“The True Story of the Bilderberg Group” and What They May Be Planning Now: A Review of Daniel Estulin’s Book | Global Research

500px-Bilderberg_-_OosterbeekJohnny Liberty, Editor’s Note: The Bilderberg Group met this year on March 3rd, 2020.

By Stephen Lendman

The Bilderberg Group will be meeting behind closed doors at the Hotel Montreux Palace, Montreux from the 30th of May to the 2nd of June, 2019.

Henry Kissinger, Jared Kushner, Jens Stoltenberg, Mark Carney (Governor of the Bank of England) among others will be attending. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also be present.
The list of guests and personalities can be consulted on the Bildberg website. The names of many of the prominent personalities including Pompeo are not on the list.

The yearly Bilderberg talk-fest, which dates back to 1954, features a guest list of around 130 people from Europe and North America including everyone from royals to business tycoons and academics. … According to the official Bilderberg website, discussions are held under the Chatham House Rule, which means participants can use any information they receive during the meeting but cannot reveal its source. (Thelocal.ch)

The topics announced by the organizers for the 2019 Bilderberg meeting are:

1. A Stable Strategic Order
2. What Next for Europe?
3. Climate Change and Sustainability
4. China
5. Russia
6. The Future of Capitalism
7. Brexit
8. The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
9. The Weaponisation of Social Media
10. The Importance of Space
11. Cyber Threats

***

The following review article by Stephen Lendman was originally published on Global Research in June 2009.

***

Daniel Estulin has investigated and researched the Bilderberg Group’s far-reaching influence on business and finance, global politics, war and peace, and control of the world’s resources and its money.

His book, “The True Story of the Bilderberg Group,” was published in 2005 and is now updated in a new 2009 edition. He states that in 1954, “the most powerful men in the world met for the first time” in Oosterbeek, Netherlands, “debated the future of the world,” and decided to meet annually in secret. They called themselves the Bilderberg Group with a membership representing a who’s who of world power elites, mostly from America, Canada, and Western Europe with familiar names like David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Lloyd Blankfein, George Soros, Donald Rumsfeld, Rupert Murdoch, other heads of state, influential senators, congressmen and parliamentarians, Pentagon and NATO brass, members of European royalty, selected media figures, and invited others – some quietly by some accounts like Barack Obama and many of his top officials.

Always well represented are top figures from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), IMF, World Bank, Trilateral Commission, EU, and powerful central bankers from the Federal Reserve, the ECB’s Jean-Claude Trichet, and Bank of England’s Mervyn King.

For over half a century, no agenda or discussion topics became public nor is any press coverage allowed. The few invited fourth estate attendees and their bosses are sworn to secrecy. Nonetheless, Estulin undertook “an investigative journey” that became his life’s work. He states:

“Slowly, one by one, I have penetrated the layers of secrecy surrounding the Bilderberg Group, but I could not have done this withot help of ‘conscientious objectors’ from inside, as well as outside, the Group’s membership.” As a result, he keeps their names confidential.

Whatever its early mission, the Group is now “a shadow world government….threaten(ing) to take away our right to direct our own destinies (by creating) a disturbing reality” very much harming the public’s welfare. In short, Bilderbergers want to supplant individual nation-state sovereignty with an all-powerful global government, corporate controlled, and check-mated by militarized enforcement.

“Imagine a private club where presidents, prime ministers, international bankers and generals rub shoulders, where gracious royal chaperones ensure everyone gets along, and where the people running the wars, markets, and Europe (and America) say what they never dare say in public.”

Early in its history, Bilderbergers decided “to create an ‘Aristocracy of purpose’ between Europe and the United States (to reach consensus to rule the world on matters of) policy, economics, and (overall) strategy.” NATO was essential for their plans – to ensure “perpetual war (and) nuclear blackmail” to be used as necessary. Then proceed to loot the planet, achieve fabulous wealth and power, and crush all challengers to keep it.

Along with military dominance, controlling the world’s money is crucial for with it comes absolute control as the powerful 19th century Rothschild family understood. As the patriarch Amschel Rothschild once said: “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.”

Bilderbergers comprise the world’s most exclusive club. No one buys their way in. Only the Group’s Steering Committee decides whom to invite, and in all cases participants are adherents to One World Order governance run by top power elites.

According to Steering Committee rules:

“the invited guests must come alone; no wives, girlfriends, husbands or boyfriends. Personal assistants (meaning security, bodyguards, CIA or other secret service protectors) cannot attend the conference and must eat in a separate hall. (Also) The guests are explicitly forbidden from giving interviews to journalists” or divulge anything that goes on in meetings.

Host governments provide overall security to keep away outsiders. One-third of attendees are political figures. The others are from industry, finance, academia, labor and communications.

Meeting procedure is by Chatham House Rules letting attendees freely express their views in a relaxed atmosphere knowing nothing said will be quoted or revealed to the public. Meetings “are always frank, but do not always conclude with consensus.”

Membership consists of annual attendees (around 80 of the world’s most powerful) and others only invited occasionally because of their knowledge or involvement in relevant topics. Those most valued are asked back, and some first-timers are chosen for their possible later usefulness.

Arkansas governor Bill Clinton, for example, who attended in 1991. “There, David Rockefeller told (him) why the North American Free Trade Agreement….was a Bilderberg priority and that the group needed him to support it. The next year, Clinton was elected president,” and on January 1, 1994 NAFTA took effect. Numerous other examples are similar, including who gets chosen for powerful government, military and other key positions.

Bilderberg Objectives

The Group’s grand design is for “a One World Government (World Company) with a single, global marketplace, policed by one world army, and financially regulated by one ‘World (Central) Bank’ using one global currency.” Their “wish list” includes:

— “one international identify (observing) one set of universal values;”

— centralized control of world populations by “mind control;” in other words, controlling world public opinion;

— a New World Order with no middle class, only “rulers and servants (serfs),” and, of course, no democracy;

— “a zero-growth society” without prosperity or progress, only greater wealth and power for the rulers;

— manufactured crises and perpetual wars;

— absolute control of education to program the public mind and train those chosen for various roles;

— “centralized control of all foreign and domestic policies;” one size fits all globally;

— using the UN as a de facto world government imposing a UN tax on “world citizens;”

— expanding NAFTA and WTO globally;

— making NATO a world military;

— imposing a universal legal system; and

— a global “welfare state where obedient slaves will be rewarded and non-conformists targeted for extermination.”

Secret Bilderberg Partners

In the US, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is dominant. One of its 1921 founders, Edward Mandell House, was Woodrow Wilson’s chief advisor and rumored at the time to be the nation’s real power from 1913 – 1921. On his watch, the Federal Reserve Act passed in December 1913 giving money creation power to bankers, and the 16th Amendment was ratified in February creating the federal income tax to provide a revenue stream to pay for government debt service.

