Talking Boko Haram on Black Agenda Radio

February 26, 2015 at 9:19 AM

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Eric Draitser appears on Black Agenda Radio with Glen Ford to discuss Boko Haram and the regional war developing because of it.  Draitser examines some of the domestic and regional politics taking shape around the issue, as well as the motivations of the interested parties.  He touches on some of the lesser known history of the organization and how it has been transformed in recent years.  Draitser and Ford also discuss the larger imperial and neocolonial context within which this complex issue must be understood.

Minsk II: Derailed Before the Ink Was Dry

February 24, 2015 at 10:09 AM

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When the Minsk II agreement was officially announced on February 12, 2015, there was, for the first time in many months, a real belief that a cessation of hostilities was at the very least possible, if only conceptually. It seemed that the parties to the conflict finally had a framework within which they could move toward a peaceful settlement to end the dreadful war that has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians in Donetsk, Lugansk, and surrounding areas. But perhaps this was simply wishful thinking.

While the “Normandy 4” (France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine) were negotiating the terms of the agreement, developments on the ground in Donetsk and Lugansk told quite a different story. Ukrainian forces continued their criminal shelling of civilians in Donetsk, while the anti-Kiev rebels continued sporadic fighting around Debaltsevo. Of course a war is always messy, and one cannot expect fighting to halt, or even necessarily decrease, while political leaders sit around the table.

But the continuation of military hostilities was not the only issue. Rather, actions taken by Kiev’s military and fascist paramilitaries, in addition to their patrons in Washington, demonstrated that, rather than peace, the US-Kiev faction was interested in escalation.

But how is this possible considering the string of defeats the Ukrainian military suffered at the hand of the rebels? Simple. Under the cover of media darkness cast by the shadow of the Minsk talks, the US and Kiev quietly connived to escalate the war and, simultaneously, violate multiple key provisions of the agreement. In effect, Minsk II was null and void the moment the clock struck midnight on Sunday February 15, 2015, the appointed time at which the agreement allegedly took effect.

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CrossTalk – Forever War

February 23, 2015 at 10:35 AM

Boundless powers and endless wars: This is the likely outcome if Barack Obama is granted the kind of military authorization he wants from Congress. This time around the target and enemy is the Islamic State. Is it fair to say that America and the IS live off of each other?

CrossTalking with Eric Draitser, Stephen Schlesinger, and Jim Antle III.

There Goes The Guardian, Lying About Ukraine…Again!

February 20, 2015 at 4:13 PM

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The western media is busily trying to prop up their failed narrative of “Russian aggression” in Ukraine in a desperate attempt to legitimize their consciously deceitful reporting. To do so, they are now relying not on experts or western intelligence reports, but a discredited blogger and his corporate media chums.

On February 17, 2015, The Guardian ran a story with the headline“Russia shelled Ukrainians from within its own territory, says study.”The title alone is enough to convince many casual observers that yes, the mainstream media reporting on the civil war in Ukraine has been correct all along. You see, it’s all because of Russian aggression, or so the meme would go. But closer analysis of this story, and the key players involved, should cause any reasonably intelligent and logical person to seriously doubt the veracity of nearly every aspect of the story.

Let’s begin first with the headline and subhead which, as anyone in media knows, is often all that will be read by many readers. The headline leads with a conclusion: Russia shelled Ukraine from within Russian territory. Simple. Clear. Why bother reading further? Well, in reality, the article both overtly and tacitly admits that the so called “study” (more on that later) has not reached that clear conclusion, not even close. Here are some key phrases sprinkled throughout the piece that should give pause to any serious-minded political observer or analyst.

Despite the declaration in the headline, a close reader encounters phrases such as “near conclusive proof,” “estimated trajectories,” “likely firing positions,” and other ambiguous phrases that are more suggestive than they are declarative. In other words, these are mere rhetorical flourishes designed to lead casual, uninformed readers to make conclusions that are simply not backed up by the evidence.

The so called study relied heavily on “crater patterns from satellite photos of three battlefields,” and it is from these crater patterns, and the equally dubious “tyre tracks” that the authors of the study drew their conclusions. However, even the independent military forensics expert contacted by The Guardian “warned that the accuracy of crater analysis in determining direction of fire on the basis of satellite photography was scientifically unproven.”

Indeed, conveniently buried at the end of the long article is the key quote from Stephen Johnson, a weapons expert at the Cranfield Forensic Institute, part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom who said quite clearly that crater analysis is “highly experimental and prone to inaccuracy.” Mr. Johnson added that “This does not mean there is no value to the method, but that any results must be considered with caution and require corroboration.”

Wait a second. I thought that our dear expert authors of the study had “near conclusive proof” according to the lead paragraphs of the story. When you actually read what the real expert, as opposed to the non-experts who conducted the “study,” has to say, it immediately casts a long shadow of doubt on the entire narrative being propagated by the article. Is The Guardian here guilty of clear manipulation of the story for political purposes? It would seem at best unprofessional and dishonest reporting, at worst it’s outright lying in the service of the agenda of those at the top of the western political establishment.

 

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5 Reasons Why Leftists Should Defend Russia

February 20, 2015 at 3:59 PM

 

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As tensions between the US and Russia have increased in the last year, so too has the polarization of public opinion. While the western corporate media has reverted to its formerly antagonistic, Cold War era attitude toward Russia – predictably radicalizing much of western public opinion, infusing the discourse with a decidedly Russophobic bias – it has increasingly been left to those on the political margins to deconstruct the false narrative, expose the Empire’s agenda, and defend the right of sovereign nations to act independent of western diktats.

And it is here, on the political margins, where many are willing to speak out against the US agenda in Ukraine and beyond, where the real fight for hearts and minds is taking place. The political mainstream will simply go along with the narratives presented to it by the Empire’s compliant media, thus ensuring its continued impotence and irrelevance to policy. However, a loud chorus of critics, dissidents, and anti-imperialist voices is becoming increasingly impossible to ignore.

And while on the far right libertarians and paleoconservatives are engaged in their own internal conflict over support for Russia and President Putin, so too is there an internal, quasi-ideological confrontation taking place on the left.

Many self-proclaimed “leftists” have merely transposed their anti-Soviet politics into an anti-Russian ideological posture, which sees in Russia both an embrace of capitalism and a desire for imperial revanchism. In this way, such groups (numerous on what passes for the “organized Left”) run interference for the political establishment, serving to dilute the potency of an anti-imperialist message through internecine conflict, demonization, and sectarianism. They proclaim that there is nothing about Russia worth defending for leftists. But is this true?

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