Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Ten Countries that Threaten World Peace More than the DPRK Does


The DPRK doesn’t pose a critical threat to the world. However, these countries have done so and still very much do. Often, people portray the DPRK portrayed as a rogue state that endangers its region and according to some, the world. Nevertheless, the DPRK hasn’t engaged in a hot conflict since the ceasefire that ended the Korean War in 1953. There’s little evidence that the DPRK is actually as menacing as it often pretends to be, let alone as menacing as others claim it is.

READ MORE: The US should accept China’s proposal and talk to North Korea. Here’s why.

You can’t say the same for the following ten countries:

1. The USA

Since 1998 alone, the USA conducted unprovoked illegal aggressive attacks on the following countries:

  • Iraq
  • Yugoslavia
  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq (again)
  • Libya
  • Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Yemen
  • Syria

During this time, the USA also funded and provoked an illegal coup in the Ukraine. If invading and overthrowing governments in countries that haven’t even attempted to invade the USA isn’t a danger to world peace, I don’t know what is.

2. The Ukraine

Since 2014, the Ukrainian régime has fought a genocidal war against ethnic Russians in the Donbass. The war hasn’t ceased and the Kiev régime constantly violates the Minsk II ceasefire agreement. The war has seen the use of chemical weapons on civilian targets as well as the deprivation of food, medical supplies, and electricity to the Donbass. The DNR and LNR never sought to attack Kiev, merely to defend their democratic socialist republics against aggression that hasn’t ceased since 2014. This is an attempt at ethnic cleansing that the world should’ve condemned and put a stop to a long time ago.

READ MORE: When the Ukraine dropped chemical weapons on the Donbass, the West didn’t care (VIDEO)

3. Israel 

Israel has continually occupied lands recognised by the UN as Palestinian territory since 1948. Israel has illegally occupied Syrian territory since 1967. In 1982, Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon and only left in 2000. Combined Lebanese forces, primary those of Hizbullah, stopped an attempt to invade Lebanon in 2006. Israel continues to illegally invade and bomb Syrian territory, thus exacerbating the current crisis in that country. Israel’s Yinon Plan is a long-term strategy that many in Israel’s government and deep state plan to execute in order to annex further land among Israel’s neighbours.

4. Turkey 

Turkey illegally occupied Northern Cyprus since 1974. Under President Erdoğan, this will almost certainly not change. Erdoğan’s forces continue to occupy parts of Syria and Iraq. The Turkish jihadist proxy militia FSA is guilty of numerous atrocities against civilians in Syria. In the most populous regions of Syria, the FSA is an even bigger throat-cutting and car-bombing menace than ISIS or al-Qaeda.

READ MORE: Turkey poses a bigger threat to Syria than ISIS

5. The UK

British Prime Minister Tony Blair made NATO’s illegal invasion of Yugoslavia something of a personal crusade, where for Bill Clinton it was to a great extent, merely an opportunity to get Monica Lewinsky out of the headlines. Blair was the only major leader apart from George W Bush to make passionate pleas for Iraq’s invasion. Since then, Britain has followed the USA into every major illegal conflict in the Arab world and beyond.

READ MORE: Why Tony Blair isn’t wanted back in Britain

6. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) 

The KSA is the world’s leading sponsor of Wahhabist terrorism. A long time sponsor of al-Qaeda, now the KSA supports ISIS covertly too. The KSA’s aims for the Arab world are nefarious to, say the least. With oil prices plummeting, the KSA turned to imperialism, fought not with a regular army, but conducted by infusing money into extremist causes including and especially, violent terrorism.

READ MORE: Wahhabi terrorism: the Saudi route to conquest

7. Qatar 

Qatar is guilty of many of the same crimes as its larger neighbour, the KSA. In particular, part of Qatar’s motivation for funding jihadist killers in Syria is a desire to build a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey. In order to do this, the pipeline would need to go through Syria. Qatar’s war is there for gas war in the guise of blood-soaked jihad.

8. France 

The most profound trail of blood left by France in the Arab world was in Algeria, where the French murdered and tortured Algerian freedom fighters between 1954 and 1962. France’s footprint on its former mandate/colony Syria is also widely hated by all Syrians. Under Nicholas Sarkozy, France led the public charge for war on Libya and under President Hollande, France committed war crimes in Syria, its former colony. The audacity is incredibly insulting to Syria. France’s intervention in Mali in 2013-14 also received wide criticism as a duplicitous post-colonial exercise.

