Connect with us

Americas

The Battle of Weapons Ends as the Battle of Ideas Begins

Published

on

The world’s longest continuous conflict, between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (in Spanish – Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) (FARC) has come to an end. After more than five decades, and a trail of destruction that has left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced, both parties have agreed a groundbreaking peace deal.

Leading a breakaway communist group from the Liberal Party, Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda (real name is Pedro Antonio Marin) founded Farc in 1964 and declared their stand against the government, aiming to ensure social justice throughout Colombia with the ideology of the Left. However, Farc has demonstrated deadly guerrilla tactics and attacks, murdering anyone who spoke out against them or attempted to subdue their activities, from the Colombian ruling elites and public figures to innocent civilians caught up in the violence. One question still remains unanswered – how did Farc rebels survive this long in battling the government? The answer is unfortunately a simple one;

“According to a US justice department indictment in 2006, Farc supplies more than 50% of the world’s cocaine and more than 60% of the cocaine entering the US.” (unric.org)

Now, both sides are compelled to declare that they are in a beneficial, win-win agreement. Both sides are now suturing their wounds with kind words and with the agreed compensations. This deal was made public after four tough years of secret negotiations presided over by Cuba, and has been met with strong criticism from opposition parties and the affected public. Both accuse the government of conceding too much in order to secure the disarmament and agreement, and failing to fully recognize the hard battles, tireless efforts and valuable accomplishments of the previous governments attempts to uproot the rebel force from Colombian soil. Whatever may be, the Colombian government owes appreciation and gratitude to the Cuban leadership for mediating and providing a path for this breakthrough. The agreed peace deal is to be ratified by the 2nd of October, after the Colombian public votes on the decision.

Criticism against the accord will continue to be strong for various reasons. First, history has taught us that in any conflict negotiations the rebel side and the government fail to fully trust each other. The Colombian – Farc peace deal is no exception. The skeptic’s views will be more vocal and accumulate more column inches, which in turn will be widely consumed and considered by the public, government figures and opposition parties. This will be exercised as a strategy by the main opposition leader Alvaro Uribe; the previous president of the government from 2002-2010. Uribe not only opposes the deal, but has asked Colombians to out rightly reject it, vehemently favouring an all-out war against Farc instead. Hopefully the deal can and will survive, with the Senate able to by-pass and overrule any public veto.

Second, reports from the Colombian media claims that President Juan Manuel Santos’ popularity is at an all time low. For Santos, the only hope in winning the next election cycle rests in the hands of a successful peace accord ratification. A humble reminder of election temperament and assurances is the sharp presentation Santos’ gave running for his term, in which he promised a peace deal would be brokered between Farc and the government under his administration. As public approval of Santos’ prior approach and methods for negotiations dwindled, the average Colombian voted for a future that would put an end to the 52 year violence, and constant fear for their own lives. In the eyes of a Colombian voter, a deal which would end the murder of innocent civilians and attacks against government forces meant Santos’ approach could be marketable.

In previous post negotiations, every deal has stalled within the actual implementation, mainly because of the level of commitments required by either side. To realise the full potential and beneficial outcomes of the deal, only high-ranking government officials and Farc members should communicate as one group, prohibiting second-level leaders access to the deliberations and eliminating the capability to air their doubts for public discussion. If a more inclusive yet private dialogue was to take place, this would not only be advantageous for the opposition parties in domestic politics, but sailing aboard one boat until the voting date would increase public trust over the deal. Moreover, the government should initiate policy measures in rural districts and these communities should be given priority for infrastructural development. This would create more local jobs for rural areas and people, and in turn help them fund their own health care and education.

Third, ‘converting words to action’ is the main issue in turning the deal into a reality. It has many complex issues, most of which have angered the opposition and large sections of rural societies . For example, one stipulation of the deal was in giving Farc rebels community service instead of jail sentences. This condition suggested by the government caused fury across the Colombian public. After decades of kidnapping and deadly attacks on civilians, Farc has earned hatred across the nation. So now, the government works meticulously with the rural communities to ensure victims receive justice and compensation, otherwise the polls would suffer on voting day.

