Category Archives: Propaganda

UN Report on Ghouta Gas Incident Points to Evidence Tampering, not Syrian Culpability


The following article below was originally published by foreign policy analyst Stephen Gowans on his blog what’s left.

By Stephen Gowans
September 17, 2013

The United Nations report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21 does not, as newspaper headlines have indicated, “point to Assad’s use of gas” [1]; confirm that rockets were loaded with sarin [2]; or “come closer to linking Assad to sarin attack” [3]. Nor, as US officials and some journalists have declared, does it “reinforce the case that Mr. Assad’s forces were responsible” [4]; “confirm Damascus’s responsibility” [5]; or “undercut arguments by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria that rebel forces … had been responsible.” [6]

This isn’t to say that Syrian forces didn’t use chemical weapons, only that the evidence adduced in the UN report doesn’t show, or even suggest, that they did. On the contrary, the report offers stronger evidence that attempts were made to manipulate evidence to attribute blame to the Syrian government.

The report concludes that “chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.” [7]

The UN inspectors adduced five findings in support of their conclusion.

• “Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable to carry a chemical payload, were found to contain sarin.
• “Close to the rocket impact sites, in the area where patients were affected, the environment was found to be contaminated by sarin.
• “Over fifty interviews given by survivors and health care workers provided ample corroboration of the medical and scientific results.
• “A number of patients/survivors were clearly diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosophorous compound.
• “Blood and urine samples from the same patients were found positive for sarin and sarin signatures.” [8]

The findings, then:

• Present evidence that the symptoms experienced by people in Ghouta on August 21 were due to sarin exposure.
• Suggest—but do not confirm—a possible route through which the contamination occurred (delivery of the agent by surface-to-surface rockets.)
• Says nothing about who was responsible.

US officials and their allies have cited the discovery by the UN inspectors of rocket fragments containing sarin to attribute blame to Syrian forces. But to make the leap from ‘sarin-contaminated rocket fragments were found’ to ‘Syrian forces carried out a sarin attack’ requires evidence to support two intermediary conclusions:

• The contaminated rocket fragments weren’t planted or manipulated.
• Only Syrian forces could have carried out a chemical weapons attack using rockets.

The report can’t confirm the first conclusion, and indeed, challenges it.

Pages 18 and 22 of the report contain key paragraphs headed by the title “Limitations”.

On page 18:

The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey … as well as take samples was very limited. The sites [had] been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence [had] clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team. [9]

On page 22:

As with other sites, the locations [had] been well travelled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the Mission. Time spent on the site was … limited. During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence [was] moved and possibly manipulated. [10]

In other words, the inspectors had little time to carefully gather evidence and inspect it in situ; there was plenty of opportunity for the evidence to be manipulated; and the evidence had clearly been handled and moved.

Far from indicting Syrian forces as the culprits, these findings point more strongly to evidence being manipulated, possibly to falsely implicate the Syrian government.

As to the argument that only Syrian forces could have launched a rocket attack, it’s plain that rebel forces could have used rockets supplied by their foreign backers or captured from Syrian forces.

Indeed, as the Associated Press’s Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo reported on August 29,

U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders. Some have even talked about the possibility that rebels could have carried out the attack in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war. [11, 12]

In summary, here’s what the UN report says: On August 21, people in Ghouta were exposed to sarin. We don’t know how they were exposed and who was responsible. But we do know that evidence in connection with rocket fragments was possibly manipulated.

Concluding that the UN report adds to the evidence linking Syrian forces to the August 21 incident, as US officials and some US mass media have indicated, is misleading. First, there was no hard evidence of Syrian culpability to which the UN report could be added. An earlier assessment by the US intelligence community was “thick with caveats.” [13] Second, the UN report, like the US intelligence community assessment, offers no evidence linking the Ghouta incident to Syrian forces.

US officials are reading far more into the evidence than the evidence allows, and US mass media are docilely following the officials’ lead. Anti-Syrian forces have adopted a ridiculously lax evidentiary standard to allow themselves to find the target of their hostility guilty of gassing non-combatants on, at best, flimsy evidence. One can only conclude that they’re motivated to discredit the Syrian government to facilitate the project of bringing about regime change in Damascus—a project these parties are overtly committed to.

Consider motives.

• The United States and its allies have a motive to blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons in order to establish a pretext to step up their intervention in Syria’s internal war. In light of this, it would be expected that they would be inclined to favor very liberal, over-reaching, interpretations of evidence to create a casus belli.

• Once Washington declared that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces would trigger an overt intervention by US forces, the rebels had a motive to stage a chemical attack in order to blame it on Syrian forces.

• Syrian forces had a motive to refrain from using chemical weapons to avoid crossing the United States’ red line.

In light of these motives, the most probable scenario is that a sarin attack was carried out by rebel forces to draw the United States more fully into the war and that Washington and its allies have set their evidentiary bar deliberately low to read Syrian culpability into the flimsiest of evidence. The objective is to achieve what US foreign policy has long set as its principal goal: to topple governments that stand in the way of the expansion of economic space for private ownership, market regulation and profit accumulation.

What makes Syria’s government an object of hostility for the big business-dominated US state is its denial of complete freedom for foreign capital to exploit Syrian markets, land, resources and labour. [14] Added to this is Damascus’s refusal to fully cooperate in supporting US geopolitical goals (which are themselves linked ultimately to US profit-making interests.) “Syria,” says the country’s president “is an independent state working for the interests of its people, rather than making the Syrian people work for the interests of the West.” [15]

Syria’s insistence on maintaining its independence, the US government’s long-standing hostility to foreign governments that demand to be allowed to chart their own course, the rebels’ interest in staging a gas attack to blame on Damascus, Washington’s reading far more into the evidence than the evidence allows, and the absence of any hard evidence linking Syrian forces to the Ghouta incident, suggest that the Syrian government is being set up.

