Category Archives: European Union

NATO Plans Biggest Build-Up Since Cold War

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

In a move sparked by the latest Pentagon plans for a major increase in US military spending, NATO defense ministers are preparing to meet later this week to work out the details of a massive new deployment along the Russian border, with plans to up to 40,000 NATO personnel to head to the area

The Baltic states and some other NATO members have been playing up the idea of a Russian invasion of Europe for over a year now, and while nothing ever came of it, they keep adding troops to the area, with the latest deployment to be the largest NATO deployment since the Cold War.

The Pentagon’s spending hike itself came on the pretext of “Russian aggression,” though the US of course outspends Russia on its military by roughly a factor of 10. Several other NATO members have spending only a bit lower than Russia’s.

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EU Renegotiation: David Cameron’s PR Machine and The Theatre of Brexit

In the first interview, Afshin Rattansi talks to Robert Oulds, director of Eurosceptic think tank the Bruges Group, who discusses David Cameron’s PR theatrics over the EU referendum and the Brexit. In the second interview, Labour MP Kate Hoey discusses David Cameron’s so called EU renegotiation, and her being on the side of the out campaign. (Going Underground/RT UK)

U.S. Government Jet Lay In Wait For Edward Snowden In Copenhagen

David Crouch reports for The Guardian:

A US government jet was lying in wait in Copenhagen to extradite the whistleblower Edward Snowden if he had come to Scandinavia after fleeing to Moscow in June 2013, the Danish government has revealed.

The twin-engined Gulfstream aircraft, which had previously been used to fly Abu Hamza to the US from the UK, landed shortly before the FBI called on Scandinavian police forces to arrest Snowden and hand him over for extradition.

Søren Pind, the justice minister, wrote to Danish MPs: “The purpose of the aircraft’s presence in Copenhagen airport is most likely to have been to have the opportunity to transport Edward Snowden to the United States if he had been handed over from Russia or another country.”

This week, Pind confirmed to the Danish parliament that the aircraft had been given high-level permission to land in Copenhagen, but said he did not know the purpose of its visit.

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Freeing Julian Assange: The Last Chapter

John Pilger writes:

JA.jpg[…] The Assange case has never been primarily about allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden. The Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, dismissed the case, saying, “I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape” and one of the women involved accused the police of fabricating evidence and “railroading” her, protesting she “did not want to accuse JA of anything”. A second prosecutor mysteriously re-opened the case after political intervention, then stalled it.

The Assange case is rooted across the Atlantic in Pentagon-dominated Washington, obsessed with pursuing and prosecuting whistleblowers, especially Assange for having exposed, in WikiLeaks, US capital crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale killing of civilians and a contempt for sovereignty and international law.  None of this truth-telling is illegal under the US Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistleblowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal”.

Obama, the betrayer,  has since prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the US presidents combined. The courageous Chelsea Manning is serving 35 years in prison, having been tortured during her long pre-trial detention.

The prospect of a similar fate has hung over Assange like a Damocles sword. According to documents released by Edward Snowden, Assange is on a “Manhunt target list”. Vice-President Joe Biden has called him a “cyber terrorist”. In Alexandra, Virginia, a secret grand jury has attempted to concoct a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted in a court. Even though he is not an American, he is currently being fitted up with an espionage law dredged up from a century ago when it was used to silence conscientious objectors during the First World War; the Espionage Act has provisions of both life imprisonment and the death penalty.

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The U.S. Is Fortifying Europe’s East to Deter Putin

Mark Landler and Helene Cooper report for The New York Times:

President Obama plans to substantially increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a move that administration officials said was aimed at deterring Russia from further aggression in the region.

The White House plans to pay for the additional weapons and equipment with a budget request of more than $3.4 billion for military spending in Europe in 2017, several officials said Monday, more than quadrupling the current budget of $789 million. The weapons and equipment will be used by American and NATO forces, ensuring that the alliance can maintain a full armored combat brigade in the region at all times.

Though Russia’s military activity has quieted in eastern Ukraine in recent months, Moscow continues to maintain a presence there, working with pro-Russian local forces. Administration officials said the additional NATO forces were calculated to send a signal to President Vladimir V. Putin that the West remained deeply suspicious of his motives in the region.

“This is not a response to something that happened last Tuesday,” a senior administration official said. “This is a longer-term response to a changed security environment in Europe. This reflects a new situation, where Russia has become a more difficult actor.”

