Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The coming of Donald Trump: The future is anybody's guess!

Make no mistake about this: Donald Trump is an autocrat and a potential dictator of America. He has appealed to nationalism, engaged in blaming various ethnic and religious groups for America's, troubles and declared himself the solution to these troubles. It is said that Russia "hacked" the 2016 presidential election, that "hidden, racist voters" turned out to vote, and that the mass media has now "normalized" Trump and his offensive rhetoric and gave him billions in free advertisement.

 Whatever,,,Trump is now King of the United States...what is going to happen next with this American autocrat is anybody's guess. America has never had a real autocrat as president.

I told you all, on the various forums, to watch out for Russia and to not count Russia out in the international.system. The expansion of NATO to the borders of Russia, to include provocative air patrols, massive military maneuvers, and perhaps the stationing of nuclear missiles, are all actions that Russia must respond to for the protection of it's national security. Part of the blame for provoking Russia to take cyber-hacking to counter the perceived and real threats in its "near-abroad" can be laid at the feet of those East European leaders in Baltic countries and Poland too, and of the desire by neo-cons to dismember Russia?

Fuck the Baltic Air Policing!

Affecting Western national elections through cyber activities and "hacking," underhanded political and social attack messages, are sheer genius on the part of Putin and the Russians...and demonstrates that national security is about more than just military power.  They are also a statement that Russian concerns about activities related to NATO expansion and inclusion in a European security system should have been taken more seriously. Russian security needs should have also been a part of a European security system that includes Russia.   (see Senate Intel Report on Russian influence in 2016 election for more).

Expect increased violence and oppression from American police and oppression - including increased abuse of the labels "terrorism" and "anarchists" - against those who oppose government abuses from a Trump regime.  Expect so-called "Islamic extremism" to fuel more Islamophobia and ignore the fact that "Islamic terrorism" that is "inspired by ISIS" is nothing more than violent crimes by trouble individuals. We know that there is a different reaction from Western governments to violent crimes by non-Muslims (criminal justice) and violent crimes by criminals claiming some inspiration from "Islamic faith" (national security and oppression of the Islamic faith).   We can also expect increased spying, oppression and violence against Black activists opposing police violence, expanded abuse of the label "anarchists" by police to justify oppression and criminalization. Funny how support for Black Lives Matter "anarchists" include elected leaders and how the Movement has engaged in our democratic process for an end to police brutality against black people.. 

Note: 1. I voted for Clinton and for Bernie Sanders in the Wisconsin Primary.  My views line up with Bernie Sanders the most, but Donald Trumps observations on the economic and social hardships faced by many  Americans rang true and were probably a main driver of his election. An autocrat like Trump does better appealing to those who are hurting, angry and in need of relief.  If Trump does not deliver, (and hateful nationalists never had good economic policies), he will be bounced out too...

Note 2. Russia Today (RT) is not "propaganda" anymore than CNN is "propaganda." The label "fake news" has been applied to just about any written and spoke word - including academic written works and peer-reviewed articles. RT has told the truth about the American life, especially the criminal justice system and the struggles of working people.  Sure, RT gets government funding, but CNN appeals to the US government for access to government leaders, including the US president.

Note 3. I will be blogging mostly at my Home Sweet Home blog and the topics will be short and varied.  I will be expressing my sympathies for Russia as well as outrage for possible Trump policies in other forums. I am both pro-Russia and anti-Trump.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Turkey's plane shoot down and the danger os NATO's Article Five

Why NATO and its Article Five is more dangerous than ISIS. In 1949, when the Cold War was heating up, the Western powers formed a mutual defense pact to curb what they saw as aggressive moves by the Soviets in East Europe after WWII. The resulting North Atlantic Treaty (aka Washington Treaty) spawned the defense alliance that takes the Treaty's name. Article Five is regarded as the "collective defense" article in NATO's Treaty and its "cornerstone."

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .
I have long argued that this article is dangerous for international peace and security - and we see that playing out with regard to Turkey and its shooting down of a Russian bomber engaged in counter terrorist actions in Syria.  The first action Turkey took after shooting down the jet (its crew shot at as they rode parachutes to the ground - and this is a war crime) was to run to NATO and invoke Article Four consultations clause. The Russian plane was not attacking Turkish soil and it's well known that Russia is involved in counter-terrorist operations.

The side question here is about aggressive and reckless actions taken by a NATO member that would get a retaliation response if the state was not a NATO member.  I say it would be immoral and outrageous for NATO members to regard aggressive and reckless actions, to include the war crime of shooting pilots riding parachutes to the ground, to come to the defense of Turkey under threats of Article Five. It is immoral, and as an American, I renounce any Article Five defense for Turkey should Russia retaliate against it, which it will in some form.  The order of things now is to punch Russia and then run under NATO's collective defense coat tails. It's a dangerous order for world peace and must be stopped!

NATO member can act recklessly, aggressively and NATO members must regard any just and right retaliation as "an attack on us all."  It is easy to see why NATO has acted aggressively now and in the past when it comes to poking Russia in the nose. This is true of chiefly Eastern European leaders in Poland and the Baltic countries who have long standing, reckless and dangerous Russophobia. These leaders appear to see any cooperation with Western countries and Russia over the ISIS terrorist organization as a threat to the Cold War mentality they resurrected in Ukraine. They promote the myth of "Russian aggression."  It is right for Russia's Lavrov to suspect NATO pre-planning in the shooting down of Russia's bomber. This pre-planning to sabotage Russian cooperation with Western countries could lead right through NATO to Eastern European state capitals and the desire to maintain NATO's favorite enemy at the expense of much needed counter -terrorist operations against ISIS.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Russian media journalists under threat in Ukraine: Where is the OSCE?!

You may not know, if you read only Western media, that journalists working for Russian media outlets are under great threat in Ukraine. If we want to read about "pro-Russian gunmen" who are alleged to be "threatening the press freedom of journalists" we have lots of media outlets, including the LA Times. Over and over, there are more articles about press freedom being compromised in Crimea, as well as "pro-Russian gunmen," "militants," and "rebels" who said to be "abducting and harassing journalists" almost at will, and the OSCE's Representative of the Freedom of the Media posts propaganda articles from the LaTimes.

However, it can be said that journalists working for Russian media are being subject to even more harassment, abductions, beatings and bans from entering Ukraine. One Russian journalist was forced to kneel for Ukrainian troops. In early April, Russian journalists from Forbes and Ruptly were banned from the country under claims that the journalists did not have enough money to stay in the country. Dozens of journalists have been banned from entering the country - and those there are facing threats against them - such as this Russian journalist being forced to kneel to Ukrainian troops. Russian media outlets have appealed to international human rights organizations to speak out in favor of the protection of journalists working in Ukraine.

