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7 points which expose Western governments’ hypocrisy on the issue of Catalan independence

Western policy towards independence movements is cynical and based on expediency rather than principle

Alexander Mercouris

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In my opinion the secession of Catalonia from Spain would be a disaster for the Catalan and Spanish people.  However there is no moral or legal principle behind the opposition to it of Western governments.   Here’s why

(1) The Western powers say that any declaration of independence by Catalonia would be contrary to international law because it is contrary to Spain’s constitution.

However in its Advisory Opinion on Kosovo the International Court of Justice, accepting legal arguments made by the US and the other major Western powers, said that declarations of independence such as the one just made by Catalonia are not contrary to international law even if they are contrary to the terms of the constitution of the country being seceded from.

79. During the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there were numerous instances of declarations of independence, often strenuously opposed by the State from which independence was being declared. Sometimes a declaration resulted in the creation of a new State, at others it did not. In no case, however, does the practice of States as a whole suggest that the act of promulgating the declaration was regarded as contrary to international law. On the contrary, State practice during this period points clearly to the conclusion that international law contained no prohibition of declarations of independence. During the second half of the twentieth century, the international law of self-determination developed in such a way as to create a right to independence for the peoples of non-self-governing territories and peoples subject to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation (cf. Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1971, pp. 31-32, paras. 52-53; East Timor (Portugal v. Australia), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1995, p. 102, para. 29; Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2004 (I), pp. 171-172, para. 88). A great many new States have come into existence as a result of the exercise of this right. There were, however, also instances of declarations of independence outside this context. The practice of States in these latter cases does not point to the emergence in international law of a new rule prohibiting the making of a declaration of independence in such cases.

(bold italics added)

On what grounds do the Western powers now say that Catalonia’s declaration of independence is contrary to international law when the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on Kosovo says otherwise?

Given that the Western powers themselves argued the case to the International Court of Justice which led to the Advisory Opinion on Kosovo, on what grounds do they now say that in the case of Catalonia these very same arguments which they made on behalf of Kosovo do not apply?

(2) The Western powers often say they support the right of national self-determination, which they all too often take to mean the right to secession from another state.

The Western powers have insisted on the rigorous application of this principle to the former republics of the USSR, to the former republics of Yugoslavia, to Kosovo and Montenegro when they seceded from Serbia, and to South Sudan.

In each and every one of these cases the Western powers vigorously supported the secessionist or ‘independence’ movements that achieved the independence of these countries.

However they deny this very same right of national self-determination (as they interpret it) to the Serbs of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, to the Abkhazians and South Ossetians who have seceded from Georgia, to the people of Crimea, to the Russian speaking people of eastern Ukraine and the Baltic States, and now to the people of Catalonia.  Why?

(3) Further to (2), the Western powers vigorously condemned the use of force by the state authorities of the USSR, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Russia and Sudan to suppress the secessionist movements in the Baltic States and in Slovenia in 1991, in Chechnya and Kosovo during the 1990s, and later the secessionist rebels in South Sudan.

However they have supported Georgia’s use of force against South Ossetia in 2008, Ukraine’s use of force against the people of the Donbass since 2014, and the Spanish authorities’ use of force in Catalonia now.

Interestingly, in both the Donbass in 2014 and in Catalonia during the current crisis the authorities of respectively Ukraine and Spain have attempted to use force to try to stop independence referendums from taking place.

Why is the use of force in the former cases to be condemned and in the latter cases to be supported?

(4) On the subject of the use of force, in the winter of 2013 to 2014 the Western powers vigorously condemned the ‘use of force’ by the Ukrainian police acting on behalf of President Yanukovych’s government, even though the protesters occupying Maidan Square in Kiev and government buildings across Ukraine whom the police were pitted against were not at all peaceful but were on the contrary extremely violent.

In the case of Catalonia during the current crisis the Western powers have by contrast supported the use of force by the Spanish authorities against Catalans who were trying to vote peacefully in a referendum called by the legally elected local government.

Why is the use of force in the latter case being supported when in the former case it was condemned?

(5) The Western powers say that the independence referendum which has just been held in Catalonia has no legal effect because it was held contrary to the laws and constitution of Spain.  The Western powers have also said the same thing in relation to the independence referendums which were held in Crimea and in the Donbass in 2014.