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The West’s return to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya proves the warmongers wrong

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

Despite an almost total lack of public debate, Western military escalation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya is on the rise.

Renewed military interventionism has been largely justified as a response to the meteoric rise of Islamic State networks, spreading across parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

Missing from government pronouncements, though, is any acknowledgement that the proliferation of Islamist terrorism is a direct consequence of the knee-jerk response of military escalation.

Discarded to the memory hole is the fact that before each of the major interventions in these three countries, our political leaders promised they would bring security, freedom and prosperity.

Instead, they have done precisely the opposite.

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Beware of Obama’s Nuclear Weapons Plan

Stephen Kinzer writes for the Boston Globe:

 Americans are in near-panic over the danger posed by Islamic terrorists. That danger, however, pales beside an emerging new one. President Obama has proposed a frighteningly wrongheaded plan to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal at the unfathomable cost of about $1 trillion over the next 30 years. Terror will never reach even 1 percent of our population. Nuclear “modernization” increases the prospect of true devastation.

The nuclear threat seems diffuse and faraway, while the prospect of a deranged fanatic shooting up a cinema is as vivid as today’s news. Perhaps we have been lulled into security by the fact that no nuclear weapon has been used since 1945. Voices trying to alert us to the true threat are drowned out in a frenzy of over-the-top campaign speeches and TV rants about crazed Muslims.

The most sobering of these voices belongs to William Perry, who during the 1970s and ’80s directed the development of air-launched nuclear cruise missiles and later became secretary of defense. Now Perry is campaigning against Obama’s plan to develop and buy 1,000 new missiles with adjustable nuclear capacity, 100 new long-range bombers, and a new fleet of nuclear-armed submarines. He warns that if the plan becomes real, disputes among nations will be “more likely to erupt in nuclear conflict than during the Cold War.”

When Perry was directing America’s last nuclear buildup, he and others argued that it was necessary to compensate for NATO’s relatively weak conventional power in countries around the Soviet Union. That rationale evaporated when the Cold War ended, but it still shapes our defense policy.

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The New US-Russian Cold War Originated in the 1990s: Interview with Stephen F. Cohen

Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new American-Russian Cold War. This installment begins with Cohen’s commentary on Russian President Putin’s remarkable statements, in a recent interview, that post-Soviet Russia was itself, not the West, responsible for the misery into which the country fell in the 1990s (a tacit but harsh criticism of his own patron, then President Boris Yeltsin). More importantly, Putin blames the Yeltsin government for not resisting the beginning of US encroachment on Russia’s security in the 1990s through the eastward expansion of NATO, resulting in today’s new Cold War. Cohen points out this is typical of Putin’s candor and wonders if Washington’s Russia “experts,” who are always being “surprised” by the Russian leader, actually read what he says and writes. The discussion turns then to the growing crisis of the European Union, including worsening conflicts among its member states—among them disputes over the flood of refugees, the new right-wing government in Poland, a forthcoming referendum in the Netherlands that could block Ukraine’s planned association with the EU, events in Ukraine itself, and relations with Russia. Cohen ends by pointing out America’s escalating opposition to Secretary of State John Kerry’s photo-détente with Putin, as evidenced by op-ed articles in The Washington Post and The New York Times, and by statements of top-rank generals that Russia is an ever growing military threat to the West, not a worthy partner in the Syrian war. Meanwhile, at the political epicenter of the new Cold War, Russia is suffering from Western sanctions and the collapse of world energy prices, but Ukraine is in ruins. (The Nation)

How much does ExxonMobil spend on lobbying in Europe?

Kyla Mandel writes for DeSmog UK:

ExxonMobil has spent at least £5.6m ($8.08 million) on lobbying the European Commission and in donations to European universities and organisations in 2014 according to the most recent figures available.

A DeSmog UK investigation into the oil giant’s European activities reveals much of this was spent lobbying on energy and environment issues in addition to donations to organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

Last September, Inside Climate News revealed that ExxonMobil knew about the impacts of manmade climate change in the 1970s’ and ‘80s yet went on to fund numerous climate denial efforts. This prompted the New York Attorney General to subpoena ExxonMobil to “determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.”

