An excellent article from one of our favorite Russia authors pointing out similar patterns in the destruction of Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria
A resource-rich, socialist-led, multi-ethnic secular state, with an economic system characterized by a high level of public/social ownership and generous provision of welfare, education and social services.
An independent foreign policy with friendship and good commercial ties with Russia, support for Palestine and African and Arab unity – and historical backing for anti-imperialist movements.
Social progress in a number of areas, including women’s emancipation.
The above accurately describes the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Syrian Arab Republic. Three countries in three different continents, which had so much in common.
All three had governments which described themselves as socialist. All three pursued a foreign policy independent of Washington and NATO. And all three were targeted for regime change/destruction by the US and its allies using remarkably similar methods.
The first step of the imperial predators was the imposition of draconian economic sanctions used to cripple their economies, weaken their governments (always referred to as ‘a/the regime’) and create political unrest. From 1992-95, and again in 1998, Yugoslavia was hit by the harshest sanctions ever imposed on a European state. The sanctions even involved an EU ban on the state-owned passenger airliner JAT
Libya was under US sanctions from the 1980s until 2004, and then again in 2011, the year the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa was bombed back to the Stone Age.
Syria has been sanctioned by the US since 2004 with a significant increase in the severity of the measures in 2011 when the regime change op moved into top gear.
The second step was the backing of armed militias/terrorist proxies to destabilise the countries and help overthrow these “regimes”. The strategy was relatively simple. Terrorist attacks and the killing of state officials and soldiers would provoke a military response from ‘the regime, whose leader would then be condemned for ‘killing his own people’ (or in the case of Milosevic, other ethnic groups), and used to ramp up the case for a ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the US and its allies.
In Yugoslavia, the US-proxy force was the Kosovan Liberation Army, who were given training and logistical support by the West.
In Libya, groups linked to al-Qaeda, like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, were provided assistance, with NATO effectively acting as al-Qaeda’s air force
In Syria, there was massive support for anti-government Islamist fighters, euphemistically labelled ‘moderate rebels.’ It didn’t matter to the ‘regime changers’ that weapons supplied to ‘moderate rebels’ ended up in the hands of groups like ISIS. On the contrary, a declassified secret US intelligence report from 2012 showed that the Western powers welcomed the possible establishment of a Salafist principality in eastern Syria, seeing it as a means of isolating ‘the Syrian regime’.
The third step carried out at the same time as one and two involved the relentless demonisation of the leadership of the target states. This involved the leaders being regularly compared to Hitler, and accused of carrying out or planning genocide and multiple war crimes.
Milosevic – President of Yugoslavia – was labelled a ‘dictator’ even though he was the democratically-elected leader of a country in which over 20 political parties freely operated.
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was portrayed as an unstable foaming at the mouth lunatic, about to launch a massacre in Benghazi, even though he had governed his country since the end of the Swinging Sixties.
Syria’s Assad did take over in an authoritarian one-party system, but was given zero credit for introducing a new constitution which ended the Ba’ath Party’s monopoly of political power. Instead all the deaths in the Syrian conflict were blamed on him, even those of the thousands of Syrian soldiers killed by Western/GCC-armed and funded ‘rebels’.
The fourth step in the imperial strategy was the deployment of gatekeepers – or ‘Imperial Truth Enforcers’ – to smear or defame anyone who dared to come to the defence of the target states, or who said that they should be left alone.
The pro-war, finance-capital-friendly, faux-left was at the forefront of the media campaigns against the countries concerned. This was to give the regime change/destruction project a ‘progressive’ veneer, and to persuade or intimidate genuine ’old school’ leftists not to challenge the dominant narrative.
To place them beyond the pale, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria were all labelled ’fascist,’ even though their leadership was socialist and their economies were run on socialistic lines. Meanwhile, genuine fascists, like anti-government factions in Ukraine (2013-14), received enthusiastic support from NATO.
The fifth step was direct US/NATO-led military intervention against ‘the regime’ triggered by alleged atrocities/planned atrocities of the target state. At this stage, the US works particularly hard to sabotage any peaceful solution to the conflicts they and their regional allies have ignited. At the Rambouillet conference in March 1999, for example, the Yugoslav authorities, who had agreed to an international peace-keeping force in Kosovo, were presented with an ultimatum that they could not possibly accept. Lord Gilbert, a UK defence minister at the time, later admitted
“the terms put to Milosevic (which included NATO forces having freedom of movement throughout his country) were absolutely intolerable … it was quite deliberate.”
