Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UN Gaza War Inquiry: Hold the Cheers

UN Gaza War Inquiry: Hold the Cheers

On October 21, Reuters headlined "UN chief says moving ahead with Gaza war inquiry."

"UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday he was setting up an investigation into attacks on United Nations facilities during Israel's recent war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and the use of UN sites to store weapons."

Ban is a notorious imperial stooge. His credibility is sorely lacking. He supports powerful interests. He spurns Palestinian rights. More on his alleged intentions below.

Israel is a rogue terror state. It's guilty of high crimes against peace. Longstanding militarized occupation is a crime against humanity. 

So are Gaza's blockade, collective punishment, and deliberately targeting civilians. Doing so is official Israeli policy. 

Noncombatants are considered legitimate targets. Inviolable international law doesn't matter.

A previous article discussed UN Human Rights Council President Baudelaire Ndong Ella. In August, he announced the formation of an "independent, international commission of inquiry" into war crimes committed during Israel's Operation Protective Edge.

International human rights law expert Professor William Schabas was appointed to chair a three-person panel. His special focus is genocide. It remains to be seen which side he's on.

Israeli investigations whitewash high crimes too egregious to ignore. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights:

"Rather than uphold the rule of law, the Israeli investigative and judicial system is artfully manipulated to provide an illusion of investigative and judicial rigour, while systematically perpetuating pervasive impunity."

Will Schabas downplay irrefutable evidence? Will he dismiss it entirely? Will he violate HRC's decision "to establish the commission of inquiry…to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after, to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways and means to protect civilians against any further assaults."

Schabas is a well-known Israeli critic. It remains to be seen if he lives up to his billing. Richard Goldstone fell from grace.

He found evidence of earlier Israeli Operation Cast Lead war crimes. He later softened his condemnation.

He ignored 1907 Hague Regulations, Fourth Geneva, Geneva's Common Article III, and other international laws. They affirm civilians as protected persons.

Attacking them is prohibited. War crimes are clearly defined. The principles of distinction and proportionality apply.

Distinguishing between combatants and military targets v. civilians and non-military ones. Attacking latter ones are strictly prohibited. They're war crimes except when civilians take direct part in hostilities.

Proportionality prohibits disproportionate, indiscriminate force. The kind likely to cause damage to or loss of lives and objects.

Precautions must be taken to avoid incidental loss of civilian lives, injuries, and damage to non-military sites. 

Fourth Geneva mandates providing "effective advance warning" and "neutralized zones." Places off-limits to combat. Safe havens.

Where noncombatants are guaranteed safety. Free from collective punishment.

Israel trashes international humanitarian and human rights laws. Willfully. Repeatedly. Maliciously. Unaccountably. Justice remains denied.

Ban's word isn't his bond. He says one thing. He does another.

"I look forward to a thorough investigation by the Israeli Defense Forces of this and other incidents in which UN facilities sustained hits and many innocent people were killed," he said.

"I am planning to move forward with an independent board of inquiry to look into the most serious of those cases, as well as instances in which weaponry was found on UN premises," he added.

His spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he'll move quickly. "A board of inquiry is sort of normal procedure when there is damage to UN property or UN premises," he said. 

He provided no details of what's planned. Specifics will come later, he said. One Israeli attack on UN facility attack killed over a dozen civilians. 

Scores were injured. Other attacks killed and injured many more. Mustafa Barghouti is a distinguished Palestinian physician, political activist, and human rights champion.

He enjoys worldwide respect. He denounced Israeli high crimes. He separated myths from reality.

War didn't start in Gaza, he said. It began in the West Bank. It had nothing to do with Hamas rockets.  

Israel bears full responsibility. It does so for state-sponsored terrorism.

The dominant narrative called it self-defense. Justifiable Palestinian resistance is called terrorism.

Israel destroyed entire neighborhoods, said Barghouti. "(E)liminated within 24 hours."

Eight hospitals were attacked. So were clinics, ambulances and healthcare workers. Palestinian journalists were murdered in cold blood.

Obama and other world leaders ignored Israeli aggression. They defended its right to mass murder and destroy.

"(N)ot a single word" supported Palestinians' right of self-defense, said Barghouti.

"The Palestinians are the ones whose land has been occupied for 47 years, who have been forced into displacement and refugee status since 1948, (and who suffer) from a system of apartheid, discrimination and segregation created by the Israeli occupation."

Yet nothing is said in their behalf. Reality is turned on its head.

Israeli suffering is considered unique. Extreme Palestinian misery is ignored.

They're dehumanized. Their lives and well-being aren't important. They faced the world's fourth most powerful army.

They did so with light arms and ineffective rockets. Israel launched OPE. It did so lawlessly.

Palestinians were victimized. It wasn't the first time. It won't be the last.

Instigators are called victims. Real ones are called terrorists.
Civilians suffer most in all wars. Palestinians endure the longest occupation in modern memory.

Palestine's longstanding struggle affects Israel, said Barghouti. "Israelis will never be free as long as we are not free," he stresses.

