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Archive for jun 2016

Britain to Leave Europe for a Lie

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nytimes.com

Britain to Leave Europe for a Lie

Roger Cohen

LONDON — I have been overcome by gloom since Britain voted to leave the European Union. It’s not just the stupidity of the decision. It’s not merely the lies of the charlatans who led the “Leave” campaign. It’s not only the absence, now so evident, of any “Nextit.” It’s not even the betrayal of British youth. It’s far more: a personal loss. Europa, however flawed, was the dream of my generation. The European Union was an entity, a bloodless noun, yet it had a beating heart.

Riding a European train, gazing at the lines of swaying poplars, the villages huddled around their church spires, it was often impossible, at least for me, not to look past the tranquility to the blood-seeped soil and the tens of millions who gave their lives in Europe’s collective suicides. Well, as the Germans say, we had the blessing of late birth; and the duty inherent in that blessing was to build a united Europe.

Covering the European Parliament from 1980 to 1982, I would drive down from Brussels to Strasbourg. The Parliament was a bit of a farce. Unwieldy bundles of documents translated into Europe’s many languages were carted back and forth. Yet, in its cumbersome way, the Parliament embodied something important: the hard trade-offs of European construction, union conjured from Babel.

When I moved to Italy, with its large Communist Party and spasms of political violence, I would hear how “scaling the Alps” into the core of Europe was critical to the country’s stability. The E.U. was insurance against the worst. For Mediterranean countries like Spain and Portugal that emerged from dictatorship in the 1970s it was something close to salvation.

Memories: feckless Europe at the time of the Bosnian war and the thirst, nonetheless, of the small nations reborn in Yugoslavia’s death to join the European Union and escape the bloody Balkan gyre. Watching Germany move its capital back to Berlin from Bonn in 1999 and thinking, the German question is solved and Europe is home free! Driving, when I lived in Berlin, into Poland and pinching myself to recall the unspeakable suffering overcome by German-Polish reconciliation as Poland prepared for E.U. membership.

No miracle was ever so dull. Britain tended to see the E.U. in prosaic terms: It had not been delivered from ignominy or tyranny by European integration. Still, it gave the union heft, a free-market prod, a universal language and its second-largest economy. It was that recalcitrant member any good club needs.

Sure, the challenges mounted. The 30-year postwar economic miracle ended — and with it full employment. The Franco-German balance at the heart of the union collapsed. German dominance stirred unease. The creation of a single currency, the euro, was bungled. The admission of former Communist states spurred large migrant movements. The European welfare state was strained. Resentments multiplied.

Technology accelerated globalization, pulling hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in Asia but also offshoring millions of European jobs. Societies disaggregated. For each City honcho getting a daily Christmas delivery from Amazon Prime there was some poor sod out there in Nowheresville working a precarious warehouse night shift packaging stuff.

Britain, too, now has its “flyover country,” a nationalist heartland distant from the metropolis. This is how globalization divides the world.

Boris Johnson understood, in his scurrilous way, that the E.U. had become a perfect scapegoat for Western societies beset by the dilemmas of modernity. Opposed to Brexit early this year, he became its chief advocate, playing on every base instinct. Brexit was a tool, a plaything, never a principle. If he looks so glum in triumph it is because the adrenalin has run out.

There will be no extra $470 million for the National Health Service from European Union savings, after all. Immigration is not about to fall. Some of the regions that voted for Brexit are also those that get the most funds from Brussels. “There is now no need for haste,” Johnson says. Oh, really? “We are part of Europe, our children and our grandchildren will continue to have a wonderful future as Europeans,” he says. Oh, please!

If Johnson becomes prime minister in the fall, he will be an unelected leader, just like all those “unaccountable” high rollers in Brussels. When he tries to extricate Britain from the union, he will face a hostile Parliament. Last time I checked, Britain was a parliamentary, not direct, democracy. So perhaps there is still hope. If words mean their opposite, as they do in Johnson’s mouth, anything is possible. Europa is worth a fight.