Fourth, since more than a month until the public votes on the deal, – the government needs to actively move forward with its goal in reaching out to the public. During these times, the public need to be vigilant in regard to observing former rebels activities, and in turn Farc leadership needs to fervently tackle any wrong doing, misconduct or criminal behaviour perpetrated by their members. However, the big questions remain – how are rebel soldiers who previously profited and relied on the lucrative drug trade going to dismantle their illegal activity? And what measures are going to be taken to ensure the challenge of transitioning Farc members into a normal, legal working life is successfully undertaken, monitored and achieved? Though their brutalities are forgotten by the government through this accord, they not only require jobs from the Colombians, but forgiveness. If the general public fails to accept them back into civilian life, then the possibility exists that smaller guerrilla groups will welcome them. This is the responsibility of both the government and Farc to account for the 7000 rebel soldiers that will be forced to lay down their arms and reintegrate into Colombian society.

Fifth, after swallowing more than 220,000 people (BBC), the June 2016 ceasefire which has lead to the agreement (in August) has pledged the beginning of the end to this deadly, five decade conflict. Every Colombian has eagerly looked for peace for years. The war is over. Only you can debate about this deal. However, you cannot reject it on the October 2nd referendum. The rejection will case more damage to the people of Colombia. Márquez, the Farc’s top negotiator, said: “The battle with weapons ends and the battle of ideas begins” (The Guardian). The reply from the government side was: “It is the time to give peace a chance”.

No matter how complicated the agreement is, if there is a political will, then let us hope the best for Colombians.

Antony Clement is a researcher in Indian Foreign Policy. He consults on academic development and he is currently working on two books - “Discover your Talents” and “Diplomacy in Tough Times” . His research centres on India’s diplomacy & foreign policy and extends to domestic politics, economic policy, security issues, and international security matters, including India’s relations with the US, the BRICS nations, the EU and Australia.

Continue Reading
Comments

Americas

How Wikipedia Lies

Eric Zuesse

Published

on

The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Did you know that Vice President Dick Cheney admitted that on 11 September 2001 he, as President George W. Bush’s brief stand-in during the 9/11 attacks that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, issued an order (and it was carried out) to shoot down United Airlines Flight 93 while it was in the air near Pittsburgh? If what he said at the time was true, then the standard ‘historical’ account of the plane’s having been brought down as a result of action by the passengers, would be concocted, not history at all.

Here is the video-clip of V.P. Cheney on 9/11, making this claim and explaining why he gave that order: 

The Wikipedia article on Flight 93 provides the standard account, and fails even so much as just to mention the Vice President’a assertion and explanation that he provided on national TV at the time of the 9/11 events.

So: I edited the Wikipedia article by adding a sentence at the end of its opening paragraph, and by following that sentence with a brief second paragraph, and here is that entire two-sentence addition:

Vice President Dick Cheney alleged that he gave the order to shoot down Flight 93, and explained why when asked about it by Chris Wallace of Fox News as shown in this film-clip

Consequently, the account given below of what brought the plane down — an account inconsistent with what Cheney said — could be entirely false. 

On the web browser that I was using, the addition showed as having been successfully made in the Wikipedia article. However, to be sure, I opened the URL in a different browser, and this time my addition was absent. I then went back to the “Edit” page” and this time to the “View history” page, and clicked there on “(talk)” and found this message, which I saw virtually immediately after I had thought that I had inserted the new information:

Hello, I’m Shellwood. I wanted to let you know that I reverted one of your recent contributions —specifically this edit to United Airlines Flight 93— because it did not appear constructive. 

No other explanation for blocking my addition was provided. “Shellwood” was there saying that mentioning, and linking to the video of Cheney saying, that allegation, which Cheney made on 9/11 about how Flight 93 came down, is not “constructive” to Wikipedia-readers who want information about Flight 93.

