The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes.

By Jerry Alatalo

he highly controversial death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian prison in 2009 is the focus of the film “The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes”, released to the public in 2016 by director Andrei Nekrasov – literally censored in every nation (but Norway), region and locale in the Western world. People might ask themselves why a film which puts forward a different narrative than that used by U.S. politicians to pass the Magnitsky Act in late 2012 has suffered from near unanimous censorship, especially when made by Mr. Nekrasov, an artist/activist whose previous efforts in Russia were in opposition to government policies.

Perhaps Arizona Senator John McCain, one of the leaders in drafting and passing the Magnitsky Act, with Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin and others, would welcome a Senate screening of director Nekrasov’s film, as the Arizona senator and his colleagues surely believe in free speech. What could incentivise any U.S. government elected representative to oppose bringing director Nekrasov’s film to the awareness of the American people, surely a “win-win” proposition – for, on one hand, it exposes a very serious coverup, or, however, it exposes the uncomfortable, equally serious, necessary truth.

Mr. McCain has on many occasions since 2009 referenced Sergei Magnitisky on the floor of the United States Senate, recently on the seventh anniversary of Magnitsky’s death (captured in the screenshot above). Most men and women feel appreciative when provided information which corrects previously strongly held, but erroneous, perceptions. The sole avenue for determining if the information presented in the West-censored film “The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes” is the truth, leading to potentially tremendous-in-scope, beneficially corrected perceptions – is by allowing people everywhere to simply view it.

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For some context, here is what Russia’s Vladimir Putin said in late 2012, after the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, in response to a reporter’s (lengthy) question during an annual news conference of 4-hours and 30-minutes. His exchange with a Russian reporter representing the Los Angeles Times came at slightly past the 4-hour mark.

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Vladimir Putin: “Here is our colleague, his sign says Los Angeles – he was so angry that he did not get a chance to speak. Let’s not provoke him anymore. Please, go ahead.”

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Reporter: “Dear Mr. President, I am Sergei Loiko, Los Angeles Times. … But coming back to today’s main topic, we could say that in 2009 Sergei Magnitsky found himself in 1937. … 1,500 orphans, whom State Duma deputies’ initiated draft bill prohibiting U.S. citizens from adopting Russia(n) children, of which (2012) 49 are seriously ill with American families ready to take them in.”

“You will agree with me that in any case these children will be better off in America than in an orphanage. My question is as follows. I’m going back to Sergei Magnitsky, because you talked about him yourself. Russia has had three years to resolve the case but this did not happen. And in that event (case resolved) there would have been no Magnitsky List, you would not have quarreled with the U.S., the children would have gone to America, and everyone would be satisfied and happy. But there has been no satisfactory answer. Why not?”

“You demonstrate a remarkable awareness of other high-profile criminal cases, which I will not name. I would like to hear your answer to the question about the $230 million that allegedly customs inspectors and the police – militiamen, as they used to be called – stole from the budget. These funds could have been used to rebuild beautiful children’s homes, and Mr. Medvedev would not have had to assert in vain that we should do something”.

“If we had already done something, we would have been able to keep our orphanages in normal conditions. What happened to Sergei Magnitsky? Why did he find himself in 1937? Well, this is not the case for everyone. But why does 1937 keep merging with our lives?”

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Vladimir Putin: “Regarding Magnitsky… (Applause) Why are you applauding?”

Reply: We like the question.

“You liked the question, fine. When Mr. Magnitsky’s tragedy occurred, I myself was Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. I learned about this tragedy from the media. And to be quite honest, even today I do not know the details surrounding this person’s tragic death in custody. But of course I feel that I have to find out more”.

“But that is not the issue. I want you to listen, too. I understand that you work for the Los Angeles Times, and not for Pravda or Izvestia, and that you have to take a certain position. I want our position to be clear. Mr. Magnitsky personally is not the issue at stake. The issue is that U.S. lawmakers, having got rid of one anti-Russian, anti-Soviet act – the Jackson-Vanik Amendment (and they were forced to do so for economic reasons) – decided they would pass another anti-Russian act immediately. So we understood it as U.S. lawmakers making clear to us ‘who’s the boss here’, and keeping a certain level of tension”.