However in their submissions to the International Court of Justice on the subject of the declaration of independence by Kosovo, the Western powers argued that the court should disregard the fact that Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2006 was made in disregard of Kosovo’s own legal procedures and without an independence referendum, this being allegedly something which was unimportant.

Why was following legal procedures so important in Crimea and Donbass in 2014, and why is it so important in Catalonia now, and why was it so unimportant in Kosovo when it declared independence in 2006?

(6) Why in fact is the question of constitutional legality and of legal procedure so important at all when it was completely disregarded by the Western powers in the case of the various independence declarations of the former Soviet and Yugoslav republics and in the unconstitutional stripping of power in 2014 of Ukraine’s President Yanukovych, who was ousted from the Ukrainian Presidency with Western support despite the fact that the impeachment process set out in Ukraine’s constitution was not followed?

(7) Lastly, in light of the fact that the Catalan crisis is being blamed – predictably enough – on the Russians (though the evidence for that seems to amount to no more than the fact that the Russian news agency Sputnik has retweeted some of Julian Assange’s pro-Catalan independence tweets), why condemn Russian alleged ‘interference’ in Catalonia (and in Crimea and Donbass) whilst acquiescing in Germany’s unilateral recognition in December 1991 of the independence declarations of Croatia and Slovenia, and overt support for the independence movements in those countries?

Why should Russian support for the independence movement in Crimea, and the alleged Russian support for the independence movements in Donbass and Ukraine be condemned at all, when in 1999 NATO carried out an aerial bombing campaign against Yugoslavia for 78 days in support of an independence movement in Kosovo, which ultimately led to the separation of Kosovo from Serbia, something which goes far beyond anything Russia has done or is alleged to have done?

Setting out these seven points, the reality reveals itself.

The Western powers can be relied upon to support secessionist movements and to condemn the use of force to suppress them when this happens in countries which the Western powers consider their adversaries eg. the USSR, Russia or Yugoslavia.

The Western powers can however be equally relied upon to oppose – and support or acquiesce in the use of force to suppress – secessionist movements either in one of themselves – such as Spain – or in a state allied to themselves such as Croatia or Ukraine.

There is no principle or morality involved.  It is purely a question of geopolitics and expediency.

At this point let me reiterate again that I do not support the cause of Catalan independence.

I do not find either the arguments which are made for it, or those in Catalonia who make those arguments, at all convincing. I believe it to be overwhelmingly in the interests of Spain’s and Catalonia’s people that Spain – one of the historic states and nations of Europe – should remain united.

I would add that I felt exactly the same way about the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.  I opposed the break up of all three of these countries.  Moreover nothing which has happened since to the peoples of those countries has made me change my mind or think I was wrong about doing so.  In no sense do I think that the people of these countries are living better today when they are separated from each other than would be the case if they were still living together in one country.  On the contrary I believe the opposite is the case.

I would add that I think exactly the same applies to Britain and Canada as they contend with the problems of demands for Scottish and French Canadian independence made by people in Scotland and French Canada who seem to me very like the nationalists in Catalonia.

Nor I would add did I favour the break-up of Ukraine until the extremist actions of the Maidan movement – another nationalist movement whose outlook reminds me strongly of that of the nationalists of other places, though with a militancy taken to the extreme – made Ukraine’s break-up both necessary and unavoidable.

In saying this I appreciate that there are many people who will disagree with me, either as a matter of principle or because of what they say are the facts in a given case.

My position however, whether agreed with or not, is at least simple and consistent.

That of the Western powers – cynical and based on expediency and one laced moreover with a large dollop of false moralising and hypocrisy – quite obviously is not.,

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Vladimir Putin visits Serbia, as NATO encircles the country it attacked in 1999 (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 171.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Serbia.

Putin met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to further develop bilateral trade and economic relations, as well as discuss pressing regional issues including the possibility of extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline into Serbia, and the dangerous situation around Kosovo.

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Via RT


Russian President Vladimir Putin got a hero’s welcome in Belgrade. The one-day visit to the last holdout against NATO’s ambitions in the Balkans may have been somewhat short on substance, but was certainly loaded with symbolism.

Even before he landed, the Russian leader was given an honor guard by Serbian air force MiGs, a 2017 gift from Moscow to replace those destroyed by NATO during the 1999 air campaign that ended with the occupation of Serbia’s province of Kosovo. Russia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s US-backed declaration of independence, while the US and EU have insisted on it.

