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Honoring Mandela, Not Reagan

Honoring Mandela, Not Reagan

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/20848-honoring-mandela-not-reagan

Honoring Mandela, Not Reagan

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

08 December 13

The U.S. government’s relationship with Nelson Mandela was often strained, from the CIA’s hand in his imprisonment to Ronald Reagan’s veto of a sanctions bill aimed at getting him freed, lost history that must now be reconciled, writes Robert Parry.

As Americans honor the memory of Nelson Mandela, they must grapple with the inconvenient truth that one of their most honored recent presidents, Ronald Reagan, fiercely opposed punishing white-ruled South Africa for keeping Mandela locked up and for continuing the racist apartheid system that he challenged.

Rhetorically, Reagan did object to apartheid and did call for Mandela’s release, but Reagan viewed the struggle for racial justice in South Africa through a Cold War lens, leading him to veto a 1986 bill imposing economic sanctions on the Pretoria regime aimed at forcing Mandela’s freedom and compelling the dismantling of apartheid.

In explaining his veto on July 22, 1986, Reagan reserved his harshest criticism for “the Soviet-armed guerrillas of the African National Congress,” a movement that Mandela led. Reagan accused the ANC of having “embarked on new acts of terrorism within South Africa.” He also claimed that “the Soviet Union would be the main beneficiary” of a revolutionary overthrow of the Pretoria regime.

Beyond opposing sanctions that might destabilize the white-supremacist regime, Reagan argued that “the key to the future lies with the South African government.” He called for “not a Western withdrawal but deeper involvement by the Western business community as agents of change and progress and growth.”

Yet, despite Reagan’s speech, Congress enacted the sanctions bill over his veto as “moderate” Republicans, including the likes of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, rejected Reagan’s go-slow “constructive engagement” with South Africa’s white supremacists. The Senate vote was 78-21, exceeding the necessary two-thirds by a dozen votes.

McConnell’s remarks about the bill reflected the concerns of many Republicans that they would find themselves with Reagan on the wrong side of history. “In the 1960s, when I was in college, civil rights issues were clear,” McConnell said. “After that, it became complicated with questions of quotas and other matters that split people of good will. When the apartheid issue came along, it made civil rights black and white again. It was not complicated.”

To Reagan, however, the issue was extremely complicated. White-ruled South Africa provided military support to right-wing revolutionary movements challenging leftist governments in Africa, such as in Angola where Jonas Savimbi of the CIA-backed UNITA led a brutal insurgency which involved him reportedly burning his opponents at the stake.

Indeed, Reagan supported a number of right-wing insurrectionary movements despite widespread reports of their human rights abuses, including the Contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. The Contras not only engaged in rapes, murders and acts of terror but were implicated in cocaine smuggling into the United States.[See Consortiumnews.com’s ” Contra-Cocaine Was a Real Conspiracy.”]

Reagan also backed brutal right-wing regimes in Latin America and elsewhere as they engaged in extermination campaigns against leftists, including in Guatemala where Reagan hailed Gen. Efrain Rios Montt as his regime waged genocide against Mayan Indians considered supportive of leftist guerrillas. [See Consortiumnews.com’s ” Ronald Reagan: Accessory to Genocide.”]

Given Reagan’s support for these anti-leftist pogroms – a policy sometimes dubbed the Reagan Doctrine – he naturally disdained Mandela and the African National Congress, which included communists and drew support from the Soviet Union.

The CIA and Mandela

Mandela had long been a target of Cold Warriors inside the U.S. government, since he was viewed as one of the young militants resisting European colonialism and sympathetic to radical change. The CIA often acted to neutralize these leaders who were considered sympathetic to socialism and potential allies of the Soviet Union.

In the case of Mandela, I’m told that his arrest in 1962, which led to his 27-year imprisonment, resulted from a CIA officer tipping off South African security officials about Mandela’s whereabouts. But there remains a difference of opinion inside the CIA whether its role in Mandela’s capture was intentional or accidental, possibly a careless remark by an intoxicated field agent to his South African counterparts.

At the time of Mandela’s capture, President John F. Kennedy was trying to break out of the Cold War framework of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, especially regarding CIA hostility toward African nationalists. Kennedy feared that U.S. support for white rule in Africa would play into Soviet hands by alienating the continent’s emerging leaders. [See Consortiumnews.com’s ” JFK Embrace of Third World Nationalists.”]

