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Max Blumenthal and Justin Raimondo: The 21st Century’s First “Premature Anti-Fascists”?

10:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

A crowd at the Euromaidan, one spectator looks at the cameraBack in the 1990s, British-American classicist, Bernard Knox, related how he became aware of the term “premature anti-Fascist.”  Knox was interviewing in 1946 for entry into the PhD program at Yale.  Knox had just left his distinguished wartime service in the U.S. Army:

The [interviewing] Professor, who had himself served in the US Army in 1917-18, was very interested [in Knox's military record], and remarked on the fact that, in addition to the usual battle-stars for service in the European Theatre, I had been awarded a Croix de Guerre a l’Ordre de l’Armée, the highest category for that decoration.

Asked how I got it, I explained that, in July 1944, I had parachuted, in uniform, behind the Allied lines in Brittany to arm and organize French Resistance forces and hold them ready for action at the moment most useful for the Allied advance. “Why were you selected for that operation?” he asked, and I told him that I was one of the few people in the US Army who could speak fluent, idiomatic, and (if necessary) pungently coarse French. When he asked me where I had learned it, I told him that I had fought in 1936 on the northwest sector of the Madrid front in the French Battalion of the XIth International Brigade.

“Oh,” he said, “You were a premature anti-Fascist.” [emphasis added]

Last month’s violent Ukrainian coup d’état has garnered more attention than any of the other coups taking out democratically elected administrations during the Obama period.  In spite of the fact that the 2009 Honduran coup was in our own hemisphere, it received very little attention in the U.S. media.  The Ukrainian coup is being portrayed by U.S. and western European media as somehow democratically inspired.  Valid questions about how it was funded and supported aren’t getting much play at MSNBC, ABC, CBS, FOX or NPR.  Rather, the attention has been on the response of the Russian government to an event these outlets personify in the body of Vladimir Putin.  U.S. media gets worse at covering issues by the day, it seems.

Articles in the alternative media are asking these questions, though.  Here at firedoglake there have been a good number of them.  Two articles appearing elsewhere since the coup’s seeming success impress me as being deep in their detail of some pretty damning evidence of a fascist resurgence at play here.  Max Blumenthal’s article, Is the US backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?, appeared in late February. However Justin Raimondo’s essay at antiwar.com, A Monster Reawakens: The Rise of Ukrainian Fascism, is unblinking:

For the first time since 1933, the followers of a movement that valorizes Adolf Hitler and preaches anti-Semitism has entered a European government. The German Nazis, too, were part of a “coalition” government, the other members of which thought they could contain or even “tame” them and prevent a Communist takeover. They were tragically wrong – and the United States and its European allies are taking the same road in backing Hitler’s heirs in Ukraine.

Of course the majority of the government’s supporters are hardly hardcore neo-Nazis: but that isn’t necessary to make this a precedent the West will live to regret. [emphasis added]

Raimondo lists the new “interim government” fascists appointed to key cabinet and administrative posts:

Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, now a top official of the Ukrainian Parliament, is an unrepentant anti-Semite. In the summer of 2004, he made a speech to his followers at the gravesite of a Banderist commander in which he declared: “You are the ones that the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine fears most.” His peroration also made reference to “Kikes” as prominent among those the Banderists fought. Tyahnybok was expelled from Parliament for his remarks, but the “revolution” has installed him back in his seat – and more powerful than ever.

He has plenty of company. Svoboda activists, who already held seats in Parliament, hold no less than eight top Cabinet positions:

  • Ihor Tenyukh – interim defense minister and a member of Svoboda’s political council. Formerly commander of Ukraine’s navy, in 2008, during Russia’s war with Georgia, he ordered Ukrainian warships to block the entrance of the Russian Navy to the bay of Sevastopol.
  • Andriy Parubiy – National Security Council chief, co-founded Svoboda back when it was the “Social National” (ahem!) party.
  • Dmytro Yarosh – deputy head of the National Security Council, i.e. the police, and the founder-leader of “Right Sector,” a militant neo-Nazi paramilitary group that took charge of security in the Maiden.
  • Oleh Makhnitsky – Svoboda member of parliament, is prosecutor-general.
  • Oleksandr Sych – Svoboda parliamentarian and the party’s chief ideologist, is deputy prime minister for economic affairs.
  • Serhiy Kvit – a leading member of Svoboda, is to head up the Education Ministry.
  • Andriy Moknyk – the new Minister of Ecology, has been Svoboda’s envoy to other European fascist parties. Last year, he met with representatives of Italy’s violent neo-fascist gang, Forza Nuovo.
  • Ihor Shvaika – agro-oligarch and a member of Svoboda, has been appointed Minister of Agriculture. One of the richest men in the country, his massive investments in agriculture would seem to indicate a slight conflict of interest.

