Monday, February 16, 2015

Game with No Rules: Legal Imperialism against Russia (I)

Valentin KATASONOV | 17.02.2015 | 00:00

The term legal imperialism was coined in relation to the Argentina’s public debt. A New York court admitted a number of private claims to hand down a verdict. By a stroke of hand a judge increased the country’s debt up to $120 billion, according to experts’ estimates. The essence of legal imperialism is the support rendered by Anglo-Saxon legal system to financial vultures. 
Financial vultures vs. Argentina under the cover of American Themis
It all started in 2001. Argentina had to declare a sovereign default on around $130 billion. It was the biggest default on sovereign debt in history. The talks on restructuring started. As a result, the lenders agreed to write off the bulk of it (75%) and alter the conditions for paying off the rest. Some bondholders in possession of around $4 billion of Argentinian bonds refused to comply with the agreements’ terms. This included a small group of hedge funds holding over $1, 3 billion bonds headed by Elliott Management Corp. of billionaire Paul Singer. The hedge funds had already obtained the reputation of financial vultures. They acquired the bonds of the states that were on the verge of sovereign default or the ones already in default and then demanded 100% payments refusing to accept any compromises. The audacity is supported by the fact that they normally win the trials demanding 100% payments on the bonds. The vultures went to the New York court to sue Argentina for the whole amount without restructuring. In October 2012 the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York) ruled on the pari passu clause that required they receive full payment. Moreover it forbade Argentina to pay off its restructured debts till it complies with the court’s decision. It was an uphill struggle for Argentina as it realized that other lenders would demand full payments too. The country was a hostage because its bonds were issued in compliance with the laws of the state of New York. According to the court’s decision, Argentina faced the June 31, 2014 deadline when it was supposed to pay the next installment of interest to all bondholders. No settlement had been reached so the leading rating agencies greatly lowered the country’s investment rating. The regular payments by Argentina to comply with the conditions of restructured debt were blocked by the court’s ruling. Argentina refuses to comply while the fines keep on growing each passing day… 
Yukos case – first large-scale operation conducted by legal imperialism against Russia
The decision handed down by the Hague-based International Arbitration Court in the Russian oil giant Yukos case upon the claim of foreign shareholders is the example of how the legal imperialism works. Yukos ceased to exist as a legal entity in November 2007. For many years it avoided paying taxes. The taxes debts were to be paid in accordance with the court’s decision taken ten years ago. The company failed to comply. The bigger part of Yukos assets went to Russian oil producer Rosneft. Yukos foreign shareholders were disgruntled and went to courts abroad. Finally the claims were consolidated and sent to the Hague International Court. Initially the claimed sum was $114 billion (much more than the Yukos assets at the time of company’s liquidation). The Court let the claims be suspended, it was waiting for something. Finally it got what it was expecting. The West imposed sanctions against Russia in the spring of 2014. The court went back to the Yukos case and made public its verdict: Russia was to pay investors of the now non-existent company $50 billion – the largest compensation ever paid to shareholders upon an international arbitrary tribunal. According to the Court’s decision, Russia allegedly violated the Energy Charter Treaty and expropriated the company taking it from legal owners. A peculiar ruling in view that Russia never ratified the Charter. It is even more peculiar that the acquisition of the Yukos assets by another company is called «expropriation». In fact the verdict was an informal way of imposing sanctions by the West against Russia or the legal imperialism in force. As they say Russia was «put on the counter». After the ruling was announced Russia was given 180 days to comply. It did not. From January 15, the deadline set by the Court in the Hague for Russia to pay its fine, the fine will attract interest equal to the yield on a 10-year US Treasury bond. On January 15 the rate measured 1.91 percent. It means that the first year the sum of the debt will increase to $956, 6 million. That’s why over one billion dollars will surely be added to the $50 billion in 2015. 
The Hague Court ruling: what does it mean for Russia?
The appeals made by Russian lawyers brought about no result. The Hague Court’s decision was not taken into account in the 2015 budget. The opposite side is very active. Right after the Court’s decision the former Yukos shareholders were involved in interesting activities - they started to look for Russian assets to be used to pay the debt. Russia’s state foreign assets could be confiscated. The Rosneft assets are to be arrested first, other companies with state participation (VTB, Gasprom, Aeroflot, VAB etc.) second and state agencies third. Embassies have immunity unlike ships visiting foreign ports. 
Nobody cares about the fact that there are few companies with 100% state participation. There are non-state minority shareholders and the expropriation of companies’ assets would constitute a violation of their property rights. This is a classic game without rules. Actually there is one – punish Russia at any cost. 
Legal imperialism as effective informal sanction against Russia
There have been three packages of sanctions introduced against Russia. Experts believe that the fourth will also come into effect. I don’t think so. The matter is - informal sanctions are more effective. There will be new claims to Russia, its companies and banks. Russian individuals and legal entities will be blacklisted; Western courts will hand down decisions on expropriating their foreign assets. The «case of Rotenberg» will be repeated. In the spring of 2014 Russian entrepreneur Arkady Rotenberg was blacklisted during the first wave of sanctions. In September Italian courts handed down a decision to arrest and confiscate his €30m assets. The March sanctions envisioned a ban on entering the territories of the countries that imposed sanctions and seizing the bank accounts of blacklisted persons. In the case of Rotenberg they took away his real estate that had no relation to business. I emphasize it to show that legal imperialism is a war without rules waged to satisfy the desire to plunder. In general, that’s how the algothytm of legal marauding works: 
1) A Western vulture chooses an asset that belongs to a Russian legal entity of individual; 
2) The vulture makes the Russian owner blacklisted;
3) A Western court hands down a decision to seize the asset;
4) The court’s decision is carried out; the asset becomes the property of the vulture. 
Black lists as an instrument of legal imperialism
There are different grounds for being included into black lists: «suspicion of corruption involvement», «complicity in the annexation of Crimea and aggression against Ukraine», «the violation of human rights», «ties with terrorists» etc. The US has already introduced special laws, for instance, «the Magnitsky Act» allowing making lists of those who had connection to the death of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky. The lawyer represented the investment advisory firm Hermitage Capital Management. In 2008 he was arrested accused of few billion roubles tax evasion. He died in a prison cell. The West made him a martyr and responded with black lists. 
Not the United States is mulling a possibility to turn the Magnitsky Act into a universal instrument of fighting Russia under the banner of defending human rights. It is planned to include into the list not only those who did anything wrong to Magnitsky, but also Alexey Navalny and his associates in «the struggle against totalitarianism». Washington wants to kill two birds with one stone: a) to exert political pressure on Russia; b) to reap benefit by seizing the assets of the persons included into the black lists (the Magnitsky Act envisions a ban on entry into the country and arrest of bank accounts). They want to get more out of it. It is considered to go beyond seizing the bank accounts but also spread the sanctions on bonds and equity. 

