Ray McGovern On Ukraine, Obama, Putin… And The Rest Of The World Too.

(Cross-posted from consortiumnews.com on January 16, 2015)

Rebuilding the Obama-Putin Trust

Exclusive: Heading into the last quarter of his presidency, Barack Obama must decide whether he will let the neocons keep pulling his strings or finally break loose and pursue a realistic foreign policy seeking practical solutions to world problems, including the crisis with Russia over Ukraine, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

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By Ray McGovern

The year 2015 will surely mark a watershed in relations between the United States and Russia, one way or the other. However, whether tensions increase – to war-by-proxy in Ukraine or an even wider war – or whether they subside depends mostly on President Barack Obama.

Key to answering this question is a second one: Is Obama smart enough and strong enough to rein in Secretary of State John Kerry, the neocons and “liberal interventionists” running the State Department and to stand up to the chicken hawks in Congress, most of whom feel free to flirt with war because they know nothing of it.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, by contrast, experienced the effects of war at an early age. He was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) eight years after the vicious siege by the German army ended. Michael Walzer, in his War Against Civilians, notes, “More people died in the 900-day siege of Leningrad than in the infernos of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki taken together.”

Putin’s elder brother Viktor died during the siege. The experience of Putin’s youth is, of course, embedded in his consciousness. This may help to account for why he tends to be short on the kind of daredevil bluster regularly heard from senior Western officials these days – many of whom are ignorant both of suffering from war and the complicated history of Ukraine.

This time last year, few Americans could point out Ukraine on a map. And malnourished as they are on “mainstream media,” most have little idea of its internal political tensions, a schism between a western Ukraine oriented toward Europe and an eastern Ukraine with strong ties to Russia.

Let’s start with a brief mention of the most salient points of this history before addressing its recent detritus — and making a few recommendations as the New Year begins. Less than three weeks after the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9. 1989, President George H.W. Bush invited Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev to a summit in Malta where they cut an historic deal: Moscow would refrain from using force to re-impose control over Eastern Europe; Washington would not “take advantage” of the upheaval and uncertainty there.

That deal was fleshed out just two months later, when Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker persuaded Gorbachev to swallow the bitter pill of a reunited Germany in NATO in return for a promise that NATO would not “leapfrog” eastward over Germany. Former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock, who was witness to all this, told me in an email, “I don’t see how anybody could view the subsequent expansion of NATO as anything but ‘taking advantage.’”

This consummate diplomat, who took part in the critical bilateral talks in early 1990, added that the mutual pledge was not set down in writing. Nonetheless, reneging on a promise – written or not – can put a significant dent in trust.

Why No Written Deal

Last year I asked Matlock and also Viktor Borisovich Kuvaldin, one of Gorbachev’s advisers from 1989 to 1991, why the Baker-Gorbachev understanding was not committed to paper. Matlock replied:

“There was no agreement then. Both Baker and West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher were putting forth ideas for Gorbachev to consider. He did not give an answer but just said he would think about them. … The formal agreements had to involve others, and they did, in the two-plus-four agreement, which was concluded only in late 1990.”

Fair enough.

In an email to me last fall, Kuvaldin corroborated what Matlock told me. But he led off by pointing out “the pledge of no eastward expansion of NATO was made to Gorbachev on consecutive days when he met first with Baker and then with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl [on Feb. 9 and 10, 1990].” As to why this pledge was not written down, Kuvaldin explained:

“Such a request would have sounded a little bit strange at that time. The Warsaw Pact was alive; Soviet military personnel were stationed all over central Europe; and NATO had nowhere to go. At the beginning of February 1990 hardly anybody could foresee the turn of events in the 1990s.”

Again, fair enough. But when I met Kuvaldin a few months earlier in Moscow and asked him out of the blue why there is no record of the promises given to his boss Gorbachev, his reply was more spontaneous – and visceral. He tilted his head, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “We trusted you.”

Written down or not, it was a matter of trust – and of not “taking advantage.” Kuvaldin’s boss Gorbachev opted to trust not only the U.S. Secretary of State, but also the West German government in Bonn. According to a report in Der Spiegel quoting West German foreign ministry documents released just five years ago:

“On Feb. 10, 1990, between 4 and 6:30 p.m., Genscher spoke with [Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard] Shevardnadze. And, according to the German record of the conversation, Genscher said: ‘We are aware that NATO membership for a unified Germany raises complicated questions. For us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.’ And because the conversation revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: ‘As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general.’”

