Apr 022013
 

Global Research
Professor James Tracy

What is the mainstream media NOT reporting?

In the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting public incredulity with the official version of events led to numerous speculations on what really happened. In short order corporate media marshaled pundits to disparage such alternative interpretations as “conspiracy theories” and the work of deranged and even malevolent Sandy Hook “truthers.”

The now-prevalent phenomenon where only the narratives authorized by law enforcement and government authorities are worthy of serious consideration suggests the unmistakable extent to which public discourse has declined. In such an ideational system journalists and academics are expected to either fall silent or perform the rearguard action of deflecting criticism from the state.

Events such as Aurora or Sandy Hook have profuse informational gaps and a multitude of questions authorities have not begun to adequately address. Regardless of political stripe journalists and academics especially should be instinctively distrustful of such momentous incidents. Unfortunately many put short term interests of preserving reputation and livelihood above the obligatory search for truth.

Today’s project of policing the public sphere for unorthodox thoughts is a form of stealth authoritarianism that combines the weight of academic or journalistic expertise with a phony liberalism (or conservatism) to confirm the often unexamined perspectives of a specific political constituency. Such a technique is most readily employed against the apparently irrational ideas, beliefs and practices of a foreign other. In this regard “conspiracy theorists” and “truthers” typically play the “straw man” role.

For example, a recent piece by Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan exhibits anxiety over major media’s attention toward individuals critical of what authorities have told them to believe about Sandy Hook.[1] Nyhan is fearful that research into the Newtown massacre contradicting the government’s official narrative—what he emphatically terms “conspiracy mongering” and “obscure myths”–may be given a platform by more “prominent advocates” from the political realm. From here the dangerous notions could gain the support of the unenlightened–“credulous believers” and “new adherents who would not otherwise have been exposed to or persuaded by false claims.” Such verboten ideas, Nyhan argues, should instead be allowed to “wither and die.”

The problem with this stance is that it consciously paves the way for the official false claims and myths that powerful political entities and corporate news and entertainment media are capable of forcing upon the public mind and collective memory, be they Osama bin Laden masterminding the 9/11 attacks, babies being thrown from incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals, or North Vietnamese forces firing the first shots in the Vietnam War. Such a position is not unusual from a palace court intellectual; whether it is morally sound and faithful to the liberal tenet of speaking truth to power is a matter for another day.

In reviewing other articles of those using this form of defamatory innuendo toward the Sandy Hook truth community I encountered numerous poorly reasoned arguments and claims that could not withstand serious scrutiny and amounted to a bulwark for the official narrative–indeed, arguments most appealing to those with a dangerously unexamined faith in state power and lacking the inclination to consider alternative perspectives or investigate the event for themselves.

This prompted me to contact several notable “conspiracy theory” decriers and request an interview with each of them. Instead of mere name-calling, I remain sincerely interested in better understanding why such apparently intelligent individuals have come to arrive at their conclusions and become the self-appointed guardians of legitimate public exchange. I thus set about assembling a set of questions on a wide array of “conspiracy”-related issues and phenomena.

I figured I would begin by reaching out in a collegial manner to Professor Nyhan himself. “Sorry, not interested,” he replied, rather tersely. I next contacted Ben Smith and C J Lotz, staff writers at the popular liberal website Buzzfeed.com, who wrote a piece remarkably similar to Dr. Nyhan’s titled, “Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theories Edge Toward the Mainstream.”[2] Smith and Lotz never responded to my emails.

Undeterred, I contacted the operators of the well-known liberal “fact check” website Snopes.com. “I’m sorry, I’m afraid we just can’t,” Barbara Mikkelson replied. “I fear this is the downside of having a small operation.”

Next I dropped Salon.com political writer and ThinkProgress assistant editor Alex Seitz-Wald a line. The youthful Seitz-Wald prides himself as being one of today’s foremost “truth” skeptics. Since early January he has written a series of articles generally disparaging Sandy Hook researchers. “I’m writing one more story on this,” he said, “but really not interested in getting back into this subject or enduring more hate mail.”

I moved on to career anti-conspiracist and former High Times editor John Foster “Chip” Berlet. Calling himself a progressive and champion of liberal democracy, Mr. Berlet wrote profusely on the resurgence of the so-called “new right” throughout the 1990s.[3] “I do not spend time with people promoting crackpot conspiracy theories,” he replied, somewhat peevishly. “It is annoying, counterproductive, and gives me a headache. Nevertheless, I support your First Amendment right to waste bandwidth and electricity.”

Just when I was about to give up hope Jonathan Kay, editor at Canada’s National Post and author of Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Conspiracist Underground [4] responded favorably to my interview request. “Sure,” he said, much to my delight. Yet when I provided Kay with the questions he balked. “Just about all the answers to these questions are in my book,” he replied. I countered that very few of the questions were actually addressed in the book. “I get the sense that my perspective wouldn’t really be that meaningful to you. I’m going to pass on this.”

In the end while skilled at defending the varied machinations of our out-of-control police state by helping to confirm their immediate audiences’ prejudices, none of the foremost conspiracy cynics and debunkers opted to have a dialogue–one where they would likely be compelled to interrogate their own claims and assumptions.

Could it be that what these commentators desire in lieu of dialogue is a one-way transmission of their ideas devoid of critique or interpretation–one where the pursuit of “truth” itself is caricatured as a fool’s errand? If liberalism is based in part on a free and open exchange perhaps some of the foremost figures and media outlets touting themselves as progressive and liberal, and purporting to preserve and defend rational discourse, really aren’t so open-minded after all.

The following are the questions I was hoping my would-be interlocutors would address.

