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TBR News March 12, 2018

Mar 12 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. March 12, 2018: “In 1951, when Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized the oil industry in that Mideast nation, he was deposed by a coup instigated by the CIA and the Shah came to power, assuming complete control in 1963.Thousands of Iranians, perhaps millions died during the repressive rule of the Shah and his SAVAK secret police. The Shah was finally forced out in 1979 by the Ayatollah Khomeini, who became the US’s latest foreign enemy despite the fact that he had been on the CIA payroll while living in Paris. The Shah was granted asylum in the United States.

In Guatemala in 1954, again the CIA toppled the popularly elected government of Jacobo Arbenz, which had nationalized United Fruit property.

Prominent American government officials such as former CIA Director Walter Bedell Smith, then CIA Director Allen Dulles, Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs John Moors Cabot and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles were all closely connected to United Fruit.

An estimated 120,000 Guatemalan peasants died in the resulting military dictatorships.

Fidel Castro, with covert aid from the CIA, overthrew the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and instituted sweeping land, industrial and educational reforms as well as nationalizing American businesses. Swifty labeled a communist, the CIA then organized anti-Castro Cubans resulting in numerous attacks on Cuba and the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. The island nation has been the object of US economic sanctions since that time.

More than 3,000 persons died in the wake of an invasion of the Dominican Republic by US Marines in 1965. The troops ostensibly were sent to prevent a communist takeover, although later it was admitted that there had been no proof of such a takeover.

Also in 1965, the US began the bombing of North Vietnam after President Johnson proclaimed the civil war there an “aggression” by the north. Two years later, American troop strength in Vietnam had grown to 380,000. US dead by the end of that Asian war totaled some 58,000 with casualties to the Vietnamese, both north and south, running more into the millions.

In 1973, the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was overthrown by a military coup aided by the CIA. Allende was killed and some 30,000 persons died in subsequent violence and repression, including some Americans.

In 1968, the General Suharto overthrew General Sukarno, the dictator of Indonesia, again with aid from the CIA. Suharto proved even more dictatorial and corrupt than his predecessor. A reported 800,000 people died during his regime.

Another 250,000 persons died in 1975 during the brutal invasion of East Timor by the Suharto regime aided by the US Government and Henry Kissinger.

In 1979, the powerful Somoza family, which had ruled Nicaragua since 1937, was finally overthrown and Daniel Ortega was elected president. CIA-backed Contra insurgents operating from Honduras fought a protracted war to oust the Ortega government in which an estimated 30,000 people died.

The ensuing struggle came to include such shady dealing in arms and drugs that it created a scandal in the United States called Iran-Contra, which involved selling arms to Iran and using the profits to support the Contras.

US Marines landed in Lebanon in 1982 in an attempt to preventing further bloodshed between occupying Israeli troops and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Thousands died in the resulting civil war, including several hundred Palestinians massacred in refugee camps by Christian forces working with elements of the Israeli armed forced under Sharon.

Despite the battleship shelling of Beirut, American forces were withdrawn in 1984 after a series of bloody attacks on them.

In 1983, US troops invaded the tiny Caribbean island nation of Grenada after a leftist government was installed. The official explanation was to rescue a handful of American students who initially said they didn’t need rescuing.

For nearly 20 years, during the 1970s and 1980s, the US Government gave aid and arms to the right wing government of the Republic of El Salvador for use against it leftist enemies.

By 1988, some 70,000 Salvadorans had died.

More than one million persons died in the 15-year battle in Angola between the Marxist government aided by Cuban troops and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, supported by South Africa and the US Government.

When Muammur al-Qaddafi tried to socialize the oil-rich North African nation of Libya beginning with his takeover in 1969, he drew the wrath of the US Government. In 1981, it was claimed that Qaddafi had sent hit teams to the United States to assassinate President Reagan and in 1986, following the withdrawal of U.S. oil companies from Libya, an air attack was launched which missed Qaddafi but killed several people including his infant daughter.

In 1987, an Iraqi missile attack on the US frigate Stark resulted in 37 deaths.

Shortly afterward, the Iraqi president apologized for the incident.

In 1988, a US Navy ship shot down an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf resulting in 290 deaths. The Reagan Administration simply called it a mistake.

Thousands of freedom-seeking Chinese were killed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 after hardliners conferred with former President Richard Nixon on how to deal with the dissidents.

About 8,000 Panamanians died over Christmas, 1989, when President George H.W. Bush sent US troops to invade that Central American nation to arrest his former business partner, Manuel Noriega. The excuse was that Noriega was involved in the importation of drugs to the United States. U.S .News & World Report noted that in 1990, the amount of drugs moving through Panama had doubled.

Iraqi casualties, both military and civilian, totaled more than 300,000 during the short Persian Gulf War of 1991.

It has been estimated that more than one million Iraqis, including women and children, have died as a result of the continued missile and air attacks over the past decade as well as economic sanctions against that nation.

Also in 1991, the United States suspended assistance to Haiti after the election of a liberal priest sparked military action. Eventually, US troops were deployed.

The names of nations that have felt the brunt of US CIA and/or military activity as a result of foreign policy include Somalia, Afghanistan, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Brazil, Chad, Sudan and many others.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated during the Vietnam War, “My government is the world’s leading purveyor of violence.” He did not say “my country” or “my people,” it is the government, or rather those who control it, that are responsible. Although we the distracted and unaware citizens who claim to live in a democracy must take our fair share of the blame.”




Table of Contents

  • Trump Is Making Diplomacy Great Again
  • Russia test-fires hypersonic Kinzhal missile
  • Russian military says it evacuated 52 civilians from Syria’s Ghouta
  • Data breach victims can sue Yahoo in the United States: judge
  • From North Dakota to Puerto Rico, Controversial Security Firm Profits From Oil Protests and Climate Disasters
  • Kurdish youth in Germany call for violent protest in Europe
  • Who are the Kurds?
  • U.S. states slow Trump offshore oil drilling expansion plan
  • Trump’s California border wall visit puts state’s Republicans in a bind
  • Food for Idiots
  • In Winston Churchill, Hollywood rewards a mass murderer


Trump Is Making Diplomacy Great Again

The Trump-Kim summit: A great idea whose time has come

March 12, 2018

by Justin Raimondo


No sooner had I published a column entitled “And Now For The Good News,” predicting that the war on the Korean peninsula the Never Trumpers had been envisioning (and secretly hoping for) would not happen, and hailing the North-South negotiations as the first step toward a final settlement of the Korean question, then President Trump advanced the process a thousand-fold by accepting Kim Jong-un’s invitation for a one-on-one meeting.

The Washington policy wonks, the Never Trumpers, the right and the left – all erupted in a chorus of “He can’t do that!”

Ah, but he can, he has, and he will.

Reports in the media have it that the three South Korean emissaries sent to Washington to report on the progress of talks with the North were interrupted in their internal discussions by the President, who walked into the room, heard them talking about the North Korean leader’s invitation to meet, and told them: “I’ll do it.”

