Tag: kremlin

Russia Alleges U.S. Dropped White Phosphorus Bombs on Syrian Village

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Late Sunday night, Russia accused the United States of dropping bombs containing white phosphorus in a raid in Syria. The Kremlin alleged that two planes flew over a small town in Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor province. At that point, says Russia, they released the white phosphorus bombs, which caused massive fires.

Russian Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko said Sunday that Washington carried out a similar raid with the white phosphorus bombs on Saturday. “Following the strikes, large fires were observed in the area”, he told RT. Information regarding deaths and injuries for both alleged attacks is not yet available.

What is White Phosphorus?

White phosphorus is a war chemical with a number of purposes. The smoke is usable for both offense and defense. When lit, it burns very quickly and brightly, serving as a useful smokescreen to hide behind. These blankets of smoke are quite common and are generally legal.

However, it can also be highly deadly. When used offensively, the gas can burn through skin, all the way down to the bone, in a short timeframe. Because of this, the Geneva Conventions placed heavy regulations on the incendiary white phosphorus missions. Essentially, the substance is legal as a smokescreen, but not as an instrument of death. To ensure this, they barred all use of it against civilian targets, as well as against military targets in civilian areas. The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons also bars the use of incendiary weapons against civilians.

The Pentagon’s Denial

Despite the harsh allegations, the U.S. is denying that either strike used white phosphorus. In fact, Commander Sean Robertson said Sunday that such an attack would be impossible because he did not have the chemical. “None of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorus munitions of any kind”, the U.S. official declared.

However, Russia is not without controversy of its own in regards to the matter. In March, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British organization, accused the Kremlin of using incendiary bombs against a rebel base near Damascus. Russia has since denied these accusations in full. Neither country, however, has denied entirely the use of military force against largely civilian targets.

A History of Misuse

This is not the first time that the U.S. is coming under fire over chemical weaponry. In 2005, they admitted to using white phosphorus as a weapon in efforts to secure Fallujah in Iraq. “It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants”, said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Veneable, speaking on behalf of the U.S. The country also admitted to using it for incendiary purposes just one year earlier, in the First Battle of Fallujah.

Before admitting this, however, they had denied using the substance. They claimed, on the other hand, that they were only using it as a smokescreen. When the truth came to light, it was a major mishap for the country’s public relations. Questions rose in regards to what else the military was hiding from the people and the world.

Just last year, controversy arose again about the banned incendiary. In June, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. had used the gas twice in Syria as an incendiary. The New York Times, on the other hand, gave a different look. A military official told the paper that the U.S. had used the gas, but only in legal methods.

Mass Casualties in Syria

While Russia and the U.S. continue their patterns of denial, the evidence is growing that Syria is also using banned tactics in their civil war. Residents reported this weekend that President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces had used barrel bombs in Southern Idlib, where rebel forces reside. According to the report, at least two children died as a result of the attacks.

Syria has also faced questions regarding their own use of white phosphorus and other chemical weapons in the past. In total, over 350,000 people have died since the dawn of the war, many of whom were civilians.

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U.S. on Trial: The Death of Democracy

By Joseph Brown | United States
A lot has happened since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Yet, persisting through it all is the claim that the Russians got him there. Opponents of the current administration repeatedly cite Russian involvement to explain their defeat at the polls during the past presidential race, with a recent Senatorial report claiming that the Kremlin used numerous techniques to undermine the American political process. This report, among others, echoes the same apocalyptic message: the modern democratic process is under attack.

They’re right… At least, sort of.

First of all, the Department of Justice has recently concluded that this “unprecedented assault on Democracy” consisted of approximately $100,000 worth of Facebook advertisements. The vast majority of these were single pictures with simple slogans on them. This creates two possible scenarios. Either the iconic democratic process of the United States is fragile enough to be hopelessly toppled by a few memes, or the real problem is embedded deeper within American society.