“If Magnitsky did not exist, they’d have found another pretext. That’s what upsets us. This is the first thing. Second. I don’t know the details, but I am nevertheless aware of the fact that Mr. Magnitsky did not die of torture. Nobody tortured him, he died of a heart attack”.

“The inquiry into his case is set to establish whether he received or didn’t receive medical assistance in due time. If a person is denied assistance, especially in a public institution, of course we must figure out what happened. This is the second thing. Third. Do you think that no one ever dies in American jails, or what? Of course they do. And so what? Must we make a story of each and every case?”

“Do you know how many people U.S. law enforcement agencies seize around the world in violation of national jurisdictions, drag them off to their prisons, and try them there? Is this normal? I don’t think so. I’ve already questioned once: Why does one country feel entitled to extend its jurisdiction to the entire world? This undermines the fundamental principles of international law”.

“In addition, as you know, Mr. Magnitsky was not some human rights activist, he was not fighting for the rights of all. He was a lawyer for Mr. Browder, who our law enforcement agencies suspect of committing economic crimes in Russia, and he was defending Mr. Browder’s interests. Everything connected with this case is extremely politicized, and this is not our fault”.

“Now about the children. I have said many times and I want to repeat again that we are grateful to the American citizens, who have adopted or want to adopt our children, Russian children, Russian citizens from the heart. And they do this very well, they do so in accordance with the highest principles of humanism”.

“You said that these children will be better off in the U.S.. But judging by what we know of certain tragic events, such as the case where a child was left in a car and died of heat stroke – is that better or worse? We know of other cases where children were beaten to death. Is that better or worse? But the issue at stake is not these particular cases; after all, children also die in Russia”.

“The issue at hand concerns official liability for these tragedies. People are exempt from criminal liability, and sometimes the judicial system does not even want to consider these cases. That’s what bothers Russian legislators, and this is what they are reacting to in the well-known draft bill that triggered such a reaction. I repeat: I must look at the details of the law, but in general I understand the mood of the State Duma deputies”.

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Moving from late 2012 ahead to 2016 and the release of “The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes”, the film’s director made statements perhaps impossible to ignore in an interview with Russian media group “Komsomolskaya Pravda”:

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Author: Roman Golovanov

Translated by: Sergei Malygin

Who Stole a Quarter of a Billion?

Question: Andrei, why did you choose this story for investigation?

Andrei Nekrasov: In the West Magnitsky is known as a whistleblower who paid for it with his life. There is no other version. My movie is a bomb for the West, they did not know the facts. I did not plan to investigate anything. I thought Magnitsky revealed everything and Browder told us about it – I was confined in a simplistic narrative of this complex story. The staging shooting took place in Kiev in the fall of 2014. Even then I started to realize that everything is much more complicated. Browder words were not substantiated. For example, it was not Magnitsky who went to the police with revelations, it was the other way around: the law enforcement called him for questioning in the already existing criminal case.

Question: …You started filming firmly believing in good Browder and bad Russia who killed Magnitsky?

Andrei Nekrasov: Yes, even in the movie Browder’s account remains – searches in his companies, confiscation of documents. Browder’s companies are stolen and it is Magnitsky who goes to the police where he is beaten with batons. That is how our story begins.

Question: What did you come to at the end?

Andrei Nekrasov: This picture has almost nothing to do with Magnitsky’s death. The gist is in three Russian companies Browder owned through offshore companies. These firms paid taxes from sales of Gazprom shares. Then these companies declared that they had losses and the state returned their tax payments – a quarter of a billion dollars – huge money! That is what the crime was. The question was: who controlled the companies when the payments were returned? Browder says that at the time when money was transferred, the companies were already overtaken. But there are suspicions that he is lying, he returned his money through stooges.

Question: Do you have a proof?