In 2011, the casus belli was that ‘the mad dog’ Gaddafi was about to massacre civilians in Benghazi. We needed a ‘humanitarian intervention’ to stop this, we were repeatedly told. Five years later, a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report held that
“the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”
In 2013, the reason given for direct military intervention in Syria was an alleged chemical weapons attack by ‘Assad’s forces’ in Ghouta. But this time, the UK Parliament voted against military action and the planned ‘intervention’ was thwarted, much to the great frustration of the war-hungry neocons. They still keep trying though.
The recent claims of The White House, that they had evidence that the Syrian government was planning a chemical weapons attack, and that if such an attack took place it would be blamed on Assad, shows that the Empire hasn’t given up on Stage Five for Syria just yet.
Stage Six of the project involves the US continuing to sabotage moves towards a negotiated peace once the bombing started. This happened during the bombing of Yugoslavia and the NATO assault on Libya. A favoured tactic used to prevent a peaceful resolution is to get the leader of the target state indicted for war crimes. Milosevic was indicted at the height of the bombing in 1999, Gaddafi in 2011.
Stage Seven is ‘Mission Accomplished’. It’s when the target country has been ‘regime-changed’ and either broken up or transformed into a failed state with strategically important areas/resources under US/Western control. Yugoslavia was dismantled and its socially-owned economy privatised. Montenegro, the great prize on the Adriatic, recently joined NATO.
Libya, hailed in the Daily Telegraph as a top cruise ship destination in 2010, is now a lawless playground for jihadists and a place where cruise ships dare not dock. This country, which provided free education and health care for all its citizens under Gaddafi, has recently seen the return of slave markets.
Syria, though thankfully not at Stage Seven, has still been knocked back almost forty years. The UNDP reported:
“Despite having achieved or being well under way to achieving major Millennium Development Goals targets (poverty reduction, primary education, and gender parity in secondary education, decrease in infant mortality rates and increasing access to improved sanitation) as of 2011, it is estimated that after the first four years of crisis Syria has dropped from 113th to 174th out of 187 countries ranked in the Human Development Index.”
Of course, it’s not just three countries which have been wrecked by the Empire of Chaos. There are similarities too with what’s happened to Afghanistan and Iraq. In the late 1970s, the US started to back Islamist rebels to destabilise and topple the left-wing, pro-Moscow government in Kabul.
Afghanistan has been in turmoil ever since, with the US and its allies launching an invasion of the country in 2001 to topple a Taliban ‘regime’ which grew out of the ’rebel’ movement which the US had backed.
Iraq was hit with devastating, genocidal sanctions, which were maintained under US/UK pressure even after it had disarmed. Then it was invaded on the deceitful pretext that its leader, Saddam Hussein,still possessed WMDs.
The truth of what has been happening is too shocking and too terrible ever to be admitted in the Western mainstream media. Namely, that since the demise of the Soviet Union, the US and its allies have been picking off independent, resource-rich, strategically important countries one by one.
The point is not that these countries were perfect and that there wasn’t political repression taking place in some of them at various times, but that they were earmarked for destruction solely for standing in the way of the imperialists. The propagandists for the US-led wars of recent years want us to regard the conflicts as ‘stand alones’ and to regard the ‘problem’ as being the ‘mad dog’ leadership of the countries which were attacked.
But in fact, the aggressions against Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the threatening of Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela are all parts of the same war. Anyone who hasn’t been locked in a wardrobe these past twenty years, or whose salary is not paid directly, or indirectly, by the Empire of Chaos, can surely see now where the ‘problem’ really lies.
The ‘New Hitlers’ – Milosevic, Hussein and Gaddafi – who we were told were the ‘biggest threats’ to world peace, are dead and buried. But guess what? The killing goes on.
The author is a well-known UK pundit who writes frequently on Russia. He is currently running a crowdfunding to sue the Times, one of its writers, Oliver Kamm, and its publisher, Rupert Murdoch, for libel and stalking. If you like this article, please consider supporting this writer. He is one of the best out there on Russia.
Featured image is from the author.
The Empire Strikes Back: With Destructive and Dishonest Neocolonialism
This month sees some significant anniversaries in the struggle against old-style colonialism. The trouble is that colonialism didn’t go away after countries in the developing world formally achieved their independence from Europe’s ‘Great Powers.’
It was replaced by a new form which proved to be more destructive and immeasurably more dishonest than what went before.
At least the British Empire – which at its peak covered almost a quarter of the world’s land surface, acknowledged it was an Empire.