From its beginnings, CFR was committed to “a one-world government based on a centralized global financing system….” Today, CFR has thousands of influential members (including important ones in the corporate media) but keeps a low public profile, especially regarding its real agenda.

Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called it a “front organization (for) the heart of the American Establishment.” It meets privately and only publishes what it wishes the public to know. Its members are only Americans.

The Trilateral Commission (discussed below) is a similar group that “brings together global power brokers.” Founded by David Rockefeller, he’s also a leading Bilderberger and CFR Chairman Emeritus, organizations he continues to finance and support.

Their past and current members reflect their power:

— nearly all presidential candidates of both parties;

— leading senators and congressmen;

— key members of the fourth estate and their bosses; and

— top officials of the FBI, CIA, NSA, defense establishment, and other leading government agencies, including state, commerce, the judiciary and treasury.

For its part, “CFR has served as a virtual employment agency for the federal government under both Democrats and Republicans.” Whoever occupies the White House, “CFR’s power and agenda” have been unchanged since its 1921 founding.

It advocates a global superstate with America and other nations sacrificing their sovereignty to a central power. CFR founder Paul Warburg was a member of Roosevelt’s “brain trust.” In 1950, his son, James, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “We shall have world government whether or not you like it – by conquest or consent.”

Later at the 1992 Bilderberg Group meeting, Henry Kissinger said:

“Today, Americans would be outraged if UN troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow, they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all people of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil….individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by their world government.”

CFR planned a New World Order before 1942, and the “UN began with a group of CFR members called the Informal Agenda Group.” They drafted the original UN proposal, presented it to Franklin Roosevelt who announced it publicly the next day. At its 1945 founding, CFR members comprised over 40 of the US delegates.

According to Professor G. William Domhoff, author of Who Rules America, the CFR operates in “small groups of about twenty-five, who bring together leaders from the six conspirator categories (industrialists, financiers, ideologues, military, professional specialists – lawyers, medical doctors, etc. – and organized labor) for detailed discussions of specific topics in the area of foreign affairs.” Domhoff added:

“The Council on Foreign Relations, while not financed by government, works so closely with it that it is difficult to distinguish Council action stimulated by government from autonomous actions. (Its) most important sources of income are leading corporations and major foundations.” The Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations to name three, and they’re directed by key corporate officials.

Dominant Media Partners

Former CBS News president Richard Salant (1961 – 64 and 1966 – 79) explained the major media’s role: “Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have.”

CBS and other media giants control everything we see, hear and read – through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, films, and large portions of the Internet. Their top officials and some journalists attend Bilderberg meetings – on condition they report nothing.

The Rockefeller family wields enormous power, even though its reigning patriarch, David, will be 94 on June 12 and surely near the end of his dominance. However, for years “the Rockefellers (led by David) gained great influence over the media. (With it) the family gained sway over public opinion. With the pulse of public opinion, they gained deep influence in politics. And with this politics of subtle corruption, they are taking control of the nation” and now aim for total world domination.

The Bilderberger-Rockefeller scheme is to make their views “so appealing (by camouflaging them) that they become public policy (and can) pressure world leaders into submitting to the ‘needs of the Masters of the Universe.’ ” The “free world press” is their instrument to disseminate “agreed-upon propaganda.”

CFR Cabinet Control

“The National Security Act of 1947 established the office of Secretary of Defense.” Since then, 14 DOD secretaries have been CFR members.

Since 1940, every Secretary of State, except James Byrnes, has been a CFR member and/or Trilateral Commission (TC) one.

For the past 80 years, “Virtually every key US National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor has been a CFR member.

Nearly all top generals and admirals have been CFR members.

Many presidential candidates were/are CFR members, including Herbert Hoover, Adlai Stevenson, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter (also a charter TC member), George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and John McCain.

Numerous CIA directors were/are CFR members, including Richard Helmes, James Schlesinger, William Casey, William Webster, Robert Gates, James Woolsey, John Deutsch, George Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, and Leon Panetta.

Many Treasury Secretaries were/are CFR members, including Douglas Dillon, George Schultz, William Simon, James Baker, Nicholas Brady, Lloyd Bentsen, Robert Rubin, Henry Paulson, and Tim Geithner.

When presidents nominate Supreme Court candidates, the CFR’s “Special Group, Secret Team” or advisors vet them for acceptability. Presidents, in fact, are told who to appoint, including designees to the High Court and most lower ones.

Programming the Public Mind

According to sociologist Hadley Cantril in his 1967 book, The Human Dimension – Experiences in Policy Research:

Government “Psycho-political operations are propaganda campaigns designed to create perpetual tension and to manipulate different groups of people to accept the particular climate of opinion the CFR seeks to achieve in the world.”

Canadian writer Ken Adachi (1929 – 1989) added:

“What most Americans believe to be ‘Public Opinion’ is in reality carefully crafted and scripted propaganda designed to elicit a desired behavioral response from the public.”

And noted Australian academic and activist Alex Carey (1922 – 1988) explained the three most important 20th century developments – “The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”

Web of Control

Numerous think tanks, foundations, the major media, and other key organizations are staffed with CFR members. Most of its life-members also belong to the TC and Bilderberg Group, operate secretly, and wield enormous power over US and world affairs.

The Rockefeller-Founded Trilateral Commission (TC)

On page 405 of his Memoirs, David Rockfeller wrote:

“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

In alliance with Bilderbergers, the TC also “plays a vital role in the New World Order’s scheme to use wealth, concentrated in the hands of the few, to exert world control.” TC members share common views and all relate to total unchallengeable global dominance.

Founded in 1973 and headquartered in Washington, its powerful US, EU and East Asian members seek its operative founding goal – a “New International Economic Order,” now simply a “New World Order” run by global elites from these three parts of the world with lesser members admitted from other countries.

According to TC’s web site, “each regional group has a chairman and deputy chairman, who all together constitute the leadership of the Committee. The Executive Committee draws together a further 36 individuals from the wider membership,” proportionately representing the US, EU, and East Asia in its early years, now enlarged to be broadly global.

Committee members meet several times annually to discuss and coordinate their work. The Executive Committee chooses members, and at any time around 350 belong for a three-year renewable period. Everyone is a consummate insider with expertise in business, finance, politics, the military, or the media, including past presidents, secretaries of state, international bankers, think tank and foundation executives, university presidents and selected academics, and former senators and congressmen, among others.

Although its annual reports are available for purchase, its inner workings, current goals, and operations are secret – with good reason. Its objectives harm the public so mustn’t be revealed. Trilaterals over Washington author Antony Sutton wrote:

“this group of private citizens is precisely organized in a manner that ensures its collective views have significant impact on public policy.”