The UN report does nothing to challenge this view. If anything, its noting that evidence was moved and possibly manipulated, supports it.

1. Rick Gladstone and C.J. Chivers, “Forensic Details in UN Report Point to Assad’s Use of Gas”, The New York Times, September 16, 2013.
2. Rick Gladstone and Nick Cumming-Bruce, “U.N. Report Confirms Rockets Loaded with Sarin in Aug. 21 Attack,” The New York Times, September 16, 2013.
3. Joby Warrick, “U.N. inspectors’ findings come closer to linking Assad to sarin attack”, The Washington Post”, September 16, 2013.
4. Siobhan Gorman, Joe Lauria and Jay Solomon, “Report on Gas Attack Emboldens U.S.”, The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2013.
5. Gorman, Lauria and Solomon.
6. Gladstone and Chivers.
7. UN Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013,
8. UN Report.
9. UN Report.
10. UN Report.
11.Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo, “Intelligence on weapons no ‘slam dunk’”, The Associated Press, August 29, 2013.
12. Significantly, that “suspicion was not included in the official intelligence report.”
13. Dozier and Apuzzo.
14. Stephen Gowans, “Syria’s Uprising in Context”, what’s left, February 10, 2012,
15. Bashar al-Assad May 19, 2013 interview with Clarin newspaper and Telam news agency

Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists – reports


May 30, 2013

Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained, Turkish media reports. The gas was reportedly going to be used in a bomb.

The sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian Islamists detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersia following a search by Turkish police on Wednesday, reports say. The gas was allegedly going to be used to carry out an attack in the southern Turkish city of Adana.

On Monday, Turkish special anti-terror forces arrested 12 suspected members of the Al-Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda affiliated group which has been dubbed “the most aggressive and successful arm” of the Syrian rebels. The group was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in December.

Police also reportedly found a cache of weapons, documents and digital data which will be reviewed by police.

Following the searches, five of those detained were released following medical examinations at the Forensic Medicine Institution Adana. Seven suspects remain in custody. Turkish authorities are yet to comment on the arrests.

Russia reacted strongly to the incident, calling for a thorough investigation into the detention of Syrian militants in possession of sarin gas.

“We are extremely concerned with media reports. Russia believes that the use of any chemical weapons is absolutely inadmissible,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.

In a separate incident in Adana, police reportedly received intelligence that an explosive-laden vehicle had entered the town of Adana on Thursday, the Taraf daily reports.

Ankara has attempted to bolster the Syrian opposition without becoming embroiled in the Syrian civil war, a policy which Damascus claims lead to the deadliest act of terrorism on Turkish soil.

On May 11, 51 people were killed and 140 injured after two car bombs exploded in the Turkish town of Reyhanlı, located near the country’s border with Syria.A dozen Turkish nationals have been charged in the twin bombings, and Ankara has accused Damascus of helping the suspects carry out the attack.

“This incident was carried out by an organization which is in close contact to pro-regime groups in Syria and I say this very clearly, with the Syrian Mukhabarat [intelligence agency],” Interior Minister Muammer Guler said.

Syria’s Information Minister Omran Zoubi denied any link the attack, saying his country “did not commit and would never commit such an act because our values would not allow that”.Zoubi further charged the Turkish government had facilitated the flow of arms, explosives, funds and fighters across the country’s border into Syria, claiming that that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party bear direct responsibility [for the attack].”

Reports of chemical weapons use by both Damascus and the Syrian opposition have surrounded the conflict in Syria for months.

In this image made available by the Syrian News Agency (SANA) on March 19, 2013, a man is brought to a hospital in the Khan al-Assal region in the northern Aleppo province, as Syria’s government accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons for the first time (AFP Photo)

In March, the Syrian government invited the United Nations to investigate possible chemical weapons use in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo. Military experts and officials said a chemical agent, most likely sarin, was used in the attack which killed 26 people, including government forces.

Damascus claimed Al-Qaeda linked fighters were behind the attack, further alleging Turkey had a hand in the incident.

“The rocket came from a placed controlled by the terrorist and which is located close to the Turkish territory. One can assume that the weapon came from Turkey,” Zoabi said in an interview with Interfax news agency.

US President Barack Obama has warned any confirmed use of chemical weapons by Damascus would cross a “red line” which would prompt further action. Both Washington and London claimed there was growing evidence that such chemical agents had been used.

Less clear perhaps is whether a similar red line would apply to Syrian opposition groups such as Al-Nusra by the US and NATO allies. Author and historian Gerald Horne, for one, told RT that there are greater political dynamics at work.

“Well, one would think so, but of course we know that the United States along with its NATO partners Britain and France are quite close to the main backers of the rebels — I’m speaking of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We know, for example, according to the Financial Times that Mr Sarkozy, the former president of France, is in very close financial relationship with the Qataris,” says Horne.

That would be under the existing paragraph in the story: US President Barack Obama has warned any confirmed use of chemical weapons by Damascus would cross a “red line” which would prompt further action. Both Washington and London claimed there was growing evidence that such chemical agents had been used.

This case being similar to an earlier one, with the findings of UN chemical weapons expert Carla Del Ponte  – who had found evidence of their use by the rebels – some think the fallout will be what it was then as well.

Journalist and RT contributor, Afshin Rattansi believes that the same fate will befall this story, as far as media coverage goes. All possible doubts will either be hushed or directed elsewhere, as they were toward Del Ponte’s findings.