What's been ongoing for decades must stop, he says. "(I)mpunity and reality must be exposed."

He challenges the official Israeli narrative. He exposes its Big Lies. Truths must replace fiction. Peace, equity, and justice can't wait.

"Please see the reality," he says. "Look at the facts." What happened in Gaza is "beyond description."

"Even describing it as an act of disproportionality is an insult to humanity."

"After slaughtering thousands of people and destroying thousands of homes and to speak about reconstruction and to immediately allow Israeli companies to make a profit from this is also an insult to humanity."

"What happened in Gaza, as has happened before in the West Bank is nothing but war crimes and crimes against humanity." 

"What happened was nothing but massacres against the civilian population and Israel couldn't have done that without a feeling of impunity and without having impunity from international law, and this couldn't have happened if so many Western world leaders hadn't been complicit in what happened."

They support Israeli genocidal high crimes against peace. They ignore Palestinian suffering. 

They do nothing to relieve it. Business as usual continues. Status quo remains. Expect nothing constructive from Ban's inquiry. Or whitewashed Israeli ones.

In September, Israel opened five Operation Protective Edge inquiries. Including numerous instances of disproportionate force on civilians. 

Murdering four Palestinian children on a beach. Dozens of Gazans slaughtered at UN schools. Supposed safe havens.

Other war crimes Israel intends suppressing. It's longstanding official policy.

Abbas is a longstanding Israeli collaborator. He knew about Operation Cast Lead in advance.

He supported it. He asked Israel to crush Hamas. What did he know and when about Operation Protective Edge?

He tried blocking an international investigation into Gaza war crimes. He refuses to hold Israeli officials accountable in the International Criminal Court.

His actions are inexcusable. Collaborating with the enemy is treason. Abbas is guilty multiple times over.

He's Israel's enforcer. He facilitates occupation harshness. He's done nothing to hold Israel accountable.

He works against the interests of his own people. He's complicit with Israeli high crimes against peace.

He helps Israel get away with genocidal mass murder and destruction. Why Palestinians tolerate him they'll have to explain. 

They deserve responsible leadership. Their interests represented. 

Israel held accountable for crimes too horrendous to ignore. Long denied justice. Expect none any time soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Lavrov on Russian Foreign Policy

Lavrov on Russian Foreign Policy

by Stephen Lendman

It bears repeating what other articles stressed. He's a world-class diplomat. Polar opposite his Western counterparts. On the right side of history.

John Kerry's demagogic bullying, bluster and Big Lies makes him look like a buffoon by comparison. A provocateur. 

Shaming the office he holds. Caught red-handed numerous times in  bald-faced lies. Disdaining rule of law principles.

Supporting war. Deploring peace. Indifferent to human suffering. A monument to wrong over right. Disgracing his country, position and humanity.

Lavrov discussed issues "direct(ly) affecting the Russian people…" National development plans. Geopolitical issues. The "future world order…"

Current international conditions reflect transition worldwide, he said. "We are dealing not just with the beginning of another historical stage, but, it would seem, with a change of eras." 

"Such pivotal moments are usually characterised by a substantial increase in instability and unpredictability in international affairs, which is what we see today in individual regions and globally."

Global "balance of forces" are "realingn(ing)." "Deconcentrati(ing)." It's "the hallmark of our time," said Lavrov.

"Most clearly, this can be seen in the greater economic power and increasing political clout of the Asia-Pacific Region." 

"These countries have largely assumed the role of a driver of global economic growth, a role which was traditionally performed by the United States,Western Europe and Japan."

"That’s a totally new picture of the world that does not fit into the centuries-old notion of Western dominance in the global economy, finance and politics."

"The global financial and economic crisis acted as a catalyst for change, and drew a line under the reasoning about the global victory of the liberal capitalist model and the imperative need for everyone to fit that mold." 

"The 'end of history' proclaimed in the early 1990s failed to materialise. (E)fforts to build a new world are accompanied by numerous other factors that add complexity and new dimensions to international relations." 

"The importance of common cross-border challenges, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime, scarcity of resources and food, mass epidemics, illegal migration and much more, has increased dramatically." 

"Globalisation has made national borders much more transparent and has contributed to the demise of closed societies, which previously accounted for most of humankind."

Especially "in the Middle East and North Africa, which may become an explosive pole of attraction for crises that originated at different times in different countries." 

Regional destabilization "adversely affects the situation around the globe. (E)xacerbat(ing) chaos and anarchy in world affairs…"

(E)rod(ing) the effectiveness of the global governance system, which is already compromised."

Challenges require joint efforts, Lavrov stressed. Mutual cooperation. Steps to strengthen international security and stability.

Multipolarity more than ever is needed. At a time Washington force-feeds unipolarity. For its own interests at the expense of others.

"(F)rom the standpoint of supremacy, exceptionality and domination. (A)t variance with (today's) compelling and objective need," Lavrov said.

America's agenda runs counter to "core principles of the UN Charter, which forms the cornerstone of international law -  sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts."