Bounty against Graham Philips.Now, this harassment includes Twitter threats and a bounty of $10,000 on the head of Russia Today stringer, Graham Philips. I first noticed in this morning, but RT is now covering it, and they have said that Graham got on the radar of Right Sector radicals. Another poster who has posted demands that Graham "come home" is a Twitter user by the name of "Section 15," who appears to be an American. (An American that works for CIA or other US government security, judging by the infantile posts and pictures!) There are threats to have Graham Philips thrown into Lvov Prison, which is apparently is where Graham, the "Russian spy," would be held. This bounty may turn out to be a joke (a rather sick one), but such a threat should always be taken seriously.

Where is the OSCE's Represenative on freedom of the Media and other international press freedom advocates?!  As of now, they are nowhere to be found. The OSCE's press freedom representative says almost nothing about the threats against Russian journalists and those working for Russian media. Western journalists are also getting desperate to find "Russian agents" in Ukraine - and so far have found none. So, the "Russian spies" are now journalists, but Graham Philips is a Brit and a known journalist for RT and RT is a "propaganda bullhorn" (I have more to say about that in the next post!).

America's Ukrainian allies' hate for press freedom. As a reminder, the Ukrainian regime in Kiev has little respect for media and press freedom. In mid-March, members of the Ukrainian Parliament of the  neo-Nazi, Svoboda Party (which has portfolios in government) were angered by the mention of the signing of a treaty between the Russian Federation and Crimea, whereby Crimea was accepted into the Russian Federation. The head of the Ukrainian national television network and journalist, Aleksandr Panteleymonov, was forced to sign his resignation after being shoved around (see video). The "authorities" in Kiev take a dim view of press freedom and sending military force to squash dissent in East Ukraine is graphic evidence. The regime in Kiev might be behind the threats against RT journalists, as well as some of those doing the threatening (Section 15) being right here in the US.

America's allies were involved in this intimidation and roughing up of the head of the national broadcasting firm - and some could be behind threats against journalists. Their allies (including in the OSCE) will speak out and protect speech and journalists they agree with and are non-Russian. Since Graham Philips (who is British) does a great job in his reporting and uses all the media he can in his work, as well as the success of RT in the West, the regime in Kiev could be getting nervous. We can and should pray and/or wish Graham well and that he stays safe from this dangerous and violent, US-backed regime in Kiev.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Anti-Russian propaganda and the Ukraine crisis: Thoughts on a study-paper framework.

Crossposted from The StateMaster -

Propaganda that is aimed at demonizing and dehumanizing involves the creations of images of "The Enemy."  In Sam Keen's classic 1986 book, Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination (Harper and Row: New York, NY.), there are several images to cast the Enemy into that can serve to instill fear and hate, hostility, and at the same time portray "our side" as righteous, pure, good and civilized. We can not only see these images being created with regard to Russia, we can use Keen's classic work to break down anti-Russian propaganda into components of propaganda. The creation of paranoia is a major aspect of anti-Russian propaganda that seeks to further demonize and dehumanize Russia and Russians so that dialog between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis is difficult and impossible.

Sam Keen's definition of “paranoia” involves “a complex of mental, emotional and social mechanisms by which a person or a people claim righteousness and purity, and attribute hostility and evil to the enemy.” Paranoid thinking eliminates in advance the acceptance of evidence that might contradict assumptions about “the Enemy” (19, 1986). So, our definition of Russophobia involves the notion that America and its allies are righteous and pure, including with good intentions, while Russia and its allies, including those “pro-Russians” in Ukraine are hostile and evil. Russia is an actor that is a “barbarian at the gate,” threatening and war-like to “good and civilized nations” of America and its allies. We can include in this the notion that Russia and its allies are of bad intentions, and cannot be trusted in word and deeds. Hence, the mind becomes closed to treating the Russian viewpoint in the Ukrainian crisis as an equal and valuable viewpoint to the American viewpoint.

The purpose of propaganda, according to Keen, “is to paralyze thought, to prevent discrimination, and to condition individuals to act as a mass” (25). The notion that any view that comes from anything Russian or related to the Russian state cannot be trusted is an effect of anti-Russian propaganda and its promotion of Russophobia, or “the hate and fear of Russians and Russia, which includes the notion that no words or deeds from Russian or Russians and those defending Russia and its leaders can be trusted, must be taken as falsehoods and outright lies.” The various components that can form a study paper on anti-Russian propaganda put out by Western media and the U.S. State Department.

This excellent video touches on some of the ingredients that are a part of anti-Russian propaganda efforts on the part of Western mass media and the American government. This includes the Pussy Riot and "Putin hates Gays" propaganda stories. 

The first component to Russophobia is the notion of Russia and Russians as “uncivilized, war-like, threatening” and, as Sam Keen put it, a barbarian that is a threat to “the civilized world” (43). In the climate of paranoia towards Russia, there is simply no ability to engage in constructive and civilized dialog that can resolve the crisis. Part of the hostility toward Russia is to claim that Russian persons, Russian media, as well as the Russian government, is not to be trusted and is lying about its policies and posture in the Ukrainian crisis. This is a form of dehumanizing the Russians, can be regarded as a form of anti-Russian bigotry, and can be said to be along the lines of Sam Keen's likening the enemy as a barbarian (21, 44).

A second, but important component is the personification of Russia as "Putin," Vladimir Putin, the Russian President. Anything said in defense of Russians, including Russia personified as “Putin," is said to be “Russian propaganda.” One cannot view Western mass media discussion of the Ukraine crisis and not be met with some image of "Putin." It is quite common for a state in a conflict to be personified in the image of its leader, in the fashion of the rational actor realist's notion of a “state as a person.” As in the video, “Russia” and “Putin” are often one and the same, attacking the “free speech” of Pussy Riot and as a “hater of gays.” This argument is a part of Sam Keen's idea of Enemy and an uncivilized barbarian that opposes progress of the “good and civilized nations” (the US and its allies) when progress in “free speech” and Gay rights is viewed as “good and civilized.” Any future study of anti-Russian propaganda in the course of the Ukrainian crisis must contain a section on the personification of “Putin” as the Russian nation.

John Kerry's address to NATO is full of Sam Keen's idea of  the "Russian enemy" as "barbarian-enemy" that wants to "expand and be a threat to the good and civilized world" that he, Ukraine and NATO Allies represent.  Mirrors classic propaganda about the Soviet threat of the Cold War.

