Syrian Presidential Race Draws Worldwide Interest.

Posted May 2, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“When the people is master of the vote it becomes the master of the government.”

– ARISTOTLE  Greek philosopher

gaswellAssuming Bashar Al-Assad runs for re-election as Syria’s president there will be three candidates for the 7-year term highest position. Little is known thus far on Assad’s opponents – current member of Parliament, 43 year-old Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar, and ex-member Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri.  Whether western governments like the United States and European Union nations, or regional states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey or Israel have endorsed any of these candidates is also unknown.

After the Syrian Parliament announced the presidential election slated for early June the United Nations, European Union and United States have criticized holding elections during the present situation where millions of Syrians are refugees who’ve left Syrian soil, with the view that such an event would lessen chances for dialogue and a potential peace agreement. The U.S. State Department through spokespersons have called a Syrian presidential election at this time a “parody of democracy.”

There are a few aspects to consider. Now that Syria has entered into a fourth year of what can only be described – and has been accurately described – as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, what rationale is there to oppose a presidential election in Syria? The death toll of men, women, and children has passed 150,000, and surrounding countries are unable to cope with millions of people who’ve fled Syria because of the overwhelming violence.

Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar and Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri are running for president of Syria against Bashar Al-Assad. Rational people have to believe that these men didn’t make such a major life choice for insignificant reasons. In every nation on Earth candidates for that nation’s highest leadership position have a belief in themselves that their ideas are the best ones for their citizens, which ideally, when understood and compared by voters, will result in the person with the most persuasive arguments becoming leader.

Another aspect to consider are the possible reasons for non-Syrians’ critical views toward an election. Perhaps the Syrian people will find the ideas of either Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar or Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri preferable to Assad, cast more votes for one of them than Assad, and then Syria will have a new president – in effect the “regime change, Assad has to go” wish of some governments outside Syria. Instead of highly criticizing an election in Syria, one would think that politicians outside Syria who find Assad undesirable would welcome a democratic removal of him from office, seeing they “know” the Syrian people want Assad out of office as well.

Surely those politicians outside Syria played a part in convincing Maher Abdul-Hafir Haijar and/or Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri to stand up and oppose Assad, certain that either would be better leaders for the people of Syria. Now, the essential question is whether those powers outside Syria who’ve been calling for the ouster of Assad back either of the men running against him. If so, then this should offer hope for the anti-Assad groups. If not, then people are left to ask: “where is your preferred candidate, and why haven’t they come forward and thrown their hat in the ring?”

Syria’s United Nations representative has said Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and certain western nations are arming, training and paying mercenaries from 83 nations, and that these mercenaries are the so-called “Syrian opposition.” To run for president in Syria, a candidate must provide proof they are a ten-year citizen. Perhaps non-Syrians financing and arming the opposition – for those who have no problem carrying out violent overthrows of nations – there are other agendas than bringing true democracy, which is what an election is all about.

As mentioned earlier, the situation in Syria is the most significant humanitarian crisis on Earth. With over 150 thousand lost lives, with millions of Syrians displaced after fleeing from their homes – a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions – how non-Syrian groups can look upon the potential of a better Syrian leader coming to power as a “parody of democracy” is beyond understanding. In other words, how is a presidential election going to make matters any worse?

Perhaps Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have already endorsed one of the two men who’ve challenged Assad, and will soon be found on the front pages in photographs shaking hands or videos sharing visions of a better future for Syria and her people. Both McCain and Graham, and Barack Obama and John Kerry, surely must have identified a more qualified person to lead Syria than Bashar Al-Assad. Is that person either Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar or Hassan Abdulah al-Nouri? If so, then your man is certainly better qualified and able to receive more votes.

If Barack Obama, John Kerry, John McCain and Lindsay Graham believe they’ve found a Syrian who would do a better job leading that nation than Bashar Al-Assad – but that person hasn’t entered the presidential race – then what has all this war, killing, violence, and deeply saddening last four years in Syria been all about?

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Syrians, Ukrainians Search For Peace. Why They Won’t Find It On American Media.

Posted April 26, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

thCACHL51Q-1After coming up with this writing”s title, the thought/question came to mind: “has any American television corporation ever – repeat ever – devoted any weekly program, or significant amount of air-time, to peace?”  If there are any elders in the age range of their 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s reading this, please enter your answer or thoughts regarding that question below.  Because peace on Earth is a really, really big deal for people all around the world, one would think that major media companies might consider – because peace is such a huge issue – the viewership they would garner from such a project.