In her book, Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management, Holly Sklar wrote:

Powerful figures in America, Europe, and East Asia let “the rich….safeguard the interests of Western capitalism in an explosive world – probably by discouraging protectionism, nationalism, or any response that would pit the elites of one against the elites of another,” in their common quest for global dominance.

Trilateralist Zbigniew Brzezinski (TC’s co-founder) wrote in his Between Two Ages – America’s Role in the Technotronic Era:

“people, governments and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations. (The Constitution is) inadequate….the old framework of international politics, with their sphere of influence….the fiction of sovereignty….is clearly no longer compatible with reality….”

TC today is now global with members from countries as diverse as Argentina, Ukraine, Israel, Jordan, Brazil, Turkey, China and Russia. In his Trilaterals Over America, Antony Sutton believes that TC’s aim is to collaborate with Bilderbergers and CFR in “establishing public policy objectives to be implemented by governments worldwide.” He added that “Trilateralists have rejected the US Constitution and the democratic political process.” In fact, TC was established to counter a “crisis in democracy” – too much of it that had to be contained.

An official TC report was fearful about “the increased popular participation in and control over established social, political, and economic institutions and especially a reaction against the concentration of power of Congress and of state and local government.”

To address this, media control was essential to exert “restraint on what newspapers may publish (and TV and radio broadcast).” Then according to Richard Gardner in the July 1974 issue of Foreign Affairs (a CFR publication):

CFR’s leadership must make “an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece,” until the very notion disappears from public discourse.

Bilderberg/CFR/Trilateralist success depends on finding “a way to get us to surrender our liberties in the name of some common threat or crisis. The foundations, educational institutions, and research think tanks supported by (these organizations) oblige by financing so-called ‘studies’ which are then used to justify their every excess. The excuses vary, but the target is always individual liberty. Our liberty” and much more.

Bilderbergers, Trilateralists and CFR members want “an all-encompassing monopoly” – over government, money, industry, and property that’s “self-perpetuating and eternal.” In Confessions of a Monopolist (1906), Frederick C. Howe explained its workings in practice:

“The rules of big business: Get a monopoly; let Society work for you. So long as we see all international revolutionaries and all international capitalists as implacable enemies of one another, then we miss a crucial point….a partnership between international monopoly capitalism and international revolutionary socialism is for their mutual benefit.”

In the Rockefeller File, Gary Allen wrote:

“By the late nineteenth century, the inner sanctums of Wall Street understood that the most efficient way to gain a monopoly was to say it was for the ‘public good’ and ‘public interest.’ “

David Rockefeller learned the same thing from his father, John D., Jr. who learned it from his father, John D. Sr. They hated competition and relentlessly strove to eliminate it – for David on a global scale through a New World Order.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Trilateralists and CFR members collaborated on the latter’s “1980 Project,” the largest ever CFR initiative to steer world events “toward a particular desirable future outcome (involving) the utter disintegration of the economy.” Why so is the question?

Because by the 1950s and 1960s, worldwide industrial growth meant more competition. It was also a model to be followed, and “had to be strangled in the cradle” or at least greatly contained. In America as well beginning in the 1980s. The result has been a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, shrinkage of the middle class, and plan for its eventual demise.

The North American Union (NAU)

The idea emerged during the Reagan administration in the early 1980s. David Rockefeller, George Schultz and Paul Volker told the president that Canada and America could be politically and economically merged over the next 15 years except for one problem – French-speaking Quebec. Their solution – elect a Bilderberg-friendly prime minister, separate Quebec from the other provinces, then make Canada America’s 51st state. It almost worked, but not quite when a 1995 secession referendum was defeated – 50.56% to 49.44%, but not the idea of merger.

At a March 23, 2005 Waco, Texas meeting, attended by George Bush, Mexico’s Vincente Fox, and Canada’s Paul Martin, the Security and and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) was launched, also known as the North American Union (NAU). It was a secretive Independent Task Force of North America agreement – a group organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, and CFR with the following aims:

— circumventing the legislatures of three countries and their constitutions;

— suppressing public knowledge or consideration; and

— proposing greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social, and security integration with secretive working groups formed to devise non-debatable, not voted on agreements to be binding and unchangeable.

In short – a corporate coup d’etat against the sovereignty of three nations enforced by hard line militarization to suppress opposition.

If enacted, it will create a borderless North America, corporate controlled, without barriers to trade or capital flows for business giants, mainly US ones and much more – America’s access to vital resources, especially oil and Canada’s fresh water.

Secretly, over 300 SPP initiatives were crafted to harmonize the continent’s policies on energy, food, drugs, security, immigration, manufacturing, the environment, and public health along with militarizing three nations for enforcement.

SPP represents another step toward the Bilderberg/Trilateralist/CFR goal for World Government, taking it one step at a time. A “United Europe” was another, the result of various treaties and economic agreements:

— the December 1951 six-nation European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC);

— the March 1957 six-nation Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC);

also the European Atomic Energy Commission (EAEC) by a second Treaty of Rome;

— the October 1957 European Court of Justice to settle regional trade disputes;

— the May 1960 seven-nation European Free Trade Association (EFTA);

— the July 1967 European Economic Community (EEC) merging the ECSC, EAEC and EEC together in one organization;

— the 1968 European Customs Union to abolish duties and establish uniform imports taxing among EEC nations;

— the 1978 European Currency Unit (ECU);

— the February 1986 Single European Act revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome; it established the objective of forming a Common Market by December 31, 1992;

— the February 1992 Maastricht Treaty creating the EU on November 1, 1993; and

— the name euro was adopted in December 1995; it was introduced in January 1999 replacing the European Currency Unit (ECU); euros began circulating on January 2002; they’re now the official currency of 16 of the 27 EU states.

Over half a century, the above steps cost EU members their sovereignty “as some 70 to 80 per cent of the laws passed in Europe involve just rubber stamping of regulations already written by nameless bureaucrats in ‘working groups’ in Brussels or Luxembourg.”

The EU and NAU share common features:

— advocacy from a influential spokesperson;

— an economic and later political union;

— hard line security, and for Europe, ending wars on the continent between EU member states;

— establishment of a collective consciousness in place of nationalism;

— the blurring of borders and creation of a “supra-government,” a superstate;

— secretive arrangements to mask real objectives; and

— the creation of a common currency and eventual global one.