Another component is the notion of "Russian aggression," Russia as a "threat," and the accusations of Russian involvement in Ukraine. Sam Keen also discusses the Enemy as “greedy for empire” (48) and as “aggressor” in his discussion of paranoia and the role of propaganda in spreading stereotypes and notions about the Enemy. This “greed for empire” accusation is currently being made against Russia, even though Russia is not a threat or even an enemy of Europe or the European Union. A key component of the current anti-Russian propaganda program of the US is that “Russia is an aggressive nation” and that “Russian aggression” is a “threat to Europe.” On close examination we see that Russia has demonstrated no aggression to other European states other that the 2008 war it had with Georgia. However, a report from the European Union placed the blame for the war at the feet of Georgia, and its president at the time, Mikheil Saakashvili. Russia's presence in the Crimea was not an“invasion,” but Russia was in Crimea by a treaty with Ukraine. Beyond that, there is currently on real evidence that Russia is a threat or that the Russian military is present in Ukraine.

It can easily be argued that the paranoid and closed minded notion of “Russian propaganda” and “Putin propaganda” held by governments and individuals is a form of anti-Russian bigotry and discrimination. The “sanctions” that Washington is leading against Russian business and leaders is an example of discrimination, as sanctions can easily lead to ethnic, religious and national discrimination. What we could see in the future is discrimination against Russians growing in the Western world and Russian ethnic communities could be added to the list of suspect communities in Europe, the most noted example in Europe are Muslim immigrant communities.

The mass Western media-viewing public is not the only audience affected by America's push of Russophobia and anti-Russian bigotry, but international organizations, the Council of Europe and the United Nations Security Council have a noticeable anti-Russian tinge. This notion of paranoia appears to be stoked by Washington, which is now pursuing a regime of sanctions against Russia and Russian business leaders, and arm-twisting European leaders to follow along. The Russophobia that Washington is stoking through its use of influence of the Western mass media and international organizations, like the UN Security Council, means that the Russian point of view is being squeezed out of forums to be heard. This means that America's anti-Russian bias propaganda that closes minds and will translate translates into anti-Russian bigotry. This means a lack of dialog and confidence building and this means that the Ukrainian crisis will be hard to resolve without equal participation of all parties, including and especially Russia.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The new League of Nations: United Nations is failing ethnic Russians in East Ukraine.

It is a known fact in history that the rise of Hitler's Germany sank the noble ideas of the League of Nations. The League of Nations could not save the millions who died, including the mass extermination of over six million of Jews.We could now be looking into another League of Nations moment for this United Nations Security Council, which appeared to buy into western propaganda of "Russian meddling" and demonstrated no concern for the idea of a state using force against civilians and protestors. If their is mass murder against ethnic Russian protestors -- the United Nations, especially the Security Council shares responsibility and culpability in it.

Last night, the myth of Russian aggression and the the equally horrible myth that "Russia is interfering in Ukraine." The truth is that it is the regime in Kiev and the Right Sector neo-Nazis who have escalated the situation in Southeast Ukraine by sending military forces, including armored units, after protestors holding government building in East Ukrainian cities. The images of protestors holding these building are not armed, masked men, but also old ladies and ordinary ethnic Russians. 

What is sad is that there appeared to be little concern on the part of other members of the Security Council of the idea of military forced being used against civilians in Southeast Ukraine. There appeared to be more of the accusations that Russia was meddling -- but the fact is that there is more evidence of American meddling in Ukraine than Russian meddling.

Sitting here listening to the lies and stories of the Ukrainian rep to the United Nations in the Security Council. This fellow from the Ukrainian government is quite a liar --- classic stories about "terrorists," using the term "terrorists," These tales about ethnic Russian protestors are to justify violence against them, as well as to get the international community to turn a blind eye to any state terrorism against ethnic Russians --- but some of us out here are wide awake --- and ready to work to hold this irrational regime in Kiev accountable and responsible for ANY violence, genocide and ethnic cleansing of ethnic Russians in Ukraine. 

 The United Nations, along with the EU are failing to protect the rights of ethnic Russians! There is NOTHING that Russia can do about the use of the military force against ethnic Russian protestors in Southeast Ukraine! This claim that Russia can do something about this situation! There is, in fact, more evidence of American meddling in Ukraine than Russian meddling in Ukraine!

The fact is Russia cannot do anything - only the regime in Kiev can stop this by calling off its military forces. 
The regime in Kiev is doing nothing to protect ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine from Right Sector thugs. This regime in Kiev is irrational and seems to believe it can take whatever action it wants. The regime in Kiev, as well as Right Sector had better watch its steps: Their actions can be internatiuonal crimes that can bring indictments from the International Criminal Court.

 However - if mass violence is aimed against the ethnic Russian population in Southeast Ukraine - the United Nations will be equally responsible and culpable for the atrocities...


Friday, March 21, 2014

Why Russia has a point or Understanding Russia's position on Ukraine.

Why the unconditional support for the US by Europe?  "America is always the good guy and Russia is always the bad guy!" It's a view from CNN or MSNBC, not from people who understand the international system. America has done some awful things in the recent decade that are far more grave than anything Russia has done in the recent decade. Yet, "Putin is the devil" and America's neo-Nazis in Kiev are "freedom fighters who are pro-democracy." This is far from true. This is a very dangerous game that the State Department and the CIA are playing in its installation of neo-Nazis into the Ukrainian government, as both Russia and the US still have nuclear weapons. We don't want to go down that road just to prop up neo-Nazis in an Eastern European government!

Let's hope Americans eventually learn the truth about the radical right, neo-Nazis that their government has installed into the Ukrainian government. They will, and the Obama administration with be forever tarnished. From Foreign Policy magazine article on the bad guys now in Ukraine's government of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party:
Ukraine is home to Svoboda, arguably Europe's most influential far-right movement today. (In the photo above, Svoboda activists seize a Ministry of Agriculture building during Kiev's Euromaidan protests in January.) Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok is on record complaining that his country is controlled by a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia," while his deputy derided the Ukrainian-born film star Mila Kunis as a "dirty Jewess." In Svoboda's eyes, gays are perverts and black people unfit to represent the nation at Eurovision, lest viewers come away thinking Ukraine is somewhere besides Uganda.

Today, Svoboda holds a larger chunk of its nation's ministries (nearly a quarter, including the prized defense portfolio) than any other far-right party on the continent. Ukraine's deputy prime minister represents Svoboda (the smaller, even more extreme "Right Sector" coalition fills the deputy National Security Council chair), as does the prosecutor general and the deputy chair of parliament -- where the party is the fourth-largest. And Svoboda's fresh faces are scarcely different from the old: one of its freshmen members of parliament is the founder of the "Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre" and has hailed the Holocaust as a "bright period" in human history.
God bless America - and God bless the freedom fighters of Ukraine! (hell no!)
First of all, Russia has its interests in the world, like other international actors, and there is nothing wrong with that. The interest in the so-called 'near-abroad' in Russian policy goes back to the numerous times Russia has been invaded and Russians killed by foreign powers: the Moguls from the 1200s to the 1400s (go look up what the 'mongol yoke' is in Russian history), the brutal marches of Napoleon and Nazi Germany through the Russian country. Russia is very right to be concerned with events in its own backyard that have meant the oppression and extermination of Russians. There is nothing wrong with Russia having interests in its 'near -abroad' or taking action in the interests of its own security.