Kiev troops don’t observe ceasefire, not preparing to pull out heavy weapons - DPR

News | 17.02.2015 | 00:00
TASS - Ukraine’s troops are not observing the truce declared in Donbas from February 15, Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the defense ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said on Monday.
"We see no ceasefire on the part of Ukraine’s punitive battalions, neither we observe them preparing to pull out heavy weapons from the line of engagement," he said.
"So, we can withdraw our units from the line of engagement only concurrently with the Ukrainian side, under control of international observers and representatives of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC)," he stressed.
At the same time, Baurin underscored that DPR militias were ready to begin the implementation of the Minsk agreements immediately.
"Over the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s artillery shelled our settlements and positions from missile systems and conventional artillery 49 times," he said. "According to radio messages intercepted by our intelligence agencies, Kiev has no control over army units deployed in Donbas. First of all, I am speaking about the so-called ‘volunteer battalions’ Aidar, Azov, Donbas, Krivbas and others that have gone out of control of Ukraine’s general staff and which open fire at DPR cities to the phone order from their so-called commanders in Kiev."

Syria welcomes UNSC resolution 2199 cracking down on financing terrorist groups

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New York, SANA, “Syria welcomes the UN Security Council Resolution 2199 to crack down financing terrorist groups through illicit oil sales, trading in antiquities and paying ransom for hostages” and highly appreciates Russian and Chinese delegations in this regard, Syria’s Permanent envoy to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari said.
Earlier Thursday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a Russian-sponsored resolution that calls for pulling the plug on funding terrorist organizations, including ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.
Al-Jaafari, during a joint press conference with the Iraqi envoy to the UN, said.. the resolution (2199) is very important for both Syria and Iraq, which are the main victims of the foreign intelligence and forces backed terrorism, pointing out that terrorists in the region, particularly in Syria and Iraq, do not come by parachutes but rather across joint borders of both countries and the majority of them (terrorists) cross into Syria and Iraq from Turkey and Jordan.
“Unfortunately, Jordan, a member of the Security Council, has adopted for years the policy of training, supporting and sending terrorists across the joint border into Syria to kill Syrians, and the Jordanian authorities see terrorists in the Syrian city of Al-Raqqa but do not see them while crossing its border towards Syria and Iraq”, Syria’s envoy said.
Resolution 2199 completes former resolutions related to fighting terrorism, including resolutions 2170 and 2178, al-Jaffari said, adding that the newly adopted resolution imposes serious commitments over member states which support terrorism in Iraq and Syria, and such commitments treat, particularly, trading oil and gas and smuggling archeological and cultural properties in a way that prevent terrorists to get financed from them.
Al-Jaafari said.. now we have three resolutions over fighting terrorism, and Turkey is still allowing terrorists, particularly from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, to cross the joint border with Syria, as Israel assists terrorists in Golan, particularly Jabhat al-Nusra.
He added that terrorists come from Jordan, which established camps, or what they call joint operation centers, to train terrorists then send them to Syria under observation of intelligence services of the US, Israel, Turkey, France, Qatar and Saudi, and they call those terrorists (Moderates) while the Security Council resolution points out that there is no moderate or extremist terrorists and the resolution obligates fighting terrorism and all forms of terrorist acts perpetrated by ISIS, Al-Nusra and all other terrorist organizations.
“Training centers established in Turkey, Saudi, Qatar and Jordan are not for means of peaceful negotiations to find out political solutions but rather are death-making camps for Syrians”, Syria’s UN envoy said, indicating those who legitimize trading Syrian oil for those terrorists and call them (Armed opposition forces), following stealing Iraq and Syria’s oil and exporting it after being reined at the Turkish refineries and European companies import it via Turkish mediators.
Concluding his statement, Al-Jaafari wondered whether the time has arrived to fight terrorism seriously, and why there still are some countries are waiting till terrorism knocks their doors and hits different nations without any distinction from America to Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania.
For his part, the Iraqi envoy Mohamad Ali al-Hakim pointed out the comprehensiveness of the resolution in preventing dealing with terrorists exporting oil, ransoming, and other economic issues that might be of benefit to terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
Al-Hakim called the resolution as “very important” under chapter seven and that for Iraq the resolution 2199 attempts to freeze and destroy terrorists financing sources particularly ISIS and Al-Nusra, expressing appreciation to a number of states including Russia and China for their efforts to issue the resolution under chapter seven.
In the course of the press conference, al-Jaafari was asked about whether the newly-approved resolution could be considered incomprehensive as it doesn’t  include measures to force countries to control their borders in the face of the terrorists and stolen oil and archeological items.
To that he answered “The United States should be the first to abide by this resolution, an act through which it could give credibility to its claim that it is fighting terrorism.”
He explained this need for abidance on the US’s part by stressing that the US and its “wrong” counterterrorism policies in Afghanistan are to blame for the current spread of terrorism all over the world.
Clear evidence for this placing of blame is seen in the current U.S. administration providing assistance to some terrorist organizations inside Syria and in neighboring countries  at camps that have been set up for the purpose of training terrorists to cross border to kill the Syrians inside the Syrian territory, al-Jaafari added.
He referred to four camps openly operating for training the terrorists which are located in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, stressing that all the four camps are run by secret intelligence services, including the CIA of the US and the Mossad of Israel.
Al-Jaafari affirmed that the U.S. administration did inform Syria of its intention to launch airstrikes against ISIS inside the Syrian territory before launching any, answering a question about the effect of the relationship between Syria and the US on coordination in any possible ground operations against ISIS.
Washington, he said, cannot deny the “very important role” of the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad in fighting terrorism, stressing that Syria is open to cooperation with all member states for combating terrorism.
“Yet, we need to see a real cooperation, one that is not based on double standards,” he added.
As for some other countries that are involved in supporting the terrorists, al-Jaafari ruled out the possibility that Turkey would abide by the resolution 2199 as it has not done so as far as resolutions 2170 and 2178 are concerned.
Turkey, he regretted, is involved with the terrorist war against Syria up to its ears, and, unfortunately, Jordan seems to have taken the same path.
On the idea of establishing a regional force to follow up on the implementation of the newly issued resolution, al-Jaafari again reiterated Syria’s readiness to cooperate with everybody and with any country with a “sincere agenda” for fighting terrorism.
Barry Temmo/Haifa Said