And now, the Church of England’s Commissioners (who run its £6.7bn endowment fund) has co-filed a shareholders’ resolution this week with the New York State Common Retirement Fund calling on ExxonMobil to publish an assessment of how its business portfolio would be affected by a 2°C target as agreed in the Paris agreement in December. Together, the group of investors hold more than $1bn in ExxonMobil shares.

So, while the oil giant has been getting a lot of heat in the U.S. for funding climate denial, DeSmog UK asks: what has ExxonMobil been up to in Europe?

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Goldman Sachs backs campaign to keep Britain in European Union

Jill Treanor and Larry Elliott report for The Guardian:

Goldman Sachs signGrowing concern in the City about Britain’s possible exit from the European Union has been underlined by the fact that the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs had pumped a significant sum into the campaign for staying in.

The move on Wednesday by the high-profile US investment bank to back the in campaign – Britain Stronger in Europe – comes at a time when the City has started to focus on the possibility that the UK will vote to end its 43-year relationship with the EU.

Other City firms are known to be spending large sums of money considering the implications for their business of a possible Brexit, even though the date for a referendum has not yet been set.

David Cameron would like the referendum to be held in June to avoid the possibility of prolonged coverage of refugees fleeing to the EU. The news of the donation by Goldman Sachs to the in campaign – said to run to six figures – appeared to be carefully timed: Cameron is due to address delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where a large delegation of UK business leaders and financiers have gathered for the annual event in the Swiss ski resort.

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OCCRP’s 2015 Organized Crime and Corruption ‘Person of the Year’ Award: Milo Đukanović

OCCRP writes:

His first real job was as the Prime Minister of Montenegro. He has either been the President or Prime Minister for most of the nearly three decades of his career and the life of his country. While he casts himself as a progressive, pro-Western leader who recently helped his country join NATO and is on track to join the European Union, he has built one of the most dedicated kleptocracies and organized crime havens in the world.

For his work in creating an oppressive political atmosphere and an economy choked by corruption and money laundering, OCCRP honors Milo Djukanovic, Prime Minister of Montenegro, as OCCRP’s Person of the Year for his work in promoting crime, corruption and uncivil society.

[…] Djukanovic has a long history of befriending organized crime figures, involving himself in corrupt practices and bribing voters. He has been one of the world’s worst caretakers of government, often giving public money to cronies including organized criminals. His actions have left Montenegro with massive debts.

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RSF Report: 110 journalists killed in 2015, most in ‘peaceful’ countries

Middle East Eye/AFP reports:

A total of 110 journalists were killed around the world in 2015, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday, noting that while many died in war zones the majority were killed in supposedly peaceful countries.

Sixty-seven journalists were killed in the line of duty this year, the watchdog group said in its annual roundup, listing war-torn Iraq and Syria as most dangerous places for journalists with 11 and 10 fatalities respectively, followed by France, where eight journalists were killed in an assault on a satirical magazine.

A further 43 journalists around the world died in circumstances that were unclear and 27 non-professional “citizen-journalists” and seven other media workers were also killed, RSF said.

The high toll is “largely attributable to deliberate violence against journalists” and demonstrates the failure of initiatives to protect media personnel, the report said, calling for the United Nations to take action.

In particular, the report shed light on the growing role of “non-state groups” – such as the Islamic State group – in perpetrating atrocities against journalists.

In 2014, it said, two-thirds of the journalists killed were in war zones. But in 2015, it was the exact opposite, with “two-thirds killed in countries ‘at peace'”.

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Why police don’t pull guns in many countries

Sara Miller Llana reports for Christian Science Monitor:

The officer, alert but cautious, pounds on the suspect’s door. “Polizei!” he says forcefully, in his native German. A man thrusts open the door and walks out. His hands are at his side, but the policeman notices a gun tucked into the man’s belt. He pulls out his own firearm in response. He then moves briskly backward, coaxing the man to place his weapon on the ground.

The cop is commended for his actions.

The next officer up bangs on the same door. “Polizei!,” he says. This time the person walks out carrying a baton, not a gun. So the cop doesn’t pull out his pistol. He brandishes instead a can of pepper spray – a reflex response that also garners praise afterward.

The scene here in what looks like an outdoor movie set seems as if it would be basic enough training at almost any police academy in the world. But today’s course for the new recruits in the Ruhr Valley in western Germany represents just one small part of an educational process that will last for three years, during which the officers will be drilled in alternatives to pulling a trigger. Today’s shooting training is subtitled, tellingly, “Don’t shoot.” And it’s far from the only lesson they’ll receive in restraint. Each recruit earns a bachelor’s degree as part of basic police training – a requisite before getting a badge and a beat.

