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Thread: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

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    United States Avalon Member onawah's Avatar
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Deluge Of New Leaks Further Shreds The Establishment Syria Narrative
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...ria-narrative/
    by Caitlin Johnstone
    (Many hyperlinks in this article--too many to copy and paste here.)

    "It’s been a bad last 24 hours for the war propagandists.

    WikiLeaks has published multiple documents providing further details on the coverup within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of its own investigators’ findings which contradicted the official story we were all given about an alleged chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria last year. The alleged chemical weapons incident was blamed on the Syrian government by the US and its allies, who launched airstrikes against Syria several days later. Subsequent evidence indicating that there was insufficient reason to conclude the chlorine gas attack ever happened was repressed by the OPCW, reportedly at the urging of US government officials.

    The new publications by WikiLeaks add new detail to this still-unfolding scandal, providing more evidence to further invalidate attempts by establishment Syria narrative managers to spin it all as an empty conspiracy theory. The OPCW has no business hiding any information from the public which casts doubt on the official narrative about an incident which was used to justify an act of war on a sovereign nation.
    Quote WikiLeaks

    @wikileaks
    RELEASE: Third batch of documents showing doctoring of facts in released version of OPCW chemical weapons report on Syria. Including a memo stating 20 inspectors feel released version “did not reflect the views of the team members that deployed to [Syria]”https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/

    4,104
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    The following are hyperlinks to the individual OPCW documents WikiLeaks published, with some highlights found therein:

    A first draft of the OPCW’s July 2018 Interim Report on the team’s findings in Douma.

    Contains crucial information that was not included in either the final draft of the July 2018 Interim Report or the March 2019 Final Report, including (emphasis mine):

    1. The symptoms of the alleged victims of the supposed chemical incident were inconsistent with chlorine gas poisoning.

    “Some of the signs and symptoms described by witnesses and noted in photos and video recordings taken by witnesses, of the alleged victims are not consistent with exposure to chlorine-containing choking or blood agents such as chlorine gas, phosgene or cyanogen chloride,” we learn in the unredacted first draft. “Specifically, the rapid onset of heavy buccal and nasal frothing in many victims, as well as the colour of the secretions, is not indicative of intoxication from such chemicals.”

    “The large number of decedents in the one location (allegedly 40 to 45), most of whom were seen in videos and photos strewn on the floor of the apartments away from open windows, and within a few meters of an escape to un-poisoned or less toxic air, is at odds with intoxication by chlorine-based choking or blood agents, even at high concentrations,” the unredacted draft says.

    This important information was omitted from the Interim Report and completely contradicted by the Final Report, which said that the investigation had found “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

    2. OPCW inspectors couldn’t find any explanation for why the gas cylinders supposedly dropped from Syrian aircraft were so undamaged by the fall.

    “The FFM [Fact-Finding Mission] team is unable to provide satisfactory explanations for the relatively moderate damage to the cylinders allegedly dropped from an unknown height, compared to the destruction caused to the rebar-reinforced concrete roofs,” reads the leaked first draft. “In the case of Location 4, how the cylinder ended up on the bed, given the point at which it allegedly penetrated the room, remains unclear. The team considers that further studies by specialists in metallurgy and structural engineering or mechanics are required to provide an authoritative assessment of the team’s observations.”

    We now know that a specialist was subsequently recruited to find an answer to this mystery. A leaked document dated February 2019 and published by the Working Group On Syria, Propaganda and Media in May 2019 was signed by a longtime OPCW inspector named Ian Henderson. Henderson, a South African ballistics expert, ran some experiments and determined that “The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft,” writing instead that the cylinders being “manually placed” (i.e. staged) in the locations where investigators found them is “the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”

    More on Ian Henderson in a moment.

    3. The team concluded that either the victims were poisoned with some unknown gas which wasn’t chlorine, or there was no chemical weapon at all.

    “The inconsistency between the presence of a putative chlorine-containing toxic chocking or blood agent on the one hand and the testimonies of alleged witnesses and symptoms observed from video footage and photographs, on the other, cannot be rationalised,” the unredacted first draft reads. “The team considered two possible explanations for the incongruity:
    a. The victims were exposed to another highly toxic chemical agent that gave rise to the symptoms observed and has so far gone undetected.
    b. The fatalities resulted from a non-chemical-related incident.”

    Again, none of this information made it into any of the OPCW’s public reports on the Douma incident. The difference between the information we were given (that a chlorine gas attack took place and the strong suggestion that it was dropped by Syrian aircraft) and the report the inspectors were initially trying to put together (literally the exact opposite) is staggering. For more insider information on the deliberation between OPCW inspectors who wanted their actual findings to be reported and the organisation officials who conspired to omit those findings, read this November report by journalist Jonathan Steele.

    A memo from a member of the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Douma to the OPCW Director General Fernando Arais.



    It’s worth noting that this memo is dated two weeks after the OPCW published its Final Report on the Douma incident in March 2019, because it further invalidates the bogus argument made by narrative management firms like Bellingcat claiming that the grievances of the dissenting OPCW inspectors had been satisfactorily addressed by the time the Final Report was published.

    Clearly the concerns were not addressed, because the memo consists entirely of complaints, and according to its author “there are about 20 inspectors who have expressed their concern over the current situation.”

    The memo’s author complains that the FFM report was made almost exclusively by team members who never even went to Douma, doing their research instead solely in “Country X”, which WikiLeaks speculates may be Turkey.

    “The FFM report does not reflect the views of all the teams that deployed to Douma,” the memo says. “Only one team member (a paramedic) of the so-called ‘FFM core team’ was in Douma. The FFM report was written by this core team, thus by people who had only operated in Country X.”

    “After the exclusion of all team members other than a small cadre of members who had deployed (and deployed again in October 2018) to Country X, the conclusion seems to have turned completely in the opposite direction. The FFM team members find this confusing, and are concerned to know how this occurred.”

    The memo’s author is unnamed in the WikiLeaks document, but claims to have been “assigned the task of analysis and assessment of the ballistics of the two cylinders,” indicating that it was likely the aforementioned Ian Henderson. A concurrent publication by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail appears to confirm this. Hitchens reports that when Henderson lodged his Engineering Assessment in the OPCW’s secure registry after failing to get traction for his report, which the memo’s author also reports to have done, an unpopular unnamed OPCW official nicknamed “Voldemort” ordered that every trace of the report be removed.

    “Mr Henderson tried to get his research included in the final report, but when it became clear it would be excluded, he lodged a copy in a secure registry, known as the Documents Registry Archive (DRA),” Hitchens reported. “This is normal practice for such confidential material, but when ‘Voldemort’ heard about it, he sent an email to subordinates saying: ‘Please get this document out of DRA … And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever in DRA’.”

    So to recap, the OPCW enlisted a longtime ballistics expert with an extensive history of work with the organisation to run some experiments and produce an Engineering Assessment to explain how the alleged chlorine cylinders could have been found in the condition they were found in, and when he came to conclusions which were exculpatory for the Syrian government, his boss ordered every sign of it purged from the registry.

    Again, not a whisper of any of this was breathed in the OPCW’s public reports on the Douma incident, despite somewhere around 20 inspectors having objections. The OPCW had no business hiding this from the public.

    An internal email from May 2019 voicing further concerns.

    Quote Max Blumenthal

    @MaxBlumenthal
    The usual regime change fanatics helped provoke more OPCW leaks by flagrantly lying about a whistleblower. Read the whole thread here. https://twitter.com/caitoz/status/1206006260962738177

    Caitlin Johnstone ⏳
    @caitoz
    Replying to @caitoz
    "A falsehood issued by the OPCW, that Ian did not take part in the Douma FFM team, has been pivotal in discrediting him and his work."

    Yes indeed. Syria narrative managers made extensive use of this bogus claim.

    View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
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    9:38 PM - Dec 14, 2019
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    This interesting email, sent to the OPCW’s Office of Strategy and Planning Director Veronika Stromsikova, defended Ian Henderson and objected to the mistreatment of a principled and respected team member.

    “A member of the FFM team has been suspended from his post and escorted from the OPCW building in a less than dignified manner,” the email’s author complains. “After more than 12 years, I believe, serving the OPCW with dedication and professionalism, Ian Henderson’s personal and professional integrity have taken a knock in the most public of fora, the internet. A falsehood issued by the OPCW, that Ian did not take part in the Douma FFM team, has been pivotal in discrediting him and his work.”

    Indeed, as soon as Henderson’s Engineering Assessment was leaked this past May, Syria narrative managers like Idrees Ahmad, Brian Whitaker, and Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins immediately set to work trying to spin him as merely a lone “disgruntled employee” who was “not a part of the Fact-Finding Mission”.

    “The denial is patently untrue,” the email’s author writes. “Ian Henderson WAS part of the FFM and there is an abundance of official documentation, as well as other supporting proof, that testifies to that.”

    But I don’t suppose we can expect to see any apologies or corrections from the usual suspects in light of this new information.

    “We are not insisting on being right in our assertions, but we are demanding to be heard,” the email’s author writes. “We have desperately tried to limit expression of concerns to within the Organisation and will continue to do so. However, we have been stonewalled throughout by obfuscation, exclusion, and even thuggish and bullying behavior.”

    The author wraps things up by explaining why they’re pushing so hard to be heard with a quote from Edmund Burke: “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

    Email communications between FFM members and their team leader Sami Barrek.

    Quote Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊)
    @schestowitz
    New leak: "It's because the stakes are so high that we have a responsibility to guard against misrepresentation, by both sides."
    https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/doc...m_R_on_6-July/
    #Douma #wikileaks #syria #opcw

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    6:36 PM - Dec 14, 2019
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    See Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊)'s other Tweets
    This July 2018 correspondence is significant mainly because it brings in hard evidence for the exchange described by the OPCW whistleblower “Alex” in the aforementioned Jonathan Steele report, which was described as follows:

    “This request was rejected but Sami Barrek, the team leader, was put in charge of replacing the doctored version with what turned out to be a toned-down but still misleading report. During the editing four of the Douma inspectors, including Ian Henderson, the engineering expert, had managed to get Barrek to agree that the low levels of COCs [Chlorinated Organic Chemicals] should be mentioned. On the day before the new publication date, July 6, they found that the levels were again being omitted.”

    The back-and-forth exchanges feature one or more anonymous team members arguing with Barrek that more information needs to be included in the Interim Report so that people won’t jump to conclusions that the team had found evidence it hadn’t. And sure enough, Moon of Alabama documented multiple mass media headlines which falsely claimed the Interim Report had asserted chlorine gas was used (that invalid claim wasn’t made until the Final Report in March 2019).

    Here’s a sample exchange where one inspector tries to persuade Barrek to change the language in the report so readers will understand that the information they had about chlorinated organic chemical concentrations at the time hadn’t reached any “damning conclusion”, with Barrek throwing up inertia and saying he can unilaterally overrule them if he wants to:




    Again, none of the findings which were inconsistent with the US narrative were included in either the final draft of the Interim Report or in the Final Report. Nothing about the low levels of chlorinated organic chemicals, nothing about the inconsistencies in symptoms with chlorine gas poisoning, nothing about the lack of damage to the cylinders, nothing about Ian Henderson’s findings. Nothing. The OPCW had no business withholding that information.

    Quote Brian Whitaker

    @Brian_Whit
    Eight weeks ago a whistleblower claimed to have documents showing "irregularities" in the OPCW's investigation of a suspected chemical attack in Syria. Since then, only one document has surfaced. Where are the others? https://al-bab.com/blog/2019/12/doum...aked-documents


    The Douma whistleblower and the long wait for leaked documents
    Last October a whistleblower emerged from inside the OPCW alleging

    al-bab.com
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    These new leaks take care of the latest spin jobs by establishment narrative managers, who were just the other day beginning to argue that the fact that there hadn’t been any more OPCW leaks in a while indicated that the whole OPCW scandal was bogus. Sorry to disappoint you, fellas.

    Quote Tareq Haddad
    @Tareq_Haddad
    My full account of what took place at Newsweek.
    Despite a number of offers, I decided to publish on my website because I take full responsibility for what's reported
    It's a long piece so I recommend reading at a time when you can digest and on a computerhttps://tareqhaddad.com/2019/12/14/lies-newsweek-and-control-of-the-media-narrative-first-hand-account/ …
    Lies, Newsweek and Control of the Media Narrative: First-Hand Account
    A mafia runs editors. Freedom of the press is dead. Journalists and ordinary people must stand up.
    tareqhaddad.com
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    The WikiLeaks documents and Hitchens’ Daily Mail article came out the same day as ex-Newsweek reporter Tareq Haddad shared emails sent to him by his editors forbidding him to publish information on the OPCW scandal, an important slice of information on the way mass media outlets stifle commentary on important stories that are inconvenient for US imperialism.

    Newsweek’s foreign affairs editor Dimi Reider (who Haddad notes has Council on Foreign Relations ties) shot down Haddad’s pitch for a story about the OPCW scandal last month by falsely claiming that Bellingcat had “published a thorough refutation” of the story Haddad wanted to report on. In fact, as I documented at the time, Bellingcat had published an unbelievably pathetic spin job in which it tried to paint the whole OPCW scandal as a big misunderstanding.

    Bellingcat argued that the concerns voiced in the leaked email published by WikiLeaks last month about the developing Interim Report in July 2018 had been fully addressed by the time the Final Report was published in March 2019, citing as evidence the fact that some slight adjustments had been made in the wording, like changing “likely” to “possible” and changing “reactive chlorine containing chemical” to “chemical containing reactive chlorine.” In focusing on this ridiculous, pedantic nonsense, Bellingcat tries to weave the narrative that because the whistleblower’s concerns were addressed with this pedantry, there was therefore no OPCW coverup. Never mind the fact that the multiple OPCW whistleblowers were still plainly so incensed by the organisation’s publishing that they felt the need to leak internal documents. Never mind that Bellingcat made no attempt whatsoever to address the aforementioned actual grievances by the OPCW whistleblowers like the low levels of chlorinated organic chemicals on the scene, the inconsistencies in symptoms and testimony with chlorine poisoning, or the Ian Henderson report.