Upon landing, Putin began his first official trip of 2019 by paying respects to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating Belgrade from Nazi occupation in 1944. While most Serbians haven’t forgotten their historical brotherhood in arms with Russia, it did not hurt to remind the West just who did the bulk of the fighting against Nazi Germany back in World War II.

After official talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Putin visited the Church of St. Sava, the grand Orthodox basilica set on the spot where the Ottoman Turks torched the remains of the first Serbian archbishop back in 1594, in an effort to maintain power.

Sava, whose brother Stefan became the “first-crowned” king of medieval Serbia, was responsible for setting up the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church exactly eight centuries ago this year. For all its own troubles, the Serbian Church has sided with Moscow in the current Orthodox schism over Ukraine.

Russian artisans have been working on the grand mosaic inside the basilica, and asked Putin to complete the design by placing the last three pieces, in the colors of the Russian flag.

Whether by sheer coincidence or by design, Putin also weighed in on Serbia’s culture war, giving interviews ahead of his visit to two daily newspapers that still publish in Serbian Cyrillic – while the majority of the press, whether controlled by the West or by Vucic, prefers the Latin variant imported from Croatia.

Western media usually refer to Serbia as a “Russian ally.” While this is true in a historical and cultural sense, there is no formal military alliance between Moscow and Belgrade. Serbia officially follows the policy of military neutrality, with its armed forces taking part in exercises alongside both Russian and NATO troops.

This is a major source of irritation for NATO, which seeks dominion over the entire Balkans region. Most recently, the alliance extended membership to Montenegro in 2017 without putting the question to a referendum. It is widely expected that “Northern Macedonia” would get an invitation to NATO as soon as its name change process is complete – and that was arranged by a deal both Macedonia and Greece seem to have been pressured into by Washington.

That would leave only Serbia outside the alliance – partly, anyway, since NATO has a massive military base in the disputed province of Kosovo, and basically enjoys special status in that quasi-state. Yet despite Belgrade’s repeated declarations of Serbia wanting to join the EU, Brussels and Washington have set recognition of Kosovo as the key precondition – and no Serbian leader has been able to deliver on that just yet, though Vucic has certainly tried.

Putin’s repeated condemnations of NATO’s 1999 attack, and Russian support for Serbia’s territorial integrity guaranteed by the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, have made him genuinely popular among the Serbs, more so than Vucic himself. Tens of thousands of people showed up in Belgrade to greet the Russian president.

While Vucic’s critics have alleged that many of them were bused in by the government – which may well be true, complete with signs showing both Vucic and Putin – there is no denying the strong pro-Russian sentiment in Serbia, no matter how hard Integrity Initiative operatives have tried.

One of the signs spotted in Belgrade reportedly said “one of 300 million,” referring to the old Serbian joke about there being “300 million of us – and Russians.” However, it is also a send-up of the slogan used by current street protesters against Vucic. For the past six weeks, every Saturday, thousands of people have marched through Belgrade, declaring themselves “1 of 5 million” after Vucic said he wouldn’t give in to their demands even if “five million showed up.”

The opposition Democrats accuse him of corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, cronyism – all the sins they themselves have plenty of experience with during their 12-year reign following Serbia’s color revolution. Yet they’ve had to struggle for control of the marches with the nationalists, who accuse Vucic of preparing to betray Kosovo and want “him to go away, but [Democrats] not come back.”

There is plenty of genuine discontent in Serbia with Vucic, who first came to power in 2012 on a nationalist-populist platform but quickly began to rule as a pro-NATO liberal. It later emerged that western PR firms had a key role in his party’s “makeover” from Radicals to Progressives. Yet his subsequent balancing act between NATO and Russia has infuriated both the NGOs and politicians in Serbia beholden to Western interests, and US diplomats charged with keeping the Balkans conquered.

Washington is busy with its own troubles these days, so there was no official comment to Putin’s visit from the State Department – only a somewhat pitiful and tone-deaf tweet by Ambassador Kyle Scott, bemoaning the lack of punishment for $1 million in damages to the US Embassy during a 2008 protest against Kosovo “independence.” Yet as far as Western media outlets are concerned, why Moscow seems to be vastly more popular than Washington on the streets of Belgrade nonetheless remains a mystery.