U.S. Peace Council Alert on Ukraine February 2015

  U.S. Peace Council Alert on Ukraine  February 2015

Spell of Cold War Propaganda?

Today its [the military’s] task is to expand the “zones of democratic peace;” to deter the rise or a new great-power competitor.... The Balkans, and southeastern Europe more generally, present the major hurdle toward the creation of a Europe “whole and free” from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The delay in bringing security and stability to southeastern Europe has ... prevented the consolidation of the victory in the Cold War.... This is especially important in light of the nascent European moves toward an independent defense “identity” and policy; it is important that NATO not be replaced by the European Union, leaving the United States without a voice in European security affairs....

— “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” A Report
 Of The Project for the New American Century
 September 2000

Indeed, what we are witnessing today in Ukraine is nothing but a clear attempt by the United States and its allies to “consolidate” their “victory in the Cold War” by creating a Europe “whole and free” for the unhindered reign of global capital. 
The process that started a year ago with a blatant and violent U.S.-backed coup in coalition with neo-Nazis against the elected president of Ukraine is now being escalated into an indirect declaration of war against Russia. Once again a massive propaganda campaign, reminiscent of the Cold War period, is being waged by the U.S. and European governments about “Russian aggression,” “Russian expansionism,” and “Russian threat to Western security,” while demonizing Vladimir Putin as a dangerous, power-hungry “dictator” who has “no respect for international law” and for other nations’ “sovereignty” and “independence.” And in doing so, they have fully mobilized the corporate media throughout the United States and Europe. 
Of course, this is nothing new, as we have seen similar propaganda campaigns to demonize other countries and their leaders in the past — in the past, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and still under way, Iran and Venezuela, to name a few — to pacify the public opinion in the face of the impending wars of aggression. But this time, the anti-Russian propaganda is banking on a historical weakness in the psyche of the American public: the historical Cold War fear of Communism and the Soviet Union. It is aimed at making us forget that Russia is not the Soviet Union, and that it is no longer an “enemy of the West,” but only a “greatpower competitor.” The imperialist warmongers want us to forget this in order to justify the expansion of NATO up to the borders of Russia, stationing of NATO missiles on the Ukraine soil (just imagine Russian missiles stationed along U.S.-Mexico border) and setting the stage for the ultimate “consolidation of the victory in the Cold War,” i.e., disintegration of the Russian Federation as a major “rival” and a challenge to the United States’ “full spectrum dominance” of the world, as stipulated by the document of the Project for the New American Century. And, unfortunately, it seems that this Cold-War style propaganda has been effective, as it has silenced most of the U.S. peace movement, and has kept it, at least so far, from taking effective action against this step-by-step military escalation against Russia. 
An orchestrated effort is now under way to send arms to Ukraine without any active resistance by the peace and anti-nuclear movement in the U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have announced that they are considering sending “lethal” weapons to Ukraine. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced his support for sending so-called “defensive weapons” to Ukraine. NATO’s military commander, Gen. Breedlove, has expressed his support for sending weapons. Worst of all, according to Reuters (February 2, 2015), U.S. Congress is planning to “write legislation requiring the United States to send arms to Ukraine if President Barak Obama does not move to send weapons.” Reuters also reported that Senator McCain “led about a dozen Republication and Democratic senators at a new conference in pressing Obama to send arms to help Kiev....” In recent a joint report delivered to President Obama, the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs advised the White House and NATO on the best way to escalate the war in Ukraine. (Mike Whitney, CounterPunch, February 6-8 Edition) Not surprisingly, establishment media like the Washington Post and USA Today, have joined the fray by editorializing that “giving Ukraine lethal weapons is the only solution to this conflict.” In addition, according to Reuters, a group of “eight former senior American officials are preparing a joint report in which they “urge the United States to send $3 billion in in defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine, including anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.” The “lethal” weapons under consideration are all sophisticated weapons that the Ukrainians are not trained for and will require that the U.S. military personnel operate them — a situation which would inevitably get the United States military directly involved in the war. 
But military-strategic objectives are not the only reason for the United States to go to such extremes. As Mike Whitney has correctly put it, the U.S. “wants to control the pipeline corridors from Russia to Europe to monitor Moscow’s revenues and to ensure that gas continues to be denominated in dollars. And it wants a weaker, unstable Russia that is more prone to regime change, fragmentation and, ultimately, foreign control. These objectives cannot be achieved peacefully....” (op. cit.) In fact, since the discovery of new oil and gas reserves in the United States, the issue of weaning the European Union from the Russian oil and gas and turning Europe into an export market for the newly discovered U.S. reserves has been placed on top of the U.S. Administration and Oil companies’ imperialistic agenda. Instigating a conflict in Ukraine, causing a rift between the European Union and Russia, and imposing economic sanctions on Russia, is precisely aimed at serving this objective. And the leading EU governments are more than willing to go along with this plan. However, while the U.S. neocons are rushing to cause a military confrontation, European governments, having had the disastrous experience of two world wars on their soil, are more reluctant to take the military route. They prefer to achieve the same imperialist objectives through economic sanctions and diplomatic pressures. European leaders want the threat of war, but not the war itself. As the French President recently warned Russians: “If we don't manage to find ... a lasting peace agreement, we know perfectly well what the scenario will be. It has a name, it’s called war.” (Reuters, February 7, 2015) In other words, the imperialist objectives are the same, the methods are different. 
And none of this should be surprising to anyone, given the U.S., EU and NATO’s similar imperialistic record in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, etc. What is surprising, however, is the passive response of the peace and anti-nuclear movement in the United States. Why aren’t we organizing protests? Why aren’t we mobilizing the masses? Why aren’t we marching on the streets, on the White House, on the Congress? Is it because we do not yet see the gravity of the looming danger, which is highly unlikely? Or could it be that we are still under the spell of the Cold War propaganda? 
In either case, we must act quickly before it is too late. With Russia and the United States possessing thousands of missiles, bombers and submarines equipped with nuclear bombs on hair-trigger alert, an escalation could spiral out of anyone’s control. This time the stakes are extremely high.
We call upon all peace-loving people of the United States to join forces and demand:
1. Send no weapons to Ukraine,
2. Remove NATO, US troops, US missiles and bases from all states bordering Russia
3. Ensure that Ukraine immediately becomes a neutral country. 
    4. Ukraine must not participate in  foreign military exercises nor military blocs.

