The hearts of political leaders in the United States and its imperialist allies are bleeding for imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Jailed on February 2 this year, after returning from Germany where he received treatment for an alleged poisoning by the Russian state, Navalny has since gone on hunger strike.
The outrage over Navalny’s imprisonment and resulting health crisis is an object lesson in imperialist cynicism and intrigue. Those most passionately invoking his democratic rights are the architects of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s continuing and vastly more severe persecution.
There is nothing remotely comparable between the two men, and the differences are not in Navalny’s favour.
Assange is a heroic journalist who played a leading role in the exposure of some of the worst imperialist crimes of the 21st century, from covered-up details of the brutal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan to US torture camps and extraordinary renditions.
Navalny is a right-wing, nationalist politician, who has referred to migrants from the Caucasus as “cockroaches” that should be killed. He represents a wing of the Russian oligarchy opposed to President Vladimir Putin and in favour of opening Russia up more widely to Western imperialism.
It is this difference which underpins their night and day treatment.
The WikiLeaks founder’s work was a spur to global antiwar sentiment and contributed to popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. He is being made an example of as retribution for the damage he inflicted to imperialist interests. The same interests mandate support for Navalny, who offers himself up as a tool for realising their designs on Russia.
The contrasting treatment tears apart claims by the likes of US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be supporting Navalny on human rights grounds while pursuing Assange on supposedly legal ones.
I'll stop there because I don't like dishonesty. There was a trial in the UK. C.I. covered it. Thomas Scripps would do well to stop f**king lying. If he's not lying he needs to educate himself.
I'm not in the mood for liars.
And when you lie about Julian -- even if you think you're helping him -- you hurt him because a lot of people know reality and they know you're lying and they start wondering what else you're lying about.
Julian is a political prisoner. He needs to be set free.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tuesday, April 20, 2021. A Joe Biden devotee/accolyte tries to rescue Joe from reality, Paul Wood tells a little truth about Brett McGurk (just a little -- as usual we are stuck doing the heavy lifting), Iraqis remember those killed for the 'crime' of protesting, and much more.
Never forget that is' always about oil or whatever else Iraq can be robbed of. This morning, REUTERS reports:
China's Sinopec has won a deal to develop Iraq's Mansuriya gas field near the Iranian border, the oil ministry said on Tuesday.
Last year Iraq cancelled a contract signed with a group led by Turkish Petroleum Corp (TPAO) to develop the field and invited international energy companies to compete to develop it.
Sinopec won the contract in a bidding round held at the oil ministry headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday, the oil ministry said in a statement
The original sin of the war in Iraq was going to war in Iraq. And the original sin of the war in Afghanistan was going to war in Iraq.
In September 2001, when Joe Biden was the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I was the policy adviser for the stretch of Asia that included Afghanistan. By 9 a.m. on 9/11, I felt certain that al-Qaeda (which was based in Afghanistan) was behind the attacks—but that we’d end up invading Iraq anyway.was a year and a half off. And that interim period was the only time the mission in Afghanistan ever stood a real chance. This week, President Biden announced that all United States forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. To understand his decision to get out, one has to understand the decision to get in—and how that choice was quickly undermined by the invasion of another country.
In 2001, even the most ardent war hawks didn’t want to invade Afghanistan: They wanted to invade Iraq. Neoconservatives, such as the Pentagon officials Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, had a grand vision of remaking the country in America’s image. Paleoconservatives, such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, wanted to oust Saddam Hussein, install a pliable puppet, and thereby deter any other would-be adversaries. Both camps saw Afghanistan as an unwelcome distraction from the main event, but they applied the same rationales there.
Jonah offers a very kind assessment of Joe Biden. Not very real, but kind. What he has Joe avoiding -- nation building, for example -- and wants you to know isn't in Joe's character? It's exactly what Joe advocated in Iraq. On Iraq, for example, Michael R. Gordon (NEW YORK TIMES) observed in August of 2008:
Dismantling one system to impose another -- especially when the people in said country are not asking to be put into three semi-autonomous regions -- upon them? That is nation building.
Maybe Jonah's confused about Joe because when Joe talks about things like Iraq, for example, Joe tends to praise neoconservatives -- they're bright, they're this, they're that -- while trashing the American people as uninformed? Check out this speech he gave to the Brookings Institution in 2003.
