Hell Comes to Paris

Source:  Counterpunch
November 14 2015

paris terror nov 2015Years spent depicting head chopping fanatics as rebels, moderates, and revolutionaries in an effort to effect the toppling of another secular government in the Middle East. Years spent cultivating Saudi Arabia as an ally against extremism and fanaticism rather than treating it as a country where extremism and fanaticism resides. Years spent treating the Assad government, Iran, and Russia as enemies rather than allies in the struggle against this fanaticism. And years spent denying any connection between a foreign policy underpinned by hubris and its inevitable blowback. All this together has succeeded in opening the gates of hell.

David CameronThe aforementioned hubris was on display just hours prior to the horrific events in Paris, when British Prime Minister David Cameron elevated the killing of Mohammed Emwazi by US drone strike in Raqqa, Syria, to the status of a major military victory in the war against ISIS. Out came the podium from Number 10, and out he came to proclaim that the killing of Emwazi (aka Jihadi John) had “struck at the heart of the terrorist organization [ISIS].”

That Cameron could venture such a fatuous boast the very day after an ISIS suicide bomb attack in southern Beirut killed 43 and wounded over 200 people was yet more evidence of the extent to which Western governments are detached from the reality of the Frankenstein’s monster their foreign policy has helped create and let loose upon the world.

A statistic … a tragedy

There is also the truth that in the minds of people whose worldview is grievously impaired by a Western prism, the deaths of Lebanese, Syrians, Iranians, and Kurds – in other words those engaged in the struggle against ISIS on the ground – constitute a statistic, while the deaths of Europeans and Americans to the same barbarism are an unspeakable tragedy.

In years to come historians will prepare such a scathing indictment against this generation’s leaders of the so-called free world, it will make the indictment prior generations of historians have leveled against the authors of the Sykes Picot Agreement, the Balfour Declaration, the Treaty of Versailles, the Munich Agreement, and the Suez Crisis seem like a playful tap on the wrist in comparison. In fact, the only issue of debate in the course of preparing it will be where it should begin and where it should end. As things stand, it is on track to be open-ended.

The gates flew open

In response to 9/11 the decision by the Bush administration, ably assisted by the Blair government, to crash first into Afghanistan without an exit strategy, followed by Iraq in the mistaken belief coalition troops would be greeted as liberators rather than occupiers, marked the day not when a new dawn of democracy and freedom was about to break across the Arab and Muslim world, but the day the hand of the West first reached for that rusty bolt securing in place the gates of hell, and slowly started to pull it back. Over the succeeding decade back ever-further the bolt came, inch by inch, until in 2011 the gates finally, and inevitably, flew open with the West’s ill-fated intervention in an Arab Spring in Libya that by then had arrived at the end of its reach.

To the bottom of the Mediterranean

NATO airstrikes succeeded in dragging the Libyan ‘revolution’ from Benghazi all the way to Tripoli and victorious completion, whereupon the aforementioned David Cameron and his French counterpart at the time, Nikolas Sarkozy, descended to hail the Libyan people for “choosing democracy.” The hubris of those words, the military intervention which preceded them, have sent thousands of men, women, and children to the bottom of the Mediterranean in the years following, marking a tragic end to a desperate attempt to escape the democratic paradise the British Prime Minister described.

Regardless, on we continued, driven by a myopic and fatal rendering of the brutal conflict in Syria as a revolution, even as legions of religious fanatics poured into the country, most of them across the border of our Turkish ally while Erdogan looked the other way. In the course of the long years of total war that has engulfed the country since, the world has witnessed every conceivable variety of bestiality, carried out under the black flag of ISIS. But wait a minute, the barrel bombs, you say. Assad is killing his own people. He is the cause of all of this mayhem and carnage.