Steps Toward a North American Union

— the October 4, 1988 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the US and Canada, finalized the previous year;

— at the 1991 Bilderberg meeting, David Rockefeller got governor Bill Clinton’s support for NAFTA if he became president;

— on January 1, 1994, with no debate under “fast-track” rules, Congress approved WTO legislation;

— in December 1994 at the first Summit of the Americas, 34 Hemispheric leaders committed their nations to a Free Trade of the Americas agreement (FTAA) by 2005 – so far unachieved;

— on July 4, 2000, Mexican president Vincente Fox called for a North American common market in 20 years;

— on February 2001, the White House published a joint statement from George Bush and Vincente Fox called the “Guanajuato Proposal;” it was for a US-Canada-Mexico prosperity partnership (aka North American Union);

— in September 2001, Bush and Fox agreed to a “Partnership for Prosperity Initiative;”

— the September 11, 2001 attack gave cover to including “security” as part of a future partnership;

— on October 7, 2001, a CFA meeting highlighted “The Future of North American Integration in the Wake of Terrorist Attacks; for the first time, “security” became part of a future “partnership for prosperity;” also, Canada was to be included in a “North American” agreement;

— in 2002, the North American Forum on Integration (NAFI) was established in Montreal “to address the issues raised by North American integration as well as identify new ideas and strategies to reinforce the North American region;”

— in January 2003, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE – composed of 150 top CEOs) launched the “North American Security and Prosperity Initiative” calling for continental integration;

— in April 2004, Canadian prime minister Paul Martin announced the nation’s first ever national security policy called Securing an Open Society;

— on October 15, 2004, CFR established an Independent Task Force on the Future of North America – for a future continental union;

— in March 2005, a CFR report titled Creating a North American Community called for continental integration by 2010 “to enhance, prosperity, and opportunity for all North Americans;” and

— on March 23, 2005 in Waco, Texas, America, Canada and Mexico leaders launched the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) – aka North American Union (NAU).

Secretive negotiations continue. Legislative debate is excluded, and public inclusion and debate are off the table. In May 2005, the CFR Independent Task Force on the Future of North America published a follow-up report titled Building a North American Community – proposing a borderless three-nation union by 2010.

In June and July 2005, the Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) passed the Senate and House establishing corporate-approved trade rules to further impoverish the region and move a step closer to continental integration.

In March 2006, the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) was created at the second SPP summit in Cancun, Mexico. Composed of 30 top North American CEOs, it serves as an official trilateral SPP working group.

Secret business and government meetings continue so there’s no way to confirm SPP’s current status or if Barack Obama is seamlessly continuing George Bush’s agenda. In an earlier article, this writer said:

SPP efforts paused during the Bush to Obama transition, but “deep integration” plans remain. Canada’s Fraser Institute proposed renaming the initiative the North American Standards and Regulatory Area (NASRA) to disguise its real purpose. It said the “SPP brand” is tarnished so re-branding is essential – to fool the public until it’s too late to matter.

Bilderbergers, Trilaterists, and CFR leaders back it as another step toward global integration and won’t “stop until the entire world is unified under the auspices and the political umbrella of a One World Company, a nightmarish borderless world run by the world’s most powerful clique” – comprised of key elitist members of these dominant organizations.

In April 2007, the Transatlantic Economic Council was established between America and the EU to:

— create an “official international governmental body – by executive fiat;

— harmonize economic and regulatory objectives;

— move toward a Transatlantic Common Market; and

— a step closer to One World Government run by the world’s most powerful corporate interests.

Insights into the 2009 Bilderberg Group Meeting

From May 14 – 17, Bilderbergers held their annual meeting in Vouliagmeni, Greece, and according to Daniel Estulin have dire plans for global economies.

According to his pre-meeting sources, they’re divided on two alternatives:

“Either a prolonged, agonizing depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline and poverty (or) an intense but shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency.”

Other agenda items included:

— “the future of the US dollar and US economy;”

— continued deception about green shoots signaling an end to recession and improving economy later in the year;

— suppressing the fact that bank stress tests were a sham and were designed for deception, not an accurate assessment of major banks’ health;

— projecting headlined US unemployment to hit 14% by year end – way above current forecasts and meaning the true number will be double, at minimum, with all uncounted categories included; and

— a final push to get the Lisbon Treaty passed for pan-European (EU) adoption of neoliberal rules, including greater privatizations, fewer worker rights and social benefits, open border trade favoring developed over emerging states, and greater militarization to suppress civil liberties and human rights.

After the meeting, Estulin got a 73-page report on what was discussed. He noted that “One of Bilderberg’s primary concerns….is the danger that their zeal to reshape the world by engineering chaos (toward) their long term agenda could cause the situation to spiral out of control and eventually lead to a scenario where Bilderberg and the global elite in general are overwhelmed by events and end up losing their control over the planet.”

Estulin also noted some considerable disagreement between “hardliners” wanting a “dramatic decline and a severe, short-term depression (versus others) who think that things have gone too far” so that “the fallout from the global economic cataclysm” can’t be known, may be greater than anticipated, and may harm Bilderberger interests. Also, “some European bankers (expressed great alarm over their own fate and called the current) high wire act ‘unsustainable.’ ”

There was a combination of agreement and fear that the situation remains dire and the worst of the crisis lies ahead, mainly because of America’s extreme debt level that must be resolved to produce a healthy, sustainable recovery.

Topics also included:

— establishing a Global Treasury Department and Global Central Bank, possibly partnered with or as part of the IMF;

— a global currency;

— destruction of the dollar through what longtime market analyst Bob Chapman calls “a stealth default on (US) debt by continuing to issue massive amounts of money and credit and in the process devaluing the dollar,” a process he calls “fraud;”

— a global legal system;

— exploiting the Swine Flu scare to create a WHO global department of health; and

— the overall goal of a global government and the end of national sovereignty.

In the past, Estulin’s sources proved accurate. Earlier, he predicted the housing crash and 2007 – 2008 financial market decline, preceded by the kind of financial crisis triggered by the Lehman Brothers collapse. Watch for further updates from him as new information leaks out on what the world’s power elites have planned going forward.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre of Research for Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday – Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

The Chinese Navy Is Building An Incredible Number Of Warships | Forbes

960x0By H I Sutton

The single image below of a Shanghai shipyard shows nine recently constructed Chinese warships. For context, the current schedule sees the U.S. Navy launching a handful of AEGIS destroyers each year. China’s Navy, known as the PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy), is modernizing at an impressive rate. And on a vast scale. A key ingredient is the construction of a fleet of large destroyers, amphibious warships and aircraft carriers. The below photo, snapped from an airplane window on December 13, and shared on social media, captures the vast scale of this construction.

Nearest the camera, a line of four newly constructed destroyers catch the sunlight. Two are Type-052D air-defense destroyers, generally equivalent to the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke Class AEGIS destroyers. These displace 7,500 tons and can carry 64 large missiles including long range surface to air missiles (SAMs) and cruise missiles. The other two are larger Type-055 Class ships. These are also described as air-defense destroyers but are verging on cruisers in terms of size and fit. These are about twice the displacement and carry over 100 large missiles.