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Podemos Breaks Two-Party System in Spain: Interview with Carlos Delclós

Jessica Desvarieux talks to the editor of ROAR Magazine Carlos Delclós who explains how Podemos has lead the call for structural change but will ultimately be limited in getting results. (The Real News)

Italy’s Puppet Master: Licio Gelli Dies Aged 96

Eric Margolis writes:

The French, who know much about intrigue, have a very useful expression, “an Italian scandal.” This means a scandal or plot that is so complex or tangled it defies understanding, and never gets solved.

The death of 96-year old Masonic Grand Master Licio Gelli this week reopened the mystery of Italy’s greatest and most murky political scandals. I’ve been following this wonderful case since the 1980’s. Gelli, a lifelong Fascist, was what was known in the US as “one of our SOB’s.”

As US Republicans hysterically warn of “terrorism,” it’s useful to look back to the Cold War years and see who really had – and has – clean hands.

Gelli first appeared as an 18-year old volunteer Black Shirt fascist sent by Mussolini to Spain to fight the Communists.

Soon after World War II, Gelli was recruited by CIA to help build “Gladio,” a top secret underground organized in 14 Western European nations of former fascists and other right-wingers designed to combat an expected Soviet invasion.

The Soviet threat eventually subsided, but Gladio, its far right members and its arms caches remained. In the 1980’s and early 90’s, Gladio and Gelli would be involved in numerous plots and intrigues known as “the years of lead” aimed at blocking Communists from power and paving the way for fascist coups. CIA and Britain’s MI6 were implicated.

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France’s Far-right National Front fails to win a single region, but reaches historic score

European leaders call for CIA-like EU spy agency

Anna Giarletti reports for Washington Examiner:

Belgium became the latest country on Monday to call for the creation of a European intelligence agency that would collect information on individuals with connections to terrorism groups, including the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

Prime Minister Charles Michel called for continental leaders to develop a spy agency that would “unmask those with hostile intentions” in order to prevent another Paris-style attack.

Michel said countries currently share intel with one another on an individual basis, but would benefit if there was one source that nations could contribute information to and learn from.

On Friday, European Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos was the first to call for a pan-European CIA, but German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere disagreed shortly after, saying nations should “concentrate on improving the exchange of information through existing institutions,” according to Agence France-Presse.

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Young, Muslim and targeted: Paris in a state of emergency

French police have reportedly made 1,800 raids and made many arrests since the Paris attacks on 13 November 2015. The Guardian’s Iman Amrani meets with French Muslims that have been affected by the security crackdown, including political commentator Yasser Louati, rapper Médine and children in the suburbs who lost their teacher in the Bataclan theatre massacre. (The Guardian)

Western Firms Primed to Cash in on Syria’s Oil and Gas ‘Frontier’

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

US, British, French, Israeli and other energy interests could be prime beneficiaries of military operations in Iraq and Syria designed to rollback the power of the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) and, potentially, the Bashar al-Assad regime.

A study for a global oil services company backed by the French government and linked to Britain’s Tory-led administration, published during the height of the Arab Spring, hailed the significant “hydrocarbon potential” of Syria’s offshore resources.

The 2011 study was printed in GeoArabia, a petroleum industry journal published by a Bahrain-based consultancy, GulfPetroLink, which is sponsored by some of the world’s biggest oil companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Total, and BP.

GeoArabia’s content has no open subscription system and is exclusively distributed to transnational energy corporations, corporate sponsors and related organisations, as well as some universities.

Authored by Steven A. Bowman, a Senior Geoscientist for the French energy company CGGVeritas, the study identified “three sedimentary basins, Levantine, Cyprus, and Latakia, located in offshore Syria” and highlighted “significant evidence for a working petroleum system in offshore Syria with numerous onshore oil and gas shows, DHIs (direct hydrocarbon indicators) observed on seismic, and oil seeps identified from satellite imagery.”

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NATO Adds Air Defenses to Southern Turkey, Fueling Russia Rivalry

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

A week after Turkish warplanes shot down a Russian bomber over Syrian airspace, NATO has announced a plan to deploy yet more warplanes and anti-aircraft missiles in southern Turkey, adding to tensions with Russia along the Syria-Turkey border.