U.S. policy toward South Africa’s white supremacist government grew more contentious as American attitudes toward race evolved during the civil rights movement of the 1960s and after the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, who both strongly sympathized with the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

President Jimmy Carter further broke from the Cold War mold in the late 1970s when he elevated human rights as a factor in U.S. foreign policy. But those human rights concerns were rolled back after Ronald Reagan ousted Carter in the 1980 election.

Reagan initiated a policy of “constructive engagement” toward South Africa’s white supremacists, meaning that he opposed overt pressure such as economic sanctions in favor of quiet diplomacy that sought gradual reform of the apartheid system.

In reality, Reagan’s approach allowed white South African leader P.W. Botha to crack down on the ANC and other revolutionary movements which Reagan viewed as pro-communist. Instead of substantive moves toward full citizenship for blacks, the Pretoria regime instituted largely cosmetic reforms to its apartheid system.

It was not until the U.S. and global economic sanctions took hold – combined with the world’s ostracism of the white racist regime – that Botha gave way to F.W. de Klerk, who, in turn, cleared the path for Mandela’s release in 1990. De Klerk then negotiated with Mandela to transform South Africa into a multiracial democracy, with Mandela becoming its first president in 1994.

Now, as the world honors the life of Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, the American people must reconcile his inspirational story with how their much-honored Ronald Reagan opposed the sanctions that finally brought freedom to Mandela and to his nation.

Given Reagan’s support for the ghastly slaughters in Central America and elsewhere, some Americans might reasonably wonder why his name is attached to so many public facilities, including Washington’s National Airport.

While it may be unrealistic to expect this Congress to reconsider the many honors heaped on Ronald Reagan, individual Americans may want to – at least unofficially – delete his name from the airport that serves the nation’s capital by referring to it again as Washington National.


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“War’s never a winning thing, Charlie. You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms. All I remember is a lot of losing and sadness and nothing good at the end of it. The end of it, Charles, that was a winning all to itself, having nothing to do with guns.”

–Ray Bradbury, from the short story “The Time Machine” 1957

The End of the World, Part Two

The End of the World, Part Two Repeat Intro:

The Response to Tuesday’s Digest article “The Crisis at Fukushima’s Unit 4 Demands a Global Take-Over” has been strong; along the lines of a friend’s “Yikes!” People want to know what to do about it. Romi Elnagar, the woman who sent me the article also provided this answer:

Yes, there is a petition at Avaaz. Please pass this on, Ed. I’m delighted people are asking! https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/STOP_FUKUSHIMA_RADIATION_UN_ACTION_NEEDED/ (http://edpearl-ashgrove.us7.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=37356d455a&e=5617d3d307)

I clicked it on and signed, taking maybe one minute to write my email address, country and zip code, and immediately saw my name and country at the top of a quickly rising list of sigs from around the world. I think I was in the 5,000 section. I urge you to do so after reading the great interview below. -Ed http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/26/as_ipcc_warns_of_climate_disaster (http://edpearl-ashgrove.us7.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=74f431d323&e=5617d3d307)

As IPCC Warns of Climate Disaster, Will Scientific Consensus Spark Action on Global Warming?

Guests: Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] is set to issue, Friday, it’s strongest warning yet that climate change is caused by humans and will cause more heat waves, droughts, and floods unless governments take action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The IPCC releases their report every six years. It incorporates the key findings from thousands of articles published in scientific journals. The IPCC began meeting earlier this week in Stockholm ahead of the report’s release. PART TWO:

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask about what is happening in Ecuador. Last month, Ecuador dropped a plan to preserve swaths of Amazon rain forest from oil drilling by having wealthy countries pay them not to drill. President Rafael Correa said “The plan to save parts of Yasuni National Park had raised only a fraction of the money sought.” He said, “The world has failed us.” This week I had a chance to interview Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño over at the Ecuador mission to the United Nations about the Yasuni-ITT Initiative. He said, simply, that it failed to attract sufficient funding.