  • The main thrust of John Milton’s Areopagetica is that in a fair exchange an argument based on the truth will triumph over lies and deception. Do you think that the major media’s use of terms such as “truther” or “conspiracy theorist” to designate individuals or groups with ideas and theories that differ from government and/or corporate entities is a productive part of the journey toward truth and enlightenment Milton envisioned?
  • To what degree do you think citizens and the press should hold government officials accountable for momentous events such as the terror attacks of September 11, 2001?
  • What characterizes a conspiracy theory? How can we distinguish between a conspiracy theory and a valid assessment of a specific phenomenon, issue, or event?
  • US political leaders uniformly maintain that Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network were the sole agents behind the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 Commission’s report attributed this set of events to “a lack of imagination” in terms of government agencies’ preparation. In your view, what are the most compelling pieces of evidence to support this official explanation of the 9/11 events?
  • Historian Richard Hofstadter argues in his well-known essay, “The Paranoid Style of American Politics,” that regardless of how much evidence the conspiratorially-minded gather and present on a topic or phenomenon they are not worthy of a hearing as their views may endanger rational political discourse and consensus. Does such a position potentially jeopardize effective and honest journalistic practice?
  • In your estimation, is the tendency to entertain or proffer conspiracy theories a sign of a potential psychiatric condition? Along these lines, are at least some conspiracy theorists inherently dangerous?
  • In 1977 Carl Bernstein reported that through “Operation Mockingbird” and related activities many major news organizations were infiltrated by CIA operatives or consciously aided the CIA in intelligence gathering activities and “planting” stories in the press. CIA document 1035-960 suggests how the agency went about thwarting criticism of the Warren Commission’s examination of President Kennedy’s assassination by utilizing intelligence assets in news outlets to bolster the Warren Commission’s legitimacy and labeling critics “conspiracy theorists.” In your estimation, is the intelligence community’s penetration of the press an ongoing phenomenon? Is it more widespread today or has it subsided to any significant degree?
  • Political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith cites The Declaration of Independence as a conspiratorial document and asserts that the ideology of America’s founders was in many ways motivated by paranoia toward British rule. In fact, the notion of conspiracy has been a consistent theme in American politics. With this in mind, what is it about modern forms of governance that render such impulses and worldviews irrational, obsolete, and perhaps even dangerous?
  • The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City brought into public consciousness the notion of “homegrown terrorism.” At the same time the event provided the pretext for laws compromising Americans’ civil liberties and paved the way for the PATRIOT Act that was enacted in the wake of 9/11. Is it reasonable for the public to conclude that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were the sole or principal agents in the bombing? Have you examined the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee’s 2001 report on the incident? If so, would you consider its findings to be sound and cause for a new judicial interrogation of the event?
  • The official theory of what transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 involves 20-year-old Adam Lanza going on a murderous rampage that resulted in the deaths of 20 children and 7 adults. Major media outlets appear to have unquestioningly gone forward with this scenario. In your estimation, have law enforcement and medical authorities produced evidence sufficient to support this theory of events?
  • There are a variety of public figures and websites that deem themselves as “alternative” sources of political news and analysis, such as Alex Jones and Infowars.com, and Dr. Webster Tarpley of Tarpley.net. Why do you believe such individuals are frequently held up as promoters of conspiracy theories? In your view, what is it that makes these commentators and sources of analysis less reliable than, say, CNN’s Piers Morgan, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, or the editorial and op-ed pages of a regional or national newspaper?
  • Philanthropic foundations contribute large sums to a wide array of non-governmental organizations and media outlets in the United States. What role, if any, do you believe such entities play in shaping public discourse and opinion around controversial issues and events?

Notes

[1] Brendan Nyhan, “Boosting the Sandy Hook Truther Myth,” Columbia Journalism Review, January 22, 2013. Dr. Nyhan speaks dismissively of this author yet it is difficult to find a conventional article addressing independent Sandy Hook analysis that does not. I chose this piece to aid in analyzing its argument and a specific sociocultural tendency rather than its author. CJR seeks “to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society” and its “major funders” include George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and the Rockefeller Family Fund.

[2] Ben Smith and C J Lotz, “Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theories Edge Toward the Mainstream,” Buzzfeed.com, January 22, 2013.

[3] For example, see the barely concealed political tracts Chip Berlet (editor), Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, Boston and Somerville MA: Political Research Associates and South End Press, 1995, and the quasi-academic Too Close for Comfort: Right Wing Populism in America, New York: Guilford Press, 2000.

[4] Jonathan Kay, Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Conspiracist Underground, New York: Harper Collins, 2011.

 

 

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Jan 242013
 

Daily Bell

Clinton Shouts: ‘What Difference … Does It Make?’ … Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about ascertaining whether the Benghazi terror attack was the result of a protest by Senator Ron Johnson. “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Clinton shouted, seemingly losing her cool. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?” – Weekly StandardDominant Social Theme: Can’t we all get along … and just move on?

Free-Market Analysis: Hillary Clinton testified before the US Congress yesterday and suggested, as Bill Clinton used to do, that legislators just “move on.”

Ms. Clinton’s urgency in this regard may not only be because she wants to remove the focus of the investigation from how an American diplomat died but also because the entire episode seems to have been A botched propaganda campaign.

No one is pointing this out, of course, not these days. But we recall quite clearly that the initial story reported by the US media was that the people of Libya were incensed about a movie, “Desert Warrior,” AKA “The Innocence of Muslims.”

From what we can tell, the movie was yet another US Intel-instigated false flag. The idea was to show the American people once again how bestial and brutal Middle Easterners can be. The proximate cause was this movie; the point to be made was that certain Libyans (pro-Gaddafi ones) would riot over a poorly made film.

But something went wrong. In our humble view, it was the alternative media that made the false flag impossible to pursue. When the back story was revealed, it became obvious that this cinematic enterprise was not what it seemed. At the time, we wrote the following, here:

***

We are supposed to believe that the sudden religious blaze in the Middle East that just took the life of a US ambassador and three of his staff members was the result of an obscure movie.

This movie was so unknown that it could hardly generate views on YouTube. Then a strange preacher, Terry Jones, began to promote the movie and brought it to the world’s attention. Here’s Wikipedia on Jones:

Terry Jones (born October 1951) is the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, a small fundamentalist Christian church in Gainsville, Florida. He first gained national and international attention in 2010 for his plan to burn Qur’ans, the scripture of the Islamic religion, on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. He is a self-declared independent presidential candidate in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election.

Jones sounds like a big shot but his total congregation is reportedly 50 … fifty!

As for the man who produced the movie that has set the Mideast aflame, he was said initially to be a Jew and claimed that the movie was funded by “100 Jews.”

This is perhaps the way the elites and their allies work. They want the Jews blamed first and foremost. The alternative media for its own reasons too often plays into the hands of this premeditated meme.

In any case, the filmmaker, self-identified as an Israeli-American property developer, Sam Bacile, has a spokesperson, a friend. Reuters reports this friend is Steven Klein, “a southern California man in the insurance business … [who] described himself as a consultant and a spokesman for the project – but not the filmmaker.” Klein believes Bacile’s name is a pseudonym.

“I’ve met him twice, I don’t know what country he’s from. I do know he’s not an Israeli Jew and I can only guess he threw that out to protect his family, which I do know is back in the Middle East,” Klein told Reuters in an interview in front of his home in Hemet, California, as he sipped a beer.

And who is Klein? He is a former US Marine who said he advised the filmmaker to go into hiding. Regardless of whether Bacile hides or not, his identity is being revealed.

*** Continue reading »

Oct 202012
 

Washington Post
Craig Whitlock

The U.S. government is intensifying its intelligence sharing and military consultations with Turkey behind the scenes as both countries confront the possibility that Syria’s civil conflict could escalate into a regional war, according to U.S. and NATO officials.
The Obama administration has said it wants to avoid getting drawn militarily into Syria and for months has resisted pressure from Arab allies and some Republicans to back Syria’s rebel groups more forcefully.