The union, for all its failings, did not deserve to be betrayed by a huckster. It will not die because of this imbecilic vote, but something broke — a form of optimism about humankind, the promise of 1989.

My children will not inherit the Europe I hoped for. I look at my hands and see my father’s emerging, the veins now more pronounced. Life feels diminished. Some things are unavoidable. This was not.

Written by Mika

29. juna 2016. at 23:51

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Is an Independent Europe Possible?

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theduran.com

Is an Independent Europe Possible? – The Duran

I’m not only referring to the possible long-term consequences for U.S.-European relations in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but the unlikely blow against Washington’s information war on Moscow delivered by Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who a week ago shockingly accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of “war-mongering” against Russia.

Since the Bush administration’s twisting of events in the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, which the EU blamed on Georgia, Western populations have been subjected to the steady message that Russia is a “threat” to the West and is guilty of “aggression.” This reached a peak with the false narrative of events in Ukraine, in which blatant evidence of the West’s complicity in a violent coups d’état was omitted from corporate media accounts, while Russia’s assistance to eastern Ukrainians resisting the coup has been framed as a Russian “invasion.”

The disinformation campaign has reached the depths of popular culture, including the EuroVision song contest and sports doping scandals, to ensure widespread popular support for U.S. intentions against Russia.

The Russian “aggression” narrative, based largely on lies of omission, has prepared the way for the U.S. to install a missile-shield in Romania with offensive capabilities and to stage significant NATO war games with 31,000 troops on Russia’s borders. For the first time in 75 years, German troops retraced the steps of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

U.S. Designs on Russia

The U.S. is eyeing a post-Putin Russia in which a Wall Street-friendly leader like Boris Yeltsin can be restored to reopen the country to Western exploitation. But Vladimir Putin is no Yeltsin and has proven a tough nut for the U.S. to crack. Washington’s modus operandi is to continually provoke and blame an opponent until it stands up for itself, as Putin’s Russia has done, then accuse it of “aggression” and attack in “self-defense.”

In this way Washington builds popular support and resistance to the other side of the story. Unfortunately it is not a new trick in the U.S. playbook. “The statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception,” wrote Mark Twain.

So suddenly, after many years of an air-tight, anti-Russia campaign believed unquestioningly by hundreds of millions of Westerners, comes Steinmeier last week blurting out the most significant truth about Russia uttered by a Western official perhaps in decades.

“What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through saber-rattling and warmongering,” Steinmeier stunningly told Bild am Sontag newspaper. “Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken.”

Instead Steinmeier called for dialogue with Moscow. “We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation,” he said, saying it would be “fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence.”

In keeping with the strategy, the U.S. corporate media virtually ignored remarks that should have been front-page news. The New York Times did not report Steinmeier’s statement, but two days later ran a Reuter’s story only online leading with the U.S. military’s rejection of his remarks.

NATO General: Russia is No Threat

Just a day after Steinmeier was quoted in Bild, General Petr Pavel, chairman of NATO’s military committee, dropped another bombshell. Pavel told a Brussels press conference flat out that Russia was not at a threat to the West. “It is not the aim of NATO to create a military barrier against broad-scale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing,” he said.

What? What happened to Russian “aggression” and the Russian “threat?” What is the meaning then of the fear of Russia pounded every day into the heads of Western citizens? Is it all a lie? Two extraordinary on-the-record admissions by two men, Steinmeier, the foreign minister of Europe’s most powerful nation, and an active NATO general in charge of the military committee, both revealing that what Western officials repeat every day is indeed a lie, a lie they talk about in private but would never before utter in public.