NATO officials suggested the move was designed to “reassure” Turkey, and to fill the gap after Germany and the US removed Patriot missile batteries from the area. Lithuanian FM Linas Likevicius said the deployment was vital to “counter threats” to Turkey.

Yet Turkey doesn’t appear to be at threat from any aircraft at this point, and the move seems designed purely to needle Russia, which has itself been adding to air defenses in northwestern Syria, and has announced its intention to escort bomber along the border to ensure Turkey doesn’t take any more shots at them.

German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling for a special NATO meeting with Russia, though the Baltic nations seem eager to make the deployment more directly confrontational. Britain has pledged interceptor jets to the deployment, once plans are finalized.

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Coalition or Cold War with Russia? Interview with Stephen Cohen

John Batchelor talks to Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. Cohen suggests that powerful forces are working against a post-Paris coalition between Russia and European nations lead by France against the Islamic State. (John Batchelor Show)

Turkey shoots down Russian plane: NATO will be worried

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

[…] Nato countries will give some rhetorical support to Turkey as a Nato member, but many will not be dismissive in private of President Vladimir Putin’s angry accusation that Turkey is the accomplice of terrorists. Turkey’s support for the Syrian armed opposition, including extreme groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, has been notorious over the last three years. Its relations with Isis are murky, but it has been credibly accused of allowing the self-declared Islamic State to sell oil through Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in a strong domestic position because of his sweeping parliamentary election victory on 1 November. But he has seen what appeared to be a strong Turkish position in the Middle East in 2011 deteriorate year by year as leaders and movements he supported, such as President Morsi in Egypt and the opposition in Syria, suffer defeats.

At the same time, it is damaging for Turkey to have bad relations with Russia and Iran, two powerful neighbours close to its borders. Leaders of Nato countries will want to prevent further Russian-Turkish hostilities, so they can look for Russian cooperation in attacking Isis and ending the Syrian conflict.

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Turkey’s Intentions Behind the Downing of a Russian Jet: Interview with Baris Karaagac

Jessica Devereux interviews Baris Karaagac, a lecturer in International Development Studies at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. (The Real News)

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Plane Over Syria, Inflaming Tensions

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Tensions are soaring in the Black Sea tonight after Turkish warplanes shot down a Russian Su-24 over neighboring Syria. Turkey claimed the plane was in Turkish airspace when it was attacked, though US officials have said they believe the plane was inside Syria when it was attacked. Pentagon officials also say they are unsure if the Russian jet violated Turkish airspace at all.

Turkey informed the UN Security Council that it shot the plane down today, saying it had every right to do so. They also urged “consultations” with NATO, though the alliance appears to be urging Turkey to calm down and show a little restraint.

This is the first NATO downing of a Russian military plane since the 1950s, and is fueling concern of eventual retaliation by Russia after the incident, particularly with Turkey so loudly trumpeting their attack.

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Obama to Hollande: Stay the course against Russia

Michael Crowley reports for Politico:

obama_francois_hollande_AP.jpgWhen President Barack Obama hosts French President François Hollande on Tuesday, he’ll have more on his agenda than demonstrating solidarity against terrorism. He’ll also be working to make sure Hollande sticks with the international effort to punish and isolate Vladimir Putin for his aggression in Ukraine.

Privately, Obama officials say they are concerned about whether key European leaders are prepared to extend sanctions on Moscow, which expire in late January. And they are wary of any effort by Putin — who will host Hollande in Moscow later this week — to link events in Syria and Ukraine. The fear is that Putin might try to trade more aggressive Russian action against the Islamic State for France’s backing in reducing or ending the sanctions.

A premature end to sanctions in Europe “is always our worry,” said Evelyn Farkas, who served until last month as the Pentagon’s top official for Russia and Ukraine. “They can’t back away from sanctions. Ukraine is a separate situation” from Syria.

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Frankie Boyle: This is the worst time for society to go on psychopathic autopilot

Comedian Frankie Boyle writes for The Guardian:

There were a lot of tributes after the horror in Paris. It has to be said that Trafalgar Square is an odd choice of venue to show solidarity with France; presumably Waterloo was too busy. One of the most appropriate tributes was Adele dedicating Hometown Glory to Paris, just as the raids on St-Denis started. A song about south London where, 10 years ago, armed police decided to hysterically blow the face off a man just because he was a bit beige.