Andrei Nekrasov: In the movie I am not accusing him in stealing the money, I do not have direct evidence. But Magnitsky, as an expert, possibly filled out needed documents. I came to the main question – were Browder companies stolen or not? I proved that Browder’s story about Magnitsky is a lie, possibly invented to divert attention from real machinations with huge money. “Rubber baton” turns into “beating”

Question: Who was Magnitsky?

Andrei Nekrasov: He was an accountant and auditor. He could be called a martyr only in comparison with Norwegian prisoners who have comfortable cells. One must not make up a whole fairy tale out of it! Human rights activist Borschev, for example, deliberately wrote in his reports that Magnitsky was kept in “torturous conditions”. When this text was translated into English, this term turned into “torture”. On that basis the US Congress passed “Magnitsky Act”. But that is not true! In another report a “rubber baton” was mentioned which in the process of translation turned into “beating lasting for 1 hour and 18 minutes”. That is a deliberate word play for achieving political purposes.

Question: Then from what Magnitsky died?

Andrei Nekrasov: He died from a heart attack. By the end of his life he had hepatitis, pancreatitis, diabetes, obesity – the whole bunch of diseases. I have sincere sympathy for Sergei and his family, but it is not me who is using his tragedy, it is Mr. Browder. Nobody tormented or tortured Magnitsky. There was a criminal negligence on doctor’s behalf. Even the doctor from the emergency psychiatric help Kornilov, who Browder often cites and who arrived on Magnitsky’s call three hours before his death never mentions signs of beating. In the conclusion made by the Public Oversight Commission, nothing says that Magnitsky was beaten or killed. Some believe that the auditor’s death was beneficial to Browder. There is no proof for that, but it is clear that Russia did not need the murder of accountant.

Question: Are the facts supported by documents?

Andrei Nekrasov: I used public sources. At first, trusting Browder, I used his two sites. All documents are there. I am sure they simply forgot to remove some of the materials. Comparing investigator reports, texts of interrogations, I came to the conclusion that Magnitsky was not killed. Also there was a forensic examination. Browder says that these are unreliable sources, but he quotes them where it is beneficial for him. Frau turns into Fury.

Question: Did Browder lobby Magnitsky Act in the US?

Andrei Nekrasov: Of course he lobbied it, that is the whole point.

Question: Did the movie change you?

Andrei Nekrasov: I was seriously worried about all this. I have developed my attitude towards the Russian government. I sincerely love the country, previously I contributed to its democratization – I was involved in opposition politics, knew Nemtsov, talked with Yashin and Kasyanov. Magnitsky was my hero, next after Litvinenko. I could make a movie in line with this, as intended. But what broke here is not the story itself, it was my understanding of my role in Russian society – it changed. I made serious conclusions and I cannot be silent about it.

Question: Why are there so many scandals around the movie in the West?

Andrei Nekrasov: This especially affected my position. Browder has lawyers in every country. They threaten organizers of screenings and companies who financed my film. But these organizers are all western state-owned, they are not financed privately! One cannot condemn the movie as Russian propaganda! They banned showings in Belgium, threatened German channel, in Norway we could only show the movie on second attempt. In the US there was a closed screening of the movie, but Browder tried to cancel it as well. He has unlimited financial resources, I don’t have money to sue him. I have always criticized Russia for censorship and I remain a critic of the authorities now. But earlier my movies have been banned in Russia, now they are not shown in the West. This is a joke with the truth in it! The most terrifying thing is that Browder can call you a liar and a bastard who is dancing on the remains, he can destroy your reputation, insult your mother. You cannot do anything about it.

Question: Did Browder sue for libel?

Andrei Nekrasov: No, because he would have to discuss details of the story then, give official responses, I think he is afraid of it.

Question: Can your investigation lead to abolishment of the Magnitsky Act?

Andrei Nekrasov: I want politicians who passed the Act to know the truth and to feel ashamed before their voters. Democracy cannot be abused like that! One Bundestag member was a polite, democratic frau, but after I told her about a few inconsistencies in Magnitsky’s case she turned into a fury and called me an FSB agent. To friends their political circle is more important.