NATO’s Growth Spurt

Some of us – though a distinct minority – know the rest of the story. Generally overlooked in Western media, it nevertheless sets the historical stage as background for the upheaval in Ukraine last year. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 – and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined in 2009. And the Kremlin’s leaders could do little more than look on impotently – and seethe.

One can hardly fault those countries, most of which had lots of painful experience at Soviet hands. It is no mystery why they would want to crowd under the NATO umbrella against any foul weather coming from the East. But, as George Kennan and others noted at the time, it was a regrettable lack of imagination and statesmanship that no serious alternatives were devised to address the concerns of countries to the east of Germany other than membership in NATO.

The more so, inasmuch as there were so few teeth left, at the time, in the mouth of the Russian bear. And – not least of all – a promise is a promise.

As NATO expansion drew in countries closer to Russia’s borders, the Kremlin drew a red line when, despite very strong warnings from Moscow, an April 3, 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest declared: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.” Both countries, former Soviet states, press up upon Russia’s soft southern underbelly.

Often forgotten – in the West, but not in Russia – is the impulsive reaction this NATO statement gave rise to on the part of Georgia’s then-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who felt his oats even before the NATO umbrella could be opened. Less than five months after Georgia was put in queue for NATO membership, Saakashvili ordered Georgian forces to attack the city of Tskhinvali in South Ossetia. No one should have been surprised when Russia retaliated sharply, giving Georgian forces a very bloody nose in battles that lasted just five days.

Ultimately, Saakashvili’s cheerleaders of the George W. Bush administration and then-Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who had been egging Saakashvili on, were powerless to protect him. Instead of drawing appropriate lessons from this failed experiment, however, the neocons running the foreign policy of Bush – and remaining inside the Obama administration – set their sights on Ukraine.

One Regime Change Too Many

It is becoming harder to hide the truth that Washington’s ultimate objective to satisfy Ukraine’s “Western aspirations” and incorporate it, ultimately, into NATO was what led the U.S. to mount the coup of Feb. 22, 2014, in Kiev. While it may be true that, as is said, revolutions “will not be televised,” coups d’état can be YouTubed.

And three weeks before the putsch in Kiev, U.S. State Department planning to orchestrate the removal of the Ukraine’s duly elected President Viktor Yanukovych and select new leaders for Ukraine was placed – chapter and verse – on YouTube in the form of a four-minute intercepted telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and the yes-ma’am U.S. Ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt.

Hearing is believing. And for those in a hurry, here is a very short transcribed excerpt:

Nuland: What do you think?

Pyatt: I think we’re in play. The Klitschko [Vitaly Klitschko, one of three main opposition leaders] piece is obviously the complicated electron here. … I think that’s the next phone call you want to set up, is exactly the one you made to Yats [Arseniy Yatseniuk, another opposition leader]. And I’m glad you sort of put him on the spot on where he fits in this scenario. And I’m very glad that he said what he said in response.

Nuland: Good. I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Pyatt: Yeah. I guess … just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. … We want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Oleh Tyahnybok, the other main opposition leader, head of the far-right Svoboda party] and his guys …

Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the … what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. …

And so, surprise, surprise: “Yats” turned out to be Nuland’s guy just three weeks later, being named prime minister right after the putsch on Feb. 22. And he still is. Talk about luck!

However transparent the dark arts of the “Maidan Marionettes” (the title Russian translators gave the images accompanying their version of the conversation on YouTube), these particular heroics are rarely mentioned in “mainstream” U.S. media (MSM). Instead, pride of place is given to Moscow’s “aggression” in annexing Crimea, a move that followed Crimea’s voters overwhelmingly choosing to bail out on the coup-imposed regime in Kiev and seek to rejoin Russia.

Seeing No Nazis

In the major U.S. media, the violent coup on Feb. 22 – spearheaded by well-organized neo-Nazi militias who killed police and seized government buildings – was whitewashed from what the American people got to see and hear. In the preferred U.S. narrative, Yanukovych and his officials simply decided to leave town because of the moral force from the white-hatted peaceful protesters in the Maidan.

