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Nederlog

 March 25, 2016

Crisis: Karadzic, Greenwald, Hedges, 2 Trade Deals, Terrorism, Sanders
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Introduction

1.
What the Guilty Verdict of Radovan Karadzic Tells Us
     About War Crimes After 9/11

2. Glenn Greenwald: Cruz, Trump, Clinton "Playing into the
     Hands" of ISIL After Brussels Bombings

3.
Hedges: "We Bomb Them, They Bomb Us"
4. How the World's Biggest Polluters are Two Trade Deals
     Away from Steamrolling Climate Protections

5. The Best Reporting on Europe’s Terrorism Threat
6.
Bernie Sanders | The Young Turks Interview (FULL)

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, March 25, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about the outcome of Karadzic's trial; item 2 is a good interview with Glenn Greenwald about the events in Brussels; item 3 is a good interview with Chris Hedges about the same; item 4 is about (in my interpretation) the fact that we are two trade- deals away of fascism in the USA and Europe (and I explain myself, again); item 5 is about "the best reporting on Europe's terrorism" and indeed is a good article; and item 6 is a long interview on TYT with Bernie Sanders that was both good and sympathetic.

1. What the Guilty Verdict of Radovan Karadzic Tells Us About War Crimes After 9/11

The first item is by Peter Maass on The Intercept:
This starts as follows
WHEN I FIRST MET RADOVAN KARADZIC, he seemed more of a well-dressed buffoon than a major war criminal. Tall and blustery, with wavy hair and double-breasted suits, he made outlandish statements that few people took at face value. His prior achievements, such as they were, did not suggest a history-making future — he had been a writer of bad poetry, a psychiatrist to losing soccer teams, a small-time embezzler of public funds.
I suppose some readers may say: Who is Radovan Karadzic? The last Wikipedia link provides an answer: He was the leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the 1990s.
(There is a lot more in the last link.)

The reason he is mentioned here and now is the following:

Karadzic became the leader of Bosnian Serbs in the 1990s and made history in dark ways, but the latest twist, which occurred today, is unexpectedly bright — he has been convicted, after a long and open trial in the Hague, of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 40 years in prison. This outcome is bright for reasons beyond the satisfaction of justice in the Balkans. At the moment, it might seem far-fetched to imagine that U.S. political and military officials will be held to account for torture and other war crimes they approved, condoned, or bore command responsibility for in the post-9/11 era. But it was even more unlikely in the 1990s to think that the hand of justice — the justice of a fair trial, not a mob’s noose or a precision-guided missile — would get close to Karadzic and his prime collaborators.

This is mostly correct. The reason I wrote "mostly" is the comparison between the post-9/11 era and Bosnia in the 1990s:

Whereas Peter Maass thinks the present conviction may be an indication that in ten or twenty years time some of the Americans who are responsible for Iraq - that is, for tortures and war crimes - may be judged in a decent and objective judicial trial as well.

He also says that this "might seem farfetched" to imagine today. I agree with him on the "farfetched" and indeed also on the desirabilility of such a judicial trial, but I guess he may underestimate the power of the USA.

It would be nice if it happens, but I think it is not likely.

2. Glenn Greenwald: Cruz, Trump, Clinton "Playing into the Hands" of ISIL After Brussels Bombings

The second item is
by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows:
Belgium has entered its second day of mourning following Tuesday’s bombing attack targeting the Brussels Airport and a crowded subway station near the headquarters of the European Union that killed at least 31 people and injured over 230. (...) For more on the election, the attacks in Brussels and more, we speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald.
And that was a good idea. Here is Glenn Greenwald:
GLENN GREENWALD: What we’ve seen in Brussels is the same exact pattern as we’ve seen, essentially, for the last 15 years each time there is one of these attacks. There is never any sense at all that there’s some balance needed between security, on the one hand, and civil liberties and privacy and a constrained budget for our military and intelligence, on the other. Every single time there’s a terrorist attack — every single time — politicians like Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz come forward and say we need more of everything we’ve been doing. We need more money for intelligence, more surveillance authorities, more military presence, more security. You know, imagine if every single time there were a fatal car accident, every single time, in response, someone said not, "Well, we accept the fact that in exchange for having roads, we know there’s going to be some fatalities," but instead, every time, said, "We need more safety regulations for cars. We need to lower the speed limit even further."
I think the comparison is correct (and add that, at least for me, Clinton and Cruz are not honest).

In any case, "more security" means "more police state" and also will not deliver what it is presented as serving, for security for ordinary people almost always tends to happen after they have been killed or injured, and not before (for the simple - and valid - reason that there are too many ordinary people to secure: A more or less secured life is possible only for politicians and the very rich, that is, except for the checks at airports and such that everybody
is subjected to).