FOREIGN MINISTER RICARDO PATIÑO: [translated] All over the world, natural resources are being exploited without a great deal of concern about the impacts of that exploitation. And we appeal to the world and we said we are willing to sacrifice 50% of the income that could potentially be generated, but the world has to contribute and we said if the international community would cover the other 50%, we were willing to completely preserve the area of the Yasuni-ITT and not exploit the oil indefinitely. But, the world’s response was negative. We only got very few million of dollars. And we said if we don’t — if the world doesn’t respond to our appeal we are going to have to exploit this oil because we need these resources and the resulting income. After having done — appealed and appealed and appealed and not see and echo to our appeal, Ecuador decided to exploit the oil without affecting the surface of Yasuni.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño. President Correa didn’t come to the U.N. He didn’t think that the way it is set up, the speeches of countries like Ecuador have an impact. But, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International, what about what is going to happen to the Yasuni and how important it is?

KUMI NAIDOO: This is a tragedy. What was a innovative and creative way of ensuring that people and nature were actually protected has not been responded to by the international community. It is a reflection of a skewed sense of where we should be investing our global resources at the moment. If we look at the amount of taxpayer money that is going into fossil fuel subsidies, to the tune of $1,4 trillion [$1.4 trillion] a year annually. A tiny fraction of that money could have actually secured this very, very fragile part of the world. People need to realize, in the past when people talked about protecting forests, it was seen as about biodiversity, protecting certain species, and if you like nature. Today, people don’t understand that forests are the lungs of the planet, fundamentally connected to the challenge of climate change. Forests capture and store carbon safely. And the more we deplete our forests — and the rate we are depleting our forest as we speak is every two seconds a forest the size of a football field is disappearing. History will judge our political leaders, especially in rich countries who have not come up with the money, very, very harshly.

AMY GOODMAN: A group of leading environmentalists have sent a letter pleading with him not to move ahead, even if the international community failed him because indigenous people in the area are rising up saying, do not develop this, do not drill here. UNESCO designated the park as a world biosphere reserve. It contains 100,000 species of animal, many of which are not found anywhere else in the world.

KUMI NAIDOO: I think that underscores the disconnect with regard to getting our priorities right. And also, so long as the countries who historically built their economies on fossil fuels, the U.S. and most of the developed countries of the world, if they continue to say, we’re going to continue with further fossil fuel like the tar sands and fracking, and so on, it;s really difficult for organizations like Greenpeace to actually lobby with developing countries to say, you’re going to have to leave that coal in the ground and the oil in the soil. We are playing political poker with the future of the planet and the future of our children. And what you are seeing is a terrible case of cognitive dissonance. All of the facts are telling us we are running out of time, and our leaders continue as business as usual.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeff Masters, I think you’re supposed to be on a panel with Michael Bloomberg today on this issue. He certainly has sufficient funds in his own personal bank account to help Ecuador with saving the Yasuni. You may raise the issue to him when you’re on the panel. But, I would like to ask you a little bit more about the IPCC report — what we know about it, because, obviously, it won’t be released until tomorrow. What it says about droughts and the future prospects for the planet and specifically how it relates to some of the issues or the conflicts that we are seeing the world, even now, and also about the acidity in the oceans.