In other news, Martiza Abdel Tweets:
The attacks on peaceful protesters happened during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of worship and fasting. This year, it started April 12th and ends May 12th. And at the holy time of Ramadan, many Iraqis are reflecting on the Iraqi protesters. For example, Mohamed Ali Tweets:
In other news, Amnesty's Donatella Rivera Tweets:
She's referring to Paul Wood's article for NEW LINES about US failure Brett McGurk:
In 2006, al-Maliki -- Abu Isra to those who knew him -- was an obscure member of the Iraqi Parliament begging for Green Zone passes from American officials. He was not obviously corrupt and was ready to put in 16-hour days, and so the U.S. backed him to become prime minister. But al-Maliki turned out to be a hard-faced Shiite nationalist: “sectarian, intolerant, ideologically Islamist and a paranoid politician,” in the words of one Western official who dealt with him. “If you’re working 16 hours a day, that’s not a virtue in the Middle East. It means you’re working to conspire against everybody else 16 hours a day.”
Abu Isra set about excluding Sunni opponents from power and turning the security forces into his own praetorian guard. Iraq became, once again, a place of secret prisons and torture. McGurk’s critics say his lack of Arabic meant he missed the vicious, sectarian undertones of what al-Maliki was saying in meetings right from the start. Translators censored or failed to keep up. Like many Americans in Iraq, McGurk was deaf to what was happening around him.
Al-Maliki was the consequence of two mistakes by the U.S. How much McGurk had to do with them remains in dispute. The first mistake was the “80 Percent Solution” for ruling Iraq. The Sunni Arabs were mounting a bloody insurgency, but they were just 20% of the population. The theory was that you could run Iraq with the Kurds and the Shiites. The second error was to identify the Shiites with hardline, religious parties backed by Iran. Al-Maliki, a member of the religious Da’wa Party, was the beneficiary of this.
The U.S. diplomat who was in Baghdad with McGurk remembers him asking a junior member of staff to type out a cable to Washington. “He decides to write the strategy for Iraq moving forward. This is after he talks to like three people in the government who speak English. And it’s completely off base, it’s hogwash: Make al-Maliki a dictator and, you know, Iraq in the rearview mirror.”
McGurk was “the Maliki whisperer,” as newspaper profiles put it — but as events turned out, it wasn’t clear who was “whispering” to whom. The former senior Western diplomat in Baghdad said there was ample evidence that al-Maliki was “poison,” but the U.S. believed that a “Shia tough guy” was needed to run Iraq. “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch. This narrative pervaded the Washington debate, and McGurk was at the heart of it. … McGurk convinced everybody. You will find huge numbers of Iraqis who had anything to do with Americans hate McGurk.”
But al-Maliki was not America’s son of a bitch. Two sources told me his aides dismissed McGurk as a “useful idiot.” They joked that he was not America’s man in Baghdad but Da’wa’s in Washington. These same aides later allegedly called the U.S. military commander, Lloyd Austin, now Biden’s defense secretary, a “coward” for his (supposedly) obsequious attitude toward Abu Isra. Such extraordinary insults stemmed from the confidence al-Maliki had in the unwavering support of the White House. Crocker, the former U.S. envoy to Iraq, told me that in 2008, he and McGurk tried to get President George W. Bush to drop al-Maliki but were told in no uncertain terms to think again. Under President Barack Obama, too, the policy was the same: “There is no alternative to Maliki.”
The U.S. even came together with Iran to save Abu Isra when he lost the 2010 election to a secular Shiite, Ayad Allawi. Allawi should have had the first chance to form a coalition but — after the votes had been counted — al-Maliki got the Iraqi supreme court to change the rules and horse trading began. Essentially, al-Maliki was being allowed to steal the election. Years later, McGurk told The Atlantic that he and other American officials had worked to find alternatives to al-Maliki but that “Maliki worked his ass off from day one and just collected seat after seat.”
Once again, there was “no alternative” to al-Maliki. One former senior U.S. official who worked with McGurk said: “Like every American operates overseas, you form relationships, and you get captured by those relationships. Al-Maliki was his guy. So he stayed with al-Maliki even when it was clear that al-Maliki was a serious human rights abuser who was ruthless and dangerous to the further development of his own country. Everybody in foreign policy makes these mistakes. Everybody. You wind up picking the people you’ve met, getting comfortable with them and then being stuck with whatever they’re doing on their own. You don’t know until it’s too late, and then you have to figure out how to manage it.”
Another former senior official who knows McGurk was less forgiving. He thought his influence over the Obama administration’s Iraq policy had helped to give al-Maliki another four years in power. “Those years were disastrous” — Iraq started to return to civil war; al Qaeda in Iraq reemerged and began to evolve into the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
At several moments in al-Maliki’s premiership, Iraq’s government would probably have collapsed — the country itself might have ceased to exist — without the U.S. presence in Iraq. The U.S. had all the power, but somehow they were the supplicants at Abu Isra’s court. In 2011, the issue was once again whether U.S. troops would stay. And once again, the U.S. was begging the Iraqis to grant permission for something that was supposedly happening at their request.
A participant in the talks told me: “McGurk had persuaded himself that he and Maliki had a unique relationship and that they could work something out. This was complete and utter … folly.”
