USA

Obnoxious Behaviour Against Sri Lanka

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4 mins read

Sri Lanka is a resilient nation. That’s almost a given. A constant. All talk of peace, human rights, democracy, good governance, reparations and other such goodies emanating from Washington, London and other empiric capitals are disingenuous and laughable. Constant. Meddling, self-righteous and downright obnoxious North American and European diplomats: well, almost par for the course, with the US and UK specimens ensuring an above average score on such attributes.

Sessions of the UNHRC. The USA and others in the global thugs club bad-mouthing Sri Lanka while Russia and China lauding the restraint shown in dealing with brigands, highway robbers, arsonist and murderers operating under the, yes, legitimate banner of agitation. Yes, the kind of restraint that the USA never exercised when dealing with protests and not just the Capitol Hill theatrics of Trumpites. Constants, all.

And India! The country that reneged on the very agreement her leaders penned and stuffed down a pliant, unimaginative and clueless J R Jayewardene demanded that Sri Lanka implement in full the illegal 13th Amendment. This is what the Indian delegate told the UNHRC: ‘India seeks full implementation of the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, delegation of powers to Provincial Councils and holding of Provincial Council elections at the earliest.’ No one, not even the diehard federalists and separatists either operating as pawns of India and the rogue nations of North America and Western Europe or are downright communalists have uttered one word calling for PC elections. Not a word about democracy being challenged by elections not being held. And yet, India wants Sri Lanka to inhabit India’s version of Sri Lankan reality. Constant.

To nutshell-capture, North America, Western Europe and India closed ranks against Sri Lanka while Russia and China, despite being snubbed no end by leaders without backbone defended Sri Lanka resolutely. Constants.

We could add to that Colombots, Candle-light Ladies, Rent-a-Protest Agitators, Funded Voices and other Kolombian sects. They’ll cheer most things that carry a Western/White token. They’ll wax eloquent about colonial rule, praising ‘accomplishments’ such as roads and railways, never mind that these were the yield of taxes paid and labor provided by Sri Lankans. They mourn the death of a woman who was the beneficiary and symbol of genocide and plunder. Constant.

So why bother talking about such things, one may ask. Well, certain things need to be reiterated and placed on record simply because we can forget to remember history. Simply because we can be fooled by sweet-talk. Simply because true citizenship requires us to observe, understand, share and agitate, one way or another.

A single example would do, actually. A two syllable name, actually. China. Now we know that China, a country which along with Japan owns US and Western European debt, is the No 1 target for Washington’s spin doctors. In fact US foreign policy in 2022 seems to be framed by a desperate need to vilify that country. So it should not come as a surprise that an outfit outrageously named Freedom House (it is primarily funded by USAID and the US State Department!) has ‘found’ that ‘Pro-Beijing influencers have increased their activities in the social media space—particularly their outreach to younger Sri Lankans—and new agreements with elites, including in the think tank space, have shaped conversations in the media.’

This is not outrageous, it is hilarious. When have US influencers ever held back their activities, in social and mainstream media? Washington, directly (through the Embassy) and indirectly through the latest avatar of the CIA, the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has its proverbial fingers thick in the Sri Lankan media space. Verite Research and Advocata, if they are honest, can do some insightful research on the subject.

When have US influencers ever neglected younger Sri Lankans (and young people in other countries similarly targeted)? Just the other day Julie Chang, now quite adept at putting her feet in her mouth, confusing ‘danger’ with ‘dangerous’ when tweeting about peacocks, was bragging about young people in the strangely named ‘American Corner Matara.’ What Canada, Central America and South America would have to say about pernicious appropriation of the proper noun ‘America’ we do not know, but while it is bullish to mark territory in that manner, it is not the case that US influencers have limited operations to getting a foothold in the Southern Province. They are as thick as thieves with think tanks, politicians, so-called civil society organizations and media personnel, especially outfits and individuals who believe they are at the epicenter of social change in Sri Lanka. Social change, mind you, is but an easy proxy for ‘change sought by US paymasters.’