But as Syria’s internal conflict has increasingly spilled across its northern border into Turkey, the U.S. government has stepped up cooperation with its key NATO ally. In recent weeks, military officials from both countries have met to make contingency plans to impose no-fly zones over Syrian territory or seize Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. officials said.
U.S. intelligence agencies were also the source of a tip that led the Turkish military to intercept and ground a Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus last week on suspicions that it was carrying Russian-made military hardware, according to U.S. officials.
The Syrian plane was carrying “radar and electrical parts for Syria’s Russian-made antiaircraft systems,” one U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the sensitive operation. Syria has relied on Russia for decades to help build its radar and antiaircraft defenses, among the most extensive in the Middle East.
The plane grounding sparked a diplomatic dust-up among Turkey, Russia and Syria and further exacerbated tensions that erupted Oct. 3 when Syria fired shells across the border and killed five Turkish civilians.
Since then, cross-border shelling has continued as the Syrian military has attacked rebel groups along the frontier, with rounds sometimes landing in Turkish territory. Turkey has retaliated with artillery strikes, most recently on Friday, while warning Damascus that the risk of all-out war is increasing.
The United States and NATO have publicly supported Turkey, saying it has a right to act in self-defense. At the same time, they have called for restraint and repeated that neither Washington nor Brussels has any intention of getting involved militarily.
Behind the scenes, however, the border clashes have changed the strategic calculus and led U.S. military and intelligence officials in particular to collaborate more closely with Turkey.
“I can certainly assure you that our militaries, our military officers, are in contact,” Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. , the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told journalists in Ankara on Tuesday. “This week I know there is a special focus of our military experts talking about Syria. And what militaries do well is plan for every contingency and every eventuality.”

Ricciardone said “no political decision has been made” regarding whether to support or impose a no-fly zone in Syrian territory to protect civilians or opponents of the government of Bashar al-
Assad in Damascus, but he acknowledged that U.S., Turkish and NATO officials were discussing options.

“Will we consider it?” he said. “We consider everything.”
Ricciardone did not provide details about the recent U.S.-Turkish military talks regarding Syria. But his comments came after Adm. James Stavridis, the chief of the U.S. European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO military forces, visited Ankara and Izmir in early October.

Stavridis did not speak with reporters, but he posted a message on his Facebook account saying that he met with Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and Gen. Necdet Ozel, Turkey’s top military commander, to hold “important talks considering the events transpiring in the Levant.”
A NATO official confirmed that Stavridis discussed the increasing volatility of the Turkish-Syrian border but said that Turkey has not made any formal requests for military assistance from either NATO or Washington.
For now, Turkey primarily wants statements of public support from NATO and reassurances that the alliance would come to its aid if necessary, said Ross Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey who now serves as director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington.
“A big part of what they’re looking for is that I’d call political support as opposed to NATO sending in fighter squadrons or thousands of troops,” Wilson said. But he added that Turkey also wants the U.S. and NATO to demonstrate willingness to update military preparations and planning in case events along the Syrian border quickly spiral out of control.
“In their eyes, there’s a whole bunch of scenarios that could result in outside involvement, but they don’t see anybody talking about it as much as they’d like,” Wilson said.
The Obama administration has said that it would likely intervene if Assad’s government engaged in chemical or biological warfare, and Pentagon officials have said they are monitoring the whereabouts of Syria’s stockpiles of those weapons.
With a presidential election looming, however, the administration has said it is pushing first for a political solution to the Syrian civil war. It has pressed the United Nations Security Council to take action, even though Russia and China, which hold veto power, have resisted.
With the United Nations paralyzed, Turkey may lean on NATO to intervene even without a U.N. mandate, possibly by imposing a no-fly zone or haven for Syrian refugees if the civil war worsens, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. More than 100,000 Syrian refugees have sought shelter in Turkey.
“NATO is the new U.N. for Ankara when it comes to Syria,” he said.
He acknowledged that many European members of NATO, distracted by the continent’s economic crisis, would be reluctant to become involved. But he said one alternative would be for select NATO members — such as the United States, France and Britain — to assist Turkey with a military intervention, while other allies remain on the sidelines.
“It could be a ‘coalition of the fighting’ within NATO,” Cagaptay said. That was the approach NATO took last year when it ousted Libya’s former ruler, Moammar Gaddafi.
Greg Miller in Washington and Michael Birnbaum in Brussels contributed to this report.

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Oct 202012
 

Global Research
Colin Todhunter

Earlier this year, I watched the BBC’s main political debate programme that allows an audience of members of the public to put questions to a panel of politicians and so-called experts. Syria was on the agenda. A member of the panel referred to the Syrian rebels as ‘freedom fighters’. Within a few minutes, all panel members and the audience were using this term to refer to the rebels. It led me to ponder why so many people were willing to accept at face value an agenda that portrayed the insurgents in such a wholly positive light.
It also led me to conclude just how easy it is to manipulate ordinary people into backing imperialist ventures abroad, which are fought on behalf of rich interests. At a time of biting austerity and attacks on workers and the welfare state, well over a billion pounds of ordinary people’s money was used to fund the illegal bombing of Libya.
The justification sold to people for such militarism is that dictators are bad. The justification sold to people for attacking or destabilising countries resulting in mass death is that democracy must therefore be forced through by the barrel of a gun. Isn’t it terrible, the politicians and media say, that Assad is a brutal dictator who is preventing democracy by putting down the rebels.
The Assad regime undoubtedly has its faults, but nothing is ever said by the corporate media about the authoritarian ruling clique in Saudi Arabia, which has even given its name to that country (House of Saud). Nothing is ever said about a western backed dictator in Bahrain who has been in power for 52 years. Nothing is ever revealed about the brutal ongoing crackdowns on protestors and dissenters in those countries. When Bahrain used Saudi troops to put down uprisings in 2011, the resultant death toll was proportionally much larger than was the loss of life in Egypt during the uprising there. In fact, if the death toll in Bahrain were taken as a proportion of the population, the equivalent death toll for Egypt would have been 12,000.
Where was the outrage from the US and its client states? That’s right, there was none. The King of Bahrain was even invited to attend Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee celebrations at BuckinghamPalace.
As it did inLibya, repressive Saudi Arabia is playing a big role in facilitating the rag-tag rebels in Syria to destabilise a sovereign state that stands in the way of NATO and Israeli interests.
And far away, back inBritain, the public is being fed a pack of lies by politicians and the mainstream media about the situation in Syria, just as it has been over other military adventures over the past decade. The majority of Brits don’t have much of a clue about what is happening. They are unaware that Syria forms part of the greater game in the region. They fail to see the links between Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, which are all part of a Washington-led wider geo-political strategy hell-bent on global domination, controlling the world’s mineral resources, pipeline routes and lining the pockets of western financiers and oil, armaments and logistics companies. Too many remain confused or ignorant thanks to duplicitous politicians and the corporate media.
The public cannot know the reality. They will not be allowed to know. They must be kept in fear and in the dark and deceived by politicians and the media that churn out increasingly tired-sounding clichés about a war on terror or humanitarian militarism to justify murderous brutality.
And the result is that too many people accept the lie that rag-tag forces made up of vicious, faction-ridden fighters, illegally armed by NATO terror governments and unelected regimes in Saudi and Qatar, are fighting for freedom and democracy. Those forces and nations wouldn’t know about freedom and democracy if they fell over it.
Sorry, my mistake, they would and they do. That’s why they seek to crush it when it appears. And that applies whether it appears within the borders of the US, Britain or Saudi, or elsewhere in places that are of strategic importance to them. The US track record of crushing democratic governments is well documented by the likes of Noam Chomsky and historian William Blum. And look no further to see the attacks on WikiLeaks or the Occupy Movement to see how democratic movements are treated at home. Look no further to see how democratic workers’ movements that took hundreds of years to build in Britain and elsewhere in Europe are under sustained attack.
Giving the people the opportunity to vote every four or five years, while in the meantime deceiving, misinforming and lying to them, has no more to do with democracy or freedom than what is happening in Syria right now.
If more ordinary folk were turn their attention away from glossy sports events, premiership football, cheap knockabout BBC political debate shows or all other forms of comatosing infortainment for one minute, they might well realise that the billionaire criminal elites that take their taxes and dictate national and foreign policy are in many cases a good deal worse than any number of the regimes they seek to demonise.

