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Selective Morality in London and Washington

It couldn’t be clearer that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are despotic fiefdoms.

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Authored by Brian Cloughley via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Imagine what Western reaction would have been if a British or American citizen was detained in Russia then subjected to months of solitary confinement followed by being put on trial for less than five minutes without legal representation or an interpreter, and finally sentenced to life imprisonment.

The media in Britain and the US would have gone berserk with self-righteous fury and demanded that drastic and economically draconian measures be taken against Russia. The government in London would have demanded an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to condemn Moscow’s dastardly treatment of an innocent academic, and no doubt there would have been US Congress demands for even more sanctions, along with portentous declarations from politicians and commentators about free speech and violations of human dignity.

On the other hand, in the case of the conviction and sentencing on November 21 of British academic Matthew Hedges in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK’s response was mild to the point of being grovelingly placatory. Prime Minister May told Parliament that “We are deeply disappointed and concerned at today’s verdict. We are raising it with the Emirati authorities at the highest level.” The US was totally uncritical, which is not surprising as the official State Department line is “The United States and the UAE enjoy strong bilateral cooperation on a full range of issues including defence, non-proliferation, trade, law enforcement, energy policy, and cultural exchange. The two countries work together to promote peace and security, support economic growth, and improve educational opportunities in the region and around the world. UAE ports host more US Navy ships than anywhere else outside the United States.”

Certainly, as reported by the BBC, orders were given five days later to release Mr Hedges, because the Emirates “issued a pardon as part of a series of orders on the country’s National Day anniversary”. There was no apology of any sort to the man or his family, and the UAE declared he was “100 percent a secret service operative.”

Leaving aside for the moment the assertion that Mr Hedges may indeed have been spying (which was the charge against him), it is interesting to consider the background to his treatment, which should have come as no surprise to anyone in London and Washington.

Before the mockery of a trial, Britain’s foreign minister, the singularly inept Jeremy Hunt, went to the UAE and met the de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, on November 12. According to his tweets he “raised the case of British national Matthew Hedges” and was “hoping for a good outcome.” Ten days later he had to say something following his conspicuously useless intercession and came up with the lame complaint that “today’s verdict is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances.”

The man is a fool. What else could he expect from a country like the Emirates? In its latest Report Amnesty International states that “the authorities continued to arbitrarily restrict freedoms of expression and association, using criminal defamation and anti-terrorism laws to detain, prosecute, convict and imprison government critics”. The US State Department describes the place as seven semiautonomous emirates whose unelected rulers “constitute the Federal Supreme Council, the country’s highest legislative and executive body.” The US, that stalwart promoter of democracy when not supporting dictatorships, is well aware that under the Emirates’ authoritarian regime “there are no political parties” and its citizens are “unable to choose their government in free and fair elections” but, as in its treatment of that neighbouring absolute monarchy, Saudi Arabia, Washington’s policy is to reinforce the rule of dictators when it seems a good thing to do so.

The day after Hedges was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Emirates the place was visited by a staunch upholder of autocracy, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He was told by the UAE’s equally undemocratically-appointed ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, that “UAE-Saudi relations are an exceptional role model for brotherly ties that go down to the annals of history. They are firmly based on mutual respect and joint determination to achieving the ambitions of their two peoples for sustainable development, social welfare and economic well-being,” which is a nauseating piece of double-speak, because in both countries “social welfare” is confined entirely to the small percentage of people who are actually citizens, and women are treated as chattels and worse.

In the UAE, “For a woman to marry, her male guardian must conclude her marriage contract; men have the right to unilaterally divorce their wives, whereas a woman must apply for a court order to obtain a divorce; a woman can lose her right to maintenance if, for example, she refuses to have sexual relations with her husband without a lawful excuse; and women are required to “obey” their husbands.” In Saudi Arabia it is almost exactly the same, as, for example, women must obtain permission from a “male guardian” — a twenty year-old son would do — to obtain a passport and travel abroad.

It couldn’t be clearer that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are despotic fiefdoms. And it is equally obvious that America and Britain are entirely selective about whom they criticise or penalise for actual or supposed violations of what they choose to interpret as violations of human rights. When there are international incidents involving favoured countries there are only polite expostulations, or — more usually — no comment whatever, and it is obvious why these double standards apply.

The answer lies in the money, as the Saudis and the UAE spend vast sums on Western-supplied military equipment. Britain’s official position indicates that it would suffer severely if commercial arrangements with the UAE were to be upset, as it is “the UK’s largest export market in the Middle East and the 13th biggest globally. The UK exported £9.8 billion of goods and services in 2016. This was a 37% increase since 2009. The UAE is the UK’s fourth largest export market outside the EU . . . The majority of the UAE population is made up of expatriates, with around 120,000 UK residents.”

So don’t let us have any more self-righteous posturing from the British government about democracy and morality and all these good things, because it is obvious that when the UK and the US are deeply involved commercially with other countries, there is no question of sacrificing profit for a glow of moral satisfaction by taking action if a particular country is considered to have offended against international ethical standards.

They are selectively ethical to the point of blatant hypocrisy.

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The word ‘morality’ doesn’t fit in the same sentence as Washington and London. ‘Depravity’ does.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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