"The United States and its allies have claimed the right to interfere, sometimes brazenly, in the events of other countries under the mantle of protecting human rights and promoting democratic values, up to an including sanctions and the use of force." 

Its "military interventions in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya (as well as Afghanistan and Syria) were either not backed by UN Security Council resolutions or exceeded (its) original mandate."

Washington unilaterally claims the right to use force. In "any part of the world when (its) interests are at stake." 

Its 2010 National Security Strategy "states outright that (it) will not necessarily follow UN Security Council resolutions when its interests demand otherwise…" 

Including unilaterally using force lawlessly. Recklessly. Ruthlessly.
"(D)estabilising countries whose governments do not satisfy it for various reasons…"

Initiating " 'colour revolutions,' " Longstanding US policy. "(N)ot only does interference fail to help end conflict(s), it actually exacerbates armed confrontation, making the plight of civilians even worse."

"Notorious double standards are employed to attain geopolitical goals. Of particular concern is the tendency to deviate from the universal principle of combatting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."

Washington's war on terrorism reflects state terrorism against its adversaries. Independent governments. Posing no threat. Manufactured ones to justify regime change wars.

Russia "advocate(s) the consolidation of international efforts to counter the common threat of terrorism," said Lavrov. 

"At the same time, our country is not part of the US-led international coalition. We are confident that antiterrorist efforts have to rest on a solid foundation of international law under the auspices of the UN Security Council -the body that shoulders the responsibility for maintaining international peace and security."

Bombing Syria without its permission "does not fit with these principles. (They're) accompanied by the armed support rendered to the opposition forces fighting the Bashar Assad regime alongside the Islamic State."

"Yet, the US considers this support 'moderate' and therefore acceptable." No so-called "moderate" elements exists.

At issue is helping "Syrian opposition…overthrow" Assad's sovereign government. "The controversial and paradoxical nature of these actions is obvious, in my view," said Lavrov.

"We have been discussing this with our US counterparts, trying to understand their logic, but have not received any clear explanations so far."

"In our opinion, the rapid degradation of the Middle East situation requires a comprehensive analysis. The region’s most critical issues need to be considered within a context of their interrelations, including the Arab-Israeli conflict." 

It's "pushed to the margin for various reasons, but we believe that this unsettled dispute, which has been ongoing for over 70 years, is one of the main reasons that promote extremists to recruit new adepts, including Jihadists who are prepared to perform attacks and even suicide attacks." 

"We want all of these factors to be considered under UN Security Council leadership. This initiative has met with growing interest, at least from countries which have a responsible attitude to the situation in the region."

Washington's presence in Afghanistan is "(un)satisfactory," said Lavrov. Conditions are hugely unstable.

It "re-affirms the fact that modern problems, including regional conflicts, can only be resolved based on comprehensive approaches providing for the active involvement of all stakeholders." 

"We have always called our partners' attention to this." Most often in vain. Washington wants things its way. Interests of other countries don't matter. Hegemons operate this way.

"Despite drastic worldwide changes, Western states have not stopped trying to 'swim against the tide,' and continue holding dominant positions in the world, contrary to the objective processes leading to a multipolar world," said Lavrov.

"This policy has had a major negative impact on the situation in Europe." Including successive waves of NATO's eastward expansion, with NATO infrastructure being moved closer to the Russian border."

Its presence is hugely destabilizing. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ludicrously claims Russia's army is "at NATO's doorstep."

"…Russian leadership has undertaken and continues to undertake all necessary measures to secure protection of our country's security," said Lavrov.

"Regarding the statements of our US colleagues, I believe they reveal who is actually undermining trust in Europe, and is doing so using not only statements, but most importantly, concrete actions."

"The EU Eastern Partnership programme was also designed to expand the West-controlled geopolitical space to the east." 

"This was its true aim, and it is perhaps for this reason that the promises to offer us trilateral projects involving the EU, the so-called 'focus states' and Russia have never materialised." 

"There is a policy to confront the CIS countries with a hard, absolutely contrived and artificial choice - either you are with the EU or with Russia."

Doing so created Ukrainian crisis conditions, Lavrov explained. "The US and EU support for the unconstitutional coup in Ukraine and the subsequent acts committed by the Kiev-based 'party of war' that used armed force in an attempt to make the population in southeastern Ukraine renounce the right to their native language, culture, traditions and habitual lifestyle is at odds with the generally accepted democratic values and principles of peaceful conflict settlement, including those contained in the OSCE's fundamental documents."

"The actions of the ultranationalist neo-Nazi forces that seized power in Kiev have become the cause of bloodshed on 'Maidan.' " 

"The radicals attempted to terrorise the population in the Crimea and impose (hardline) order in Odessa and Mariupol." 

"The Agreement of 21 February 2014 was broken off. It is quite natural under these circumstances that the overwhelming majority of people in the Crimea opposed these plans and freely expressed their will for reunification with Russia in keeping with peoples’ right to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter."

"After the tragedies in Odessa and Mariupol and the discovery of mass graves near Donetsk, we know for certain what fate was in store for Russians in the Crimea." 