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Oct 192012
 

Washington Times
Judge Andrew Napalitano

How many times have you heard the truism that in modern-day America the cover-up is often as troubling as the crime? That is becoming quite apparent in the case of the death of J. Christopher Stevens, the former U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Stevens and three State Department employees were murdered in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month, on September 11th. About an hour before the murders, the ambassador, who usually resides in the U.S. embassy in Tripoli but was visiting local officials and staying at the consulate in Benghazi, had just completed dinner there with a colleague, whom he personally walked to the front gate of the compound. In the next three hours, hundreds of persons assaulted the virtually defenseless compound and set it afire.

Around the same time that these crimes took place in Benghazi, a poorly produced, low-grade, 15-minute YouTube clip was going viral on the Internet. The clip shows actors in dubbed voices portraying the prophet Mohammed and others in an unflattering light. The Obama administration seized upon the temporary prevalence of this clip to explain the assault on theconsulate. Indeed, the administration sent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to represent it on five Sunday morning TV talk shows on September 16th, to make the claim that the attack on the consulate was a spontaneous reaction to the YouTube clip, that it could not have been anticipated, and that the perpetrators were ordinary Libyans angry at the freedom moviemakers in America enjoy.
Soon, U.S. intelligence reports were leaked that revealed that the intelligence community knew the attack was not as described by Ms. Rice. The intelligence folks on the ground in Libya reported before September 16th that the attack was well organized, utilized military equipment and tactics, and was carried out by local militias with ties to al-Qaida. In response to these leaks, the State Department, for which Ms. Rice works, acknowledged that the assault was an organized terrorist attack.
The Obama administration has publicly rejected the intelligence leaks and insisted as recently as last week during the vice presidential debate that “we” did not know the assault was an act of terrorism against American personnel and property. The word “we” was uttered by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, whose credibility hit a new low when he insisted that the government did not know what we now know it knew. A day after the debate, the White House claimed that the “we” uttered by Mr. Biden referred to the president and the vice president, and not to the federal government or the State Department. This is semantics akin to Bill Clinton’s “it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in one of her rare forays into domestic politics, backed up the White House. She actually claimed that the White House was kept in the dark by the State Department.
What’s going on here?
What’s going on here is the unraveling of a value-free foreign policy and its unintended consequences. The whole reason that the streets in Libya are not safe and the country is ruled by roving gangs of militias is because the U.S. bombed the country last year. In an unconstitutional act of war, the president alone ordered the bombing. It destroyed the Libyan military, national and local police, roads, bridges, and private homes. It facilitated the murder of our former ally Col. Gadhafi and ensured the replacement of him by a government that cannot govern.
The consulate attack defies the claims of the president, articulated loud and long during this presidential campaign, that because he killed Osama bin Ladenal-Qaida is dead or dying, and the terrorists are at bay. Thus, in order to be faithful to his campaign rhetoric, the president has been unfaithful to the truth. I personally have seen excerpts from intelligence cables sent by American agents in Libya to Washington on September 12th, the day after the attack and four days before Ms. Rice’s TV appearances, acknowledging the dominant role played by al-Qaida in the attack.
So, who is to blame here? The president. He is responsible for destroying the government in Libya, and he is responsible for the security of U.S. personnel and property there. He is accountable to the American people, and he is expected to tell the truth. Instead, he has leaked the possibility of more bombings in Libya. These bombings would be more than a month after the Benghazi consulate attack and would attack the very government that Obama’s 2011 bombs helped to install.
Is it any wonder that Bill Clinton, in an unguarded private moment, referred to Obama as an “amateur”?

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. He is author of “It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom” (Thomas Nelson, 2011).


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Oct 182012
 
Global Research
Ben Schreiner

The triumph of imperialism leads to the annihilation of civilization. Rosa Luxemburg, The Junius Pamphlet

With signs of a global economic downturn mounting, US aggression across the Middle East and North Africa ratchets up. And once again, US imperialism stands poised to swing open the gates of Hell.

The choice presently confronting humanity, then, is one between imperialism on the one hand, and the struggle against imperialism on the other. 

Global Capitalism Imperiled

According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook report released last week, the “risks for a serious global slowdown are alarmingly high.” The report projects the world economy to expand just 3.3 percent this year and 3.6 percent in 2013—both projections down from the IMF’s July forecast. As Joseph Davis, chief economist at the Vanguard Group, cautioned to the Wall Street Journal, “The odds of a global recession are not fully appreciated.”

Indeed, for as the Financial Times reports, the Tracking Indices for the Global Economic Recovery, the Brookings Institution-Financial Times index of the world economy, finds severe problems “in both advanced and emerging markets.”

“The global economic recovery,” Brookings’ senior fellow and index creator Eswar Prasad warned, “is on the ropes.”

And though in its latest report the IMF continued to peddle the harsh elixir of austerity for the depressed economies of the euro zone periphery, the Fund also came to tacitly acknowledge the limits of austerity.

“The IMF now says global efforts to slash deficits and debt may have hurt growth because they occurred too quickly and too widely,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

But with the limits of austerity as a means of resolving the present crisis apparent, the last remaining card for the capitalist elite to play in their attempt to regenerate global capitalism appears to be in unleashing the forces of “creative destruction” wrought by military aggression. As Henryk Grossman warned in his Law of Accumulation, “The destructions and devaluations of war are a means of warding off the immanent collapse [of capitalism], of creating a breathing space for the accumulation of capital.”

It is thus out of the need to renew the impetus for capital accumulation that the iron fist of US imperialism gains free rein once more across the full spectrum of what American neo-conservatives deem the “arc of instability.”

US Imperialism on the March

According to the New York Times, the Pentagon is readying military strikes in Libya in retaliation for the September attack on the US compound in Benghazi. As the paper reports, “The top-secret Joint Special Operations Command is compiling so-called target packages of detailed information about the suspects.”

“Potential military options could include drone strikes, Special Operations raids like the one that killed Osama bin Laden and joint missions with Libyan authorities.”

The Times goes on to report that the Pentagon is also rushing to train and equip a 500 member Libyan commando force to be used to combat “Islamic extremists” within the country.

At the same time, the Pentagon has reportedly dispatched a task force of 150 military “planners” and “specialists” (i.e., special operations troops) to a Jordanian military base along the Jordan-Syria border. Speaking at a NATO conference in Brussels last week, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed that the task force was sent to help Jordan “monitor chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria.”