U.S. Peace Council — February 2015

Donetsk Militia Say OSCE Made No Requests to Visit Debaltseve

News | 15.02.2015 | 22:34
Sputnik – The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission to Ukraine did not request the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) to visit the area of Debaltseve, DPR negotiator said Sunday.
Earlier on Sunday, OSCE monitoring mission chief Ertugrul Apakan said the Donetsk militia barred the monitors from visiting the town of Debaltseve, where several thousand Ukrainian troops remain surrounded by pro-independence forces.
"Prior to the meeting… with the OSCE, which took place in the second half of the day [Sunday], I personally, as an authorized representative [of DPR], received no requests from OSCE to visit Debaltseve area," Denis Pushilin said.
He asserted that the monitors could have been denied entrance to the area due to security reasons.
Some 10,000 of Kiev-led troops remain encircled by pro-independence militia in Debaltseve, one of Ukraine's biggest railroad junctions, which has been a site of intense clashes between the warring sides in recent weeks.
On Saturday, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, said that all attempts of Ukrainian soldiers to leave the encirclement will be stopped.
The truce deal between the Ukrainian troops and pro-independence forces in Donbas was worked out by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine on February 12 during 16-hour peace talks in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
Tags: OSCE Novorossiya Ukraine

Donetsk republic claims Kiev pulls in heavy weaponry as provocation

News | 16.02.2015 | 11:26
Kiev troops have pulled in heavy weaponry to the contact line with the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic in a move that militia consider a provocation to force them to violate the Minsk agreements, the DPR’s defense ministry spokesman said on Monday.
"The Armed Forces of Ukraine have secretly pulled in heavy weaponry - Grads and Uragans - to the villages of Artemovsk and Luganskoye and others. Several groups of journalists are also based there," Eduard Basurin told reporters.
The spokesman said Kiev troops are planning to open fire in the direction of the Donetsk republic to provoke militias into firing in response. Then journalists will "register response actions and say that we are violating the Minsk agreements," he said.
As a result of Thursday’s meeting in Minsk, the participants of the Contact Group on the Ukrainian settlement signed a set of measures to implement the 13-point Minsk agreements. The document envisages the full ceasefire from midnight on February 15 and the withdrawal of all the heavy weaponry from the contact line no later than day two of the ceasefire to be completed within two weeks.

Narrenweisheit* Betrachtungen von Irene Eckert

Immer mehr internationale Analysten charakterisieren die aktuelle US-gesteuerte NATO-Politik als eine von Schwachsinnigen dirigierte, dem Boden der Rationalität entglittene Wahnsinnspolitik.

Ich halte einen solchen Denkansatz für  im eigentlichen Sinne 'beschränkt', auch wenn er  wohlmeinend und von klugen, gut informierten Menschen vorgetragen wird. 
Zunächst einmal ist  die  Konsequenz  solcher Betrachtung fraglich, weil sie eine lähmend Wirkung hat. Wären wir mit so übermächtig Wahnsinnigen konfrontiert, dann könnten wir nur noch die letzten Weihen empfangen und beten.

Es ist grundsätzlich problematisch,  einseitig auf die Handlungsweise des Imperiums und seiner Handlanger zu starren, anstatt das gesamte internationale Gefüge in den Blick zu nehmen. In gewisser Weise wird nämlich  damit,  entgegen warnender, kritischer Absicht der Blickwinkel des noch (!) herrschenden Hegemons übernommen, ohne seine innere Brüchigkeit, seine  Schwächen bloß zu legen.  Auf diese Weise wird vermieden die möglichen Angriffsflächen für eine Gegenbewegung aufzudecken.

Drittens ist daran falsch, dass die Rechnung ohne den Wirt gemacht wird. Denn die Mächtigen   verfangen sich in einem selbst erzeugten, ständig wachsenden  Widerspruchsgefüge. Die  deutlich sich formierenden globalen Gegenkräfte werden außer Betracht gelassen. So schwächt man den so notwendigen Widerstand.