"All these crimes, including the Malaysian plane incident, should be thoroughly investigated under international control." 

"We have been insisting on this, because there are attempts to water down, sweep under the rug, postpone or delay all these cases without exception."

Key questions are unanswered, Lavrov explained. Key issues remain unaddressed. 

Policies pursued are polar opposite alleged Western concern for "human rights and (so-called) European values." 

Russia's responsible geopolitical agenda shames what Western nations represent. It's the world's moral leader. 

On the right side of history. A long way from its dark past. At a time full-blown American tyranny is a hair's breadth away.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Turkey Murders Press TV Reporter Serena Shim

Turkey Murders Press TV Reporter Serena Shim

by Stephen Lendman

Turkey reflects rogue state governance. It's a NATO member. Part of Washington's war on Syria. Partnering with US crimes.

Training Islamic State fighters. Doing so covertly on its territory. Smuggling them lawlessly cross-border against Assad. Stop NATO founder/editor Rick Rozoff said earlier:

"If confirmation was required that a neo-Ottoman Turkey is determined to reassert (its regional) influence gained 700 years before and lost a century ago and…doing so as part of a campaign by self-christened global NATO to expand into the Arab world, the Turkish head of state's threat to militarily intervene in Syria with the support of its 27 NATO allies should provide it."

Reporters Without Borders calls Turkey the world's largest prison for journalists for good reason. Press freedom is verboten. It's nonexistent. 

No country imprisons more journalists. An atmosphere of fear prevails. Widespread arrests follow. No one's safe.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ):

Turkish authorities wage "one of the world's biggest anti-press campaigns in recent history."

"Dozens of writers and editors are in prison, nearly all on terrorism or other anti-state charges. The evidence against them? Their journalism."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan imprisons journalists "on a mass scale." He delplores free expression. He tolerates none.

Censorship is official state policy. Pro-Kurdish news is called terrorism. Kurdish journalists are especially vulnerable.

Many face charges of participating in anti-government plots. Others for belonging to outlawed political groups. Belonging to the wrong ones risks imprisonment or death.

Officials say news coverage creates societal chaos. Conducive to coup plotters, they claim. Allegations made to bring charges. Spurious ones follow.

In recent decades, dozens of Turkish journalists were murdered. Anyone criticizing government policy is vulnerable.

Ankara tolerates no dissent. Extrajudicial assassinations are commonplace. Human and civil rights are non-starers. Rogue states operate this way.

London-based political analyst Shabir Hassan Ali said Shim was "assassinated by the government of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

She "was Turkish intelligence." She reported truths Ankara wants suppressed.

On October 19, Press TV headlined "Press TV reporter in Turkey killed in suspicious car accident, saying:

It occurred "near the Turkey-Syria border. (She) was killed on Sunday as she was on a working mission in Turkey to cover the ongoing war in the strategic Syrian town of Kobani."

"She was going back to her hotel from a report scene in the city of Suruç in Turkey's Urfa Province when their car collided with a heavy vehicle." 

"The identity and whereabouts of the truck driver remain unknown." The motive is clear. Ankara wanted her silenced. 

Dead correspondents tell no tales. Ones rogue Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants suppressed.

Shim was a 30-year old Lebanese American. She reported from Lebanon, Iraq, Ukraine, and Turkey. She covered Obama's war on Syria. Partnering with Ankara. Using proxy IS fighters.

She operated from Suruc in Urfa Province. A rural area near Syria's border. 

On October 17, she said Turkish National Intelligence accused her of spying. "Probably due to some of the stories (she) had covered about Turkey’s stance on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants in Kobani," she said.

She reported IS fighters covertly smuggledcross-border into Syria. On trucks bearing NGO markings. She had images proving it, saying:

"We were some of the first people on the ground - if not the first people - to get that story of…militants going in through the Turkish border…"

"I’ve got images of them in World Food Organization trucks. It was very apparent that they were militants by their beards, by the clothes they wore, and they were going in there with NGO trucks."

She expressed fear about what Ankara "might use against her." Perhaps arrest her or worse.

She was killed returning to her hotel with her camerawoman, Judy Irish. A heavy vehicle smashed into her rental car. Ruthlessly enough to kill her. Irish was hospitalized with injuries.

Press TV called her death "suspicious…Just a couple of days ago she had been threatened by Turkish intelligence." 

News director Hamid Reza Emadi wants Turkey "to find out exactly what happened."

No details were released. Including the truck driver's identity. Turkey called Press TV's claims "completely baseless. (A)ttempts to put Ankara in a difficult situation."

Shim was one of the few correspondents reporting accurately from the region. About Turkey in league with Takfiri extremists. Smuggling them cross-border against Syria. 

Partnering with Washington's crimes. Its imperial agenda. A reliable US stooge. 

Deploring peace. Breaching rule of law principles. Waging war on freedom. Suppressing vital truths. 

Wanting Assad removed. Going all-out extrajudicially to do so. Wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing him.

On October 21, Press TV reported a memorial service held in Lebanon in Shim's honor. A "heartbreaking scene filled with tears, pain and grief," it said.