    But that’s what happens when mass media outlets like The New York Times and The Guardian publish swooning puff piece after swooning puff piece about Bellingcat; they grant a US government-funded narrative management firm so much unearned legitimacy that even a transparently bogus argument like the one they made about the OPCW scandal gets passed around newsrooms by credulous editors assuring each other that it’s a “thorough refutation” of facts and reality. Mass media outlets help puff up Bellingcat’s legitimacy, and in turn Bellingcat rewards them with an excuse to not have to ever challenge establishment narratives.

    Reider also argued that Haddad’s report on the OPCW couldn’t be published because “not a single respected media outlet – many of whom boast far greater regional expertise, resources on the ground and in newsroom than Newsweek does – have taken the leak remotely seriously.”

    That’s a great self-reinforcing system, isn’t it? MSM outlets validate US government-funded narrative managers like Bellingcat so they can tell them with authority why an unauthorised story shouldn’t be published, and each outlet sees the absence of other outlets reporting on it as evidence that it shouldn’t be reported on. And we wonder why no one’s reporting on the OPCW scandal.

    Quote Caitlin Johnstone ⏳
    @caitoz
    Fake News By Omission — The Mass Media’s Cowardly Distortion Tool

    "The exceptional silence on the OPCW scandal from imperial news media discredits them completely, but people won’t know about it unless they are told. Spread the word." #OPCW #Syriahttps://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/fake-news-by-omission-the-mass-medias-cowardly-distortion-tool-b80f3d0fe7e4 …


    Fake News By Omission — The Mass Media’s Cowardly Distortion Tool
    Western mass media have continued their conspiracy of silence on the OPCW scandal, making no significant mention yet this month of the…

    medium.com
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    And Newsweek’s Digital Director Laura Davis gave Haddad the same answer, regurgitating the absolutely bogus Bellingcat line that the leaked email wasn’t newsworthy because “it predates the final report” and because no one else has written about it. It’s a system fully locked down against any oppositional reporting, and we can surmise that this is the norm for newsrooms throughout the English-speaking world.

    Haddad also published a similar email he’d received from International Business Times then-editor-in-chief Julian Kossoff, who rejected a pitch he’d made for an opinion piece he’d written about the Khan Sheikhun incident in April 2017.

    “Thanks for the suggested opinion piece,” Kossoff wrote. “However, I do not think we will be able to use it. Its narrative is highly controversial and likely to offend and only a writer or expert of repute (e.g Noam Chomsky) could get away with such an incendiary thesis.”

    And what was this “incendiary thesis”? Well, Haddad published it with CounterPunch, so you can see for yourself. He simply argued what in my opinion should be a completely uncontroversial position: that there wasn’t yet enough evidence to be certain Assad was behind the attacks, and the US has a known history of entering into military entanglements based on lies, so the warmongers demanding Assad’s overthrow shouldn’t be listened to.

    This insight into the dynamics behind the mass media’s lies by omission are very valuable, and they help us paint a better picture about the reason we’re not seeing more discussion of these OPCW leaks."
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  3. Link to Post #42
    United States Avalon Member onawah's Avatar
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Hot Mic Moment Exposes Insane Sleaziness Of British Political/Media Class
    DECEMBER 16, 2019
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    (Not really anymore disingenuous or fatuous than what we see every day and night here in the US on CNN, but perhaps in the UK it's not so much the rule as the exception.)



    "There’s a wildly under-appreciated clip of news footage from Thursday’s general election in the UK that, now that everyone’s had some time to emotionally process the emotional fallout from that depressing night, needs more attention.

    Labour MP and chronic left-puncher Jess Phillips appeared on Channel 4 to talk about how devastated she was about the news of exit polls showing her party’s crushing defeat, except the cameras switched on before she was prepared and caught her in the middle of a joyful chuckle. It took several seconds and the overt reminders from the show’s hosts to put on a “straight face” and act emotional before she could conceal her cheery mood as Corbyn’s Labour leadership was trampled underfoot by odious empire lackey Boris Johnson.

    “Good evening Jess,” said the program’s host Krishnan Guru-Murthy. “How are you feeling as these results unfold?”

    Watching the stumbling improvisation that came next feels like walking into a room full of awkward silence when your supposed friends had just been saying mean things about you, or seeing your spouse conspicuously jump away from an attractive coworker when you drop by the office.
    Phillips, still unaware that the cameras were now rolling, did not interrupt the delighted guffaw she’d been enjoying.

    “Can you hear me Jess Phillips?” the host asked over nervous tittering from the audience. “It’s Krishnan.”

    “I can hear you, sorry,” Phillips said after a moment, literally putting her hand over her mouth for a few seconds to hide her giant ****-eating grin.

    “Straight face,” said Guru-Murthy, who then apparently realized that this was a bizarre thing to say and added “Actually you don’t have to have a straight face, umm, on this show. Umm… what are you thinking?”

    “Oh are you talking to me now? Sorry that wasn’t clear,” said Phillips after a pause, her face now finally somewhat straightened out. “Sorry, I’m really tired. What I’m thinking is… it’s, it’s just totally devastating isn’t it? It’s totally devastating that all the people that I see every day, they’re gonna have nowhere to turn. I mean, I should probably do that thing where we all pretend that we’re gonna wait and see if the results are better than we thought, but it feels like a kick in the stomach.”

    Jess Phillips had not been acting like a woman who felt devastated, and she had certainly not been acting like a woman who felt like she’d been kicked in the stomach. Jess Phillips had been acting like a woman on her third strawberry daiquiri down at the pub with a couple of hilarious mates.

    “I’m just waiting actually, I mean, for your thoughts,” Guru-Murthy said after an awkward pause. “I mean, you look emotional, and upset, and that’s understandable.”

    Guru-Murthy was lying. At no time did Phillips look either emotional or upset.

    “Jess it’s just that you look very emotional, and we know you, we know you’re a normal, sane person, so it’s very confusing,” host Katherine Ryan bull****ted when Phillips struggled to hear what Guru-Murthy had said.

    “I am very emotional,” Phillips lied. “But not just for me or for the Labour Party. I’m emotional for the people that the Labour Party was invented to help.”

    The audience, probably relieved to have a taste of something that isn’t intensely awkward and disturbing, erupted in applause.
    Quote Frank Owen's Legendary Paintbrush
    @WarmongerHodges
    "Enter Jess Phillips. She backs Trident, austerity and Israel. She hates Corbyn, Williamson and Leftists in general. She doesn’t believe in class politics or ideology, but she does talk about gender all the time, and says '****' a lot..." https://off-guardian.org/2019/03/15/...eplace-corbyn/ … via @offguardian0


    Jess Phillips Emerges as Establishment Pick to Replace Corbyn
    It seems The Times is willing to give column inches to any Labour MP willing to insult and undermine their leader, and is determined to try and tell the public which politicians are the “tren…

    off-guardian.org
    1,097
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    For months the imperial media have been loudly anointing Phillips as the establishment choice to replace the unabashedly socialism-minded Corbyn, as Kit Knightly described for Off-Guardian back in March. This coronation-by-media continues today with outlets ranging from The Guardian to Daily Mail to Telegraph placing her on the short list to assume leadership of the Labour Party over the last couple of days.

    After an anti-imperialist, pro-Palestinian socialist was magically thrown into role of Opposition leader by an extraordinary accident in 2015, Phillips leapt into her role as outspoken Corbyn critic by publicly telling him “I won’t knife you in the back, I’ll knife you in the front.” Despite this vow, Phillips proceeded to steadfastly knife Corbyn in the back by fanning the flames of incredibly disingenuous smears against his leadership, elevating the imaginary Labour antisemitism crisis to such a cartoonish extent that earlier this year she proclaimed that a tweet saying “Palestine Lives” from Young Labour “is antisemitic and it has to stop.” This malicious termiting continued into the final days before the general election, with Phillips criticizing Corbyn for not responding adequately to claims about antisemitism in the Labour Party by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

    Phillips’ hot mic moment, and the mad scramble of the show’s perception-managing pundits to clean it up, provides us with a brief glimpse behind the phony persona that the empire’s political/media class put on for us. Should Bernie Sanders by some Corbyn-like miracle overcome the rigged primaries and receive the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, we may be absolutely certain we’ll see a campaign to sabotage his run and force a loss to Trump in the US elections next year. And we may be absolutely certain they’ll cackle about it just as Jess Phillips did when she thought the cameras were off.[IMG]https://i2.wp.com/cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/720/1*I-iPBgzJmxiqHYzebmZN4A.png?resize=1000%2C749&ssl=1[/IMG]These people aren’t like you and me. They don’t care about truth, and they don’t care about human beings. They rose to the positions they occupy within media and politics by consistently demonstrating that they’ll do whatever it takes to advance the interests of the oligarchic empire while giving the people the bare minimum possible to prevent an insurrection. They’re where they’re at precisely because they don’t care about truth or people. They care about their own dominance within our sick dominator culture, and when they achieve it, they smile, and they celebrate, and they laugh.

    Sometimes the guardians of empire make little mistakes. Sometimes they accidentally allow an anti-imperialist to lead one of their major parties. Sometimes they accidentally get caught in mid-guffaw when they’re meant to be pretending to be heartbroken. Whenever those holes appear it’s important to pay attention to them, and to shove as many rays of light through them as possible before they are closed."
    Last edited by onawah; 19th December 2019 at 02:50.
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    The 12 Strongest Arguments That Douma Was A False Flag
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    DECEMBER 19, 2019
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...-a-false-flag/

    (Long article, many hyperlinks Tweets and videos--everything that needs to be known about the Douma False Flag. More than I have time to copy here now.)
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Spot The Manipulators In Your Own Life: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix
    by Caitlin Johnstone
    DECEMBER 20, 2019
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...rative-matrix/

    "The real underlying currency of our world is not gold, nor bureaucratic fiat, nor even military might. The real underlying currency of our world is narrative, and the ability to control it. Everything always comes down to this one real currency. If you look at what all these think tanks, NGOs, media outlets and grant making networks that billionaires pour their money into actually do, it ultimately boils down to controlling the dominant stories that people tell about what's going on in their world.

    If you want to understand how narrative management works in the world, pay attention to how it plays out in your own life. What are some popular narratives within your family, perhaps about one of your family members, that don't reflect reality? What subjects are off limits in your immediate or extended family, and why? Who do you know that repeatedly spins narratives about the kind of person they are, or the kind of person you are?

    Most of us have at least one strong narrative manipulator in our circle somewhere; family, friends, work, etc. You can spot them by how much energy they pour into manufacturing a consensus about someone in their circle, including themselves; working to spin narratives about themselves that make them look good, or narratives about someone else to make them look bad.

    Watch for anyone in your life who repeatedly tells you stories about the kind of person they are, because they're trying to manipulate your narrative about them. Also watch for anyone who keeps telling you stories about yourself, because they're trying to manipulate your narrative about you. Be especially wary of the latter.

    Spot the manipulators in your own life and watch their patterns, then look out to the world and compare those patterns to what you see with government and media. You'll see the exact same patterns on a macro scale. Manipulation takes the same form whether small-scale or large.

    We'll get angry at our compatriots for not rising up and forcing real change. We'll get angry at a loved one for not leaving an abusive relationship. What we rarely do is look closely and see that both are victims of manipulation which keeps them from changing their situation.

    Whenever I talk about propaganda influencing public action I get accused of depriving people of their "agency", but the only way to believe that is to believe it's impossible to influence people's decisions through media. An idea both propagandists and advertisers would scoff at.

    I love my job, but it's so stupid and annoying to have to keep dignifying the mass media with attention and analysis. They're so discredited at this point that everyone should just be dismissing them like raving street corner preachers. I look forward to that day so I can spend my time making art instead of paying attention to the lies that are coming out of people's screens.

    There are exactly zero babies in the mainstream media bathwater. It's a propaganda network which manufactures consent for mass murder, oppression and exploitation, and it deserves nothing other than total obliteration. Toss it all out.

    All this impeachment stuff is very exciting for everyone who lacks the mental capacity to count Senate seats.

    Still haven't seen any coherent defense of Democrats impeaching over Trump's Biden/Ukraine political shenanigans but not Bush's torture scandals or lying about a war that slaughtered a million people.

    It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where Democrats would impeach a Republican president for war crimes. Unfortunately it won't happen because (A) they'd implicate countless Democrats in the process and (B) they want be able to commit their own war crimes once back in office.
    Anyone who warns that impeachment is a distraction from more important issues will get told "We can walk and chew gum at the same time! We can push impeachment AND advance progressive agendas!" The same people saying this just spent the last three years fixating on Russia instead of advancing progressive agendas.

    It's unfortunate that when someone changes to a new belief system, like converting to a religion or whatever, their attention goes into that new belief system and not into the amazing discovery that they have the incredible superpower to change their beliefs whenever they want.

    To have the luxury of being able to do deep inner work and become a healthy human being on this planet is a tremendous privilege, yet most who have this privilege neglect to use it. Do your part in clearing our species of insanity, if you are able. To do otherwise is a betrayal of humanity.

    A certain type of antisocial personality disorder will always tend to gravitate toward circles where violence and aggression are the norm. This includes the military and police force, naturally. It also includes political activist circles which encourage violence and aggression.

    People spend so much time on online political forums pretending to disagree with each other's opinions when really everyone's just masturbating their early childhood trauma on each other in a socially acceptable disguise.

    Mentally replace all the doofy company logos on people's cars and clothing with the word "CAPITALISM".

    If US government agencies say "So this thing just happened and as a result we're going to have to intervene militarily over there," and your immediate, reflexive answer isn't "Bull****, either provide indisputable and independently verifiable proof or **** off," then you've learned nothing at all about the history of US interventionism.

    The extremist militants who nearly succeeded in toppling the Syrian government are not and have never been "moderate rebels". They're only "moderate" compared to the psychopaths who've been funding them.