“Carla Del Ponte – one of the greatest experts on this from the United Nations – did do an in-depth investigation only a few weeks ago, and of course, the mainstream media tried their best to ignore it and to character-assassinate Del Ponte… she did masses of work on this, and [found] It was the rebels and not the government.”

Rattansi goes on to say that “the news management of the Syria story has been incredibly sophisticated, and I don’t think it will be on the front pages of any newspapers in Britain or the United States – it will quietly disappear like Del Ponte’s case. The big story, of course, will be Russia and the delivery of the S-300.”

A day before the Reyhanlı bombing, Erdogan released a statement claiming he had evidence the Syrian government had had used chemical weapons, crossing the red line set by President Obama.The accusation contradicted a statement made at the time by a leading UN investigator. Carla Del Ponte, who heads the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said there were “concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas” in Syria.

“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” Del Ponte continued.

Exposure to large quantities of sarin gas, whose production and stockpiling was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, causes convulsions, paralysis, loss of respiratory functions and potentially death.


Response to BBC Panorama Documentary on North Korea


The following statement below was originally published by The Pyongyang Project:

Fellow traveler and Citizen Diplomat to North Korea, Michael Bassett, hugging a 1st Lieutenant (상위) of the KPA.  For more photos by Michael Bassett, click here.

Fellow traveler and Citizen Diplomat to North Korea, Michael Bassett, hugging a 1st Lieutenant (상위) of the KPA.
For more photos by Michael Bassett, click here.

Response to BBC Panorama Documentary on North Korea

April 16, 2013

Recent news surrounding the dispute between John Sweeney, the London School of Economics (LSE), and the Panorama documentary on North Korea offers us an opportunity to evaluate the different ways we as foreigners can choose to approach North Korea.

On the one hand, we can follow Mr. Sweeney’s lead and adopt the attitude of an investigative reporter in search of ever more astonishing reminders that North Korea is indeed a whole lot different from “us”—and not in the good way. The depiction of North Korea as a nation of irate soldiers, inflammatory propaganda and oppressive brainwashing is hackneyed and simplistic at best, and both irresponsible and harmful at worst.

Mr. Sweeney and his crew visited North Korea as part of a highly restricted tour that over forty thousand other foreigners take every year.  It is entirely naïve for Mr. Sweeney and his crew to assume that observations from this standard tour, specifically intended for foreign tourists, allowed them to draw meaningful conclusions about daily life in North Korea. To suggest as much, on a national stage, is extremely misleading. In an interview with the BBC, Mr. Sweeney claimed that North Korea is “more like Hitler’s Germany than other state in this world…extraordinarily scary, dark and evil.” This is a prime example of how simplistic and sensational characterizations absorb public attention away from the far more complex challenge of how to encourage productive engagement.

Criticism of Mr. Sweeney’s actions—that he placed LSE students at potential risk while also damaging LSE’s academic credibility—has been given much attention in the media and rightfully so. It should also be noted that concocting the identity of a professor and filming a documentary without permission might well have had repercussions in North Korea as well. By betraying the trust of their North Korean hosts, Mr. Sweeney and his crew unwittingly put their tour guides in personal danger. Mr. Sweeney’s claims that his actions “only deceived the government” are erroneous and betray his overly simplistic understanding of North Korea; it is false to again assume the “Government” is one cohesive unit.

For those of us who have spent years working with various North Korean ministries, bureaus, companies, institutions, committees, and universities, we understand that organizations operate with relative independence; the only group deceived would have been the tourism operator and agent with whom they arranged their tour. Should the Panorama documentary provoke negative backlash against North Korea, these tour guides may bare the brunt of the blame and the punishment. Considering the extent to which Mr. Sweeney compromised the safety of both his hosts and fellow travellers, it is disappointing that his ruse failed to reveal anything more constructive.

There are more creative ways to approach North Korea. Through our organization we have been working regularly with North Korean students, professors and professionals for the last five years; bringing them abroad for educational enrichment programs, and organizing exchange activities with them in North Korea. We have also brought many Western students to North Korea, South Korea and Northeast China to participate in study tours, language learning programs, and athletic exchanges. What we see is the dedication our North Korean students have for their studies, waking up everyday at six in the morning to prepare for class, asking for extra classroom time and homework to reinforce their lessons, making the most of the opportunity to study abroad under foreign professors. What we do is bring together different viewpoints of Chinese, South Korean, North Korean, and Western professors and practitioners to examine the issues in Korea from as many angles and standpoints as possible. The result: extreme complexity, high emotions, and a very human will to empathize with one another. It is time to be responsible and act constructively; and to stop using the misfortune of others as an entertaining horror show.

Here in Canada alone, there are universities and non-profit organizations implementing educational exchange projects to train North Korean students and professors in economics and humanities. There are also organizations working actively to provide humanitarian assistance to people throughout the North Korean countryside. Can Mr. Sweeney’s eight days looking at the country from a very limited lens rife with preconceived notions and half-baked analysis shed as much light on the reality of life in North Korea as years of on the ground experience?

In the face of heightened geopolitical tension the last thing the world needs is more fodder for the fire. With the increased media scrutiny, Mr. Sweeney has a unique opportunity to shift focus away from the customary narrative of North Korea as an irascible pariah state and elicit conversation on what can be done to make things better.