In times of crisis, we are made to feel we should scrutinise our government’s actions less closely, when surely that’s when we should pay closest attention. There’s a feeling that after an atrocity history and context become less relevant, when surely these are actually the worst times for a society to go on psychopathic autopilot. Our attitudes are fostered by a society built on ideas of dominance, where the solution to crises are force and action, rather than reflection and compromise.

If that sounds unbearably drippy, just humour me for a second and imagine a country where the response to Paris involved an urgent debate about how to make public spaces safer and marginalised groups less vulnerable to radicalisation. Do you honestly feel safer with a debate centred around when we can turn some desert town 3,000 miles away into a sheet of glass? Of course, it’s not as if the west hasn’t learned any lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. This time round, no one’s said out loud that we’re going to win.

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 Will Paris Melt the New US-Russian Cold War? Interview with Stephen Cohen

Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussion of the new East-West Cold War. Accelerating a trend already evident as a result of the Syrian crisis, according to Cohen, the savage terrorist acts on Paris almost immediately resulted in a French-Russian military alliance against the Islamic State in Syria, with French President Hollande and most of Europe dramatically breaking with the Obama Administration’s nearly two-year-old policy of “isolating Putin’s Russia” over the Ukrainian crisis. (The Nation)

How US-Backed Intervention in Libya Spread Chaos to Nearby Mali: Interview with Nick Turse

Amy Goodman speak to Nick Turse, author of Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa and journalist for TomDispatch and The Intercept. This interview with Turse was recorded earlier in November with the segment on Mali republished in light of the hostage crisis in Bamako, Mali. (Democracy Now!)

Europe Is Harbouring The Islamic State’s Backers

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

[…] The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance.

Mass surveillance at home and endless military projection abroad are the twin sides of the same coin of national security, which must simply be maximized as much as possible.

“France is at war,” Hollande told French parliament at the Palace of Versailles.

“We’re not engaged in a war of civilizations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”

Conspicuously missing from President Hollande’s decisive declaration of war however, was any mention of the biggest elephant in the room: state-sponsorship.

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From Paris to Boston, Terrorists Were Already Known to Authorities

map-3Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

Whenever a terrorist attack occurs, it never takes long for politicians to begin calling for more surveillance powers. The horrendous attacks in Paris last week, which left more than 120 people dead, are no exception to this rule. In recent days, officials in the United Kingdom and the United States have been among those arguing that more surveillance of Internet communications is necessary to prevent further atrocities.

The case for expanded surveillance of communications, however, is complicated by an analysis of recent terrorist attacks. The Intercept has reviewed 10 high-profile jihadi attacks carried out in Western countries between 2013 and 2015 (see below), and in each case some or all of the perpetrators were already known to the authorities before they executed their plot. In other words, most of the terrorists involved were not ghost operatives who sprang from nowhere to commit their crimes; they were already viewed as a potential threat, yet were not subjected to sufficient scrutiny by authorities under existing counterterrorism powers. Some of those involved in last week’s Paris massacre, for instance, were already known to authorities; at least three of the men appear to have been flagged at different times as having been radicalized, but warning signs were ignored.

In the aftermath of a terrorist atrocity, government officials often seem to talk about surveillance as if it were some sort of panacea, a silver bullet. But what they always fail to explain is how, even with mass surveillance systems already in place in countries like France, the United States, and the United Kingdom, attacks still happen. In reality, it is only possible to watch some of the people some of the time, not all of the people all of the time. Even if you had every single person in the world under constant electronic surveillance, you would still need a human being to analyze the data and assess any threats in a timely fashion. And human resources are limited and fallible.

There is no doubt that we live in a dangerous world and that intelligence agencies and the police have a difficult job to do, particularly in the current geopolitical environment. They know about hundreds or thousands of individuals who sympathize with terrorist groups, any one of whom may be plotting an attack, yet they do not appear to have the means to monitor each of these people closely over sustained periods of time. If any lesson can be learned from studying the perpetrators of recent attacks, it is that there needs to be a greater investment in conducting targeted surveillance of known terror suspects and a move away from the constant knee-jerk expansion of dragnet surveillance, which has simply not proven itself to be effective, regardless of the debate about whether it is legal or ethical in the first place.

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