So it came as a welcome surprise when an Establishment notable like George Friedman, during a Dec. 19 interview with the Russian magazine Kommersant, described the February overthrow of the Ukrainian government as “the most blatant coup in history.” Friedman is head of STRATFOR, a think tank often described as a “shadow CIA.”

However, in the mainstream U.S. media’s narrative – as well as others like the BBC where I have had personal experience with the ticklish issue of Ukraine – the story of the Ukraine crisis starts with the annexation of Crimea, which is sometimes termed a Russian “invasion” although Russian troops were already stationed inside Crimea at the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. In the MSM, there is “just not enough time, regrettably” to mention NATO’s eastward expansion or even the coup in Kiev.

The other favored part of the MSM’s narrative is that Putin instigated the Ukraine crisis because he was eager to seize back land lost in the break-up of the Soviet Union. But there is not one scintilla of evidence that the Russians would have taken back Crimea, were it not for the coup engineered by Nuland and implemented by various thugs including openly fascist groups waving banners with Nazi symbols.

Years ago, Nuland fell in with some very seedy companions. The list is long; suffice it to mention here that she served as Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney’s in his shadow national security council during the “dark-side” years from 2003 to 2005.

There Nuland reportedly worked on “democracy promotion” in Iraq and did such a terrific job at it that she was promoted, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to State Department spokesperson and then to Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, giving her the Ukraine account. Nuland is also married to neocon theorist Robert Kagan, whose Project for the New American Century pushed for the invasion of Iraq as early as 1998. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]

By December 2013, Nuland was so confident of her control over U.S. policy toward Ukraine that she publicly reminded Ukrainian business leaders that, to help Ukraine achieve “its European aspirations, we have invested more than $5 billion.” She even waded into the Maidan protests to pass out cookies and urge the demonstrators on.

In keeping her in the State Department and promoting her, Obama and his two secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry created a human bridge to the neocons’ dark-side years. Nuland also seems to have infected impressionable Obama administration officials with the kind approach to reality attributed by author Ron Suskind to one senior Bush administration official: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

This may be the nostrum used by Nuland and Kerry to whom Obama has mostly deferred to run U.S. policy vis-à-vis Russia. Ambassador Matlock will find it small solace, but it may help him understand what seems to be going on in policy toward Ukraine.

Writing early last year on the burgeoning crisis there, Matlock said: “I cannot understand how he [Obama] could fail to recognize that confronting President Putin publicly on an issue that is so central to Russian national pride and honor, not only tends to have the opposite effect on the issue at hand, but actually strengthens tendencies in Russia that we should wish to discourage. It is as if he, along with his advisers, is living in some alternate ideological and psychological universe.”

Putin: Little Tolerance for Other Reality

Before finishing with a few recommendations, let’s apply the proven tools of media analysis to see if we can discern how Russian President Putin is reacting to all this. (Hint: He is not going to yield to pressure on the issue of Ukraine.)

At a press conference ten days after the coup in Kiev, Putin complained about “our Western partners” continuing to interfere in Ukraine. “I sometimes get the feeling,” he said, “that somewhere across that huge puddle, in America, people sit in a lab and conduct experiments, as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing. Why do they need to do this?”

And in a speech two weeks later, Putin said:

“Our colleagues in the West … have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed before us an accomplished fact. This happened with NATO’s expansion to the east, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. … It happened with the deployment of a missile defense system. …

“They are constantly trying to sweep us into a corner. … But there is a limit to everything. And with Ukraine, our Western partners have crossed the line. … If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. … Today, it is imperative to end this hysteria and refute the rhetoric of the cold war. … Russia has its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected.”

On Sept. 8, 2013, when Secretary Kerry swore Nuland in as Assistant Secretary of State, he gushed over “Toria’s” accomplishments, with a panegyric fully deserving of the adjective fulsome. It was a huge hint that Kerry would give her free rein in crafting policy toward Russia, Ukraine, et al.

Fortunately, Nuland was not able to sabotage the behind-the-scenes dialogue between Obama and Putin that enabled Putin to dissuade Obama from attacking Syria in September 2013 by convincing him the Syrians were about to agree to destroy all their chemical weapons. Obama had cut Kerry out of those sensitive talks, but left on his own Kerry continued to try to drum up international support for military action against Syria.