War

Allowing for a moment the idea that the Assad government was the main cause of the Syrian conflict when it began in 2011, in 2015 the same government is without any shadow a necessary part of it ending with Syria’s survival. Barrel bombs are an atrociously indiscriminate weapon, for sure, and their use rightly comes under the category of war crime. However just as the war crime of the allied firebombing of Dresden in 1945 did not invalidate the war against European fascism then, neither does the atrocity of Syrian barrel bombs invalidate the war against its Middle East equivalent today. When the survival of a country and its culture and history is at stake, war can never be anything else but ugly, which is why the sooner it is brought to a conclusion in Syria the better.

This is where we come to Russia’s intervention, which came at the point where the Syrian government was slipping towards the abyss. President Putin’s forensic accounting of the perfidious calamity of events leading up to Russia’s arrival, in his address to the UN General Assembly, should have heralded the glaringly and obviously necessaryvolte face required to turn a Western policy responsible for disaster into one approximating to coherence.

But, no, instead a moral equivalence has continued to be drawn between a secular and sovereign government under which the rights of minorities were and are protected, and a medieval death cult intent on turning the country into a mass grave of said minorities, along with others deemed superfluous to the requirements of the Caliphate.

David Cameron’s boast

This shorthand history of the elemental conflict currently raging across Syria, and also northern Iraq, and which has now come knocking on our door, places the crassness of David Cameron’s boast of ‘striking at the heart’ in its rightful context. We – i.e. the West – are in truth striking at the heart of nothing when it comes to the struggle against ISIS. Russia on the other hand is striking them, along with the Syrian Arab Army, the Kurds, and Iran. The extent to which their efforts are succeeding can be measured in this shocking series of attacks that have been carried out beyond Syria’s borders – starting with the downing of the Russian passenger aircraft over the Sinai, followed by the recent suicide bombing in southern Beirut, and now with this latest grisly episode in the heart of Europe. They reflect the desperation of a group that has suffered significant reverses in Syria and Iraq in recent days and weeks.

No matter, if terror was the aim of the Paris attack, it has undeniably succeeded, leaving the French, British, and US government with a dilemma over how to respond, both in terms of security measures at home and their ongoing role in the conflict in Syria.

Unity

Responding to this latest atrocity in the French capital, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expressed Russia’s condolences and said: “The tragedy in Paris demands that we all unite in our fight against extremism.”

These are no mere empty words. The longer Russia’s call for unity in this struggle goes unheeded and ignored, the longer it will take for the gates of hell to be bolted shut again – assuming, of course, they ever can be.

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

Source:  Hell Comes to Paris   Counterpunch

Latin America Stands in Solidarity with Paris

Source:  TeleSUR
November 14 2015

South American leaders sent condolences to France and condemned the barbaric attacks that left at least 127 dead.

South American countries sent solidarity to Paris and the more than 127 victims of terror attacks that sent shock waves through the French capital on Friday night after eight gunmen attacked cafes, restaurants, the national football stadium and a packed concert hall.

maduro 10Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro released a statement strongly condemning terrorism and the “despicable massacre,” for which the Islamic State group claims responsibility.

OPINION: The Colors of Tragedy

“Venezuela deeply accompanies the pain felt by the families and friends of the victims of such regrettable events, it also express (sic) its solidarity with the people and the Government of France and hopes for the quick recovery of the injured people,” the statement read. “(Venezuela) reiterates its strongest rejection of terrorism in all its manifestations, without distinction or possible justification as a serious affront to all humanity.”

Rafael CorreaEcuador’s Rafael Correa also sent his condolences to the victims and their families.

“All our hearts with France and with the families of the victims of the terrorist brutality. This is a fight of the whole of humanity,” he tweeted.

“All our hearts with France and with the families of the victims of the terrorist brutality. This is a fight of the whole of humanity.”

cristina fernandez 3Argentine President Cristina Fernandez spoke of the “horror and tragedy of global terrorism” and called for a worldwide review of terrorism.

“Once again, the horror and tragedy of global terrorism. Our solidarity with the people and the Government of France and with all those who in different places suffer from a world that at times becomes inexplicably aggressive,” she said. “A global address of the issue of terrorism from a new and broader perspective becomes imperative. Otherwise, there will be no place where we can feel safe.”