Previously, even the BBC published the fact that Wikipedia is edited by the CIA.

Anyone who reads the present article is hereby welcomed to try making the same addition to that Wikipedia article, and I hope that one of the readers here will be able to get it accepted by the editors of that site, so that Wikipedia can be made at least moderately trustworthy, on at least that one article. Perhaps if enough people try, then Wikipedia will come to recognize that Wikipedia’s modus operandum isn’t merely a very successful system of propaganda, but that it’s also something of a PR problem for Wikipedia, which they’ll need to do something about, if they’re to be able to survive (or at least retain their credibility) at all. Blocking inclusion in an article, of a fact that disproves part of the ‘history’ (and here the most important part) which is told in that article, is unacceptable in anyone’s eyes.

As of today, April 20th, the Wikipedia article on Flight 93 does make one, and only one, mention of Cheney:

Vice President Dick Cheney, in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center deep under the White House, upon learning of the premature crash, is reported to have said, “I think an act of heroism just took place on that plane.”[2]

The link there, [2], goes to a CNN article, likewise published on 11 September 2001, which likewise presents Cheney as saying that he ordered the shoot-down of Flight 93:

After the planes struck the twin towers, a third took a chunk out of the Pentagon. Cheney then heard a report that a plane over Pennsylvania was heading for Washington. A military assistant asked Cheney twice for authority to shoot it down.

“The vice president said yes again,” remembered Josh Bolton, deputy White House chief of staff. “And the aide then asked a third time. He said, ‘Just confirming, sir, authority to engage?’ And the vice president — his voice got a little annoyed then — said, ‘I said yes.'” 

The phrase that Wikipedia is quoting from Cheney, “I think an act of heroism just took place on that plane,” appears later in that CNN article, out of context, when one of Cheney’s aides attributes the statement to Cheney, but, since CNN provided no context for it, no reader can intelligently interpret what it had been referring to, if, in fact, the aide did say that Cheney did say it.

Wikipedia grabbed that out-of-context, possibly apocryphal, Cheney-statement, and constructed their ‘history’ of the plane’s crash, upon it, despite the fact that Cheney, on 9/11, clearly stated that he had ordered Flight 93 to be shot down, and that the order was executed — in other words: despite the fact that Wikipedia’s account of what brought that plane down is incontrovertibly false, even on the basis of the most reliable evidence that Wikipedia itself links to on that matter. Such a ‘history’ is fiction.

So: any reader at the Wikipedia article who clicks onto its sources, can easily know that though the Wikipedia article presents a ‘history’ in which actions by passengers onboard Flight 93 caused the plane to crash there, that ‘history’ is fake, not at all real (though some allegations in that Wikipedia article might happen to be true).

This means that only readers who click through to sources can even possibly come anywhere near to knowing anything that’s at all reliable about the history of our time. And, of course, the longer that any event recedes into history, the more immovably fixed the lies become as being ‘history’. We live actually in a world of lies. If modern ‘history’ is fake, then ancient ‘history’ is even more so. What about the Bible? What about even recently written ‘history’ books?

If Wikipedia is the best that ‘the market’ can come up with for ‘a free press’ in a ‘democracy’, then democracy isn’t at all possible. Something vastly better than this is definitely needed. What’s displayed here isn’t democracy at all: it’s merely ‘democracy’. This means that all of the military invasions by ‘democratic’ countries (such as America), against other countries, are the actions by dictatorships, not actions against dictatorships (as is always claimed).

So, it’s actually rather easy to document that 1984 — the reality, and not merely the novel — has, indeed, arrived, in our time.