Two years ago I was in a background briefing with a senior European ambassador at his country’s U.N. mission in New York and could hardly believe my ears when he said talk about Russia’s threat to Eastern Europe was “all hype” designed to give NATO “a reason to exist.” Yet this same ambassador in public Security Council meetings would viciously attack Russia. But the hype is about more than just saving NATO. The fear campaign feeds the American and European military industries and most importantly puts pressure on the Russian government, which the U.S. wants overthrown.

Were these remarks made out of the exasperation of knowing all along that the Russian threat is hype? Were they made out of genuine concern that things could get out of hand under reckless and delusional leaders in Washington leading to a hot war with Russia?

Neither man has been disciplined for speaking out. Does this signal a change in official German thinking? Will German businessmen who deal with Russia and have opposed sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, which were forced on Germany by the U.S., be listened to?

Were Steinmeier’s remarks a one-off act of rebellion, or is Germany indeed considering defying Washington on sanctions and regime change in Moscow? Is the German government finally going to act in Germany’s own interests? Such a move would spark a European defiance of the United States not seen since the days when Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO in 1966 to preserve French independence.

The last time European governments broke with Washington on a major issue was the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Then France and Germany joined Russia on the U.N. Security Council in blocking its authorization. Britain backed it. But France and Germany then voted for a resolution several months later that essentially condoned the invasion.

It is Up to the European Public

One has to ask whether a conditioned German public is ready to see through the lies about Russia. Last November I flew from St. Petersburg to Berlin and discussed this very question with a number of well-educated Germans.

I had visited Russia for the first time since 1995, 20 years before to the month. Those were the days of the Yeltsin-Jeffery Sachs Russia, of the unbridled neo-liberal capitalism of the Wall Street-oligarch alliance that plundered the country leaving millions of Russians destitute. Outside train stations I saw homeless encampments replete with campfires. Policemen were stopping motorists for bribes. I ran from two men intent on robbing me until I lost them in a Metro station. That’s the Russia the neocons in Washington and the knaves and buccaneers on Wall Street want to see again.

The Russia I saw in St. Petersburg and Moscow, 20 years later, was orderly and prosperous, as modern as any European city. It is a testament to Russia’s resistance to American attempts to restore its political and financial control. Russia is a capitalist country. But on its own terms. It is fully aware of American machinations to undermine it.

In Berlin I met several Germans, educated, liberal and completely aware, unlike most Americans, of how the United States has abused its post-World War II power. And yet when I asked them all why there are still U.S. military bases in Germany 70 years after the war and 25 years after the Cold War ended, and who the Americans were protecting them from, the universal answer was: Russia.

History shows European fears of Russia to be completely overblown. Germany and other Western powers have invaded Russia three times in the last 200 years: France in 1812, U.S., Britain and France in the 1918 Russian Civil War and Germany again in 1941. Except for Imperial Russia’s incursion into East Prussia after war was declared on it in 1914, the reverse has never been true.

In his memoirs Harry Truman admitted that false fear of Russia was the “tragedy and shame of our time” during the Cold War that he had much to do with in part to revive the U.S. post-war economy with military spending. George Kennan, the State Department official who advised a non-military containment of the Soviet Union, conceded as early as 1947 that Soviet moves in Eastern Europe were defensive and constituted no threat. In the 1990s Kennan also decried NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders.

With its vast natural resources, Russia has been the big prize for the West for centuries, and is still today in neocon-driven Washington. But Germany, especially, has benefited from trade with Russia and has no need to join the U.S. imperial project.

The British voters’ decision, days after Steinmeier’s extraordinary remark, could herald significant change in Europe, which may be approaching an historical junction in its relationship with the United States. Growing anti-EU sentiment has spread across the continent, including calls for similar referenda in several countries.

Britain has been called Washington’s trojan horse in the EU. The thinking is that without Britain, the EU would be freer to chart its own course. But as Alexander Mercouris explained here, Obama bypasses London to call Merkel directly with his demands. Still, removing Britain’s voice from the EU, though more crucially not from NATO, opens space for more independent voices in Europe to emerge.