Pyongyang Project Management Team

DPRK’s “State of War” Declaration Is a Faulty Translation: Not an Official Policy Statement from Kim Jung Un


Ed. Note: Since re-publishing this article from Global Research, and after several back and forth conversations on Facebook regarding this particular translation, I’ve since been informed that the English translation may, in fact, be accurate and not manufactured. The source of this comes from someone who’s spent time in the DPRK and has traveled alongside that of The Pyongyang Project, participating in their programs. The source wishes to remain unnamed, but I can verify that he is very knowledgeable and well-studied in Korean language.

When asked if the picture’s (shown below) claim of the English translation being inaccurate was true, this is what the source had to say:

‘This is not correct. The statement read: “이 시각부터 북남관계는 전시상황에 들어가며 따라서 북남사이에서 제기되는 모든 문제들은 전시에 준하여 처리될것이다.” The translation provided on the English version of Rodong Sinmun is: “From this moment, the north-south relations will be put at the state of war and all the issues arising between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations.” This is an accurate translation. Moreover, the English title of the announcement is “North-South Relations Have Been Put at State of War: Special Statement of DPRK”. The only media outlet manufacturing these claims is Rodong Sinmun.’

English: Read the rest of this entry

RT Interviews President Lukashenko – ‘I have no resources to be a dictator’


The following interview below was originally published by Russia Today

March 18, 2013

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko

His reputation precedes him: The long-time Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko has been often referred to in the Western media as ‘Europe’s last dictator’. But he insists he doesn’t have the means to be one as RT sits down with the President.

“In order to be a dictator and dictate one’s will one has to have the resources: economic, social, military, population, and so on. But we have none. And I am being objective about it,” Belarusian president told RT’s Sofiko Shevardnadze.

The 58-year-old former head of a state-owned farm told RT he has no intention to hand over power to any of his sons. “I swore I would never delegate the reins of power to any of my relatives, loved ones or children. It’s out of the question,” Belarusian leader emphasized.  “Who wins a fair election will have the power. Like I did when I won the race as a candidate from the opposition,” he added.

The Belarus leadership has repeatedly been the target of fierce criticism from the EU over its crackdown on the opposition and lack of respect for democracy and human rights. Up to 250 Belarusian officials, including President Aleksandr Lukashenko, and 32 companies are currently subject to travel bans and asset freezes within the EU.more

For more on this as well as Lukashenko’s view on relations with Russia and international community, his presidency and successors, and the overwhelming economic crisis and Belarus’ fate read the full interview below.

Read the rest of this entry

The DPRK Did Not “Vow Nuclear Attack on Washington”: On Preemptive Strikes


The following article below was originally published by the Return to the Source news blog: 

March 8, 2013

Former Chicago Bulls Forward Dennis Rodman became the first US citizen to meet DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, and in doing so, he set a standard for international solidarity that the US Left should learn from.

Fox News, CNN, the BBC, and a host of other Western news outlets were aflame yesterday – no pun intended – after a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) said that their country would launch a preemptive strike against US aggression. The sensationalist headlines kicked into high-gear, with Fox News reporting, “‘North Korea vows nuclear attack on US, saying Washington will be ‘engulfed in a sea of fire.’” Almost 60 years after the armistice that ended the Korean war, the US media seems more eager than ever to make people believe that a nuclear strike by a small, partitioned nation is likely.

For all of the venom the Western press has spilled over the DPRK’s latest comments, it’s incredibly difficult to find the full quote or the context of such a statement. Also absent from any of the reporting is a real definition of the term “preemptive strike,” compared to a “preventative strike.”

University of Chicago Professor of Korean History Bruce Cumings famously said that reading the DPRK’s official news network gives you a better understanding of the truth in the Korean Peninsula than reading the South Korean or US press. This is indeed the case.

The Korean Central News Agency published the statement by the Foreign Ministry that caused so much controversy in the US. Entitled, “Second Korean War Is Unavoidable: DPRK FM Spokesman,” the statement details the multitude of ways that the US is trying “to ignite a nuclear war to stifle the DPRK.” Since the US and European media refuse to quote the piece in context, we will quote it at some length:

The U.S. is now working hard to ignite a nuclear war to stifle the DPRK.

Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises kicked off by the U.S., putting the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war, are maneuvers for a nuclear war aimed to mount a preemptive strike on the DPRK from A to Z.

The U.S. is massively deploying armed forces for aggression, including nuclear carrier task force and strategic bombers, enough to fight a nuclear war under the smokescreen of “annual drills.”

What should not be overlooked is that the war maneuvers are timed to coincide with the moves to fabricate a new “resolution” of the UN Security Council against the DPRK, pursuant to a war scenario of the U.S. to ignite a nuclear war under the pretext of “nuclear nonproliferation”.

It is a trite war method of the U.S. to cook up “a resolution” at the UNSC to justify its war of aggression and then unleash it under the berets of “UN forces.”

That is why the U.S. is hurling into the war maneuvers even armed forces of its satellite countries which participated in the past Korean War as “UN forces”.

After directing the strategic pivot for world hegemony to the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. regards it as its primary goal to put the whole of the Korean Peninsula under its control in a bid to secure a bridgehead for landing in the Eurasian continent. It also seeks a way out of a serious economic crisis at home in unleashing the second Korean war.

The U.S. is, indeed, the very criminal threatening global peace and security as it is staging dangerous war drills in this region, the biggest hotspot in the world and a nuclear arsenal where nuclear weapons and facilities are densely deployed.

Ignoring this context changes the entire message of the article. If we took the US media’s claims at face value, many are led to believe that DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un woke up on the wrong side of the bed and haphazardly declared his intent to bomb Washington D.C. An actual study of the KCNA statement paints a different picture, namely one in which the US is the primary aggressor whose bellicose military exercises and insistence on debilitating sanctions on the DPRK are bringing the region closer to war.