The specter of chemical weapons has been increasingly used as a pretext by the Atlantic powers to threaten military intervention into Syria. As President Obama declared in August, the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces would be a “red line,” which would force him to change his “calculus” on intervention.

“Once again, Western powers are digging deep for excuses to intervene militarily in another conflict-torn Middle East country,” an editorial in the state-run Xinhua news agency of China read in response to Obama’s threat.

Sure enough, as the New York Times reported, discussions have already taken place over using the Jordanian-stationed US task force to help establish a buffer zone within Syrian territory.

(In addition to the deployment of troops along the Jordan-Syria border, CIA operatives are presently active along the Syria-Turkey border, facilitating the flow of arms to rebel forces. Meanwhile, a recent report in the Los Angeles Times noted that the US military is currently using aerial surveillance drones to monitor Syrian chemical weapon stockpiles.)

Of course, the stepped up targeting of Syria cannot be decoupled from the joint Israel-US campaign against Iran. After all, as hawks Michael Doran and Max Boot argue in a New York Times op-ed, the first reason American intervention in Syria is now merited is because it “would diminish Iran’s influence in the Arab world.”

The road to Tehran, we see, may very well lead through Damascus; although, the urge to fly non-stop to Tehran may just prove too strong to resist.

Marching Toward Tehran

With Iran clearly in mind, the US and Israel are set to begin a massive three-week joint missile and air defense exercise later this month. The exercise, Business Week reports, will include 3,500 US personnel and 1,000 members of the Israel Defense Forces, making it the largest joint military exercise held between the two nations. The planned war game also occurs amid mounting speculation of a looming strike against Iran.

According to a report in Foreign Policy by David Rothkopf, the US and Israel are actively planning a joint “surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities.” Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration official and Editor-at-Large of Foreign Policy, cites his source as stating that “the strike might take only ‘a couple of hours’ in the best case and only would involve a ‘day or two’ overall.”


The strike, Rothkopf quotes an “advocate” of an attack as stating, would have a “transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.” This, of course, being the essence of the proverbial neo-con wet dream.

Remarkably, Rothkopf even goes as far as to triumph the idea of a “surgical strike” as a potential October Surprise Obama could use to propel himself back to the White House.

It appears now, however, that Rothkopf’s “report” may have been little more than a plant by the Israeli embassy in Washington. A move, perhaps, intended to further coerce Obama into adopting a more hawkish stance on Iran, while simultaneously serving to downplay the risks of an attack.

Of course, peddling the notion of a so-called “surgical strike” on Iran is nothing particularly new. In March, Jeffrey Goldberg reported for Bloomberg that Israeli talk of striking Iran had assumed a rather optimistic tenor.

“One conclusion key [Israeli] officials have reached,” Goldberg wrote after a trip to Israel, “is that a strike on six or eight Iranian facilities will not lead, as is generally assumed, to all-out war.”

(One cannot help wonder if the Rothkopf and Goldberg share the same source.)

Such assessments, though, are rather dubious, given that they directly contradict numerous assessments determining that any strike against Iran would quickly spiral into a regional conflict. A report earlier this year in the New York Times, for instance, noted a war game simulation run by the Pentagon forecast that an Israeli strike “would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead.”

Likewise, a September war game organized by Kenneth Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, resulted in a dangerous escalation from both sides. As the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported, “The game showed how easy it was for each side to misread the other’s signals.”

“Misjudgment was the essence of this game,” Ignatius continued. “Each side thought it was choosing limited options, but their moves were interpreted as crossing red lines. Attacks proved more deadly than expected; signals were not understood; attempts to open channels of communication were ignored; the desire to look tough compelled actions that produced results neither side wanted.”

“War,” as Clausewitz wrote, “is the province of danger.”

Toward Barbarism

US imperial dreams, however, are hardly confined to setting the Middle East ablaze. Imperial ambitions—rooted in the capitalist logic of endless expansion—are inherently limitless. Thus, we see the US today readying to propel the greater Middle East into the abyss, while simultaneously “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific in order to “contain” a rising China.

US imperialism, however, is destined for defeat (and sooner rather than later). The US, after all, can only use its immense military power to keep potential competitors in check for so long. The universal law of change cannot be held at bay by the barrel of a gun in perpetuity. As Lenin asked and answered in his pamphlet Imperialism: “Is it ‘conceivable’ that in ten or twenty years’ time the relative strength of the imperialist powers will have remained unchanged? Absolutely inconceivable.”

But imperial powers are always dangerously deluded by the strength of their power—impervious to its ultimate limits. As a George W. Bush administration official once remarked to the journalist Ron Suskind: “’We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

(One would be mistaken to believe that such hubris is not as present in the Obama White House as it was in the Bush administration.)

Such arrogance from the power elite—indicative of imperial rot—is but a byproduct of the imperialist imperative of endless expansion and conquest. And it is this very imperative that today compels US imperialism towards igniting a military conflagration in the Middle East threatening to ensnare the global powers. “A great cemetery,” as Luxemburg warned nearly a century ago, awaits such a triumph of barbarism.

The only means with which to elude such a miserable fate is found in the revolutionary power of working people to resist. As Luxemburg argued, escape from barbarism is only possible once the working class comes to seize “its own destiny and escape the role of the lackey to the ruling classes.”

The only genuine and enduring hope for humanity, then, lies is in the struggle for socialism.

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Oct 132012
 

Global Research
F. William Engdahl

On October 3, 2012 the Turkish military launched repeated mortar shellings inside Syrian territory. The military action, which was used by the Turkish military, conveniently, to establish a ten-kilometer wide no-man’s land “buffer zone” inside Syria, was in response to the alleged killing by Syrian armed forces of several Turkish civilians along the border.

There is widespread speculation that the one Syrian mortar that killed five Turkish civilians well might have been fired by Turkish-backed opposition forces intent on giving Turkey a pretext to move militarily, in military intelligence jargon, a ‘false flag’ operation.[1]

Turkey’s Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Foreign Minister, the inscrutable Ahmet Davutoglu, is the government’s main architect of Turkey’s self-defeating strategy of toppling its former ally Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.[2]

According to one report since 2006 under the government of Islamist Sunni Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and his pro-Brotherhood AKP party, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood.[3] A well-informed Istanbul source relates the report that before the last Turkish elections, Erdogan’s AKP received a “donation” of $10 billion from the Saudi monarchy, the heart of world jihadist Salafism under the strict fundamentalist cloak of Wahabism. [4] Since the 1950’s when the CIA brought leading members in exile of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia there has been a fusion between the Saudi brand of Wahabism and the aggressive jihadist fundamentalism of the Brotherhood.[5]

The Turkish response to the single Syrian mortar shell, which was met with an immediate Syrian apology for the incident, borders on a full-scale war between two nations which until last year were historically, culturally, economically and even in religious terms, closest of allies.