“I worry that we will have less clout on our own: In the future we won’t have as much influence on Europe’s response to Putin’s transgressions, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or the E.U.’s foreign and security policy,” Peter Westmacott, until January Britain’s ambassador to the United States told The New York Times. “And we will be less able to ensure it is U.S.-friendly.”

If German leaders conclude the United States is pushing Europe into a disastrous war with Russia, could we see a Charles de Gaulle moment in Berlin? Merkel doesn’t seem to have it in her. Three days after Steinmeier’s remarks she told a news conference she favored increased German spending for NATO to counter Russian “threats.”

Instead it will require a revolt by an awakened citizenry against the EU and elected European governments that refuse to stand up to Washington, mostly because it benefits their own class interests, to the detriment of the majority.

The Future of the EU

European social democracy had been probably the best social and political system ever devised on earth, maybe the best that is humanly possible. Europe could have been a model for the world as a neutral power committed to social justice. As late as 1988, then President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors promised the British Trades Union Congress that the EU would be a “social market.”

Instead the EU allowed itself to be sold out to unelected and unaccountable neoliberal technocrats now in charge in Brussels. European voters, perhaps not fully understanding the consequences, elected neoliberal national governments slavishly taking Washington’s foreign policy orders. But Brexit shows those voters are getting educated. Unity is a great ideal but EU leaders have refused to accept that it has to benefit all Europeans.

The EU’s Lisbon Treaty is the only constitution in the world that has neoliberal policies written into it. If it won’t reform—and the arrogance of the EU’s leaders tells us it won’t—it will be up to the people of Europe to diminish or dismantle the EU through additional referenda. That would give liberated European nations the chance to elect anti-neoliberal national governments, accountable to the voters, which can also chart foreign policies independent of Washington.

The danger is that the right-wing sentiment that has driven a large part of the anti-Establishment movements in Europe (and the U.S.) may elect governments that grow even closer to Washington and impose even harsher neoliberal policies.

That is a risk that may need to be taken in the hope that the anti-Establishment left and right can coalesce around shared interests to put an end to the elitist European project.

Written by Mika

27. juna 2016. at 22:57

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Brexit won’t shield Britain from the horror of a disintegrating EU | Yanis Varoufakis

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theguardian.com

Brexit won’t shield Britain from the horror of a disintegrating EU | Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis

Leave won because too many British voters identified the EU with authoritarianism, irrationality and contempt for parliamentary democracy while too few believed those of us who claimed that another EU was possible.

Follow live developments as Britain votes to leave the European Union

I campaigned for a radical remain vote reflecting the values of our pan-European Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25). I visited towns in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, seeking to convince progressives that dissolving the EU was not the solution. I argued that its disintegration would unleash deflationary forces of the type that predictably tighten the screws of austerity everywhere and end up favouring the establishment and its xenophobic sidekicks. Alongside John McDonnell, Caroline Lucas, Owen Jones, Paul Mason and others, I argued for a strategy of remaining in but against Europe’s established order and institutions. Against us was an alliance of David Cameron (whose Brussels’ fudge reminded Britons of what they despise about the EU), the Treasury (and its ludicrous pseudo-econometric scare-mongering), the City (whose insufferable self-absorbed arrogance put millions of voters off the EU), Brussels (busily applying its latest treatment of fiscal waterboarding to the European periphery), Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble (whose threats against British voters galvanised anti-German sentiment), France’s pitiable socialist government, Hillary Clinton and her merry Atlanticists (portraying the EU as part of another dangerous “coalition of the willing") and the Greek government (whose permanent surrender to punitive EU austerity made it so hard to convince the British working class that their rights were protected by Brussels).