9. Germany 

As the de-facto leader of the EU, Germany was essential in helping to foment the illegal fascist coup in the Ukraine. In 2014, along with Poland and France, Germany authored an agreement that was supposed to ease tensions in Kiev. In reality, the agreement bought time for the extremists who finalised their coup against the legitimate Ukrainian President, V F Yanukovich, on the following day. Germany also illegally bombed Syria as part of the US coalition in the region. One could legitimately describe Germany’s actions towards Greece and Cyprus in particular as economic warfare.

READ MORE: EU action in Kiev and Donbass has been paid in blood

10. Albania 

Although one of NATO’s smallest and poorest members, Albania is a swamp, from which a constant threat of war in the Balkans looms. Since the late 1990s, Albania transformed itself into a hotbed of regional imperialism as well as radical political Sunni Islam. Albanian leaders seek to create a so-called Greater Albania by annexing parts of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and even Greece. Recently, the Albanian Prime Minister threatened to annex part of Serbia if the EU didn’t fulfil Albanian demands. Likewise, the infamous Tirana Platform is essentially a blueprint for an Albanian-led breakup of the Republic of Macedonia. In spite of its name, the original draft of the Tirana Platform was drafted in English, written in the West, and then passed to Albanian authorities in Tirana, who themselves then passed it onto extremist Albanian insurgents in the Republic of Macedonia (they can’t read a word of English). Nevertheless, they’re already slowly executing the plan.

READ MORE: Serbia responds to Albanian threats to annex its territory

Each of these states threatens the world far more than the DPRK ever has or likely ever could. However, these countries all share something that the DPRK doesn’t. They either are all NATO members or otherwise, very close US allies.

30 April 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran



Thursday, 18 July 2013

Why J-Lo Is More Ethical Than Our Greatest Statesmen

01 Mammon


I’m not sure when I first became aware of the oeuvre of the “singer” Jennifer Lopez… she of the two-note vocal range… but it may well have been when I was living in Kazakhstan in late 1999. As the new millennium approached, her track Waiting for Tonight was in heavy rotation on the German music channel I got with my satellite TV package. It was utterly rotten, but better than the works of Die Fantastischen Vier (click here), so I sometimes let it play out. Anyway, that early association of J-Lo + Central Asian autocracy might explain why I was neither shocked nor all that bothered when word got out that Jenny from the Block performed for Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the dictator of Turkmenistan. I mean… commercial pop star accepts cash for performance… whoa, stop the presses!

Yes, yes, I know, Berdymukhamedov’s a nasty man. That’s true. However, you know what? I recall that when I was in Kazakhstan, Vanessa-Mae (click here)… now largely forgotten, but at that time considered a superhot pop/classical act… played in the capital Astana during the New Year celebrations and nobody cared. Indeed, lots of pop stars have performed for shady types in oppressive post-Soviet régimes for two decades now. Nevertheless, since J-Lo isn’t yet totally washed up, all of a sudden, it’s news. Of course, J-Lo’s entourage claimed that she wouldn’t have performed for Berdymukhamedov had she known who he is… apparently none of them heard of this thing called “Google”. Then, a human rights organisation revealed that she’s raked in as much as 10 million bucks (325 million Roubles. 7.7 million Euros. 6.6 million UK Pounds) over the years performing in Azerbaijan, Belarus, and elsewhere, and has even serenaded the ever-charming Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, so the professed innocence seems dubious.