That war danger is ever more serious. Turkey is a full member of NATO whose charter explicitly states, an attack against one NATO state is an attack against all. The fact that nuclear-armed Russia and China both have made defense of the Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime a strategic priority puts the specter of a World War closer than most of us would like to imagine.

In a December 2011 analysis of the competing forces in the region, former CIA analyst Philip Giraldi made the following prescient observation:

NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so. The intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was invoked to justify Libya. Turkish sources suggest that intervention would start with creation of a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border and then be expanded. Aleppo, Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, would be the crown jewel targeted by liberation forces.

Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army. Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers. [6]

Little noted was the fact that at the same day as Turkey launched her over-proportional response in the form of a military attack on Syrian territory, one which was still ongoing as of this writing, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) undertook what was apparently an action to divert Syria’s attention from Turkey and to create the horror scenario of a two-front war just as Germany faced in two world wars. The IDF made a significant troop buildup on the strategic Golan Heights bordering the two countries, which, since Israel took it in the 1967 war, has been an area of no tension.[7]

The unfolding new phase of direct foreign military intervention by Turkey, supported de facto by Israel’s right-wing Netanyahu regime, curiously enough follows to the letter a scenario outlined by a prominent Washington neo-conservative Think Tank, The Brookings Institution. In their March 2012 strategy white paper, Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change, Brookings geo-political strategists laid forth a plan to misuse so-called humanitarian concern over civilian deaths, as in Libya in 2011, to justify an aggressive military intervention into Syria, something not done before this.[8]

The Brookings report states the following scenario:

Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Assad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training.[9]

This seems to be precisely what is unfolding in the early days of October 2012. The authors of the Brookings report are tied to some of the more prominent neo-conservative warhawks behind the Bush-Cheney war on Iraq. Their sponsor, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, includes current foreign policy advisers to Republican right-wing candidate Mitt Romney, the open favorite candidate of Israel’s Netanyahu. The Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy which issued the report, is the creation of a major donation from Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media billionaire who also owns the huge German Pro7 media giant. Haim Saban is open about his aim to promote specific Israeli interests with his philanthropy. The New York Times once called Saban, “a tireless cheerleader for Israel.” Saban told the same newspaper in an interview in 2004, “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.” [10]

The scholars at Saban as well as its board have a clear neo-conservative and Likud party bias. They include, past or present, Shlomo Yanai, former head of military planning, Israel Defense Forces; Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel and founder of the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a major Likud policy lobby in Washington. Visiting fellows have included Avi Dicter, former head of Israel’s Shin Bet; Yosef Kupperwasser, former Head, Research Department, Israeli Defense Force’s Directorate of Military Intelligence. Resident scholars also include Bruce Riedel, a 30 year CIA Middle East expert and Obama Afghan adviser; [11] Kenneth Pollack, another former CIA Middle East expert who was indicted in an Israel espionage scandal when he was a national security official with the Bush Administration. [12]

Why would Israel want to get rid of the “enemy she knows,” Bashar al-Assad, for a regime controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood? Then Israel’s security would seemingly be threatened by the emergence of hard-line Muslim Brotherhood regimes in Egypt to her south and Syria to her North, perhaps soon also in Jordan.

The geopolitical dimension

The significant question to be asked at this point is what could bind Israel, Turkey, Qatar in a form of unholy alliance on the one side, and Assad’s Syria, Iran, Russia and China on the other side, in such deadly confrontation over the political future of Syria? One answer is energy geopolitics.

What has yet to be fully appreciated in geopolitical assessments of the Middle East is the dramatically rising importance of the control of natural gas to the future of not only Middle East gas producing countries, but also of the EU and Eurasia including Russia as producer and China as consumer.

Natural gas is rapidly becoming the “clean energy” of choice to replace coal and nuclear electric generation across the European Union, most especially since Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear after the Fukushima disaster. Gas is regarded as far more “environmentally friendly” in terms of its so-called “carbon footprint.” The only realistic way EU governments, from Germany to France to Italy to Spain, will be able to meet EU mandated CO2 reduction targets by 2020 is a major shift to burning gas instead of coal. Gas reduces CO2 emissions by 50-60% over coal.[13] Given that the economic cost of using gas instead of wind or other alternative energy forms is dramatically lower, gas is rapidly becoming the energy of demand for the EU, the biggest emerging gas market in the world.

Huge gas resource discoveries in Israel, in Qatar and in Syria combined with the emergence of the EU as the world’s potentially largest natural gas consumer, combine to create the seeds of the present geopolitical clash over the Assad regime.

Syria-Iran-Iraq Gas pipeline

In July 2011, as the NATO and Gulf states’ destabilization operations against Assad in Syria were in full swing, the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq signed an historic gas pipeline energy agreement which went largely unnoticed amid CNN reports of the Syrian unrest. The pipeline, envisioned to cost $10 billion and take three years to complete, would run from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria via Iraq territory. Iran ultimately plans then to extend the pipeline from Damascus to Lebanon’s Mediterranean port where it would be delivered to EU markets. Syria would buy Iranian gas along with a current Iraqi agreement to buy Iranian gas from Iran’s part of South Pars field.

South Pars, whose gas reserves lie in a huge field that is divided between Qatar and Iran in the Gulf, is believed to be the world’s largest single gas field. [14] De facto it would be a Shi’ite gas pipeline from Shi’ite Iran via Shi’ite-majority Iraq onto Shi’ite-friendly Alawite Al-Assad’s Syria.

Adding to the geopolitical drama is the fact that the South Pars gas find lies smack in the middle of the territorial divide in the Persian Gulf between Shi’ite Iran and the Sunni Salafist Qatar. Qatar also just happens to be a command hub for the Pentagon’s US Central Command, headquarters of United States Air Forces Central, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group RAF, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the USAF. In brief Qatar, in addition to owning and hosting the anti-Al-Assad TV station Al-Jazeera, which beams anti-Syria propaganda across the Arab world, Qatar is tightly linked to the US and NATO military presence in the Gulf.

Qatar apparently has other plans with their share of the South Pars field than joining up with Iran, Syria and Iraq to pool efforts. Qatar has no interest in the success of the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, which would be entirely independent of Qatar or Turkey transit routes to the opening EU markets. In fact it is doing everything possible to sabotage it, up to and including arming Syria’s rag-tag “opposition” fighters, many of them Jihadists sent in from other countries including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Libya.

Further adding to Qatar’s determination to destroy the Syria-Iran-Iraq gas cooperation is the discovery in August 2011 by Syrian exploration companies of a huge new gas field in Qara near the border with Lebanon and near to the Russian-leased Naval port of Tarsus on the Syrian Mediterranean.[15] Any export of Syrian or Iranian gas to the EU would go through the Russian-tied port of Tarsus. According to informed Algerian sources, the new Syrian gas discoveries, though the Damascus government is downplaying it, are believed to equal or exceed those of Qatar.