That Kerry was blindsided by the extraordinary agreement worked out by Obama and Putin with Syria, became embarrassingly obvious when Kerry, at a press conference in London on Sept. 9, 2013, dismissed any likelihood that Syria would ever agree to let its chemical arsenal be destroyed. Later that same day the agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons was announced.

Sadly, to some significant degree, the U.S. mischief in Ukraine can be regarded as payback from Kerry, his Senate buddy John McCain, and of course Nuland for Russia’s dashing their hopes for a major U.S. military bombing campaign against the Syrian government.

Putin: Kerry “Knows He Is Lying”

It is rare that a head of state will call the head diplomat of a rival state a “liar.” But that’s what Putin did six days after Obama overruled Kerry and stopped the attack on Syria. On Sept. 5, 2013, as Obama arrived in St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit, Putin referred openly to Kerry’s congressional testimony on Syria a few days earlier in which Kerry greatly exaggerated the strength of the “moderate” rebels in Syria.

Kerry had also repeated highly dubious claim (made 35 times at an Aug. 30 State Department press conference) that the Assad government was behind the chemical attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21, that he had thus had crossed the “red line” Obama had set, and that Syria needed to be admonished by military attack.

About Kerry, Putin took the gloves off: “This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them [the Americans], and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad.”

Putin’s stern words about Kerry and the behind-the-scenes Obama-Putin collaboration that defused the Syrian crisis of 2013 appear to have awakened the neocons to the need to shatter that cooperation – and the Ukraine coup became the perfect device to do so.

New Year’s Resolutions

Five things for Obama to do for a fresh start to the New Year:

1 – Fire Kerry and Nuland.

2 – Read the New York Times op-ed by Putin on Sept. 11, 2013, just after cooperation with Obama had yielded the extraordinary result of the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

3 – Stop the foolish talk about the U.S. being “the one indispensable nation.” (The President said this so many times last year that some suspect he is beginning to believe his own rhetoric. This is how Putin chose to address this feel-good, but noxious, triumphalism in ending his op-ed:

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

4 – Lean on the Quislings in Kiev to stop their foolishness. One golden opportunity to do that would be to participate in the international summit called for by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Jan. 15 in Kazakhstan, where Putin and the leaders of Germany and France are also expected to take part.

5 – Finally, pick a different ending this year for your speeches. How about: “God bless the United States of America and the rest of the world, too.”

Ray McGovern now works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27 years as a CIA analyst, he served as chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch, chair of several National Intelligence Estimates, and preparer and White House briefer of the President’s Daily Brief.  He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

End The Unnecessary Suffering In Ukraine.

Posted on December 27, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

ocean11Alphabet For those men and women around the world who have followed events in Ukraine since November 2013, what has become painfully clear is the perhaps world record-setting distance between narratives coming from both “sides”. For people living in regions and nations where Western corporate news media has the largest number of viewers, they are being led to believe that Ukraine’s crisis came from actions taken by the Russians, in particular Vladimir Putin. For those people who get their news from independent news groups, foreign media, or directly from the mouths of persons involved with the crisis in Ukraine, people living there began suffering after a Western-sponsored violent coup in February 2014.

Western media groups fail to report or debate assertions made by the “other” media groups on events in Ukraine, including reports that people who took power after Viktor Yanukovych left office and the country were behind the sniper murders of 100 police and protesters, the new government in Kiev was behind the downing of Malaysian flight MH17, men close to both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden (in fact, Hunter Biden, Joe’s son) joined the Board of Directors of Ukraine’s largest private energy corporation – Burisma Holdings, and the rich mineral and agricultural resources of Ukraine. Throughout history natural resources have been the greatest cause of wars.

Ask most average Americans about Ukraine and most likely one hears responses like “yes, there’s some kind of war going on there” or, if they get their news from FOX, “yes, Russia’s – Putin’s – trying to take over Ukraine”. The problem with the propagandistic nature of news reporting about Ukraine is that most people, to some extent on both “sides”, are not receiving anything close to the full truth about events there. This condition, where media falls miserably short in thoroughness of investigation to bring the people real facts and news, is not something new when it comes to important geopolitical issues.