Let’s just imagine if, say, CNN or ABC or CBS or NBC or FOX produced a two or three-hour Saturday or Sunday night prime-time program with the title “Search For Peace”, featuring guests from all nations and regions where war and violence were occurring. Now, these guests would consist of men and women who are actively involved in bringing about conditions to bring peace to their areas and, because the program is two or three hours, those men and women would represent the entire range of economic, political, and religious/spiritual viewpoints.

Now, let us think about what goes through the minds and hearts of those who have the literal power to make such a programming decision at these companies. We’re talking about John Smith or Susan Jones “Network Vice-President of Programming” or, even better, – Network Chief Executive Officer John Smith or CEO Susan Jones. Can we think about what has gone through all the minds of all the Vice Presidents of Programming and CEOs of every major television corporation since television first existed – regarding peace programming?

Can we imagine all of those separate corporate entities and their “deciders” of what shows to air and which become turned down – what went through their minds and hearts – when there were instances of men and women lower on the corporate hierarchy walking into their offices and proposing various formats for programs focusing on world peace? Evidently, because no such program has ever made the airwaves, those creative and idealistic underlings had their proposals kind of blown out of the water. Why?

Maybe the “deciders” came to conclude innocently enough that such a program “wouldn’t get any viewers”, and so the company’s profits would surely suffer, and then went back to the tried-and-true template many have called “if it bleeds, it leads”. But you’d think that, since television first became invented and came to the living rooms of more and more American homes since the 1950’s, at least one, just one, of those “deciders” would have gambled on such a TV program new genre. But, it’s never happened, with all those CEOs and VP’s of Programming over the decades even once. Again, why not?

It is very and extremely interesting that these mass media corporations have through the decades and all the wars devoted millions of hours to reporting on killing and violence occurring in nations and regions around the world, but have never devoted anything more than a miniscule – microscopic – fraction of that same air-time to ending or preventing war. No man or woman can deny that there have been an overwhelmingly large number of people on Earth all during the decades after television was born who’ve had legitimate ideas for making the world a more peaceful place. So, it’s not as if the “deciders” didn’t have any persons available to fill up the peace program(s) with talk and creative ideas.

For some very odd reason the men and women who had ideas to present on-air about war have through those decades been omnipresent on programming dealing with history’s wars, but those with ideas on peace have been virtually, and literally, absent. So in the history of television, on issues of war and peace, the voices of war have received air-time in a very unbalanced ratio – perhaps 1,000,000 to 1? No empirical studies/work has been done on this issue of war-speak and peace-speak TV time comparison, yet even without any scientific, mathematical analysis it could be said that there is essentially no – zero, nada, zilch – peace programming in the history of American television.

When one really thinks about this, it’s truly, truly amazing – no?

Peace programs are bad for television corporations’ business. Because the owners of those corporations profit from war.

From Ben H. Bagdikian’s book “The Media Monopoly” pages 22-28:

Louis Brandeis, before joining the Supreme Court wrote: “The practice of interlocking directorates is the root of many evils. It offends law human and divine… It tends to disloyalty and violation of the fundamental law that no man can serve two masters… It is undemocratic, for it rejects the platform: ‘A fair field and no favors’.

Members of corporate boards have impressive power over their corporations. They hire – and fire – the corporate leaders. They set corporate policy. They decide if the corporation will borrow money (or lend it) and for what purpose. They decide how the corporation will deal with the public and with the government.

In 1978 when the Department of Justice wanted to use its computer to show the number of interlocks among major American corporations, business leaders were powerful enough to prevent it. Through more tedious methods the department found that in 1976, of 130 major corporations, the largest interlocked through their directors with 70 percent of the others. Exxon, for example, interlocked with its leading competitors, Atlantic Richfield, Mobil, Standard Oil of California, Standard Oil of Indiana, and Texaco.

Brandeis called this the “endless chain”. The corporations from which Americans get most of their news and ideas have now entered the “endless chain”.

For example, Exxon, the world’s largest corporation, has two directors on the board of Citibank, alongside directors of Mobil and Standard Oil of California, General Electric, Westinghouse, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, DuPont, AT&T, IBM, and RCA. RCA and Westinghouse, two major media companies, are interlocked competitors and both are interlocked with Exxon, whose news they report.