Question: You supported Russian opposition and you are not a stranger to them now, but you made such film. Why?

Andrei Nekrasov: It is a problem for me. Friends accused me of some kind of betrayal. When I tell Ilya Yashin that Magnitsky did not investigate anything, he turns facts on their heads in bad faith. Opposition members tell me that the movie was released specifically to abolish anti-Russian sanctions. But I started filming from a different position when there were no sanctions! I thought my friends from the opposition will not exchange the truth. The opposition is good, but when their political circle is more important to them than the truth, that is sad. I have always been a rebel, but they don’t discuss the content of the movie, they just tell me: why did you do that? They are searching for financial motivation. I have a question for the opposition: how could you have such low thoughts? I am very disappointed.

Question: Before you have been filming movies accusing Russia..

Andrew Nekrasov: Yes, they caused a furore in the West – movies about explosions of apartments in Moscow, Litvinenko’s case, the war in Georgia in 2008, wounded and killed children in Chechnya.

Question: Did they have evidence base?

Andrew Nekrasov: I understood them as opposition documentary maker. I am not denouncing these movies, but in Magnitsky’s film I became a detective. I did not do such detailed scrupulous investigation in my earlier movies.

Question: Where do you live? In Russia or in Europe?

Andrew Nekrasov: I live between Germany and Scandinavia. I am completely independent of Moscow professionally and politically. The ideological war goes on.

Question: What topics are you planning to take in the future?

Andrew Nekrasov: Norwegian producers want me to film a sequel about Magnitsky. The West has great prejudices about Russia. When a Western journalist investigates corruption in his country, he must present irrefutable evidence. When it comes to Russia he can refer to an unfounded claim in a blog: courts are corrupt, police are criminals. Proof? Not necessary. Even Magnitsky’s case was built on prejudices. I know how the West thinks, I want to make a movie to dispel these prejudices.

Question: What is going on between the West and Russia right now?

Andrew Nekrasov: An ideological Cold War is taking place. It is happening not only between Russia and the West, but also within the Russian society. I suspect Browder has more allies in Russia than it seems. How could a not elected, private citizen Browder have such a huge political influence? Why? It should concern not only Russia, but I think the West as well.

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Unfortunately it is disappointingly difficult to find any lengthy interviews about the film “The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes”, either with the director or anyone else interested in what his censorship-victimized work conveys, reveals, and/or otherwise exposes. If what the director Mr. Nekrasov asserts is accurate, a global push for wide distribution and removing censorship of the film – involving people from all regions – has the potential for effecting timely improvement in U.S.-Russia relations.

If Mr. Nekrasov is speaking honestly, and while considering the amazing level of censorship of his important film in the West, one must seriously acknowledge the possibility information contained in the work is on the level of world-changing. In other words – extremely important. One place to demand the truth is at the doors of those in the U.S. Congress responsible for writing, advocating and passing the Magnitsky Act – in particular, the door of Arizona Senator John McCain.

Another place to act is worldwide through the many readily available channels on the internet.

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On the very consequential state of affairs and relations between the United States and Russia… Nothing less than total transparency will do; practicing the greatest possible freedom of speech is paramount. Honoring truth is all that matters.

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(Update: August 6, 2018. Bitchute.com link for viewing “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes”)

Here is the link for men and women interested in viewing the important, Western-censored film by director Andrei Nekrasov. Please share everywhere. Thank you.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/y8FL1e6Bqos5/

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(Thank you to Russia Insider at YouTube)

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John McCain Joins Maxine Waters: Pranked On Ukraine, Sanctions, Trump.

United States Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona joins Democratic United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California in an all-new, very exclusive, and bipartisan foreign policy “club”…

Friends of Syria

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Sanders’ AIPAC Address: “Too Much War, Killing, Suffering.”

aaa-19Alphabet Presidential candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was denied his request to address the annual AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference remotely from a Western state campaign location. In response, Sanders delivered the same address he would have given at AIPAC. In the interest of informing those many Americans yet to cast their votes for President of the United States, the full transcript and video of Sanders’ foreign policy address on Israel, Palestine and the Middle East follows.