Behind them is the shipyard with its mass of construction halls and cranes. In the basin where the newest ships are docked after launch are another four destroyers. Again there are both Type-052D and Type-055 ships. Together with another Type-055 under construction on the left of the image, this brings the total number of large destroyers visible to 9. To put that into context, the Royal Navy’s entire destroyer fleet is just 6 ships. And this yard is just part of a much bigger construction program.

There are also some hovercraft which will be carried aboard the PLAN’s expanding fleet of amphibious warships. They will be used for transporting tanks and supplies from ship to shore. These are generally similar to the U.S. Navy’s Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC).

At the side of the basin, in a dry dock, is a massive Yuan Wang Class satellite and/or missile tracking ship. These are the sort of ships which look like an ocean liner but with a series of gigantic satellite dishes pointing skyward. When completed this could be used to support missile tests.

But the most impressive vessel is hidden in the background haze, barely discernible to the untrained eye. Beneath several massive gantry cranes in a purpose-built construction area is China’s next-generation aircraft carrier. China already has two carriers in servicebut this new carrier is expected to be significantly different. Known as the Type-003, it is believed to have electromagnetic catapults like the latest U.S. Navy Ford Class carrier. It is not expected to be launched for some time.

Other developments are not visible in the photo. It is the same shipyard where China’s mysterious sailless submarine has been constructed. Although that submarine is not clearly apparent in the photograph, it may be present in the basin.

This image paints an interesting picture of Chinese naval modernization. Yet the biggest takeaway is that this shipyard is not alone. There are many yards across China which are similarly impressive. The Chinese Navy of today, and the future, is changed beyond all recognition from the Chinese Navy of the past. The world naval balance is shifting.

Soleimani is no anti-imperialist hero | Al Jazeera

Johnny Liberty, Editor’s Note:Middle Eastern politics is extremely complicated, a tapestry of hatred, vengeance, and generally unneighborly violence that has been perpetuated for centuries. These young protesters with manufactured signs seem clueless as to what they’re protesting. ‘Tis a great party though. This article may shed some light and give the reader an interesting perspective.

By Malak Chabkoun

Immediately after news broke of the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, some left-wing circles in the West proclaimed with great confidence – yet again – that World War III was around the corner. Previously, these same warnings of global doom were evoked when US President Donald Trump ordered rather toothless strikes on empty military targets in Syria and escalated his rhetoric against North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

And just as a world war did not break out on these previous occasions, it will not break out now either.

Much of the left in the West (the same ones who describe themselves as progressives) also viciously attacked people in the Middle East who celebrated the deaths of Soleimani and al-Muhandis. While it is wrong to praise Trump’s decision to assassinate the two commanders as a “noble deed”, framing what happened within the old, tired left-wing narrative of US imperialism erases the regional context and the suffering of millions of people in the Middle East at the hands of other powers.

Indeed, it is important to expose Trump’s recklessness and political opportunism, but it is inexcusable to ignore the crimes of Soleimani and al-Muhandis and those whom they served.  

Trump’s motives

With an upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate, more Americans disapproving than approving of his presidency, and an election coming up, Trump is trying to cement his position in US politics and play to his base. His term has been marked by no clear domestic or foreign policy agendas, frequent golfing trips that prompt ethical questions about how federal dollars are being spent, and Twitter meltdowns that often do not have anything to do with reality. In short, when Trump ordered the assassinations, his presidency would not necessarily be described as successful.

While it is clear the US president was motivated by domestic considerations, in the aftermath of the attack, he claimed that he ordered it in the name of fighting global “terrorism” and that Soleimani’s assassination meant his reign of “terror” was over.

This rhetoric might help him improve his ratings in advance of his re-election bid in November, but it is simply a lie that Soleimani’s assassination will make the world a safer place. In fact, none of Trump’s interventions in the Middle East has been of any consequence to the security of the region, contrary to what many on the right have claimed.

People in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere where Soleimani’s Quds Force has been active will continue to suffer the consequences of Iran’s foreign interference. Al-Muhandis’ death and the limited attacks the United States has carried out on the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMFs) will not disband the militia, which is heavily entrenched in Iraq.

Similarly, the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the ISIL (ISIS) group did not make the region any safer from “terrorism”. ISIL attacks have continued, and Russia and the Syrian regime have also continued to use the excuse of “anti-terror operations” to step up their military campaigns against civilians opposed to Bashar al-Assad’s rule, killing hundreds and displacing hundreds of thousands.

Trump’s 2017 and 2018 air raids on Syrian regime targets did nothing to prevent the sustained campaign of extermination Damascus has led against its own population. They also did not result in World War III or war with Russia that some left-wing pundits were predicting on social media.

In fact, throughout his term, Trump has been playing both camps – the right-wing hawks and the left-wing “anti-war” crusaders – with his constant shift of rhetoric between withdrawal and disengagement from the Middle East and aggressive action.

He “pulled out” of Syria, but sent back troops to “guard the oil”. He promised tough action on Iran after attacks in the Gulf but did not retaliate the way his allies wanted.

It is about time that both sides admit Trump makes domestic and foreign policy decisions based on his ego and what suits him, not based on standing up for “our people” or some diabolic imperialistic plot.

Regional reactions in context

The assassinations of Soleimani and al-Muhandis gave some Middle East residents a sense of relief that they have finally been rid of two militia commanders who have brought much suffering to their communities.

But when Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis and other Arabs posted celebratory comments on the assassinations of two commanders they perceive as war criminals, Iran’s defenders immediately criticised these people, resorting to insisting they didn’t know anything about their own countries, claiming they are pro-imperialism.

In so doing, these self-identified leftists and “anti-war” activists once again downplayed the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the region. For them, the only civilian deaths that can be acknowledged are those caused by the military intervention of the US, Israel or their allies.

However, it is hard to cover up the crimes Iran and its regional proxies have committed over the past 10 years. Iran has backed and even advised on the brutal crackdown by the Syrian regime on opposition protests and later the mass killing of civilians through areal bombardment and merciless sieges; it has also sent Afghan refugee children to fight on its behalf in Syria. It has sent military equipment and personnel to the Houthis in Yemen, who just like their enemies, the Saudis and the Emiratis, have been accused of committing war crimes in the Yemeni conflict. In Iraq, they have supported and directed militias which have committed various crimes against Iraqi civilians.

In this sense, it is hardly surprising that Syrians who have gone through the trauma of losing friends and family in the siege of Aleppo and the insult of seeing images of Soleimani marching through their city (which they may never be able to return to) are celebrating his demise. It is also hardly surprising that Iraqi protesters, who have had to drag the bodies of friends shot in the head with Iranian military-grade gas grenades during attacks by Iranian-backed militias on their demonstrations, would now be cheering the demise of al-Muhandis who had been accused of directing the crackdown.