The statement goes on to address the DPRK’s response to the aggressive war games that the US carries out in the Korean Peninsula. We quote it here:

The DPRK has so far made every possible effort while exercising maximum self-restraint in order to defend the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.

The U.S. is, however, responding to the DPRK’s good will and self-restraint with large-scale nuclear war maneuvers and the “annual” war drills are developing into a real war. Under this situation the opportunity of diplomatic solution has disappeared and there remains only military counteraction.

Is the statement really incorrect? The DPRK is surrounded by US warships containing nuclear missiles. They have pushed for dialogue with the international community about their nuclear weapons program, but Washington has rebuffed their attempts and responded with harsher sanctions, which is a form of economic warfare. Former US President George W. Bush once said that North Korea is “the most sanctioned country in the world,” Independent scholar Stephen Gowans explains the terms of these sanctions, which restrict “the export of goods and services,” the “blocking of any loan or funding through international financial institutions,” and a “ban on government financing of food and medicine exports to North Korea.” Rather than attempting good-faith rapprochement with Pyongyang, the US continues to point its most deadly weapons at the small country and heavily sanction its access to essential goods and industrial equipment.

Let’s now look at the statement in controversy from the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK:

First, now that the U.S. is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country.

The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army declared that it would totally nullify the Korean Armistice Agreement (AA) from March 11 when the U.S. nuclear war rehearsal gets into full swing. This meant that from that moment the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will take military actions for self-defence against any target any moment, not restrained by AA.

Contrary to the media’s fixation on the phrasing of the first statement, it is actually the following paragraph that explains the DPRK’s understanding of a preemptive strike. Joe Barnes of Rice University describes the difference between a ‘preemptive strike’ and a ‘preventative strike’ in a March 2007 paper entitled, “Preemptive and Preventative War: A Preliminary Taxonomy.” The following quote from Barnes’ paper illustrates the ‘right to a preemptive nuclear attack’ that the statement alludes to:

The two categories of national strategy are preemption and prevention. Preemption is the taking of military action against a target when there is incontrovertible evidence that the target is about to initiate a military attack. Prevention is the taking of military action against a target when it is believed that an attack by the target, while not imminent, is inevitable, and when delay in attacking would involve greater risk.

For most US citizens, their first exposure to the term “preemptive war” was when the Bush Administration invoked in in 2003 to justify their imperialist invasion of Iraq. They unleashed brutal war and occupation on the Iraqi people on the basis of a total lie, namely that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and might be a threat to the US. However, if we look at Barnes’ quote, we understand that the war in Iraq was a preventative war, not a preemptive war. There was no “incontrovertible evidence that the target is about to initiate a military attack.” Instead, all of the evidence pointed to Iraq not having weapons of mass destruction, much less having the capability and the will to fire such weapons at the US. As Noam Chomsky puts it:

The grand strategy authorizes Washington to carry out “preventive war”: Preventive, not pre-emptive.  Whatever the justifications for pre-emptive war might be, they do not hold for preventive war, particularly as that concept is interpreted by its current enthusiasts: the use of military force to eliminate an invented or imagined threat, so that even the term “preventive” is too charitable.  Preventive war is, very simply, the “supreme crime” condemned at Nuremberg.

The DPRK has threatened preemptive war, not preventative war. The difference is so glaring that one can only conclude that the US media is knowingly distorting and lying about the DPRK’s military intent. Because the DPRK rightly recognizes the crippling sanctions on itself as a form of economic warfare and they recognize the growing threat of US invasion, they have made a strong statement expressing their willingness to shoot first if “there is incontrovertible evidence that the target is about to attack.” This becomes painstakingly clear in the second paragraph of the statement in question, in which the DPRK claims it will only nullify the armistice “when the US nuclear war rehearsal gets into full-swing.”

Admittedly, the use of the term “when” rather than “if” seems fatalist and damning, but when one considers the 63+ year aggression that the DPRK has continually faced by the US, their cynicism at the US radically changing its pro-war policy seems justified.

This statement is nothing new from the DPRK, which has continually upheld its right to self-defense and self-determination. The DPRK acquired nuclear weapons out of necessary reality, a point further underscored by the US war with Iraq and NATO’s war with Libya in 2011. Again, we quote Gowans about the deterrent provided by nuclear weapons in his article, “Why North Korea Needs Nuclear Weapons“:

Subsequent events in Libya have only reinforced the lesson. Muammar Gaddafi had developed his own WMD program to protect Libya from Western military intervention. But Gaddafi also faced an internal threat—Islamists, including jihadists linked to Al Qaeda, who sought to overthrow him to create an Islamist society in Libya. After 9/11, with the United States setting out to crush Al Qaeda, Gaddafi sought a rapprochement with the West, becoming an ally in the international battle against Al Qaeda, to more effectively deal with his own Islamist enemies at home. The price of being invited into the fold was to abandon his weapons of mass destruction. When Gaddafi agreed to this condition he made a fatal strategic blunder. An economic nationalist, Gaddafi irritated Western oil companies and investors by insisting on serving Libyan interests ahead of the oil companies’ profits and investors’ returns. Fed up with his nationalist obstructions, NATO teamed up with Gaddafi’s Islamist enemies to oust and kill the Libyan leader. Had he not surrendered his WMDs, Gaddafi would likely still be playing a lead role in Libya. “Who would have dared deal with Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein if they had a nuclear capability?” asks Major General Amir Eshel, chief of the Israeli army’s planning division. “No way.”