Today’s more shadowy Empire of Globalized Monopoly Finance-Capital does no such thing. Entire countries, such as Yugoslavia, Libya, and Iraq, are destroyed for not toeing the line, while those which continue to defy the neocon/neoliberal elites, such as Venezuela, are under a state of permanent siege.
To add insult to injury this new wave of colonization, carried out to benefit the richest people in the richest countries in the world, is done in the name of ‘democracy’ and ‘advancing human rights’ and has the enthusiastic support of many self-styled ‘progressives.’ The hypocrisy of today’s imperialists who lambasted Venezuela’s Maduro for being a ‘dictator’ but who hail the unelected hereditary rulers of Saudi Arabia as they sell them deadly weaponry is truly breathtaking.
In the 1940s and 50s, it all looked very different. Colonialism did seem to be in retreat.
Seventy-five years ago this month, on 8th August 1942, Mahatma Gandhi started the ‘Quit India’ Movement in Bombay.
Seventy years ago on the 14/15th August 1947, India, and the new state of Pakistan, gained their independence from the UK.
While 60 years ago (31 August 1957), The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained its independence from Britain.
These are important milestones that certainly need to be celebrated.
But the belief of progressives that ‘decolonization’ would mean genuine freedom for the countries that had been colonized has proved wildly optimistic. India and Malaysia may have progressed, but for other nations ‘The Wind of Change’ was just hot air. ‘Independence’ meant obtaining only the outward trappings of national sovereignty: a flag, a national anthem, UN membership and a football team. Economic power continued to reside elsewhere: in the banks and boardrooms of the richer nations.
In his classic 1965 //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>text ‘Neocolonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism’ the great Kwame Nkrumah, then President of Ghana and a staunch advocate of Pan-Africanism, explained how neocolonialism had replaced old-style colonialism.
“In the past, it was possible to convert a country upon which a neocolonial regime had been imposed – Egypt in the 19th century is an example – into a colonial territory. Today this process is no longer feasible,” he wrote.
To find the money to build a welfare state at home colonies had to be formally given their independence, but that didn’t mean control had to be surrendered too. The United States used its position as the world’s number one creditor nation after World War II to accelerate this ‘formal’ process of decolonization, but only so that it could move into countries once dominated by the likes of Britain, France, and The Netherlands. Nkrumah cites the example of South Vietnam, where the ‘old’ colonial power was France, but the neo colonial power was the US. In fact, the US can be said to have been the pioneer of neocolonialism. While ‘old-style’ Empire still dominated in the rest of the world, the US used neocolonial techniques to ensure the countries of Latin America subordinated their economies to the interests of US big business. The US financial/corporate elite today targets the leftist Maduro in Venezuela for ‘regime-change,’ back in 1913 the US Ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, was conspiring with General Huerta to topple the leftist Madero.
It was a pattern to be repeated time after time in the next 100 years. The techniques Washington perfected in Latin America (backing coups against democratically elected governments who wanted to maintain national control over their economies, bankrolling the opposition to these governments, and eliminating leaders/politicians who stood for genuine independence) and which we saw deployed in Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964 and Chile in 1973, were used around the world.
“Democracy promotion” has always been code for US backing internal subversion of insufficiently pliant governments https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/08/01/state-department-considers-scrubbing-democracy-promotion-from-its-mission/?utm_term=.22f6e3b8156f …
Opinion | State Department considers scrubbing democracy promotion from its mission
There were signs Rex Tillerson wanted to get rid of democracy promotion at the State Department, and now he might make it official.
A list of governments toppled, directly or indirectly, by the US and its closest allies to achieve economic control would be far too long to include in a single OpEdge, but here are a few examples:
1. Indonesia, 1965/6
The US backed a bloody wave of mass killings by the military which led to the overthrow of the independently-minded Sukarno, the first President of ‘postcolonial’ Indonesia, and had him replaced, by the pro-Western dictator //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>General Suharto.
“The US embassy in Jakarta supplied Suharto with a “zap list” of Indonesian Communist party members and crossed off the names when they were killed or captured,” //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>writes John Pilger, who examined the coup in his 2001 film The New Rulers of the World.
“The deal was that Indonesia under Suharto would offer up what Richard Nixon had called “the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in southeast Asia.”