Blumenthal’s article was written before most of these “interim” posts were filled.  However, he followed the street battles closely:

White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protestersdestroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev.

And, typical of Blumenthal, he included some wry humor:

An Anarchist group called AntiFascist Union Ukraine attempted to join the Euromaidan demonstrations but found it difficult to avoid threats of violence and imprecations from the gangs of neo-Nazis roving the square. “They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists,” one of its members said. “There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult.”

Will the U.S. and western European media begin to cover the fascist component of this coup more studiously?

What do you think?

Meanwhile, will excellent authors and essayists such as Blumenthal and Raimondo be labeled by coup supporters and their sidekicks as “premature anti-fascists”?

Photo by Jose Luis Orihuela released under a Creative Commons license.

From the Shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655 to the Aerial Interdiction of President Evo Morales – 25 Years

11:41 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

image – crew of USS Vincennes monitoring radar – c. 1988

As Bolivian President Evo Morales sits marooned in a Vienna airport on the dawn of July 3rd, 2013, having possibly avoided aerial interception over the Atlantic Ocean by U.S. fighters or missiles, it might be fitting to think about the fate of Iran Ar Flight 655, 25 years ago today (emphases added):

Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air flight from Bandar Abbas, Iran to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On 3 July 1988, at the end of the Iran–Iraq War, the aircraft serving the flight, an Airbus A300B2-203, was shot down by U.S. missiles fired by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes as it flew over the Strait of Hormuz.

The aircraft, which had been flying in Iranian airspace over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path, was destroyed. All 290 onboard, including 66 children and 16 crew, perished. Ranking seventh among the deadliest disasters in aviation history, the incident retains the highest death toll of any aviation incident in the Indian Ocean and the highest death toll of any incident involving an Airbus A300 anywhere in the world. The Vincennes had entered Iranian territorial waters after one of its helicopters drew warning fire from Iranian speedboats operating within Iranian territorial limits.

According to the United States Government, the crew incorrectly identified the Iranian Airbus A300 as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter (a plane made in the United States and operated at that time by only two forces worldwide, the United States Navy and the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force). The Iranian government maintains that Vincennes negligently shot down the civilian aircraft.

The event generated a great deal of controversy and criticism of the United States.

Twenty five years later, we have another event that is quickly generating criticism of the USA – the forcing down of the aircraft flying the president of Bolivia back to his home state, after attending a conference of natural gas exporters last week, in Moscow (NOTE - if you are on a US military base overseas, you will not be able to link to the article quoted next.  To attempt to do so may lead to an investigation of you, so just read the excerpt, OK):

Bolivia reacted with fury after a plane carrying the country’s president home from Russia was diverted to Vienna amid suspicions that it was carrying the surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

France and Portugal were accused of withdrawing permission for the plane, carrying the president, Evo Morales, from energy talks in Moscow, to pass through their airspace.

Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said Snowden was not on the plane. The Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, said: “We don’t know who invented this lie. We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales.”

In a midnight press conference, Bolivian vice-president Alvaro Garcia said Italy and Spain were also denying the plane permission to fly through their airspace. He described Morales as being “kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe.

“The ambassador for Spain in Austria has just informed us that there is no authorisation to fly over Spanish territory and that at 9am Wednesday they would be in contact with us again,” defence minister Ruben Saavedra said.
The Spanish government had made “revision of the presidential plane” a condition of granting it passage, he said.

Choquehuanca earlier told reporters Portugal and France had abruptly cancelled air permits. “They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr Snowden was on the plane.”

Choquehuanca said in a statement that after France and Portugal cancelled authorisation for the flight, Spain’s government allowed the plane to be refuelled in its territory. From there the plane flew on to Vienna. He said the decision by France and Portugal “put at risk the life of the president”.