These same left-wing people who proclaim concern about foreign intervention, refuse to acknowledge the Iranian intervention in Syria, Yemen and Iraq when the people of those countries rebelled against authoritarianism, corruption, sectarianism, and socioeconomic collapse. When protests broke out in 2018 and 2019 in Iran against the Iranian authorities, they once again framed them in the foreign-sponsored regime-change narrative.

The constant need to defend the Iranian government, even against the protests of Iranian people who have suffered under this government, is an exercise in mental gymnastics. This is the same left-wing segment that equates criticism of Iran with being an ally of Israel, which is highly problematic given Iran and Israel are committing the same crimes in the Middle East.

Only US imperialism exists?

There has been much noise about US’s breach of Iraqi sovereignty, but there has been little said of Iranian and Russian actions violating sovereignty in the region. The constant presence of Soleimani in Iraq to issue orders to Iraqi officials and forces is just one of many signs of Iran’s lack of respect for Iraq’s sovereignty. By the admission of these same leftists, Soleimani was intervening in Iraq to “fight” US intervention.

In Syria, what these self-proclaimed anti-war activists see as Iranian and Russian deployment at the invitation of a legitimate president, Syrians see as an occupation allowed by a dictator who they never elected in free and fair elections.

The debate around Soleimani and al-Muhandis’ assassinations has served to illustrate, once again, the inconsistent perception by a segment of the “progressive” left of what constitutes “imperialism”. They readily brand US and Israeli actions as imperialist; yet aggression by others – whether Russia, China, Iran or their allies – which causes equal damage and civilian deaths, is ignored, downplayed, or wrapped in “anti-terror” narratives (rather similar to the ones the US and Israel use).

Thus, US and Israeli attacks on the Iranian forces or the Assad regime have been decried as acts of imperialism while the mass killings of Syrian civilians by occupying powers Iran and Russia have been ignored, questioned or presented as “terrorist” deaths.

Criticising the US and Israel while ignoring the crimes of others, however, does no good for the people on the ground bearing the brunt of geopolitical battles between these global and regional powers. Crying “World War III is coming” every time the US engages in aggression also ignores the fact that millions of people in the Middle East and elsewhere, where US, Israeli and also Iranian, Russian and Chinese intervention have stirred conflict, are already living the realities of such a war.

Being truly anti-war would mean opposing aggression by all and condemning all those accused of war crimes – whether Qassem Soleimani or Eddie Gallagher.

Source: Al Jazeera

War Propaganda: “Fake News” and the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) | Collective Evolution & Global Research

Editor’s Note: Much of this article is excerpted from the original by Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research. Excellent background to the intelligence operation behind the impeachment effort.

By Arjun Walla

  • The Facts:The influence of intelligence and government agencies when it comes to mainstream media is quite large. This article provides numerous examples from documents to whistleblowers that clearly prove this point.
  • Reflect On:Our world has become quite Orwellian with regards to free and open information. There now seems to be a ‘Ministry of Truth’ that is hiding information from people, and telling them what to believe and how to think. Censorship is rampant.

A declassified document from the CIA archives in the form of a letter from a CIA task force addressed to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency details the close relationship that exists between the CIA and mainstream media and academia.

The document states that the CIA task force “now has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation,” and that “this has helped us turn some ‘intelligence failure’ stories into ‘intelligence success” stories,’ and has contributed to the accuracy of countless others.” Furthermore, it explains how the agency has “persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests or jeopardized sources and methods.”

Although it is a document outlining their desire to become more open and transparent, the deception outlined by various whistleblowers (example) requires us to read between the lines and recognize that the relationships shared between intelligence agencies and our sources of information are not always warranted and pose inherent conflicts of interest.

Herein lies the problem: What is “national security,” and who determines that definition? JFK bravely told the world that the “dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweigh[] the dangers which are cited to justify it.” He also said that “there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.” 

“National security” is now an umbrella term used to justify concealing information, but who makes these decisions?

The real reason why people like Julian Assange are treated the way they are treated is because they threaten immoral corporate and elitist actions/interests of various governments and institutions, and because they simply share truth and information.

This is why we are also seeing the mass censorship of alternative media outlets, like Collective Evolution.

Not long ago, William Arkin, a longtime well known military and war reporter who is best known for his groundbreaking, three-part Washington Post series in 2010, went public outing NBC/MSNBC as completely fake government run agencies.

He blasted NBC News along with MSNBC news in an email for “becoming captive and subservient to the national security state, reflexively pro-war in the name of stopping President Donald Trump, and now the prime propaganda instrument of the War Machine’s promotion of militarism and imperialism.” This is something, based on my research, mainstream media has always been. It’s why they were created in the first place.

Arkin stated that, as a result of this, “the national security establishment not only hasn’t issued a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength, and “is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism.”

Another great quote comes to mind here,

“The real menace of our Republic is the invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation . . .  The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both parties . . .  [and] control the majority of the newspapers and magazines in this country. They use the columns of these papers to club into submission or drive out of office public officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government. It operates under cover of a self-created screen [and] seizes our executive officers, legislative bodies, schools, courts, newspapers and every agency created for the public protection.”  (source)(source) – Mayor of New York City from 1918-1925

MSNBC’s star national security reporter Ken Dilanian was widely mocked by media outlets for years for being an uncritical CIA stenographer before he became a beloved NBC/MSNBC reporter, and let’s not forget CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s connections to the CIA.

Operation Mockingbird, a CIA program to infiltrate mainstream media and use it to influence the minds of the masses decades ago, seems to be in full effect today, at a larger scale than anyone can possibly imagine.

In early 2018, NBC hired former CIA chief John Brennan to serve as a “senior national security and intelligence analyst.”

Dr. Udo Ulfkotte was a top German journalist and editor and has been for more than two decades. He went on the record stating that he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, also mentioning that noncompliance would result in him losing his job. Not long ago, he made an appearance on RT news Stating that:

“I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I was educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public. But seeing right now within the last months how the German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia — this is a point of no return and I’m going to stand up and say it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past because they are bribed to betray the people, not only in Germany, all over Europe.” (source)

There are many examples, the information above is simply small fraction of information regarding a big problem.

This is why I thought it was important to share a piece written by by Dr.Michel Chossudovsky, titled “War Propaganda: “Fake News” and the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence (OSI). Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal.  It was originally posted on hist website, GlobalResearch.ca.

War Propaganda: “Fake News” and the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence (OSI)

The following text on Rumsfeld’s “Office of Strategic Influence” (OSI) was first published by Global Research in January 2003 two months before the onslaught of the war on Iraq. The analysis largely pertained to the role of the Pentagon in planting fake stories in the news chain with a view to providing a “human face” to US-led military interventions.