Today the country’s major organs of public information are no longer local. Consequently, any conflict of interest is on a national or global scale, as are the consequences.

A 1979 study found Gannett, the largest seller of newspapers in the country, shared directors with Merrill Lynch (stockbrokers), Standard Oil of Ohio, 20th Century-Fox, Kerr-McGee (oil, gas, nuclear power, aerospace), McDonnell Douglas Aircraft, McGraw-Hill, Eastern Airlines, Phillips Petroleum, Kellogg Company, and New York Telephone Company.

Times Mirror of Los Angeles has on its board directors from Bank of America, Norton Simon, TRW, Rohr Corporation, Kaiser Steel, Ford Motor, American Airlines, Colgate-Palmolive, and Carter Hawley Hale Stores.

The New York Times interlocks with Merck, Morgan Guaranty Trust, Bristol Myers, Charter Oil, Johns Manville, American Express, Bethlehem Steel, IBM, Scott Paper, Sun Oil, Ford Motor, and First Boston Corporation.

The Washington Post interlocks with CBS, Allied Chemical, Blu Chip Stamps (which controls Berkshire Hathaway textiles, Buffalo Evening news, Pinkerton’s, and Munsingwear), IBM, Ford Motor, Levi-Strauss, TWA, Utah International, and Wells Fargo Bank.

Another study of interlocking directorates found that an even greater concentration of international industrial and financial figures dominates other media. American Broadcasting Co., for example, has on its board executives from the oil and gas industries, major banks, insurance companies, IBM, General Motors, and General Dynamics. CBS share directors with major international banks, Aerospace Corporation, Institute of Defense Analysis, Eastern Airlines, Gannett Co., Trilateral Commission, Memorex, Aluminum Company of America, Pan American Airways, and the Asia Society.

Almost every major industry whose activities dominate the news of the 1980s – the leading defense contractors and oil companies – sit on controlling boards of the leading media of the country.

There is hardly a major international bank or insurance company, or investment company, that is not represented on boards of directors of the major media that control most of what Americans learn about the economy.

It is not always easy to discover who, in reality, holds and votes on stock in media corporations. The law permits some shares to be held by “street name” firms whose real beneficiaries remain secret, an invisible hand with special significance when it has influence over the mass media.

The concentration of giant media firms that control American public information is troublesome by itself. The interlocking directorates with each other and with major industries and banks, insurance companies, and investment firms make it more troublesome still. The relationship of the news media and leading world bankers is corporate incest within corporate incest: The controllers control each other. A cluster of New York banks and life insurance companies held controlling shares in the New York Times; Newsday; McGraw-Hill; Dow Jones; Time, Inc.; ITT; CBS; ABC; Prentice-Hall; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; ABC; Doubleday; Knight-Ridder Publications; RCA; Thomson Newspapers; Westinghouse; Cox; Reader’s Digest; Harper&Row; the Washington Post; Xerox; and the Tribune Company.

The “summits of American business” now control or powerfully influence the major media that create American public opinion.

Since Ben Bagdikian wrote “The Media Monopoly” in 1983, media ownership has only concentrated, till in 2014 only a handful of media ultra-mega-conglomerates dominate the communications industry landscape around the Earth.

Interlocking directorates have only become more systemic and problematic an issue since 1983 as well, evidenced by the world’s extreme wealth inequality – the greatest inequality in history.

We can connect the dots now and fully understand why major media corporations, with their “summit of American business” controllers – and international markets to capture before they sleep – have “deciders” who feel peace-oriented programming may not make the men and women on the “board” too satisfied.

Connecting the dots helps men and women understand why people such as those talking here to George Galloway – Julian Assange’s father, Syrian peace activist Father Dave Smith, and a journalist critical of America and western nations’ actions in Ukraine – will not be seen any time soon – talking about peace on major media in America.

Marine Major General Smedley Butler (1881-1940) wrote a book titled “War Is A Racket”:

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscleman for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short I was a racketeer – a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking-house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American Fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated in three continents.” 

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(Thank you to Gallowayist at YouTube)

Syrian Ex-Deputy Prime Minister: Foreign Intervention, Bloodshed Must Be Stopped.