Rather than threatening to destroy Washington D.C. in a sea of nuclear flames – which even the Western media admits the DPRK has no way of doing, even if they wanted to – the DPRK is once again asserting its right to defend itself and strike first if the US provokes nuclear war. The stakes are too high, and although liberals in the US and Western Europe may complain about these measures, they do so from the safety and comfort of their homes within imperialist countries. The people of the DPRK hang in the balance of a life-and-death struggle against nuclear war with the US. No one in the DPRK wants war, including the leadership. However, the DPRK has made clear that they will not hesitate to retaliate and defend their people from nuclear holocaust.

Once we cut through the lies of the US media, one truth stands above all others for US citizens: The ball is in your court if you don’t want nuclear conflict with the DPRK. Washington has shown a total disregard for human life – whether Korean, Iraqi, Libyan, or even American – when it comes to starting imperialist wars. They have continued economic warfare on the DPRK in the form of sanctions and currently carry on war games in the Korean Peninsula. They are not going to change on their own.

Nuclear war is a disturbing and horrific possibility, and all freedom-loving people should do everything they can to prevent it from happening. In the US, this means organizing and rebuilding the anti-war movement as an anti-imperialist movement. Rather than playing into the racist and chauvinistic rhetoric of US politicians, the US Left should pursue international solidarity with oppressed nations like the DPRK and stand resolutely against any military aggression by their own government.

Incredibly, former Chicago Bulls Forward Dennis Rodman may have set a better line on the DPRK than most of the US Left. His recent travel to Democratic Korea may have irked social-chauvinists like George Stephanopoulos, but Rodman has allowed many people in the US to view the DPRK through a different light. Even Rodman said in his interview with Stephanopoulos that Kim Jong-Un wanted US President Barack Obama to “call him.” The level of distortions and outright falsehoods by the US media is incredible when we consider that the DPRK wants dialogue, not warfare. Anti-imperialists on the US Left must make this clear and challenge the false narrative put forth by the imperialist class.

Ultimately, this is why reactionaries like Stephanopoulos and US politicians decried Rodman’s trip so loudly. Realizing that the DPRK is not a nation hell-bent on destroying the people of the US, but rather a nation that enjoys many of the same things that Americans do, makes it harder for the imperialists to build popular consensus for war. The US Left should commend and learn from Rodman’s example and seek to build greater cultural and political ties with the people of the DPRK while boldly opposing sanctions and military aggression by the US.

We Are Not All Mourning on the Inside


The following article was submitted to The Prison Gates Are Open… by the author Professor Toad:

We Are Not All Mourning on the Inside

March 5, 2013

A wave of mourning is sweeping over Latin America and the world over the death of Hugo Chavez. The leader of the Bolivarian Revolution shattered the ossified and corrupt political structure of Venezuela, ushering the country into a new era in which it put the needs of its own people first and stood on its own feet in the world community. Beyond that, Chavez’s revolution inspired movements which brought about deep changes in many countries. Although the left is notoriously sectarian, the overwhelming sensation of leftists the world over is sorrow at the passing of a man who moved the struggle so far forward. However, as Chavez’s health deteriorated in recent months, it became obvious that there were a few among us who would have, at worst, mixed feelings about his death, seeing in it definite elements of opportunity for their own political programs. The question is how soon in this period of deep mourning these snakes will let their true feelings show.

On January 5, 2013, the website ran an article by a certain Roberto Lopez entitled “Possible Policy Scenarios”. This article apparently originated on a Venezuelan Trotskyist website called, but has found echo as well at the website, which is apparently the official website of a small Trotskyist sect which pompously calls itself the Fourth International.

The article is a disgusting call for a civil war in the Partido Socialist Unitaria Venezolana, the political party founded and led by Hugo Chavez. Although the article recognizes that the death of Chavez will bring an attack by imperialism, it unbelievably declares that only a sharpening of the internal conflicts of the PSUV can protect the Venezuelan Revolution. The reasoning is fascinating in the way that a bad car crash is fascinating.

First, the article assures us that the vice-president of Venezuela and the speaker of the Venezuelan national assembly are simply incapable as leaders: “We can infer that the present pro-Chavez leadership headed by Maduro and Cabello will deteriorate as time passes. Causes: none of them have the leadership qualities of Chavez and therefore none of them are able to generate the consensus that existed when Chavez was in office.” How this evaluation was arrived at we are not told.

Worse, however, they are apparently “bureaucrats”, a Trotskyist term of art referring to people who hold back a revolution: “The errors of the bureaucracy will not be forgiven by the people, as occurred when Chavez firmly held the nation’s leadership.” In this line, of course, they count Chavez among the wicked bureaucrats undercutting the revolution… A revolution which Chavez began and led, from victory to victory, throughout its life.

Now that we know that the people who brought literacy, medicine, housing, and so forth to Venezuela are in fact enemies of the Venezuelan people, the question is what must be done about them. But, really, how much of a question can this be? “If this strengthening of alternative revolutionary leadership does not occur, it is likely that reformist trends will end up predominating within the Chavista bureaucracy, pushing for a general agreement with the local bourgeoisie and US imperialism as a way to ‘save and sustain’ the Bolivarian process.”

Indeed, in order to protect Venezuela from US imperialism – which the article concedes will soon undertake “a widespread conspiracy” – it is necessary that the left within the PSUV increase the struggle against the current leadership, which we are told will soon seek a league with the United States.

The article makes clear that the reason the new leadership will seek a league with the United States is not any actual change in their political stance – Chavez, the article implies, though, perhaps from cowardice, refrains from frankly saying, was as much a villainous bureaucrat as Maduro or Cabello – but rather their weakness.