In an ideal world, Petro Poroshenko would appear for interviews in Russia, and Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Or even more beneficial would be Poroshenko and Putin appearing together on television for interviews – preferably long interviews.

Such a media condition is not new, but it is certainly nothing an “advanced, enlightened” civilization can point toward with any pride whatsoever. Media in an “advanced, enlightened” civilization would not settle for anything less than an accurate assessment of facts and causes, along with total inclusion of all credible voices when producing reports about major events. This is particularly important in the case of Ukraine, where men and women with great experience in government service, international relations, academics and diplomacy have expressed high concern over possible escalation of tension and the need to prevent unwise developments.

The first action necessary on the path to peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine is agreement by all stakeholders to make the sincere effort of identifying the true cause(s) of the conflict, and reporting those causes to the media for dissemination to the world’s people. In this important process of problem identification, total transparency must become recognized as the only path to an equitable and peaceful resolution. The same first-step effort not only offers the opportunity for peaceful resolution of differences in Ukraine, but in the Middle East, Africa, and any place on Earth where conflicts are occurring.

The key is willingness by all parties to strive for total transparency; between/with diplomats, negotiators, the public, the media, and – the entire world. It has become no longer acceptable that international relations are carried out through less-than-complete or slanted narratives. Out of the many diverse opinions and analyses of what are the true causes of the world’s conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Israel-Palestine and elsewhere, some come closer to the truth and some fall a distance away.

It is long past time that diversity of opinions and analyses based on mixtures of real and false facts becomes an extinct feature of the human condition, and the only opinions, analyses, and solution options remaining share the basis of reasonably, widely, and soberly agreed upon truth and real circumstances. Failure of world leaders, and the world’s media/communicators, to move in such a higher moral direction guarantees continuance of less-than-ideal outcomes in situations of potential violence or intensification of human relations problems.

Propaganda, obfuscation, secrecy, omission, half-truths and other intentional manipulations of public opinion/perception must become widely condemned for the extremely negative consequences such actions bring upon innocent men, women, and children. The most horrific consequences are those which become experienced when violence and war occurs.

In recent history, one finds the most striking example in the 2003 Iraq War.

Pray that true peace comes soon to the people of Ukraine.

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(Thank you to thomhartmann at YouTube)

Join Together For Peace In Ukraine.

 

Posted on September 3, 2014

Jerry Alatalo

pict rocks 2-1All  parents inevitably experience those times when the children are fighting and the parents ask “what seems to be the problem?” Danny Schechter said during “The Debate” on Press TV that what is needed is a third-party to help negotiate a settlement in Ukraine. How about somebody start a campaign asking parents from around the world to send in a short video where they say “what seems to be the problem in Ukraine?”

The parents video/internet campaign suggestion was presented mostly out of frustration over the strange series of events in Ukraine during 2014, but perhaps the parents angle could go viral and be effective. Now is certainly the time for men and women around the world to use all of their creative tools for stopping the war insanity taking place in Ukraine. Let’s hope billions of people show up at the NATO meeting coming up only days from now in Britain and, besides protesting any escalation of war in Ukraine, make a strong point about solving the conflict peacefully. Why are political and military leaders using the unwise, provocative, inflammatory rhetoric? Isn’t the loss of over 2,600 lives and somewhere between  500,000 and 1,000,000 people now displaced in Ukraine enough?

Whether the issue is corporate greed, political ideology, international finance competition, geopolitical power, Ukraine’s natural gas, mineral, and agricultural resources/GMO, energy markets competition, generational disputes between Western and Eastern Ukrainians, serious problems associated with investigating MH17, or some combination of these or other factors, all parties need to compile their lists of concerns and questions, sit down for discussions for as long it takes, and come up with a mutually agreeable, peaceful way forward.

One commentator made the point that if Victor Yanukovych had taken the same actions as the current government in Kiev has for close to five months – initiated a bombing campaign on Western Ukrainians, killing thousands with indiscriminate shelling of homes, schools, and infrastructure, to the point where 500,000 became displaced – there would have been hell to pay.

There is something very wrong and disturbing about events in Ukraine. Humanity must demand an end to warring in Ukraine while taking strong, highly coördinated actions calling for a ceasefire and peace negotiations now.