Freedom House (sic) is upset by China’s alleged close ties with elites. I suppose they believe the US gives local elites a wide berth. They whine about ‘aggressive diplomatic push on social media.’ Maybe they’ve not heard of Julie Chang and the local foot soldiers hired to do US propaganda. They are also worried about China Radio International reaching out to Sri Lankan audiences in Sinhala. Well, all it means is that the Chinese, if not less vile than the USA, are way smarter. Anyway, it is not that the US has no footprint in Sinhala media or no social media operatives either engaged in China-bashing or genuflecting before Uncle Sam. In Sinhala.

There’s more of course, but it’s all about the US being annoyed that China has cut in on their action. George Carlin, the US comedian once said that wars are mostly about white people killing brown people and the only reason that white nations fought Hitler (a white man who killed white people) was that he had cut in on their action. Same same.

And when Samantha Power, currently attached to USAID, says ‘USA wants countries to be independent, she’s being comic beyond belief. How many countries does the USA have military bases in, Samantha? How many countries have the USA invaded over the last two centuries, or let’s say the last two decades? How many proxy wars has the USA funded? How many terrorists has the US supplied arms to, do you know? How many elections in how many countries has the USA interfered in? How about arm-twisting in multilateral agencies? How about the operations of the CIA and more recently, the NED? And you want countries to be independent? Well, lady, it’s simple. Just leave the room.

All this, pretty consistent with the way the world has been for decades. One difference. The USA is jittery. Now that’s a good sign, not just for Sri Lanka but the entire world. And India, if it wants to do better than the USA, would do well to learn. Things pass. Regimes change. Thugs are ousted. World powers of other eras have been brought to their feet. Such things happen.

Sri Lanka is resilient. That’s a constant that’s not boring. It gives us hope.

Quandary of West’s ignorance of China

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3 mins read

Over the weekend, a baseless story, created by Falun Gong linked twitter accounts, went viral on twitter. Without any evidence whatsoever, the rumour stated that there had been an internal coup in China and the Chinese leader was under house arrest, citing an out-of-context video clip of military vehicles in an unspecified location. Despite the fact that the story was complete nonsense in every aspect, it was still widely shared throughout the platform and even trending. Several mainstream media outlets, including CNBC and Newsweek, even reported on the phenomenon. To anyone with a serious knowledge of China, the experience of this saga was, to say the least, frustrating.

But it shouldn’t surprise anyone. This might be the most explicit example of such, but it is by no means the first completely fake story about China that has gone viral on social media, rather it is just one of many that regularly occur. Western audiences are frequently indulged in sporadic fake news and misinformation across social media when it comes to China, exposing their lack of basic knowledge, quick prejudices and critical thinking on the subject. Western media and governments like to try and frame China’s own government as a source of misinformation, but the reality is in fact the exact opposite.

To understand how such fake news proliferates, without going into detail on the various groups and organizations responsible, we should take a look at a neighbouring country as an example: North Korea. Although it is of course an extreme example given its isolation from the outside world and much smaller scope, it is nonetheless a pivotal demonstration of how a country that is poorly understood by the west, abjectly demonized and vilified, and of course, few objective and impartial sources of information exist, becomes a breeding ground for absurd, unverified and even ludicrous rumours which would never fulfil basic standards of reporting for anything in the west itself.

In fact, western audiences literally believed that Kim Jong-un died in 2020, that everyone had to “get his haircut”, that they pretended to win the world cup in 2014, that people get executed for the most minor of misdemeanours and so on. There is no serious fact-checking mechanism whatsoever, which makes the country an easy target for low-information threshold tabloid journalism which exploits the country’s seeming absurdity for readers and clicks. This has only been more deeply compounded in the social media era. When it comes to such countries, western audiences will truly believe anything.