Already in 2002, the “Militarization of the Media” was on the drawing board of the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld created the OSI with a view to influencing public opinion in the months leading up to the war on Iraq in March 2003. “The purpose [of the OSI] was to deliberately lie to advance American interests,” (quoted in Air Force Magazine, January 2003). It consisted in feeding disinformation into the news chain as well as seeking the support of the corporate media. Acknowledged by the New York Times:

“The Defense Department is considering issuing a secret directive to the American military to conduct covert operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policy makers in friendly and neutral countries [Germany, France, etc], senior Pentagon and administration officials say.

The fight, one Pentagon official said, is over ”the strategic communications for our nation, the message we want to send for long-term influence, and how we do it.”

As a military officer put it: ”We have the assets and the capabilities and the training to go into friendly and neutral nations to influence public opinion. We could do it and get away with it. That doesn’t mean we should.”…

In February [2002], Mr. Rumsfeld had to disband the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence, ending a short-lived plan to provide news items, and possibly false ones, to foreign journalists to influence public sentiment abroad. Senior Pentagon officials say Mr. Rumsfeld is deeply frustrated that the United States government has no coherent plan for molding public opinion worldwide in favor of America in its global campaign against terrorism and militancy.(NYT, December 10, 2002)

Many administration officials agree that there is a role for the military in carrying out what it calls information operations against adversaries, especially before and during war, as well as routine public relations work in friendly nations like Colombia, the Philippines or Bosnia, whose governments have welcomed American troops.

… But the idea of ordering the military to take psychological aim at allies has divided the Pentagon — with civilians and uniformed officers on both sides of the debate.

Some are troubled by suggestions that the military might pay journalists to write stories favorable to American policies or hire outside contractors without obvious ties to the Pentagon to organize rallies in support of American policies. (NYT, December 16, 2002)

The Ongoing “Militarization of the Media”

Most people do not even know that an Office of Strategic Influence (tantamount to a “Ministry of Truth”)  existed within the confines of the Pentagon. Why? Rumsfeld decided to abolish the OSI. In reality, it was never abolished. They just changed the name to something else (as confirmed by Rumsfeld in a November 2002 Press Conference):

Rumsfeld: And then there was the office of strategic influence….  I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I’ll give you the corpse. There’s the name. You can have the name, but I’m gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.

That was intended to be done by that office is being done by that office, NOT by that office in other ways.

DARPA Press Conference (Dept of Defense, November 18, 2002 emphasis added)

Flash Forward: 2002- 2017

While the OSI process launched by the Pentagon in 2002 is still functional as intimated by Rumsfeld, it has become increasingly sophisticated. Moreover, the media environment has changed dramatically since 2002 with the rapid development of social media.

Today, the Militarization of the Media is accepted. It is part of a “New Normal”.  The actions of both by the Pentagon and NATO are now largely directed against the Blogosphere integrated by social media and independent online news and analysis.

“Strategic Influence” seeks to undermine critique or opinion by the alternative online media directed against (illegal) acts of war. Since 2001, a firm relationship has developed between the mainstream media and the Military establishment. War crimes are tacitly ignored. US-NATO “acts of war” are routinely upheld by the corporate media as humanitarian endeavors, i.e. a so-called  “Responsibility to Protect”(R2P).

 “America is Under Attack”  

On September 11, 2001,  Afghanistan had allegedly attacked America, according to NATO’s North Atlantic Council. The legal argument was that the September 11 attacks constituted an undeclared “armed attack” “from abroad” by an unnamed foreign power.

In the months leading up to the announced 2003 invasion of Iraq, the propaganda campaign consisted in sustaining the illusion that “America was under attack”.

A similar logic prevails today: America’s is allegedly being threatened by “rogue states”: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

“Information Operations” are now envisaged by the Pentagon against alternative media which refuse to acknowledge that “America is under attack”.  The online independent media are tagged as “adversaries”. Countering (critical) social media is part of a US-NATO’s agenda. NATO points to the “weaponization of disinformation”, suggesting that online media directed against US-NATO constitutes a “weapon”.

Both the US DoD and NATO consider that online “false information” (published by independent and alternative media) has “security implications”. The objective is ultimately to dismantle all civil society media and movements which are opposed to America’s global war agenda.

The Takeaway

The censorship of independent media is quite large. Here at Collective Evolution, we are in threat of shutting down due to the fact that we have been censored, as well as demonetized from platforms like YouTube. This is why we created CETV, it’s how people can support us and it allows us to continue what we are doing, by being funded by YOU.

At the end of the day, the censorship efforts are coinciding with multiple mass campaigns to influence the minds of the masses via mainstream media. Mainstream media is a huge tool for the global elite to push various agenda’s, our compliance and their justification for various geopolitical actions are justified through the manipulation of our consciousness, and there is no doubt that independent media has made that much harder for them.

Source: Collective Evolution & Global Research

U.S. has spent six trillion dollars on wars that killed half a million people since 9/11 | Newsweek

The United States has spent nearly $6 trillion on wars that directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000 peoplesince the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs published its annual “Costs of War” report Wednesday, taking into consideration the Pentagon’s spending and its Overseas Contingency Operations account, as well as “war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.”

The final count revealed, “The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans.”

“In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable,” the report concluded. “The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.”

The U.S. embarked on a global war on terror following the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 and were orchestrated by Islamist militant group Al-Qaeda. Weeks later, the U.S. led an invasion of Afghanistan, which at the time was controlled by Al-Qaeda ally the Taliban. In March 2003, Washington overthrew Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, accusing him of developing weapons of mass destruction and harboring U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.

Despite initial quick victories there, the U.S. military has been plagued by ongoing insurgencies these two countries and expanded counterterrorism operations across the region, including Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. In 2014, the U.S. gathered an international coalition to face the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), which arose out of a post-invasion Sunni Muslim insurgency in Iraq and spread to neighboring Syria and beyond.

Wednesday’s report found that the “US military is conducting counterterror activities in 76 countries, or about 39 percent of the world’s nations, vastly expanding [its mission] across the globe.” In addition, these operations “have been accompanied by violations of human rights and civil liberties, in the US and abroad.”

Overall, researchers estimated that “between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.” This toll “does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011” when a West-backed rebel and jihadi uprising challenged the government, an ally of Russia and Iran. That same year, the U.S.-led NATO Western military alliance intervened in Libya and helped insurgents overthrowlongtime leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, leaving the nation in an ongoing state of civil war.

The combined human cost for the U.S. throughout its actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan was 6,951 troops, 21 civilians and 7,820 contractors.

“While we often know how many US soldiers die, most other numbers are to a degree uncertain. Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars. For example, tens of thousands of civilians may have died in retaking Mosul and other cities from ISIS but their bodies have likely not been recovered,” the report noted.

“In addition, this tally does not include ‘indirect deaths.’ Indirect harm occurs when wars’ destruction leads to long term, ‘indirect,’ consequences for people’s health in war zones, for example because of loss of access to food, water, health facilities, electricity or other infrastructure,” it added.