By Nebojsa Malic

 

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Curious Bedfellows: The Neocon And Progressive Alliance To Destroy Donald Trump

The neocon metamorphosis is nearly complete as many of the neocons, who started out as Democrats, have returned home, where they are being welcomed for their hardline foreign policy viewpoint.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via OffGuardian.com:


The Roman poet Ovid’s masterful epic The Metamorphoses includes the memorable opening line regarding the poem’s central theme of transformation. He wrote In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas corpora, which has been translated as “Of shapes transformed to bodies strange, I purpose to entreat…”

Ovid framed his narrative around gods, heroes and quasi-historical events but if he were around today, he would no doubt be fascinated by the many transformations of the group that has defined itself as neoconservative.The movement began in a cafeteria in City College of New York in the 1930s, where a group of radical Jewish students would meet to discuss politics and developments in Europe. Many of the founders were from the far left, communists of the Trotskyite persuasion, which meant that they believed in permanent global revolution led by a vanguard party. The transformation into conservatives of a neo-persuasion took place when they were reportedly “mugged by reality” into accepting that the standard leftist formulae were not working to transform the world rapidly enough. As liberal hawks, they then hitched their wagon to the power of the United States to bring about transformation by force if necessary and began to infiltrate institutions like the Pentagon to give themselves the tools to achieve their objectives, which included promotion of regime change wars, full spectrum global dominance and unconditional support for Israel.

The neocons initially found a home with Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, but they moved on in the 1970s and 1980s to prosper under Ronald Reagan as well as under Democrat Bill Clinton. Their ability to shape policy peaked under George W. Bush, when they virtually ran the Pentagon and were heavily represented in both the national security apparatus and in the White House. They became adept at selling their mantra of “strong national defense” to whomever was buying, including to President Obama, even while simultaneously complaining about his administration’s “weakness.”

The neoconservatives lined up behind Hillary Clinton in 2016, appalled by Donald Trump’s condemnation of their centerpiece war in Iraq and even more so by his pledge to end the wars in Asia and nation-building projects while also improving relations with the Russians. They worked actively against the Republican candidate both before he was nominated and elected and did everything they could to stop him, including libeling him as a Russian agent.

When Trump was elected, it, therefore, seemed that the reign of the neocons had ended, but chameleonlike, they have changed shape and are now ensconced both in some conservative as well as in an increasing number of progressive circles in Washington and in the media. Against all odds, they have even captured key posts in the White House itself with the naming of John Bolton as National Security Adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Bolton’s Chief of Staff is Fred Fleitz, a leading neocon and Islamophobe while last week Trump added Iran hawk Richard Goldberg to the National Security Council as director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction. Goldberg is an alumnus of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is the leading neocon think tank calling incessantly for war with Iran.

Meanwhile, the neocon metamorphosis is nearly complete as many of the neocons, who started out as Democrats, have returned home, where they are being welcomed for their hardline foreign policy viewpoint. Glenn Greenwald reports that, based on polling of party supporters, the Democrats have gone full-Hillary and are now by far more hawkish than the Republicans, unwilling to leave either Syria or Afghanistan.

The neocon survival and rejuvenation is particularly astonishing in that they have been wrong about virtually everything, most notably the catastrophic Iraq War. They have never been held accountable for anything, though one should note that accountability is not a prominent American trait, at least since Vietnam. What is important is that neocon views have been perceived by the media and punditry as being part of the Establishment consensus, which provides them with access to programming all across the political spectrum. That is why neocon standard-bearers like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have been able to move effortlessly from Fox News to MSNBC where they are fêted by the likes of Rachel Maddow. They applauded the Iraq War when the Establishment was firmly behind it and are now trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency because America’s elite is behind that effort.