Of course, she’s hardly alone in her penchant for entertaining dodgy geezers… Beyonce and Mariah Carey once sang for members of Gaddafi’s family; Sting hung out with Islam Karimov’s daughter for ca$h; and lots of celebrities chilled at Kadyrov’s expense, from Hilary Swank to Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu. It’s the same story every time (unless you’re Depardieu, who doesn’t care)… “Oh, I didn’t know…” even as they’re trousering a wad of dollars, which some later gave away out of sincere regret/for face-saving PR (delete as appropriate). You can believe their claims of ignorance if you like, but, you know, Gaddafi was kind of famous, and, as I said, there’s this thing called Google…

The selectiveness of the outrage bothers me. You see, all of these celebrities are clear about what they do… they perform for money. J-Lo is a businesswoman and she does business in dodgy places, like ExxonMobil or Coke or Apple. However, she’s a trivial person; she doesn’t matter. If we’re going to savage her, then, there are some bigger targets we ought to focus on first. Like Tony Blair, for instance… his consulting agency Tony Blair Associates is currently advising the government of Kazakhstan in exchange for buckets of cash. That’s much dodgier than an aging single mother of two dancing for some khan in the desert; indeed, dancing for the khan is more honourable… it’s an ancient art and comes free of Tony Blair’s self-righteous, self-exculpatory blather.

What about Bill Clinton, everybody’s favourite vegan ex-president? He makes millions each year blathering away to foreigners; a speech from Clinton can cost you half a million bucks (16.25 million Roubles. 400,000 Euros. 325,000 UK Pounds), and he won’t even put on a skin-tight sparkly dress for you. Sometimes, he talks to Canadians and Swedes, but if the payday is good enough, he’ll jet off to Saudi Arabia, a country so oppressive it makes Turkmenistan look like a San Francisco nudist colony circa 1968. The rulers of assorted oppressive oil-rich regimes gain a lot of cachet by hosting Clinton. What prestige did Berdymukhamedov gain by having the fading singer of Love Don’t Cost a Thing mime on stage for him? Zero.

Then, there’s Al Gore, who hates global warming so much that he sold his rubbish TV station to the Emir of Qatar for 500 million USD (16.25 billion Roubles. 380 million Euros. 330 million UK Pounds), and I needn’t add that the champion greenhouse-gas-generating emir isn’t known for his progressive views either. Sure, Gore got a bit of stick for that, but not enough. That’s not fair. Has J-Lo spent her career banging on about human rights in Central Asia only to turn against everything she’d ever said as soon as the payout was awesome enough? No. On the other hand, Al Gore smeared himself with filthy lucre as quick as he could.

Let’s be reasonable here. J-Lo is paid to entertain. Sometimes, she entertains unpleasant people. However, she’s got a toy boy… she has to keep him in bling, you understand, and, at least, she works hard for an hour or so on stage to get her money. Compare that with some of the most respected, allegedly enlightened statesmen of our age who’ll spout platitudes at just about any old thug if the bucks are big enough. I know who I think is more honest.

17 July 2013

Daniel Kalder



Thursday, 16 August 2012

The “Not-so-Special” Relationship


The Special Relationship is a phrase used to describe the exceptionally-close relation between the USA and Great Britain. Winston Churchill first coined it in a speech in 1946, and the Special Relationship covers the political, economic, diplomatic, cultural, military, and cultural spheres. The Special Relationship came into being at the same time as the Bretton Woods agreement, which, many believe (including me), is no longer relevant in the 21st century economy. Whilst we continue to hear that the USA and Great Britain still enjoy exceptionally close ties, much closer than with any other country, the evidence is mounting to suggest that the Special Relationship is, in fact, not so “special” anymore.

The latest episode in the not-so-Special Relationship is the attack on British banks by the Americans. The USA is accusing Britain’s Standard Chartered Bank of laundering some 250 billion dollars of transactions over 10 years for the Iranian régime, hiding some 60,000 transactions from American regulators. They did it with the help of American consultancies and accounting firms, but the most striking thing is that, throughout this 10-year period, the Special Relationship was continually held up as the basis for everything that’s gone on between the USA and Great Britain.

The Standard Chartered Bank affair comes hot on the heels of another British bank under immense pressure from the United States, HSBC. HSBC stands accused of laundering drug cartel money, specifically in Mexico. Rumours have long been abounded about banks laundering drug money, especially American banks. However, yet again, another British bank is getting all the limelight in the USA for all the wrong reasons, with no sign of the Special Relationship coming to the rescue!

Of course, another big British bank recently coming under the glare of publicity was Barclays; they blew the whistle on themselves over the Libor scandal. This time, Barclay’s American CEO Bob Diamond fell on the British Sword when it came time for heads to roll in the Libor scandal. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke came out and said that he believed that Libor is structurally floored, which is true, yet, despite the Special Relationship, he was unable to voice his concerns prior to the scandal erupting or to work together to create a better system.