Posted April 4, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

blogger8.jpgBefore getting into any discussion on the interview of Syrian former Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil by Oksana Boyko and “Worlds Apart”, a few thoughts. The death toll from the Syrian humanitarian catastrophe is over 140,000. When one human being murders another human being, the murderer will face a life sentence in prison. There are powerful people who are responsible for the deaths in Syria. Powerful people who make the decisions and take the actions which result in innocent people getting killed may not pull the triggers that direct the bullets toward their victims, but they are guilty of murder.

The time has long since passed when powerful people become prosecuted for war crimes – mass murder.

After listening to this interview Qadri Jamil could be described as a leader of the sane Syrian opposition. His words are straight-forward and without pretense, while he comes across as a Syrian who wants to create better conditions for his fellow Syrians. He frankly admits that being in politics places one in line for criticism, all part of the package. He tells Ms. Boyko that solutions to domestic problems in Syria cannot be found without putting an end to foreign interference. That seems worth repeating.

Solutions for Syria cannot be found without an end to foreign interference.

This foreign interference has now taken the form of terrorism and religious fanaticism. It is the “new fascism” that is happening not only in Syria but the entire Middle East region. Mr. Jamil points out that if fascism had not succeeded in 1936 Spain, World War II would never have happened. The terrorists streaming into Syria from 80 external nations are that “new fascism”; it’s not only the atrocities they commit such as beheadings, cutting the hearts out of victims and eating them before video cameras etc., but more important is the fact they are representing the interests of global capital.

Mr. Jamil asks Ms. Boyko if she ever thought about where the enormous sums of money supporting mercenaries are coming from. He shares his analogy of western forces in the 1930’s who backed Nazism, the same is happening now with this new fascism. He asks how the west can wage war on men in Afghanistan and then support those same men in Syria. He says, “isn’t that a bit ironic?” After 3 years of war has shown nobody can win with hard military power, the aim should be a political settlement.

He believes Bashar al Assad’s resignation can in no way be a precondition for peace talks, because it would block any possible dialogue. “Let’s sit at the negotiating table where we can discuss compromise and reach a consensus”. Conditions must be created to allow the Syrians to speak their minds and exercise their right for self-determination. He feels any talk of Assad’s resigning is not important, but that fighting needs to stop until the election(s) and the conditions are created for elections to be held. Then the Syrians will decide.

Ms. Boyko asks what has to take place in the world so that Assad won’t have to feel like he’s Syria’s last hope.

Mr. Jamil responded, “Before we talk of such issues, we need to put a stop to foreign intervention in Syria’s affairs, the indirect interference with people, money, and weapons.” After that Syrians will be able to come together and solve the problems themselves – the Syrian issue is much larger than Bashar al-Assad. It is a complex problem with economic, social, and political dimensions. “Blaming one person for the Syrian situation is oversimplifying.”

Ms. Boyko: What is your vision of Syria’s future if Assad were to go?

“We’ve studied the experiences of other countries and we’ve learned certain lessons. Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and others. This is why we’re going to go down our own path – a different path. We’ll find a new way out of the crisis and a new way afterward; we’ll create this model… What makes it different is true democracy and social justice meaning redistribution of wealth, which is the cornerstone of any nation. Those countries couldn’t solve those problems, so their people couldn’t feel any difference between their past and the new present.”

The reason the Geneva II meetings failed, according to Mr. Jamil, was “It didn’t work out because I didn’t have the support of the entire range of opposition forces. If the entire opposition supported our agenda, I think we would have been able to move forward. We will (eventually) have a compromise, balanced-power government because there is no other way out of the situation. Geneva II failed because of the things we warned about earlier. Our party has worked 40 years to fight against the idea of having a ruling party at the helm of power. But now, some western force wants to put yet another party in charge of us. The Syrian opposition is pluralistic, we need to create a fully representative delegation that would represent the entire range of the opposition, not just a small part.”

Ms. Boyko: Who should do that?

“The United Nations, with the help of Russian and American sponsors.”

The Syrian people want to compromise and end the war, but will external powers allow it?

“This is exactly what the Geneva II conference was trying to achieve, to put an end to all external intervention, to put an end to violence in the country, and to kick-start the political process. In other words, help[ us stop the foreign intervention and we promise to start the political process based on an agreed set of principles, which will change Syria and make it a modern and democratic state.”