Family members "in anguish." Saying she sacrificed her life telling important truths. Ones Turkey, Washington, EU partners and regional rogue states want suppressed.

Her "father was speechless," said Press TV. Her friends explained her important work. How much it meant to her. 

Telling Press TV viewers what they most need to know. Real news and information. Polar opposite scoundrel media rubbish.

"Serena left behind two beautiful children, Ali and Ajmal," said Press TV. Ages 2 and 4.

Her "tragic death has left pain and sorrow in all our hearts," Press TV added. "Her family is calling on the Turkish government to provide answers over the circumstance leading to her death." 

"At the same time, they say, Serena's death has brought pride and dignity to the family." 

She died doing what she loved best. Reporting important truths for Press TV world viewers. 

She knew the risks. She took them. Honorably. Forthrightly. No matter the cost. She paid the price. The ultimate one. She's sorely missed.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Kiev War Crimes

Kiev War Crimes

by Stephen Lendman

Mounting evidence shows Kiev committed horrendous war crimes in Southeastern Ukraine.

Dirty war continues on non-combatant men, women and children. Residential neighborhoods are bombed and shelled.

Banned chemical and other terror weapons are used. Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) member of parliament Miroslav Rudenko said:

"According to our soldiers' information, the Ukrainian forces are using chemical ammunition on DPR territory." 

"Once a shell bursts, a gas affecting sense organs is emitted. We have this information."

In early June, Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters said Kiev forces attacked Semyonovka near Slaviansk with an unknown chemical weapon.

Freedom fighters reported "irrefutable evidence" of a weapon used similar to white phosphorous.

It burns flesh to the bone. It keeps burning until entirely consumed or deprived of oxygen. 

The Hague and Geneva Conventions categorically prohibit use of these type weapons. It doesn't matter. Kiev uses them against civilians.

War without mercy is official Kiev policy. Oligarch president Petro Poroshenko promised to crush "pro-Russian separatist war being waged against our country."

"We will end this terror," he said. He wrongfully blames Russia for Kiev crimes. He shamelessly accuses Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters for regime ceasefire violations.

Indiscriminate shelling of Donetsk continues. Residents say it never stopped. A self-defense force web site statement said "(t)he truce is worst than the battle action."

Chances for durable peace are virtually zero. Full-scale conflict could resume any time. With US support and encouragement. 

In June, Itar Tass said Kiev used cluster bombs in Lugansk. Targeting a regional administration building. 

Five deaths were reported. At least 10 others were injured. Unexploded munitions were found outside the building.

Cluster bombs are illegal. The December 2008 signed/August 2010 entered into force Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) prohibits their use, transfer and stockpiling.

They're terror weapons. They scatter submunition bomblets over a wide area.

To date, 114 nations are CCM signatories. Eighty-six ratified it. Not America. Not Israel or Ukraine.

Those doing so pledge "never under any circumstances to:

  • "Use cluster munitions;

  • Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions; (and)

  • Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention."

Cluster munitions remain dangerous longterm. They're brightly colored. Children mistake them for toys or Easter eggs.

They pick them up for play. They're killed or injured doing so.

Israel's 2006 Lebanon war provided momentum for banning their use. UN officials estimated up to 40% of its cluster bomblets failed to explode on impact.

Norway organized the independent Oslo process. It did so after Geneva disarmament discussions failed.

An Oslo Declaration followed. Forty-six nations committed to:

"Conclude by 2008 a legally binding international instrument that prohibits the use and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and secure adequate provision of care and rehabilitation to survivors and clearance of contaminated areas."

Washington, Israel and other rogue states use cluster munitions unaccountably. So does Ukraine. It bears repeating. They're terror weapons.

On October 20, Human Rights Watch (HRW) headlined "Ukraine: Widespread Use of Cluster Munitions," saying:

"Ukrainian government forces used cluster munitions in populated areas in Donetsk city in early October 2014…"

"The use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates the laws of war due to the indiscriminate nature of the weapon and may amount to war crimes."

"During a week-long investigation in eastern Ukraine, Human Rights Watch documented widespread use of cluster munitions in fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in more than a dozen urban and rural locations."

"(E)vidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk."

Senior HRW arms researcher Mark Hiznay called it "shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned used so extensively in eastern Ukraine."

"Ukrainian authorities should make an immediate commitment not to use cluster munitions and join the treaty to ban them."

According to HRW:

"There is particularly strong evidence that Ukrainian government forces were responsible for several cluster munition attacks on central Donetsk in early October."

"In addition to evidence at the impact site indicating that the cluster munitions came from the direction of government-controlled areas southwest of Donetsk, witnesses in that area said that they observed rockets being launched toward Donetsk on the times and days when cluster munitions struck the city."

HRW found evidence of surface-fired 220mm Uragan (Hurricane) and 300mm Smerch (Tornado) cluster munition rockets. It's unclear how many were used.

Kiev neither confirmed or denied guilt. It failed to respond to a Cluster Munition Coalition letter requesting information. Nor one HRW sent.