    Establishment narrative management about Syria is so uniquely heated and aggressive for two reasons:
    1) Syria has unique geostrategic importance.
    2) The empire has done extremely evil things in Syria that it absolutely cannot allow to enter into mainstream attention.

    People tell me "It's not Trump's fault he keeps advancing evil establishment agendas! He's being manipulated!" But seriously, who gives a ****? Either he's an impotent puppet who does as he's told or he's doing it on his own. Either way, **** him. It's a meaningless distinction.

    How to criticize the Israeli government without being labeled an anti-semite:
    1. Don't criticize the Israeli government.
    2. Ever.
    3. At all.

    "Is it journalism?" is a meaningless, power-serving debate. The question is if it's GOOD journalism. Stop imbuing the word with magical significance and accept that it's simply a description of an activity that can be done by Jake Tapper, Julian Assange, or a small-time Youtuber.

    I have this platform because of baked-in privileges, extraordinary support, but also sheer luck and miracles clearing me over the many invisible walls that prevent people like me getting a big voice. I acknowledge the existence of those invisible walls. I exist to knock them down."
    Each breath a gift...
    _____________

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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Humanity’s Salvation Will Necessarily Look Like A Leap Into The Unknown
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...o-the-unknown/
    DECEMBER 21, 2019
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE

    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...o-the-unknown/



    "If humanity is to turn away from its murderous, omnicidal, ecocidal, oppressive and exploitative trajectory, it will necessarily involve a sharp, drastic deviation from all its previous patterning.

    You would think that this would go without saying; obviously a drastic change in behavior will look drastically different from the behavior which preceded it. This is self-evident. Yet when you look at the arguments that people are making today, there’s almost universally a built-in assumption that humankind’s salvation will in some way involve a continuation of its previous patterning.

    Most people with an ear to the ground understand to some extent that the collective behavior of our species is unsustainable. Where they differ in opinion is on what should be done to address this problem. Where they unify in opinion is on the assumption that the solution will look like their own personal ideology winning out over all the others. Capitalists believe that capitalism will provide technological solutions to the problems that capitalism has created, and that this will happen more quickly and efficiently if the fetters on capitalism are removed. Socialists believe that socialism will solve the problems that socialism has been powerless to provide this entire time, if only this consistent pattern of socialism’s inability to obtain dominance is magically deviated from somehow. And so on.

    But if you really think honestly about it, how can that possibly be? How can any preexisting ideological pattern possibly create a deviation in patterning? Any ideology you are bringing to the table will almost certainly be one which has been a part of humanity’s collective patterning for generations, and probably for centuries. How can an ideology which has been promoted in more or less the same patterns for generation possibly lead to a pattern deviation?

    Believing you can create a sharp change in direction by shoving in a direction people have already been shoving for generations is like believing you can dry yourself off using water. The old patterns cannot create new patterning any more than water can create the state of dryness. It is against their inherent nature.

    Because of our limited lifespans and our cognitive inability to perceive everything at once, it’s difficult to see the big picture of humanity’s plight as a whole. It’s difficult to give due significance to the fact that the ideological tug-of-war game which seems to be presenting in one particular election in one particular location we’re particularly passionate about has actually been going on all over the world since long before we were born, and all that it has gained us is the situation in which we now find ourselves. The shoving of your one preferred ideology is inseparable from the whole of our total collective patterning, and it always has been.

    What this means is that if there is to be any deviation from our species’ self-destructive trajectory, the cause of that deviation will come completely out of left field. No one will expect it, because it won’t come from a direction that we have been conditioned through our experience to look. Our unpatterning will necessarily come from a completely un-patterned direction. A collective movement in an unprecedented direction will necessarily have an unprecedented antecedent.

    So in what way is what I’m saying useful to you? If the only hope for humanity lies in the arrival of conditions you can’t possibly predict, then it makes no difference what you think or do because those conditions will either arrive or not regardless of your conditioned patterning, right?

    Well, yes and no. Obviously there’s nothing you can do to create the conditions of a change agent you can’t possibly anticipate with your learned mental patternings. So in that sense you may as well keep fighting the bastards in whatever way seems best to you in order to keep them at bay for the time being (and also because **** them). But one thing you can do in order to help grease the wheels of drastic change is to prepare yourself and the world for a leap into the unknown.

    Because that’s necessarily what a drastic pattern deviation will look like: a leap into the unknown. The precipice of the changes we all intuitively sense are on our horizon is the precipice between the known patterns and the unknowable unpatterning. The annihilation that many are predicting will look like literal human extinction may well end up actually presenting as the annihilation of our conditioned patterning. Which is, experientially, a kind of death.

    So what you can do on a personal level is let go of your attachment to the known. Sell off all stocks you’ve invested in your conditioned mental patterning and begin doing the hard inner work necessary to embrace the unknown and unknowable. Begin surprising yourself, and opening doors to allow life to surprise you. Take chances on new and unpredictable situations instead of taking refuge in the known and the familiar. Give less and less interest and attention to your conditioned, looping mental narratives and more and more to the uncontrollable present moment in which literally anything can be born.

    You can carry this embrace of the unknowable out into the collective level by creating and expressing from it. Make art which comes from an unpatterned direction. Do things which make people question how reliable their patterned expectations are. It may sound cliche, but there is immense wisdom hidden in the saying “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty”.

    Making this your way of life can help create little gaps in our patterning, so that if and when the change agent for humanity’s evolutionary transcendence of its self-destructive patterns arrives, you and those who’ve encountered your unpatterning dance in the world will be better able to improvise along with it, without fear or inertia."
    Last edited by onawah; 23rd December 2019 at 02:26.
    Each breath a gift...
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Why Everything Is F---ed
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    DECEMBER 22, 2019
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/author/caitlin-johnstone/

    (This makes me think of the famous koan and the demand of the Zen Master " Show me your original face before you were born"!)



    "We all slid out of the womb an itty bitty helpless information sponge into a world full of mentally ill giants who couldn’t wait to fill our tiny skulls with all of their inner demons. And now everything, understandably, is ****ed.

    That’s basically our whole entire situation in a nutshell. You can add on as many extra details as you like–plutocracy, corruption, mass media propaganda, billionaire wine cave fundraisers, whatever–but ultimately our plight is due to the fact that every single human showed up on this planet completely helpless and knowing nothing, forced to trust crazy giants to give them the grand introductory tour.

    Why were those giants crazy? Well you see, they got here the same way you did: small, slippery and completely clueless, surrounded by enormous gibbering lunatics who were all in a mad rush to teach them how to be insane.

    And those giants came into the world under the exact same circumstances, as did the giants who came before them, and the giants who came before them, and so on.

    It’s a grand old tradition of ours, ultimately stretching all the way back to our own evolutionary birth in this world and the emergence of a massive cerebral cortex in a mammal who up until that point had been primarily concerned with sneaking in a snack and a quick shag in between mad sprints away from sharp-fanged predators. This newfound capacity for complex abstract thought burst onto this frantic, confusing scene and was quickly seized and manipulated by the cleverer primates.

    And thus human madness was born.

    The most powerful early humans were the cleverest humans, the ones who understood how to use this new capacity for language and abstract thought to their own advantage. They realized that by simply saying something is true in a sufficiently confident way, they could persuade the less clever humans to treat it as true.

    Those clever humans used this newfound ability to place themselves in charge, and to make a bunch of rules to be passed down from generation to generation proclaiming that the less powerful humans must submit to the more powerful humans. Over the generations these rules became more and more numerous and complex, weaving in moralism, codes of filial piety, and insane, power-serving religions glorifying meekness, obedience and poverty.

    These power-serving rule sets were picked up and used to justify highly traumatizing behavior in the service of the powerful, from wars to genocides to institutionalized torture and brutal executions of the disobedient, and just within domestic power structures the institutionalized normalization of spousal rape and physical abuse in households all around the world.

    This eons-long tidal wave of deep trauma and power-serving rules structures passed from generation to generation to generation picking up more and more demented flotsam and jetsam as it went along, to ultimately come crashing down upon your crowning head as you emerged from your mother’s body.

    That is your legacy. That is everyone’s legacy. Countless generations of cumulative madness, washed into the present moment on a current of eons of exploitation and senseless cruelty stretching all the way back to the dawn of our species on this planet.

    This heritage of madness is funneled straight into our sponge-like brains from the moment we emerge from the womb and all the way through an extremely traumatic and confusing ordeal known as childhood, after which we are handed the keys to the world and told “You’re an adult now. You’re in charge. See if you can figure out how to run this place better than we did.”

    And we’re just like:


    We never stood a goddamn chance. None of us did. The deck was stacked against us long before we got here.

    And now you get political commentators constantly railing on about “Gosh, if only we could get people to stop listening to their televisions and vote third party and read World Socialist Website and turn up to demonstrations and take back the power of the people from our oppressors, we could turn this thing around!” Not realizing that everyone else in their country went through the same traumatic, confusing ordeal that they went through at the beginning of their lives, the only difference being that most of them got a lot less lucky in sorting out reality from madness. And not realizing that they themselves are still quite mad.

    This is ultimately the answer to every question about why things are ****ed right now. Why does it seem like nothing changes no matter who wins the election? Why do the wars keep expanding instead of ending? Why is the news man always lying? Why are they locking up that white-haired fellow for publishing facts? Why are those nuclear superpowers hurtling closer toward direct confrontation? Why are the rainforests vanishing? Why are the whales dying? Why are the mass shootings increasing? Why is everyone so miserable?

    Because every adult on this planet started off tiny, helpless, impressionable, and surrounded by gargantuan madmen, and it made it almost impossible to be sane. That’s why.

    Notice I said “almost”. It is still possible to find one’s way into a relationship with reality that is guided by truth and untainted by madness, but you’ve got to start way, way, way back at the beginning and deeply re-examine even your most fundamental assumptions about what’s true and real. Because it turns out that while the mad giants gave us information that was very useful for interacting with other mad giants, it was almost entirely useless for learning how to navigate through life in a wise and truthful way.

    And that’s what I’m pointing to here: it’s important to get clear on just how far back the crazy goes and how fundamentally interwoven it is with the situation in which we now find ourselves. If you begin with the assumption that our problem is simply due to humans not voting and mobilizing correctly in alignment with the correct ideology, you’ll miss the real obstacle entirely. You’ve got to zoom the camera out much, much further to see the full picture.

    Can you become a deeply sane individual, untainted by your ancient heritage of madness? With a lot of work and uncompromising self-honesty you can.

    Can all humans become deeply sane and untainted by their ancient heritage of madness? It would take a miracle. A whole lot of miracles. Billions, to be precise.

    But then, I believe in miracles."
    Each breath a gift...
    _____________

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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Don’t Be Crushed By Your Own Belief System
    DECEMBER 27, 2019
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...belief-system/

    "We’ve all known people who’ve changed their belief systems. Whether it’s switching political ideologies or converting to a new religion, we’ve all witnessed with our own eyes that people have the ability to willfully change their beliefs. Unless you’ve been living an incredibly boring and immature life, you’ve probably made such a change yourself at some point, too.

    What’s very, very strange, and very very unfortunate, is that when such changes in belief systems occur it tends to go unnoticed and underappreciated just how significant it is and how enormous its implications are. We discover that we have this incredible superpower to change our beliefs whenever we want, and instead of paying attention to that superpower and what it means for our lives, we focus on the new belief system instead.

    I once had a friend who converted to fundamentalist Christianity for six weeks, then dropped it like a hot potato. For those six weeks she was absolutely gung-ho, plunged fully into that reality tunnel and perceiving the world through that perceptual lens, and then she was done and moved on to something else. At no time did she ever stop and go “Holy crap! I can change my entire worldview at will! What does that mean for me and my life? What doors can I unlock with this amazing newfound ability?” Instead she focused entirely on her new belief system, then when she dropped it she just reverted to her old one.

    How bizarre is that? It’s like if you were straining to reach a book on the top shelf at the bookstore, then you suddenly and unexpectedly levitated off the ground and grabbed it, and instead of paying attention to the discovery that you have an amazing superpower you got all excited to read the book and forgot all about your newfound flying powers.

    Because as far as the conventional worldview we’re taught by our teachers and parents is concerned, the ability to change your beliefs at will really is an extraordinary superpower. It’s not an ability we’re ever taught we have; we’re taught in a way that assumes we’re all just floating along taking in information about the world, and whatever that information adds up to is what our belief system looks like. Even in the case of a radical change in belief systems like converting to a new religion, the fact that you’re performing an astonishing miracle by tearing down your old worldview and replacing it with a new one gets de-emphasised and re-framed as you being “saved”. It’s made to look passive. Like something that happened to you.

    But it’s not passive at all. You consciously and deliberately replaced beliefs you previously held about the reality you’re living in with an entirely different set of beliefs.

    That’s an amazing superpower, and everyone has it. But this extraordinary fact almost always goes completely overlooked. Someone switches from “liberal” to “conservative” and spends their time focusing on how dumb those libtards are. Someone switches from agnostic to Christian and it’s all about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. When really, if they weren’t getting ahead of themselves and staring at the new worldview instead of noticing the amazing thing they were doing to get there, it would be all about “Holy ****! I can believe whatever I want about anything! What belief system will bring me the most happiness and wellbeing?”

    Because you really can do that. You do have the ability to completely rewire your beliefs in whatever way serves you. There’s often an unquestioned assumption that we exist to serve our belief systems, but actually the opposite is true: belief is a tool that you can use to serve yourself.

    One way this can make a huge difference is in your beliefs regarding yourself. Most of us form beliefs about ourselves which cause us a lot of unhappiness and limit us in a great many ways. Beliefs about being deficient, inadequate, unlovable, incapable, ugly, awful, etc, which we internalize and forget about. These beliefs about ourselves continue guiding our inner lives and our life choices unconsciously from behind the scenes, determining everything from our career paths, to our love lives, to our level of inner peace, to what kinds of things we do to make life feel less painful.