Viertens hat die Macht durchaus  ihre eigene, wenn auch beschränkte  und in sich eben zwangsläufig Widersprüche hervortreibende  Logik. Sie ist im  Sinne  des Machterhalts durchaus um Rationalität bemüht. Dieser  engstirnigen Logik müssen wir aber  die  vorwärts weisende  und umfassende Rationalität der Beherrschten, der Ausgeplünderten, der Opfer entgensetzen.

Der militärisch-industrielle Komplex hat ohne Feindbild und ohne Ausweitung der Kriege keine Zukunft. Er kämpft also durchaus nach Maßgabe seiner notwendig bornierten Rationalität um sein nacktes Überleben. Dass er damit das Leben überhaupt aufs Spiel setzt, ist nicht gewollt, wird aber  als mögliche Konsequenz ausgeblendet, verdrängt.  Wir, die Betroffenen, müssen daher auf den Irrationalismus genau dieses systemaren Zusammenhangs zielen, den es auszuhebeln gilt, um  der  Rationalität voll umfänglich  Geltung verschaffen zu können und zwar  im Gattungsinteresse.

Teile des militärisch-industriellen  Systemkomplexes und seines Machtapparates, sein riesiger Mitarbeiterstab also,  sind vermutlich Opfer der von ihnen selbst erzeugten Propaganda. Sie glauben um ihr eigenes Überleben so kämpfen zu müssen, wie es ihre Propagandastrategie  vom "Antiterror-Krieg" und vom "Erz-Feind Russland" vorgibt.

Wir aber, die wir ums unser Überleben und um die Sicherheit künftiger Generationen besorgt sind und es besser  wissen, müssen demgemäß ihre Propaganda als falschen Schein entlarven.
Unser Auftrag besteht in erster Linie darin, die Menschen vor einer falschen, verhängnisvollen, in die Irre führenden 'Schein-Rationalität' zu  warnen. Rationalität greift nämlich fast immer nur so weit, wie die eigenen "Sicherheit"- Interessen es vorschreiben.

Wer im weitesten Sinne dem militärisch-industriellen Apparat dient und dessen Brot ißt, tut sich  - nachvollziehbarer Weise - entsprechend schwer, vor den Folgen dieses alles verschlingenden Monsters zu warnen un sich von seinen Machenschaften zu distanzieren.  Er  oder sie kann und darf sich nicht mit den Folgen seiner "Arbeit"  befassen, die er oder sie  nicht einmal ganz zu durchschauen vermag. Er kann sich in seiner Art zu denken, von der Propagandamaschinerie nicht lösen.

Nur wenige Individuen haben die geistige und moralische Größe eines Edward Snowden. Viele aber sehen die  für  sie nachteiligen  Folgen eines Absprungs, einer Abkehr von den Fleischtöpfen der Macht. Die meisten Menschen sind nicht stark genug, noch blicken sie weit genug, um die unmittelbaren  Nachteile für sich selbst schultern zu können. 

Nun wird die Geschichte, wie man weiß, zwar von den Mächtigen geschrieben und auch in  ihrem Sinne gefälscht, aber Dissidenten- und Ketzergeschichten werden auch vom Volke weitergetragen und erzielen so ihre abschreckende Wirkung.

Das spricht allerdings ganz und gar  nicht grundsätzlich gegen die Vernunft. Die Klugheit des Volkes ist omnipräsent trotz medialer Dauergehirnwäsche. Die Vernunft der Völker, die Vernunft  von Millionen einfacher Menschen zielt erdumspannend auf die einfachen Dinge: Frieden, Gerechtigkeit, Bewahrung der Tradition, Überleben der Gattung, Nahrungssicherung, Schutz vor Hitze und Kälte, Zusammenhalt in Zeiten großer Gefahr und dergleichen.

Die Aufgabe der besser Informierten  und Weitsichtigen besteht darin,  Mut zu machen, Mut zum Widerstand, nämlich da, wo Unrecht nicht mehr tragbar ist und wo die ganze Gattung gefährdet ist, da wo die Gewalt überhand nimmt, wo existenzielle Interessen gefährdet sind.

Einen solchen Moment erleben wir jetzt. Auch für  Europäer und Nordamerikaner spitzt sich  derzeit die Gefährdung  zu. An anderen Orten dieses Planeten  und zu anderen Zeiten auch schon bei uns, haben die Völker solch existenzielle Bedrohung bereits  durchlitten.

 In Lateinamerika und Asien sind die Völker längst  durch nachhaltige, rauhe Gewalterfahrung  gestählt zum kollektiven Widerstand aufgebrochen. Auf ihrer Seite befindet sich heute  die Rationalität. Die  kollektive Vernunft, der menschliche Verstand weist dort die richtige Richtung.
Es ist Zeit für uns, es ihnen gleichzutun. 

Ob in China unter Führung der kommunistischen Partei des großen Landes und der Jahrtausende alten Weisheit einer alten  Kultur, ob in Lateinamerika unter fortschrittlichen Offizieren, katholischen Priestern, indigenen Gewerkschaftsführern, Politikern aller Couleur, ob in Indien oder Afrika, über all entstehen  Bündnisse, angeführt  vom kollektiven Überlebenswillen. Es wehrt sich eine Mehrheit der Weltbevölkerung auf ganz unterschiedliche Weise gegen die drohende Unvernunft des militärisch-industriellen Molochs des Westens.

Dieser Westen verspielt derzeit mittels der aberwitzigen Anmaßung einer  blinden  US-Führung, die sich  gar mit Gott im Bunde und   von einem atemberaubenden Sendungsbewusstheit getragen fühlt, den letzen Rest an Glaubwürdigkeit.
Der Irrationalismus eines einst  glorreichen Westens ist am Ende seiner  bornierten Weisheit angelangt.   Was ihm bleibt ist  der Rekurs auf nackte und brutalste Gewalt. Damit ist aber kein Staat zu machen. Gewalt wirkt nur solange sie vorhält und ihr Scheitern ist absehbar. Diese Dialektik, so meine ich, gilt es immer mit zu transportieren, damit der Weisheit der "Narren" auf lange Sicht  endlich zum Durchbruch verholfen werden kann.
* Narrenweisheit" - so lautet der Titel eines Romans von Lion Feuchtwanger über den Philosophen Rousseau, dessen Ideen, neben denen Voltaires,  immerhin die große Bürgerliche Revolution Frankreichs vorbereiten halfen.Sämtliche historischen und hochaktuellen Romane von  Lion Feuchtwanger, insbesondere sein 1948 erschienener Roman "Waffen für Amerika" (auch unter dem Titel "Füchse im Weinberg")  verdienen neue, weite Verbreitung.