“In November 1967 the greatest prize was handed out at a remarkable three-day conference sponsored by the Time-Life Corporation in Geneva. Led by David Rockefeller, all the corporate giants were represented: the major oil companies and banks, General Motors, Imperial Chemical Industries, British American Tobacco, Siemens, US Steel and many others. Across the table sat Suharto’s US-trained economists who agreed to the corporate takeover of their country, sector by sector,” Pilger wrote.
The human cost of Indonesia’s neocolonial ‘regime-change’ was huge with between 500,000 and 3 million people killed. In 2016, an international panel of judges held that the US (and the UK and Australia) had been complicit in genocide.
2. Iran, 1953
The toppling of the democratically elected nationalist Mohammad Mossadegh and his replacement by the more compliant Shah was another US/UK joint op. The ‘crime’ of Mossadegh was wanting to nationalize his country’s oil industry and use the revenues to fight poverty and disease. So the neocolonialists decided he had to go. A campaign of destabilization- similar to that waged against Venezuela at present- was started.
“CIA and SIS propaganda assets were to conduct an increasingly intensified effort through the press, handbills and the Tehran clergy in a campaign designed to weaken the Mossadeq government in any way possible,” admitted Donald N. Wilber, a key planner of the so-called TPAJAX project.
In 2013, declassified documents revealed:
“The military coup that overthrew Mossadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.”
Worth remembering when we hear politicians in neocolonialist countries feign outrage over unproven ‘Russian interference’ in their political processes.
What is the #1 U.S. interest in Venezuela? If the classified history of the U.S. State Department is a guide, oil. https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978CARACA11634_d.html#efmAvFAv6AwCAwFAwNAwWAz7A0mA0nA3IA9AA__ …
3. Yugoslavia, 1999/2000
“Balkanization is the major instrument of neocolonialism and will be found wherever neocolonialism is practiced,” wrote Kwame Nkrumah.
The socialist leader of F.R. Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, was demonized in the 1990s by the Western elites not because he wanted to break his country upm but because he wanted it to stay together.
Having survived an illegal 78-day ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign by NATO against his country in 1999, Slobo saw the ‘regime-change’ op to oust him intensify. Millions of dollars poured illegally into the country from the US to opposition groups and anti-government activists, such as the Otpor! Organization. Milosevic was toppled in a Western-sponsored ‘Bulldozer Revolution’ in October 2000 and Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who four years earlier had said the death of half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions was a price worth paying, celebrated.
George Kenney, a former Yugoslav desk officer of the State Department, revealed why it all took place.
“In post-Cold War Europe no place remained for a large independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”
In 2012, the New York Times reported how leading members of the US administration which had dismantled Yugoslavia were returning to the Balkans as ‘entrepreneurs’ to bid for privatized assets.
Now the neocolonialist neocon regime changers have moved on to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Like Milosevic, and many others before him who got in the way of ‘The New Rulers of the World,’ the democratically elected Nicolas Maduro is labeled a ‘dictator.’ As in the case of Milosevic, it’s self-styled ‘progressives’ who are at the forefront of the elites’ campaign to demonize Venezuela and its leadership- demanding that public figures in the West who had expressed support for ‘Chavism’ issue denunciations.
The Constituent Assembly elections explained: “Venezuela Elections: Resurgent Chavismo and Unrecognised Democracy” http://www.investigaction.net/en/venezuela-elections-resurgent-chavismo-and-unrecognised-democracy/ …
In the fierce critiques of the Venezuelan government that have been pouring out in the Western media these past few days, there’s no mention of the unrelenting external campaign to destabilize the country and sabotage its economy. Nor of the millions of dollars that have poured into the coffers of the opposition and anti-government activists from the US.
Imagine if the Venezuelan government had been bankrolling anti-government protestors in America. But when the neocolonialists do it in other countries, it’s fine.
Kwame Nkrumah called neocolonialism ‘the worst form of imperialism,’and he was right.
“For those who practice it, it means power without responsibility, and for those who suffer from it, it means power without responsibility.”
And what happened to Nkrumah, I hear you ask? Just a few months after his book was published, the father of modern Ghana was deposed in a coup. The ‘National Liberation Council’ which overthrew him swiftly restructured Ghana’s economy, under the supervision of the IMF and World Bank, for the benefit of Western capital.
The West denied involvement, but years later John Stockwell, a CIA officer in Africa revealed:
“the CIA station in Ghana played a major role in the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah in 1966.”
Today, the neocolonialists want us to support their ‘progressive’ crusade for ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ in oil-rich Venezuela. If Kwame Nkrumah were still around, he’d be urging us to see the bigger picture.
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Featured image is from Socialist Appeal.
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