The expansion of NATO to Russia's borders is a threat like that of the Mongols, Napoleon's army and Nazi Germany. It is NATO that's the problem, not Russia's responses to it or the West's provocative activities.

Second of all, there is a history of what Nazi Germany and its supporters did in East Europe, including the murders of Russians. Russia also suffered huge losses at the hands of the Nazis in WWII and the installation of a neo-Nazi government in Ukraine by the US, as well as history of abuse of human rights of ethnic Russians by East European nations, is a very good reason for Russia to take action to defend the lives and rights of ethnic Russians. America is wrong here despite what you read in America mass media, and Americans will eventually learn the truth about what their country has sponsored in Ukraine! A good point from Andre Vltchek in the conservative, somewhat anti-EU CounterPunch:
Where are those loud voices protesting against the antagonizing Russia? Don’t Europeans know their own history? Russia is not an aggressor; it has been a victim, for at least a hundred years. Russia was attacked by Europe, again and again, and in just one century, tens of millions of Russian people were slaughtered by European fascists, imperialists and ‘democrats’.

Russia is probably right and justified in its "invasion" of the Crimea to protect ethnic Russian speakers from the neo-Nazi government in Kiev. 

The human rights of ethnic Russians do matter and in the recent decade East European countries, some now in NATO and the EU, have created policies that have discriminated against Russian speakers. This includes bans on the use of Russian language in news media and teaching in schools. One of the first things the US backed neo-Nazis did was to remove protections for the use of Russian language in the various regions. Europe, including the EU, the OSCE, the CoE, simply cannot be trusted to protect the human rights of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine.

America: The world's real bad guy! The Western mass media present "Putin the Devil" and Russia as a world threat in need of sanctions. Russia is not a threat to international security that America has been in its trouncing of international law in its dubious "war on terrorism." We could also cite numerous, recent and well-known instances where America is a 'rotten country' in the world: invading Iraq under false pretexts, CIA renditions (picking innocent people up off the streets to be detained and tortured with the aid and compliance of European governments), drone strikes in Pakistan (violates national sovereignty), Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay prison - and these are far more grave than anything Russia has done in response to perceived security threats in its own backyard. The instances cited above paint America as a law unto itself in the international system (and America has made itself untouchable by international law) that are far more grave breaches of international security and dangerous to the world than anything Russia has done in recent years!

Also see:

Chapter in book by Per Anders Rudling - The Return of the Ukrainian Far Right: The Case of VO Svoboda," in Ruth Wodak and John E. Richardson.

Salon Magazine -  Is the US backing neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

Foreign Policy Magazine - Sorry, Putin Isn't Crazy: Why Russians have good reason to suspect the West's motives in Ukraine. - The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine - Washington Sanctioning Democracy and Hailing Nazism -

Democracy Now - Debate: Is Ukraine’s Opposition a Democratic Movement or a Force of Right-Wing Extremism?

The Jewish Journal - Ukraine’s Jews again caught between a rock and a hard place

Alternet - Is the U.S. Backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

Salon- 35 countries where the U.S. has supported fascists, drug lords and terrorists

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Russia is RIGHT! NO to attacks against Syria!

"I don't know where we got this odd notion that every time we see something bad happen in the world, we should bomb it" - Congressman Alan Grayson
First of all - I'm a fan of Russia (and proud of it!) and Russia is looking very much like the good actor when it comes to Syria. At the same time, President Obama is starting to look like Bush - rushing off to bomb another country over the protests of the international community. Once again, the American government thinks that a problem or issue can simply be dealt with by bombing first without thinking through the consequences, or making attempts to work within the international system as it exists.

 The first question is: Who exactly was responsible for the nerve chemical attack that killed civilians in Damascus? It does not have to be the Assad regime that used chemical weapons, as the rebels have also used chemical weapons. The Syrian rebels are losing badly, and have been reduced to foreign jihadists from al-Qeada, and are quite isolated. Could they have something to do with this chemical attack (the use of chemical attacks is nothing new in Syria) or even had a mishap while carrying chemical weapons? There are now reports that the rebels were the ones responsible (VoR):
“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack.”
 See also: Is It Possible The Syrian Rebels (Not Assad) Used Chemical Weapons? - NPR - Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack Carried Out by Rebels, Says UN (UPDATE) - Syria chemical weapons attack blamed on Assad, but where's the evidence? -CBS -

Any US attack against Syria will blow up in Obama's face, both at home as well as abroad. It will also pose a retaliation threat against Israel and perhaps lead to attacks against US ships and bases in the Middle East. The opposition against the Assad regime has said that any attack will just embolden and entrench the dictator. Such an attack can also blow up into a wider war with Iran getting involved to help its ally Syria. Russia could get involved - and we could see $10 a gallon gas and economic shockwaves. For the "enforcement of norms" in a far off civil war that has NO ramifications to US security, the backlash of a US attack against Syria could be huge and costly for the world, America included!

What the Obama administration needs to learn is that enforcement of international norms requires an international consensus and working with international institutions are the only means to resolve issues and enforce norms. There is the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations, but many times "justice" is not really achievable according to a powerful country's satisfaction. The international system as it exists now (and not as we want it to be) needs to be engaged over Syria, and this engagement could also have positive effects on the international system itself. Ideally, actors that use weapons of mass destruction against civilians should be punished, but this many not be the case when the actor is protected by more powerful actors (Russia and China). If a US ally used such weapons against "terrorists," for example, there would be protests in the international system, but no actor in the international community could go after the the US ally militarily - and the US ally would be protected by the US.


 Russia needs to push back in the form of raising its voice and pushing the UN- which it is doing - against unilateral military attacks against Syria. Putin has rightfully demanded that the US produce any and all evidence that Assad was responsible for this attack to the Security Council. GOOD FOR PUTIN! Obama is becoming isolated as even France is now holding back and the UK will not join, with NATO firmly on the sidelines. Americans also oppose attacks against Syria and most demand that Obama consult with Congress before any attack. We need to keep pushing this...  It's now time for Americans to call their members of Congress and demand that they say NO, NO and NO to any military actions against Syria! I intend to do just that! 
See also: US, UK should show Syria chemical weapons intel to Russia - ex-British Navy chief - RT

We need to keep opposition to any attack against Syria - and push Obama further into isolation. Any attack will have horrible effects on Obama's popularity at home, especially with his own political base, and the Republican Party, which is now dominated by right-wing extremists and getting unpopular by the day, will gain new political life. For the rush to "enforce norms" in a far off civil war, Obama will put in jeopardy all the work here at home toward a more just and fair economy and society for all Americans! What a sad situation and what poor decision making on the part of the Obama administration!