EU adds more Russians, eastern Ukrainians to sanctions list after successful Minsk talks

Published time: February 16, 2015 08:12 
Edited time: February 16, 2015 12:09 
RIA Novosti / Vladimir Sergeev
RIA Novosti / Vladimir Sergeev
The European Union has expanded its anti-Russian sanctions list to 19 more people and nine new entities. The new sanctions contradict common sense and prevent the resolution of the Ukrainian internal conflict, Russia’s Foreign Ministry commented.
The newly sanctioned individuals include three top military officials: Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s First Deputy Defense Minister, Army General Arkady Bakhin, and the head of the main Operation Directorate of General Staff, Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov.
Two members of the Russian lower house of parliament, the State Duma, singer Iosif Kobzon and Valery Rashkin, who heads the Russian Communist Party branch in Moscow, are also on the list. The remaining 14 people are officials and field commanders of the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine.
The entities added to the sanctions list consist of eight rebel self-defense battalions and the Novorossiya public movement.
The EU blacklist now includes 151 citizens of Russia and Ukraine’s self-proclaimed eastern republics and 37 Russian companies and other entities.
The updated "blacklist," which was agreed February 9, was published in the EU Official Journal on Monday and came into force at the time of publication.
Restrictive measures include the freezing of the individuals’ assets in European Union countries and an EU-wide travel ban.
New sanctions defy common sense and prevent a resolution of Ukrainian internal conflict, Russia’s Foreign Ministry commented.
Moscow accused Brussels of doing the bidding of Kiev’s ‘party of war’ and noted the irrationality of broadening sanctions against Russia and the rebel authorities at a time when hope had emerged for a peaceful resolution to the Ukrainian crisis.
Aleksey Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, has tweeted that the new EU sanctions, adopted February 9, are “going to be contrary to the results of Minsk [peace agreements]. These sanctions will not solve anything, but will complicate the political dialogue.”

Russia’s representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told journalists that further extension of sanctions would not promote accomplishment of the Minsk agreements on the Ukrainian crisis.
“This will not only give a signal to Russian public opinion and force Russia to return to our own sanctions list, but will dissuade both sides of the conflict from the active implementation of the provisions of the Minsk documents,” Chizhov said.
The EU’s expanded sanctions against Russia come after the successful 16-hour Minsk peace talks between the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine, aimed at promoting a ceasefire in Ukraine.

The Minsk ceasefire agreement envisages a complete end to hostilities in Ukraine, which came into force starting from midnight Sunday, February 15, and remains an effective measure to stop bloodshed in the east of Ukraine, where pro-Kiev regular troops and Ukrainian volunteer battalions are fighting with rebel forces. Regular shelling in the region has left thousands of civilians dead.
In turn, Russian officials said last week that Moscow will not disclose the names on its blacklist introduced as a reciprocal measure for the new individual sanctions introduced by the EU against Russian citizens.
“In the long term, sanctions against Russia endanger Europe’s security of supply,” observed Igor Sechin, CEO of Russia’s energy giant Rosneft, in an article published in the Financial Times on Sunday.
There is a lack of unity in the EU over the need for new restrictive measures within the bloc, with the losses suffered by the EU in the “sanctions war” with Russia now put at €21 billion ($24 billion).
"Sanctions have had a heavy cost for us all,” said Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the Spanish foreign minister. “In Spain, we have been badly hit in terms of agriculture and tourism," he said.