As Asia Times’ knowledgeable analyst Pepe Escobar pointed out in a recent piece, Qatar’s scheme calls for export of its huge gas reserves via Jordan’s Gulf of Aqaba, a country where a Muslim Brotherhood threat to the dictatorship of the King is also threatening. The Emir of Qatar has apparently cut a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood in which he backs their international expansion in return for a pact of peace at home in Qatar. A Muslim Brotherhood regime in Jordan and also in Syria, backed by Qatar, would change the entire geopolitics of the world gas market suddenly and decisively in Qatar’s favor and to the disadvantage of Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq. [16] That would also be a staggering negative blow to China.

As Escobar points out, “it’s clear what Qatar is aiming at: to kill the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, a deal that was clinched even as the Syria uprising was already underway. Here we see Qatar in direct competition with both Iran (as a producer) and Syria (as a destination), and to a lesser extent, Iraq (as a transit country). It’s useful to remember that Tehran and Baghdad are adamantly against regime change in Damascus.” He adds, “if there’s regime change in Syria – helped by the Qatari-proposed invasion – things get much easier in Pipelineistan terms. A more than probable Muslim Brotherhood (MB) post-Assad regime would more than welcome a Qatari pipeline. And that would make an extension to Turkey much easier.” [17]

The Israeli Gas dilemma

Further complicating the entire picture is the recent discovery of huge offshore Israeli natural gas resources.

The Tamar natural gas field off the coast of northern Israel is expected to begin yielding gas for Israel’s use in late 2012. The game-changer was a dramatic discovery in late 2010 of an enormous natural gas field offshore of Israel in what geologists call the Levant or Levantine Basin. In October 2010 Israel discovered a massive “super-giant” gas field offshore in what it declares is its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). [18]

The find is some 84 miles west of the Haifa port and three miles deep. They named it Leviathan after the Biblical sea monster. Three Israeli energy companies in cooperation with the Houston Texas Noble Energy announced initial estimates that the field contained 16 trillion cubic feet of gas—making it the world’s biggest deep-water gas find in a decade, adding more discredit to “peak oil” theories that the planet is about to see dramatic and permanent shortages of oil, gas and coal. To put the number in perspective, that one gas field, Leviathan, would hold enough reserves to supply Israel’s gas needs for 100 years.[19]

Energy self-sufficiency had eluded the state of Israel since its founding in 1948. Abundant oil and gas exploration had repeatedly been undertaken with meager result. Unlike its energy-rich Arab neighbors, Israel seemed out of luck. Then in 2009 Israel’s Texas exploration partner, Noble Energy, discovered the Tamar field in the Levantine Basin some 50 miles west of Israel’s port of Haifa with an estimated 8.3 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of highest quality natural gas. Tamar was the world’s largest gas discovery in 2009.

Source Jerry Gordon, newenglishreview.org 2011

Israel discovered huge gas in Levantine Basin with Noble Energy. Source: Noble Energy map, see above

At the time, total Israeli gas reserves were estimated at only 1.5 tcf. Government estimates were that Israel’s sole operating field, Yam Tethys, which supplies about 70 percent of the country’s natural gas, would be depleted within three years.

With Tamar, prospects began to look considerably better. Then, just a year after Tamar, the same consortium led by Noble Energy struck the largest gas find in its decades-long history at Leviathan in the same Levantine geological basin. Present estimates are that the Leviathan field holds at least 17 tcf of gas. Israel went from a gas famine to feast in a matter of months.[20]

Now Israel faces a strategic and very dangerous dilemma. Naturally Israel is none too excited to see al-Assad’s Syria, linked to Israel’s arch foe Iran and Iraq and Lebanon, out-compete an Israeli gas export to the EU markets. This could explain why Israel’s Netanyahu government has been messing inside Syria in the anti-al-Assad forces. However, a Muslim Brotherhood rule in Syria led by the organization around Mohammad Shaqfah would confront Israel with far more hostile neighbors now that the Muslim Brotherhood coup by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi has put a hostile regime on Israel’s southern border.

It is no secret that there is enmity bordering on hate between Netanyahu and the Obama Administration. The Obama White House and US State Department openly back the Muslim Brotherhood regime changes in the Middle East. Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Turkey’s Davutoglu in August this year was reportedly aimed at pushing Turkey to escalate its military intervention into Syria, but without direct US support owing to US election politics of wanting to avoid involvement in a new Middle East debacle.[21]

State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin has been accused by several Republican Congress Representatives of ties to organizations controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s appointee to the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, also a member of the US advisory council of the Department of Homeland Security, is openly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and an open foe of Israel as well as calling for the toppling of Syria’s al-Assad. [22] Obama’s Washington definitely seems to be backing the Muslim Brotherhood horse in the race for control of the gas flows of the Middle East.

And the Russian role

Washington is walking a temporary tightrope hoping to weaken al-Assad fatally while not appearing directly involved. Russia for its part is playing a life and death game for the future of its most effective geopolitical lever—its role as the leading natural gas supplier to the EU. This year Russia’s state-owned Gazprom began delivery of Russian gas to northern Germany via Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from a port near St. Petersburg. Strategically vital now for the future role of Russia as an EU gas supplier, is its ability to play a strategic role in exploiting the new-found gas reserves of its former Cold war client state, Syria. Moscow has long been engaged in promoting its South Stream gas pipeline into Europe as an alternative to the Washington Nabucco pipeline which was designed to leave Moscow out in the cold. [23]

Already Gazprom is the largest natural gas supplier to the EU. Gazprom with Nord Stream and other lines plans to increase its gas supply to Europe this year by 12% to 155 billion cubic meters. It now controls 25% of the total European gas market and aims to reach 30% with completion of South Stream and other projects.

Rainer Seele, chairman of Germany’s Wintershall, the Gazprom partner in Nord Stream, suggested the geopolitical thinking behind the decision to join South Stream: “In the global race against Asian countries for raw materials, South Stream, like Nord Stream, will ensure access to energy resources which are vital to our economy.” But rather than Asia, the real focus of South Stream lies to the West. The ongoing battle between Russia’s South Stream and the Washington-backed Nabucco is intensely geopolitical. The winner will hold a major advantage in the future political terrain of Europe.[24]

Now a major new option of Syria as a major source for Russian-managed gas flows to the EU has emerged. If al-Assad survives, Russia will be in the position as savior to play a decisive role in developing and exploiting the Syrian gas. Israel, where Russia also has major cards to play, could theoretically shift to back a Russian-Syrian-Iraqi-Iran gas consortium were Israel and Iran to reach some modus vivendi on the nuclear and other issues, not impossible were the political constellation in Israel to change after the coming elections. Turkey, which is presently in a deep internal battle between Davutoglu and President Gül on the one side and Erdogan on the other, is dependent on Russia’s Gazprom for some 40% of gas to its industry. Were Davutoglu and his faction to lose, Turkey could play a far more constructive role in the region as transit country for Syrian and Iranian gas.

The battle for the future control of Syria is at the heart of this enormous geopolitical war and tug of war. Its resolution will have enormous consequences for either world peace or endless war and conflict and slaughter. NATO member Turkey is playing with fire as is Qatar’s Emir, along with Israel’s Netanyahu and NATO members France and USA. Natural gas is the flammable ingredient that is fueling this insane scramble for energy in the region.