Insidious forces will be activated under the surface with a terrible capacity to inflict damage on Europe and Britain

The repercussions of the vote will be dire, albeit not the ones Cameron and Brussels had warned of. The markets will soon settle down, and negotiations will probably lead to something like a Norwegian solution that allows the next British parliament to carve out a path toward some mutually agreed arrangement. Schäuble and Brussels will huff and puff but they will, inevitably, seek such a settlement with London. The Tories will hang together, as they always do, guided by their powerful instinct of class interest. However, despite the relative tranquillity that will follow on from the current shock, insidious forces will be activated under the surface with a terrible capacity for inflicting damage on Europe and on Britain.

Italy, Finland, Spain, France, and certainly Greece, are unsustainable under the present arrangements. The architecture of the euro is a guarantee of stagnation and is deepening the debt-deflationary spiral that strengthens the xenophobic right. Populists in Italy and Finland, possibly in France, will demand referendums or other ways to disengage.

London’s Evening Standard. ‘The markets will soon settle down, and negotiations will probably lead to something like a Norwegian solution that allows the next British parliament to carve out a path toward some mutually agreed arrangement.’ Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

The only man with a plan is Germany’s finance minister. Schäuble recognises in the post-Brexit fear his great opportunity to implement a permanent austerity union. Under his plan, eurozone states will be offered some carrots and a huge stick. The carrots will come in the form of a small eurozone budget to cover, in some part, unemployment benefits and bank deposit insurance. The stick will be a veto over national budgets.

If I am right, and Brexit leads to the construction of a permanent austerian iron cage for the remaining EU member states, there are two possible outcomes: One is that the cage will hold, in which case the institutionalised austerity will export deflation to Britain but also to China (whose further destabilisation will have secondary negative effects on Britain and the EU).

Another possibility is that the cage will be breached (by Italy or Finland leaving, for instance), the result being Germany’s own departure from the collapsing eurozone. But this will turn the new Deutschmark zone, which will probably end at the Ukrainian border, into a huge engine of deflation (as the new currency goes through the roof and German factories lose international markets). Britain and China had better brace themselves for an even greater deflation shock wave under this scenario.

The horror of these developments, from which Britain cannot be shielded by Brexit, is the main reason why I, and other members of DiEM25, tried to save the EU from the establishment that is driving Europeanism into the ground. I very much doubt that, despite their panic in Brexit’s aftermath, EU leaders will learn their lesson. They will continue to throttle voices calling for the EU’s democratisation and they will continue to rule through fear. Is it any wonder that many progressive Britons turned their back on this EU?

Britain has voted to leave the European Union, by 52% to 48%, but Scotland, London and Northern Ireland all had a majority for remain. Find out how each local authority voted

While I remain convinced that leave was the wrong choice, I welcome the British people’s determination to tackle the diminution of democratic sovereignty caused by the democratic deficit in the EU. And I refuse to be downcast, even though I count myself on the losing side of the referendum.

As of today, British and European democrats must seize on this vote to confront the establishment in London and Brussels more powerfully than before. The EU’s disintegration is now running at full speed. Building bridges across Europe, bringing democrats together across borders and political parties, is what Europe needs more than ever to avoid a slide into a xenophobic, deflationary, 1930s-like abyss.

Written by Mika

26. juna 2016. at 10:21

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The REAL Story Behind the Balkans . Precursor to 9/11 and ISIS

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The REAL Story Behind the Balkans … Precursor to 9/11 and ISIS

Jun 22, 2016

Throughout Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World, we’ve seen how the US government, which increasingly resembles a terrorist organization, worked with extremists, including its thenasset Osama bin Laden, to destabilize and then destroy Serbia. According to John Schindler, professor of strategy at the US Naval War College, the American Department of State and President Clinton sought to bomb the Serbs to help the Muslims, “following the lead of progressive opinion on Bosnia.” Thousands of Arab-Afghans (Saudis, Yemenis, Algerians, Egyptians, Tunisians, Iraqis, Libyans, Jordanians, and others), with extensive combat experience gained fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan on behalf of the Americans, opened a new front in the Balkans.

For more, go to: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/06/58763.html

Written by Mika

23. juna 2016. at 09:21

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