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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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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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Roman Catholic priest removed from parish for burning LGBT flag

Priest’s removal ordered by his bishop, alleging the priest was mentally ill.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported that a Roman Catholic priest was removed from his post in a Chicago neighborhood by his cardinal (bishop) and sent away for “pastoral support” for burning an LGBT “rainbow flag”, after reciting a prayer of exorcism.

The original newspiece, by Mitchell Armentrout of The Chicago Sun-Timeshas this to say:

The priest who ignited controversy last week by burning an LGBTQ-friendly flag on church grounds against the orders of Cardinal Blase Cupich has been removed from his Avondale parish.

Cupich sent two of his top deputies to Resurrection Catholic Church on Friday to notify the Rev. Paul Kalchik that he was being removed as pastor, according to two sources close to the priest.

In a letter to parishioners and staff released Saturday evening by the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cupich wrote that he has “become increasingly concerned about a number of issues at Resurrection Parish.

“It has become clear to me that Fr. Kalchik must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed,” Cupich wrote.

Kalchik could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the sources, Kalchik and his elderly parents have received death threats since he defied Cupich on Sept. 14 by burning the banner, which featured a cross superimposed over a rainbow. There also have been threats of vandalism to the church, the sources said.

Kalchik told the Sun-Times during an interview in his office on Tuesday that at least one person had forced their way into the church at 3043 N. Francisco Ave. last weekend, leaving a door open but not causing any damage.

The 56-year-old priest first announced in a Sept. 2 church bulletin that he planned to burn the flag, after he found it in storage where it apparently sat for more than a decade.

Cupich, who has shared Pope Francis’ more welcoming attitude toward gays in the church, told Kalchik not to burn the flag, but the priest said he did it anyway “in a quiet way” during a closed ceremony with seven parishioners, featuring a prayer of exorcism over the torched banner.

The flag-burning drew the ire of LGBTQ-equality activists, including Ald. Deb Mell (33rd), who led a small demonstration across the street from the church on Wednesday, calling on Pope Francis and Cupich “to send this hateful bigot packing.”

Kalchik — who has said he was sexually abused by a neighbor as a child, and again by a priest when he began working for the church at 19 — previously said the sex-abuse crisis plaguing the church is “definitely a gay thing.”

“What have we done wrong other than destroy a piece of propaganda that was used to put out a message other than what the church is about?” Kalchik said Tuesday.

Cupich wrote that he removed Kalchik “out of concern for Fr. Kalchik’s welfare and that of the people of Resurrection Parish.

“I have a responsibility to be supportive of our priests when they have difficulties, but I also have a duty to ensure that those who serve our faithful are fully able to minister to them in the way the Church expects,” Cupich wrote.

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This brings up some interesting questions:

  • While no one is supposed to hate sinners, Christianity strongly calls its supporters to hate sin. This priest’s flag-burning is very-clearly an example of taking this teaching to heart.
  • What kind of message is the Cardinal sending people about the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church?
  • Father Paul Kalchik was abused twice, and once by a priest, and his acknowledgment of the sex-abuse cases as a “gay thing” is well known in church circles. The Roman Catholic prohibition on married priests, which itself is not in line with Apostolic teachings, has contributed to the growing network of “gay” seminaries within that Church. Why does Rome go on hiding this?
  • All this comes down to the biggest question: Who is Rome serving? Homosexuality and its cousins are serious sins and they cause enormous and frightful trauma to those so impacted. If the Roman Church cannot call the truth out for what it is, then, what are they doing?

Further information about this situation, described on the Fox News website notes that Cardinal Blase Cupich had cautioned Kalchik not to burn the flag, but he reportedly went ahead with it and recited a prayer of exorcism before doing so.

The Archdiocese released a letter saying that “Father Kalchik needs to take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support,” amid a swirl of allegations that Cupich had threatened – through his vicars – for Kalchik to be forcibly committed to St. Luke’s Institute for further evaluation and treatment.

Kalchik had first announced that this flag, which was found in storage, would be burned in a church bulletin in early September. He was immediately warned by the Archdiocese of Chicago not to move forward with such an act. However, Kalchik did go ahead – later telling a local NBC reporter that the did so “in a quiet way” and that the flag, which also had a cross adorned over it, “was cut into seven pieces, so it was burned over stages in the same fire pit that we used for the Easter vigil Mass.”

The rainbow flag, set alight by parishioners earlier this month, once hung in the back of the sanctuary. Kalchik had reportedly spoken out in recent months, and even written to Pope Francis, about his own trauma as a victim of a predatory Roman Catholic priest.

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