If we go back to the invasion of Iraq in 2003,  Tony Blair used the Special Relationship to justify why he was so economical with the truth to the British cabinet about the legality of going to war. In fact, many would say that he simply lied under the cover of the Special Relationship. His premiership never recovered from this, nor it would seem has the Special Relationship.

In 2010, BP suffered a horrendous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on their Deep Water Horizon platform, which resulted in nearly 5 million barrels of oil flowing into the ocean. BP had partners on the platform, one of which was the American oil services company Halliburton, which had connections to former-Vice President Dick Cheney. Far from stepping in to offer support to BP and taking some of the responsibility, the USA and Halliburton did the opposite, ensuring that BP took the blame publicly. One of the results of the Gulf oil spill was that the CEO of BP changed. It went from being headed by a British national to being led by a US national. Far from the Special Relationship offering economic support, in fact, it did the opposite, and a prize British asset remains under the leadership of an American.

The latest rumour is that New York is trying to edge London out as a global financial capital. This could explain why British banks are coming under attack from the United States. This is despite the fact that in 2008 the American banking system gave us Bernie Madoff, AIG, “too big to fail”, subprime lending, a frozen derivatives market, and a nation full of underwater mortgages. A defaulting European Union would be a disaster for the American banks that have underwritten all the credit default swaps on European debt, of course. It’d be like a biblical moment, insofar as credit default swaps are like insuring against a flood in the desert, and, right now, the clouds over the desert are very, very dark.

Whatever the truth is, the shape of the financial system is changing, and the Special Relationship really isn’t so special anymore. Instead of all capital flows going via either London or New York, the 21st century market model will see capital flows going directly between trading partners, on a peer-to-peer basis, and the USA and Great Britain will have to compete with each other for a piece of these flows, whether they are with Russia/Eurasian Union, China, the Middle East, Africa, or South Asia.

It seems that the US/Anglo banking cabal already understands the changing world, and whatever the rules of the Special Relationship were in the past, they no longer hold in a world of not-so-Special Relationships.

16 August 2012

Sam Barden



Thursday, 5 July 2012

House of Lords Refuses Reformation


Almost exactly 101 years after the first Parliament Act passed reforming the House of Lords by limiting the powers of Westminster‘s unelected second chamber, British MPs are back at it again. Next week, the House of Commons starts debate on the ConservativeLib Dem coalition proposals for bringing the Lords into the 21st century. Does the House of Lords want to be reformed? The Parliament Act of 1911 was a sort of stop-gap legislation designed to keep an already rank anachronism floating until a democratic replacement was arranged. The jaws of Edwardian reformers would drop in astonishment that a dozen years into the 21st century Britain’s still waiting on that replacement. The chances of success this time are probably greater than ever… but the Lords have such a powerful in-built self-preservation mechanism that no one’s betting on it. The bill is supposed to go through all the parliamentary stages before the House of Commons goes to summer recess on 17 July. Yet, even now, there are signs that it’ll be filibustered and left until the autumn session to calmly fade away, because, at that point, the Commons will have to deal in earnest with the economic recession.

The upper and the oldest chamber of the British Parliament (most consider the first Parliament to be the “Model Parliament” held in 1295… archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, etc.) became an issue long before the 1911 reform. So far, the only person who managed to do in the House of Lords was none other than Oliver Cromwell. In 1649, he abolished the Lords altogether with a single-clause bill that labelled it as an institution that was “useless and dangerous to the people of England”. In 1660, after the restoration of the monarchy, it came back as powerful as ever. Moreover, David Cameron is certainly no Oliver Cromwell. There have been dozens of intermediate steps to reform the Lords during the last two centuries.