"Ukrainian forces should immediately make a commitment to not use cluster munitions and to investigate and hold accountable any personnel responsible for firing cluster munitions into populated areas. Ukraine should accede to the treaty banning their use," HRW said.

"Firing cluster munitions into populated areas is utterly irresponsible and those who ordered such attacks should be held to account," HRW's Hiznay added. 

"The best way for the Ukrainian authorities to demonstrate a commitment to protect civilians would be an immediate promise to stop using cluster munitions."

Local self-defense forces discovered mass graves in Southeastern Ukraine. Responding to information provided by area residents. 

They said Ukrainian forces dug them to conceal murders. Covering up their high crimes.

Victims were killed execution-style. Bodies were discovered about 35 kilometers northeast of Donetsk. In areas Kiev forces controlled.

Multiple sites were found. Perhaps many more exist. Sergey Lavrov said over 400 bodies were discovered in Donetsk region mass graves. They were secretly buried. Kiev bears full responsibility.

According to Russia's Investigative Committee head Vladimir Markin:

"For those who have doubts regarding who's responsible for these murders, the Investigative Committee has irrefutable evidence - witness accounts and appropriate examinations - that directly indicates that this crime was committed by fighters from the National Guard and Right Sector."

Mass graves "are further eloquent testimony to the atrocities of the Ukrainian nationalists," he added.

"(A)ll of the victims were tortured before their murder." Kiev whitewashed what happened.

Eyewitness testimonies were suppressed. Mass murder is official Kiev policy. Unaccountability persists.

According to Markin:

"We know the names of many of the commanders of military units, the militants of the Right Sector and the National Guard, who carry out criminal orders of the military and political leadership of Ukraine." 

"In addition to eyewitness accounts, many victims have provided evidence to the Russian Investigative Committee and evidence in the form of soil samples, genetic material." 

"These samples were thoroughly examined, confirming the testimony of witnesses and victims themselves."

Markin criticized Ukraine's general prosecutor's office. It failed to investigate what happened.

"What prevented and is preventing them now from conducting their own investigation into the massacres of the civilian population and to try to protect the innocent population of Donbass instead of making hysterical statements about the alleged 'interference' in the affairs of a sovereign republic," he asked?

Coverup and denial persists. Lavrov urged UN authorities and other international organization officials to investigate crimes of war and against humanity in Ukraine.

"Judging by the fact that no progress was made in investigating these incidents, it is possibly time for international organizations, such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the United Nations… to take the responsibility of ensuring an unbiased and fair investigation," he said.

"All countries should soberly assess their position on the Ukrainian issue and realize that accusing militiamen and justifying all actions of the Ukrainian authorities is not the way forward."

On October 20, Amnesty International (AI) lied headlining "Eastern Ukraine conflict: Summary killings, misrecorded and misreported."

Coverup and denial substituted for honest analysis. AI's so-called investigation "found evidence of isolated incidents…"

It bears repeating. Hundreds were tortured and murdered execution-style. In areas Kiev forces control. They bear full responsibility.

Not according to AI. It attributed "isolated incidents…to both sides." No evidence suggests self-defense forces involvement. According to AI's Europe and Central Asia director John Dalhuisen:

"There is no doubt that summary killings and atrocities are being committed by both pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kyiv forces in Eastern Ukraine, but is difficult to get an accurate sense of the scale of these abuses." 

"It is likely that many have not yet been exposed and that others have been deliberately misrecorded." 

"It is also clear that some of the more shocking cases that have been reported, particularly by Russian media, have been hugely exaggerated."

Reports from Russian media and officials reflect reliable eye-witness testimonies. Local residents aware of what happened. Not according to Dalhuisen, saying:

"The reality behind Russian claims of 'mass graves' in Nyzhnya Krynka is grizzly enough. It points to extra-judicial killing of four local residents by either regular Ukrainian armed forces or volunteer battalions operating in the area." 

"These must now be investigated thoroughly. But it also shows the extent to which accusations of abuses are being inflated, particularly by the Russian authorities, in the parallel propaganda war."

AI turned truth on its head discussing Ukraine's conflict. It ignored fascist putschists usurping power. With full US support and encouragement.

It shamelessly blamed so-called "pro-Russian separatists" for initiating conflict. Kiev bore full responsibility.

Self-defense forces are freedom fighters. They reject fascist rule. They want democratic rights Kiev denies. They deserve universal support. 

AI didn't explain. Or categorically deny Russian involvement. It downplayed Kiev atrocities. It wrongfully blamed self-defense forces for crimes it didn't commit.

It's commonplace AI practice. Francis Boyle says AI "is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money." 

"Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns." 

"To be sure, if you are dealing with a human rights situation in a country that is at odds with the United States or Britain, it gets an awful lot of attention, resources, man and woman power, publicity, you name it. They can throw whatever they want at that." 

"But if it's dealing with violations of human rights by the United States, Britain, Israel, then it's like pulling teeth to get them to really do something on the situation." 

"They might, very reluctantly and after an enormous amount of internal fightings and battles and pressures, you name it. But you know, it's not like the official enemies list."