China of course, is a different case altogether but also has many similarities. Despite the fact that it has the world’s largest population and it is otherwise deeply integrated into the world, its government nonetheless becomes a useful target for conspiracy-led reporting due to its opacity and the perceived “secret” nature of the country, which although not like the DPRK, nonetheless attracts western cynicism and prejudice. This has always been present, yet it has got aptly worse with the open US and media-led demonization of the country and media campaign against it which sought to openly frame it as culpable for things such as Covid. The Anti-China agenda has legitimated and emboldened, deliberately often, the spreaders of misinformation, on a much, much larger scale.

As a result, social media has become filled with such falsehoods. Clips out of context purporting to show covid situations in China have often been sporadic, such as claims people are being “welded in their homes”, as well as false material depicting the apparent torture or mistreatment of the Uyghur minority. In 2019, I remember an English person sharing an out-of-context clip of an African child crying, the claim attached to the video was that he was “being forced to learn Chinese”. It was completely false, yet it is just one of many disturbing examples.

Although social media companies often claim they now oppose “misinformation” and even crack down on accounts purporting to push the narratives of China or Russia, they tend to give rumour-mongering accounts against designated enemy countries a free reign to spread misinformation, which has on many occasions been amplified by leading public figures. Likewise, posts on Chinese social media itself, such as Weibo, are frequently cherrypicked in order to frame very specific narratives to portray the country in a bad light.

In conclusion, this farce of a non-existent “coup” is annoying, stupid and ridiculous to anyone who has insight into the topic, but for the public at large, it is a believable and plausible event stemming from an entire misinformation machine dedicated to smearing China wherever possible. It demonstrates the gullible nature of the western public when it comes to understanding these topics, and shows in turn how easy it is for them to be manipulated by even the most obvious falsehoods, let alone the more crafted and sophisticated fakery of the mainstream media at large.

Views expressed are personal

Edward Snowden: A Russian Citizen

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2 mins read

Yesterday Edward Snowden was granted Russian citizenship. Snowden had to flee his country, because he released information that proved that the NSA was, and still is, illegally spying on US citizens.  The presstitutes will use Snowden’s grant of citizenship as proof that he was a Russian spy, not a patriotic whistleblower trying to alert his countrymen to their danger.

 I would like to give some background. Edward Snowden was the second American who blew the whistle about illegal NSA spying on American citizens.

William Binney was the first.  Binney was a Russian specialist with the National Security Agency.  He developed the spy program that was supposed to be used against America’s enemies, but was illegally used against the American population.  Binney, despite being the NSA Geopolitical World Technical Director, a high position, blew the whistle on the illegal activity, comparing it to activities of the KGB, Stasi, Gestapo, and SS.

As a consequence, the US government decided to destroy him.  In July 2007 a dozen heavily armed FBI Gestapo broke into his home and arrested him while he was taking a shower.  His economic livelihood was destroyed, and the government attempted to prosecute him.

However, Binney exposed the illegal spying internally through the official whistleblower program, and he did not take any documents as proof of the illegal spying on US citizens. As a result of these precautions, Binney could not be prosecuted, and the information that the US government was illegally spying on its own citizens did not get out.

Speaking before the German Bundestag in July 2014, Binney said that NSA was using totalitarian methods that previously had only been used by dictatorships. He said that Washington’s goal was to monitor the whole American population, including those abroad, which stands in contradiction of the US Constitution.

As Binney had taken no documents, he could supply no proof, and the US media disposed of him as a crackpot who turned against his country.

Consequently, Edward Snowden who knew first-hand that the NSA was illegally and unconstitutionally spying on US citizens took and released the documents to prove it. This effort to wake up insouciant Americans meant that he would be arrested on national security grounds. Snowden realized that and released the documents to Glenn Greenwald in Asia and escaped capture by China permitting his passage to Russia. The whore US media used Snowden’s escape via China to Russia as proof that he was a spy, and used this false story to prevent Americans from understanding that it was their own government, not Snowden, who was betraying them.

That Russia has belatedly granted Snowden citizenship will be used by the US presstitute media as proof that he is a Russian spy out to discredit the NSA.  Many Americans, the least educated and aware of all peoples, will fall for this story.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that it is difficult, and perhaps impossible, for even high government officials who turn whistleblower to awaken the American people.  