JEFF MASTERS: Drought is the number-one threat we face from climate change because it affects the two things we need to live, food and water. The future projections of drought are rather frightening. We see large areas of the world, particularly the ones that are already dry, are expected to get drier, and that’s going to greatly challenge our ability to grow food there and provide water for people. I was a little disappointed in the leaked draft that I’ve seen of the IPCC report. It doesn’t mention drought at all in the text. There is a mentioned of drought in a single table that they have there showing that, well, we are not really sure we’ve seen changes in drought due to human causes yet, but, we do think the dry air is going to get drier and this is going to be a problem in the future. So, yeah, a huge issue, drought. Really not addressed very well in the summary. I’m sure the main body of the report, that will be released Monday, will talk a lot about drought. The second issue you raised, the acidity of the oceans, yeah, that we’re sure we have seen an influence. There’s been a 26% increase in the acidity of the oceans since pre-industrial times and the pH has dropped by 0.1 units. That’s going to have severe impact on the marine communities we think and it’s only going to accelerate. They’re saying, pretty much with 99% certainty the oceans are going to get more acidic and it is due to human causes. AMY GOODMAN: On drought, can you talk about Syria? JEFF MASTERS: Yeah. In Syria, they’re having their worst drought in over 70 years. There have been climate model studies done showing that the drought in that region of the world in particular is very likely more probable due to human causes. If you run a climate model both with and without the human increase in greenhouse gases, you see a large perturbation in the drought conditions there in the Mediterranean region. So, we’re pretty sure that drought is a factor there. And in Syria in particular, I mean, people have migrated over a million people have had to leave their homes because of drought. They moved into the cities. They don’t have jobs there. It’s caused more unrest and directly contributed to the unrest there. AMY GOODMAN: That’s an interesting analysis. Kumi. KUMI NAIDOO: Absolutely. Others have actually pointed to the big trigger for the conflict in Syria as being climate impacts particularly drought. But, if you look at even Egypt and you look at all the countries that went through the so-called Arab spring — I say so-called because I don’t think the struggle for justice is a seasonal activity. But, the Arab resistance, you see in all of those countries there has been water stress as well. Some of us have been saying for more than a decade now, the future will not be fought over oil, but it will be fought over water if we don’t actually get it right. I mean, our political leaders must understand people cannot drink oil. I mean, if you look at fracking in the United States, the potential danger that has to water security because of the impact on the water table, it is really taking risks. And in South Africa, Shell has got a contract to stop fracking in the Karoo. An extremely water stressed area to start with. So, we really need our political leaders to connect the dots. Because, basically, what you see as a problem is a silo mentality to governance. Because we put environment and climate change here, and we put peace and security here, we put food and agriculture here. All of these things are connected and we need the is leaders who can think in an intersectoral way and understand the connections of the different global problems we face. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeff Masters, once this report is issued, what happens next in terms of there are further reports that will come out in early 2014? JEFF MASTERS: That’s right. This is only the first part of a big four-part series. This only talks about what has actually happened to the climate and what the models predict — project will happen. In March, there is going to be a whole other section which is going to talk about what are some of the impacts of this? And then there will be a further report, what can we do about it? How can we reduce the impacts? So, this is going to take over a year to play out.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeff Masters, skeptics are paying a lot of attention to a part of the leaked report. The IPCC said the rate of warming between ’98 and 2007 was about half the average rate since 1951. JEFF MASTERS: They like to put in a frame something which they can use to challenge the report. I look at that sort of incidents as a speed bump on kind of the highway of climate change. We expect natural variability to play a role here. We’ve got various cycles in the atmosphere, in ocean, El Niño and La Niña, the sun changes it’s brightness some. We expect to see these sorts of slowdowns, and we expect this accelerations as well. If you go back and look at the 15-year period ending in 2006, the rate of warming was almost double what it was the previous 15 years. Nobody paid attention to that.

AMY GOODMAN: Was Colorado climate change, the 1000 year flood?

JEFF MASTERS: We can say that those sorts of events become more common. You load the dice in favor of more extreme precipitation events. So, you role double sixes more often and maybe every now and then you can roll a 13.

AMY GOODMAN: Are meteorologist on television ever going to start flashing those words “climate change” as often as they flash the words “extreme weather” or “severe weather”?

JEFF MASTERS: Depends on what there producer says. They are beholden to what the producer says and some are on board and many are not.

KUMI NAIDOO: Amy, if I could just jump in, there’s a lesson from history in the United States that is helpful. If you look at when the scientific evidence around tobacco was clear and the consensus was clear that tobacco was bad for you, there was still a very powerful lobby of scientists funded by the tobacco industry to actually contaminate the public conversation, delay the policy changes that were necessary and so on. We are seeing a carbon copy of that same approach. And I would say to the leaders of the fossil fuel industry, here is something you need to learn from. When anti tobacco litigation started in the early days, the CEOs of tobacco companies were arrogant and said it will never succeed, they never took it seriously. Climate litigation is starting now and the fossil fuel companies are actually being dismissive. The biggest amount of money they have in their annual budgets is often in the legal department because of the scale of settlements. So, I think one expectation once the report is out is that the huge amount of money that goes into lobbying is going to do everything to actually rubbish this report and try and take selectively pieces of information. I think the American people in particular must interrogate the fact for every member of Congress there is between three and seven full-time lobbyists paid by the oil, coal, and gas sector. And they have actually held back the possibility of the U.S. being a global leader in renewable technology and that’s going to hurt the U.S. economy in the future.

AMY GOODMAN: Kumi Naidoo and Jeff Masters, thank you so much for being with us. Of course we’ll continue this conversation. Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International. Jeff Masters, Director of Meteorology at Weather Underground. He will be hosting Weather Channel’s live coverage of the release of the IPCC’s report tomorrow. When we come back, Matt Taibbi is with us of Rolling Stone on “Looting the Pensions Funds.”