AI's commitment to human rights is hollow. It's hypercritical. It's on the wrong side of history. It's well compensated for services rendered.

Its reporting on Ukraine reflects coverup and denial. Pointing fingers the wrong way. Whitewashing clear evidence disputing its findings.

Lying about Russia's involvement. Claiming it "fuel(ed) conflict." Supplying a "steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations."

Ukraine's army, its neo-Nazi-infested National Guard and brigades, as well as Blackwater USA (now Academi) type mercenaries bear full responsibility for naked aggression and atrocities.

For high crimes against peace. Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters responded in self-defense. Justifiably. Courageously. 

Resisting tyranny is a universal right. So is self-defense. AI didn't explain. It lied suggesting otherwise. It's longstanding AI practice.

Donbas region self-defense forces continue struggling for freedoms too precious to lose. It bears repeating. They deserve universal support.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sino/Russian Alliance Challenges West

Sino/Russian Alliance Challenges West

by Stephen Lendman

In his book titled "The Sino-Russian Challenge to World Order," Gilbert Rozman says both countries have much closer ties than commonly thought.

They're deepening. United they challenge US hegemony. Leonid Bershidsky is founding editor of Russia's leading business daily, Vedomosti.

He expects ties between both nations to strengthen and endure. Russia needs to pivot East. China needs access to its enormous resources.

According to Bershidsky, both countries "are made for each other. Despite many cultural differences, their people have more values in common than either share with the West."

"(D)ifferent paths led (them) to the same spot…They suit each other." Putin and Xi call each other "good friends."

"After 25 years of exploring vastly different models of organizing society, Russians and Chinese are close enough in attitudes to join in partnership against the West."

Michael J. Green is Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia and Japan Chair senior vice president.

"Is the new alignment between Russia and China a threat to the United States," he asked? "Moscow and Beijing have not been this close in half a century."

Xi's "New Model of Great Power Relations" stresses  "manag(ing) relations with America and "ally(ing)" with Russia.

Both countries share significant interests, Green stresses. Putin and Xi promised increased "coordination" on policy.

Together they challenge Obama's Asia pivot. They're a powerful counterforce. 

According to Green, "(t)he new Sino-Russian alignment (might) help cure (Washington) of its myopia and force it to think globally as it acts locally."

Artyom Lukin is Vladivostok-based Far Eastern Federal University School of Regional and International Studies deputy director.

He believes Washington's dual containment policy binds Russia and China closer together. At the same time, it risks possible WW III.

"The current security situation in the Asia-Pacific - with competing sovereignty claims, the rise of nationalism among both major and lesser countries, and great power rivalry - increasingly resembles Europe a century ago," he said.

China's rising power "put(s) it on a collision course with" America. Much like Anglo/German antagonism launched WW I.

Allied with Moscow, Beijing has greater security and access to Russia's vast resources.

United, they "could have Central Asia (and) Mongolia to themselves, effectively shutting out all external powers from the heart of Eurasia."

"An alliance with Moscow would also put Russia's military-industrial complex and its vast military infrastructure in Eurasia at Beijing's service." 

"What might ultimately emerge is a Eurasian league, which, in controlling the continental heartland, would be reminiscent of the Central Powers alliance formed in the middle of Europe by Imperial Germany and the Habsburg empire."

Washington and other Western nations underestimate the potential for Sino/Russian entente, Lukin believes.

Both countries need each other. They face a common foe. America's hegemonic ambitions threaten them.

Washington's Ukraine policy draws them closer together. Lukin calls it "a tipping point, sealing the fate of Eurasian alignments."

Putin and Xi comprise a "formidable force." They'll be around a long time. 

In 2018, Putin is likely to win reelection. Xi will maintain power until 2022. Perhaps longer as "paramount leader."

US unipolarity is waning. New order "contours" are taking shape. It remains to be seen how they develop.

Will they reflect multipolarity or East/West hostile alliances? Two "grand" ones preceded WW I.

US-led NATO comprises one today. Washington's dual containment policy forces Russia and China to form an anti-Western counterweight.

They've done so with BRICS countries Brazil, India and South Africa, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), some G20 countries and Non-Aligned Movement (SCO) ones.

At issue is forgetting history's lessons. Repeating its mistakes may follow.

Not because of Sino/Russian policy. US hegemonic ambitions risk the unthinkable.

Putin hopes for better Moscow/Washington relations. He wants potential confrontation avoided.

"(O)ur aim has always been to build open partnership relations with the United States." he said. 

"In return, however, we have seen various reservations and attempts to interfere in our domestic affairs."

"Everything that has happened since the beginning of this year is even more disturbing." 

"Washington actively supported the Maidan protests, and when its Kiev henchmen antagonized a large part of Ukraine through rabid nationalism and plunged the country into a civil war. It blamed Russia for provoking the crisis."

"Now President Barack Obama in his speech at the UN General Assembly named 'Russian aggression in Europe' as one of the three major threats facing humanity today alongside with the deadly Ebola virus and the Islamic State." 