RELATED: Beirut and Paris: A Tale of Two Terror Attacks

Dilma Rousseff 11Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff wished a “speedy recovery” to two Brazilians who were injured in the attacks in central Paris and rejected the violence and “barbarity.”

“Appalled by the terrorist barbarity, I express my rejection of violence and express my solidarity with the people and the French government,” she tweeted.

“We must fight relentlessly heinous acts committed in Paris. I reiterate my solidarity with the president @FHollande and the French people.”

Source:  Latin America Stands in Solidarity with Paris  TeleSUR

Climate change: a race against the clock

Source:  Granma
November 5, 2015
By  Alejandro Nadal | informacion@granma.cu

The UN climate change conference to be held in Paris at the end of November, COP21, will be a decisive moment in the race against the clock to control increasing global temperature.

climate change conference  UN 2015The possibility of avoiding a climate change catastrophe exists. But the window of opportunity is closing fast. The climate change conference to be held in Paris at the end of November will certainly act as a decisive moment in this race against the clock.

For years the target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has been to stabilize the atmospheric concentration of these at a maximum level of 450 parts per million (ppm). That goal requires cutting GHG emissions by 80 percent by 2050, which would ensure that the change in global temperature does not exceed 2 degrees Celsius.

As things stand today, achieving this goal of 450 ppm appears very difficult. To do so, the richest countries of the world should already be markedly reducing their emissions and by 2025, which is really just around the corner, the greenhouse gas emissions of all countries, rich and poor, should be falling. The possibility of achieving this goal exists, but is at risk of vanishing.

The fate of humanity

The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Paris in just a few weeks time. The basic draft document for the COP21 negotiations has already been released (October 5) and is marked by serious problems. It is a 20-page document from which the fate of humanity literally hangs.

As is known, in the framework of the negotiations ahead of COP21, each country is called to present their independently determined national commitments (now known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs).These commitments beg the following question: Who determines the emission reductions that each country should apply?

Since negotiations on reductions and emission ceilings have been stalled for years (to be exact, since shortly before COP15 six years ago in Copenhagen), it was thought that it would be better to allow each country the absolute freedom to establish its own national goals.

Today we have before us the national commitments that have been voluntarily presented to the UNFCCC secretariat. The result is truly discouraging. Several renowned economists have calculated the sum of all these national targets and found that they correspond to an equivalent of just 44 gigatons of CO2, when what is required is a cut of 55 gigatons by 2050 to keep on track for climate change of just 2 degrees Celsius.

Compliance

It is to be expected that between now and the beginning of COP21 in the French capital, several countries will amend their national commitments in order to achieve that goal. But the negotiation document has a flaw: it does not contain a mechanism to ensure compliance with these Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

In reality, there is little hope of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases at 450 ppm. To achieve this goal, greenhouse gas emissions can not exceed the maximum level of between 800 and a thousand gigatons of CO2: yet since 1880, 535 gigatons have already been emitted. Meanwhile, 250 gigatons have already been allocated to investments made in infrastructure linked to the fossil fuel industry in all its forms. Companies that have made such investments will wish to recover them and thus will do everything possible to ensure their facilities continue to operate and emit gigatons of CO2. That is, we are stuck on a path toward some really nasty surprises in terms of climate change.

There are also forces within the financial world that tend to keep us trapped on this path. Today the top 200 businesses related to the fossil fuel industry have a market value of around 4 trillion dollars and a good portion of that amount is based on the value of their reserves. If a strong agreement were achieved at COP21, with a clear commitment to reduce emissions, the value of these reserves would suffer a sharp downward adjustment, perhaps of up to 60 percent.

The connections between the fossil fuel industry and the financial world are very strong and this would bring with it serious consequences. For example, it is estimated that pension funds and individual retirement accounts in the United States have 47 percent of shares in the oil and natural gas companies of the country. Clearly, in the financial sector there is also reluctance to change the energy profile of the global economy.

Only pressure from the peoples of all countries can counteract these forces. Perhaps there is still time, beyond what happens at COP21. (La Jornada)

Source:  Climate change: a race against the clock  Granma