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask about what is happening in Ecuador. Last month, Ecuador dropped a plan to preserve swaths of Amazon rain forest from oil drilling by having wealthy countries pay them not to drill. President Rafael Correa said “The plan to save parts of Yasuni National Park had raised only a fraction of the money sought.” He said, “The world has failed us.” This week I had a chance to interview Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño over at the Ecuador mission to the United Nations about the Yasuni-ITT Initiative. He said, simply, that it failed to attract sufficient funding.

FOREIGN MINISTER RICARDO PATIÑO: [translated] All over the world, natural resources are being exploited without a great deal of concern about the impacts of that exploitation. And we appeal to the world and we said we are willing to sacrifice 50% of the income that could potentially be generated, but the world has to contribute and we said if the international community would cover the other 50%, we were willing to completely preserve the area of the Yasuni-ITT and not exploit the oil indefinitely. But, the world’s response was negative. We only got very few million of dollars. And we said if we don’t — if the world doesn’t respond to our appeal we are going to have to exploit this oil because we need these resources and the resulting income. After having done — appealed and appealed and appealed and not see and echo to our appeal, Ecuador decided to exploit the oil without affecting the surface of Yasuni.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño. President Correa didn’t come to the U.N. He didn’t think that the way it is set up, the speeches of countries like Ecuador have an impact. But, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International, what about what is going to happen to the Yasuni and how important it is?

KUMI NAIDOO: This is a tragedy that what was a innovative and creative way of ensuring that people and nature were actually protected has not been responded to by the international community. It is a reflection of a skewed sense of where we should be investing our global resources at the moment. If we look at the amount of money that is going into — taxpayer money — that is going into fossil fuel subsidies, to the tune of $1,4 trillion [$1.4 trillion] a year annually. A fraction of that money — tiny fraction of that money could have actually secured this very, very fragile part of the world. People need to realize, in the past when people talked about protecting forests, it was seen as it’s all about biodiversity, protecting certain species, and if you like nature. Today, people misunderstand that forests are the lungs of the planet. It is fundamentally connected to the challenge of climate change. Forests capture and store carbon safely. And the more we deplete our forests — and the rate we are depleting our force at the moment is every two seconds a forest the size of a football field is disappearing as we speak. So, our political leaders, but especially in rich countries who have not come up with the money I think history will judge them very, very harshly. AMY GOODMAN: A group of leading environmentalists have sent a letter pleading with him not to move ahead, even if the international community failed him because indigenous people in the area are rising up saying, do not develop this, do not drill here. UNESCO designated the park as a world biosphere reserve. It contains 100,000 species of animal, many of which are not found anywhere else in the world. KUMI NAIDOO: So, I mean, I think that underscores the disconnect with regard to getting our priorities right. And also, I think what you’re seeing, is that so long as the countries who historically built their economies on fossil fuels, the U.S. and most of the developed countries of the world, if they continue to be saying, we’re going to continue with further fossil fuel like the tar sands and fracking, and so on, it makes it really difficult for organizations like Greenpeace to actually lobby with developing countries to say, you’re going to have to leave that coal in the ground and the oil in the soil. When they say, but those folks are still continuing. So, we are playing political poker with the future of the planet and the future of our children. And what you are seeing is a terrible case of cognitive dissonance. All of the facts are telling us we are running out of time, and our leaders continue as business as usual.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeff Masters, I think you’re supposed to be on a panel with Michael Bloomberg today on this issue. He certainly has sufficient funds in his own personal bank account to help Ecuador with saving the Yasuni. You may raise the issue to him when you’re on the panel. But, I would like to ask you a little bit more about the IPCC report — what we know about it, because, obviously, it won’t be released until tomorrow. What it says about droughts and the future prospects for the planet and specifically how it relates to some of the issues or the conflicts that we are seeing the world, even now, and also about the acidity in the oceans. JEFF MASTERS: Drought is the number-one threat we face from climate change because it affects the two things we need to live, food and water. The future projections of drought are rather frightening. We see large areas of the world, particularly the ones that are already dry, are expected to get drier, and that’s going to greatly challenge our ability to grow food there and provide water for people. I was a little disappointed in the leaked draft that I’ve seen of the IPCC report. It doesn’t mention drought at all in the text. There is a mentioned of drought in a single table that they have there showing that, well, we are not really sure we’ve seen changes in drought due to human causes yet, but, we do think the dry air is going to get drier and this is going to be a problem in the future. So, yeah, a huge issue, drought. Really not addressed very well in the summary. I’m sure the main body of the report, that will be released Monday, will talk a lot about drought. The second issue you raised, the acidity of the oceans, yeah, that we’re sure we have seen an influence. There’s been a 26% increase in the acidity of the oceans since pre-industrial times and the pH has dropped by 0.1 units. That’s going to have severe impact on the marine communities we think and it’s only going to accelerate. They’re saying, pretty much with 99% certainty the oceans are going to get more acidic and it is due to human causes.