Al-Maliki did do a deal — with Iran. He would get the U.S. out, and Iran would support him as the leader of Iraq’s Shiites. Al-Maliki’s government duly told U.S. forces to leave. Obama declared that he had fulfilled a campaign promise (already a foregone conclusion by the time he came into office) to bring the troops home, their job done. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” In truth, it was a defeat for the U.S.
And we'll stop there because (a) it's a long enough excerpt and (b) Paul doesn't know what the hell he's writing about in the paragraph after our excerpt. I say the second part as the first person to ever write about the scandal Paul notes -- and gets wrong -- Brett's extra-marital affair with Gina Chon. Two days before THE ATLANTIC article -- bad article -- that Paul links to, one day before the DC paper. We covered it and we covered it best. All this time later, Paul can't grasp the issues. Late to the dinner party and he didn't even bring a hostess gift, such poor manners.
Gina Chon was a reporter for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Apparently, we have to go over all of this and we have to because other people won't do their damn jobs -- the jobs they're paid to do. Me? I have had a nasty cold since Friday. Because my doctor insisted, I just got back from taking a COVID test. I'm sure it will come back negative but that was my morning. And all I want to do is go to sleep. But because Paul can't do the job he's paid to do, I have to do it.
Brett McGurk was an employee of the US government. He was married. Gina Chon was an employee of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. She was married. She gave him "blue balls" as he told her in that 'sweet' and 'romantic' e-mail. Gina apparently had little experience with men and found that e-mail 'hot' and she began an affair with him.
If that's all that happened, that would have been bad enough.
A US employee was in Iraq and despite the cultural difference he began an affair with a woman -- a woman of color -- important when the country isn't, for example, the UK. He instantly becomes "American infidel" in Iraq on social media when the affair is finally discovered. He is the married, White American who came to Iraq and violated social customs.
It does matter when the US has put religious fanatics in charge of Iraq.
And let's also not forget that 'honor' killings are not uncommon in Iraq.
That's what killed the nomination for Brett and I documented it here in real time. The only thing I left out -- and I noted this in real time -- was the Democratic Party member who was then a US senator and went to Barack Obama to tell him that Brett would never get Senate approval to be US Ambassador to Iraq because that would put a target on the backs of any Iraqi women who worked at the embassy or needed to visit the embassy.
They would, as the senator explained to Barack, be seen by religious zealots in Iraq as ''consorting' with the infidel who had a reputation for seducing non-White women in Iraq.
I reported that as it happened and the only thing I omitted was the senator's name. I would happily -- to this day -- give the senator credit. I had spent many years calling this senator out. (After many years praising.) When the senator, who I have known for years, decided not to run for re-election, I asked, one more time, "Do you want me to credit you?" No.
So I have left the senator unnamed and unless they pass away before this site ends, I never will credit them.
But that is what happened. And Brett could never be ambassador for that reason.
Now Paul is a journalist so there's another part he needs to cover.
If Brett's scandal had happened under Bully Boy Bush -- Wait. It did happen under him. It didn't get exposed though until Barack was president and was nominating Brett for US Ambassador to Iraq. If Barack had not bneen involved, the cowards and hypocrites at FAIR would have led on this issue. They would have told you that it was unethical for Gina Chon, a reporter in Baghdad, to have an affair with a US government employee. That alone was unethical.
What made it worse is Gina let him vet her copy. Before she submitted it to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, she let him vet it and she changed it as he instructed.
Gina did not 'leave' THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. The paper fired her. I noted that in real time too. I was told it was going to happen hours before hand and, as I covered here, I was given an audio recording of the meeting in which she was fired. She raged, she screamed. Didn't matter, she had broken journalistic ethics and she got her ass fired.
Paul doesn't cover that and in terms of the ambassadorship that was never to be, he doesn't get it. He's rather piggish (thinking that Brett -- any man -- can do whatever they want with no consequences) or just rather xenophobic (not caring that threat of the lives of Iraqi women that would be in place if Brett had become ambassador).
It's not a minor issue. We are yet again having to cover it because those who should do the job refuse to do so.
Let me wind this down by noting that CJR refused to cover it -- the supposed watchdog of journalism. They ignored it over and over. Then they wanted to go to town with some reporter who slept with a fire fighter (I believe that's what it was) when she was on the city beat and how could she!!!! When they posted that ridiculous item, our own Martha (who, with Shirley, does our book review at the end of each year) left a blistering comment at CJR calling them out for their rank hypocrisy and for that reaosn -- and only that reason -- they finally wrote a sentence or two about Gina and Brett and the lapse of journalistic ethics.
After this posts, I'm going to bed. Whenever I wake up -- this afternoon, tonight, early in the morning -- I will post some of the stuff sent to the public account.
The following sites updated: