents in the Sabra Refugee Camp in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sept. 27, 1982, walking in procession to attend a service to mourn those slain in the massacre. Photo | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are"The General's Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine," and "Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five."

The post Israel's License to Kill: Unraveling the Sabra and Shatila Massacre appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
18 Sep 2023 | 1:33 pm

4. What the Media Is Not Telling Us About West Africa

What if the "epidemic of coups" in West and Central Africa is not that at all but a direct outcome of outright revolutionary movements, similar to the anti-colonial movements that liberated most African nations from the yoke of Western colonialism throughout the 20th century?

Whether this is the case or not, we are unlikely to find out anytime soon, simply because the voices of these African nations are essentially and deliberately muted.

For us to understand the real motives behind the spate of military takeovers in West and Central Africa – eight since 2020 – we are, sadly, compelled to read about it in Western media.

And that is a significant part of the problem. Western media has failed to convey the deeper social and economic contexts behind the political upheaval in various African regions.

The near-complete control over the narrative, however, is deliberate.

In a relatively comprehensive description of Oligue Nguema, the new leader of Gabon, the BBC website offered nothing of substance in terms of familiarizing us with the motives behind the military's move against Gabon's corrupt, long-time leader, Ali Bongo.

Of course, the voice of Nguema himself was almost entirely absent in the piece.

It is difficult and time-consuming to find a cohesive, non-filtered political discourse emanating from Gabon – or Mali, Burkina Faso or the rest of the African countries undergoing political transitions now.

Instead, we find news, information and opinions, almost all filtered through Western news agencies, politicians, academics and 'experts.' Even those who may appear to speak non-conformist language tend to feed the stereotype, perpetuating the mainstream perception of Africa.

A quick examination of recent articles on West Africa in the French media reveals an obvious truth. The language deconstructing the recent upheaval demonstrates that no true awakening is underway among the French intelligentsia, even by those who purportedly speak as part of the country's mainstream 'left.'

In an interview published on August 30 in Le Point, French author and expert in African Studies Antoine Glaser blames the French government for failing to see how Africa has 'gone global.'

The article appeared shortly after the Gabon coup. But Glaser's ideas are not new. He has made several references in the past to such failure, including an article in L'Opinion early in August.

He argues that France has failed to understand the changing political dynamics in and around Africa and that China, Turkey and others have largely occupied the once tightly French-controlled African markets.

But the subtle message is this: Africa revolves or should always revolve in France's orbit, and an alternative understanding must be developed by policymakers in Paris to cope with or catch up to the new, globalized African politics.

The same sense of entitlement was conveyed in Le Figaro.

Isabelle Lasserre, in her article entitled 'Gabon: la diplomatie française désarçonnée par l'«épidémie» de coups d'État en Afrique', speaks of "bathtub torture" of French diplomats.

"They barely believe they can get their heads out of the water when a new putsch plunges it back into them, even more brutally," she writes.

The 'brutality' referenced here is not that suffered by African nations in the painful periods of colonialism, post-colonialism and decolonization, but that of French diplomats.

Lasserre references Macron's use of the phrase "epidemic of putschs" – "putschs' being another word for 'coups' in German.

It was Macron who popularized the term. It makes Africans appear unruly, sick even. French journalists are now blaming their government for failing to diagnose, let alone remedy, the pan-African disease.

No alternative understanding is possible when the problem is coined in such a way where the blame is squarely on Africans, and the lesser blame – of simply failing to understand – is placed on France and other Western governments.

"In Africa, one coup does not drive out another but adds to the previous one," Lasserre writes.

In other words, it is an African-induced chaos, and Europe is suffering and shouldering its consequences – 'a white man's burden' of sorts.

Little attention has been paid to the possibility that perhaps African countries are fed up with the old apparatus, that of Western-supported wealthy and violent dictators – and supposed 'democrats' – who squander their country's wealth to remain in power.

Gabon is a very rich country in terms of energy resources, lumber, manganese and iron. But its tiny population of 2.3 million is very poor.

This racket of exploitation has been sustained for decades simply because it served the interests of the local rulers and their multinational partners.

What other means of protest do the people of Gabon, Mali, or others have when mass rallies are violently crushed and the media is tightly controlled? – aside, of course, from military coups.

This does not seem to be the heart of the matter to many in the French media, primarily concerned about losing their stronghold in Africa to China, Russia and others.

Instead, some in the press are flouting the theory that Africans are impressed with the persona of 'strongmen' of non-democratic regimes – a direct reference to Russia and China.

Although the 'strongman theory' has long been discounted, or at least lost its appeal in academic circles, it is often applied in its old form and ugly insinuations in Western understanding of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

It would make no sense for Africans to reject democracy, one that is based on genuine equality, fair distribution of wealth, ample opportunities, freedom of expression and the press, and all the rest. The only explanation, though often communicated indirectly, is that they all suffered from collective malaise, which complicates the supposedly noble mission of Western countries.

In truth, many African nations – as demonstrated by the latest popular military takeovers – deeply resent Western governments for the right reasons: their military interventions, economic exploitation, political meddling and a lingering sense of superiority.

Rarely do we hear such alternative views because we are not meant to. The political discourse emanating from West Africa, although largely inaccessible, speaks of a collective desire for a paradigm shift.

"It is necessary for this fight to go through arms, but also through our values, our behavior, and the recovery of our economy," said Ibrahim Traoré, the transitional President of Burkina Faso.

In his speech late last year, he declared that "the fight for total independence has begun."

A similar sentiment was conveyed by Assimi Goita, President of the Transition in Mali when he spoke about the need to 'regain' the nation's dignity in the context of 'colonial domination.'

France's and other Western countries 'experts' should fundamentally reconsider their understanding of Africa.

They should also diversify their political lexicon to include 'dignity,' 'values,' 'liberation,' and 'total independence' because, clearly, the language of 'epidemic of coups' and other self-serving, convenient phraseology has completely failed.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is 'Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out'. His other books include 'My Father was a Freedom Fighter' and 'The Last Earth'. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is

Romana Rubeo, a French-speaking journalist, contributed to this article.

The post What the Media Is Not Telling Us About West Africa appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
14 Sep 2023 | 7:12 pm

5. Israel’s Puzzling Trio: Ben Gvir, Pardo, and Abu-Mazen—Agents or Accomplices?

Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's minister of national security, made headlines worldwide and on every social media platform when he stated in an interview on Israeli television that his rights come before the rights of Palestinians. Tamir Pardo, former head of Israel's notorious intelligence agency, the Mossad, made the headlines when he said that the situation in the West Bank is tantamount to Apartheid. Both stated the facts. Both have dedicated their lives and fully support this reality.

Between these two statements, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, often known colloquially by his nickname, "Abu-Mazen," was heavily criticized for saying Israel committed "fifty genocides" and for making anti-semitic remarks about why Jewish people were persecuted. Once again, this was headline news posted all over social media. This statement also brought about a reaction from prominent Palestinian figures who thought it necessary to distance themselves from the man and the statement, and they published a letter to that effect.

Something is puzzling about the reactions to the statements made by these people, and there is, without a doubt, a thread that connects them that I hope to make clear. While the motivations for their statements are very different, the backgrounds and positions of these three figures are entirely different. In fact, they could not be more distant from one another; they all work for one common entity, and their statements serve a single entity: Israel.

Tamir Pardo has the background of a typical Israeli security establishment chief. He served in Israel's murderous special forces as a young man. Then he went off to serve in the Mossad and went up the ranks until he reached the top. What characterizes men like him is arrogance, racism and a love of violence that are camouflaged by what might be called the "professionalism" of a security man. In Israeli society, those who served in the assassin units called "Sayeret," or reconnaissance units, are like members of a cult who share a secret ritual. They are adored and can do no wrong. Their vile actions are told as tales of heroism.

Itamar Ben-Gvir comes from the settler community, an entirely different world. They are mostly detached from the rest of Israeli society and are obsessed with following what are known to have been the Zealots who fought the Romans. Many within that community do not serve in the military but have their own paramilitary training and military-grade weapons. These are known as the "Kahanist" settlers, named for their "spiritual" leader, the racist Meir Kahana.

A man like Tamir Pardo could hardly imagine that a man like Itamar Ben-Gvir would stand at the head of Israel's internal security as minister of national security. A man like Pardo is the man for that job, not a punk like Ben-Gvir, and many within the Israeli security apparatus despise Ben-Gvir.

But the Kanaists have been working hard to climb up the ladder of Israeli politics, civil service and even the security apparatus, and now their man is in the seat. As it happens, the other racist punk that has reached great heights is Bezalel Smotrich. He comes from the same background as Ben-Gvir, and he has not only the finance portfolio but is also a special minister within the defense ministry in charge of the Civil Administration, a bureaucracy created to manage Palestinian life within the West Bank.

So, how is Abu Mazen part of this? He is the fool who was placed to help Israel blame the Palestinians for keeping them under the Israeli boot. Here is an example of how Abu-Mazen is useful for Israel and Zionists.

At a recent event in Washington, DC, Representative Stephen Cohen from Tennessee came to speak. It was a small venue with an audience of less than twenty. The Congressman had to sit during the Q&A session because he had polio as a child, so he is quite frail and shakes severely when standing for too long.

In the Q&A session, he was asked why he does not support Betty McCullom's bill, House Bill 2407, "Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act." He said he didn't recall if he'd signed on or not, as his name is not on the list of supporters and then went on to talk about how bad Mahmoud Abbas was and how he doesn't like him. He was then asked why Congress insists on calling Israel a democracy when there is ample evidence – not to mention a report by Amnesty International – that Israel is an apartheid state.

Here, once again, Abu-Mazen came to the rescue. The Congressman went on about how bad he was and stated, "Palestinians never had a George Washington." Well, there we have it – Palestinians deserve everything they are going through because they do not have a George Washington.

Abbas' usefulness goes beyond being a punching bag for Zionists. He represents the illusion that there is a Palestinian state with a president. He is not an insignificant hurdle in the Palestinian struggle for freedom. For the sake of this article, he is one more character in a drama that places Palestinians at the bottom of the list of priorities and where Palestinians are blamed for their predicament.

What these three figures have in common is not only that they actively and willfully stand in the way of Palestinian liberation but that people listen when they speak. Over several weeks, all three made statements that made headlines and received endless commentary, and yet nothing they said was significant.

In response to the letter written by Palestinians denouncing Abu-Mazen's comments, the Director of the "Electronic Intifada," Ali Abunimah, wrote, "I have expressed my strong objections to an "open letter" signed by a number of Palestinians – many of whom I greatly respect and respectfully disagree with." In a piece in "Electronic Intifada," he writes, "Abbas is widely viewed among the Palestinians as the West's and Israel's quisling, not the leader of the Palestinians. And as such, Palestinians have absolutely no responsibility for his words or deeds."

He continued by ridiculing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who, despite labeling Abu-Mazen a Holocaust denier, approved a shipment of weapons from the United States to Mahmoud Abbas to help the PA leader fight against the Palestinian people's resistance."

The moral of this story is twofold. First, there is not a single influential political entity fighting for the liberation of Palestine and the rights of Palestinians, leaving their fate in the hands of war criminals and thieves. Second, the three characters described here received far too many headlines for their words and too few for their crimes.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are"The General's Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine," and "Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five."

The post Israel's Puzzling Trio: Ben Gvir, Pardo, and Abu-Mazen—Agents or Accomplices? appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
14 Sep 2023 | 6:18 pm

6. Seymour Hersh Publishes Leaked Memo Undermining US Narrative on 2013 Syria Sarin Attack

Read the leaked Pentagon/DIA assessment of the chemical warfare capability of Al Qaeda in Syria, known as al-Nusra, from June 20, 2013, made public by Seymour Hersh in September 2023.

The bombshell was pointed out in a tweet by investigative journalist Aaron Mate.

When US accused Syria of the August 2013 sarin attack in Ghouta, it concealed what US intel said: that Al Qaeda's Syria wing, al-Nusra, had an "advanced" sarin production cell.

Seymour Hersh has published the full US intel memo for the first time:

— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) September 13, 2023

The leaked documents were released in an article penned by Seymour Hersh titled, "When the Intelligence is Inconvenient" on his Subtack page and can be read in full with a subscription to his Substack page. Below is an excerpt of the article.

On Sunday Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Jonathan Karl of ABC's This Week that he remained "very confident in Ukraine's ultimate success" in the ongoing war with Russia. He depicted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's decision to escalate its attacks inside Russia as "their decision, not ours."

Blinken's wrong-headed confidence and his acceptance of a significant escalation in the Ukraine war defies belief, given the reality on the ground today in the war. But it also could be based on insanely optimistic assessments supplied by the Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA's assessments, as I have reported, are now the intelligence of choice inside the White House.

As a journalist who has written about national security matters for many decades, how can I explain a process that is clearly contrary to the best interests of the people of the United States and its leadership?

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

The post Seymour Hersh Publishes Leaked Memo Undermining US Narrative on 2013 Syria Sarin Attack appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
14 Sep 2023 | 2:52 pm

7. From Humiliation to Rape: The Untold Story of Israel’s Abuse of Palestinian Women

Israeli soldiers' humiliation of Palestinian women in the occupied city of Al-Khalil (Hebron) on July 10 was not the first such episode. Sadly, it will not be the last.

Indeed, the stripping of five women in front of their children, parading them naked around their family home and then stealing their jewelry by an Israeli military unit was not a random act. It deserves deep reflection.

Palestinians rightly understood the event – investigated at length by the Israeli rights group B'Tselem in a report published on September 5 – as an intentional Israeli policy.

Several attacks by Palestinians in Jericho and Jerusalem have already been linked to the call for revenge made by Palestinian groups, including women collectives.

We are expecting the Resistance "not to stand idly by in the face of this heinous (crime)," a spokesperson for a women's group in Gaza said on September 5.

The B'Tselem investigation was damning. "Dozens of masked soldiers, with dogs" raided the 'Ajlouni family in southern Hebron, B'Tselem said. They "handcuffed three family members," including a minor, "separated men from women and children, and began an extensive search of them and their home."

The humiliating episode was yet to follow, as "masked female soldiers" threatened a mother with a dog and forced her to strip completely naked in front of her children.

The degrading treatment was repeated against four other women, as they were forced to move, naked, from room to room. Other soldiers, meanwhile, were busy stealing the family's jewelry, according to the report.

Israeli soliders
Left, the children of the Ajlouni family. Right, Damage left by Israeli soldiers at the home of Diala and Harbi 'Ajlouni. Photos | B'Tselem

Corporate Western media ignored the investigation, although it enthusiastically reported on the retaliatory attacks on Israeli occupation soldiers by Palestinian youth in Jericho and Jerusalem, providing little or no context to what they perceived as 'Palestinian terrorism.'

But the Hebron women and the 'Ajlouni family are the actual victims of terrorism – Israeli terrorism.

Though the Hebron incident is a repeat of numerous violations of Palestinian rights and dignity spanning many years, there is still much we can learn from it.

Humiliating Palestinians is an actual Israeli policy and cannot be attributed to a few bad apples in the so-called "most moral army in the world."

This assertion can easily be demonstrated by a quick comparison of the behavior of Zionist militias during the Nakba (1947-48) to later episodes and, eventually, to the recent events in Hebron.

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe's 'Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine' provides illuminating, although difficult to read, passages on the rape of Palestinian women during those horrific years.

Last year, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that sensitive references were purposely removed from unclassified Israeli military documents concerning the events that led to the Nakba.

It quoted Aharon Zizling – the country's first minister of agriculture – as saying that although he "can forgive instances of rape (in the Palestinian city of Ramleh) … I will not forgive other acts."

Such callousness was entirely consistent with the violent behavior and attitude exhibited by the militias – later to form the Israeli army – and their leaders, including David Ben Gurion, who later became Israel's first prime minister. In the document, Israel's founding father called for the "wiping out" of Palestinian villages. This, too, was removed from the documents.

Most Israelis are unaware of this sordid past simply because the subject is banned in school. The so-called 'Independence Day Law' – also known as the Nakba Law of 2009 – "outlaws any mention of the Nakba or reference to the establishment of the State of Israel as a day of mourning," according to the legal group, Adalah.

Though Israel has succeeded in deceiving its people regarding their collective past, the historical processes that produced such violence remain in place. This means that Israel continues to reproduce that same violence in different forms, even though every generation is largely unaware of how their behavior continues the legacy of previous generations.

It also means that soldiers who humiliated the Palestinian women in Hebron are likely unaware of the mass violence that accompanied the Nakba; they might not even be aware of the term 'Nakba' itself.

Their behavior, however, is indicative of the culture of violence in Israel, the rooted racism and this persistent desire to humiliate Palestinians.

This was equally true during the First Intifada, the uprising in 1987-93. Back then, sexual violence went hand in hand with Israeli violence against the Palestinian population.

The sexual abuse of Palestinian women during the Intifada, especially in Israeli prisons, was commonplace. The Israeli military used this tactic to exact confessions or to discourage female activists and their families from pursuing the path of resistance.

All of this falls into the realm of the 'politics of humiliation,' a centralized political strategy used to establish control and dominance over occupied nations.

The Israelis have excelled in this field. We know this because of the numerous reports by Palestinians and the testimonies of Israelis. This was amply demonstrated in the reports provided by the Breaking the Silence group – Israeli soldiers who either left or refused to join the Israeli military.

Many of these 'refuseniks' who spoke out publicly have cited the dehumanization and degradation of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli soldiers as one of the reasons why they walked out.

This illustrates that such events are neither marginal nor isolated, supposedly carried out by mentally fatigued soldiers who violated army roles. The exact opposite is true.

The sexual degradation of Palestinian women is just one addition to the protracted and ongoing politics of humiliation in Occupied Palestine.

When Palestinians resist, they do so to reclaim their land, their fundamental freedom and human rights, and redeem their collective honor, trampled daily by the Israeli army.

Indeed, resistance in Palestine is not a mere 'strategy' to recover a stolen homeland. It is, in the words of Frantz Fanon, "a sense of freedom" from "despair and inaction" and a collective act of restoration of "self-respect."

This explains why Palestinians continue to resist, even if their resistance is often derided as ineffectual and futile and why they will continue to resist for many years.

Feature photo | Mahmoud Illean | AP

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is 'Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out.' His other books include 'My Father was a Freedom Fighter' and 'The Last Earth.' Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is

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MintPress News
12 Sep 2023 | 4:16 pm

8. Chris Hedges: The Pedagogy of Power

Washington DC — (Scheerpost) — I am standing in a classroom in a maximum security prison. It is the first class of the semester. I am facing 20 students. They have spent years, sometimes decades, incarcerated. They come from some of the poorest cities and communities in the country. Most of them are people of color.

During the next four months, they will study political philosophers such as PlatoAristotleThomas HobbesNiccolò MachiavelliFriedrich NietzscheKarl Marx and John Locke, those often dismissed as anachronistic by the cultural left.

It is not that the criticisms leveled against these philosophers are incorrect. They were blinded by their prejudices, as we are blinded by our prejudices. They had a habit of elevating their own cultures above others. They often defended patriarchy, could be racist and, in the case of Plato and Aristotle, endorsed a slave society.

What can these philosophers say to the issues we face — global corporate domination, the climate crisis, nuclear war and a digital universe where information, often manipulated and sometimes false, travels around the globe instantly?  Are these thinkers antiquated relics? No one in medical school is reading 19th-century medical texts. Psychoanalysis has moved beyond Sigmund Freud. Physicists have advanced from Isaac Newton's law of motion to general relativity and quantum mechanics. Economists are no longer rooted in John Stuart Mill.

But the study of political philosophy, as well as ethics, is different. Not for the answers but for the questions. The questions have not changed since Plato wrote "The Republic." What is justice? Do all societies inevitably decay? Are we the authors of our lives? Or is our fate determined by forces beyond our control, a series of fortuitous or unfortunate accidents? How should power be distributed? Is the good statesman, as Plato argued, a philosopher king — a thinly disguised version of Plato — who puts truth and learning above greed and lust and who understands reality? Or, as Aristotle believed, is the good statesman skilled in the exercise of power and endowed with thoughtful deliberation? What qualities are needed to wield power? Machiavelli says these include immorality, deception and violence. Hobbes writes that in war, violence and fraud become virtues. What forces can be organized to pit the power of the demos, the populace, against the rulers to ensure justice? What are our roles and duties as citizens? How should we educate the young? When is it permissible to break the law? How is tyranny prevented or overthrown? Can human nature, as the Jacobins and communists believed, be transformed? How do we protect our dignity and freedom? What is friendship? What constitutes virtue? What is evil? What is love? How do we define a good life? Is there a God? If God does not exist, should we abide by a moral code?

These questions thunder down through the ages, asked during different times and under different circumstances. The most radical contemporary philosophers, including Frantz Fanon, author of The Wretched of the Earth, built their edifices on the foundations of the political philosophers that came before them. In Fanon's case, it was Friedrich Hegel. As Vladimir Lenin correctly said of Marx, most of his ideas could be traced to previous philosophers. Paulo Freire, the author of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," studied philosophy. Hannah Arendt, who wrote"The Origins of Totalitarianism," was steeped in the ancient Greeks and Augustine.

"It is indeed difficult and even misleading to talk about politics and its innermost principles without drawing to some extent upon the experiences of Greek and Roman antiquity, and this for no other reason than that men have never, either before or after, thought so highly of political activity and bestowed so much dignity upon its realm," Arendt writes in "Between Past and Future."

Cornel West, one of our most important contemporary moral philosophers, who once admonished me for not having read the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, is as conversant on Søren Kierkegaard, whom he taught at Harvard, and Immanuel Kant as he is on W.E.B. DuBois, Fanon, Malcolm X and bell hooks.

The ancient philosophers were not oracles. Not many of us would want to inhabit Plato's authoritarian republic, especially women, nor Hobbes' "Leviathan," a precursor to the totalitarian states that arose in the 20th century. Marx presciently anticipated the monolithic power of global capitalism but failed to see that, contrary to his utopian vision, it would crush socialism. But to ignore these political philosophers, to dismiss them because of their failings rather than study them for their insights is to cut ourselves off from our intellectual roots. If we do not know where we came from, we cannot know where we are going.

If we cannot ask these fundamental questions, if we have not reflected on these concepts, if we do not understand human nature, we disempower ourselves. We become political illiterates blinded by historical amnesia. This is why the study of humanities is important. And it is why the closure of university classics and philosophy departments is an ominous sign of our encroaching cultural and intellectual death.

Political theory is not about political practice. It is about its meaning. It is about the essence of power, how it works and how it maintains itself. The most important activity in life, as Socrates and Plato remind us, is not action but contemplation, echoing the wisdom enshrined in Eastern philosophy. We cannot change the world if we cannot understand it. By digesting and critiquing the philosophers of the past, we become independent thinkers in the present. We are able to articulate our own values and beliefs, often in opposition to what these ancient philosophers advocated.

In my first class, I spoke about Aristotle's distinction between the good citizen and the good person. The good person's loyalty is not to the state. The good person "acts and lives virtuously and derives happiness from that virtue." The good citizen, on the other hand, is defined by patriotism and obedience to the state. The good person, like Socrates or Martin Luther King, Jr., inevitably comes into conflict with the state when he or she sees the state turning away from the good. The good person is often condemned as subversive. The good person is rarely rewarded by or fêted by the state. These accolades are reserved for the good citizen, whose moral compass is circumscribed by the powerful.

The concept of the good citizen and the good person fascinated the class, for the state has been, since their childhood, a hostile force. The outside world does not view the incarcerated, and often the poor, as good citizens. They have been excluded from that club. As outcasts, they know the immorality and hypocrisy baked into the system. This makes vital the articulation of the questions these political philosophers pose.

Sheldon Wolin, our most important contemporary and radical political philosopher, who mentored a young Cornel West when he was Princeton University's first Black candidate for a doctorate in philosophy, gave us the vocabulary and concepts to understand the tyranny of global corporate power, a system he called "inverted totalitarianism." As a professor at Berkeley, Wolin backed the Free Speech Movement. Wolin, while teaching at Princeton, was one of few professors who supported students occupying buildings to protest against South African apartheid. At one point, Wolin told me, the other professors in Princeton's political science department refused to speak with him.

Wolin's radical critique was grounded in these political philosophers, as he writes in his magisterial work, "Politics and Vision," which my students are reading.

"The history of political thought," Wolin writes, "is essentially a series of commentaries, sometimes favorable, often hostile, upon its beginnings."

You can see a three-hour interview I did with Wolin shortly before his death here.

Wolin argues that "a historical perspective is more effective than any other in exposing the nature of our present predicaments; if not the source of political wisdom, it is at least the precondition."

Neoliberalism as economic theory, he writes, is an absurdity. None of its vaunted promises are even remotely possible. Concentrating wealth in the hands of a global oligarchic elite — 1.2 percent of the world's population holds 47.8 percent of global household wealth — while demolishing government controls and regulations creates massive income inequality and monopoly power. It fuels political extremism and destroys democracy. But economic rationality is not the point. The point of neoliberalism is to provide ideological cover to increase the wealth and political control of the ruling oligarchs.

This is a point Marx famously makes when he writes in his Theses on Feuerbach:

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.

As a ruling ideology, neoliberalism was a brilliant success. Starting in the 1970s, its Keynesian mainstream critics were pushed out of academia, state institutions and financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, and shut out of the media. Wolin, once a regular contributor to publications such as The New York Review of Books, found that because of his animus towards neoliberalism, he had difficulty publishing. Intellectual poseurs such as Milton Friedman were given prominent platforms and lavish corporate funding. They disseminated the official mantra of fringe, discredited economic theories popularized by Friedrich Hayek and the third-rate writer Ayn Rand. Once we knelt before the dictates of the marketplace and lifted government regulations, slashed taxes for the rich, permitted the flow of money across borders, destroyed unions and signed trade deals that sent jobs to sweatshops in Mexico and China, the world would be a happier, freer and wealthier place. It was a con. But it worked.

Ideas, however esoteric they may appear to the public, matter. These ideas shape a society, even if most in the society are unfamiliar with the nuances and details of these theories.

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood," writes the economist John Maynard Keynes. "Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back."

Most of the great works of political philosophy have been written during a period of crisis. The breakdown of society, war, revolution and institutional and economic collapse obliterate established belief systems and render hollow the clichés and slogans used to justify them. These instabilities and vicissitudes bring forth new ideas, new concepts, and new answers to the old questions. Political thought, as Wolin writes, "is not so much a tradition of discovery as one of meaning extended over time."

The answers to the core questions asked by political philosophers differ depending on the circumstances. The answers in my prison classroom will not be the same as those in a classroom of an elite university where students come from and seek to become part of the ruling class. My students are responding to very different phenomena. Their responses come out of the injustices and suffering they and their families endure. They are acutely aware of the perfidy of the ruling class. White supremacy, deindustrialization, the collapse of the justice system, the internal armies of occupation that terrorize their communities and poverty are not abstractions. The solutions they embrace will inevitably be subversive.

The ruling class, like ruling classes throughout history, seeks to keep the poor and oppressed uneducated for a reason. They do not want those cast aside by society to be given the language, concepts and intellectual tools to fight back.

Feature photo | Illustration by Mr. Fish

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the show The Chris Hedges Report.

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MintPress News
11 Sep 2023 | 4:51 pm

9. The Other 9/11 with Roberto Navarrete and John McEvoy

The MintPress podcast, "The Watchdog," hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. "The Watchdog" goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

9/11 is a date that will live in infamy. But for much of the world, September 11 conjures up images of another deadly assault against freedom and liberty. Exactly 50 years ago today, the democratically-elected socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was overthrown in a far-right military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. The coup's success spurred a wave of fascist takeovers across the region, leading to decades of darkness in Latin America.

Today, "Watchdog" host Lowkey talks to two guests who know the story of "the First 9/11" better than almost anyone. Roberto Navarette was a 17-year-old medical student at the time of the coup and was imprisoned – like tens of thousands of his countrymen – in open-air stadiums. He survived being tortured and shot by the regime and eventually escaped, settling in the United Kingdom.

Ironically, the U.K. government had actually been working very hard to ensure Allende's downfall and later to keep Pinochet in power, as John McEvoy's work has revealed. Based on documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws, McEvoy has shown how the U.K.'s MI6 had been training Latin American police and militaries in torture tactics and other ways in which to suppress domestic dissent. Britain had long had strong economic interests in the region, considering it an unofficial part of its empire. McEvoy is an academic, historian, and journalist specializing in uncovering Britain's relationship with Latin America. He is currently producing a documentary film – "Britain and the Other 9/11," about the U.K. government's covert campaign against Allende and its subsequent support for Pinochet.

Today, Lowkey speaks to Navarette and McEvoy about the coup and its legacy on the world.

Allende was a particular threat to the establishment in Washington and London. Not simply because he was a Marxist head of state but because he was democratically elected and believed in coming to power through entirely legal means. This, for Navarette, terrified many in the West, as it undermined completely their claims about socialism being an anti-democratic ideology. As he told Lowkey today:

Salvador Allende was convinced that he could develop a movement to transform society within the realms of parliamentary or presidential democracy. He wasn't a conventional left politician because he combined the yearnings of revolutionary change with [peaceful methods]."

The 1973 coup reverberated around the world. Not only did it become the blueprint for further U.S.-backed operations in Latin America, but Chile became a laboratory for neoliberal economics. The country was flooded with economists from the University of Chicago, who promised to transform it into a modern utopia.

Instead, the nation was ruined, with economic crashes and total devastation for ordinary Chilean citizens. The rich, along with foreign corporations, however, made out like bandits, and neoliberalism began to be adopted wholesale across the world, leading to the rampant inequality that plagues the planet today.

While his regime tortured tens of thousands of people, Pinochet never faced any kind of real justice, partially because he was protected by the United Kingdom.

Watch the full interview exclusively today.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.

The post The Other 9/11 with Roberto Navarrete and John McEvoy appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
11 Sep 2023 | 12:44 pm

10. More Americans Questioning Official 9/11 Story As Evidence Contradicts Official Narrative

This article was originally published by MintPress News on Sep 11, 2019, and is being republished today, on the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, in honor of the victims of the event and the brutal wars that followed it.

Today the event that defined the United States' foreign policy in the 21st century, and heralded the destruction of whole countries, turns 18. The events of September 11, 2001 remain etched into the memories of Americans and many others, as a collective tragedy that brought Americans together and brought as well a general resolve among them that those responsible be brought to justice.

While the events of that day did unite Americans in these ways for a time, the different trajectories of the official relative to the independent investigations into the September 11 attacks have often led to division in the years since 2001, with vicious attacks or outright dismissals being levied against the latter. 

Yet, with 18 years having come and gone — and with the tireless efforts from victims' families, first responders, scientists and engineers — the tide appears to be turning as new evidence continues to emerge and calls for new investigations are made. However, American corporate media has remained largely silent, preferring to ignore new developments that could derail the "official story" of one of the most iconic and devastating attacks to ever occur on American soil.

For instance, in late July, commissioners for a New York-area Fire Department, which responded to the attacks and lost one of their own that day, called for a new investigation into the events of September 11. On July 24, the board of commissioners for the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District, which serves a population of around 30,000 near Queens, voted unanimously in their call for a new investigation into the attacks.

While the call for a new investigation from a NY Fire Department involved in the rescue effort would normally seem newsworthy to the media outlets who often rally Americans to "never forget," the commissioners' call for a new investigation was met with total silence from the mainstream media. The likely reason for the dearth of coverage on an otherwise newsworthy vote was likely due to the fact that the resolution that called for the new investigation contained the following clause:

Whereas, the overwhelming evidence presented in said petition demonstrates beyond any doubt that pre-planted explosives and/or incendiaries — not just airplanes and the ensuing fires — caused the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings, killing the vast majority of the victims who perished that day;"

In the post-9/11 world, those who have made such claims, no matter how well-grounded their claims may be, have often been derided and attacked as "conspiracy theorists" for questioning the official claims that the three World Trade Center buildings that collapsed on September 11 did so for any reason other than being struck by planes and from the resulting fires. Yet, it is much more difficult to launch these same attacks against members of a fire department that lost a fireman on September 11 and many of whose members were involved with the rescue efforts of that day, some of whom still suffer from chronic illnesses as a result.

Rescue workers climb on piles of rubble at the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 13, 2001. Beth A. Keiser | AP

Another likely reason that the media monolithically avoided coverage of the vote was out of concern that it would lead more fire departments to pass similar resolutions, which would make it more difficult for such news to avoid gaining national coverage. Yet, Commissioner Christopher Gioia, who drafted and introduced the resolution, told those present at the meeting's conclusion that getting all of the New York fire districts onboard was their plan anyway.

"We're a tight-knit community and we never forget our fallen brothers and sisters. You better believe that when the entire fire service of New York State is on board, we will be an unstoppable force," Gioia said. "We were the first fire district to pass this resolution. We won't be the last," he added.

While questioning the official conclusions of the first federal investigation into 9/11 has been treated as taboo in the American media landscape for years, it is worth noting that even those who led the commission have said that the investigation was "set up to fail" from the start and that they were repeatedly misled and lied to by federal officials in relation to the events of that day. 

For instance, the chair and vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, wrote in their book Without Precedent that not only was the commission starved of funds and its powers of investigation oddly limited, but that they were obstructed and outright lied to by top Pentagon officials and officials with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). They and other commissioners have outright said that the "official" report on the attacks is incomplete, flawed and unable to answer key questions about the terror attacks.

Despite the failure of American corporate media to report these facts, local legislative bodies in New York, beginning with the fire districts that lost loved ones and friends that day, are leading the way in the search for real answers that even those that wrote the "official story" say were deliberately kept from them.


Persuasive scientific evidence continues to roll in

Not long after the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District called for a new 9/11 investigation, a groundbreaking university study added even more weight to the commissioners' call for a new look at the evidence regarding the collapse of three buildings at the World Trade Center complex. While most Americans know full well that the twin towers collapsed on September 11, fewer are aware that a third building — World Trade Center Building 7 — also collapsed. That collapse occurred seven hours after the twin towers came down, even though WTC 7, or "Building 7," was never struck by a plane.

It was not until nearly two months after its collapse that reports revealed that the CIA had a "secret office" in WTC 7 and that, after the building's destruction, "a special CIA team scoured the rubble in search of secret documents and intelligence reports stored in the station, either on paper or in computers." WTC 7 also housed offices for the Department of Defense, the Secret Service, the New York Mayor's Office of Emergency Management and the bank Salomon Brothers. 

Though the official story regarding the collapse of WTC 7 cites "uncontrolled building fires" as leading to the building's destruction, a majority of Americans who have seen the footage of the 47-story tower come down from four different angles overwhelmingly reject the official story, based on a new poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth and released on Monday. 

WTC 7 fall animation GIF
Source | Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth

That poll found that 52 percent of those who saw the footage were either sure or suspected that the building's fall was due to explosives and was a controlled demolition, with 27 percent saying they didn't know what to make of the footage. Only 21 percent of those polled agreed with the official story that the building collapsed due to fires alone. Prior to seeing the footage, 36 percent of respondents said that they were unaware that a third building collapsed on September 11 and more than 67 percent were unable to name the building that had collapsed.

Ted Walter, Director of Strategy and Development for Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, told MintPress that the lack of awareness about WTC 7 among the general public "goes to show that the mainstream media has completely failed to inform the American people about even the most basic facts related to 9/11. On any other day in history, if a 47-story skyscraper fell into its footprint due to 'office fires,' everyone in the country would have heard about it." 

The fact that the media chose not to cover this, Walter asserted, shows that "the mainstream media and the political establishment live in an alternative universe and the rest of the American public is living in a different universe and responding to what they see in front of them," as reflected by the results of the recent YouGov poll.

Another significant finding of the YouGov poll was that 48 percent of respondents supported,  while only 15 percent opposed, a new investigation into the events of September 11. This shows that not only was the Franklin Square Fire District's recent call for a new investigation in line with American public opinion, but that viewing the footage of WTC 7's collapse raises more questions than answers for many Americans, questions that were not adequately addressed by the official investigation of the 9/11 Commission.

The Americans who felt that the video footage of WTC 7's collapse did not fit with the official narrative and appeared to show a controlled demolition now have more scientific evidence to fall back on after the release of a new university study found that the building came down not due to fire but from "the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building." The extensive four-year study was conducted by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alaska and used complex computer models to determine if the building really was the first steel-framed high-rise ever to have collapsed solely due to office fires. 

The study, currently available as a draft, concluded that "uncontrolled building fires" did not lead the building to fall into its footprint — tumbling more than 100 feet at the rate of gravity free-fall for 2.5 seconds of its seven-second collapse — as has officially been claimed. Instead, the study — authored by Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey, Dr. Feng Xiao and Dr. Zhili Quan — found that "fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] and private engineering firms that studied the collapse," while also concluding "that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global [i.e., comprehensive] failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building."

This "near-simultaneous failure of every column" in WTC 7 strongly suggests that explosives were involved in its collapse, which is further supported by the statements made by Barry Jennings, the then-Deputy Director of Emergency Services Department for the New York City Housing Authority. Jennings told a reporter the day of the attack that he and Michael Hess, then-Corporation Counsel for New York City, had heard and seen explosions in WTC 7 several hours prior to its collapse and later repeated those claims to filmmaker Dylan Avery. The first responders who helped rescue Jennings and Hess also claimed to have heard explosions in WTC 7. Jennings died in 2008, two days prior the release of the official NIST report blaming WTC 7's collapse on fires. To date, no official cause of death for Jennings has been given. 


Still "crazy" after all these years?

Eighteen years after the September 11 attacks, questioning the official government narrative of the events of those days still remains taboo for many, as merely asking questions or calling for a new investigation into one of the most important events in recent American history frequently results in derision and dismissal. 

Yet, this 9/11 anniversary — with a new study demolishing the official narrative on WTC 7, with a new poll showing that more than half of Americans doubt the government narrative on WTC 7, and with firefighters who responded to 9/11 calling for a new investigation — is it still "crazy" to be skeptical of the official story?

Firefighters hose down the smoldering remains of 7 World Trade Center Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001, in New York. Ryan Remiorz | AP

Even in years past, when asking difficult questions about September 11 was even more "off limits," it was often first responders, survivors and victims' families who had asked the most questions about what had really transpired that day and who have led the search for truth for nearly two decades — not wild-eyed "conspiracy theorists," as many have claimed. 

The only reason it remains taboo to ask questions about the official narrative, whose own authors admit that it is both flawed and incomplete, is that the dominant forces in the American media and the U.S. government have successfully convinced many Americans that doing so is not only dangerous but irrational and un-American. 

However, as evidence continues to mount that the official narrative itself is the irrational narrative, it becomes ever more clear that the reason for this media campaign is to prevent legitimate questions about that day from receiving the scrutiny they deserve, even smearing victims' families and ailing first responders to do so. For too long, "Never Forget" has been nearly synonymous with "Never Question." 

Yet, failing to ask those questions — even when more Americans than ever now favor a new investigation and discount the official explanation for WTC 7's collapse — is the ultimate injustice, not only to those who died in New York City on September 11, but those who have been killed in their names in the years that have followed.

Feature photo | Workers use cutting torches as they clear the site of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center, Jan. 23, 2002. Richard Drew | AP

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

The post More Americans Questioning Official 9/11 Story As Evidence Contradicts Official Narrative appeared first on MintPress News.

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