Here is some more Greenwald:

(...) I think, more than saying we need more intelligence and more surveillance and wage war on encryption and more bombing campaigns, we need to be asking whether there are things that we can be doing that reduce the incentive for people to want to kill us—and in the process, kill themselves—and especially the support infrastructure that they get because of the anti-American and anti-European sentiment that gets generated when we engage in all of this violence in the world.
I mostly agree. That is: More intelligence, more surveillance, less encryption, ad more bombing will not help (although these all give the secret services and the governments even more powers than they already have, which is quite un- democratic).

And I also think I know how to "
reduce the incentive for people to want to kill us": Stop killing them, stop droning them, stop making wars in their region. But - somehow... - I do not think the American government will listen to this.

There is also this by Greenwald on Trump and Cruz:

GLENN GREENWALD: (...) I do get a little bit disturbed by this widespread notion on the part of a lot of well-intentioned people that Donald Trump is somehow so far outside of what we regard as what had been previously acceptable within American political discourse. I mean, if you look at what Ted Cruz has actually been saying and what he’s been doing, you could certainly make the case—and I would be someone who agrees with this—that Ted Cruz is, in many respects, maybe most respects, more dangerous than Trump. I mean, Ted Cruz is this true evangelical believer who seems to be really eager to promote this extremist religious agenda.
Yes, I tend to agree. Then again: Both men are totally unfit to become the most powerful man on earth - and how to stop them is not yet clear, especially not if Clinton is going to be the Democrat's presidential candidate, for her chances against Trump or Cruz are considerably worse than Bernie Sanders' chances against the same.

There is more in the article, which is recommended.

3. Hedges: "We Bomb Them, They Bomb Us"

The third item is by Jessica Desvarieux on The Real News Network:
This starts as follows:
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. (...) Here to discuss with us the recent attacks in Brussels is our guest, Chris Hedges. He's a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and a regular columnist at Truthdig. He's also the former Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times.
This also was a good idea.
DESVARIEUX: So, Chris, this news certainly is dominating headlines right now. And many people are asking themselves, why Brussels?
HEDGES: Well, I think for many of the same reasons we saw the attacks in Paris. You have a large immigrant community that comes out of North Africa, in particular. They tend to be segregated within the society. There's a heavy degree of racism. High unemployment. There is a struggle for identity, because, for instance, they may have been born in Tunisia or wherever, come to Belgium or France at a young age, but because of the endemic European racism don't fit in, are not treated as equals. And yet when they go back, you know, they're looked upon as being French or Belgian.

Yes, I agree (and as a European). And there is also this, also by Hedges:
The second thing is we have to acknowledge that for the last 13 years in Iraq, 15 years in Afghanistan, we have been bombing these people night and day. We have created millions of refugees, over a million dead in Iraq. And they don't have an air force. So if you're bombing Raqqa, as we are continuously, which of course, you know, these 500,000-pound fragmentation bombs are hardly surgical weapons. They can take out, you know, several houses on a city block. So the collateral damage, as we call it, is quite high. So the only way that ISIS can strike back is, essentially, through these kinds of attacks.
Yes, indeed. Then there is this:
HEDGES: Well, they're dealing with the symptom, not the cause. The cause is the U.S. military occupation of the Middle East, and the brutality, and I would even call it state terror, let's include the terror of drones, has inflicted on huge swathes of the population. And this is a very potent recruiting tool in the hands of groups like ISIS. And the reason that they have expanded to the extent that they have. So violence, our violence, is what created these groups.
Again I agree. Here is Hedges on a relevant difference between Al-Qaeda and Isis:
The difference between al-Qaeda, and it's a big difference, and ISIS, is that al-Qaeda had very few foreign fighters, I mean, from outside the Middle East.
True. Finally there is (that I quote, and I add it is "Stasi" and "habeas corpus"):
HEDGES: Well, you know, we--even when I lived in France it was a police state. Yes, it becomes an excuse to strip us of, you know, what little kind of liberty we have left. We're all, whether we're Belgian or French or American or British, all under state surveillance that dwarfs anything ever dreamt of by the Stazi state in East Germany. And these kinds of terrorist attacks, you know, empower the state to take--you know, there's not much more left that they can take. But to take what's left, denial of habeus corpus, denial of due process.
I don't think I quite agree with Chris Hedges on this, but he may be correct: It is difficult to say what has been left of your rights, if those who take your rights are especially the secret services (and the parliamentary further seclusions of rights they bring about).

But for the moment (and until the TTIP is approved by European politicians) I think the situation in the USA as far as human rights and punishments are concerned is worse than in Europe.

This is a fine interview, and it is recommended.

4. How the World's Biggest Polluters are Two Trade Deals Away from Steamrolling Climate Protections

The fourth item today is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

When TransCanada announced at the start of the year that it that it was demanding compensation under North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rules for the Obama administration's decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, many observers saw it as a sign of things to come.

Indeed, critics of two pending trade deals—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—have already warned that other corporations could take similarly take advantage of the same mechanism to exert their power before private tribunals, demanding compensation for lost profits while supplanting democracy and trampling on workers' rights and environmental protections.