Deliver a viral, loud, powerful, impassioned, worldwide message…

PEACE FOR ALL UKRAINIANS!!”  

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(Thank you to Press TV News Videos at YouTube)

An Old Path To A New World.

Posted on June 22, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“No one is fool enough to choose war instead of peace. For in peace sons bury fathers, but war violates the order of nature, and fathers bury sons.”

HERODOTUS (485-425 B.C.) Greek historian

aaa-12Exactly what is occurring in Iraq is difficult to ascertain as there are so many opinions that it seems every commentator and journalist’ article sees the situation somewhat differently. One very important factor, which only one out of many articles and talks alluded to, is the status of Iraq’s oil as the national treasure of Iraq versus privatization of that oil. With the United States calling for Nouri al-Maliki to step down, Vladimir Putin’s recent endorsement and pledge of support for al-Maliki, and all the other variables, whatever the truth is in Iraq one thing seems certain.

The people who are behind unwarranted, illegal violence must be stopped.

There is no difference between a proxy war of aggression and a war of aggression; they are exactly the same: war crimes. Whoever is financing and supplying the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – whether it be the USA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, some combination of those governments or any others – have attacked the sovereign nation of Iraq. It is important to repeat that a war of aggression is, very clearly written in international law, a war crime.

Let us get directly to it. Why is nobody being held accountable?

If Nouri al-Maliki is doing a poor job as Iraq’s president, shouldn’t the parliament of Iraq have legal means to impeach him? For God’s sake the Iraqi people just elected him president; how does he become the bad guy in the eyes of Americans only weeks after he gained the voting booth approval of the people of Iraq? Perhaps it’s propaganda the Shia-Sunni ages-old hatred element has led to the current violence, but ISIL is a group of paid mercenary killers attempting to overthrow the Maliki government for control of Iraq’s oil?

Citizens who hire an assassin to kill another person are in really big trouble, and there is no difference when billionaires hire large numbers of assassins; no matter how “powerful” or wealthy the person(s) are who paid for killings, they need to face punishment behind bars or worse. Allowing people to kill – or arrange for the killing of – others with impunity is unacceptable, baffling, and quite frankly madness.

Maddening and tragic for the regular people of Iraq and the Middle East who get caught in the crossfire between the wealthy élite who are looking for control of, and profit from, natural resources in Iraq and those who wish to go the route of Nasserite pan-Arabism and nationalize their country’s oil. Retired American General, and former presidential candidate, Wesley Clarke has been viewed millions of times sitting on stage talking about US military planning to “take out” seven countries in five years. Iraq, Syria, and Iran were three of those seven nations.

If anyone has heard of ex-Generals like Wesley Clarke from the Iraqi, Syrian, or Iranian militaries making any similar statement about “taking out” Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, or the United States, readers would be interested in hearing about it in the comments. The Middle East, and particularly Iraq, is the world’s most potent example of the record wealth inequality existent now. Starting centuries ago wars of aggression have transferred natural resource wealth from the many to the few, in a trend that has continued to move through the decades and years to June 2014.

How about letting the people of Iraq decide through democratic means – arriving at national consensus – how best to manage the resource wealth inside their borders, stop sending hired mercenaries to kill for profit, and simply pay a fair price for those resources. Abdicate your crowns, thrones, and astronomical riches once and for all, give up the addiction to wars of aggression and organized murder, share the Earth’s abundance with all fairly, and join the rest of us down here in “average people land.”

An old way of peacefully settling differences to create a new world?

For solving differences peaceably in Iraq, Ukraine, Syria and every other war-torn nation and region on Earth, perhaps an old form of governing would be well-advised. Many years ago, before there was electricity, people would sit around the community fire to discuss any issues or problems that had arisen since their previous meeting. The structure of those meetings was reasoned and agreed upon: that no person’s voice would be censored or suppressed, all men and women were present and given the opportunity to speak, and the meeting would not end until there was 100% agreement on ideas/solutions for the community going forward.

Meetings of this type, with the same spirit of coöperation, practical goals and basic structure, could be held today and relatively easily organized. Obviously, when dealing with problems affecting millions of men, women, and children in a number of nations, every member of the community won’t be present. There is a very easy way around this.