“Some were completely opposed to the conference to begin with and those same parties are trying to derail it. There are a lot of forces that don’t want the Syrian crisis to be resolved. But there are also powerful forces seeking a peaceful settlement. The situation is comparable to what happened in Spain in 1936; the outcome of the struggle will determine the future of the region and, to some extent, even the future of the world.”

How do you see the role of the Saudis in general?

“I see it as negative. Saudi Arabia now realizes that there is no military solution to the crisis, and that it can have a backlash later…”

Geopolitics is a dirty business…

“Ideologies are always a coverup for financial interests, this is where you should be looking for an underlying explanation of Saudi Arabia’s role in the region. Speaking of ideology, things have become so complicated that even the Saudi leadership should be concerned about possible developments in the region – I’ve already mentioned that this could backfire.”

Hope?

“The fact that an overwhelming majority of Syrians want to see peaceful resolution of the crisis. Those who are trying to stir up tensions have no idea what the Syrian spirit and character are like. They (stirring up tensions) are now isolated, and if it wasn’t for the foreign support, they would be worthless.”

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(Thank you to WorldsApaRT at YouTube)

Syria Peace Talks – Geneva 2: Comments From India.

Posted February 3, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“In Aristotelian terms, the good leader must have ethos, pathos, and logos. The ethos is his moral character, the source of his ability to persuade. The pathos is his ability to touch feelings, to move people emotionally. The logos is his ability to give solid reasons for an action, to move people intellectually.”

– Mortimer Adler (American philosopher)

superior2222-1If it was possible, a worldwide broadcast of the leaders of every nation with significant involvement in the Syrian crisis would be positive. This would be a live broadcast, without prepared speeches, and of unlimited duration including the leaders of Syria, United States, Russia, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and the Syrian opposition. This means eight men speaking through Skype or similar means to the entire world, for an entire week at 10-12 hours per day if need be, to finally resolve the crisis and bring peace to the people of Syria.

Because the tragic suffering of Syrian men, women, and children – as well as in countries surrounding Syria – has to stop.

Every media company that carries the talks can raise humanitarian aid funds through advertising from benevolent corporations. Given the large number of media companies around the world, the amounts which could be raised are very significant.

Add to the advertising Syria relief fund amount the donations received from the billions of viewers, and enough money would be raised to adequately carry out humanitarian missions equal to the enormous task.

This proposal has been offered in all seriousness. Because the souls of over 130,000 men, women, and children have passed from this world prematurely. Because millions of Syrian men, women, and children have become refugees from the land of their birth, through no fault of their own. Because the levels of human suffering have surpassed what a civilized world can psychologically stand or accept. And because the conflict, if not stopped in its tracks now, has the potential to spread violence and extremism to other nations in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.

Humanity wants an end to war

To the leaders of these nations, if such a worldwide broadcast does not become a reality, please publish your best ideas for bringing peace to the people and nation of Syria. To all people on this Earth, please publish your best ideas for bringing peace to the people and nation of Syria. As soon as possible.

To men and women around the world who are able to communicate with others, please suggest that everyone think deeply on ways that will bring peace to Syria, and communicate in any and all ways to others. If the leaders of the nations involved in the Syrian situation cannot come up with solutions to bring peace, then some men or women on this planet must have ideas that can lead to peace. At the very least send whatever spiritual energy you have to those who are able to effect peaceful results in Syria, or to men and women who have yet to share solid solutions with the rest of the world.

The time has come for all the world’s people – including leaders of nations, religious/spiritual groups, business enterprises, militaries, non-governmental organizations, entertainers, politicians, sports stars, and others – to come together and end the war in Syria. Because the men, women, and children who have passed away were your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. Because the men, women, and children who lost their loved ones and remain on Earth in tremendous psychological, spiritual, and physical suffering and pain are your family members.

“It is sad that man is not intelligent enough to solve problems without killing… The present world crisis can be solved only by a general human revolution against outdated concepts… Man is not a blood-thirsty animal, and war is only due to the greed and lust for power of relatively small groups, the conspiracy of the few against the many.”

– Albert Szent-Gyorgi (1893-1986)

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People around the world have deep concerns about events in Syria and the Middle East. The following discussion shares the views of experts from India.

(Thank you Rajya Sahba TV at YouTube)