Just like that.

This is supposed to be irresponsible, not at all the way Things Are Done, and indicative that the President is adrift at sea without a paddle. Yet it is the President’s adversaries who are adrift, and have been aimlessly floating in a stagnant sea of routinism since the non-end of the Korean war – while the threat of another war has slowly gathered on the horizon.

There are all sorts of objections from the self-appointed “experts” as to why direct US-North Korean negotiations – and particularly a personal meeting between Trump and Kim – is a Very Bad Idea. I’ll ignore the ad hominem attacks on Trump’s character, since these are subjective value judgments and cannot be either contested or proved. So that takes care of half of them. The other half have to do with the alleged lack of preparation and the supposed paucity of our diplomatic personnel conversant with matters Korean. Peter van Buren, a former State Department official, makes short work of this line of thinking here, and I’ll briefly quote a piece that should be read in its entirety:

“The State Department is gutted, say some. The United States has no ambassador to South Korea. The Special Representative for North Korea Policy just retired. But it is disingenuous to claim there is no one left to negotiate with Pyongyang simply because their names are unfamiliar to journalists.”

He goes on to name four, and adds:

“There are similar decades of Korean expertise at the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, in the military, as well as among South Korean diplomats, to support Trump’s efforts. Preparation? These men and women have spent their whole careers preparing.”

Unlike the phonies who masquerade as “experts,” van Buren actually knows what he’s talking about, having served in the State Department for 24 years. He also makes the vitally important point that all this folderol about “preparatory work” and the alleged need for preliminary meetings between lower level officials does not apply to the case of the North Koreans. Pyongyang isn’t Paris. The “Hermit Kingdom” is a top-down one-man dictatorship, with Kim Jong-un at the top: underlings are not allowed to take the initiative, they must simply play follow Our Glorious Leader. So starting at the top, in this case, makes perfect sense.

But never mind the facts, this is one instance where the left and the right are united in their horrified ignorance.

On the left, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow screeched:

“You might think another president in this circumstance, you can imagine a president asking himself or herself, ‘why has no other American president ever agreed to do this? Why has no sitting American president ever met with a leader from North Korea? Why has that never happened in all the decades North Korea existed as a nation? Should I take that to mean that this might be particularly risky or even an unwise move?’”

It’s never been done – therefore it should never be done: odd logic coming from an alleged “progressive.” Even curiouser: the meeting, said Maddow and her “expert” guests, would “elevate” Kim, and “give the North Koreans what they’ve always wanted” – a criticism that echoes the objections of the neoconservatives over at National Review, who basically say the same thing.

A Trump-Kim summit will give Pyongyang “legitimacy,” say the neocons – a nonsensical argument that ignores both history and reality itself. For the regime that has ruled the North since the end of World War II is a) recognized by Washington, and b) is legitimized in the eyes of its subjects as the country’s best (and only) defense against the West. Remember, during the Korean war the Americans bombed every single city and town, leveling them to the ground. The threat of this happening again is what “legitimizes” the dictatorship: its continuity is seen as a matter of sheer survival.

Ironically, the most unrelenting – and erroneous – criticism comes from the supposed anti-interventionist Daniel Larison over at The American Conservative, who, aside from echoing the easily refutable objections raised by the “experts” he ceaselessly cites, flat out denies that the North Koreans are at all interested in denuclearization:

“[I]f the meeting is to be a negotiation, what is the U.S. prepared to offer North Korea? Sanctions relief? A security guarantee? Something else? All of the above? If the administration remains wedded to its maximalist position that North Korea has to give up everything first before any offer is made, any negotiation will break down almost as soon as it begins. The White House says ‘we look forward to the denuclearization’ of North Korea as if they actually think that is going to happen. How will they react when it dawns on them that this will never happen?”

Yet it was the South Koreans who, having initiated this process, reported to Trump and then the world that Kim Jong-un is “committed to denuclearization.” Are they lying? Is this all a ruse by Seoul for some unspecified purpose?

Why would an alleged anti-interventionist and opponent of unnecessary wars – particularly one who had been accusing Trump of leading us down the path to war on the Korean peninsula – turn up his nose at this effort? “Trump’s ‘phase two’ for North Korea means war,” averred Larison on February 24: a week before that he actually wrote a piece entitled “North Korea and the Trump Administration’s Disdain for Diplomacy”! Now that that alleged disdain has mysteriously disappeared, it’s been acquired by Larison, who claims that the goal of denuclearization is unachievable. The Koreans, both North and South, are either deluded or they’re trying to deceive us.

The sad truth is that Larison is suffering from a very bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome to the point that he’s blinded by his contempt for Trump as a person. This kind of subjectivism is fatal for any pundit, particularly one who writes regularly about foreign policy.

And this really gets to the heart of the matter, which is that this isn’t about Trump, and it isn’t about the Americans. It’s about the Koreans, who bypassed Washington and the bought-and-paid-for “experts,” and went ahead with this exciting initiative without asking for Washington’s permission.

For nearly 70 years, the Korean people have lived in a sundered nation, a country divided against itself. And the cause of that division, which has cost so many lives, has been the hated foreigners: the Americans, the Soviets, the Japanese, the Chinese, all of whom played a role in this tortured history. As nationalism arises as the dominant trend from the steppes of Asia to the American Midwest, in Korea it takes the form of this movement to get rid of the foreigners who have cast the nation asunder and move toward reunification.

This is not as impossible as it sounds. East Germany, the so-called German Democratic Republic, was at least as repressive and neo-Stalinist as the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, and yet today it is but a memory: it disappeared without a shot being fired.

Denuclearization is impossible only in the minds of the unimaginative, who think that the future can only be an extension of the present. And yet it isn’t hard to imagine Pyongyang proposing a federative approach, and giving Seoul joint control of their nuclear arsenal. This could lead to a process of inspections ending in complete disarmament – or even a united Korea with a limited nuclear capacity. South Korean President Park Chung-hee initiated a nuclear weapons program back in the 1970s: it was nixed by the Americans, but there is no reason to believe that the present government takes a pacifistic approach like the Japanese.

Of course, a united Korea – particularly one with a nuclear capacity – is the last thing the Chinese want, and I don’t think the Japanese would be all that pleased, either. But it sure beats the spectacle of North Korean missiles whizzing over Japanese cities, not to mention the other antics engaged in by Pyongyang.

This would mean the withdrawal of US troops from the Korean peninsula, and an end to the colonial relationship between Washington and Seoul. Our national security bureaucracy and the military-industrial complex that profits from the continuation of the US occupation would declare war on this administration if such were to occur – but, then again, they already have done exactly that. Trump, for his part, has said that we can’t keep policing the world, specifically referring to the Korean peninsula, which is one reason the War Party hates his guts.