AMY GOODMAN: On drought, can you talk about Syria?

JEFF MASTERS: Yeah. In Syria, they’re having their worst drought in over 70 years. There have been climate model studies done showing that the drought in that region of the world in particular is very likely more probable due to human causes. If you run a climate model both with and without the human increase in greenhouse gases, you see a large perturbation in the drought conditions there in the Mediterranean region. So, we’re pretty sure that drought is a factor there. And in Syria in particular, I mean, people have migrated over a million people have had to leave their homes because of drought. They moved into the cities. They don’t have jobs there. It’s caused more unrest and directly contributed to the unrest there.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s an interesting analysis. Kumi.

KUMI NAIDOO: Absolutely. Others have actually pointed to the big trigger for the conflict in Syria as being climate impacts particularly drought. But, if you look at even Egypt and you look at all the countries that went through the so-called Arab spring — I say so-called because I don’t think the struggle for justice is a seasonal activity. But, the Arab resistance, you see in all of those countries there has been water stress as well. Some of us have been saying for more than a decade now, the future will not be fought over oil, but it will be fought over water if we don’t actually get it right. I mean, our political leaders must understand people cannot drink oil, that people need — I mean, if you look at fracking in the United States, right, the potential danger that has to water security because of the impact on the water table, it is really taking risks. And in South Africa, by the way, Shell has got a contract to stop fracking in the Karoo. And again, extremely water stressed area to start with. So, we really need our political leaders to connect the dots. Because, basically, what you see as a problem is a silo mentality to governance. Because we put environment and climate change here, and we put peace and security here, we put food and agriculture here. All of these things are connected and we need the leadership we need now is leaders who can think in an intersectoral way and understand the connections of the different global problems we face. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeff Masters, once this report is issued, what happens next in terms of there are further reports that will come out in early 2014? JEFF MASTERS: That’s right. This is only the first part of a big four-part series. This only talks about what has actually happened to the climate and what the models predict — project will happen. In March, there is going to be a whole other section which is going to talk about what are some of the impacts of this? And then there will be a further report, what can we do about it? How can we reduce the impacts? So, this is going to take over a year to play out.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeff Masters, skeptics are paying a lot of attention to a part of the leaked report. The IPCC said the rate of warming between ’98 and 2007 was about half the average rate since 1951. JEFF MASTERS: They like to put in a frame something which they can use to challenge the report. I look at that sort of incidents as a speed bump on kind of the highway of climate change. We expect natural variability to play a role here. We’ve got various cycles in the atmosphere, in ocean, El Niño and La Niña, the sun changes it’s brightness some. We expect to see these sorts of slowdowns, and we expect this accelerations as well. If you go back and look at the 15-year period ending in 2006, the rate of warming was almost double what it was the previous 15 years. Nobody paid attention to that.

AMY GOODMAN: Was Colorado climate change, the 1000 year flood?

JEFF MASTERS: We can say that those sorts of events become more common. You roll the dice — you load the dice in favor of more extreme precipitation events. So, you role double sixes more often and maybe every now and then you can roll a 13.

AMY GOODMAN: Are meteorologist on television ever going to start flashing those words “climate change” as often as they flash the words “extreme weather” or “severe weather”?