Watching this story break and develop on twitter Tuesday evening, I was struck by how quickly Latin American leaders reacted.  Needless to say, we’re still waiting on one of them to support the weird event, universally accepted to have been prompted by American actions, but which have yet to be (midnight 2-3 July PDT) acknowledged by the U.S. government.

Thinking back to the shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655, I remember being appalled.

Just over two years later, we convinced Saddam Hussein that if he invaded Kuwait, we would only consider it a dispute outside our realm of serious interest.  So he invaded.

Since then, we’ve been killing scores of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, from the Philippines to Libya.  The resulting blowback has killed or injured Americans.  Our response has not made us tangibly safer.  It has directed a few trillion tax dollars into the pockets of people who aren’t making us less vulnerable.  They’re supposed to make us feel like we’re safer, though, so they can keep conning us.  Hence the importance of keeping Snowden’s independence throttled, short of capturing or killing him.

The Ticonderoga-class cruiser that shot down Iranian flight 655 was known by its crew as “Roboship.”   The movie, RoboCop, had come out the year before the shootdown.

Defenders of Obama’s illegal policies, which have been brought into the spotlight by Wikileaks, whistleblowers, independent fact finders and journalists, and that rare instance when MSM journalists actually uncover something through investigating, have less to stand on every day.  They’re beginning to resemble robots.

Worldwide reactions to Snowden’s disclosures are starting to snowball.  This face will not slow it at all.  In this case, the U.S.A. appears quite ludicrous, let alone irresponsibly arrogant.

It’s almost as if we don’t care who we piss off over this.

And – hey!  It isn’t that Obama’s denizens don’t want to off Evo Morales.  They just don’t want their bloodstains or DNA on the murder weapons.

As Edward Snowden Wings to Moscow (and Beyond?) American Hubris, Criminality and Arrogance Are Challenged on Several Fronts – Updated

1:28 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Update – 3:20 am fdl time:

Pepe Escobar on RT TV this morning:

On Saturday, an arrogant White House, perturbed that Hong Kong seemed to be taking its time in responding to an extradition request for Edward Snowden, was quoted by CBS News:

If Hong Kong doesn’t act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong’s commitment to the rule of law.

Before the government of Hong Kong had time to reply in writing to the American extradition request, the statement, believed to have been made by White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, was the butt of several tweets by national security writer and blogger, Marcy Wheeler:

The Administration that won’t prosecute James Clapper for lying to Congress is lecturing Hong Kong about the rule of law.

followed by:

The Admin that has not prosecuted a single major bankster is lecturing Hong Kong about the rule of law.

and:

The Admin that didn’t prosecute any torturers is lecturing Hong Kong about rule of law.

and finally:

The Admin that did not prosecute anyone for illegally wiretapping Americans is lecturing Hong Kong about rule of law.

The Hong Kong government refused to be intimidated (emphasis added):

HKSAR Government issues statement on Edward Snowden
***************************************************
The HKSAR Government today (June 23) issued the following statement on Mr Edward Snowden:

Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.

The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government’s request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden’s departure.

Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.

Ends/Sunday, June 23, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:05

By refusing the demand from the Obama administration, Hong Kong gave Snowden a window to exit the appendage of the PRC. He’s headed to Moscow, but that may not be the end destination:

His departure was revealed on the website of the the Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post, which said that Russia was not thought to be his intended final destination.

It is thought that the eventual destination could end up being Iceland or Ecuador.

He is understood to have left on the Russian airline Aeroflot flight SU213.

The paper said it left Hong Kong around 11am local time (4am UK time) and was due to arrive in Moscow around 5.15pm local time (1pm UK time). It is believed to be currently in the air.

That is fairly soon, from the time of my writing.

Meanwhile, the questions being raised globally about our own commitment to the rule of law are playing out in many arenas every day.  My favorite one this past week was the speech given on the floor of the lower house of the Irish Parliament, the Dáil Éireann, by member Clare Daly, an unabashed Irish progressive.  Ms Daly is objecting to the slavish, lavish coverage Irish and Northern Irish media and institutions gave to Obama (and the Obamas) during his attendance at the G8 Conference:

Whether it is the government of Hong Kong, a back-bencher in the Dáil Éireann, an Ecuadorean government resentful of past travesties we have inflicted upon their sovereignty, a Russian government upset about brazen American espionage, or an entire world community disturbed about implications of what Snowden and others have recently revealed about how fully we break treaties and conventions with them by the way we surveil and target their citizens, corporations, leaders and institutions, we may be about to witness a tsunami rise up against our empire.