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I was invited along with other presidential candidates to be at the AIPAC conference in Washington, but obviously I could not make it because we are here.

The issues that AIPAC is dealing with are very important issues and I wanted to give the same speech here as I would have given if we were at that conference.

Let me begin by saying that I think I am probably the only candidate for president who has personal ties with Israel. I spent a number of months there when I was a young man on a kibbutz, so I know a little bit about Israel.

Clearly, the United States and Israel are united by historical ties. We are united by culture. We are united by our values, including a deep commitment to democratic principles, civil rights and the rule of law.

Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and we – as a nation – are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but also to make sure that its people have a right to live in peace and security.

To my mind, as friends – long term friends with Israel – we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. That is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times.

Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively.

But it is important among friends to be honest and truthful about differences that we may have.

America and Israel have faced great challenges together. We have supported each other, and we will continue to do just that as we face a very daunting challenge and that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am here to tell the American people that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel.

But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high.

So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.

The road toward peace will be difficult. Wonderful people, well-intentioned people have tried decade after decade to achieve that and it will not be easy. I cannot tell you exactly how it will look – I do not believe anyone can – but I firmly believe that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution.

The first step in that road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations.

Progress is never made unless people are prepared to sit down and talk to each other. This is no small thing. It means building confidence on both sides, offering some signs of good faith, and then proceeding to talks when conditions permit them to be constructive. Again, this is not easy, but that is the direction we’ve got to go.

This will require compromises on both sides, but I believe it can be done. I believe that Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community can, must, and will rise to the ocassion and do what needs to be done to achieve a lasting peace in a region of the world that has seen so much war, so much conflict and so much suffering.

Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all people of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel.

Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.

Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence and terrorism.

But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.

Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part.

That is why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.

It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.

But, by the same token, it is also unacceptable for President Abbas to call for the abrogation of the Oslo Agreement when the goal should be the ending of violence.

Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.

Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives and there is nothing human life needs more than water.

Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked – even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.

We recently saw a dramatic example of just how important this concept is. In 2014, the decades-old conflict escalated once more as Israel launched a major military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli offensive came after weeks of indiscriminate rocket fire into its territory and the kidnapping of Israeli citizens.

Of course, I strongly object to Hamas’ long held position that Israel does not have the right to exist – that is unacceptable. Of course, I strongly condemn indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. I condemn the fact that Hamas diverted funds and materials for much-needed construction projects designed to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people, and instead used those funds to construct a network of tunnels for military purposes.

However, let me also be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps.

Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and
hospitals that are vital to the future of the Palestinian people.

These are difficult subjects. They are hard to talk about both for many Americans and for Israelis. I recognize that, but it is clear to me that the path toward peace will require tapping into our shared humanity to make hard but just decisions.

Nobody can tell you when peace will be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians. No one knows the exact order that compromises will have to be made to reach a viable two-state solution. But as we undertake that work together, the United States will continue its unwavering commitment to the safety of Israeli citizens and the country of Israel.

Let me just say a word about an overall agenda for the Middle East.

Of course, beyond the Palestinian question, Israel finds itself in the midst of a region in severe upheaval.

First, the so-called Islamic State – ISIS – threatens the security of the entire region and beyond, including our own country and our allies. Secretary of State Kerry was right to say that ISIS is committing genocide, and there is no doubt in my mind that the United States must continue to participate in an international coalition to destroy this barbaric organization.

While obviously much needs to be done, so far our effort has had some important progress, as airstrikes have degraded ISIS’ military capacity, and the group has lost more than 20 percent of its territory in the past year.
So we are making some progress.

But we are entering a difficult period in the campaign against ISIS.

The government in Baghdad has yet to achieve a sustainable political order that unites Iraq’s various ethnic and sectarian factions, which has limited its ability to sustain military victories against ISIS. Unless there is a united government, it’s going to be hard to be effective in destroying ISIS.