Indeed, the largely successful swing by the neocons from right to left has in some ways become more surreal, as an increasing number of progressive spokesmen and institutions have lined up behind their perpetual warfare banner. The ease with which the transformation took place reveals, interestingly, that the neocons have no real political constituency apart from voters who feel threatened and respond by supporting perpetual war, but they do share many common interests with the so-called liberal interventionists. Neocons see a global crisis for the United States defined in terms of power while the liberals see the struggle as a moral imperative, but the end result is the same: intervention by the United States. This fusion is clearly visible in Washington, where the Clintons’ Center for American Progress (CAP) is now working on position papers with the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

One of the most active groups attacking President Trump is “Republicans for the Rule of Law,” founded by Bill Kristol in January 2018, as a component of Defending Democracy Together(DDT), a 501(c)4 lobbying group that also incorporates projects called The Russia Tweets and Republicans Against Putin. Republicans Against Putin promotes the view that President Trump is not “stand[ing] up to [Vladimir] Putin” and calls for more aggressive investigation of the Russian role in the 2016 election.

DDT is a prime example of how the neoconservatives and traditional liberal interventionists have come together as it is in part funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire co-founder of eBay who has provided DDT with $600,000 in two grants through his Democracy Fund Voice, also a 501(c)4. Omidyar is a political liberal who has given millions of dollars to progressive organizations and individuals since 1999. Indeed, he is regarded as a top funder of liberal causesin the United States and even globally together with Michael Bloomberg and George Soros. His Democracy Fund awarded $9 million in grants in 2015 alone.

Last week, the Omidyar-Kristol connection may have deepened with an announcement regarding the launch of the launch of a new webzine The Bulwark, which would clearly be at least somewhat intended to take the place of the recently deceased Weekly Standard. It is promoting itself as the center of the “Never Trump Resistance” and it is being assumed that at least some of the Omidyar money is behind it.

Iranian-born Omidyar’s relationship with Kristol is clearly based on the hatred that the two share regarding Donald Trump.

Omidyar has stated that Trump is a “dangerous authoritarian demagogue… endorsing Donald Trump immediately disqualifies you from any position of public trust.”

He has tweeted that Trump suffers from “failing mental capacity” and is both “corrupt and incapacitated.”

Omidyar is what he is – a hardcore social justice warrior who supports traditional big government and globalist liberal causes, most of which are antithetical to genuine conservatives. But what is interesting about the relationship with Kristol is that it also reveals what the neoconservatives are all about. Kristol and company have never been actual conservatives on social issues, a topic that they studiously avoid, and their foreign policy is based on two principles: creating a state of perpetual war based on fearmongering about foreign enemies while also providing unlimited support for Israel. Kristol hates Trump because he threatens the war agenda while Omidyar despises the president for traditional progressive reasons. That hatred is the tie that binds and it is why Bill Kristol, a man possessing no character and values whatsoever, is willing to take Pierre Omidyar’s money while Pierre is quite happy to provide it to destroy a common enemy, the President of the United States of America.

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Nancy Pelosi tries to deplatform U.S. President Trump over the wall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 170.

Alex Christoforou

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In response to Pelosi’s disgusting act of censorship, Trump trolled the Speaker of the House in epic fashion by forcing the cancellation of a trip to Afghanistan, Brussels and Egypt by Nancy Pelosi and her massive entourage.

In a letter addressed to Pelosi, U.S. President Trump told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…

“I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.”

“I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is appropriate.”

According to a congressional aide, Pelosi and several other politicians were already on buses preparing to leave the U.S. Capitol when the U.S. President cancelled their trip.

Trump suggested that Pelosi fly commercial to Afghanistan and elsewhere should she wish.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Nancy Pelosi is trying to censor Trump and prevent the U.S. President from delivering the State of the Union to the American people, in what is clearly another liberal left deplatforming ploy.

Instead of debating the issues about the wall and immigration with fact, logic, and policy positions, Pelosi (out of fear) is trying to silence Trump and squash debate and political discourse.

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Via The Gateway Pundit

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday asking him to postpone the State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of Congress scheduled for January 29.

Pelosi cited security concerns over the partial government shutdown.

Pelosi said both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now – with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs. Therefore, they would not be ready for the speech.

Pelosi posted her letter to Trump on Twitter, saying, “Today, I wrote to  recommending that we delay the State of the Union until after government re-opens, as the , the lead federal agency for  security, faces its 26th day without funding.” (Text version of letter below tweet.)

The Department of Homeland Security refuted the Speaker’s claims — The Secret Service is ready for the SOTU.

And on Thursday FOX News reported that Speaker Pelosi was using “all kinds of security” manpower for her pricey trip with Democrats to Belgium and Afghanistan.

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