    You have the ability to simply change these stories at will. You can choose to believe that you are awesome. That you are capable. That you are supremely lovable. That you are the baddest bitch in the room. You’ll experience some cognitive dissonance as one belief is replaced with another, but that will dissipate as you settle on your new belief about yourself. You don’t need to weigh a bunch of concepts to determine whether you are lovable or whatever; you can just decide that that is a true thing that you believe about yourself, and hold it as true and real.

    You can also change your beliefs about the world you live in. Many people believe they live in a fundamentally hostile universe that they need to constantly be on guard against or else something awful will happen, for example. You can actually counter this belief by replacing it with its opposite: you live in a fundamentally beneficent universe that is endlessly conspiring toward your wellbeing, and any speed bumps you encounter along the way are just opportunities in disguise. Again, you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to believe this about your world, and you don’t need to add up all the facts and decide if it’s an evidence-based belief; you can just hold it as true for as long as it serves you.

    There’s no danger in picking up a new belief system and trying it on for a while, because, as my temporarily fundamentalist Christian friend can tell you, you can put them back down and replace them with something else whenever you want.

    It generally serves us to have a worldview that’s based on predictable observations about how reality tends to behave on a pragmatic level; it’s useful to hold as true that getting hit by a car will be hazardous to your health and if you jump off a cliff you won’t walk on air. But those are beliefs based on practical considerations about what’s best for you, which is the same kind of consideration you can give to what type of universe you live in and what kind of person you are. You are the author of your own belief system, and the only beliefs you should hold are the ones that serve you, for exactly as long as they serve you.

    Because ultimately it’s impossible to know what this strange reality is. Our ability to perceive the world is limited to a laughably small slice of spacetime, our brains process a very tiny sliver of the tiny sliver of information our senses take in, and science can’t even tell us what things like consciousness and matter are at their most fundamental level. We’re all just making this up as we go along, so rather than trying to add up a bunch of facts and figures to form a belief system about this mess, it’s much wiser to consciously and deliberately construct one which actually benefits you as a person.

    Another thing you have the power to do, which I highly recommend, is to get rid of beliefs which do not serve you and replace them with nothing at all. When you notice a belief you have about the world, or about yourself, or about someone else, or whatever, you can ask yourself how that belief is beneficial to you. If you conclude that the belief harms your ability to enjoy life or to succeed at your goals, or even if it’s just not particularly useful, you can simply consciously relinquish it by ceasing to energetically hold it in yourself as true and real. You don’t actually need to replace it with another belief if you don’t want to; you can just let it exist as one big question mark.

    In fact it’s possible to live life with very few beliefs, because very few of them will be useful to you at any given time. You can comb through your entire belief system and consciously relinquish almost all of it one item at a time, leaving nothing in its place but question marks. You can choose to experience life as a mystery, without holding any beliefs about what this whole explosion of sensory impressions and thoughts we experience in our field of consciousness fundamentally is. You can determine what assessments about this world are useful to hold as true to some extent (you can even choose to hold them loosely so that they can be readily dropped at any time), and then leave everything else as one giant unknowing.

    Not knowing can be intimidating at first, but once you’re comfortable with it it’s very expansive and makes life extremely enjoyable. When we’re not filtering our experience of the world through a whole bunch of beliefs and labels and “knowledge”, its innate beauty can be deeply perceived. And this makes our time in this weird universe a lot more fun.

    It also makes us a lot more efficacious in our interactions with other people. When we’re meeting others without a bunch of beliefs about them or ourselves, a very free-form improvisation is able to take place in real time, with your reactions based on what you’re both actually saying and doing rather than a bunch of preconceived notions. Anyone who’s ever played a fast-paced sport where you need to be fully in the moment knows how much more effective you can be when you’re not mentally trying to anticipate what will happen and going with the flow instead. With a lens free of rigid beliefs, you can flow with all of life like that.

    To be able to grasp and release beliefs at will takes some practice, just like grasping and releasing with your physical hands took practice when you were little. But once you’ve got the hang of it you can create a very artful, beautiful life for yourself."
    Each breath a gift...
    _____________

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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Opposing Interventionism In Nation X Means You Love Nation X’s Government!”
    DECEMBER 27, 2019
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...xs-government/

    "Every time you speak out against western imperialism in a given nation or question western propaganda narratives about that nation’s government, you will inevitably be accused of loving that nation’s government by anyone who argues with you.

    When I say “inevitably”, I am not exaggerating. If you speak in any public forum for any length of time expressing skepticism of what we’re told to believe about a nation whose government has been targeted by the US-centralized empire, you will with absolute certainty eventually run into someone who accuses you of thinking that that government is awesome and pure and good.

    I have never, ever had this fail to occur, even once. If I write an article about the mountain of evidence suggesting we were lied to about a chemical attack in Syria, I get people telling me I think Bashar al-Assad is a girl scout who’s never ever done anything wrong. If I express skepticism of the flimsy narratives we’re being fed in the escalating propaganda war against China, I get “If you love Beijing so much and think Xi is so innocent you should go and move to China!” It’s one of the only completely predictable things about this job.

    Which is of course idiotic. Understanding that the US government and its allies lie constantly with the full-throated support of western news media in no way suggests a belief that the targeted government in question is wonderful, and there’s absolutely no legitimate reason to infer such a thing. The indisputable fact that US-led military interventionism is universally disastrous and based on lies has nothing to do with anyone’s level of emotional support for the governments targeted for destruction by the US-centralized empire. Yet everyone reading this who’s ever tried to speak out against US foreign policy has encountered the behavior I’m describing here.

    Why is that? Why do establishment loyalists engage in such a weird, nonsensical behavior with such reliable consistency? Why do they literally always accuse anyone who questions any narrative about any empire-targeted government of having positive emotions toward that government, even though there is no rational reason for them to do so?

    I’ll tell you why: Hollywood.

    Well, not just Hollywood. Really the dynamic we’re about to discuss has been going on for as long as there have been war stories. But the dominant storytellers of today are in Hollywood, and that’s where the dominant war stories are told.

    For as long as war stories have been told, those stories have been framed as a battle between good and evil. The good side is the side you identify with, and the evil side is the one you want to lose. You see this in almost all depictions of war coming out of Hollywood today, from movies based on actual wars to sci-fi and fantasy films like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Over and over and over again from childhood we are trained to assume that mass military violence must have a Good side and an Evil side, so when we see a war being depicted anywhere we immediately start trying to sort out who are the Good Guys and who are the Bad Guys, usually without even thinking about it.

    Obviously war isn’t actually about Good versus Evil; usually it’s nothing more noble than geostrategic agenda versus geostrategic agenda. But because people are conditioned from an early age to overlay any ideas about large-scale conflict with this false Good or Evil dichotomy, there’s an immediate assumption that if you’re suggesting that one side might not be Good, then the other side are the Good Guys. If you say the government pushing regime change in Iran is doing something immoral, then you’re saying they’re the Bad Guys, which means you think the Iranian government are the Good Guys.

    Yes, the behavior in question really does boil down to something that stupid. This phenomenon where empire apologists will predictably accuse you of loving an empire-targeted nation just because you oppose imperialist agendas is primarily due to a combination of dumb binary thinking and watching too many Hollywood movies. In other words, it’s due to bad information meeting bad thinking.

    All we can really do to address this dynamic is bring consciousness to it. When someone’s acting out the unexamined assumption that because you are critical of western imperialism you must necessarily believe that all of its targets are perfect and wonderful, you can point out the absurdity of this position and invite them to think a little harder about it. Or just link them to this article.

    Beyond that, all you can really do is understand what you’re looking at, roll your eyes, and sigh."
    Each breath a gift...
    _____________

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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Media’s Deafening Silence On Latest WikiLeaks Drops Is Its Own Scandal
    DECEMBER 28, 2019
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...s-own-scandal/



    "This is getting really, really, really weird.

    WikiLeaks has published yet another set of leaked internal documents from within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) adding even more material to the mountain of evidence that we’ve been lied to about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria last year which resulted in airstrikes upon that nation from the US, UK and France.

    This new WikiLeaks drop includes an email from the OPCW Chief of Cabinet Sebastien Braha (who is reportedly so detested by organisation inspectors that they code named him “Voldemort”) throwing a fit over the Ian Henderson Engineering Assessment which found that the Douma incident was likely a staged event. Braha is seen ordering OPCW staff to “remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever” from the organisation’s secure registry.

    Minutes from an OPCW meeting with toxicologists specialized in chemical weapons: “the experts were conclusive in their statements that there was
    no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure”.https://t.co/j5Jgjiz8UY pic.twitter.com/vgPaTtsdQN

    — WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 27, 2019

    The drop also includes the minutes from an OPCW toxicology meeting with “three Toxicologists/Clinical pharmacologists, one bioanalytical and toxicological chemist”, all four of whom are specialists in chemical weapons analysis.

    “With respect to the consistency of the observed and reported symptoms of the alleged victims with possible exposure to chlorine gas or similar, the experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure,” the document reads.

    According to the leaked minutes from the toxicology meeting, the chief expert offered “the possibility of the event being a propaganda exercise” as one potential explanation for the Douma incident. The other OPCW experts agreed that the key “take-away message” from the meeting was “that the symptoms observed were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified”.

    Like all the other many, many, many, many different leaks which have been hemorrhaging from the OPCW about the Douma incident, none of the important information contained in these publications was included in any of the OPCW’s public reports on the matter. According to the OPCW’s Final Report published in March 2019, the investigative team found “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

    We now know that these “reasonable grounds” contain more holes than a spaghetti strainer executed by firing squad. This is extremely important information about an unsolved war crime which resulted in dozens of civilian deaths and led to an act of war which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and had many far-reaching geopolitical consequences.

    Yet the mass media, freakishly, has had absolutely nothing to say about this extremely newsworthy story.



    As of this writing, a Google News search for this story brings up an article by RT, Al-Masdar News, and some entries by alternative outlets you’ve almost certainly never heard of like UrduPoint News and People’s Pundit Daily.

    Make no mistake about it: this is insane. The fact that an extremely important news story of immense geopolitical consequence is not getting any mainstream news media coverage, at all, is absolutely stark raving insane.

    Up until the OPCW leaks, WikiLeaks drops always made mainstream news headlines. Everyone remembers how the 2016 news cycle was largely dominated by leaked Democratic Party emails emerging from the outlet. Even the relatively minor ICE agents publication by WikiLeaks last year, containing information that was already public, garnered headlines from top US outlets like The Washington Post , Newsweek, and USA Today. Now, on this exponentially more important story, zero coverage.

    The mass media’s stone-dead silence on the OPCW scandal is becoming its own scandal, of equal or perhaps even greater significance than the OPCW scandal itself. It opens up a whole litany of questions which have tremendous importance for every citizen of the western world; questions like, how are people supposed to participate in democracy if all the outlets they normally turn to to make informed voting decisions adamantly refuse to tell them about the existence of massive news stories like the OPCW scandal? How are people meant to address such conspiracies of silence when there is no mechanism in place to hold the entire mass media to account for its complicity in it? And by what mechanism are all these outlets unifying in that conspiracy of silence?

    We can at least gain some insight into that last question with the internal Newsweek emails which were published by journalist Tareq Haddad two weeks ago. The emails feature multiple Newsweek editors telling Haddad that they would not publish a word about the OPCW leaks for two reasons: (1) because no other outlets were reporting on them, and (2) because the US government-funded narrative management firm Bellingcat had published a laughably bogus article explaining why the leaks weren’t newsworthy. Haddad has since resigned from Newsweek.

    We may be certain that this story is being killed in news rooms all around the world in similar fashion, and possibly using those very same excuses. As long as no other “respectable” (i.e. establishment) outlets are covering this story, it can be treated as a non-story, using a deceitful US government-funded narrative management operation as justification as needed. If one journalist threw his life into chaos and uncertainty by resigning and blowing the whistle on this conspiracy of silence, we may be certain that the same is happening to countless others who don’t have to courage and/or ability to do the same.

    Our fearless media watchdogs still maintaining complete blackout on @OPCW whistleblower leaks debunking WMD attack in Douma. The leaks show that Trump—like Dubya— used fake WMDs to bomb Arab country—then strong-armed @OPCW to cover up the lies.https://t.co/bdbzf6py8p

    — Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) December 27, 2019

    Many alternative media commentators are highlighting this news media blackout on social media today.

    “Our fearless media watchdogs still maintaining complete blackout on OPCW whistleblower leaks debunking WMD attack in Douma. The leaks show that Trump—like Dubya— used fake WMDs to bomb Arab country—then strong-armed OPCW to cover up the lies,” tweeted journalist Mark Ames.

    “The US attacked Syria for a chemical attack by Assad last year. But official OPCW scientists who investigated the event didn’t find evidence the Syrian military used chemical weapons. The media has chosen to ignore this story and fire its own journalists who try to report on it,” tweeted author and analyst Max Abrahms.

    “This is the FOURTH leak showing how the OPCW fabricated a report on a supposed Syrian ‘chemical’ attack,” tweeted journalist Ben Norton. “And mainstream Western corporate media outlets are still silent, showing how authoritarian these ‘democracies’ are and how tightly they control info.”

    “Media silence on this story is its own scandal,” tweeted journalist Aaron Maté.

    But this spin machine is twirling off its axis trying to normalize this silence.

    Surprise, surprise, Wikileaks didn't leak the next email in this chain from the OPCW questioning why Ian Henderson was creating rogue reports.

    This email also quite clearly contradicts "Alex's" claim that Henderson was in the FFM. pic.twitter.com/qcJkAyXe9W

    — Nick Waters (@N_Waters89) December 27, 2019

    Bellingcat narrative jockeys such as “senior investigator” Nick Waters are already scrambling to perception manage everyone into believing their own eyes are lying to them. Waters has a thread on Twitter that’s being shared around by all the usual Syria spinmeisters claiming, based on no evidence whatsoever, that WikiLeaks is selectively publishing the documents it has to create a false impression of events in the OPCW. Waters falsely claims that an email by Sebastien “Voldemort” Braha — the guy at the center of the scandal — proves that Ian Henderson was not a part of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Douma, in contradiction to the claims made by the anonymous second OPCW whistleblower who goes by the pseudonym of “Alex”.