"Together with the sanctions against entire sectors of our economy, this approach can be called nothing but hostile."

"The United States went so far as to declare the suspension of our cooperation in space exploration and nuclear energy." 

"They also suspended the activity of the Russia-US Bilateral Presidential Commission established in 2009, which comprised 21 working groups dedicated, among other things, to combating terrorism and drug trafficking."

"At the same time, this is not the first downturn in relations between our countries." 

"We hope that our partners will realize the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability." 

"For our part, we are ready to develop constructive cooperation based on the principles of equality and genuine respect for each other’s interests."

A previous article discussed strengthening Sino/Russian ties. Western policies draw both countries closer together. For security and trade.

A separate article discussed their hugely important gas deal. Worth about $400 billion over 30 years. 

It's Gazprom's largest deal ever. No other contractual arrangement approaches it. No other bilateral one anywhere.

Russia will supply China with around 38 billion cubic million meters of natural gas annually. For the next 30 years.

Potentially it could nearly double in size. Depending on China's future needs.

Both countries are natural partners. They pledged stronger economic and financial ties.

Wider-ranging cooperation. Increasingly trading in their own currencies. 

Bypassing dollar transactions. Weakening it in the process. At the time, other key trade deals were agreed on.

In technological, industrial, and commercial sectors. In military hardware. 

Growing Sino/Russian trade lessens reliance on increasingly undependable Western sources. China is Russia's leading foreign trade partner.

A Sino/Russian Investment Committee was established. Its purpose is expanding economic and financial ties.

Diversifying trade. Reducing dependence on global economic conditions.

Promoting cooperation in technology-intensive areas. Including industrial, commercial, banking and military ones.

They're increasing bilateral ruble/renminbi trade. It bears repeating. Doing so bypasses dollar hegemony. Weakening its reserve status strength over time.

Eventually perhaps ending it. Money printing madness defeats it. So does America's drive for world dominance.

By yearend, China will surpass America as the world's top economy. Based on purchasing power parity (PPP). What a representative basket of goods in one country costs v. another.

The speed of its growth is remarkable. Analysts call it one of the greatest success stories in modern times.

As recently as 2005, its economy was less than half the size of America's.

By 2019, IMF economists expect it to be 20% larger based on PPP. Its phenomenon reflects overall emerging market growth v. developed ones.

In 2007, they accounted for around half of global output. It's now about 57% and rising. 

By the 2020s, it may approach, reach or surpass two-thirds. Since 2007, it's ninefold what developed nations achieved.

China's growth is polar opposite America's. It's gaining at the expense of its Western rival. It benefits from closer Russian ties.

On October 9, Itar Tass headlined "China plans to sign about 50 agreements with Russia." In aviation, energy, finance, innovations and infrastructure development.

According to Chinese Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping, both countries will sign dozens of inter-governmental, inter-departmental and corporate documents on different aspects of bilateral cooperation.

From October 12 - 14, Chinese State Council Prime Minister Li Keqiang visited Moscow. His first time ever.

Promoting "stronger political trust, higher mutual support between Russia and China in the field of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to Cheng.

Beijing intends "build(ing) up practical cooperation with Russia in aviation and space, energy, high-speed railways, finance, innovations and projects for infrastructure development," he added. 

It'll "develop humanitarian exchanges, particularly during the Year of Youth Exchanges between Russia and China, as well as joint preparation for celebrations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Victory in World War II in 2015." 

It "intends to expand cooperation with Russia on international issues." During Li's visit, energy cooperation will be stressed.

According to Cheng, "(g)as cooperation is an important aspect of Russian-Chinese energy cooperation." 

Beijing and Moscow "are working closely on creating" an alternative route for Russian gas to China. 

On September 1, Putin and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli launched construction of Gazprom's Power of Siberia (PoS) pipeline.

It's hugely important. When completed, it'll deliver around four trillion cubic meters of gas to China over the next 30 years. 

Perhaps double that amount depending on Beijing's future needs. According to Putin:

"The new gas branch will significantly strengthen the economic cooperation with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and above all - our key partner China."

PoS will extend 3,968 km when completed. It'll link eastern Siberian gas fields to China. It'll be the world's longest fuel transmission network.

It's one of the world's largest construction projects. It's estimated to cost over $70 billion. It's a vital investment for both countries.

In his opening remarks, Putin said it'll "increase energy security and ensure Russia's ability to fulfill (its) export obligations."

It's expected to begin operating in 2019. Siberian gas will supply China's Northeast and Russia's Far East. In 2015, China will begin construction on its end.

"Once we create a gas pipeline network here in the Far East and Siberia, we will be able to connect the European pipeline system to the East," said Putin. 

"And this, in terms of export opportunities and expanding Russia's 'gasification,' is very beneficial."

"Depending on the situation in world markets, we can more effectively implement gas flows - either more to the West or to the East."

"We generally take a very careful approach to the approval of our foreign partners, but of course, for our Chinese friends there are no restrictions."

Their relationship is hugely important for both nations. It promises to strengthen over time.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.