F. William Engdahl is author of Myths, Lies and Oil Wars. He may be contacted through www.williamengdahl.com . Notes

[1] Reuters, Turkish artillery strikes on Syria continue for second day: Several Syrian soldiers killed in overnight attack; Turkey launched artillery strikes after mortar bomb fired from Syria killed five Turkish civilians, October 4, 2012. Accessed in http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/turkish-artillery-strikes-on-syria-continue-for-second-day-1.468142

[2]  Hüsnü Mahalli, Davutoglu  Betting on the Fall of Assad, Al Akhbar English, August 7, 2012, accessed in http://english.al-akhbar.com.

[3] Steven G. Merley, Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2011, accessed in http://www.jcpa.org/text/Turkey_Muslim_Brotherhood.pdf. See also for more ties between Erdogan’s Turkish AKP and the Musllim Brotherhood, GlobalMB, Syrian Ambassador Names Associate Of Turkish Prime Minister As Muslim Brotherhood Leader, May 25, 2011, accessed in http://globalmbreport.org/?p=4496

[4] The figure of $10 billion was relayed in a private discussion with the author by a Turkish businessman and political figure who asked to remain anonymous. Indian diplomats, including H.E. Gajendra Singh, former Ambassador to Ankara, have independently confirmed Saudi funding of the Turkish AKP. Presumably like most $10 billion cash grants, it came with heavy strings attached from Riyhad.

[5] F. William Engdahl, Salafism+CIA: The winning formula to destabilize Russia, the Middle East, Voltairenet.org, 13 September, 2012, accessed in http://www.voltairenet.org/article175801.html

[6] Philip Giraldi, NATO vs Syria, December 19, 2011, The American Conservative, accessed in http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/nato-vs-syria/.

[7] Linda Gradstein, Israel fears Syrian violence spilling over Golan Heights border, October 4, 2012, accessed in http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/04/israel-fears-syrian-violence-spilling-over-golan-heights-border/

[8] Daniel Byman, Michael Doran, Kenneth Pollack, and Salman Shaikh, Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change, The Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., March 2012, accessed in http://www.scribd.com/doc/108893509/BrookingsSyria0315-Syria-Saban

[9] Ibid., p. 6.

[10] Andrew Ross Sorkin, Schlepping to Moguldom, September 5, 2004, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/05/business/yourmoney/05sab.html?ei=5088&en=9eb8c2a72c2b5e7d&ex=1252123200&partner=rssnyt&pagewanted=print&position&_r=0; see also Source Watch, Haim Saban, accessed in http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Haim_Saban.

[11] M. J. Rosenberg, AIPAC Cutout: The Rise & Fall Of The Washington Institute For Near East Policy, Talking Points Memo (TPM), 11 April 2010, accessed in http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/art.php?aid=126218

[12] Nathan Guttman, Bush officials subpoenaed in AIPAC trial, Jerusalem Post, March 13, 2006, accessed in http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=15860

[13] Alexander Medvedev, Role of Gas in a Sustainable Energy Future, 2nd Ministerial Gas Forum, Doha, Qatar, 30 November, 2010.

[14] Hassan Hafidh and Benoit Faucon, Iraq, Iran, Syria Sign $10 Billion Gas-Pipeline Deal, The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2011, accessed in http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903591104576467631289250392.html

[15] Daily Star, Syria Announces Gas Discovery, August 17, 2011, accessed in http://www.naturalgasasia.com/syria-homs-gas-discovery.

[16] Pepe Escobar, Why Qatar Wants to Invade Syria, Asia Times, September 27, 2012, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NI28Ak03.html.

[17] Ibid.

[18] F. William Engdahl, The New Mediterranean Oil and Gas Bonanza – Part 1: Israel’s Levant Basin—a new geopolitical curse?, VoltaireNet.org, 20 February, 2012, accessed in http://www.voltairenet.org/article172827.html

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] The Economist, Turkey’s political in-fighting: Erdogan at bay: The Turkish prime minister faces new enemies both at home and abroad, Feb 25th 2012; see also Hillary Clinton, Remarks With Foreign Minister Davutoglu After Their Meeting, Conrad Hotel Istanbul, Turkey, August 11, 2012, accessed in http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/08/196358.htm

[22] CSP,  Center Report Reveals Radical Islamist Views and Agenda of Senior State Department Official Huma Abedin’s Mother, Washington, Center for Security Policy, July 22, 2012, accessed in  http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/p19045.xml?genre_id=3. See also  Aaron Klein, Muslim Brotherhood endorses Obama faith adviser: Gives thumbs up to ‘Sister Mogahed’ for Twitter post on dead journalist, WorldNetDaily, April 29, 2012, accessed on http://www.wnd.com/2012/04/muslim-brotherhood-endorses-obama-faith-adviser/.

[23] F. William Engdahl, Moscow’s High Stakes Energy Geopolitics, Voltairenet.org, 15 November, 2011, accessed in http://www.voltairenet.org/article171902.html

[24] Ibid.

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Reuters
Gabriela Baczynska

Russia told NATO and world powers on Tuesday they should not seek ways to intervene in Syria’s civil war or set up buffer zones between rebels and government forces.

Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov

Moscow further called for restraint between NATO-member Turkey and Syria, where violence along their shared border has strained relations between the former allies.

Tensions have flared since a mortar round fired from inside Syria struck the territory of Turkey. Ankara has threatened to respond if the strike were repeated.

When asked by Interfax if Moscow worried whether the tense border situation could prompt NATO to intervene to defend Turkey, its easternmost member, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov warned against any such step.

“In our contacts with partners in NATO and in the region, we are calling on them not to seek pretexts for carrying out a military scenario or to introduce initiatives such as humanitarian corridors or buffer zones.”

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, one of Assad’s most caustic critics, recently lashed out at Russia for blocking efforts at the U.N. Security Council to exert pressure on Assad and said Moscow’s stance allowed massacres in Syria to continue.

Turkey has floated the idea of setting up “safe zones” inside Syria to protect civilians from the conflict but that would also have to be approved by the Security Council.

Russia and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and have blocked attempts to impose further sanctions on his government or intervene more directly in the conflict.

Ankara has repeatedly complained of artillery and gunfire spilling over the border into Turkey, leading to threats of retaliation.

“We believe both Syrian and Turkish authorities should exercise maximum restraint in this situation, taking into account the rising number of radicals among the Syrian opposition who can intentionally provoke conflicts on the border,” Gatilov was quoted as saying.

The West accuses Russia of supporting Assad in the bloody 18-month conflict and imposing a stalemate in the Security Council as violence in Syria has spiraled.

Moscow says Syrians themselves should decide their fate and says it will veto any Security Council resolution that could serve as a springboard for military intervention.

Russia accuses the West of overstepping its mandate when it set up a no-fly zone in Libya last year, leading to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi to a popular uprising and insurgency.

Western diplomats in Moscow say Russia seems to believe Assad may still successfully cling to power though they see Russia’s dialogue with some Syrian opposition groups as an attempt to secure its interests there if he were overthrown.

(Editing by Thomas Grove and Mark Heinrich)

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