Yes, folks, the times they are a changin’! Just as the election of Trump caught the “experts” and the not-so-Wise Men by surprise, so this previously unimaginable development (unimaginable except for in this space) has them all in a tizzy. Good! I told my readers to expect the unexpected with the election of Trump, and I don’t mind saying “I told you so!”


Russia test-fires hypersonic Kinzhal missile

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the missile as “an ideal weapon.” Russia claims the missile that flies at 10 times the speed of the sound cannot be intercepted by air-defense systems.

March 11, 2018


Russia said on Sunday it had successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile, one of a range of next-generation weapons unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in his state-of-the-nation address earlier this month.

The country’s defense ministry released video footage that showed the high-precision Kinzhal missile detaching from a MiG-31 supersonic fighter jet and darting across the dark sky, leaving a fiery trail behind.

“The launch went according to plan, the hypersonic missile hit its target,” the ministry added.

‘Ideal weapon’

The Kinzhal — the name means a double-edged Russian dagger — was described as “an ideal weapon” by Putin during the missile’s unveiling on March 1.

Putin, who is widely expected to be re-elected as Russia’s president later this month, claimed the missile that flies at 10 times the speed of the sound cannot be intercepted by air-defense systems.

The missile has been deployed in the Southern Military District since December 1, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Facebook that Russia had been working to modernize the MiG-31 supersonic jet that will carry the missile.


Russian military says it evacuated 52 civilians from Syria’s Ghouta

March 12, 2018


MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian military said late on Sunday that it had managed to evacuate 52 civilians, including 26 children, from Syria’s rebel-held eastern Ghouta after talks with local authorities

The civilians, inhabitants of the town of Misraba, were taken to a temporary refugee camp where they were receiving medical aid, the Russian military said in a statement.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Eric Meijer


Data breach victims can sue Yahoo in the United States: judge

March 12, 2018

by Jonathan Stempel


Reuters) – Yahoo has been ordered by a federal judge to face much of a lawsuit in the United States claiming that the personal information of all 3 billion users was compromised in a series of data breaches.

In a decision on Friday night, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California rejected a bid by Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), which bought Yahoo’s Internet business last June, to dismiss many claims, including for negligence and breach of contract.

Koh dismissed some other claims. She had previously denied Yahoo’s bid to dismiss some unfair competition claims.

Yahoo was accused of being too slow to disclose three data breaches that occurred from 2013 and 2016, increasing users’ risk of identity theft and requiring them to spend money on credit freeze, monitoring and other protection services.

The breaches were revealed after New York-based Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo’s Internet business, and prompted a cut in the purchase price to about $4.5 billion.

A Verizon spokesman had no immediate comment on Monday. A lawyer for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The plaintiffs amended their complaint after Yahoo last October revealed that the 2013 breach affected all 3 billion users, tripling its earlier estimate.

Koh said the amended complaint highlighted the importance of security in the plaintiffs’ decision to use Yahoo.

“Plaintiffs’ allegations are sufficient to show that they would have behaved differently had defendants disclosed the security weaknesses of the Yahoo Mail System,” Koh wrote.

She also said the plaintiffs could try to show that liability limits in Yahoo’s terms of service were “unconscionable,” given the allegations that Yahoo knew its security was deficient but did little.

In seeking a dismissal, Yahoo said it has long been the target of “relentless criminal attacks,” and the plaintiffs’ “20/20 hindsight” did not cast doubt on its “unending” efforts to thwart “constantly evolving security threats.”

Last March, U.S. prosecutors charged two Russian intelligence agents and two hackers in connection with one of the Yahoo breaches.

One accused hacker, Karim Baratov, a Canadian born in Kazakhstan, pleaded guilty in November to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy charges. The other defendants remained at large in Russia.

The case is In re: Yahoo Inc Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 16-md-02752.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Grant McCool



From North Dakota to Puerto Rico, Controversial Security Firm Profits From Oil Protests and Climate Disasters

March 12 2018

by Alleen Brown

The Intercept

TigerSwan, the mercenary security company best known for its efforts to suppress indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access oil pipeline, is stepping up its pursuit of profits in areas hit by climate change-driven natural disaster.

Three blog posts published on TigerSwan’s website in February describe the firm’s response efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina in 2016. TigerSwan, according to the posts, assisted National Guard members in Houston and emergency managers in North Carolina by providing them with access to its GuardianAngel system for monitoring the movement of individuals and sensitive shipments. In Puerto Rico, the company’s work included tracking down the employees of an unnamed client.

At Standing Rock, TigerSwan operatives hired by the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners used militaristic tactics to disrupt the massive opposition to the project, sending infiltrators into resistance camps, conducting aerial surveillance, and engaging in propaganda efforts. The private security firm routinely coordinated with law enforcement, sharing equipment and intelligence and assisting with arrests. Although preventing water pollution was the Standing Rock movement’s rallying call, many of its organizers were also climate activists; the earliest DAPL opponents were veterans of the anti-Keystone XL pipeline movement, which centered on the harmful climate effects of carbon-intensive tar sands oil.

In essence, TigerSwan has gone from suppressing a movement seeking to slow climate change to marketing itself as a company that can help clients survive climate change’s most severe consequences.

Natural disasters have long been a boon for private security firms. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as Jeremy Scahill reported for The Nation, guards working for the notorious mercenary firm Blackwater, hired to provide security for Federal Emergency Management Agency reconstruction projects, patrolled the streets of New Orleans carrying automatic rifles. Other security companies were brought in to guard hotel chains and private homes. As one Blackwater mercenary told Scahill, “This is a trend. You’re going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations.”

Pamela Spees, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents anti-pipeline groups in Louisiana seeking to keep TigerSwan from operating in the state, said that large-scale natural disasters tend to create a vacuum of accountability as private security, military, and police forces descend on ravaged communities. “It raises a lot of concerns when you have this growing patchwork of private and state interests that are basically executing law enforcement and security functions in these settings,” said Spees.

“Add to that concerns about a company like TigerSwan that was operating in the way it did in North Dakota and coming in with these extremist takes on protesters that served to amplify and inflame the law enforcement response,” she added, referring to internal TigerSwan reports that compared the anti-pipeline movement to a “jihadist insurgency.” “Now it’s holding itself out as some savior that can go in and provide these security services in a situation where there’s extreme vulnerability.”

Indeed, TigerSwan predicts a future in which its disaster response services will become increasingly necessary.

In a February 1 post, TigerSwan included a map created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of the key federal agencies that monitors the changing climate, displaying “billion-dollar weather and climate disasters” across the U.S. last year.

“The frequency and cost of 2017’s natural disasters should give all Americans pause. The barrage of hurricanes, unprecedented rainfall and flooding, searing wildfires, and extreme heat affect us all in one way or another,” the post warned. “Emergency preparedness is of the utmost importance as experts believe that years like 2017 may become the new normal in terms of disaster intensity.”

“Your Unblinking Eye”

TigerSwan’s promotional push has focused on the company’s GuardianAngel brand tracking system.