Playing With Fire in an Age of Absurdity

"Farewell to Rationality!" I definietly object to the sub-title and the somewhat pessimistic outlook in this below article. We must see the entire global picture. And there is  one basic truth: Men do not have an in-built suicidal  gene. This would be against nature. Everybody wants survive  or at least secure survival for his or herlike. (Blogger)
Will future historians call the time when the United States was the world’s hegemonic power – the “indispensable nation,” as the hapless Madeleine Albright called it — the Age of Absurdity? Now that the Obama administration has set its stamp upon it, they very well might.
Absurdity is in the details; it is manifest in small things and on many levels.   And it is manifest in the largest political issue of our time and any time: the question of war and peace.
The perpetual war regime Obama and his advisors have solidified – on the shoddiest of pretexts, but with the unbridled assistance of a compliant media and with full “bipartisan” support – is a potentially catastrophic case in point.
In this and other respects, Obama will be remembered not so much as an innovator but as a continuator of Bush-Cheney era policies. But, as thinkers of a dialectical cast used to remind us, sometimes quality emerges out of quantity.
And so it is that with more than a few – no one knows exactly how many — under-the-radar wars around the world to its (dis)credit, the absurdity level has been ratcheted up several notches under Obama’s tenure.
Along with a rise in religious zealotry, a phenomenon not unrelated to all those wars, this is why it has become harder than ever to make sense of what is going on in the world today. Things happen, apparently for no rhyme or reason. Incoherence reigns.
And people die. Obama will be remembered for this. And, to our shame, “we, the people” will be remembered for having acquiesced almost without resistance to what he and the people around him have done.
The peace movement is dead, the media are mute, and, in all likelihood, we will soon be engulfed in an electoral season in which the plain fact that Democrats and Republicans know not what they do will hardly even come up.
Meanwhile, war and preparations for war go on – seemingly in perpetuity.
* * *
Perpetual war. What is it good for?
The answer is the same as for war in general – absolutely nothing. From deep in the heart of Motown some forty years ago, Edwin Starr got that right.
Evidently, the Obama administration’s foreign policy team – the humanitarian interveners, the unreconstructed Clintonites, the leftover neocons, the whole sorry crew – disagrees.
We cannot be entirely sure, however. They may just be irrational or, more likely, so bad at what they do that it comes to the same thing.
To clarify what I mean by irrationality, think of the difference between the ends of actions, their objectives, and the means through which persons seek to realize those ends.
Philosophers disagree about how, if at all, ends can be rational. But they all agree, as Immanuel Kant wrote in 1785, that “to will the end is to will the means thereto.”
By that standard, we must infer that Nobel laureate Barack Obama and his advisors at the National Security Council and the State Department and in the think-tanks that service the national security state either want war without end, or else that they are unconstrained by the most basic requirement of practical reason.
‘Practical reason” pertains to actions, as distinct from beliefs, which are the province of “theoretical reason. “ In both cases, rationality is a normative standard, the most basic one we have. There is no reasoning with, or dealing with, those who violate this fundamental norm.
It is unacceptable for someone to understand a logical demonstration or an empirical argument supported by incontrovertible evidence and then to reject the conclusions that follow. One cannot argue with such a person; the only thing to do is walk away.
And it is wrong to seek some objective and then, knowingly, to adopt means that are sure to have the opposite effect.
Insanity can be a mitigating factor.   But our leaders are not insane – not in the clinical sense. When their actions are irrational, there is no denying their culpability.
To count as a rational agent, it is not enough that means and ends not be directly at odds – as when someone wants to go left, knows which way is left, and nevertheless goes right. Some notion of proportionality is also assumed.
Doing too little or too much can result from failures of judgment. But if the failures cannot be explained away – say, because they rely on information that is believed to be adequate but is not, or on flawed ways of thinking that are not immediately apparent – then charges of irrationally ring true.
It is tempting to lay all the blame for the manifest failures of means-ends rationality that characterize American policy in the historically Muslim world and in and around the lands that border Russia on incompetence alone, and to fault the Obama foreign policy team for its consequences.  They are certainly guilty as sin. But everyone knows where the buck stops.
It was not insanity that led Barack Obama to make Hillary Clinton and now John Kerry his Secretaries of State, or that causes him to take Susan Rice and Samantha Power seriously. And there is no escaping his reprehensibility for the mischief he lets them and their underlings unleash around the world.
Obama is as guilty for this as he is for what the American military does and, worse, the CIA and the other tools of empire that he wields like a private army.
But can we blame all this on incompetence alone?
There is no clear answer to this question because there is also the likelihood that, at least to some extent, Obama and his team are deliberately pursuing preposterous objectives – adopting means to ends as rational agents should, but for ends that are reprehensible or incoherent or both.
On questions of war and peace, this seems to be the case: it seems that perpetual war is what Obama and the ne’er-do-wells under him want.
Why? Not out of partiality to military virtues or nostalgia for more barbaric times.   European fascists and pre-war Japanese authoritarians were moved by ideals of this kind; Democrats are not. Though it can sometimes be hard to believe, neither are Republicans.
But without war and the threat of war the military-industrial-national security state complex would falter. Since even before President Eisenhower warned of what would happen if our republic ceded power to it, its unelected and unaccountable leaders have been calling the shots.
Therefore perpetual peace is out of the question. If enemies do not exist, the United States will have to invent them.
By the time Obama took office, the Iraq War was extremely unpopular. He could and did intensify it for a while, but it was plain from Day One that it had to be wound down, seemingly at least, before he could run for office again.
And so it was. It was only after Obama was reelected in 2012 that what the United States did to Iraq came back to bite him. Now Syria is a problem too, perhaps an even bigger one. This too is a result of what the United States did in and to Iraq.
When Obama took office, the Afghanistan War had been raging on for seven years. This was the war that Obama, and other “anti-war” Democrats like Howard Dean endorsed, even as they cautiously spoke out against its more prominent cousin.
Of the two wars, the one in Afghanistan was certainly he less unpopular, but also the less rational. Ostensibly, its point was and still is to combat “terrorism.”   To the extent this is so, it is a textbook case of willing an end and willing the opposite of the means thereto.
Drones and assassins kill terrorists along with many others, but they also create more terrorists than they kill. You don’t need an advanced degree in military science or diplomacy to realize this; you don’t even need a High School diploma. It is common sense.
The Afghanistan War is and always has been a war of revenge – undertaken because the Furies demanded it.
Civilization was supposed to have put an end to such causae belli. In civilized societies, “reasons of state” might justify wars but not desires for vengeance. Evidently, the philosophers and tragedians of Greek antiquity hadn’t counted on George Bush and Dick Cheney.
In time, the Afghanistan War’s unpopularity came to rival the unpopularity of the war in Iraq. And so, after surging and un-surging in Afghanistan as they had in Iraq, Team Obama decided that it would make sense to wind down, or seem to wind down, the Afghanistan War too.