So, in effect, we are being told that Chavez’s chosen heirs, those who are concededly of the same political stance as he, will soon deliver the country to the United States. This belief is only possible for those who ignore completely the entire history of Bolivarian Venezuela’s relations with the United States; Those who do not remember the American sponsored coup of 2002; Those who do not remember Chavez’s remarks about the smell of sulfur attending George Bush at the United Nations; Those who do not remember the solidarity that Venezuela has shown with Cuba and Bolivia. And so on.

The empire has never made any bones about who its enemies were in Bolivarian Venezuela. US Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, took the opportunity of Chavez’s death to declare that the leader had “ruled with an iron hand.” Representative Mike Rogers, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, by way of eulogy for Chavez, called him an obstacle to progress. Meanwhile, the wealthy escualidos in Miami have turned out in the city’s streets alongside their Cuban gusano brethren to celebrate the hero’s death. Here, then, we have a touching unity between the section of the left represented by and the imperialists.

The politics of this is, of course, rotten. Whatever grounds there are for criticizing Chavez – or Maduro and Cabello, whose leadership is so far largely untested – the suggestion that the most effective anti-imperialist course will be to break the unity of the Venezuelan revolutionaries is laughable. While the article insists that “the recent and resounding electoral defeats suffered by the opposition in October and December place the post-Chavez political dispute within Chavismo itself,” the reality is that Chavez’s death forces the country to go to a new presidential election within thirty days. The election will pit Maduro, who was until very recently a relative unknown, against a right-wing contender who, in fact rather than fantasy, won more than 44% of the vote even against the immensely popular Chavez. It would be an act of obvious foolishness not to take the threat posed by this looming election seriously.

Beyond politics, however, we can see here a weakness which is, in itself, enough to prevent this brand of Trotskyism from ever posing a serious political threat to capitalism: The article is completely divorced from the real, human feelings of the Venezuelan working class. The authors of the article see Chavez’s death as their opportunity to seize the leadership of the revolutionary movement he built, and if they had to physically step across his corpse to do so, the only danger would be that they would stumble in their haste. The Venezuelan working class sees the death of their long-time leader as a national tragedy.

It seems that laguarura has the political sense to move slowly in firing the opening shots of this war. Although the January 5 article firmly located Chavez within the ranks of the bureaucratic traitors, the article actually announcing his death refers to him as “our companion Chavez.” Perhaps the force of the workers’ reactions will keep these rats mostly in their holes for the foreseeable future. But the question remains, ‘When they will strike?’, rather than if.

Nepal: Maoists neither revisionists nor rightists, says Chairman Dahal


February 13, 2013

Chairman Dahal of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist

Addressing a mass meeting in Tundikhel of Kathmandu, February 12, 2013, Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal of Unified Maoists spared much of his time trying to justify his party’s fresh stand adopted through the party’s national convention held in Hetauda of Makwanpur district.

He said, “We would have been standing at the same position had we not made timely adjustments in the political line adopted by the party.”

“The party would have been in the same state as that of Mohan Bikram Singh if we had not gone through timely adjustments”, he reiterated.

But where is the mention of the support of NOIDA in such an adjustment Mr. Chairman? And what about Muni’s support for this transformation?

“In the last 25 years since I took over the charge of the party by making continuous experiments in Marxism we have arrived at this stage. Marxism is not a religious text. It is rather a science. Whereas others only read the text, we made several experiments to arrive at this stage.”

Dahal in the course of his speech also said that to amass weapons for a revolutionary party is not a difficult proposition.

“I would like to remind that we had no weapons before 2052 B.S. If required then we have the capacity to provide military training to the entire population.”

“I am aware that some so-called revolutionary parties are terming us as revisionists and rightists but they are not putting efforts to institutionalize the changes”, he said criticizing the Nepal Communist Party-Maoist led by Chairman Mohan Baidya Kiran.

The Party deputies Baburam and Narayan Kaji also spoke at the mass meet.


Hacked e-mails reveal ‘Washington approved’ plan to stage Syria chemical attack


January 30, 2013

On Saturday, Cyber War News released a cache of e-mails allegedly hacked by someone in Malaysia from a British private defense contractor called Britam Defence.

One of the e-mails contains a discussion between Britam’s Business Development Director David Goulding and Philip Doughty, company founder. In the exchange, it’s revealed that there is a plan to unleash chemical weapons in Syria in order to blame it on the Bashar Al Assad regime to justify a direct intervention by U.S. and NATO forces in the country’s civil war. The plan, thought up by the government of Qatar according to the e-mail, is “approved by Washington.”


We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

We’ll have to deliver a CW (chemical weapon) to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

Kind regards


If this e-mail is authentic, it would confirm what has been reported in the past: that the al-Qaida connected Syrian rebels are planning to unleash chemical weapons as a false flag.

In June, Russia Today reported that Syrian rebels had acquired gas masks and chemical weapons from Libya and “allegedly plan to use it against civilians and pin the atrocity on the Bashar al-Assad regime.”

A Saudi company had further allegedly fitted 1,400 ambulances with a filtering system to protect passengers from gas and chemicals after Syrian rebels launch a chemical weapons attack using mortar rounds, all at the cost of $97,000 each. These ambulances, labeled with “Syrian People’s Relief,” would actually be carrying U.S. and NATO troops. According to Paul Joseph Watson:

The attack, which will involve the use of white phosphorus, sarin and mustard gas, will be launched on a heavily populated town near the Syria/Jordan border, possibly Daraa, after which the vehicles will pour in under the cover of humanitarian aid.

The ambulances…will operate under the guise of an aid mission to help the victims of the chemical weapons attack, but in reality are nothing short of armored personnel carriers.