A February 8 post suggested the system played a vital role in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina, when TigerSwan co-located with law enforcement and emergency managers for 17 days at the State Emergency Response Center. According to the post, “The GuardianAngel phone app, satellite phones, OBD2 trackers, and other GPS/satellite-enabled devices were distributed to North Carolina National Guard personnel and equipment, State Highway Patrol units, Swift Water Rescue teams, and damage assessment teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” A year later, the company teamed up with the North Carolina National Guard in its Hurricane Harvey response, according to the February 1 post, planting tracking beacons on National Guard aircraft.

In its simplest format, GuardianAngel is a phone app that allows the security firm to track the user’s location. It’s marketed as “your unblinking eye,” a phrase that’s also used by the military to describe drone surveillance. According to TigerSwan’s promotional material, if GuardianAngel users find themselves in a crisis, they can hit their phone’s SOS button and call the security firm instead of local emergency services. The app also sends push notifications should terrorism or natural disaster strike. And for places where cellphone service is nonexistent, TigerSwan describes satellite-linked tracking and communication devices it can attach to people or equipment.

A tweet from March 2017 referencing an outage that prevented AT&T customers from dialing 911 outlines the type of scenario for which GuardianAngel is built: one in which public services can’t be trusted and dialing 911 no longer brings help — a scenario that becomes more plausible with the deep crises unmitigated climate change is expected to bring with greater frequency.

But three former TigerSwan contractors who worked with the app, and declined to be named for fear of legal and employment consequences, said it was unlikely to provide protection that emergency services could not. They said the app had a host of problems, including GPS that was frequently imprecise.

“A lot of places you would need something like that are in countries with no infrastructure. So having the button, cool, if you’re in the middle of a city,” said one of the former contractors.

TigerSwan personnel carried the app on their phones while working on the Dakota Access pipeline project, so that managers could track their locations in North Dakota, Iowa, and South Dakota. “Fifty percent of the time you didn’t have a signal, and it didn’t work anyway if you wanted to use it for an SOS,” said one of the former contractors.

In response to questions from The Intercept, a TigerSwan spokesperson stated, “Blogs that continue to base their stories on hearsay from unnamed sources are the very definition of fake news.”

The North Carolina National Guard and North Carolina Emergency Management downplayed their collaboration with TigerSwan. Keith Acree, a spokesperson for the emergency management department, said the agency used TigerSwan’s technology on a test basis twice, placing tracking devices on some vehicles and with some teams during winter storms in early 2016 and Hurricane Matthew that fall. “There is no contractual relationship with TigerSwan. They were paid a flat rate for use of their system on those two occasions, and NCEM has not used them since,” he said.

North Carolina National Guard spokesperson Matthew Boyle told The Intercept, “The only actual time we worked with them was a technology demonstration in the summer in 2016. Other than that, we haven’t utilized their services.” He added, “Their claiming to be on aviation assets — I don’t know if that’s true or not.”

“A Piece of the Pie”

“Puerto Rico is ripe for a corporation like TigerSwan,” said William Ramirez, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Puerto Rico. Encouraged by the unelected Financial Oversight and Management Board’s privatization efforts, Hurricane Maria led to a rush of profiteers, many of which claimed altruistic intentions, Ramirez said. “Are they truly here for relief, or are they here to cut a piece of the pie for themselves?” he asked.

Shortly after Maria hit, TigerSwan was en route. “Armed with nothing but a list of names and addresses, our team set out on a search and rescue mission to locate displaced employees,” TigerSwan wrote. The security firm described spending 20 days in the territory, tracking down 100 employees of its client “and providing generators, water, and assessing medical needs where possible.”

“From monitoring unique personnel traveling deep into the interior of Puerto Rico via GuardianAngel satellite-enabled beacons, to tracking key assets in the air and on the ground using a variety of cellular or satellite-based beacons, GuardianAngel gave the team a real-time view of actions and activity around the island,” the company wrote.

One of the former TigerSwan contractors, who is now working in Puerto Rico, said he was unaware of any contracts TigerSwan had obtained on the island except for a small company that used GuardianAngel’s satellite tracking beacons on their vehicles.

TigerSwan spokesperson Wesley Fricks declined to name the client in Puerto Rico, saying only, “We provide a range of consultative, risk management services that increase safety and enhance situational awareness.” He added, “As a team leader in Puerto Rico for several weeks, it was very rewarding to be able to assist in the response effort, from managing our client responsibilities to pitching in and supporting other volunteer efforts. Whether it was helping groups trying to rescue abandoned animals or assisting others in unloading planes with donated supplies, there was a great community of support in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.”

TigerSwan was part of an influx of security-oriented groups that arrived on the island as the storm dissipated, including military members and law enforcement deployed from the U.S. mainland. Ramirez said that the out-of-state officers had a tendency to step on Puerto Ricans’ rights. For example, in one complaint filed to the Puerto Rican police department, the ACLU describes how an unidentifiable out-of-state law enforcement officer illegally searched a driver’s glovebox after the driver was pulled over for a traffic infraction.

According to the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, the post-Katrina private security scene was replayed in San Juan’s Santurce neighborhood, where heavily armed, masked private security officers guarded the upscale Ciudadela housing development. The owner of the development, Nick Prouty, told the outlet, “With a substantial reduction in the number of police officers on the streets (due to the government’s reallocation of resources to protect diesel and supply chains), and most streets lights not functioning, Ciudadela has taken the necessary steps to make its residents and commercial tenants feel safe.”

A number of security and infrastructure companies took up arms as they began to rebuild the territory, thanks to an executive order that allowed expedited approval for private employees to carry guns.

TigerSwan personnel were unarmed in Puerto Rico, according to Fricks, but the company’s deepest experience is in war zones. Founded by James Reese, a commander for the elite special operations unit Delta Force, TigerSwan got its start as a military contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it continues to work. A large proportion of its personnel are former special operations members.

Indeed, at the same time that TigerSwan was promoting its hurricane response work, personnel were jetting off to the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq, where TigerSwan sought some of the $30 billion put up for post-ISIS recovery, yet another conflict wrought by fossil fuel politics.


Kurdish youth in Germany call for violent protest in Europe

A Kurdish youth group in Germany is vowing to bring destruction to Europe following several attacks on Turkish targets. It is the latest sign that Turkey’s conflict with the Kurds is spilling over into Germany.

March 12, 2018

by Chase Winter


A leftist Kurdish youth group in Germany has vowed to turn the streets of Europe into “rubble and ash” following a weekend of clashes with police and other demonstrators as well as attacks on Turkish mosques.

Kurds in Germany have been protesting Turkey’s military offensive against the Kurdish-held Afrin region of northern Syria since the operation started on January 20.

Turkish-led forces have nearly surrounded the enclave controlled by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and have vowed to siege Afrin town. Kurds have warned of an impending “massacre” and “ethnic cleansing.”