But, unfortunately, they felt that they couldn’t just cut and run; that is the way that bullies lose credibility and that empires fall. They needed a face-saving way out.  But, like Iraq, Afghanistan was too broken to provide on. After more than a decade of American predations, how could it not have been?
All they could do, therefore, was dissimulate.
And so the two Bush-Obama wars were not so much concluded as repackaged – so that Obama could win in 2012, and so that the wars that, by then, were his to pursue could be continued indefinitely.
The military-industrial-national security state complex would surely have preferred less muted hostilities. But you can’t always get what you want, even when you run the show.
Nevertheless, they were on track for getting more than enough to keep them in business. It doesn’t take much blowback to keep the suicide bombers coming.   That on its own would have been enough to scare Americans and Europeans into allowing the wars – and, more important, the preparations for war — to continue indefinitely.
But those wars had been going on for so long that they were starting to seem old, even to their most ardent proponents. The military had had enough as well; too much death and maiming, not enough glory.
Could this be why Team Obama, with support from unreconstructed Cold Warriors in Europe, decided that the time had come to provoke Russia?
A new Cold War would certainly make life more interesting – and profitable — for them. And with the fear of Islamist terrorism in the West receding, a new Cold War would be just the thing to raise anxiety levels back to where our rulers like them to be.
Then suddenly that plan became redundant. The Islamic State (IS) emerged seemingly from nowhere; a collection of bloodthirsty and crazed religious zealots, brutal enough to appall even Osama Bin Laden.
With them around, there was no longer any need to demonize Vladimir Putin, the man into whose eyes George W. Bush had once looked and saw that it was good.
Of course, the IS didn’t exactly come from nowhere. It came from a broken Iraq and from a more recently devastated Syria; in other words, from machinations orchestrated in Washington and perpetrated by NATO, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States and, of course, by the United States itself.
But the IS, so far at least, has left the West alone. It kills Westerners it captures; its brutality towards them, and others who fall into its hands, is unspeakable. But, to date, IS sponsored terror has been confined geographically to areas under its control.
It takes a lot of empathic understanding, of putting oneself in the minds of others, to ascertain the IS’s ends and to see the method in its madness. Could they really want to revive the political structures of the first centuries of the Muslim era or to subject entire populations to fundamentalist understandings of Sharia law?
On the other hand, ridding the Middle East of its corrupt leaders is an eminently worthwhile and understandable goal, as is removing Western domination of historically Muslim lands. But none of this obviates the fact that even Hollywood could not contrive a more god-awful collection of murderous brigands.
Indeed, the IS is so awful that it will take a lot of work on the part of the American government to keep it up and running for long. They are not ingenious enough.
On the other hand, if their actual goal is what they say it is – to rid the world of the Islamic State — then the IS menace might be around for a while; Team Obama is incompetent enough for that.
The IS’s leadership knows that they have no way to inflict serious harm directly upon the West. Following Al Qaida’s lead, their strategy therefore is to get the West to harm itself. They are past masters at that.
It is amazing how much leverage they are able to squeeze out of a few well-advertised beheadings, abductions and burnings.
It is ironic too: “off with their heads” is a Western trope; and Islam doesn’t hold a candle – pun intended — to Christianity when it comes to burning people to death.
Killing by fire is an American specialty as well. We did it to the Japanese with atom bombs and to the Vietnamese and many others with napalm and white phosphorus.
We are doing it still – to Arabs and Africans — with bombs and drones. Is it any wonder that they would object?
What is wondrous is the sheer hypocrisy of it all. They, the Oriental other, are unbridled monsters; when we do the same, we say, when it is too late, only that “mistakes were made.”
At least their brutality serves the purpose they intend. The United States does more damage to people and things than they, the monsters, can dream of, but nothing worthwhile for us comes of it – unless keeping a thriving perpetual war regime going is a worthwhile end.
Indeed, unless this actually is Obama intention, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi leaves our Commander-in-Chief standing in the dust when it comes to adopting suitable and proportionate means to ends.
And then, as if the IS were not enough of a godsend for our masters of war, there were the massacres at the Charlie Hebdo offices and at the Kosher supermarket in Paris.
An Al Qaeda offshoot seems to have been behind at least the former atrocity; there have been suggestions that the IS had something to do with the second, though it is not clear what, and the connection has never been confirmed.
But even the hint that the IS might now be intent on terrorizing Western populations is enough to bring George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror – the reality, not the name –back full force.
Why then still provoke Russia? Isn’t one hyper-dangerous ill thought out misadventure enough?   Why pile more on – especially one that could lead to a nuclear war?
The question answers itself, and yet efforts to bring NATO and the EU right up to Russia’s borders continue. Obama, to his credit, is hesitant; but, in Congress and the media, the War Party is nipping at his heels, eager for a showdown in Ukraine.
This is absurdity squared. Not all the media flacks in the world can demonize Vladimir Putin enough to change the one obvious and basic truth that is of paramount importance in this situation: that it is reckless beyond belief – unforgivably reckless – – to infringe the basic security interests of a major nuclear power.
Yes, it would be good for business – in the United States and the EU – if Russia were again as weak and compliant as it was in the nineties, when the Clintons, forsaking promises Ronald Reagan had made to Mikhail Gorbachev, initiated NATO expansion.
Of course, it was never quite true that, as “Engine Charlie” Wilson put it when President Eisenhower nominated him to be Secretary of Defense that “what (is) good for the country (is) good for General Motors and vice versa.” This is even less true for today’s hedge funds and mega-banks and multi-national corporations.
But it remains steadfastly true that “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” Our political class today, far more than in Eisenhower’s time, is well paid for the services it renders.
Even so, one would think that the movers and shakers of American capitalism would be rational enough not to risk everything for just a little bit more.   What happened to means being proportional to ends?
The problem, again, is not insanity. But in an Age of Absurdity, one thing can lead to another and, pretty soon, there is no world left. The majority of Democrats and Republicans these days either don’t understand this, or don’t care.
For now, Obama’s hesitancy is saving us – that and Russian diplomacy. European, especially German, diplomacy is helping too.
The German government, under Angela Merkel, has little love for Vladimir Putin and the people around him.   But at least they can still understand how the world looks from Russia’s perspective, and they are still “realist” enough and rational enough to adopt proportionate means to the ends they seek to achieve.
If anyone in the American government is on the same page, they are keeping the news to themselves.
And so, Obama is under enormous pressure to supply the Ukrainian army with lethal weapons. Merkel disagrees; she understands the dangers the American War Party is courting. We can only hope that she prevails, and that the War Party loses big time.
The world is here now only because we somehow dodged the nuclear bullet in the forty plus years of the first Cold War, the one that was supposed to have ended in 1989 or 1991.
Will our luck hold out again if this new Cold War, the one Team Obama is revving up, expands and becomes entrenched?
Don’t count on it. In an Age of Absurdity, rationality hardly stands a chance.
ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).