A buffer zone will be created “that will lead to a NATO military intervention under the pretext of punishing Assad’s regime for the atrocity.”

In December, a video was posted online showing a member of the Syrian rebels testing chemicals on rabbits while jihadist chants go on in the background. In the video, containers labeled Tekkim are shown, which is a Turkish chemicals company. On the wall is a poster with Arabic writing on it that reads “The Almighty Wind Brigade (Kateebat A Reeh Al Sarsar),” according to the Syria Tribune.

A person wearing a lab mask then mixes chemicals in a beaker in the glass box, and we see some gas emitting from the beaker. About a minute later, the rabbits start to have random convulsions and then die. The person says: You saw what happened? This will be your fate, you infidel Alawites, I swear by ALLAH to make you die like these rabbits, one minute only after you inhale the gas.

Assad has maintained that he will not use chemical weapons in Syria’s ongoing war. It would seem unlikely that he would, considering that it would put the militaries of most of the world’s powers against him. Further, an official from within the Pentagon told NBC News that there was no evidence that Assad was planning such attacks.

Intervention in Syria is not about protecting civilians. The Assad regime is allied with the Iranian government, and by overthrowing it, the West has an advantage in an attack on the Islamic Republic.


Israeli warplanes bomb research center near Damascus


January 30, 2013

Israeli warplanes attacking Syrian soil.

Israeli fighter jets targeted a military research center near Damascus early on Wednesday morning, the Syrian army said. The statement follows earlier reports of an Israeli airstrike on a convoy with Syrian weapons heading to Lebanon.

The Syrian army’s general command has issued a statement, saying an airstrike was launched by the IAF targeting a military research center in Jamraya, rural Damascus.

“Israeli fighter jets violated our air space at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research center in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defense,” the army statement said as cited by SANA.

The strike caused material damage to the center and a nearby building, killing two workers and wounding five others, the statement added. The Israeli warplanes were flying low under the radars and “snuck in from the north of Al-Sheikh Mountain” according to the report. It called the strike a “blatant act of aggression” against Syria and accused Israel of supporting terrorist activity in the country.

Earlier there were reports in the media of an attack by Israeli jets on Wednesday morning striking a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border amid repeated violations of Lebanese airspace. A US government official has confirmed reports that Israeli warplanes targeted a convoy headed from Syria to Lebanon, the Associated Press says.

The Syrian military however has denied this, saying there was no Israeli strike on a convoy of trucks on its border.

However, it was “possible” that the convoy was near the large military site when it came under attack, diplomatic sources told Reuters.

Although it has not yet been confirmed whether an airstrike indeed targeted a military site near Damascus, experts believe that after months of constant rebel attacks on Syrian air defense systems an airstrike would make sense.

“It finally makes sense because the rebels or as they like to call themselves the revolutionaries, they have been attacking air defense bases near Damascus for the past seven months,” Dr Ali Mohamad, editor in chief of the Syria Tribune news website told RT. “They’ve managed to attack the S-200 base and over four SM-2 and SM-3 bases. Now this followed by an airstrike from Israel. So it all adds up, it makes sense. It only shows that Israel has a great interest in the instability in Syria and that it is being helped by groups of armed rebels in Syria.”

Chemical weapons false flag?

Israel had reportedly been planning for several days the airstrike to hit a shipment of sophisticated weaponry – allegedly including chemical weapons and Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles – bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“This episode boils down to a warning by Israel to Syria and Hezbollah not to engage in the transfer of sensitive weapons,” a regional security source told Reuters.

So far none of the officials in Israel or other concerned parties have pinpointed the exact location and target of the airstrike. The anonymous diplomatic sources however have told Reuters that chemical weapons were believed to be stored at the Jamraya research center, although the vehicles in convoy were unlikely to be carrying them.

Israeli officials have said repeatedly they fear Assad losing his grip on his chemical weapons stockpile. But Dr. Ali Mohamad believes the chemical weapons danger was just a pretext to destroy Syria’s military research centers to ensure that Damascus can’t produce arms for its military or to ship to its allies in the region.

“Military research centers are responsible for developing weapons in particular land-to-land long range missiles,” he explained. “And what Israel wants is to stop this research and stop this process. And of course Israel will claim that this is connected to a chemical weapons arsenal, but this is of course not true because nobody stores chemical weapons in a research center.”

Everybody who lives in Syria knows “that this is not at all about chemical weapons,” Mohamad said.

“Let’s remember that the Syrian official who was responsible for all military research projects has been assassinated in Damascus by the rebels,” he explained. “Let’s also remember that the person who orchestrated the Syrian long-range missile project colonel Dawoud Rajiha was also assassinated in Damascus. This is about stopping the Syrian scientific military research projects and is about breaking the link that will help [Israel] overcome the Lebanese resistance and the Palestinian resistance.”

Editor of the Pan-African news wire, Abayomi Azikiwe, told RT that the air raid on Syria could have been intended to distract international attention from the atrocities carried out by some of the rebel groups on the ground.

“The rebels have been involved in tremendous human right violations inside the country,” he said. “We saw what happened just yesterday with the finding of some 80 people who’ve been massacred, with handcuffs behind their backs shot in the head. And of course these actions carried out by the US-backed rebels inside of Syria are tremendously damaging to their image internationally. So in order to deflect attention away from these developments Israel has launched an air raid, alleging that Syria is transporting weapons to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.”

Another reason for “opening another front” in Syria was to put further pressure on the government of Bashar al-Assad.

“Part of that strategy of course has been the deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey,” he said. “And with the airstrikes that took place today this is designed to create a sense of encirclement with regard to the Syrian government.”