Americans have no idea of anything that is really happening in the world. They only get officially approved narratives handed to a media that serves only as a Ministry of Propaganda.  I am a former editor at the Wall Street Journal.  There is no one in American print and TV media today that has enough integrity for them to be hired by the WSJ four decades ago when I was an editor.

In the United States today dissent from the official narratives that serve secret agendas implies that you are a kook conspiracy theorist and more recently that you are a foreign operative against your country.  It will not be long in the US before any disagreement from official narratives is grounds for arrest.

So, to be clear, in the US today facts not only do not matter, but they are dangerous to those who speak them.  

U.S. Ambassador to UN Agencies to visit Sri Lanka

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1 min read

United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

In addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).  U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger. 

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.  Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country. 

Statement issued by US Embassy in Colombo

Where Does Russia Receive Its Aid From?

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5 mins read

On August 24, Ukraine’s independence day, the U.S. provided a $3 billion military aid package to the country. The additional assistance adds to more than $80 billion worth of support that Kyiv has already received between January 24 and August 3, the majority of which was provided by the U.S., the UK, and the EU. In addition to gaining access to Western weapons systems, military data, and training, the Ukrainian armed forces have further been augmented by foreign volunteers serving in the International Legion.

With third parties caught aiding Russia risking the imposition of financial penalties by the U.S., open support for the Kremlin has been largely limited to rogue states already isolated from Washington and Brussels. Russia’s seclusion was documented in a UN Resolution on March 2, where 141 countries voted to deplore Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 35 abstained, and just four—Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Eritrea—supported the Kremlin.

Even most of Russia’s key post-Soviet allies belonging to its international organizations, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), have avoided supporting Moscow. Kazakhstan, for example, a member of both institutions, took steps in July to begin exporting its oil across the Caspian Sea, bypassing Russian-controlled oil pipelines. This directly undermines the Kremlin’s strategy of restricting oil to Europe to compromise the region’s energy security.

The key exception among post-Soviet states has been Belarus. Over the last decade, President Alexander Lukashenko has steered Belarus further into Russia’s orbit. Enticed by cheap Russian oil and gas and lucrative transit fees as both these commodities continue on to Europe, Lukashenko has also increasingly relied on Russian security forces to enforce his rule—notably evident during the 2020 Belarusian protests.

Lukashenko’s response to the popular protests in 2020 essentially cut off all avenues for cooperation with the West. But growing Belarusian support for Russia against Ukraine has been evident for years. In 2017, Belarusian authorities detained a 19-year-old Ukrainian man who had traveled to Belarus and deported him to Russia to face terrorism charges. It was therefore no surprise when Lukashenko allowed Russian troops to invade Ukraine from Belarusian territory in February 2022.

Belarus continues to aid the Russian military campaign, including permitting Russia “to fire ballistic missiles from the Belarusian territory, enabling transportation of Russian military personnel and heavy weapons, tanks, and military transporters, allowing Russian military aircraft to fly over Belarusian airspace into Ukraine, providing refueling points, and storing Russian weapons and military equipment in Belarus,” stated the European Council.

Belarus has also repeatedly conducted its own troop movements near the Ukrainian border since the beginning of Russia’s invasion to distract Ukrainian forces. And though Belarus has not committed its armed forces to the Ukraine conflict, Russia has had access to a stream of foreign volunteers, largely from Europe, since Russia’s initial military action in 2014 in Crimea.

Russia’s volunteer strategy has evolved since the launch of Russia’s invasion. Though a far cry from Western think tank estimates of as high as 40,000 Syrian fighters making their way to Russia in March, hundreds of mercenaries from Syria and Libya, where the Russian military is also engaged, were active in Ukraine by April. Rotating allied forces alleviates the Kremlin’s need for more soldiers without resorting to conscription.

Additionally, the Syrian government recognized the independence of Russian-supported eastern Ukraine breakaway republics, Luhansk and Donetsk, in June.