Could this very, very stupid decision to attack Syria on the part of the increasingly isolated Obama administration also be some attempt to get back at Russia for the Snowden affair? We should be looking out for some measure of vengeance against Russia, as America is a country that takes vengeance on rivals. If it is, it will be very costly for Americans, Syrians and the rest of the world!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gay Rights in Russia: Russia is not the first and only place with backward, anti-Gay thinking.

Russia is not the first and only place with backward, anti-Gay thinking. When Russia rightfully pounded Georgia out of South Ossetia, the Western mass media portrayed Russia as the cold and heartless aggressor, but there is a different story. Russia saved South Ossetia - but you would not know that if you read only Western mass media sources, and the same is now true in the spat over Gay rights. Given that Gays have been recently arrested in the US, where the connection to fundamentalist Christians and the Republican Party continue to oppose Gay rights - the bashing of Russia - including the call to boycott the Winter Olympic Games in Russia are just plan wrong, wrong and wrong!
Also see Should the world boycott the Sochi Olympics in defense of gay rights? - Russia Today.

The media hype over anti-Gay laws in Russia appear to be typical anti-Russian mentality of the Western mass media - as there are other places on Earth - including in the US - that have anti-Gay politics and practices.

Fight for Gay rights - yes - but keep in mind that Russia is not the worst place on Earth for Gay people. That dubious distinction belongs to Zimbabwe, which has been violently oppressing Gays for years. The reelection of President Robert Mugabe was on the promise "to make it hell for Gays." Mugabe, who has ranted against Gays as "filth," unnatural" and their lifestyle as "against our values." He has also ranted against African countries accepting tolerance for Gays as a condition of accepting European aid: (Also see HuffPo)
This thing (homosexuality) seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed. Imagine this son born out of an African father, (US President Barrack) Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice. Aah, we will never do that.
Mugabe has now threatened to cut off the heads of Gays if they are "locked in a house and produce no children" and "lock them in jail to rot." Arguing for "defense of our values" Mugabe had Gays and their supporters driven from their homes and their property taken:
The chiefs are there to protect and promote our cultural values and those who support same sex marriages must be banished from the communities and be dispossessed of their land. What kind of madness is this that when we have beautiful women in our country some people want to marry other men.

Problems with Gay rights in Europe and America. It is well known that a political party in American politics - the Republican Party - has a problem with Gay rights, Gay marriage and acceptance of Gays in larger society. Recently, Gays have been arrested in Louisiana under sodomy laws that were found to be unconstitutional in 2003 by the US Supreme Court. However, since 2011, at least 12 Gay men have been arrested for what is actually legally protected sexual activity in Louisiana.

Gay rights are also under attack in European nations. Serbia has also struggled with the issue, but, unlike Russia, is seeking EU membership. Like Russia, Serbia struggles with the role the Orthodox Church plays in society and politics. Serbia is mulling giving Gays a host of rights, including inheritance and hospital visitation rights, but civil unions are still illegal. When France gave marriage rights to Gays in May - riots and violence broke out and 300 people were arrested in one riot. In this "enlightened" European country, 150,000 people took to the streets to protest AGAINST  marriage rights for Gay people!  France has regressive elements in its politics and regressive elements are not just in "backward Russia." 

Like France and America, Russia has some regressive elements, including elements connected with the Orthodox Church and its association to the Russian government. Some Russian politicians believe in a strong relation between Church and State. Why is this different from fundamental Christians in the American government, Congress and state governments who still largely oppose Gay rights?

 This attacking Russia over Gay rights comes on the heels of the asylum granted to  Ed Snowden. As I said on a forum, look for the Gay rights issue to be magnified in the Western press. While there are problems with Gay rights in Russia, there are also lots of problems with Gay rights in the US, US states and European countries. The US has a political party - the Republican Party with the Tea Party - that is generally anti-Gay, and still claims that marriage is "between one man and one woman." Here is the view of a possible 2016 candidate for US President:
I do believe, and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues that aren’t going anywhere but what I have said, which I don’t think should be controversy at all and I would think that Christians and pastors and everyone in between should agree that our principles have to be draped in the concepts of grace, love and respect and that’s not code language. That’s the New Testament so I don’t think there should be any problem with that thinking in our party. If you’re looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics.  Reince Priebus - the Republican Party Chairman - qtd in Washington Post.

So, Russia has problems with Gay rights?

Yes, like the Islamists have with religion and state...  As you can see - Russia is not the only country that struggles with Gay rights and Taliban-like politicians that want to force their religion and "values" on others through the powers of government. Accoding to NBC News, Priebus' viewpoint above in opposing Gay marriage is consistant with most Republican voters' views:
That position opposing gay marriage is consistent with most Republicans' views. Per an April NBC/WSJ poll, just 27 percent of Republicans said they favored same-sex marriage (versus 73 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of independents, and 53 percent of all respondents).
The anti-Gay laws should not be viewed as the opinion of every "subhuman" Russian and should not be viewed as permanent and fixed in stone. We must first understand that the Western mass media pounces on Russia the first chance it gets on some "pressing issue" between Russia and "the West." For Western mass media, the Cold War has not ended. Boycotts of the Winter Olympics are not the answer and politics must be kept out of the Games!  We must approach Gay rights as not just a problem for one country - but for European countries too - and avoid the Western mass media trap that Gay rights is only under threat in just Russia.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Answering EUobserver's "unbiased view" on Serbia: Jeton Zulfaj's "EU must open its eyes to Balkan realities"

Article used here is from EUobserver, by Jeton Zulfaj, EU must open its eyes to Balkan realities.

It has been the view of this author that Serbia has gotten a very bad shake from the European Union, and that includes the 2008 "Kosovo independence" debacle, which was pushed by the United States. The truth is, as I discuss on pages 37-38 of  The EU’s Europeanization as a Security Policy , EU officials were against "Kosovo independence" from the start.  The US-pushed "Kosovo independence" not only almost cost time and efforts working with Serbia, it dramatically demonstrated how much the Americans maintain hegemony over European affairs and tamper with European affairs almost at will well over 2 decades after the fall of Soviet communism. One of the dubious (anti-Serb) excuses for "Kosovo independence" was "not wanting to be ruled by Belgrade anymore," as if Slobodan Milosevic was still President of Yugoslavia.

In the article above, written by a Kosovo Albanian grad student, Jeton Zulfaj,  contains a number of things that are biased and lack understanding of the EU's mode of Europeanization toward Serbia. The use of Europeanization is a stabilizing mode of relationships that the EU enters with various countries, and not just with those nations with a conflict history that are now looking for EU membership, like Serbia. (On pages 11-12 of my thesis paper I offer several definitions for Europeanization from several authors.)

First, we have Zulfaj's apparent thesis question: How realistic is the EU belief that Balkan countries are moving down the path to becoming stable, liberal democracies?

Be patient with Europe! The EU "does not seem to understand the urgency of the situation" because Europeanization is a process that is about relationships, relationships that take time and can have setbacks. The relationship with Russia has been one where Russia has been selective in the areas of cooperation and in the depth of cooperation with the European Union.  These relationships move at various speeds and need patience and persistence, and they DO work in time, as changing national identities can take a l-o-n-g time to accomplish. Even though Russia has stated that it has no intentions to join the EU, various relationships in various areas at various levels have improved, slowly, Russia's progress as a democratic society.  The long patient work of the EU can have setbacks - but it works in the long term - and the EU has received a lot of rewards for the efforts. The first misunderstanding of of the whole idea of "Europe" comes here :
On his death in 1898, Otto Von Bismarck is quoted to have said that "If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans."

He was right. A decade or so after his death a silly thing in the Balkans was followed by World War I. Today, after a century of wars and conflicts, the Balkans are still far from political stability, but these days the instability is more likely to hurt the Balkan countries themselves than to provoke a wider conflict.

The EU does not seem to understand the urgency of the situation, even though it has hundreds of diplomats and officials posted to the region.

Zulfaj does not tell us why the situation is urgent and does not give us direct examples. The fact of EU membership and accession is that to "join the club" you have to play by the EU's rules - and only the EU's rules. If you are going to argue against EU membership for a candidate state, like Serbia, you should and must do it from the perspective of acquis communautaire, or not adapting it in full.

Also -- this type of notion feeds into the notion of victimization held by various Balkan peoples, especially the Serbs toward the Ottoman Empire, the Croat Ustashas and the NATO Alliance.  Zulfaj shows this victimization notion of his own through out his essay in the form of finger-pointing, a common mode of blame used by all Balkan peoples against each other, toward the Serbian people as a whole and their new president, Tomislav Nikoli.  The whole idea of the European Coal and Steel Community was to put conflicts behind and and work together, not just to decide what to do about the Saar region after WWII. Putting and end to the centuries of finger-pointing might take time to do in the Balkans, as is has for the rest of Europe.

The EU promised that Serbia's membership would not be tied to Kosovo's status! From the start of the US-forced "Kosovo independence"  in 2008, the EU has maintained that the status of Kosovo is not a part of Serbia's EU membership.  Among some of Zulfaj's recommendations, we have this highly counterproductive one:
... it should recognize Kosovo's independence and openly tell Serbia that unless it recognizes Kosovo it will not get into the Union.

NO - for the sake of peace - NO! EU officials promised that "Kosovo recognition" is NOT a condition for Serbia's membership and maintaining this promise is important to beat back the nationalists that Zulfaj is so concerned about. It would be absolutely counterproductive and open old wounds to force Serbia to recognize "Kosovo."   In fact, if the EU were to force "Kosovo recognition" on Serbia -- it would make the nationalists stronger and even more radical. Being a "liberal democracy" has nothing to do with the "status of Kosovo" and Zulfaj suggests that those other EU Member States that have not "recognized Kosovo" (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain) be called out for it - but they are sovereign states too, and have the right to NOT recognize other "nations" as "states" in the international system.
In Serbia, the clear shift toward nationalism shown in Sunday's elections is a wake-up call that people still think borders can be redrawn on ethnic lines. It shows that the spirit of the "butcher of the Balkans" - the late Slobodan Milosevic - is alive and kicking and that Russian influence in the region is as strong as ever.

This is such a silly accusation! Allow me to remind the readers there has been a clear shift toward nationalisms, of one type or another, across Europe and Serbia is not an exception.  In fact, a finding of my thesis study was that EU neglect of Serbia causes a rise in nationalism. The EU has been dozing and not fully awake to the rise of the radical right across Europe, but time will only tell if Tomislav Nikoli's positions present a serious setback for Serbia as an EU Member State.  He probably will not be the new Milosevic.  As I have argued in past posts - the EU should have helped maintain the national identities of Member States, as well as candidate nations, that have pro-Europe orientations and helps avoid anti-democratic nationalisms.

Another thing that should also stop is connecting Serbia's relationship with its relationship to Russia. This is Cold War thinking and has no place in modern Europe. Serbia should not be put into the "the EU or Russia" dilemma,  but should have relations with Russia and the EU - and there is NO need for Serbia to chose, but engage in both relationships.

Now- I do realize that some at EUobserver, with its anti-Serb bias, are probably not happy with the idea of Serbia in the European Union, but Serbia has worked long and hard for EU membership and overcome some rather large and often unfair obstacles to get its accession treaty.  However, Zulfaj many have realized that "Kosovo independence" means that it will be quite a long time before Kosovo - especially as an "independent nation" - will see EU membership. Kosovo would have been better off remaining with Serbia, as it would now be a part of the European Union.  This is why "independence" for Kosovo was such a horrible idea in the first place and one the Kosovars will eventually regret.

In my world, Kosovo would be in the European Union as soon as Serbia's accession treaty enters into force.


See media articles:

Serbia's EU membership should not be bound to Kosovo

"Kosovo not condition for EU accession talks date"

Tomislav Nikolic Sworn In As Serbia's President


Works from this Author:

Kosovo needs Serbia

Europeanization for the Common Man. How to see the EU in an International Crisis: “Much to do about a statement” -

Coal, Steel and Reconciliation: The Development of the European Community and Union

The EU’s Europeanization as a Security Policy - The author’s Master’s Capstone paper that is a study of the process of Europeanization with two nations the EU is associated with: Serbia and Russia. ABSTRACT: The purpose of this research is to discover and explain the security aspects of the European Union’s relationships in the post-Cold War world. This study uses variations of social constructivist-based theory to explain Europeanization. Europeanization is a socialization process connected to European Union membership and association. This study uses an applied method developed by Roy Ginsberg that measures the relationship of a target actor to the European Union during an international crisis. It has been found that close association and membership aspirations enhance security and stability in the European Union’s relationships with target actors thereby bringing about quick resolutions to international crisis. The European Union is an effective security actor and Europeanization is an effective security policy tool.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Khodorkovsky: The EU's new politically correct victim

The presidency of Dmitry Medvedev has seen much needed reforms criminal justice in Russia, in police and prison practice especially, as I found when researching for my Master's project last year.  The reforms have been even more dramatic under Medvedev - and this also has included free speech rights. These reforms have also appeared to change Putin into a reformer. There is NO reason - and no evidence - that there has been tampering or Russian government input into the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.Second - we must never past judgment over a criminal trial, the verdict of a jury (even as juries can be quite dumb, I know), including the sentence given. We must reserve our judgment unless we have heard all the evidence and know the facts of a case. Given the reforms and advancements of the Russian nation under President Medvedev should actually give us reassurances that this trial of the West's newest politically correct, human rights hero was actually fair and becoming of a young Russian democracy.Why is Khodorkovsky such a human rights hero of the EU? First of all, Khodorkovsky is a billionaire with political ambitions in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. He was on of Russia's richest and most powerful businessmen though the oil company YUKOS.Yep - that qualifies him, but so does the continuous climate that readily jumps on any appearance of Russia "backsliding" - even as Khodorkovsky's criminal activity would also earn him an equally long prison term in the United States. Khodorkovsky, along with his partner, Platon Lebedev, are serving time for fraud and tax evasion. Part of the financial scams that Khodorkovsky and his partner were involved in included the victimization of shareholders. The criminal business group damaged Yukos for 892 billion rubles and they laundered over 480 billion rubles from these funds. Khodorkovsky also was convicted of the theft of 350 million tons of oil.Well - there is an appeal for Mr. Khodorkovsky, as is his right, being filed by his attorneys, and part of their argument is that the sentence is unfair. When sentenced, the court took into account that sentencing revisions signed into law by President Medvedev last year, which reduced Khodorkovsky's possible sentence from 15 to 10 years.These claims of "unfair conviction" should be appealed though processes that exist in Europe and Russia. Amnesty International  (AI) claims that defense witnesses have been prevented from giving testimony and others forced to give testimony for the prosecution.
Other breaches of legal process have included the failure of the court to order the prosecution to disclose information, and irregularities in the early stages of the investigation that hindered the rights of the accused to prepare their defence. 

AI should know better - that these types of due process and unfair trials problems happen in the United States, in state and federal courts, especially in high-profile trials.Now while I usually support Amnesty International  - I disagree - and titles like "Russia must overturn the unfair conviction of businessman." Now, AI should know better and let AI as well as others who disagree go though the appeals system in Russia. Also they can take any claims of an unfair conviction to the European human rights institutions.Russia is RIGHT and JUST to tell certain international actors, like the European Union, to bud out. (The EU learns its meddling from the US, which routinly meddles in EU affairs!) What is not helpful are the threats that Khodorkovsky's conviction will "complicate EU-Russia relations" and that "relations will not be the same." If the European Union and the West actually believed in "the rule of law and human rights," then there should be NO threats and retaliation against Russia for following its due process system. Again- there are those that jump on ANY chance to sever what is a growing friendship between Russia and the European Union. A spokesman for Mrs. Ashton said:
"The European Union will continue to follow developments very closely, including the forthcoming announcement of the sentence ... the EU expects Russia to respect its international commitments in the field of human rights and the rule of law." 

What absolute rubbish!This wonderful relationship between the EU-Russia at risk because of a criminal billionaire?  Is there still an American style-aversion that billionaires should actually be put in prison and be branded a criminal convict? So - EU - billionaires should not be punished for their crimes like the rest of us - and suffer like the rest of us? When the poorer people are convicted of crimes, there can be unjust and unfair travel and immigration restrictions, as well as life-long discrimination - Heaven forbid that a billionaire should be subjected to this! Let's see the EU champion the rule of law and human rights for the millions of Americans that are unjustly convicted and suffer a life-time of stigma, discrimination, travel and immigration restrictions as a result!Given the activities of billionaires these days - depriving people of jobs, social justice and political equality - we should hold back our sympathies...and perhaps we  should consider the idea that Russia is defending itself from these type of American-style, fraudster billionaires!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Human Rights reform in Russia could make it a really great power

The wonderful work of AI on the CIA renditions and EU involvement. A couple of weeks ago, Amnesty International (AI) released a report with regard to CIA renditions in the European Union and European leaders actions in providing support.  AI has provided tremendous leadership and outstanding work in the injustice of the CIA renditions and in calling for the EU to place human rights in the forefront of its foreign policy in every area, including summits. Along with mounting evidence of EU Member States' compliance with the program, AI called for the EU to "not join the US in becoming an 'accountability free zone.' " This is, along with the arrest of Assange for "rape charges," mounting evidence that EU Member States are not free, human rights and press freedoms are not secure when the US comes knocking with demand to fill its selfish interests.After the revolutions back in 2007, some in the international community were calling on the European Union to be the world's leader on human rights. The EU is "punching below its weight" on human rights, according to Human Rights Watch. According to Kenneth Roth of HRW:
"Since the US can't provide credible leadership on human rights, European countries must pick up the slack. Instead, the European Union is punching well below its weight."
In the 550 page World Report 2007, Roth called on the EU to be the world's leader, as there is NO nation that can claim the human rights leader prize. Roth also, at the time, listed Russia and its crack down on journalist coverage of the abuses in Chechnya while Putin was president.But - Russia could mold into an eventual leader of human rights, that is, if the Russian government under Dmitry Medvedev gets the idea that respect for human rights, both foreign and domestic, can transform Russia's image. Human rights reforms are occurring in Russia, and have quicken this year. In January, the Duma backed legislation, Protocol 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by a wide 392 to 56 margin.  In the past year, there have been efforts to reform the police and corruption, and Medvedev stated that more needs to be done to combat it. In October, a protest march was allowed in Moscow and in August, thousands of people turned out for the protest, which was unobstructed by Russian police. There was also a protest against violence against journalists in Russia an couple of days ago. Unlike protests in the United States, no one who was arrested appears to have been beaten by police and no journalists were arrested just "for being there." The human rights reforms for Russia appear to be projects that often require patience. Now, the main human rights project for Russia is reform of the prison system and overcrowding. (see The Thaw Continues)While Russia makes honest progress, the United States is slipping backwards and cannot be regarded as the world's leader of human rights. The EU could easily be the world champion in the area of human rights - but we must admit the reality that willing American hegemony over the European Union and European leaders inhibits, perhaps intentionally, the EU from becoming this champion. The EU punches below its weight because the US prevents it from doing so.There is a sign that even Vladimir Putin is changing his mind, as this Feburary 2009 confrontation with Commission President Barroso demonstrates:
Barroso: "In the spirit of frankness, over my meeting today with Mr. Medvedev, I noted a certain concern over the rule of law in the Russian Federation."Putin: "Russia is ready to discuss any problems, including those relative to human rights. We hope that these problems will be discussed in a global framework. We are still not satisfied by the way the Russian speaking minorities are treated in the Baltics. We know the rights of migrants in the countries of Europe and how they are violated. We know about the situation in prisons in certain European countries […] I cannot speak on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, but I ask Mr. Barroso: please have the hockey puck back from the Government of the Russian Federation."
Good for Putin! Part of Putin's rebuke of Barroso was a defense of the human rights of Russian minorities in the near-abroad in the face of EU hypocrisy. The reforms could be a foreign policy coup on the international stage for Russia. While some in Russia and out are still skeptical, President Medvedev appears to be the man for this job. A Russia as an international advocate for human rights could also steer the EU back to human rights and away from the US, the "accountability free zone." With human rights reforms and advocacy - Russia could actually isolate the United States, especially in light of the forceful and obsessive reaction over Assange and Wikileaks. We should hope for Russia - but that the Wikileaks revelations can lead to an awakening in Europe as to just how "not free" the Europeans are from American hegemony.Human rights in Russia especially benefit Russians. The trouble with Russian history is the authoritarian "Russia state craft" tradition passed down from the Mongols has historically been at odds with human rights for Russians.  But - I would contend that a great Russian leader need not be authoritarian and dismiss human rights - but defends and protects Russia and the human rights of the Russian people.  Surly, the final clump of dirt on the gave of  of the abuses of the old Soviet way of doing things will remake Russia's image to the country's own people, as well as in an internationally admirable fashion.Russia will really be a great power if it works for human rights at home and supports them through foreign policy. This will be the sign of an even greater Russian power to come!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The EU and the US in confronting Iran

When there appears to be yet another instance of Please America First, on the part of European foreign policy out of the office of the British national, Cathrine Ashton, we must take serious note. If we are to work toward an independent European Union, especially in its foreign policy, we must look deeply into EU actions, while comparing them to European values and normal EU policies. For the sake of European values and the Union's credibility in the world - it is imperative that the Union stop this policy of "Please America First and to Hell with the consequences."  [Top U.S., EU Diplomats Plot Iran Strategy - EU Council press conference]Is the EU – again – following the US with regard to Iran?[caption id="attachment_600" align="alignleft" width="216" caption="Iran sanctions. More "Please America First" from the European Union? "][/caption]The Security Council resolution of June 9 - SC 1929 - demonstrates concern over Iran's continued enrichment of uranium to 20% and the construction of another facility to enrich even more uranium, in violation of its obligation to previous UN agreements and the IAEA Board.  Iran is apparently playing some kind of "hide it" game with inspectors. The Security Council is supportive of a diplomatic solution - but indicate that nations involved - "China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States" - are "willing to take further measures" (notice that the EU is not mentioned, but the UK is ... as well as other EU Member States). [2010 Security Council Resolutions]Other possible measures against Iran in Res 1929 also include against its banks and sea-shipping. This could include inspections of cargo of ships for implements that could be used in a nuclear program. There is also a line that declares that States are not compelled to take actions in excess of Resolution 1929, including threats and use of force.EU sanctions against Iran. Lady Ashton and the Council have called their version of EU sanctions against Iran as a "package."  This should be regarded as an offensive use of this term - so it will not be use here. The July 26 Council press statement indicates the desire on the part of the EU to "achieve a long-term settlement that would rebuild international confidence in Iran's nuclear program" and the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Council's reflection on Resolution 1929, and a desire to act within this resolution - plus actions against individuals and banks. The statement of the press release:
"The Council recalls that the European Council has repeatedly underlined its deepening concerns about Iran's nuclear programme and in that regard, welcomed the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 introducing new restrictive measures against Iran.In accordance with the European Council Declaration of 17 June, the Council has today adopted a Decision implementing the measures contained in UN Security Council Resolution 1929 as well as accompanying measures, with a view to supporting the resolution of all outstanding concerns regarding Iran's development of sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear and missile programmes, through negotiation.
There does appear to be in interest in addressing Iran's other concerns - perhaps security from Israel - which should include Israel's recent violent behavior and the genocidal views of the ruling Lukid Party toward Muslims and Arabs.Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere stated that he hopes that the EU's actions against Iran are "well balanced." Some of the sanctions include oil industry revenues that could help support the population and include a list of people banned from entering the EU. The EU sanctions DO appear to follow those imposed by the US Congress. Foreign Secretary William Hague was highly pleased with the Council's "new tough sanctions" against Iran.Is the EU - again - following the US with regard to Iran? Even as they supported sanctions in the Security Council (they would have had to), both Russia and China have business with Iran in the oil industry.  Given that Resolution 1929 holds no obligations for further measures and just "calls upon" States to take certain actions Imposing sanctions against Iran's oil and banking industry are options in 1929 and the EU's choice to enter this American -led area have been called disdainful and counterproductive by Russia. [Iran nuclear sanctions by EU unacceptable, says Russia - Iran nuclear sanctions by EU unacceptable, says Russia (BBC) - US Congress backs new sanctions against TehranRussia Blasts EU Over Iran Penalties]With regard to the EU following the US down that well -worn Please America First road, Russia's foreign ministry said:
This not only undermines our joint efforts to seek a political and diplomatic settlement around Iran's nuclear programme, but also shows disdain for the carefully calibrated and co-ordinated provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions.
[caption id="attachment_583" align="alignright" width="174" caption="EU policy decisions should ALWAYS be based on European values!"][/caption]Agreed! It is the viewpoint of this Author that both Russia and China should go ahead with their investments in Iran's oil and banking sector, no matter what Iran's final position is with regard to EU -US sanctions. We should remember that similar sanctions against Iraq were a disaster and resulted in suffering of the Iraqi people. The maintenance of deadly sanctions against Iraq in favor of "regime change" was the policy of the US - and thousands died, especially children. We must remember that sanctions, especially against economic activity and industry - have little effect on the government or the military, but innocent civilians who also lose their jobs, as most of the resources go toward government and military functions. [Review of Iraq Sanctions and Washington's Iraq Policies - UN Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq - Iraq sanctions, Wiki]When the European Union follows the US down these roads - it's usually the European Union that comes up egg on its face. This is due to the fact (yes, the fact!) that the European Union and the United States operate from different values that are simply not compatible. Brutal and even murderous behavior toward "enemies" is US policy - but hard diplomatic work within respect for innocent human lives and avoids suffering to achieve a meaningful settlement for all parties is the usual mode of operation for European Union foreign policy. While these measures of sanctions against Iran are indeed allowed under Resolution 1929 - they do follow the US and could inflict suffering against the Iranian civilian population.  Both the EU and the Security Council need to be reminded the strong need to avoid economic sanctions that caused so much suffering in Iraq.!We must also remember the loss of credibility and embarrassments when the European Union and its Member States follow Washington's policies, often in open violation of European values, the Treaties, including the European human rights conventions and laws: CIA renditions and secret prisons, involvement in the Iraq invasion, participation in torture, extraditions back to American prison brutality, breaching banking data privacy, participation in American watchlists and "no fly" lists, Kosovo "independence," NATO expansion - and perhaps even in efforts in especially Ireland in undermining passage of the Lisbon Treaty.Would the Union - acting alone and with its great foresight - want to impose a regime of sanctions against the Iranian people that have proven in the past to actually be more devastating against the civilian population, especially children?Well - acting alone and with its own set of values - as an independent European Union -- NO!