The Fake War on ISIS: US and Turkey Escalate in Syria

August 5, 2015 at 10:41 AM


It is late July 2015, and the media is abuzz with the news that Turkey will allow US jets to use its bases to bomb Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Syria. There is much talk about how this development is a “game-changer,” and how this is a clear escalation of the much ballyhooed, but more fictional than real, US war on ISIS: the terror organization that US intelligence welcomed as a positive development in 2012 in their continued attempts to instigate regime change against the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad.

The western public is told that “This is a significant shift…It’s a big deal,” as a US military official told the Wall Street Journal. What the corporate media fail to mention, however, is the fact that Turkey has been, and continues to be, a central actor in the war in Syria and, consequently, in the development and maintenance of ISIS. So, while Washington waxes poetic about stepping up the fight against the terror group, and lauds the participation of its allies in Ankara, the barely concealed fact is that Turkey is merely further entrenching itself in a war that it has fomented.

Of equal importance is the simple fact that a “war on ISIS” is merely a pretext for Turkey’s military engagement in Syria and throughout the region. Not only does Turkey’s neo-Ottoman revanchist President Erdogan want to flex his military muscles in order to further the regime change agenda in Syria, he also is using recent tragic events as political and diplomatic cover for waging a new aggressive war against the region’s Kurds, especially Turkey’s longtime foe the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).

In this way, Turkey’s recent moves should be seen as merely a new phase of its engagement in the regional war that it has helped foment. Contrary to western corporate media talking points, Turkey has not just recently become actively engaged in the conflict; Ankara has merely shifted its strategy and its tactics, moving from covert engagement to overt participation.

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Donald Trump: A Different Shade of Green

August 5, 2015 at 10:33 AM
Donald Trump is leading the Republican primary polls by a wide margin. Many commentators have explained this development as an indication that Trump represents something new, that he speaks to the Republican base honestly, and in a language that resonates. They say that Trump is simply “different.”

But what is often missed in such analysis is exactly how Trump is different from the field, and from the Republican Party establishment. Certainly Trump’s bombastic style of speaking, and apparent willingness to give voice to the more reactionary social consciousness deeply embedded in the Republican grassroots, is not the usual fare, even for the often ridiculous caricatures in the Republican field (think Jindal, Cruz and Perry). Indeed, it is Trump’s brashness and disregard for “political correctness” and “acceptability” that is one of his great allures for millions of Americans on the right.

But this is merely style; it is not the substance of what makes Trump different. For that, one must examine critically the money interests that Trump and his competitors represent.

Follow the money

A serious analysis of Trump’s candidacy requires an understanding of the forces which are, at least in appearance, arrayed against him. It has recently come out that the immensely powerful Koch Brothers network is “freezing out” Trump from its vast array of electioneering tools, including voter data, high profile “grassroots summits” and more. Although Trump is personal friends with David Koch, it seems that the Republican kingmaker is not exactly enamored with the prospect of The Donald as standard-bearer for the Republican Party in 2016. But, personal friendship and electability aside, the real reason for this move is that Koch and Trump represent very different moneyed interests.

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Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?

August 2, 2015 at 8:33 AM


It may not dominate international headlines as Greece has, but Puerto Rico is facing a strikingly similar crisis, one which threatens to tear apart the very fabric of its society. With a crushing debt burden poised to collapse the US commonwealth, many alleged experts have warned that only through painful “reforms” (read austerity) can the island territory make any economic progress. But at what price is this “progress” to be attained?

The question of ultimate responsibility is, just as with Greece, multifaceted. On the one hand, years of mismanagement have taken their toll on the economy, leading in part to the current crisis. On the other hand, Puerto Rico has been the victim of a predatory capitalist campaign waged by major Wall Street banks, as well as hedge funds and private speculators, who have become heavily overleveraged in Puerto Rican debt through reckless bond purchases while Wall Street has fattened itself playing the role of middleman.

But the crisis in Puerto Rico also raises a deeper political question that for years has lurked just beneath the surface of the US territory, namely Puerto Rico’s true status: dependent US commonwealth or neocolonial possession? While Greece has been a member of the European Union, thereby at the very least giving it the illusion of democratic representation, Puerto Rico has remained little more than a colonial possession – an economic and political vassal of the Empire, subject to its rules and at the mercy of its lenders, while having no political representation or legal recourse. In short, Puerto Rico’s crisis demonstrates unequivocally that the small island commonwealth, and its 3.5 million inhabitants, are little more than neocolonial subjects.

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CounterPunch Radio – Ep. 13 (José Pertierra)

July 31, 2015 at 2:24 PM

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Click here to listen to CounterPunch Radio – Ep. 13 with José Pertierra

This week, CounterPunch Radio host Eric Draitser sits down with renowned Cuban-American attorney José Pertierra to discuss the latest developments in Latin America, especially the warming of relations between the US and Cuba. Pertierra draws on his decades of experience working in international cases dealing with both Cuba and Venezuela, providing insight into issues ranging from the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana, to the geopolitical imperatives driving the shift in US policy. José and Eric contrast the US attitude toward Cuba and Venezuela, and discuss the political and strategic reasons for this. They also touch on the state of the Cuban economy, the mindset of young Cubans today, the importance of Hugo Chavez and his legacy, and the role of China and other non-western countries in the region.

All this and much more in Episode 13 of CounterPunch Radio featuring, as always, intro and outtro music from the Dr. of the Blues, the man with a PhD in Boogie Woogie, David Vest, and musical interlude from Rebel Diaz.

China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion

July 28, 2015 at 10:23 AM


China has recently taken an important step in more tightly regulating foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) inside the country. Despite condemnation from so called human rights groups in the West, China’s move should be understood as a critical decision to assert sovereignty over its own political space. Naturally, the shrill cries of “repression” and “hostility toward civil society” from western NGOs have done little to shake the resolve of Beijing as the government has recognized the critical importance of cutting off all avenues for political and social destabilization.

The predictable argument, once again being made against China’sOverseas NGO Management Law, is that it is a restriction on freedom of association and expression, and a means of stifling the burgeoning civil society sector in China. The NGO advocates portray this proposed legislation as another example of the violation of human rights in China, and further evidence of Beijing’s lack of commitment to them. They posit that China is moving to further entrench an authoritarian government by closing off the democratic space which has emerged in recent years.

However, amid all the hand-wringing about human rights and democracy, what is conveniently left out of the narrative is the simple fact that foreign NGOs, and domestic ones funded by foreign money, are, to a large extent, agents of foreign interests, and are quite used as soft power weapons for destabilization. And this is no mere conspiracy theory as the documented record of the role of NGOs in recent political unrest in China is voluminous. It would not be a stretch to say that Beijing has finally recognized, just as Russia has before it, that in order to maintain political stability and true sovereignty, it must be able to control the civil society space otherwise manipulated by the US and its allies.

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