More inclusive, stable governance in Iraq will be vital to inflict a lasting defeat on ISIS. Otherwise, ISIS could regain its influence or another, similar organization may spring up in its place.

In Syria, the challenges are even more difficult. The fractured nature of the civil war there has often diluted the fight against ISIS – exemplified by the Russian airstrikes that prioritized hitting anti-Assad fighters rather than ISIS. And, just like in Iraq, ISIS cannot be defeated until the groups that take territory from ISIS can responsibly govern the areas they take back. Ultimately, this will require a political framework for all of Syria.

The U.S. must also play a greater role disrupting the financing of ISIS and efforts on the Internet to turn disaffected youth into a new generation of terrorists.

While the U.S. has an important role to play in defeating ISIS, that struggle must be led by the Muslim countries themselves on the ground. I agree with King Abdullah of Jordan who a number of months ago that what is going on there right now is nothing less than a battle for the soul of Islam and the only people who will effectively destroy ISIS there will be Muslim troops on the ground.

So what we need is a coalition of those countries.

Now, I am not suggesting that Saudi Arabia or any other states in the region invade other countries, nor unilaterally intervene in conflicts driven in part by sectarian tensions.

What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East and the defeat of ISIS.

What I am saying is that countries like Qatar – which intends to spend up to $200 billion to host the 2022 World Cup – Qatar which per capita is the wealthiest nation in the world – Qatar can do more to contribute to the fight Against ISIS. If they are prepared to spend $200 billion for a soccer tournament, then they have got to spend a lot spend a lot more against a barbaric organization.

What I am also saying is that other countries in the region – like Saudi Arabia, which has the 4th largest defense budget in the world – has to dedicate itself more fully to the destruction of ISIS, instead of other military adventures like the one it is pursuing right now in Yemen.

And keep in mind that while ISIS is obviously a dangerous and formidable enemy, ISIS has only 30,000 fighters on the ground. So when we ask the nations in the region to stand up to do more against ISIS – nations in the region which have millions of men and women under arms – we know it is surely within their capability to destroy ISIS.

Now the United States has every right in the world to insist on these points. Remember – I want everybody to remember – that not so many years ago it was the United States and our troops that reinstalled the royal family in Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1990. We put these people back on the throne. Now they have the obligation to work with us and other countries to destroy ISIS.

The very wealthy – and some of these countries are extraordinarily wealthy from oil money or gas money – these very wealthy and powerful nations in the region can no longer expect the United States to do their work for them. Uncle Sam cannot and should not do it all. We are not the policeman of the world.

As we continue a strongly coordinated effort against ISIS, the United States and other western nations should be supportive of efforts to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda. But it is the countries in the region that have to stand up against these violently extremist and brutal organizations.

Now I realize that given the geopolitics of the region this is not going to be easy. I realize that there are very strong and historical disagreements between different countries in the region about how ISIS should be dealt with.

I realize different countries have different priorities. But we can help set the agenda and mobilize stronger collective action to defeat ISIS in a lasting way.

Bottom line is the countries in the region – countries which by the way are most threatened by ISIS – they’re going to have to come together, they’re going to have to work out their compromises, they are going to have to lead the effort with the support of the United States and other major powers in destroying ISIS.

Another major challenge in the region, of course, is the Syrian Civil War itself – one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history.

After five years of brutal conflict, the only solution in Syria will be, in my view, a negotiated political settlement. Those who advocate for stronger military involvement by the U.S. to oust Assad from power have not paid close enough attention to history. That would simply prolong the war and increase the chaos in Syria, not end it.

In other words, we all recognize that Assad is a brutal dictator. But I think that our priorities right now have got to be destroy ISIS, work out a political settlement with Russia and Iran to get Assad out of power.

I applaud Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration for negotiating a partial ceasefire between the Assad regime and most opposition forces. The ceasefire shows the value of American-led diplomacy, rather than escalating violence. It may not seem like a lot, but it is. Diplomacy in this instance has had some real success.