The conflict has increasingly spilled over into Germany, home to large Kurdish and Turkish minorities.

In the latest escalation over the weekend, a Berlin mosque was set on fire by three teenagers and firebombs were thrown at a mosque in the town of Lauffen am Neckar.

The mosques are run by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), Germany’s largest Islamic umbrella group, which has come under criticism for its close ties to the Turkish government.

Separately, a Turkish grocer and a Turkish immigrants’ association were subject to arson attacks in other parts of Germany. There were also clashes between Kurdish and Turkish protesters in Dusseldorf and Berlin.

Kurdish group threatens Turkish targets

Roja Ciwan, a German-Kurdish youth group, showed videos of some of the attacks on its website.

In a Monday posting, it said that European states that stand by or support the Turkish military operation will pay a price.

“The European states must understand that we will not stand by and watch as our people are massacred in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). The previous actions are not enough; here and today it is time to carry the war back to Europe.”

The targets include Turkish embassies and Turkish groups with links to the government in Ankara as well as stores and cafes, Roja Ciwan said. The group also threatened the offices of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, the Social Democrats, courts and police.

“Whoever supports or defends the war against our people must pay. When nobody listens we will turn the downtowns of Europe into rubble and ash. Regardless of how or what burns on this day, Europe must understand that we will not allow Afrin to fall,” the youth group said.

A similar call went out from the Apoist Youth Initiative, a pan-European anti-fascist group that follows imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is known to his supporters as “Apo.”

The call to action comes as Kurds prepare to celebrate the Newroz new year on March 21, a holiday that carries heavy political undertones for Kurds around the themes of resistance and oppression.

Kurdish groups in Germany are organized under a plethora of acronyms, with most groups falling under the umbrella organization NAV-DEM. The movement gets support from Kurdish nationalists and politicians from the left.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency considers NAV-DEM to be closely linked to the PKK, which it calls “the biggest and most powerful foreign extremist organization in Germany.”

The PKK and its myriad linked sub-organizations have been known to directly or indirectly operate youth wings.

The Berlin-based Kurdish Center for Public Relations (Civaka Azad), which is close to NAV-DEM, told DW that they have nothing to do with Roja Ciwan.

“We are currently concentrating on preventing possible attacks and massacres on the civilian population in Afrin and calling on Germany to ensure Turkey complies with international law,” a spokesperson said.

Germany is home to 3 million people of Turkish origin. About a third are ethnic Kurds who came to work here in the 1960s and ’70s, followed by another wave in the 1980s and ’90s, fleeing conflict and persecution.

German officials have long voiced concern about conflicts between Kurdish nationalists and the Turkish state spilling over into Germany.

There were repeated clashes and attacks in Germany during the height of the conflict between Kurds and Turkey in the 1980s and ’90s.

For six years, Afrin has been controlled by the YPG, a Kurdish militia that is affiliated with the PKK. The militia is the main component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighting against the “Islamic State.”


Who are the Kurds?

The Kurds have advanced to a position in which they may determine the future of the Middle East. But they are riven by historic rivalries and blocked by regional powers.

January 24, 2018

by Chase Winter


Known as the largest ethnic group without a state, some 25-35 million Kurds are spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia. While sharing a broader sense of “Kurdiyeti” (Kurdishness), the Kurds have traditionally been divided by ideological, political, social and personal rivalries both within their respective states and across greater Kurdistan.

Kurdish identity, society and politics have been heavily influenced by the state-building projects of the countries within which they live. As a result, while many Kurdish nationalists may dream of a greater independent Kurdistan, Kurdish political parties’ demands for greater rights and autonomy have traditionally been directed towards the states within which they live, even as Kurdish movements in one part impact those in another part.

Denied a state

At the end of World War I, the Kurds were promised a state by the victors, but the Treaty of Sevres was ultimately overturned by the new Turkish state that emerged from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

The young Turkey faced resistance from vested powers and religious leaders in Kurdish areas keen to protect local interests in the face of the centralizing state. From the foundation of the republic in 1923 to 1938, Turkey faced 18 revolts, 16 of which involved Kurds.

After 1938, Turkey faced no Kurdish rebellion until the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) started an insurgency in 1984. While Turkey was able to control Kurdish nationalism internally — through assimilation, co-option, divide and rule, and force — it was unable to do the same with Kurds beyond its borders.

Kurdish nationalism across the border

The Iraqi Kurds have been the pacesetters of Kurdish nationalism, fighting governments in Baghdad for most of the 20th century. After decades of war, the Iraqi Kurds gained a quasi-state in northern Iraq by riding on the heels of two US-led wars in Iraq.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has many characteristics of a state. However, KRG institutions are weak and fractured by intra-Kurdish rivalries and control over sources of patronage.

Iraqi Kurdistan has traditionally been dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of former KRG President Masoud Barzaniand the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), each of which has separate peshmerga forces. The KDP holds sway over Erbil and Dohuk, while the PUK and its reformist offshoot, Gorran (Change), are dominant in Sulaimani. The PUK, in turn, is split into at least three main factions.

Kurdish nationalism across the border

The Iraqi Kurds have been the pacesetters of Kurdish nationalism, fighting governments in Baghdad for most of the 20th century. After decades of war, the Iraqi Kurds gained a quasi-state in northern Iraq by riding on the heels of two US-led wars in Iraq.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has many characteristics of a state. However, KRG institutions are weak and fractured by intra-Kurdish rivalries and control over sources of patronage.

Iraqi Kurdistan has traditionally been dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of former KRG President Masoud Barzaniand the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), each of which has separate peshmerga forces. The KDP holds sway over Erbil and Dohuk, while the PUK and its reformist offshoot, Gorran (Change), are dominant in Sulaimani. The PUK, in turn, is split into at least three main factions.

The KDP and PKK are the main rivals for leadership of the nationalist movement. The PUK and Gorran, in turn, are closer to the PKK. This web of alliances plays out in Syria. The KDP sides with Turkey against the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the PYD/YPG. The PUK and Gorran, which are closer to Iran, back the PYD.

“Iraqi Kurdish politics have been divided into different wings, and those political wings have been divided along the lines of regional political forces, particularly Iran and Turkey,” Kamal Chomani, a Kurdish affairs analyst in Iraqi Kurdistan, told DW.

Turkey and the PKK

Turkish security perceptions are dominated by a myopic focus on the PKK and squashing any Kurdish drive at autonomy. Since 1984, fighting between the PKK and Turkish state has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and killed more than 40,000.

The burning conflict has added to a growing chasm between Kurds and Turkish state and society. Still, roughly half of Turkey’s 15 million Kurds, especially the religious and integrated, have traditionally supported the government.

Led by imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, who holds God-like philosopher status among supporters, the PKK is not only a guerrilla force. It is a transnational social and political movement with millions of supporters and a number of front organizations. The PKK has separate but affiliated parties and armed wings in the four parts of Kurdistan and a strong presence in the Kurdish diaspora.