The Russians may be the latest scapegoat of America’s politicians, but they certainly aren’t the most guilty. Democratic leaders are quick to condemn foreign powers of bearing responsibility for the outcome of domestic elections, yet over sixty percent of eligible voters neglected to vote in the most recent midterm elections. Were the Russians guilty of that too?

In the dynamic body of American civics, loyalty lies with the highest bidder. The deliberate cherry picking of outside influences shows that the Russian witch hunt in America is not about security. Rather, it relates to vested interests and agendas. The lack of federal transparency and accountability has led to degradation of the democratic process, not only within the States, but abroad as well. In fact, American involvement in foreign affairs far surpasses that of other nations in our affairs.

Since 1946, the United States has directly supported or interfered in the elections of over 80 countries; providing campaign aid, fiscal funding, training, and consultation to members of competing political parties that appeal to them. Imagine the outrage that would ensue if these statistics were true of Russia, or Iran. Dov Levin, an academic from the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University, calculated the vast scale of election interventions by the U.S. The results, calculated since the close of WWII, were astonishing. He determined American interests influenced 1 of every 9 worldwide competitive elections. Such meddling has occured across the globe, from Guatemala to Japan.

As far as the U.S. is concerned, bribe tactics have always been a favorite method of ensuring the outcomes of elections. Loch K. Johnson, the dean of American intelligence scholars, describes tactics used by the U.S. to guarantee these results. He said on the subject: “We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947…We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of Cash.”

Such was the case of the “democratic” elections of Italy. During them, American Intelligence Agencies paid political candidates to support their campaigns, or to drop out entirely. F. Mark Wyatt, a former C.I.A. officer, said in a 1996 interview: “We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their expenses.”

If online ads are threats to international order, what does that make this?

As history repeats itself across the world, the very meaning of the word “democracy” changes from a government who proportionally represents its people, to a gang of wealthy puppets of American policy. Remember those 80+ countries whose elections the U.S. manipulated? It doesn’t even include situations when the U.S. staged a coup, regime change, or government overthrow. Bags of cash and propaganda are dirty tactics for sure, but they’re nothing compared to the darkness of American nation building. Since 1946, the United States has overthrown the legitimate governments of 35 nations, and is responsible for political upheaval that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

One of such cases is American involvement in El Salvador. Their society still bears the scars of American intervention to this day. After a coup staged by the United States was met with resistance from opposition groups, the country fell into 12 bitter years of civil war. The U.S. was deeply invested in the conflict, providing weapons, ammunition, and training to government forces. Ranking officers of the U.S. military even held senior positions in the Salvadorian army. Between 1980 and 1992, over 75,000 people were slaughtered, with the United Nations Truth Commission reporting that more than 85 percent of the killings, kidnappings, and torture had been the work of government forces.

Furthermore, In the Republic of Iran in 1951, the CIA overthrew enormously popular and democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh had angered British powers when he nationalized the Iranian oil industry by unanimous vote in a democratic government. Angry that their colonial victim had given them the boot, British lobbyists convinced the United States to force Mossadegh from power. By supporting thugs and street gangs, the U.S. led a coup that killed hundreds of people, and eventually led to the radical uprising that governs Iran to this day.

Just in case you thought things couldn’t get any worse, the United States has consciously authorized the kidnapping of candidates, propped up authoritarian dictators, employed fascists, supplied terrorists, and compiled blacklists of political opponents for puppet governments to execute.
Just so we’re clear, the death toll of Putin’s memes is still zero.

“But listen” people will say. “Sure these things are bad, but the U.S. was fighting to preserve freedom.” or maybe “It’s different when we do it.” But “Do as we say, not as we do” is not a legitimate philosophy, and we should not treat it as such.

Sure. Foreign governments are involved, in one way or another, in influencing American elections. But don’t let the headliners and political maneuvering distract you from the truth: If the modern democratic process is broken, its blood is on the hands of the United States.

These sobering witnesses from around the world echo the message that the politicians on capitol hill aren’t willing to admit:

The single greatest threat to democracy is the United States government.

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