However, at least in our time, we possess — for the very first time in all of history — the ability to access, merely a click away, an allegation’s actual source, at least in articles such as the present one (since all sources here are linked). The people living in ancient times who were not themselves aristocrats (the people making the key governmental decisions) were unalterably 100% vulnerable to being deceived by aristocrats’ and clergies’ lies, deceived into doing whatever those decision-makers wanted to manipulate them into doing — such as “fighting for God and country!” Unfortunately, the percentage of today’s people who care enough to be skeptical of whatever other people are trying to sell, and to dig deeper than the mere assertions, even just to click onto a link, is too tiny for democracy to be able to function. Unless they become the majority, “democracy” will remain merely a word, not yet even near to being the reality, anywhere.

That, for example, explains why, despite common realities such as this, “74% [of Americans] view Israel favorably, vs. 21% for Palestinian Authority”. In order for the national aristocracy to control its mass of voters, it must first deceive its mass of voters; and, in America, they’re deceived, and have been so, for decades, at least.

Continue Reading

Americas

Poll Shows Americans Support the Invasion of Syria – What they Misunderstand About that War

Eric Zuesse

Published

on

The first even marginally trustworthy poll of American “registered voters” regarding the April 14th U.S.-and-allied missiles-invasion of Syria, shows an overwhelming 66% supporting the invasion (36% “Strongly” and 30% “Somewhat), and only 23% opposing (8% “Strongly” and 11% “Somewhat”).

When the 1,995 U.S. registered voters were asked further, in this Morning Consult / Politico poll, “How confident are you that the airstrikes in Syria will prevent the Syrian government from using chemical or biological weapons again?” only 30% are “confident” (8% “Very” and 22% “Somewhat”) and 57% are not (21% not “at all” and 35% “not too”). Obviously, all of the 30% who are “confident” on that are also believing that the Syrian government has been “using chemical or biological weapons” and the 57% who aren’t “confident” are expecting the Syrian government to continue using such weapons; but the only other option that the pollster offered was “Don’t know / No opinion” and perhaps any respondents who disbelieved the U.S. government’s allegations that the Syrian government has been using such weapons would have to be among the 12% who said “Don’t know / No opinion” (or else such respondents would have quit answering at that point, which was 3 questions into a 7-question poll: the stupid polling organization excluded even the possibility that a respondent believed the Syrian government’s denials that it had used such weapons — that’s how little consideration was offered regarding even the merest possibility that this invasion had been punishment of a non-guilty nation by guilty invaders: zero).

This invasion, like the one a year earlier, occurred when the U.S. and its allies said that Syria was guilty but didn’t provide any evidence of that, and when Syria and its allies said that those charges were lies and that the ‘rebels’ whom the U.S. and its allies supported had actually set up the incident in order for the U.S. and its allies to invade and overthrow the government. These invasions were lawless — based upon no legal process other than brute accusations, like in any common lynching or other mob-‘justice’.

The fact that this poll did not show close to 100% contempt by the American people regarding what the U.S. government and its two allies, UK and France, had just done, indicates not only that the American people are astoundingly ignorant that the U.S. and its allies are international outlaws and warmongers (which makes sense for a nation that invaded and destroyed Iraq 2003, Libya 2011 and has been trying to do it since 2011 in Syria), but that they are also astoundingly misinformed as to which side in this war is guilty, and which side is not. (Hint: It’s certainly not Assad, who is simply defending Syrian sovereignty over Syrian territory.) According to the standards that were set in place by the Nuremberg Tribunals following World War II, in which invasions for any other purpose than national self-defense are war-crimes, it’s not only the lie-based invasion and destruction of Iraq 2003, and the 2011 invasion and destruction of Libya, that constitute international war-crimes — there’s simply no power that’s enforcing international law: not policing, not prosecuting, not judging, and not legislating, at all, any such thing. The international outlaw regimes, U.S. and its allies, are simply international gangsters, and the American public overwhelmingly are bored about the whole thing, don’t really care whether they are the Nazis of today (and the U.S. government is even proud to be it, not only under Trump, but under Obama before him — all accepted, not resisted in any way, by the American public).