Let me also say what I think most Americans now understand, that for a great military power like the United States it is easy to use a war to remove a tyrant from power, but it is much more difficult to comprehend the day after that tyrant is removed from power and a political vacuum occurs.

All of us know what has occurred in Iraq. We got rid of Saddam Hussein, a brutal, brutal murderer and a tyrant. And yet we created massive instability in that region which led to the creation of ISIS. I am very proud to have been one of the members in Congress to vote against that disastrous war.

And the situation is not totally dissimilar from what has happened in Libya. We got rid of a terrible dictator there, Colonel Gaddafi, but right now chaos has erupted and ISIS now has a foothold in that area.

Bottom line is that regime change for a major power like us is not hard. But understanding what happens afterward is something that always has got to be taken into consideration.

In my view, the military option for a powerful nation like ours – the most powerful nation in the world – should always be on the table. That’s why we have the most powerful military in the world. But it should always be the last resort not the first resort.

Another major challenge in the region is Iran, which routinely destabilizes the Middle East and threatens the security of Israel.

Now, I think all of us agree that Iran must not be able to acquire a nuclear weapon. That would just destabilize the entire region and create disastrous consequences.

Where we may disagree is how to achieve that goal. I personally strongly supported the nuclear deal with the United States, France, China, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran because I believe it is the best hope to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

I want to thank the Obama administration for doing a very good job under very, very difficult circumstances.

I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military intervention.

You know it is very easy for politicians to go before the people and talk about how tough we are, and we want to wipe out everybody else. But I think if we have learned anything from history is that we pursue every diplomatic option before we resort to military intervention.

And interestingly enough, more often than not, diplomacy can achieve goals that military intervention cannot achieve. And that is why I supported the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table and allowed us to reach an agreement.

But let me tell you what I firmly believe. The bottom line is this: if successfully implemented – and I think it can be – the nuclear deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And preventing Iran from getting the bomb makes the world a safer place.

Does the agreement achieve everything I would like? Of course not.

But to my mind, it is far better than the path we were on with Iran developing nuclear weapons and the potential for military intervention by the United States and Israel growing greater by the day.

I do not accept the idea that the “pro-Israel” position was to oppose the deal.
Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will strengthen not only the United States’ security, but Israel’s security as well.

And I am not alone in that idea. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is vocally opposed to the accord, his is hardly a consensus opinion in Israel and it’s important that everyone understand that. Dozens of former security officials, including retired Army generals and chiefs of the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies support the agreement. Netanyahu may not, but many others in Israel do.

But let me be clear: if Iran does not live up to the agreement, we should re-impose sanctions and all options are back on the table.

Moreover, the deal does not mean we let Iran’s aggressive acts go unchecked. The world must stand united in condemning Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests as well as its continued support for terrorism through groups like Hezbollah.

Going forward, I believe we need a longer-term vision for dealing with Iran that balances two important objectives.

First, we must counter the destabilizing behavior of Iran’s leaders.

But secondly we must also leave the door open to more diplomacy to encourage Iranian moderates and the segments of the Iranian people – especially the younger generations – who want a better relationship with the West. While only a small step in the right direction, I was heartened by the results of the recent parliamentary elections in which Iranian voters elected moderates in what was, in part, a referendum on the nuclear deal.

I know that some say there is just no dealing with Iran – in any way at all – for the foreseeable future. And that is the position of some. After all, Iran is in a competition with Saudi Arabia and its allies for influences over that region.

But a more balanced approach toward Iran that serves our national security interests should hardly be a radical idea. We have serious concerns about the nature of the Iranian government, but we have to honest enough, and sometimes we are not, to admit that Saudi Arabia – a repressive regime in its own right – is hardly an example of Jeffersonian democracy.

Balancing firmness with willingness to engage with diplomacy in dealing with Iran will not be easy. But it is the wisest course of action to help improve the long-term prospects of stability and peace in the Middle East – and to keep us safe.

Lastly, these are but some – not all – of the major issues where the interests of Israel intersect with those of the United States. I would address these issues and challenges as I would most issues and that is by having an honest discussion and by bringing people together.

The truth is there are good people on both sides who want peace, And the other truth is there despots and liars on both sides who benefit from continued antagonism.

I would conclude by saying there has a disturbing trend among some of the Republicans in this presidential election that take a very, very different approach. And their approach I think would be a disaster for this country. The Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, suggested limiting immigration according to religion and creating a national database based on religion – something unprecedented in our country’s history.

Now this would not only go against everything we stand for as a nation, but also – in terms of our relationship to the rest of the world – it would be a disaster.

Let me just conclude by saying this: the issues that I’ve discussed today are not going to be easily solved.

Everybody knows that. But I think the United States has the opportunity, as the the most powerful nation on earth, to play an extraordinary role in trying to bring to people together – to try to put together coalitions in the region to destroy ISIS.

And that is a responsibility that I, if elected president, would accept in a very, very serious way. We have seen too many wars, too much killing, too much suffering. And let us all together – people of good faith – do everything we can to finally, finally bring peace and stability to that region.

Thank you all very much.

*******

(Thank you to Bernie 2016 at YouTube)

Sanders-Clinton: America’s Moment Of Truth.

By Jerry Alatalo

aaa-38Alphabet The British politician and member of the Labor Party for 47 years, Tony Benn (1925-2014), once observed that corporate media owners used their powerful communication assets to produce apathy, hopelessness and resignation in the minds of those fighting for positive social change – such as the millions now supporting Senator Bernie Sanders for president.

If Tony Benn were alive today he would certainly have given a strong endorsement of Sanders for President of the United States, known full well the corporate media owners’ plans, and called them out beginning with Sanders’ announcement to run some 11 months ago in his home state of Vermont. Sadly, Tony Benn is no longer available to help the Sanders campaign as he passed away two years ago at the age of 88.

Perhaps the most astonishing and frustrating development in the 2016 election has been how efficiently media owners’ efforts have succeeded – producing the precise apathetic perceptions in citizens’ minds they sought when determining their course of action after Sanders’ announcement and subsequent growing popularity. Doubly astonishing and frustrating has been how men and women self-described progressives have also fallen for media manipulation of their perceptions into varying states of apathy.

When college student Bernie Sanders was arrested in Chicago protesting segregation during the 1960’s, Hillary Clinton was working for the presidential campaign of Republican Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was a leading opponent of landmark civil rights legislation. Thus far in the 2016 election, for whatever reasons, Clinton gained substantially more delegates in deep southern states, with those delegates accounting for her lead today.

Fortunately for the Sanders campaign and its supporters, voting in southern states for the 2016 election determining the Democratic nominee is history and over, and the second half of the Sanders-Clinton battle in all polls promises strong gains, renewed momentum for Sanders. Now the major question becomes whether or not progressive men and women across America will allow themselves to continue being manipulated by the media – succumbing to apathy, “inevitability” and defeat – or wake from their slumber, unite, and fight the good fight. This has been throughout history, and will remain for all time, the stuff – the reality – of accomplishing any peaceful, genuine, positive political revolution.

With all due respect for fellow progressives who support Green Party candidate Jill Stein (this writer supports both Mr. Sanders and Ms. Stein) and/or have criticized Sanders during election 2016, think deeply about what it means for America and the world if Hillary Clinton becomes the 45th President of the United States. Is it not of paramount and foremost importance to act forcefully using all options available and necessary, accelerate the greatest united effort in American political history, and finally put an end to that potentiality?

Whether Sanders or Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, Jill Stein will still be there. Do progressives want to see debates between Sanders, Trump and Stein or Clinton, Trump and Stein? Think deeply about the different consequences for humanity which will manifest on Earth from those choices – the most likely (2) remaining outcomes for the 2016 presidential race.

A realistic current assessment of the 2016 presidential election leaves one with no other conclusion: the American people – in particular, those in the progressive movement – are now facing an unprecedented, historic, profoundly vital moment of truth.

(Thank you to Bernie 2016 at YouTube)