American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to speak to the people of America every weekend in what became known as a “Fireside Chat.” Most people around the world own a television or computer. Right now in the Middle East, if this concept was in use already, the leaders – political, religious, business, military, academic – of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, etc. could be talking about the worrisome situation in the region, while that important discussion is simultaneously broadcast live to every television, and every computer through the internet, in the Middle East.

No man or woman speaking at the meeting shall bring prepared notes. All speech will be extemporaneous, impromptu, truth from the heart.

The meeting would continue until everyone had come to full agreement. After each hour of discussion, men and women across the Middle East could call in their questions for fifteen minutes, another hour would be devoted to discussion, fifteen minutes for Q+A, and so on, until the issue becomes resolved. The meeting does not end until there is a resolution.

A similar meeting could be easily arranged to resolve the situation in Ukraine. In any nation or region on Earth.

Some may hear this proposal and come to view it as impractical or impossible to carry out. But, as mentioned earlier, this is how people successfully resolved differences and problems centuries ago. Such a structure and defined-goals choice is extremely practical and totally possible with today’s technology, and offers tremendous, positive advantages for humanity’s efforts to solve problems peacefully.

Adoption of such a problem-solving process increases the chances that a cooperative spirit becomes developed between people. Not only will those who speak at the meetings gain understanding and wisdom, but the tremendous numbers of people watching and listening on their televisions and computer screens will as well. Such a form of human interaction, when one thinks deeply about it, represents the highest possible democratic creation in history.

Another advantage is a highly concentrated, focused, prompt resolution of problems.

Perhaps the most important advantage when choosing this form of conflict resolution, and some will certainly object to this choice vehemently because of this advantage, is that everyone will become aware of the truth.

Those who would object have a vested interest in not revealing truth, and are those who wish to maintain the so-called status-quo on this Earth.

In the year 2014, after centuries of war, inequality, and unnecessary human suffering and deprivation, perhaps the time has arrived for a worldwide truth evolution. The example provided in this writing, where the full truth about what factors and causes are responsible for the serious situation in Iraq is not totally known, points to a serious misperception problem about the main problem – ISIL itself. The articles and interviews etc. that people have read and heard vary in regard to what has actually occurred and there remains uncertainty to some extent.

Such uncertainty about the reality on the ground in Iraq, whether to a small extent or large, is unproductive in that opinions shared with others based on any amount of uncertainty fail to focus on the problem from full awareness of the circumstances and truth. Absence of factual certainty robs not only writers, activists, and concerned citizens – political, religious, business, military, and academic leaders – of the full set of tools to effectively and successfully analyze, but allows for inaccurate perceptions to stay in the minds of people in Iraq, the Middle East, and around the Earth. Mis-perceptions lead to misjudgment and errors in decision-making. Life and death decisions.

Adopting this form of problem-solving on a global level will help greatly decrease the times when people experience situations where they are “not on the same page”, an obvious roadblock when trying to work through differences. Perhaps an imagined scenario where 99% of humanity is “on the same page” will illustrate the profound potential of this “old” new way of solving problems.

This is where conflict resolution meetings just described display their immense power with regard to positive, superior, and most honorable ways to settle differences. Once begun, such a form will dramatically increase mutual understanding, insight, awareness, peaceful coöperation, and excellent communication between men and women around the world. Perhaps to the point where only 1% of the human race is on a different page.

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A note on Dan Buhrdorf:

By now everyone is aware of the election shocker where Eric Cantor suffered defeat in his Congressional race despite outspending his opponent by something like 20-1. This huge political event shows that something has changed in America. Dan Buhrdorf is running for the United States Senate in Nebraska with the “Tax Wall Street Party” against the Republican favorite Ben Sasse. If you live in Nebraska, if you have relatives or friends in Nebraska, if you want real change in America, please consider helping Dan Buhrdorf. Bloggers can write a few posts to endorse him for Senator, share his ideas for America, encourage Nebraskans to help collect required signatures, and other creative suggestions to further his chances of winning. Given the mainstream candidate Cantor’s defeat, as well as the close numbers in the U.S. Senate for passing crucial legislation, Dan Buhrdorf becoming Nebraska’s next Senator would be an even more profound and important American political event. 

Find out more, then please consider helping Dan’s efforts, at: DanForNebraska.com  

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(Thanks to Webster Tarpley Fan Channel at YouTube)