Join Pussy Riot Global Day August 17th – Today

8:48 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Yekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina

Good news yesterday – Ecuador granted political asylum to foe of tyranny Julian Assange.

Bad news today – the Russian Indie Band Pussy Riot‘s three key members have been sentenced to two years in prison for hooliganism:

Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been jailed for two years after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Judge Marina Syrova convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had “crudely undermined social order”.

The women say the protest, in February, was directed at the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support for Mr Putin.

The closely watched trial has inflamed opinion both at home and abroad.

Prosecutors had been seeking a three-year jail sentence for the women.

Judge Syrova said Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, had offended the feelings of Orthodox believers and shown a “complete lack of respect”.

“Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism – in other words, a grave violation of public order,” she said.

David Dayen wrote about the courtroom verdict here, this morning:

Activists massed outside the courtroom, chanting “Freedom to Political Prisoners.” Police made arrests of the protesters, including chess champion and former Presidential candidate Gary Kasparov. Russian opposition leader Sergey Udaltsov was detained as well. A number of solidarity protests have taken place across Europe today.

Here is a link to the protests scheduled for today across the globe:  Free Pussy Riot!

Hamburg Pussy Riot poster - 8/17/2012

There are solidarity protests and events planned in 64 communities worldwide, including  six in the USA:  Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland, San Francisco and Washington, DC.  The closest demonstration to where I live will be held in Murmansk.
Read the rest of this entry →

2012 Olympics Over – USSR Gets 163 Medals

9:25 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The last Olympics at which the republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics competed under that name was the XXIV Olympiad of 1988, in Seoul, South Korea.  That was also the last Olympics at which the East and West German teams competed separately.

In 1992, 12 of the 15 republics of what was by then the former USSR, competed as the Unified Team of the Commonwealth of Independent States.  The three Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia did not join those unified states then, but competed by themselves.

Had the Soviet Union somehow held together until 2012, they would have been the dominant sports power in this competition.  Here is the final medal count for the top three countries, weighted toward favoring gold medals:

USA:    45 Gold – 29 Silver – 29 Bronze — 103 medals
PRC:    38 Gold – 27 Silver – 22 Bronze —   87 medals
UK:      29 Gold – 16 Silver – 19 Bronze —   64 medals

Former republics of the USSR:    47 Gold – 43 Silver – 73 Bronze — 163 medals

Those of us old enough to remember Olympiads back into the 1950s may also remember the intense rivalry between the USA and the USSR, and between East and West Germany, perhaps best exemplified by the hockey semi-final of the 1980 Winter Games, between the USA and USSR, sometimes called “The Miracle on Ice.”

That winter games was the first at which the Peoples Republic of China competed without prejudice in relationship to Taiwan, in terms of full recognition of the PRC as being the real China.

The 1980s saw an intensification of rivalry between the USA and USSR, as the Soviet-Afghan War and deployment of a new generation of medium range ballistic missiles in Europe brought Cold War confrontation to the fore.  The confrontations, especially the instability brought on by mobile IRBMs such as the Pershing II Missile, were very troubling, and nuclear war fears escalated to their highest since the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 20 years earlier.

The Soviet-Afghan War spawned – with U.S. money and weapons - the Mujahideen.  This, in turn, supposedly led to Al Qaeda, and many current problems for the USA.

And now, 20 years after the Seoul Olympics, the most dangerous confrontation which could easily lead to war is the push by the Israelis to attack Iran, so as to keep the latter from obtaining a “nuclear weapon capability,” an ambiguous term at best.  Interesting that in the Olympiad that concludes today, The Islamic Republic of Iran had four Gold, five Silver and three Bronze medals; the Jewish State of Israel – for the first time since 1988, had no medals at all.  But there were Jewish athletes on the teams of many Western nations, including that of the USA.  And there were Muslim athletes on the teams of many Western nations.

Perhaps some day in the future we will see an Olympiad at which the Iranian national team contains Jewish athletes from their vibrant Jewish population, and the Israeli team contains many Palestinian Israelis, from their non-Jewish Christian and Muslim population.

Hopefully, we can avoid an insane war between Israel and Iran, just as in the 1980s we avoided an insane war between the USSR and the USA.