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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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Bercow blocks Brexit vote, May turns to EU for lifeline (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s latest Brexit dilemma, as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, shocked the world by citing a 1604 precedent that now effectively blocks May’s third go around at trying to pass her treacherous Brexit deal through the parliament.

All power now rests with the Brussels, as to how, if and when the UK will be allowed to leave the European Union.

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Via Bloomberg


Theresa May claims Brexit is about taking back control. Ten days before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union, it looks like anything but.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s intervention, citing precedent dating back to 1604, to rule out a repeat vote on May’s already defeated departure deal leaves the prime minister exposed ahead of Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels.

Bercow, whose cries of “Orrdurrr! Orrdurrr!’’ to calm rowdy lawmakers have gained him a devoted international following, is now the pivotal figure in the Brexit battle. May’s team privately accuse him of trying to frustrate the U.K.’s exit from the EU, while the speaker’s admirers say he’s standing up for the rights of parliament against the executive.

If just one of the 27 other states declines May’s summit appeal to extend the divorce timetable, then the no-deal cliff edge looms for Britain’s departure on March 29. If they consent, it’s unclear how May can meet Bercow’s test that only a substantially different Brexit agreement merits another vote in parliament, since the EU insists it won’t reopen negotiations.

Caught between Bercow and Brussels, May’s room for maneuver is shrinking. Amid rumblings that their patience with the U.K. is near exhaustion, EU leaders are girding for the worst.

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President Putin signs law blocking fake news, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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ABC’s Ted Koppel admits mainstream media bias against Trump [Video]

The mainstream news media has traded informing the public for indoctrinating them, but the change got called out by an “old-school” journo.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported on March 19th that one of America’s most well-known TV news anchors, Ted Koppel, noted that the once-great media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have indeed traded journalistic excellence for hit pieces for political purposes. While political opinions in the mainstream press are certainly within the purview of any publication, this sort of writing can hardly be classified as “news” but as “Opinion” or more widely known, “Op-Ed.”

We have two videos on this. The first is the original clip showing the full statement that Mr. Koppel gave. It is illuminating, to say the least:

Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, a former colleague of Mr. Koppel, added their comments on this admission in this second short video piece, shown here.

There are probably a number of people who have watched this two-year onslaught of slander and wondered why there cannot be a law preventing this sort of misleading reporting. Well, Russia passed a law to stop it, hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook. It is a smart law because it does not advocate imprisonment for bad actors in the media, but it does fine them.

Going to prison for reporting “the truth” looks very noble. Having to pay out of pocket for it is not so exciting.

Newsmax and Louder with Crowder both reported on this as well.

This situation of dishonest media has led to an astonishing 77% distrust rating among Americans of their news media, this statistic being reported by Politico in 2018. This represents a nearly diametric reversal in trust from the 72% trust rating the country’s news viewers gave their news outlets in 1972. These statistics come from Gallup polls taken through the years.

 

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