The PKK abandoned calls for an independent Kurdish state over a decade ago and now seeks greater cultural, linguistic and political rights. In PKK parlance, the “struggle” incorporates women’s rights, human rights, environmentalism, communalism, and ”democratic autonomy,” a grassroots form of governance viewed as a model for the Middle East.

Organically separate, although sharing the same political base, the legal pro-Kurdish Peoples Democracy Party (HDP), the third largest party in the Turkish parliament, also strives for greater cultural, linguistic and political rights through constitutional and legal change. The HDP’s political stance has made it the target of accusations it is a legal front for the PKK.

Since the failed coup in July 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey, several HDP parliamentarians have been arrested, more than 80 HDP mayors replaced by government trustees and thousands of HDP members arrested.

Rise of the Syrian Kurds

The Syrian Kurds have been the most disenfranchised of all the Kurdish populations. Historically, they have also been the most quiescent.

From the 1980s to late 1990s, the PKK operated out of Syria and Lebanon with the support of Syrian President Hafiz Assad. Syria kicked out the PKK in 1998 after Turkey threatened to invade. What followed was budding relations between Ankara and Damascus until 2011, when the Syrian civil war began to rip the country apart.

Turkey backed various rebel factions, first in a bid to oust President Bashar Assad, then to counter Syrian Kurdish gains.

Led by the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, the Syrian Kurds have sided neither with Assad nor Islamist rebel factions. In effect, they have had a tacit understanding with the regime and focused on fighting jihadist forces, particularly the “Islamic State” (IS) and Turkey-backed groups.

The Syrian Kurds have created facts on the ground and carved out an autonomous zone along the Turkish border since the regime strategically withdrew from Kurdish areas in 2012.

The Kurds have been boosted by US backing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a joint Arab and Kurdish force dominated by the YPG, to fight IS on the ground in Syria. The SDF controls roughly 25 percent of Syrian territory.

Turkey’s main concern is that in prioritizing the fight against IS, the United States will empower the Syrian Kurds.

The PYD is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK. The US considers the PKK a terrorist organization, but not the PYD/YPG.

Turkey considers both to be terrorist organizations, leading to major tensions in relations between Washington and Ankara.

Turkey fears Syrian Kurdish gains will embolden its own Kurdish population, strengthen the PKK, and lead to the ethnic and sectarian breakup of Syria. The combined military, political and territorial strengths of the Syrian Kurds gives them a major bargaining chip in any political solution in the country in which they demand recognition of Kurdish rights and decentralization of state power.

Turkey seeks to prevent this development in Syria. However, by opposing the Syrian Kurds, Turkey is also alienating its own Kurdish population and exacerbating its own Kurdish problem at a time violence is spiraling since the breakdown of peace talks with the PKK in 2015.

“The Kurds of Turkey and Syria are two halves of the same apple,” Mutlu Civirolgu, a Kurdish affairs analyst, told DW. “The vast majority of Kurds are sympathizing with what is happening in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan).”


U.S. states slow Trump offshore oil drilling expansion plan

March 12, 2108

by Jessica Resnick-Ault


HOUSTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration’s plan to broadly expand drilling in U.S. offshore waters is moving slowly due to opposition from coastal states and indifference from oil companies that have turned their focus to other opportunities.

The administration hopes encouraging U.S. energy development outside of shale oilfields will further its goal of “energy dominance.” But existing Obama administration lease rules remain in place through 2022 unless the new rules gain approval.

The Department of the Interior this year proposed opening vast new acreage in the U.S. outer continental shelf to drilling. The comment period wrapped up March 9. Still, Secretary Ryan Zinke said last week he remained deep in discussions with state governors, some of whom have thrown up roadblocks that would impede or bar drilling off their coasts.

A new outer continental shelf lease program proposes 47 lease sales, including areas that had not been offered since 1983. At least 12 states have sought exemptions, and Zinke has agreed to exclude areas off Florida.

“On the five-year plan we made everything available to look at,” Zinke told Reuters at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. Governors from across the West Coast and much of the East Coast are meeting with the Interior and objecting to areas off their states for drilling. State discussions could last through year end.

So far, officials in Alaska, Maine, Georgia and U.S Gulf Coast states other than Florida have said they were open to expanding drilling. California and other states have said they would deny needed permits for onshore services or transport.

“You can’t bring energy ashore unless you have access to state waters,” Zinke said.

While oil companies say they have met with Interior officials on Gulf of Mexico access to new regions, Zinke said they must go through the official comment process.

“They know my position: we put everything on and will go line by line,” he said.

While Washington continues to discuss the opening with states, oil companies are turning to well-mapped basins in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and other nations were deepwater drilling or auctions are ongoing, like Brazil, Mexico and Guyana.

“We are constantly scouring the planet to really understand resource potential,” said Steve Pastor, BHP Billiton’s (BHP.AX) president of petroleum operations. The Gulf of Mexico has some of the best discovered potential, he said.

BHP has previously explored acreage in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, at its Sake project, in a formation off the coast of Alabama.

Proposed new lease areas along the U.S. Atlantic coast would require seismic mapping and development of infrastructure that would take time. “I can’t put a fine point on whether we would pursue it,” Pastor said.

Chevron Corp (CVX.N), which disclosed a large Gulf of Mexico oil discovery in existing lease areas earlier this year, said new areas will have to stack up against existing projects.

They “will have to compete with the other drilling we have in the world,” said Robert Ryan, Chevron’s vice president of global exploration. “We just don’t know, most of those areas haven’t been evaluated yet.”

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), which is active in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, said it was encouraged by the additional Gulf acreage that is opening under existing lease sales. Costs, including a recent 25 percent tariff on imported steel, would be an issue.

“We know what we like here,” said Wael Sawan, Shell’s executive vice president of deepwater. “We’re encouraged by some of the elements but then some things like steel tariffs raise a question mark,” he said.

Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault, additional reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Gary McWilliams and David Gregorio



Trump’s California border wall visit puts state’s Republicans in a bind

Visit could embolden Democrats and marginalise members of Trump’s own party as this year’s midterm elections hang in the balance

March 12, 2018

by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles


Donald Trump’s visit to California will generate a memorable image: the president inspecting prototypes of his planned border wall.

Four years after he first proposed a wall, an idea that helped vault him to the White House, he will on Tuesday finally be able to touch solid concrete on some of the eight barriers, 30ft tall and 30ft wide, arrayed in the desert outside San Diego.

Congress may yet stymie construction of a wall along the frontier with Mexico but Trump will at least have a photo-op to accompany vows to deter and expel undocumented migrants, rhetoric which electrifies his base across the United States.

California’s Republican leaders, however, may view this political theatre very differently: as the equivalent of a man sawing a tree branch on which they – and he – all sit.