Poll-findings like this implicate the American public, and not only the American government, in such mega-crimes. Even the clear-cut national experience of having been lied into Iraq 2003 hasn’t taught the American people that we live in a gangster-regime. And now this regime has destroyed even the last vestiges of the authority that the U.N. once had.

Ironically, the core voter-base for the war-criminal U.S. President Trump seem to have strongly opposed the latest invasion. But, to judge from this latest actual poll in the matter, the American public strongly supports that invasion. Apparently, Americans can’t learn from even the most blatant experiences, such as having been lied into destroying Iraq in 2003 — a country that, like Syria, and like Libya, had never attacked, nor even threatened to attack, the U.S.

Continue Reading

Americas

Russia & Trump

Traci Seltzer-Castillo

Published

on

Trump “bought” the POTUS by 1) manipulating voters through big data (ie. The block chains and other manipulations of tracked data), and 2) getting help from Russian hackers who hacked into key states’ voting systems.  He needed both elements to be able to win because without them, there is a very good possibility that Hillary would have won. Trump’s history of dishonesty and bankruptcy should have eliminated him from the presidential election but it did not (the American legal system may need some adjustment and honing).  He settled his fraud case out of court right before Election Day 2016. He defrauded students with his fake online university.  He is also notorious for “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, and for his using his fake non-profit organization’s donation to pay his legal bills when he is sued, and for the fines he is ordered to pay by the US court system.

Trump is correct that the US should try to “make nice” with Russia.  Too many Americans (at least the ones who vote and understand and follow politics; mostly older Americans) still have the mindset from the Cold War Era that Russians are “Commies” and dishonest (A daily reading of American news shows Americans are not extremely honest either…..for example, the Panama Papers).  Russia has the largest amount of millionaires in the world, most living in Moscow.  They have had a free market system for 25 years now, and they are just now starting to feel the social impacts of this new system; the stresses that such a system causes over the quest/greed for money.

Of course, there is government corruption in Russia, but there is here in the US too. It is both interesting and ironic that many of the activities the US accused the Soviets and Russians of doing in the past are the exact same acts the US has been and is still doing to its own citizens. Julian Assange, Private Manning, and other whistleblowers have shown the world that this is true. They have suffered for their risks of exposing the truth.

The Russian free market economy was and still is an untapped income source for international businesses. In fact, Trump has many businesses in Russia, and these felt the financial crunch when the sanctions were levied against Russia in 2014 after the Ukraine Conflict.  So, Trump wasn’t making money either from his business investments he had already established on Russian soil before he became POTUS.  This further motivated him to ask the Russians to help him win the POTUS (because greed or money is a very effective motivating factor). The economic sanctions were levied collectively by the US and the European Union, but also unilaterally by the US. Russia also levied import bans that hurt many European and American businesses that were still allowed to do business in Russia under the economic sanctions.

There is a very good possibility that Trump made a deal with the Russians that if they got him into POTUS, he would lift the sanctions against Russia (specifically Putin’s inner circle of extremely wealthy friends who were most affected by the sanctions). The reasons Russia would have made this deal is that 1) Russia’s economy was shrinking because of the sanctions, and 2) Russia’s “bread and butter” is based on oil.  Russian social programs and the government function due to the proceeds of oil sales.  The sanctions against Russia included no sale of replacement parts for the oil drilling rigs, and most of these rigs were purchased from American companies. So, as the parts began to wear out, the Russian oil companies (especially Gazprom) could not easily extract oil, therefore, they could not sell much on the world market (but the Russians asked Chinese engineers to design similar replacement parts,  but this took a lot of time for development).