JEFF MASTERS: Depends on what there producer says. They are beholden to what the producer says and some are on board and many are not. KUMI NAIDOO: Amy, if I could just jump in, there’s a lesson from history in the United States here that is helpful. If you look at when the scientific evidence around tobacco was clear and the consensus was clear that tobacco was bad for you, there was still a very powerful lobby of scientists funded by the tobacco industry to actually contaminate the public conversation, delay the policy changes that were necessary and so one. We are seeing a carbon copy of that same approach. And I would say to the leaders of the fossil fuel industry, also there is another thing you need to learn from. When anti tobacco litigation started in the early days, the CEOs of tobacco companies were arrogant and said it will never succeed, they never took it seriously. Climate litigation is starting now and the fossil fuel companies are actually being dismissive. I say to the fossil fuel industry leaders, go and ask your CEOs of tobacco companies which is the biggest amount of money that they have to have in their annual budgets [unintelligible], because it has to be — it is often in the legal department because of the scale of settlements. So, I think one expectation once the report is out is that the huge amount of money that goes into lobbying is going to do everything to actually rubbish this report and try and take selectively pieces of information. I think the American people in particular must interrogate the fact for every member of Congress there is between three and seven full-time lobbyists paid by the oil, coal, and gas sector. And they have actually held back the possibility of the U.S. being a global leader in renewable technology and that’s going to hurt the U.S. economy in the future.

AMY GOODMAN: Kumi Naidoo and Jeff Masters, thank you so much for being with us. Of course we’ll continue this conversation. Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International. Jeff Masters, Director of Meteorology at Weather Underground. He will be hosting Weather Channel’s live coverage of the release of the IPCC’s report tomorrow. When we come back, Matt Taibbi is with us of Rolling Stone on “Looting the Pensions Funds.”

The Ash Grove: Gideon Levy: Spasibo, Moscow

The Ash Grove List

Gideon Levy: Spasibo, Moscow From: David McReynolds [mailto:davidmcreynolds7@gmail.com]

Spasibo [thanks], Moscow, for saving the U.S. from itself and averting war The era of the U.S. as the world’s sole superpower is over. Henceforth, Washington’s global ambitions will have to take Russia and other countries into account.

By Gideon Levy VIA Dorothy Naor Haaretz (Jerusalem), Sept 12, 2013 http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.546432

Mother Russia (without Father Stalin this time) has saved the world from an unnecessary war. If not for Russia’s intervention, the Tomahawks would already be on the way. More blood would have been spilled in vain and the Middle East would have endured another pointless bombardment, only to sustain the image of Barack Obama and the “status” of the United States.

After the bombardment — with American arms, of course — would have come the quagmire and after the destruction, the reconstruction, contracted to American companies, of course. Syria, for whose welfare everyone is honestly and touchingly concerned, would have bled even more and the horrific chemical weapons would have remained in their arsenals.

In the words of the Internationale, “We’ll change henceforth the old tradition.” The old world, in which the U.S. did whatever it wished, waging a futile war in Iraq and a worthless one in Afghanistan, is approaching its end. Get ready for the new one. Welcome (back) to the world of multiple superpowers. It will not be a world that is all good, but maybe it will be better. It has already proven itself in Syria, and perhaps it will do so next in Iran.

This is not a return to the days of the Cold War in a bipolar world — Russia is too weak and rotten from within — but the Russians have raised their heads, the Chinese are on their way, with the Indians perhaps behind them — and the American monopoly on power is about to crack. There is a world in southern Asia and in South America too, and that world is awakening. That’s good news. We were always told that the “Russian bear,” as we liked to call it, was the ultimate source of offense in the Middle East. We were told that the Soviet Union instigated war while the U.S. sought peace.

Lo and behold — after 20 years of American hegemony and the crumbling of Russian influence in the region, we have not even a scrap of peace. We have only more and more wars of the kind that the U.S. fought, and the kind that Israel fought with its support and equipment.

The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was born in the days of the Cold War, while the only attempt to make peace with the Palestinians took place behind America’s back. Then we should say so: America did nothing to promote peace in the region. If it had wished, peace would be here already. If it had wished, the Israeli occupation would have ended already. Even now, with Russia’s proposal of a peaceful solution to the problem of Syria’s chemical weapons and America’s determination to bomb Syria, America is seen as the one that wants peace and Russia as the warmonger — a faint echo of the days of Cold War propaganda featuring the bad Russians and the good Americans.

Russia’s return is not entirely good news. With its highly dubious regime, corrupt economy and abysmal human rights record, it certainly will be no light unto the nations. A country that fights gay people, locks up journalists, assassinates opponents of the regime and imprisons women singers is a sick country. But its return tells us that once again there will be one who balances, even a little, the power of the U.S.; a country that stands in its way, which is far from always being the way of peace and justice.