    As Waters is one hundred percent aware, Henderson absolutely was part of the Douma Fact-Finding Mission, and one of the FFM members who actually went to Douma no less. I’ve put together a Twitter thread refuting Waters’ ridiculous claims which you can read by clicking here, but in short an arbitrary distinction seems to have been made between the FFM and the “FFM core team”, or what is labeled the “FFM Alpha team” in a newly leaked email trying to marginalize Henderson’s assessment. Henderson actually went to Douma as part of the FFM, unlike almost all members of the so-called “core team” who except for one paramedic operated solely in another nation (probably Turkey).

    Of course, the distinction of whether Henderson was or was not “in the FFM” is also itself irrelevant and arbitrary, since we know for a fact that he is a longtime OPCW inspector who went to Douma and contributed an assessment which was hidden from the public by the OPCW.

    So this narrative being spun by the US government-funded propagandists at Bellingcat is bogus from top to bottom, but what’s infuriating is that we already know who editors in news rooms are going to listen to.

    "We have this alternative media ecosystem that is driving a lot of disinformation. It is not understood by journalists or anyone really beyond a very small group of people who are really engaged with it," @EliotHiggins says https://t.co/RWi2Mqy8jV

    — Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) December 27, 2019

    It’s absolutely amazing how tightly interlaced Bellingcat is with the upper echelons of mainstream news media and the public framing of what’s going on in Syria. Mere hours after the latest WikiLeaks drop, CNN pundit Brian Stelter shared an article about Bellingcat founder and former Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Eliot Higgins, who warns of the dangers posed by alternative media reporters who cover underreported stories like the OPCW scandal.

    “We have this alternative media ecosystem that is driving a lot of disinformation. It is not understood by journalists or anyone really beyond a very small group of people who are really engaged with it,” reads the ironic Higgins quote in the excerpt shared by Stelter.

    We’ve been seeing a mad rush from mass media pundits to give this US government-funded narrative management operation unearned and undeserved legitimacy, churning out tweets like Stelter’s and fawning puff pieces by The New York Times, The Guardian and The New Yorker. This unearned and undeserved legitimacy is then used by editors to justify looking to Bellingcat for instructions on how to think about important information on Syria rather than doing their own basic investigation and analysis. It’s a self-validating feedback loop which just so happens to work out very conveniently for the government which funds Bellingcat.

    It remains unknown exactly what’s transpiring in news rooms around the world to maintain the conspiracy of silence on the OPCW scandal, but what is known is that by itself this scandalous silence is enough to fully discredit the mass media forever. WikiLeaks has exposed these outlets for the monolithic propaganda engine that they really are, and they did it just by publishing extremely newsworthy leak after extremely newsworthy leak.

    In order to perception manage us any harder, these freaks are going to have to go around literally confiscating our ears and eyeballs."
    Each breath a gift...
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Narrative Managers Claim White Helmets Founder Was Driven To Suicide By Syria Skeptics
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    DECEMBER 29, 2019
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...yria-skeptics/

    "Imperialist spinmeisters are trial-ballooning a new Syria narrative that is so breathtakingly stupid it needs its own article solely for the purpose of mockery.

    On Christmas Eve PBS aired a bizarre segment on the death of James Le Mesurier, the former military intelligence officer who founded the extremely shady propaganda construct known as the White Helmets. The segment makes relentless, ham-fisted appeals to emotion, even attempting to associate the White Helmets with Armistice Day using wistful camera pans over poppy flowers and misty war memorial art exhibits, but by far the most yogurt-brained part is its repeated suggestions that Le Mesurier killed himself because people had been accusing him of being a propagandist.

    “And now a story of a humanitarian trying to help Syria: the suspicious death in Turkey last month of James Le Mesurier, the co-founder of the White Helmets rescue organization in Syria,” opens PBS News Hour‘s Judy Woodruff. “Friends and colleagues fear that he may have been murdered or driven to suicide by a campaign of character assassination.”


    “Whatever the cause, Le Mesurier was a victim of a very modern war,” the special’s narrator solemnly intones. “There is no hiding place in cyberspace. Le Mesurier was at the epicenter of a propaganda war, and his friends are appalled at what they regard as a campaign of character assassination.”

    “The amount of abuse, the amount of ill-placed propaganda, disinformation that’s on social media and the Internet coming out of Russian bots and Syria, Syrian regime, and others was unbearable,” Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon mourns.

    This ridiculous narrative was picked up and run with by Syria narrative managers on Twitter.

    “On lethal disinformation— a thread,” tweeted virulent Syria narrative manager Idrees Ahmad. “This is a disturbing report by Malcolm Brabant on the lethal consequences of conspiracism. It shows how slander and disinformation may have pushed James Le Mesurier, one of the finest humanitarians, to his death. The report highlights the pernicious lies issuing from the self-described ‘Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media’, which is a small group of academics, none specialising in Syria or the Middle East, in alliance with a group of pro-Kremlin trolls like Vanessa Beeley et al.”

    It is true that both Beeley and the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media have accused Le Mesurier of running a propaganda operation on behalf of western governments using western government funding. But if Ahmad truly believed that accusing people of conducting propaganda caused them to kill themselves, he should turn himself in for attempted murder, because he accuses people of being propagandists constantly.

    Here’s a link to Ahmad calling journalist Max Blumenthal a “propagandist for Maduro”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling Beeley a “pro-regime propagandist”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling award-winning journalist Jonathan Steele “a fabricator and a propagandist”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou “a propagandist for Putin”.

    Talk about “lethal disinformation”, Idrees.

    Quote Alexander "I'm so far left I agree with Mike Pompeo on every foreign policy issue" Reid Ross also assures us that questioning establishment Syria narratives definitely kills people. https://t.co/RyDlQ7Ex7X

    — Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) December 29, 2019
    But of course, no one really believes that accusations of conducting propaganda actually drive people to suicide. If they did, people like me would have thrown ourselves off a building years ago.

    I am accused of being a propagandist nearly every day. At the height of Russiagate hysteria it happened many times a day in my blog post comments and social media notifications. Depending on what’s in the news and how I’ve responded to it I’ve been accused of writing paid propaganda for the Kremlin, Assad, the Iranian government, Palestinians, Pyongyang, Beijing, Maduro, the alt-right, George Soros, and WikiLeaks, just off the top of my head.

    Every anti-imperialist, anti-interventionist, and antiwar activist with any kind of platform has had this experience. Ever since the new McCarthyism of establishment-driven Russia hysteria took off, accusing people who question imperialist narratives of conducting psyops for foreign governments has become the norm in political discourse. It’s created an extremely hostile and vitriolic environment in which productive conversations are vanishingly rare.

    Where’s our PBS special? Does anyone care? Is there any compassion from these hand-wringing establishment loyalists for the fact that Vanessa Beeley and the members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media are hounded day in and day out by establishment narrative managers and their brainwashed followers with accusations of spreading propaganda, supporting genocide, and embracing war crimes? I know I’ve never had a garment-rending Idrees Ahmad thread written about concerns for my psychological well being, and I’ve been targeted by multiple online harassment campaigns over the years.


    The amount of hateful vitriol that gets leveled at people for simply opposing imperialism, for wanting peace, is truly astonishing. Just for saying “Hey here are some reasons we should maybe reconsider toppling yet another government in yet another Middle Eastern nation” will bring in complete strangers calling you all sorts of names, calling you disgusting, calling you evil, calling you a monster. For supporting peace.

    There are all kinds of people in the world who are very deserving of harsh words. Powerful exploiters, oppressors and manipulators. People who destroy the environment for profit. People who get rich selling weapons of war while paying politicians and think tanks to advance the cause of war. War criminals who’ve never faced justice. With all those people in the world who we can all agree are terrible, you wouldn’t think peace activists should feature anywhere near the top of anyone’s list. But they do. Because war propaganda is just that influential.

    And, of course, nobody cares. None of these narrative managers care about what psychological burden they might be placing on people by assuring their audiences that it’s perfectly sane and normal to hound and harass anyone who questions imperialist propaganda. Their concern is not and has never been about anyone’s psychological health. Their concern is in managing narratives in a way that favors the US-centralized empire that they serve.

    I do not know what caused Le Mesurier’s death; to be in any way confident that a known spook committed suicide at all, or was murdered by Russians, is absurd. Maybe he killed himself because he failed to listen to the adage “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

    What I absolutely do know, with absolute certainty, is that only idiots believe that skepticism about western regime change agendas in the Middle East kills people."
    Last edited by onawah; 29th December 2019 at 18:08.
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Why I Don’t Criticize Russia, China, Or Other Unabsorbed Governments
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    DECEMBER 30, 2019
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12...d-governments/

    "Depending on whose political echo chamber I happen to be arguing with on a given day, one common criticism I run into a fair bit which many of my readers have surely also encountered is that I put all my energy into criticizing the foreign policy of the United States and its allies.

    “You’re not anti-war, you’re only anti-AMERICAN wars!” they say, as though they’re delivering some kind of devastating slam-dunk point. “If you’re so antiwar, why don’t you criticize Assad’s war in Syria? If you’re such an anti-imperialist, show me where you’ve ever once criticized Russian imperialism, or Chinese imperialism?”

    The argument being that someone who opposes US-led warmongering isn’t really motivated by a desire for peace and an opposition to war unless they’re also voicing opposition to all other violent governments in the world. If you’re only criticizing US imperialism and not the imperialism of other nations, you must be motivated by something far more sinister, perhaps a hatred for the United States of America.

    I have three responses to this feeble line of argumentation, which I’ll list here for the benefit of anyone else who’d like to make use of them:

    1. People making this argument never apply its own logic to themselves.
    Nobody criticizes all misdeeds by all governments everywhere in the world. If you run into someone making this “you have to criticize all bad governments or your criticisms are invalid” argument on Twitter, just do an advanced search for their Twitter handle plus “Duterte” or “Sisi” or one of the other US-allied tyrants who the mainstream media haven’t spent years demonizing, and you’ll find that they’ve never made a single mention of those leaders the entire time they’ve had that account.

    What this proves, of course, is that they don’t actually practice the belief that all misdeeds by all governments are equally worthy of condemnation. What they actually practice is the belief that one ought to criticize the governments they hear their television criticizing: Russia, China, Syria, Iran, etc. The governments the US State Department and the CIA don’t like. The disobedient governments. The governments which have resisted absorption into the blob of the US-centralized empire.

    They don’t put the logic of their own argument into practice because it is impossible to put into practice. Everyone’s only got so much time in the day, so you have to choose where to put your focus. I personally choose to put my focus on the single most egregious offender in warmongering and imperialism. Which takes us to:

    2. The US empire is by far the worst warmongering imperialist force on the planet.
    US-led regime change interventionism is literally always disastrous and literally never helpful. This is an indisputable fact. Imperialists get very frustrated when I take my stand there in arguments online, because it is an unassailable position. That’s usually when the ad hominems start flying.

    All things are not equal. This isn’t something you should have to explain to grown adults, but such is the nature of propaganda. It is true that other governments do evil things; as far as I can tell this becomes pretty much a given as soon as a government is allowed to have a military force and keep important secrets from its citizenry. Obviously Russia, China and other unabsorbed governments are no exception to this rule. But the US is worse, by orders of magnitude.

    No other nation comes anywhere remotely close. No other nation is circling the planet with hundreds of military bases and engaged in dozens of undeclared military operations. No other nation has cultivated a giant globe-sprawling empire in the form of tightly knit alliances with powerful murderous governments like the UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia. No other nation is constantly laboring to sabotage and undermine any government which refuses to be absorbed into military and economic alliance with it using sanctions, staged coups, covert CIA operations, color revolutions, economic manipulations, propaganda, the arming of dissident militias, and launching full-scale military invasions. Only the US and the nations that its cancerous empire has metastasized into are doing anything like that on anywhere near the scale.

    So since I, like everyone else, only have enough time in the day to oppose so many different evils in the world, I choose to pour my energy into opposing the single most egregious offender. An offender which doesn’t get nearly enough opposition, in my opinion.

    3. I have a special responsibility for the evils of the empire in which I live.
    When asked in an interview why he spends the bulk of his time criticizing his own government, Noam Chomsky replied:

    “My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that: namely, I can do something about it. So even if the US was responsible for 2% of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2% I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.”

    When people here in Australia ask about what I do for a living, I sometimes jokingly tell them I write about Australian foreign policy, which means that I write about US foreign policy. I’ve written many times about how Australia functions as Washington’s basement gimp, an impotent vassal which functions as little more than a US military/intelligence asset in terms of meaningful international affairs.

    So all I really am doing here is applying Chomsky’s philosophy to the reality of an empire in which sovereign nations do not exist to any meaningful extent; as a member of a state within that empire I focus on US government malfeasance in the same way I would if I were living in Alaska or Hawaii.