The Iranian government, meanwhile, declared in July that it supported Russia’s war in the face of NATO aggression. Heavily sanctioned by the West, Iran’s armed forces have been fighting alongside the Russian military in Syria since 2015. The two countries have also expanded bilateral relations through energy and weapons deals since the Ukraine invasion, building on years of growing ties in both these areas.

While Russia has typically supplied weapons to Iran, Russian forces have faced a drone deficit in Ukraine. Russian officials have allegedly repeatedly visited Iranian airfields in recent months to review Iranian-made drones, with the first shipments of these drones from Iran to Russia arriving in August.

According to U.S. officials, Russia asked China for financial and material assistance in March, but these accusations were denied by Moscow and Beijing. Both Russia and Ukraine have been using Chinese drones to target one another, prompting China’s Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI), the world’s premier civilian drone maker, to halt sales to both countries in April. However, Russians have continued to access AeroScope, a surveillance software used in DJI drones, to target Ukrainian DJI aircraft along with the position of the drone’s operator.

China has also provided the Russian military with significant aid along with electronic components and raw materials vital to sustaining its campaign in Ukraine. In June, five Chinese companies were accused of aiding the Russian military and were blacklisted by U.S. officials. Chinese military aid may accelerate following U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on August 2, which caused a significant downturn in U.S.-China relations.

Additionally, Chinese loans and access to its consumer markets, particularly in energy, have helped Russia cushion the blow of Western sanctions and falling exports. Despite China’s wariness over the threat of Western sanctions and comparisons between the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its dispute with Taiwan, Beijing’s cautious support for Moscow has been crucial since the 2014 annexation of Crimea and continues to help Russia sustain its confrontation with the West.

North Korea has also provided strong support to Russia, with Pyongyang recognizing Ukraine’s two breakaway republics in July. On August 15, Putin wrote a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un proposing the forging of closer ties. This could include additional North Korean workers being sent to occupied Ukraine to help in reconstruction and other sectors. For decades now, North Koreans have traveled to Russia largely to work in highly competitive construction jobs in Siberia, with roughly 20,000 North Korean workers living there today.

Recent saber-rattling between the U.S. and North Korea in the region has also raised the prospect of North Korean soldiers being sent to Ukraine to fight for Russia. Like Syrian and Libyan mercenaries, they could be funneled into Russia through private military companies. North Korean military advisers have been present in Syria since the 1970s, while North Korean soldiers have been suspected of serving in Syria since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011.

Venezuela, Sudan, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other states harboring anti-U.S. sentiment have all reaffirmed their commitment to Russia since the invasion. But more subtle displays of support have come from around the world—even if countries remain cautious of inviting Western financial penalties and perceptions that they are harming Ukraine by supporting Russia.

The 35 abstentions at the UN vote in March represent more than half of the global population, and during a second resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council in April, 93 countries voted in favor, 58 abstained, and 24 voted against.

Distrust toward the West and acknowledgment of Russia’s position as a primary global energy and food supplier have incentivized sustained cooperation with Moscow throughout the world. India, for example, has continued to purchase weapons from Russia, as well as rapidly increasing its energy imports from Russia. Other Western partners and allies, including Turkey, have refused to take part in sanctioning Russia, alongside countries across the Global South.

Inconsistencies and a lack of clarity between Western states have, meanwhile, hampered the effectiveness of Western sanctions, but entities aligned with the West have also wittingly complemented Russia’s war effort. In June, the U.S. Commerce Department added financial actors from several countries, including Lithuania and the UK, to its list of blacklisted companies for helping Russia bypass sanctions and support its war effort.

Russia’s military campaign would also not be possible without the continued purchase of Russian energy by European countries since the beginning of the invasion.

Thus, while countries opposed to the U.S. order have been more open about their support for Russia, the Kremlin continues to receive, openly and subtly, substantial support from other states. This underlines the notion that the war in Ukraine continues to be a conflict between the West and Russia, with most other countries seeking to avoid being drawn in, and reinforces the influential role that Russia continues to play in global affairs.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.