Unfortunately for the Russian oil market, in September 2016, the 5 years of oil embargo that mandated that Iran could not sell oil on the world market ended.  This flooded the global oil market since Iran started selling oil at a very low price so that they could raise hard currency (US Dollars) to improve their very hurt economy. This further hurt the Russian economy since oil customers could now choose a different supplier (the law of supply and demand).  Oil was selling at its lowest for about USD30/barrel, but on average around USD50/barrel for the last 2 years (and now up to about 70USD as for 25 Mar 2018).  Russia needs at least USD100 per barrel just to break even on its government and social program bills. Russia has drained most of its two big money reserve accounts. The long term drop in oil prices has certainly caused devastating effects on countries that rely on income from selling oil on the world market, including Venezuela, which has its own political problems and corruption.

Also, Russia’s currency devalued to the dollar.  At one time, it was at an amazingly high rate of 95 rubles per 1 US dollar (Each bank may have a different exchange rate. The USD/RUB exchange rate was 1:30 before the Ukraine situation).

Since most goods (and travel) are purchased using US dollars as the international purchase currency, the cost of consumer goods in Russia greatly increased while people bought appliances and electronics in bulk (to sell later; again, the law of supply & demand) and people were losing their jobs or taking pay cuts just to keep their jobs because the economy greatly slowed and shrank. Many Russians lost their jobs during this time, or they had to greatly tighten their financial belts. For some Russian banks, their supply of USD was greatly limited or cut off because these banks refused to give the names of their American clients to the US government, so the US Federal Reserve refused to sell USD to such banks (as a form of “blackmail” or “leverage”). Many small Russian banks actually closed during the worst of this economic situation in Russia.

Trump wasn’t too “street smart”. He allowed his hormones to cloud is otherwise substandard judgment. The Russians videoed him with various beautiful Russian women in his hotel room. This was released to Trump to show him that the Russians had secret videos of Trump, but he did not know what else the Russians had recorded about him and his activities. Since Trump certainly remembers the activities he did, he was probably concerned about which, if not all, of those activities were recorded.  This was done to make him “behave” and to do his part that he promised to do (lift the sanctions). Videoing Trump was the Russians’ insurance that Trump would do his part.  However, he was not able to deliver the promise of lifting sanctions because of the way the US “checks & balances” work (which work relatively well,  but still need to be honed, obviously since Trump’s past allowed him to become president).  Russia did their part but Trump didn’t deliver his part; a “breach of contract”.

This left Russia in a bind to stimulate their economy since the US and the world sanctions against it are still practiced.  What Trump didn’t realize is that Russia had other options, “Plan B or more” by forming economic trade with other countries such as Venezuela (that does not like the US, and they don’t try to hide that fact) and with Asia, especially the Far East. The Russians gained an edge over Trump because of his arrogance and narcissism.

There are similarities between Trump and Hitler.  Hitler outright killed those he did not like, or who opposed him, or who he felt had a low quality of life. Trump is doing this too by taking away healthcare in the US so that people die.  Trump has taken away healthcare for children of indigent families including a lot of immigrant families (a passive form of ethnic cleansing).  He has taken away educational assistance for children with disabilities. He has taken away the subsidies to help the elderly pay for heat, utilities and prescriptions.  Hitler did an “ethnic cleanse + quality of life cleanse” but Trump is doing an “ethnic cleanse + socioeconomic cleanse + quality of life cleanse” by use of his executive orders and other methods to “Make America Great Again”.

Hitler also consolidated his power into a dictatorship shortly after being elected. Trump tried this too as soon as he was sworn in. He signed many executive orders in his first few months as POTUS. He has limited communication from government offices.  He has also cut funding to government offices or organizations that he feels are not important such as climate change.  Now the world is considering replacing the US Dollar as the reserve currency which would cause many problems because international contracts are normally written in US Dollars, and the contracts may span future decades with predicted exchange rates. For example, Boeing and Airbus have contracts that may span decades). The US credit rating has been downgraded for the first time in US history, thanks to the Republicans, for which Trump is. The US may be headed towards yet another credit rating downgrade since Trump just signed the new US budget in March 2018.

Continue Reading

Latest

Newsletter

Trending

Copyright © 2018 Modern Diplomacy