    All I’m doing is pointing my personal skill set at what I see as the biggest problem in the world: a murderous empire in which I happen to reside and therefore bear special responsibility for opposing. Which is simply the only sane stand for anyone to take, in my opinion."
    Each breath a gift...
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    What Upstanding Citizens Believe Vs. What Crazy Conspiracy Theorists Believe
    JANUARY 2, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...rists-believe/



    "Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe a mature worldview requires skepticism toward power.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe the government is your friend, and the media are its helpers.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that powerful people sometimes make immoral plans in secret.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe the TV always tells the truth and the CIA exists for no reason.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that extreme government secrecy makes it necessary to discuss possible theories about what might be going on behind that veil of opacity.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe that just because a world-dominating government with the most powerful military in the history of civilization has no transparency and zero accountability to the public, that doesn’t mean you’ve got to get all paranoid about it.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe it’s okay to ask questions about important events that happen in the world, even if their government tells them they shouldn’t.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe everything they need to know about reality comes out of Mike Pompeo’s angelic mouth.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the very rich sometimes engage in nefarious behavior to expand their wealth and power.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe billionaires always conduct themselves with the same values that got them their billions in the first place: honesty, morality, and generosity.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe it’s important to remember the lies that led up to the invasion of Iraq, and the disastrous consequences of blind faith in government claims.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe “Iraq” is a fictional land similar to Narnia or Middle Earth, from the writings of a fantasy author named George Galloway.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe Syria is fighting to avoid becoming another Libya in a war of defense against extremist proxy armies of the US-centralized empire, who were given billions of dollars in military support with the goal of toppling Damascus.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe Bashar al-Assad is a real-life version of a cartoon supervillain who just started murdering civilians willy nilly in 2011 because he loves murdering civilians, then in 2015 his friend Vladimir Putin joined in because he loves murdering civilians also.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the extensive history of US government lies means you should always demand mountains of independently verifiable evidence when they make claims about unabsorbed nations.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe Russia literally committed an act of war on the United States in 2016, China is orchestrating a second Holocaust, Maduro is deliberately starving the Venezuelan people because he hates them, Assad is using chemical weapons but only when it makes no strategic sense, Cuban spy crickets are trying to assassinate US diplomats, there’s novichok everywhere, and every noncompliant party in the Middle East is secretly working for Iran.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that it can be difficult to figure out what’s going on in a mass media landscape that is saturated with the propaganda of the US-centralized empire.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe that all you need to do to ensure you’re getting all the facts is watch television and run screaming from the room if you accidentally flip past RT.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the Gulf of Tonkin incident was faked, the “taking babies out of incubators” narrative was a lie, Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi’s rape armies never existed and the Libya intervention was never really about humanitarian concerns.

    Smart, upstanding citizens believe it’s better not to think about such things.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the latest WikiLeaks publications of internal OPCW documents provide ample evidence that we were lied to about the 2018 Douma incident.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe those documents aren’t real because The New York Times never reported on them.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that increasing levels of government secrecy are making it easier for government agencies to do unethical things in secret.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe that questioning your government makes you a Russian anti-semite.

    Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that the billionaire class which owns the mass media has a natural incentive to prop up the status quo upon which it is built, and so construct an environment where reporters are incentivized to always support the establishment line.

    Smart upstanding citizens believe that if that kind of conspiracy were really happening, it would have been in the news."
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Happy 2020: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix
    JANUARY 1, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...rative-matrix/

    "Start over in the new year. Also, start over at any other time during the rest of the year, whenever you want, as often as you like. Time is an illusion anyway.

    I cannot assure you that things will get better in the ’20s. I can’t assure you that they’ll get worse, either. What I can absolutely guarantee is that things are going to keep getting weirder and weirder. At this point in time the only reliable pattern is the disintegration of patterns.

    The mainstream worldview isn’t mainstream because it is more fact-based, logical, or makes better arguments than other potential worldviews, it’s mainstream because vast fortunes are poured into keeping it mainstream.

    “Why do those people hate us?”
    “We destroyed their country.”
    “We should leave the Middle East then.”
    “We can’t”
    “Why not?”
    “Israel.”
    “What about it?”
    “Those other countries hate it.”
    “Why?”
    “It destroyed the country it was built on top of.”
    “Well maybe we and Israel should leave, then?”
    “Nazi.”

    The empire’s overall strategy toward Iran seems to be to crowd the area with an increasingly intrusive military presence, then react disproportionately in “self defense” when anything happens. It’s like an older sibling’s “I’m not touching you” car ride teasing, but with an entire region.

    Not hearing any urgent concerns about that horrible horrifying epidemic of antisemitism that was pervading the Labour Party anymore. I guess they all stopped being antisemites all of a sudden.

    “You defend Assad!” No I don’t, idiot. I attack the US-centralized empire for pouring billions and billions of dollars into actual terrorist groups in Syria with the goal of effecting regime change, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. I don’t play defense, I play offense.

    I’m still tripping on how the latest WikiLeaks drops are getting literally zero mainstream media coverage, and yet people on the internet still get mad at me for writing about them. Even one indie blogger talking about these authentic documents is unacceptable to some people.

    Everyone involved in getting the OPCW leaks out did the right thing but the MSM. The inspectors did the right thing, the whistleblowers did the right thing, WikiLeaks did the right thing… then the media refused to report it and gave control of the narrative to ****ing Bellingcat. The facts are right there online right now, staring us all right in the face, but because coverage is being suppressed and the conversation controlled, I have people in my social media notifications at this very moment regurgitating old establishment Syria narratives as gospel truth.

    Imagine living in Nazi Germany and only ever talking about Jim Crow laws in the American south. That’s what it’s like when people who live in the US-centralized empire focus on the alleged misdeeds of non-aligned nations.

    Our entire society is mentally ill. What our mentally ill society labels “mental illness” is actually just a small slice of the broader mental illness spectrum–those who are impaired in their ability to participate in the consensus mass delusions shared by the rest of society.

    Sometimes I can only stop and stare slack-jawed at all the extreme hate and vitriol that gets directed at anti-imperialists online. I mean, you’ll get called all sorts of names, get called evil and a monster, for advocating peace. PEACE! Really shows you the power of propaganda.

    Mentally mute the narrative soundtrack about Obama changing things after Bush and Trump presenting a radical deviation from all US norms, and what you see is a government continuing along pretty much the exact same trajectory with only cosmetic changes between administrations. World minus narrative is night-and-day different from world plus narrative.

    Wars aren’t good vs evil; usually they’re geostrategic agenda vs geostrategic agenda. But Hollywood always portrays war as good vs evil, which is why empire apologists always bleat “You’re saying Dictator X is a Good Guy!” whenever you oppose interventionism in X targeted nation. Without that conditioning by professional storytellers, it would never occur to us to try and find the “good guys” in the chaos of a military conflict. We’re trained to think there must be a Good Guy and a Bad Guy, and that if a side isn’t one then they’re the other.

    Capitalism is literally a game. It’s based on completely made-up rules with a completely made-up points system just like any other game. The only difference between this game and the others is this one gets taken so seriously that losing can kill you in real life.

    Arguably the only people who actually truly understand the highly unscientific and completely made-up field of economics are those who manipulate the economy for their own benefit. And they only understand it because they’re the ones authoring its self-fulfilling prophecies.

    Sometimes it’s funny to think about how humanity fought two world wars for basically no reason. World War 2 sprung directly from the effects of World War 1, and hardly anybody can give a coherent explanation for why World War 1 happened. Certainly nobody can justify why World War 1 was necessary. Our species fought two world wars (or arguably one world war with a long intermission to grow more troops) for no justifiable reason at all.

    Keep paying close attention to Syria. I know they’re saying “Assad won” and there’s a lot of other stuff going on in the world, but the battle for narrative control over Syria is hotter than ever and we’re going to see even more information emerge to discredit the imperial press.

    “I hope those folks in Hong Kong and Iran obtain democracy like we westerners have. Lemme log off this search engine algorithmically stacked toward billionaire CIA-tied media and ponder whether I want Donald Trump or Joe Biden to continue the wars and oligarchic exploitation.”

    It can be fun to debate political and ideological solutions to humanity’s problems. Also, it’s worth noting that every one of those problems would disappear very quickly if we all just stopped taking our own mental chatter so seriously."
    Each breath a gift...
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    US Assassination Of Top Iranian Military Official May Ignite World War
    JANUARY 3, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...ite-world-war/



    "The US has admitted to assassinating Iran’s most beloved military leader, General Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike which seems very likely to ignite a full-scale war. Six others are also reported killed, including Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

    According to the Pentagon, Trump personally ordered the assassination. I’ll keep following this hugely important story and will probably be writing a lot about it as it unfolds. I encourage everyone who values peace and humanity to follow it as well.

    “Spoke to a very knowledgeable person about what Iran’s response to Soleimani’s assassination might be,” The Quincy Institute’s Trita Parsi tweeted regarding this developing story. “This would be the equivalent of Iran assassinating Petreus or Mattis, I argued. No, he responded, this is much bigger than that.”

    Pentagon out with a statement on the airstrike.
    "This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world." pic.twitter.com/W1L8ymqScd

    — Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) January 3, 2020

    “Most Americans won’t understand the gravity of this,” tweeted journalist Rania Khalek. “Qasem Soleimani is head of the Iranian IRGC’s elite Quds Force, which conducts operations outside of Iran in both Iraq and Syria. He was credited with helping turn the tide in both countries against Al-Qaeda and ISIS.”

    “This is very serious,” Khalek added. “The US essentially declared war on Iran by assassinating its most revered military figure in Iraq. And by also killing the head of the PMF, the US created more enemies in Iraq. There will be regional retaliation. It’s unlikely it can be prevented.”

    “If true, It is not an understatement to say this could change the entire Middle East,” tweeted Rising‘s Saagar Enjeti.

    “There’s going to be that war now that people have been pushing for since tanking the Iran Deal,” tweeted The Intercept‘s Murtaza Mohammad Hussain.

    “If this is true, the US has effectively declared war on Iran, which has established militarily ties with Russia and China. It’s not hyperbole to say this could start WW3. Insane,” tweeted Grayzone‘s Dan Cohen, who also highlighted the important fact that “Iran, Russia and China held joint naval drills less than a week ago.”

    “Iranian sources in Iran are warning that killing Gen. Qasem Sulaimani spells war,” tweeted Farnaz Fassihi of The New York Times. “‘Official reaction will begin with a strike,’ one says.”

    A proportionate retaliatory strike would necessarily entail an attack on US military targets, or the military targets of US allies. If that happens, either the empire stands down or we’re looking at an all-out war of a size that is potentially almost limitless.

    Iranian sources in Iran are warning that killing Gen. Qasem Sulaimani spells war.
    "Official reaction will begin with a strike," one says.#Iraq

    — Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 3, 2020

    Months after Donald Trump took office it was reported that the CIA had escalated covert operations in Iran, and the administration has been escalating tensions with that nation further and further ever since it announced its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 on completely false pretenses. The withdrawal was followed by waves of debilitating, civilian-starving sanctions implemented with the goal of provoking civil unrest, a goal Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has openly admitted. From there we saw increased US military presence in the region, then the Iraqi-killing airstrikes earlier this week and the resulting tense angry standoff at the US embassy in Baghdad, and now here we are with Iran planning retaliation for an unforgivable assassination on its most senior and revered military official.

    Many are understandably claiming that this geostrategically pivotal confrontation was precisely what Trump was installed to facilitate all along. The largest donor to any campaign in 2016 was oligarch Sheldon Adelson, who gave $25 million to the Trump campaign, and who in 2013 said that the US should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran. After Trump’s election win, Adelson gave another $5 million to his inauguration, the largest single presidential inaugural donation ever made. Newt Gingrich, another of the billionaire’s hired politicians, has said that Adelson’s “central value” is Israel.

    Make no mistake, Iran is not Iraq or Libya. A full-scale war against Iran would be many times more deadly, costly and destabilizing than those interventions; the UK’s Admiral Lord West told The Daily Star Online last year that winning such a war would require no less than a million troops, or nearly the total number of active duty US military personnel in the entire world. Even if a direct war with Iran didn’t lead to a confrontation with China, Russia and the other unabsorbed allies, it would still be worse than Vietnam and Iraq combined in terms of death, destruction, expense, and regional destabilization.

    Last year Lord Admiral West warned that the US would need no fewer than a million troops to win a war with Iran, almost the number of total active-duty US military personnel in the whole world. Even if this doesn't become WW3, it would still be worse than Vietnam + Iraq. https://t.co/UKuNxwvfqH

    — Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) January 3, 2020

    And now, as I sit as the mother of two teenagers watching what might be a third world war looming on the horizon, all I can think is about how infuriating it is that we’ve spent the last three years on Russia bull**** and sectarian political infighting instead of building an actual cohesive antiwar movement and pushing real opposition to Trump’s warmongering.

    Let’s get it together, humans. We need big changes, and we need them yesterday."
    Last edited by onawah; 3rd January 2020 at 22:55.
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    “We Do Not Seek War,” Says President Who Just Started A War
    JANUARY 4, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...started-a-war/

    "President Trump has been steadfastly assuring the world that the United States government does not wish to start the war it has already started by assassinating Iran’s top general.

    “We are a peace-loving nation and my administration remains firmly committed to establishing peace and harmony among the nations in the world,” Trump said in a speech at his luxury Mar-a-Lago getaway on Friday. “We do not seek war, we do not seek nation-building, we do not seek regime change, but as president I will never hesitate to defend the safety of the American people.”

    “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” the president added.


    To be clear, no part of this is a thing. Assassinating a nation’s most senior military official, and then claiming that you do not wish to start a war with that nation, is not a thing.

    America is at war with Iran currently. What that war will end up looking like is anyone’s guess right now, but there is no question that a war has been initiated. If any nation had assassinated a top US general via airstrike and then openly admitted to it, the US would immediately be at war with that nation. Without question. An extreme military retaliation would be in the works within minutes of the announcement, and the entire political/media class would fully support that retaliation in whatever form it took.

    This may come as a surprise to some Americans, but that same principle holds true for other nations as well.

    “His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands,” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement on Friday.

    And, I mean, of course. Of course “forceful revenge” from Iran is in the mail. Only by the most bizarre American exceptionalist mental contortions could this not be blindingly obvious. The question isn’t if Iran will retaliate with extreme force, but when and where. Nobody with any functioning matter between their ears would expect anything else.

    Quote Michael Tracey

    @mtracey
    We're at war with Iran. It's not a potentiality any more. It just happened. Adjust your frame of reference accordingly
    1,131
    10:54 PM - Jan 2, 2020
    And of course the US government is now spouting completely unsubstantiated claims about General Qassem Soleimani, and of course the mass media are uncritically repeating those claims as fact, and of course the propagandized masses are regurgitating what their perception management screens have told them to believe. Trump administration officials are claiming without any evidence at all that Soleimani was plotting “imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel”, even going so far as trying to marry him to the 9/11 attacks and a host of other unsubstantiated excuses.