Yes, indeed - and I am one critic who says not only that the TTIP and the TTP (and the TiSA and the CETA) are extra-ordinarily bad for everyone who is not
a very rich (co-)owner of multi-national corporations, but is in fact an out and out attempt to refound fascism in the classical sense, which I find best defined by the American Heritage Dictionary (<- Wikipedia) - and I quote their latest definition:

Fascism a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government. 2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

Also, I think "we" already have most of that in the USA: centralized authority (though not yet a dictator: wait for Cruz or Trump); stringent socioeconomic
controls (by the Federal Express and the International Monetary Fund); suppresion of the opposition to censorship (e.g. of Bernie Sanders on the main
media); and belligerent nationalism (plus exceptionalism) are there, though indeed it may grow a lot worse (and will, with president Trump or president Cruz).

The reason that the TTIP (etc.) is fascistic is that is is a project of the lawyers for the multinational corporations, that is explicitly designed to take all powers
of national states, national governments, national parliaments and national judiciaries, and give these to the TTIPs "courts", where the lawyers of the multi-
national corporations will decide whether this or that or any other multi-national
did not get the profits they expected, and if not, will convict all the inhabi- tants of the nations whose powers they have completely destroyed, to pay the multi-national corporations hundreds of milions or several billions from their taxes to restore the full projected profitabilities of the multi-national corporations.

The "trials" will be mostly in secret; the TTIP is still mostly unknown (but what I say about it is correct and is known); no one else but multi-national corpora- tions may appear in these "courts" (no states, no politicians, no private persons, no trade unions); and there are no appeals possible to the decisions of these "courts".

You may not be inclined to call this "fascism", but if so, I consider it likely that
you know little about politics.

Then again, there is also this in the article:

Now, a new report from the Sierra Club reveals just how many fossil fuel corporations the two deals would embolden to use these tribunals, thereby undermining U.S. commitments made under Paris climate agreement and efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Entitled "Climate Roadblocks: Looming Trade Deals Threaten Efforts to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground," the new report explains that the TTIP and TPP "would more than double the number of fossil fuel corporations with the power to challenge U.S policies in unaccountable ISDS tribunals," bestowing them to "100 foreign fossil fuel corporations that own more than 1,000 U.S. subsidiaries—more than the total number of fossil fuel firms that have such rights under all 56 existing U.S trade and investment pacts combined," the report states.

And all of them eager to screw all the profits they can screw out of any population who does not do precisely what they want. You doubt this? You may, but here are the rules:

Described by Public Citizen as "Among the most dangerous but least known parts of today's 'trade' agreements," ISDS gives foreign corporations the right to "sue" the U.S. before a tribunal of three private lawyers for profits they say they would have earned had the climate protections not been in place.

The policies that the fossil fuel giants—who include "45 of the 50 private corporations historically responsible for the most climate-disrupting emissions"—could challenge through ISDS if the TPP and TTIP pass Congress include "restrictions on fracking, offshore drilling, federal fossil fuel leasing, and dirty pipelines.
In short, the TTIP allows any multi-national corporation to attack any national attempt to stop "fracking, offshore drilling, federal fossil fuel leasing, and dirty pipelines".

Also, the above only concerns the multi-national oil corporations. The rules are just the same for any multi-national corporation: Anything that threatens to lessen their projected profits, of any kind, for any thing, may be attacked by
a "court" of the ISDS, to which only multi-nationals are allowed.

Here is one consequence:

"These trade deals would empower some of the world's largest polluters—including those fracking on our public lands and drilling off our shores—to use unaccountable tribunals to defend a model of fossil fuel dependency that spells climate crisis," said Ben Beachy, author of the report and senior policy advisor for the Sierra Club's Responsible Trade Program
And the same for any business, any trade, any profits done or made by any multi-national corporation: With the TTIP in place, thanks to corrupted European politicians, only the rights of multi-national corporations will be served, and everything else that threatens to lessen profits will be destroyed.

5. The Best Reporting on Europe’s Terrorism Threat

The fifth today is by Adam Harris on ProPublica:
This starts as follows:
This week, terrorists bombed multiple locations in Brussels, claiming at least 31 lives and making Belgium the latest flashpoint in a wave of attacks across Europe. We've compiled some of the best reporting on the recent attacks in Brussels, why Belgium has become a prime location for terrorists, and how the threat in Europe has grown over the years.
And that is also all you will get, but then this is a recommended article that
lists a lot of articles in the press about the events in Brussels, and also had
the good sense to provide summaries.


6. Bernie Sanders | The Young Turks Interview (FULL)

The sixth and last item today is by The Young Turks. It is a video interview of over 33 minutes with Bernie Sanders:

This is a good and also a sympathetic interview that is very well worth watching.

--------------------------
P.S. Mar 26, 2015: I did not correct the first line, which produced a false date.
This has been corrected.
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