Bashing immigrants elicits nativist GOP cheers outside the state but in California it could doom GOP candidates in November’s midterm elections – and hand Congress to the Democrats.

“He’s gaining cheap applause outside California at the cost of real seats in California. It’s not a good trade,” said Jack Pitney, a Claremont McKenna University political scientist and former GOP congressional aide.

“California is a convenient Republican punching bag. But punching bags don’t like getting punched. Trump’s presence [here] will remind voters in swing districts about what they have come to loathe in the Republican party. His visit will motivate turnout among Hispanic voters and anger progressive white voters. There’s no way his presence will be a plus to candidates in difficult races.”

The blowback would be especially costly if a blue wave in California helps Democrats regain control of the House and leaves Trump more vulnerable to impeachment.

Regardless, the White House has ratcheted up a feud with the US’s most diverse, populous state.

Last week, the justice department sued California over so-called sanctuary policies that try to protect undocumented migrants from deportation.

During a visit to Sacramento, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, accused Democratic officials of obstructing federal immigration enforcement efforts.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agents have sowed panic and anger recently by sweeping up farm workers and 7-Eleven employees.

Video of agents dragging a mother from her screaming children near San Diego drew more denunciation and millions of views on Facebook.

Such tactics please Trump supporters – including some in California – who voted for him on the promise of curbing illegal immigration. But analysts say the crackdown will further marginalise California’s beleaguered GOP.

Republican voter registration has slumped to 25%, on par with the number expressing no party preference. Democrats monopolise statewide offices and dominate the legislature.

California is a big reason Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and now once solid Republican redoubts, especially in Orange County, may topple in the midterms. Two incumbents, Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, have decided to not run.

Trump’s immigration policies are repeating a cycle California saw in the mid 1990s when Republicans cracked down on undocumented migrants only for courts to push back and Latinos to rise up, turning the state of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon into a Democratic bastion.

GOP candidates, however, cannot renounce Trump without alienating Trump-adoring activists and donors. The president’s visit will oblige them to do a delicate dance, close but not too close.

“All Republicans incumbents face this as a challenge. They cannot run against the president and need the financial resources that the Republican base can provide,” said Louis DeSipio, a politics professor at the University of California, Irvine.

When the Orange County Register asked 11 GOP candidates to rank Trump’s performance only four agreed, the rest declining to respond or saying it was too early in his tenure.


Food for Idiots

March 12, 2018

by Christian Jürs


With the collapse of communism in Russia, as opposed to the United States, an increasing amount of information and documentation has become available to historians and researchers. Great care has to be taken, however, to consider the source of this information because the descendant of the dreaded NKVD, the KGB, has been reorganized but still maintains the security of its own files. Documents from this source are to be considered as extraordinarily suspect insofar as accuracy is concerned. This agency, which supplied carloads of faked documents for Stalin’s murderous purges, is still in the business of preparing counterfeit papers to suit whatever needs might arise. Foreign journalists pay large sums in hard currency and are given boxes of papers for research and eventual publication, just as the Stasi sold the counterfeit Hitler diaries for much needed foreign currency.

In the area of early communist organizations and history, much of the information is considered harmless historical background and is often released without the doctoring and fabrications found in papers relating to more current events. Anything relating to assassinations, high-level Soviet agents in foreign countries, Soviet agendas of subversion and aggression and their intelligence contacts with foreigners in sympathy with the aims of the former Soviet Union are certainly not available. A thick file on Lee Harvey Oswald has been displayed, but never opened to anyone, and other files on such political personalities as Willi Brandt, former West German Chancellor, and former U.S. President William Clinton are not for public consumption. Although at least one American intelligence agency firmly believed that Roosevelt’s chief advisor, Harry Hopkins, was in the pay of the Russians, no file on Hopkins, who spent considerable time in direct contact with Stalin, is even admitted to exist by current Russian officials.

It should be noted that the Soviet intelligence agencies kept extensive files on anyone of interest to them. Records of persons known to be hostile to their aims share the same locked archives as files covering those known to be sympathetic to or cooperative with Soviet ideology and intentions.

Post-communist Russian intelligence agencies have made a healthy profit selling stacks of counterfeit papers to journalists. Most of these papers were forged during the Cold War and deal with various individuals at high levels in the Third Reich. Military plans, diaries of the prominent, correspondence dealing with such matters as the slaughter of civilians and so on were cranked out by the forgery factory in the KGB and sequestered until they were needed for propaganda campaigns. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, Germany was no longer an ally of the United States to be vilified but was, instead, a wealthy potential trading partner against whom these paper weapons were not needed.

Even with the release of former Soviet files, no one should be surprised about the internal and external programs of murders and assassinations ordered by Stalin and carried out by his immense cadre of ideological killers. Although it was far easier to liquidate Polish prisoners of war, internal dissidents, uncooperative Ukrainian peasants and potential sources of rebellion in conquered territories, Stalin’s NKVD,which changed its title(-but not its aims-)  to KGB after Stalin’s death found ways to kill dangerous opponents outside the borders of the communist empire.

White Russian leaders in Paris, exiled Leon Trotsky in Mexico and inconvenient foreigners were shot, poisoned, hacked to death or kidnapped and dismembered inside Soviet diplomatic missions in hidden rooms set aside for this purpose. Unlike Roosevelt and Churchill, Stalin had a much clearer view of his own goals and his massacres and assassinations had a far more pragmatic basis than mere revenge and killing for its own sake.


In Winston Churchill, Hollywood rewards a mass murderer

March 10, 2018

by Shashi Tharoor

The Washington Post

“History,” Winston Churchill said, “will be kind to me, for I intend to write it myself.” He needn’t have bothered. He was one of the great mass murderers of the 20th century, yet is the only one, unlike Hitler and Stalin, to have escaped historical odium in the West. He has been crowned with a Nobel Prize (for literature, no less), and now, an actor portraying him (Gary Oldman) has been awarded an Oscar.

As Hollywood confirms, Churchill’s reputation (as what Harold Evans has called “the British Lionheart on the ramparts of civilization”) rests almost entirely on his stirring rhetoric and his talent for a fine phrase during World War II. “We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. … We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. … We shall never surrender.” (The revisionist British historian John Charmley dismissed this as “sublime nonsense.”)

Words, in the end, are all that Churchill admirers can point to. His actions are another matter altogether.

During World War II, Churchill declared himself in favor of “terror bombing.” He wrote that he wanted “absolutely devastating, exterminating attacks by very heavy bombers.” Horrors such as the firebombing of Dresden were the result.

In the fight for Irish independence, Churchill, in his capacity as secretary of state for war and air, was one of the few British officials in favor of bombing Irish protesters, suggesting in 1920 that airplanes should use “machine-gun fire or bombs” to scatter them.

Dealing with unrest in Mesopotamia in 1921, as secretary of state for the colonies, Churchill acted as a war criminal: “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against the uncivilised tribes; it would spread a lively terror.” He ordered large-scale bombing of Mesopotamia, with an entire village wiped out in 45 minutes.