The last Labour Government of Tony Blair introduced legislation to expel all hereditary peers from the Upper House as a first step in Lords reform. As part of a compromise, however, it agreed to permit 92 hereditary peers to remain until the reforms were complete. Thus, all but 92 hereditary peers were expelled, making the House of Lords predominantly an appointed house. The lucky 92, by the way, were retained thanks to a deal struck with Conservative peers in return for a promise not to behave like “football hooligans” in their attempts to stop Labour government programmes. Under the new bill published last week, the Lords chamber will be reduced from the present 826 to a largely elected 450-strong upper house. For the first time in history, British voters would be able to elect members of the reformed House of Lords in May 2015. They’d serve 15-year terms. One-third of the elected members would be chosen at the general election in 2015, another third in 2020, and the final third in 2025… 120 members in each election. Existing peers would be “phased out”. Eighty percent would be elected, and the remainder appointed for their expertise by an appointment commission. A small number of appointees may be former senior politicians as long as they’ve abandoned their party label. There would also be 12 Church of England bishops, down from the current 26 church representatives. In a concession to critics, Downing Street scrapped plans for a salary of about 60,000 UK Pounds for members of the new Upper House. Members will instead receive 300 UK Pounds for each day they attend… to a maximum of about 45,000 UK Pounds a year… and this sum will be taxed, unlike the attendance allowances currently paid to peers.

On the face of it, the road to a new House of Lords looks amazingly smooth. If there ever was a single issue on which all three major political parties in Britain were of the same mind, it certainly is the Lords reform. The Tories, Labour, and the Lib Dems agree that the House of Lords is indefensible. Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband, and Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg all concur that it’s absurd for a country which is supposedly a mature democracy to have one half of its legislature populated by prime ministerial appointees with a rump of hereditary peers. All three parties made manifesto commitments broadly along the same lines to give Britain a revised chamber that was fit for the second decade of the 21st century. The Conservative-Lib Dem coalition’s plans for an elected House of Lords are backed by a majority of more than two-to-one among the British population, according to the latest ComRes poll for The Independent. Asked whether an 80-percent- elected chamber should replace the current all-appointed House of Lords, 67 percent agreed, 24 percent disagreed, and 9 percent replied, “I don’t know”.

However, that’s about where all the smoothness stops and the problems start. Naturally, the centre of resistance to the House of Lords reform is the Lords itself. It is, as they say, a very self-regarding institution. What apologists for the Lords prefer not to highlight are the many members of the bloated upper house who rarely make any contribution, and the large proportion of debates which are mediocre, complacent, stale, ill-informed, and distorted by the inevitable bias of a chamber inhabited by men and women of mainly advancing years who don’t have to stand for election. Yet, by far, the greatest obstacles to Lords reform sit in the House of Commons, and the apparent tri-party consensus is as wonderful as it is terribly deceptive… for there is no more toxic issue for the governing coalition and the opposition Labour Party than the Lords reform. The issue threatens to stretch coalition unity to its breaking point in the coming months.

On the Conservative side, many backbenchers… already frustrated at the Lib Dems’ influence within the coalition… are adamant that they aren’t prepared to support a measure that could, they believe, upset the whole political equilibrium. Opponents advance all sorts of objections. Some contend that this isn’t the right time to bother with an issue that interests the public substantially less than the state of the economy. In the Lords, Labour leader Baroness Royall struck a markedly more hostile stance towards the reforms than that of Ed Miliband, her party leader. She declared that if Labour had been re-elected, it wouldn’t be advancing any Lords reform plans at such a time of economic austerity, saying, “The Lords reform isn’t only not at the top of the priority list of the people of this country, it isn’t even at the bottom of the priority list. It isn’t on the list at all because it isn’t a priority”. A large group of Conservative MPs vowed privately not to support the bill or a programme motion designed to put a time limit on the debate in the Commons. It is expected that 80 Tory MPs would need to rebel for the program motion to fail. There are now 100 of them.

The government insists that the reforms will maintain the primacy of the House of Commons within Parliament. However, critics warn that this will be under threat once the Upper House has the added clout of democratic legitimacy. That is what actually unites both Labour and Conservative MPs in their opposition to the bill. Both camps are afraid that the reformed and elected Lords would threaten their political (and material) well-being. Lord Reid, the former Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s government, expressed these fears quite frankly when he said in a recent interview, “If anyone thinks that you’ll create a new class of 450 senators, with a term three times as long as MPs, with constituencies 10 times as big, with no constituency business to do… and that won’t become the primary house, they’re deluding themselves. It won’t only rival the House of Commons; it’ll supersede it”.

5 July 2012

Andrei Fedyashin

Voice of Russia World Service


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