In February, President Donald Trump estimated that “we have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East,” saying “what a mistake” it was. Weeks later, he reportedly told his military advisers to prepare a plan to withdraw from Syria as the war against ISIS entered its final phases, though senior Washington officials have since expanded the U.S. mission— considered illegal by the Syrian government and its allies—to include countering Iran and its allies.

This article has been updated to include a Statista chart detailing the findings of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs’ study.

Source: Newsweek

The Weaponization of Social Media | Counterpunch

troll-network_BF9747ECB468482488ECFF9A003635D6By Faisal Khan

The use of ‘bots’ present modern society with a significant dilemma; The technologies and social media platforms (such as Twitter and Facebook) that once promised to enhance democracy are now increasingly being used to undermine it. Writers Peter W Singer and Emerson Brooking believe ‘the rise of social media and the Internet has become a modern-day battlefield where information itself is weaponised’. To them ‘the online world is now just as indispensable to governments, militaries, activists, and spies at it is to advertisers and shoppers’. They argue this is a new form of warfare which they call ‘LikeWar’. The terrain of LikeWar is social media; ‘it’s platforms are not designed to reward morality or veracity but virality.’ The ‘system rewards clicks, interactions, engagement and immersion time…figure out how to make something go viral, and you can overwhelm even the truth itself.’

In its most simple form the word ‘bot’ is short for ‘robot’; beyond that, there is significant complexity. There are different types of bots. For example, there are ‘chatbots’ such as Siri and Amazon’s Alexa; they recognise human voice and speech and help us with our daily tasks and requests for information. There are search engine style ‘web bots’ and ‘spambots’. There are also ‘sockpuppets’ or ‘trolls’; these are often fake identities used to interact with ordinary users on social networks. There are ‘social bots’; these can assume a fabricated identity and can spread malicious links or advertisements. There are also ‘hybrid bots’ that combine automation with human input and are often referred to as ‘cyborgs’. Some bots are harmless; some more malicious, some can be both.

The country that is perhaps most advanced in this new form of warfare and political influence is Russia. According to Peter Singer and Emerson Brooking ‘Russian bots more than simply meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election…they used a mix of old-school information operations and new digital marketing techniques to spark real-world protests, steer multiple U.S. news cycles, and influence voters in one of the closest elections in modern history. Using solely online means, they infiltrated U.S. political communities so completely that flesh-and-blood American voters soon began to repeat scripts written in St. Petersburg and still think them their own’. Internationally, these ‘Russian information offensives have stirred anti-NATO sentiments in Germany by inventing atrocities out of thin air; laid the pretext for potential invasions of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by fuelling the political antipathy of ethnic Russian minorities; and done the same for the very real invasion of Ukraine. And these are just the operations we know about.’

We witnessed similar influence operations here during the Brexit referendum in 2016. A study by the Financial Times reported that during the referendum campaign ‘the 20 most prolific accounts … displayed indications of high levels of automation’. The Anti-Muslim hate group TellMAMA recorded in its latest Annual report that manual bots based in St Petersburg were active in spreading Anti-Muslim hate online. Israel has also used manual ‘bots’ to promote a more positive image of itself online.

The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) has studied online political discussions relating to several countries on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. It claims that in all the elections, political crises and national security-related discussions it examined, there was not one instance where social media opinion had not been manipulated by what they call ‘computational propaganda’. For them, while it remains difficult to quantify the impact bots have ‘computational propaganda’ is now one of the most ‘powerful tools against democracy’.

Donald Trump perhaps more than any other US President to date understands the power of social media. The OII found, for example, that although he alienated Latino voters on the campaign trail, he had some fake Latino twitter bots tweeting support for him. Emerson T Brooker informed me that social media bots can be highly-effective; for him ‘If a bot-driven conversation successfully enters the “Trending” charts of a service like Twitter, it can break into mainstream discussion and receive a great deal of attention from real flesh-and-blood users’. He continues ‘The first unequivocal use of political bots was in the 2010 Special Senate Election in Massachusetts, which ended in the election of Senator Scott Brown. The bots helped draw journalist (and donor) interest from across the country. The Islamic State was also a very effective user of botnets to spread its propaganda over Arabic-speaking Twitter. In 2014, it repeatedly drove hashtags related to its latest execution or battlefield victory (e.g. #AllEyesOnISIS) to international attention.’

So, what can be done to better regulate bots? The OII has called for social media platforms to act against bots and has suggested some steps. These include; making the posts they select for news feeds more ‘random’, so users don’t only see likeminded opinions. News feeds could be provided with a trustworthiness score; audits could be carried out of the algorithms they use to decide which posts to promote. However, the OII also cautions not to over-regulate the platforms to suppress political conversation altogether.  Marc Owen Jones of Exeter University who has researched bots feels that in the case of twitter better ‘verification procedures could tackle the bots’. According to Emerson Brooking ‘a simple non-invasive proposal bouncing around Congress now would mandate the labelling of bot accounts. This would allow bots positive automation functions to continue while keeping them from fooling everyday media users.’

Source: Counterpunch

Snowden (Film Review) | The Guardian

Review By Wendy Ide

For a director who customarily tackles subjects with the approach of a gorilla playing American football, Oliver Stone’s take on whistleblower Edward Snowden seems curiously muted. Audiences who are already familiar with Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s exemplary documentary on the same subject, will be struck by the fact that, in dramatising Snowden’s story, Stone seems to have leached out much of the drama. The aim was clearly to create an All the President’s Men for the age of cyber-surveillance. But somehow the sense of peril is downplayed, diluted by too much inert exposition and pacing that could be tighter.

Playing Edward Snowden, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the film’s main assets. His character’s ferocious intelligence is signposted with cheap details – he is forever fiddling with a Rubik’s cube and has a nerd’s enthusiasm for arcane enciphering equipment. But Snowden’s intellect is most effectively conveyed in Gordon-Levitt’s eyes – watchful, sober and clouded by doubt, they are a window into his impossible ethical quandary.

Melissa Leo is somewhat underused as Poitras. And playing Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, Zachary Quinto is tonally jarring. It feels as though Stone realised that some of the scenes were flagging, so got Quinto to shout angrily at random moments, to keep the audience on their toes.

There are some fun elements, many involving Rhys Ifans’s ruthlessly unprincipled CIA trainer Corbin O’Brian (the fact the character shares a surname with the villain of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is no accident). I particularly enjoyed a scene in which O’Brian’s massive glowering face is beamed into a conference room to berate Snowden. His carnivorous snarl fills the immense screen; he looks like a malevolent version of the Wizard of Oz. There’s a playful visual flair to this moment that is sadly lacking elsewhere in the film.

Source: The Guardian