In Afghanistan, Churchill declared that the Pashtuns “needed to recognise the superiority of [the British] race” and that “all who resist will be killed without quarter.” He wrote: “We proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation. … Every tribesman caught was speared or cut down at once.”

In Kenya, Churchill either directed or was complicit in policies involving the forced relocation of local people from the fertile highlands to make way for white colonial settlers and the forcing of more than 150,000 people into concentration camps. Rape, castration, lit cigarettes on tender spots, and electric shocks were all used by the British authorities to torture Kenyans under Churchill’s rule.

But the principal victims of Winston Churchill were the Indians — “a beastly people with a beastly religion,” as he charmingly called them. He wanted to use chemical weapons in India but was shot down by his cabinet colleagues, whom he criticized for their “squeamishness,” declaring that “the objections of the India Office to the use of gas against natives are unreasonable.”

Churchill’s beatification as an apostle of freedom seems all the more preposterous given his 1941 declaration that the Atlantic Charter’s principles would not apply to India and the colored colonies. He refused to see people of color as entitled to the same rights as himself. “Gandhi-ism and all it stands for,” he declared, “will, sooner or later, have to be grappled with and finally crushed.”

In such matters, Churchill was the most reactionary of Englishmen, with views so extreme they cannot be excused as being reflective of their times. Even his own secretary of state for India, Leopold Amery, confessed that he could see very little difference between Churchill’s attitude and Adolf Hitler’s.

Thanks to Churchill, some 4 million Bengalis starved to death in a 1943 famine. Churchill ordered the diversion of food from starving Indian civilians to well-supplied British soldiers and even to top up European stockpiles in Greece and elsewhere. When reminded of the suffering of his Indian victims, his response was that the famine was their own fault, he said, for “breeding like rabbits.”

Madhusree Mukerjee’s searing account of Churchill’s role in the Bengal famine, “Churchill’s Secret War,” documents that while Indians starved, prices for foodgrains were inflated by British purchases and India’s own surplus grains were exported, while Australian ships laden with wheat were not allowed to unload their cargo at Calcutta (where the bodies of those who had died of starvation littered the streets). Instead, Churchill ordered that grain be shipped to storage depots in the Mediterranean and the Balkans to increase the buffer stocks for a possible future invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia. European warehouses filled up as Bengalis died.

This week’s Oscar rewards yet another hagiography of this odious man. To the Iraqis whom Churchill advocated gassing, the Greek protesters on the streets of Athens who were mowed down on Churchill’s orders in 1944, sundry Pashtuns and Irish, as well as to Indians like myself, it will always be a mystery why a few bombastic speeches have been enough to wash the bloodstains off Churchill’s racist hands.

Many of us will remember Churchill as a war criminal and an enemy of decency and humanity, a blinkered imperialist untroubled by the oppression of non-white peoples. Ultimately, his great failure — his long darkest hour — was his constant effort to deny us freedom.


Comment: The personality of Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill could very well be a subject of interest to an alienist who, by definition, is a physician who treats mental disorders. There is a saying that the world is governed with very little sense and there are times when one could add to this statement that it often has been governed by lunatics.

Churchill was born in 1874 and died in 1965. His father was Randolph Spencer-Churchill, a son of the Duke of Marlborough. The first Duke was John Churchill, one of England’s most capable military commanders, who died without male issue in 1722 and the title was given to one of his nephews, a Spencer. As a courtesy, the Spencer family was allowed to add Churchill to its name, separated by a hyphen. Winston always wanted to believe that he was a gifted military leader in the mold of the first Duke but his efforts at generalship were always unqualified disasters that he generally blamed on other people. This chronic refusal to accept responsibility for his own incompetent actions is one of Churchill’s less endearing qualities.

Randolph Churchill died early as the result of rampant syphilis that turned him from an interesting minor politician to a pathetic madman who had to be kept away from the public, in the final years of his life. His mother was the former Jennie Jerome, an American. The Jerome family had seen better days when Jennie met Randolph. Her father, Leonard, was a stock-market manipulator who had lost his money and the marriage was more one of convenience than of affection.

The Jeromes were by background very typically American. On her father’s side, Jennie was mostly Irish and on her mother’s American Indian and Jewish. The union produced two children, Winston and Jack. The parents lived separate lives, both seeking the company of other men. Winston’s psyche suffered accordingly and throughout his life, his frantic desire for attention obviously had its roots in his abandonment as a child.

As a member of the 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars, in 1896 Churchill became embroiled in a lawsuit wherein he was publicly accused of having engaged in the commission of “acts of gross immorality of the Oscar Wilde type.” This case was duly settled out of court for a payment of money and the charges were withdrawn. Also a determinant factor was the interference by the Prince of Wales with whom his mother was having an affair.

In 1905, Churchill hired a young man, Edward Marsh (later Sir Edward) as his private secretary. His mother, always concerned about her son’s political career, was concerned because Marsh was a very well known homosexual who later became one of Winston’s most intimate lifelong friends. Personal correspondence of March, now in private hands, attests to the nature and duration of their friendship.

Churchill, as Asquith once said, was consumed with vanity and his belief that he was a brilliant military leader led him from the terrible disaster of Gallipoli through the campaigns of the Second World War. He meddled constantly in military matters to the despair and eventual fury of his professional military advisors but his political excursions were even more disastrous. Churchill was a man who was incapable of love but could certainly hate. He was viciously vindictive towards anyone who thwarted him and a number of these perceived enemies died sudden deaths during the war when such activities were much easier to order and conceal.

One of Churchill’s less attractive personality traits, aside from his refusal to accept the responsibility for the failure of his actions, was his ability to change his opinions at a moment’s notice.

Once anti-American, he did a complete about-face when confronted with a war he escalated and could not fight, and from a supporter of Hitler’s rebuilding of Germany, he turned into a bitter enemy after a Jewish political action association composed of wealthy businessmen hired him to be their spokesman.

Churchill lavishly praised Roosevelt to his face and defamed him with the ugliest of accusations behind his back. The American President was a far more astute politician than Churchill and certainly far saner.

In order to support his war of vengeance, Churchill had to buy weapons from the United States and Roosevelt stripped England of all of her assets to pay for these. Only when England was bankrupt did Roosevelt consent to the Lend-Lease project, and in a moment of malicious humor, titled the bill “1776” when it was sent to Congress.

Hitler’s bombing of England was not a prelude to invasion, but a retaliation for Churchill’s instigation of the bombing of German cities and Churchill used the threat of a German invasion to whip up pro-British feelings in the United States. Threats of invasion by the Germans, in this case of the United States, have been cited by such writers as Weinberg as the reason why Roosevelt had to get into the war. Neither the Germans nor the Japanese had even the slightest intention to invade the continental United States and exhaustive research in the military and political archives of both countries has been unable to locate a shred of evidence to support these theories


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