    Anyone who believes any of this is a brainwashed imbecile. Because of the US government’s extensive history of lying to manufacture support for preexisting military agendas, the only sane response to unsubstantiated US government claims about targeted nations is absolute skepticism. That skepticism should remain in place until mountains of independently verifiable proof of the claims made has been provided. This is the only acceptable level of evidence that critical thinking permits in a post-Iraq invasion world.

    This should be extremely obvious to everyone. The fact that it isn’t is the result of generations of increasingly sophisticated propaganda manipulating the way people think about war, what it is, and how it works. My social media notifications are currently flooded with Trump supporters assuring me that Soleimani was a “bad guy” and Trump is therefore a “good guy”, and that assassinating the top military official of a sovereign nation is a perfectly sane and acceptable thing for a government to do.

    Quote Caitlin Johnstone ⏳
    @caitoz
    “I Oppose Interventionism, But-” But Nothing. Stop Being A Pro Bono CIA Propagandist.
    Wrote this last year about apologists for Trump's warmongering, and it applies equally to the "but Soleimani was a BAD GUY!" propaganda line they're regurgitating today.https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/02...-propagandist/

    “I Oppose Interventionism, But-” But Nothing. Stop Being A Pro Bono CIA Propagandist.
    In a recent interview with The Corbett Report, the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams spoke disdainfully of those ostensibly anti-interventionist libertarians who picked this moment of all t…
    caitlinjohnstone.com
    194
    6:51 PM - Jan 3, 2020
    Don’t do this. Don’t advance war propaganda narratives for the US government.

    Those who spread war propaganda are participating in that war just as much as those who actually go and fight in it, only they’re playing a far safer, far more cowardly, and far more dishonest role. A man who flies to Iran and murders Iranians with firearms is at least engaging in the war in a way that he will have to grapple with existentially for the rest of his life. A man who regurgitates Fox News propaganda on Twitter will then eat a pizza, have a wank, go to bed and sleep like a baby. But they both facilitated mass murder based on lies and American supremacist imperialism.

    The war that Trump has started must be opposed forcefully and aggressively. Do everything you can to wake people up to what’s going on. This could get very, very ugly.

    I’m going to keep following this important story and publishing regular updates as it unfolds. I encourage everyone else to pay close attention to it as well. Trump’s war with Iran should be front and center for everyone who cares about humanity."
    Each breath a gift...
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    The US Government Lies Constantly, And The Burden Of Proof Is On The Accuser
    JANUARY 5, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...n-the-accuser/



    "Over the last 48 hours I’ve been splitting my free time between (A) learning as much as I possibly can about the US assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and (B) arguing with people online who are uncritically swallowing US government claims about why that assassination was necessary. I always engage such political debates because they’re a valuable source of information on what propaganda narratives people are buying into, and therefore which propaganda narratives need to be addressed.

    What has been made abundantly clear from this particular engagement is that those who have bought into the Trump administration’s completely unsubstantiated claims about Soleimani are sincerely unaware that they have unquestioningly bought into unsubstantiated US government narratives. People tend to get their information from tightly insulated echo chambers, and if you inhabit an echo chamber that supports the current president all you’ll get is a bunch of officials, pundits and reporters saying in a confident-sounding tone of voice that Soleimani needed to be taken out. Since they’re surrounded by chatter affirming that Soleimani had attacked America and/or posed an imminent threat in the near future, they assume that chatter must be based on some actual facts in evidence.

    It is not.

    Quote Dan Maul
    @DanVMaul
    This is very telling. I have read every single reply. Not one produced even the slightest shred of indication that he posed an imminent threat to the US.

    Seriously, Stalin himself would've been proud of such a display of blind, unflinching acceptance of the deep state narrative. https://twitter.com/caitoz/status/1213591198465544193

    Caitlin Johnstone ⏳
    @caitoz
    Show me your very best evidence that Soleimani posed an imminent threat to Americans and needed to be taken out immediately. Bonus points if you can explain how the evidence you provide rises to the level of proof required in a post-Iraq invasion world.

    154
    7:02 PM - Jan 4, 2020
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    When I speak out online against Trump’s act of war on Iran and interact one-on-one with those who object to what I’m saying, the disparity between what they think they know and what they actually know gets very quickly highlighted. Simply by my challenging people to prove the claims that they are making about Soleimani planning to attack Americans, attacking a US embassy, directing a strike that allegedly killed a mysteriously unnamed US contractor in Iraq, killing hundreds of US soldiers in Iraq, that he’s a “terrorist”, etc, they quickly realize that they have literally no evidence for their claims beyond the unsubstantiated assertions of US government officials and people who unquestioningly repeated those assertions.

    And from there I just ask them, “How well has uncritically swallowing US government narratives about the need for military action worked out for you in the past?”

    Nobody wants to admit that they are doing such a thing, least of all a Trump supporter who’s poured plenty of mental energy into distancing this administration from the previous Republican occupant of the White House. But that is indeed exactly what they are doing: uncritically swallowing baseless claims by US government officials about the need to advance a pre-existing military agenda, in a way that is indistinguishable from the cult-like behavior of Bush supporters in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion.

    Quote Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump
    · 21h
    Replying to @realDonaldTrump
    ....hundreds of Iranian protesters. He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have.....


    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump
    ....targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!

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    In reality there’s no evidence for any of the reasons we’ve been offered for why Iran needed to be provoked into an almost inevitable retaliation that Trump is currently tweeting will result in all-out war:

    The claim that Soleimani posed an “imminent threat” is completely without evidence, rumored to be “razor thin“, and entirely debunked in this excellent essay by Craig Murray.
    Mike Pence’s claim that Soleimani assisted 9/11 terrorists is so ridiculous that even the war-loving Washington Post dismissed it.
    There’s no proof that Soleimani directed the strike that allegedly killed a US contractor, or that that contractor even existed.
    There’s no proof that Soleimani was involved in any “attack” on any US embassy, leaving aside the obvious fact that a little graffiti on the walls wouldn’t justify his assassination if he did.
    The “hundreds of American deaths” line you hear regurgitated by everyone from Trump to Elizabeth Warren actually refers to Iraqis defending themselves from an illegal US invasion with some training from Iran. The claim that Iran was behind Iraqi bombs is without evidence and wouldn’t matter if it were true; claiming the inhabitants of an invaded nation don’t have the right to defend themselves is absurd, regardless of where they got their weaponry.
    The claim that Soleimani was “a terrorist” is only made because the branch of the Iranian military he commanded was arbitrarily designated a terrorist organization by the US government last year, a designation that any foreign government could just as easily make for any branch of the US military. He was actually a fearsome enemy of ISIS and al-Qaeda and played a massive role in halting the spread of ISIS.
    We are being lied to, yet again, about yet another war on yet another geostrategically crucial Middle Eastern nation. And a huge percentage of the population is marching right along with it. When Iran retaliates for Soleimani’s assassination, these propagandized sheep will be herded by the political/media class into believing that the attack was completely unprovoked. And if their credulity thus far is any indication, they’ll swallow the whole load without so much as a twinge of gag reflex.



    The US government has a very extensively documented history of lying to advance pre-existing military agendas. This is an entirely indisputable fact. It’s been universally true from generation to generation, from administration to administration, and from political party to political party. The Afghanistan Papers came out just a few weeks ago further documenting this already conclusively established fact. Anyone who just accepts US government assertions about the need for military force without a mountain of independently verifiable proof is, to put it nicely, a complete ****ing idiot.

    The demand for proof would be normal even if the entity in question didn’t have an extensive history of lying about these things, because, as anyone with even a cursory understanding of logic already knows, the burden of proof is always on the party making the claim. When it comes to incalculably important matters like life and death, demanding that the burden of proof be met is just being a sensible human being.

    Add in the fact that the US government is known to lie constantly about these matters, and believing its current claims about Soleimani makes as much sense as believing a known compulsive liar who has deceived you many times when he tells you it’s urgent that you go murder your neighbor right this instant.

    Debating the current Iran situation, then, is simply a matter of holding the unassailable positions that (A) the US government lies constantly, and (B) the burden of proof is on the party making the claim. In a post-Iraq invasion world, the level of proof required is very, very high, and the Trump administration has taken no steps whatsoever to even providing anything that could qualify as evidence.

    People will often try to get around this unassailable argument by contending “Well where is your proof that they’re lying?” This is called shifting the burden of proof, and it is a logical fallacy.



    I lay this all out not because I expect the US government to suddenly begin conducting itself rationally or providing proof of its claims that rises to the level required in a post-Iraq invasion world, but because streamlining our thinking in this way helps to avoid confusion in a landscape that is saturated with propaganda and its mindless regurgitators.

    The only sane response to US government claims about the need for military force is intense skepticism. If US government officials begin telling us that something happened necessitating military intervention, your default assumption should always, always, always be that they are lying. And you should hold that position until the (highly unlikely and historically unprecedented) event that conclusive, independently verifiable proof of their claims is provided.

    No changes were made after the Iraq invasion to keep the US government from ever again deceiving Americans into war. No new laws were made, no policies changed, no war crimes tribunals were held; no one was even fired. This is because they had every intention of doing it again. And now here’s the US government again spouting lies about why it was necessary to initiate war with another Middle Eastern nation. And people are swallowing it hook, line and sinker.

    The more skepticism we can encourage toward current deceptions about Iran, the easier it will be to encourage skepticism about the next wave of escalations, which make no mistake are absolutely on their way. Spread the word."
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    US Empire’s Passion For Iraqi Democracy Magically Disappears
    JANUARY 6, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...ly-disappears/

    "Following a vote by the Iraqi parliament to remove foreign troops from the nation, the US president threatened to destroy Iraq’s economy in retaliation and to refuse to leave unless an expensive military base worth billions of dollars was paid for.

    “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis,” Trump told the press on Sunday. “We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame. If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.”

    “We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time,” Trump also said. “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”

    Quote The Hill

    @thehill
    #BREAKING: Trump says he'll sanction Iraq if US troops forced to leave http://hill.cm/jMz6DOn

    View image on Twitter
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    This would be the same President Trump whose starvation sanctions are already known to have killed tens of thousands of people in Venezuela, and probably much more by now. The same President Trump who campaigned in 2016 on bringing the troops home from nations like Iraq.

    And this would be the same US empire that used the narrative of bringing democracy to Iraq in order to help manufacture public support for “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (which Bush’s Press Secretary Ari Fleischer kept hilariously calling “Operation Iraqi Liberation” [OIL] by mistake). The same US empire that has used the “liberation” of Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and the institution of democracy in the Middle East to justify its evil and unforgivable invasion ever since.

    Yet the instant Iraqi democratic institutions become even slightly inconvenient for the US empire, Iraqi democracy gets flushed down the toilet. Iraq’s elected parliament voted very clearly for the removal of America’s military presence in the interests of its own sovereignty, and Trump has stated, in his typical accidentally-honest way, that America will not honor that vote. The US is allowing Iraq the same kind of democracy that Americans have: democracy so long as it doesn’t inconvenience the powerful.

    This is, of course, because the invasion of Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with democracy. The invasion of Iraq was about controlling a crucial geostrategic region which refused to bow to the dictates of the US-centralized empire. This is important to remember, because that is also exactly what the regime change agendas against Iran and Syria are about.



    It is not a mysterious coincidence that all these horrible dictatorships that urgently need a forceful injection of freedom and democracy just so happen to reside right next to each other. The fight for control over the Middle East has always been about controlling important fossil fuel resources and trade routes, and thereby controlling the world. If the empire can’t gain control of the nations in the region via absorption into the imperial blob (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, etc) or just constructing a satellite from scratch on top of a previously existing nation (Israel), then the empire will work to gain control by attempting to replace any noncompliant governments with compliant ones (Iraq, Syria, Iran).

    And, as we now know, the second a compliant government begins to act noncompliant, it will immediately begin receiving the same treatment that noncompliant governments receive.

    As things heat up with Iran you will begin hearing more and more babbling gibberish about the poor, poor Iranians and how unfortunate they are to live in a nation where the women can’t feel their hair in the wind and LGBT people need to hide who they are. But as a leaked State Department memo revealed in 2017, the empire is never actually concerned with human rights, and it is never actually concerned with democracy. The sole concern of the empire is power, and the growth of that power. That’s all this has ever been about.

    Iraq seems to be destined to be the nation that keeps teaching us important lessons, so the very least we can do in response is make sure that we learn those lessons, and remember them."
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    On The Idiotic Partisan Debate Over Regime Change In Iran Or Syria
    JANUARY 7, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...iran-or-syria/



    "I love my job. Really, I do. But writing about US military agendas for a living often brings one into contact with such staggering stupidity that all you can do is pause and wonder how our species survived past the invention of the pointy stick.

    By far the dumbest thing in all of US politics is the fact that Democrats tend to support regime change in Syria, while Republicans tend to support it more in Iran. I am not talking about the elected officials in those parties; I’m talking about the ordinary rank-and-file Joes and Janets who stand absolutely nothing to gain from toppling either Damascus or Tehran, but who have been brainwashed by lifelong media consumption into supporting one or the other anyway.

    Whenever I write against the US government’s longstanding agenda to replace the leadership of Tehran with a compliant puppet regime, I know with absolute certainty that I’m going to spend the rest of my time online arguing with Trump supporters and lifelong Republicans. Whenever I write against the US government’s longstanding agenda to do the same in Syria, I know with absolute certainty that I’m going to be arguing predominantly with so-called centrist liberals.

    At no time has this ever failed to occur.

    I’ve spent the last few days arguing with Trump supporters who are telling me I’m crazy for not celebrating the death of an Iranian general they had no idea existed one week ago, and many of these pro bono State Department propagandists began following my work because they liked what I’ve been saying about Syria.

    Conversely, all the fauxgressives and liberal interventionists who spent all last month telling me I’m a monster for writing about leaked OPCW documents showing we were lied to about an alleged 2018 chemical weapons incident have been staying out of my social media notifications completely these past four days.

    It is truly bizarre. And it is truly, deeply, profoundly stupid.

    It is truly, deeply and profoundly stupid because the agenda to topple Iran’s government and the agenda to topple Syria’s government are not two separate agendas. They are the same. Supporting one while opposing the other is like wanting to shoot someone in the head but being morally opposed to shooting them in the heart.



    Syria and Iran are allies. Eliminating one government necessarily hurts the other. Iran has been helping Syria to win the war against foreign-backed extremist proxy fighters who nearly succeeded in toppling Damascus before its allies stepped in, and should Syria succeed in rebuilding itself (something the Trump administration is actively preventing it from doing) we can be sure it would return the favor when called upon.

    The US government’s agenda to “take out” all noncompliant governments in the Middle East is completely removed from any consideration for American party politics. It’s one unified agenda, and the more the imperial blob succeeds in weakening any of the remaining unabsorbed nations, the easier it gets to absorb the others.

    Supporting regime change in Iran but not Syria, or vice-versa, is for this reason an inherently absurd position to take. If you opposed Obama’s attempt to topple Damascus via Timber Sycamore-armed proxies, it’s absurd for you to support any maneuvers which could lead to the elimination of Syria’s key ally in that fight. If you oppose Trump’s current warmongering toward Iran, it’s absurd for you to support the elimination of one of Iran’s remaining friends in the region.

    If Iran falls you may be sure that Syria will fall next, and vice versa. It’s the same box being ticked; you’re just arguing over whether it should be a left-handed or right-handed check mark.



    But such is the strength of propaganda. The perception managers of the US war machine have successfully manipulated the voting public into a debate not about whether regime change interventionism should happen, but which regime change intervention should happen first.

    In a sense it’s quite brilliant; we may be quite sure that government agency departments responsible for domestic perception management on US foreign policy have discussed this precise dynamic at length. But in another sense it’s quite mundane: the recent Republican presidents have pursued regime change in Iran, while Obama pursued it in Syria, so Republicans support Republican interventions while Democrats support Democratic ones.

    This has nothing to do with any substantial difference in these agendas (again, it’s actually one agenda) and everything to do with what each faction can be more easily propagandized toward. Liberal hearts are easier to grab with horror stories about a monster who gasses babies for no reason and less concerned about refugee crises and the persecution of Syrian Christians, while Republicans are much easier to manipulate into despising a theocracy run by Muslims.

    And of course there’s overlap; people who prioritize mass murder above all else like John Bolton and Lindsey Graham will cheer enthusiastically for as much military interventionism as they can get in either country (or any country, really). But by and large, especially among the rank-and-file, people tend to support the interventions their respective presidents propagandized them into supporting. Propaganda is pretty much the only thing the presidential “bully pulpit” is used for.

    Because Iraq has poisoned the idea, each mainstream faction may deny actually wanting the US to oust the government of Iran or Syria. Trump supporters who still stand by the anti-interventionist platform he falsely campaigned on may say “I don’t want war with Iran, I just want Iranians to get their freedom and I think it’s awesome they killed Solamumi or however you spell it.” Liberals might say “I don’t want interventionism! I just support the Freedom Fighters™️ in Idlib and want Assad to stop murdering civilians for fun and sexual gratification.” But circulating propaganda narratives about governments targeted for regime change is supporting regime change. You’re participating in it as surely as if you’d deployed the Tomahawk missiles yourself.

    Quote Michael Tracey

    @mtracey
    Now we’re being told that none of the millions of people publicly mourning Soleimani do so voluntarily and they all secretly like the fact that America assassinated their country’s top military commander who defended Iran and just defeated ISIS. The propaganda is getting dumber.

    2,349
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    Yesterday someone told me that everyone at Qassem Soleimani’s incredibly massive funeral procession was attending because they were forced to. When I asked him if he was claiming that every single one of those millions of people were publicly mourning because they’d been literally forced at gunpoint, he told me no: many were forced in the sense that state propaganda was all they’d ever known, so they were psychologically coerced into grieving Soleimani.

    “I don’t accept that your ‘state propaganda their whole lives’ model is any more coercive or fascistic than the kind that causes Americans to turn up to pro- and anti-Trump rallies,” I said. “Americans are no less propagandized than Iranians. If anything it’s worse, since Americans don’t know they’re being propagandized.”

    “You’ve got it backwards,” he said. “Iranians don’t know they’re being propagandized because they only have one source of information. The U.S. knows it because we have sides screaming it to other sides all the time and the freedom of information and thought to come to our own conclusions.”

    “Nonsense,” I replied. “Nearly all Americans are propagandized to the gills. They’re probably the most aggressively propagandized population on earth, just because so much depends on their swallowing propaganda. It’s just a more scientific sort.”

    “And yet here we are, talking about it freely without worrying about swallowing a bullet,” he said.

    “Here I am arguing with a man who just so happens to be striving very, very hard to convince me to swallow the exact same narrative that Mike Pompeo is trying to convince me to swallow,” I replied.

    The greatest asset of the propagandists is the belief that we haven’t been propagandized."
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    Full-Scale War Is Avoided And Trump Goes Right Back To Warmongering
    JANUARY 9, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...-warmongering/

    "The United States and Iran entered into a direct military exchange for the first time ever with the drone assassination of General Qassem Soleimani last week and a retaliatory strike from Iran via surface-to-surface missiles upon two US military bases on Wednesday.

    As usual it was the less powerful nation who exercised restraint, with Iran skillfully targeting the bases’ military capabilities but taking measures to successfully avoid any casualties. The two nations de-escalated back down to their previous high level of dangerous hostilities with an understanding between them that neither side wants a full-scale war. Both sides played “chicken” and both sides swerved, and they know that about each other now.

    So that was a relief. We were all forced to hold our breath and hope against hope that cooler heads would prevail after the senseless assassination of a sovereign nation’s top military official, and they did. A full-scale war that would have dwarfed Iraq and Vietnam in terms of death, destruction and destabilization was averted.

    And then Trump immediately went right back to warmongering.



    “As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Trump said in his speech the morning after the Iranian missile strike. “These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.”

    It is unclear at this time what form these sanctions will take. If they are of the sort being leveled at Iran currently, they will further target Iranian civilians with the goal of making them even more miserable so that they rise up and overthrow their government. This deliberate attempt to foment civil war against Tehran is not speculation; it is a fact, admitted to by the Trump administration itself.

    A New York Times article from last year reports the following:

    “Last week, Mr. Pompeo acknowledged to Michael J. Morrell, a former acting director of the C.I.A., that the administration’s strategy would not persuade Iranian leaders to change their behavior.

    “’I think what can change is the people can change the government,’ he said on a podcast hosted by Mr. Morrell, in what appeared to be an endorsement of regime change.”

    It is impossible for the US and Iran to de-escalate from the military powderkeg situation they are in as long as the US is deliberately attacking Iran’s economy with the goal of igniting a civil war in that country. The US government intends to not just continue to escalate this direct assault, but to continue its increasingly intrusive military presence in the region, including the unwelcome occupation of Iraq.

    And yet, bizarrely, Trump also claims to want to reach a new nuclear deal with Iran.

    “The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout,” Trump said. “Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognize this reality. They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal, or JCPOA. And we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential.”

    This is not going to happen. The US government has already burned Tehran on the JCPOA and it’s not going to enter into a new deal as long as the US continues to inflict aggressions upon it that the US itself wouldn’t tolerate from any other nation. Iran is going to be much less willing to trust the US government in a new deal now and will require much more assurance and accommodation than it did in the previous one; such a negotiation (assuming the Trump administration even really wants it) would be harder, not easier. This will remain true even after Trump leaves office.

    Quote Caitlin Johnstone ⏳
    @caitoz
    The airstrikes between the US and Iran were the result of the trajectory of escalations Trump initiated by wrongfully withdrawing from the JCPOA in order to smash Iran with sanctions. Heaping even more sanctions on top of those accelerates along that same trajectory toward war. https://twitter.com/joshua_landis/st...54871822147585

    Joshua Landis

    @joshua_landis
    Iran & the US remain on a collision course despite a possible pause.

    Trump offered only more pain for Iran. Iran's single choice is escalation. Trump promised to tighten sanctions.

    Fight over eviction of US troops from Iraq is next battleground. https://twitter.com/aarondmiller2/st...49271407124483

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    The Trump administration also further inflamed tensions by inviting NATO to become further involved in the Middle East, which NATO chief chief Jens Stoltenberg agreed to.

    “The President asked the secretary general for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East,” a NATO statement said. “They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.”

    So things are only continuing to heat up with Iran, and there is no reason to believe more eruptions like the direct military confrontation we just experienced won’t occur again, with the world perhaps getting a lot less lucky next time. Trump and his supporters are trying to claim the evasion of full-scale war as a victory for both peace and for America, but it is neither.

    All of the defenses of Trump’s warmongering that you’ve been seeing are premised upon the unquestioned assumption that it is both reasonable and acceptable for the United States to maintain a military presence in the Middle East, even in nations whose governments don’t want them there like Iraq and Syria. If the US didn’t insist on maintaining an enormous military presence in this one area on the other side of the planet, there would be no debate about the need for America to “defend” itself by attacking the Iranian economy, assassinating government officials, and conducting airstrikes upon Iraqi militias. It would just be another country on the other side of the world, doing its own thing in its own way.

    Most Americans haven’t thought very hard about this premise. They are fed some lines about the need to protect American “interests” and some unexplained need to defend Israel, and because those lines are spoken in an authoritative tone of voice most are content to leave it there. But if Americans actually laid out all the facts in front of them and thought deeply about what their government’s Middle Eastern military presence costs them and risks for them compared to what it actually gains them, it would be seen for the insane imperialist power agenda that it so clearly is."
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    Default Re: The thread of Caitlin Johnstone's words

    So The US Is Invading Iraq Again
    JANUARY 11, 2020
    by CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01...ng-iraq-again/

    "So the US has decided to become an invading, occupying force in Iraq again.

    It won’t be as exciting as last time. There will be no “shock and awe” invasion tactics this time. The invaders won’t even have to enter the country, because they’re already there. It will be a very boring, underwhelming sequel that leaves everyone feeling generally pessimistic about life and human existence. Like This Is 40.

    If the initial invasion of Iraq was a violent sexual assault by a stranger in a dark alley, this one is more like an abusive husband raping his wife and then making her cook him dinner. But it is just as much a violent violation of personal sovereignty in both instances.
    Quote Morgan Ortagus

    @statedeptspox
    America is a force for good in the Middle East. Our military presence in #Iraq is to continue the fight against ISIS and as @SecPompeo has said, we are committed to protecting Americans, Iraqis, and our coalition partners.

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    The US State Department has issued a press statement in response to Iraq’s vote to demand that the US remove its military presence from the nation, saying the US won’t even discuss a troop withdrawal. I’m just going to post the whole thing here, because its language is so creepy, disgusting and abusive that it should really be read carefully and in full:

    “America is a force for good in the Middle East. Our military presence in Iraq is to continue the fight against ISIS and as the Secretary has said, we are committed to protecting Americans, Iraqis, and our coalition partners. We have been unambiguous regarding how crucial our D-ISIS mission is in Iraq. At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership—not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East. Today, a NATO delegation is at the State Department to discuss increasing NATO’s role in Iraq, in line with the President’s desire for burden sharing in all of our collective defense efforts. There does, however, need to be a conversation between the U.S. and Iraqi governments not just regarding security, but about our financial, economic, and diplomatic partnership. We want to be a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq.”

    That last part is my favorite. A “friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq.”

    Like, of course we want you to be a sovereign nation! Just not the kind of sovereign where your elected government has any say in what happens in your country. We want you to be the kind of sovereign nation that does everything our government tells it to do. That kind of sovereignty we can really get behind!

    I also love the “America is a force for good in the Middle East” bit. Right. When a bunch of guys with guns show up at my house, start killing my family members and refuse to leave, the first thing I’m going to think is, “These guys are such a force of good!”

    Just as a side note, if you ever find yourself in any kind of relationship with someone who violates your personal sovereignty in this way and then uses the sort of I’m-your-friend, this-is-for-your-own-good language used by the State Department above to justify it, run, don’t walk, out the door. Because you’re dealing with a full-fledged sociopath.

    Quote Caitlin Johnstone ⏳
    @caitoz
    US Empire’s Passion For Iraqi Democracy Magically Disappears

    "Following a vote by the Iraqi parliament to remove foreign troops from the nation, the US president threatened to destroy Iraq’s economy in retaliation and to refuse to leave..."https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/us-empires-passion-for-iraqi-democracy-magically-disappears-7f1ee8fb3484 …


    US Empire’s Passion For Iraqi Democracy Magically Disappears
    Following a vote by the Iraqi parliament to remove foreign troops from the nation, the US president threatened to destroy Iraq’s economy…
    [IMG]https://miro.medium.com/max/785/1*UNLLFQfLQ1yN1_kDlC-4Ew.png[/IMG]

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    Since 2014, America’s military presence in Iraq has been at the consent and invitation of the Iraqi government, the democratically elected government the US has used to justify its regime change intervention both before the invasion and ever since. Now that permission has been revoked, and the US government has suddenly lost all interest in Iraqi freedom and democracy. This US government, incidentally, is being led by a president who campaigned in 2016 on the platform of bringing the troops home from nations like Iraq.

    So to recap, in 2003 the US wanted to occupy Iraq, and Iraq told them to **** off. The US responded by invading, killing a million people, killing Saddam Hussein, tearing apart its Ba’ath party, tearing apart its military, rebuilding the whole system from scratch, installing a puppet regime, and creating a narrative about being Iraq’s “friend and partner” instead of an illegal occupying force.

    The end result after 17 years? The US wants to occupy Iraq, and Iraq is telling them to **** off.

    The invasion of Iraq has been a senseless, unforgivable evil from the very beginning, and it remains so to this day, to the exact same extent. Nothing that was done was justifiable in any way, shape or form. Those million Iraqis died for no legitimate reason. The thousands of US soldiers died for no legitimate reason. Nothing was accomplished but the advancement of brute force control over a region the US has no business being in and an energy resource we’ve got no business relying on anymore.

    A force for good? Bitch, you misspelled farce."
    Last edited by onawah; 11th January 2020 at 07:22.
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