Take Syria, for example. Let’s say Russia was not its ally. Let’s say Russia hadn’t stopped America. Let’s say America was the sole superpower in the region. Would the result have been better or worse? The solution Russia proposed has not been carried out yet. It is full of pitfalls. But if it works, it could serve as a lesson for the future. Not everything can be solved with a bomb, no matter how “smart” it may be. Occasionally, it is a good idea to try diplomacy, too.

Russia could play the constructive role it is playing in Syria in Iran as well. We need to encourage its involvement and not mark it as an enemy from the start. Obama should send a bouquet of flowers to Vladimir Putin, the man who helped him out of the corner he had painted himself into regarding the bombing of Syria. The world should thank Moscow for having saved him from trouble. Israel also needs to stop grimacing every time a war or bombardment against Arabs in the region is averted and tell Russia: Spasiba. Thank you for showing us, even for a moment, that there is another way, without bombardments. Visit my website www.michaelmunk.com

The Ash Grove: David McReynolds: Quick take on Obama’s speech

Ed’s Daily Digest
David McReynolds: Quick take on Obama’s speech

From: David McReynolds [mailto:davidmcreynolds7@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 7:02 PM

Quick take on Obama’s speech. To, among others, the Edgeleft list.

A weak speech. The theory that we have reached this point (of the Syrian willingness to give up their chemical weapons) because of Obama’s threat of a military attack is questionable – the fact is Obama simply didn’t have the support he needed in Congress. We emerge with a badly weakened Presidency. Ironically it is the Russians who score points, since they broke the deadlock (for whatever reason).

None of us (I hope) support the use of poison gas, but I am weary of Obama and Kerry hammering this point and ignoring the US silence (and perhaps complicity) in the case of Saddam Hussein’s use of poison gas against the Kurds and then against the Iranians. Once again, we see is the traditional “double standard” of every major state – we pick and choose what we will be upset about. One is reminded of Orwell and 1984. (Leaving aside the significant issue of chemical war in Vietnam with Agent Orange, and depleted uranium in Iraq).

I am sick to hear Obama talk about American exceptionalism, of being the anchor of world stability. This, from a President who surely knows his history, and who knows that it was the United States which laid waste to Vietnam, laid the basis for the rise of Pol Pot, invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, in the process simply destroying Iraq and leaving it in ruins. (One could list other items, from the invasion of Panama and Grenada, but it is Vietnam and Iraq which loom like ghastly corpses from the recent history of American actions).

Disturbing to hear a President who understands world law talk about the need for the US to act unilaterally. This is in direct violation of international law which, under the Charter of the United Nations, which we signed, states there are only two occasions when a nation can resort to violence. One is when its national security is directly threatened, and the other is when the Security Council authorizes such action. Obama’s proposed actions would be criminal under international law.

There are technical problems with the US approach – on the one hand the outrage about the use of poison gas, and on the other hand the promise by John Kerry that any US military attack would be “unbelievably tiny”. This is the worst of all possible worlds – to stir a hornets nest and hope for the best.

How can the US think of a military strike at an already bloodied Syria without realizing that such violence only adds to the violence, and cannot diminish it. What the Pope recently said on the Syrian issue makes much more moral sense than anything Obama said tonight.

What Obama did not say – and what he could have said (and might yet say if there was enough political pressure) – is that a political solution will require a serious agreement among the Americans, the Saudis, Turkey, and Russia, to have a genuine blockade on any further arms shipments.

Press for an international conference. Press for aid to the refugees. Press for a total blockade on the flow of arms (and the most difficult nation to deal with here might well be Saudi Arabia, not Russia).

I felt sorry for Obama – he had dug himself the hole into which he stumbled tonight by talking of red lines and suggesting that Assad must go. One can deplore the Assad regime (and most of the rebel opposition as well) without feeling it is helpful, as a pre-condition to negotiations, to argue that the leader of one side must leave the room.

Whoever used the poison gas – and I don’t find this as solidly proven as Obama does – what horrifies me more than the thousand dead from its use, are the 100,000 dead thus far in the Civil War (it is estimated that half of those killed have been Syrian government forces, and about a fourth had been civilians).

A weak speech from a President who faces a hostile Congress and will now find it much harder to achieve progress on more urgent domestic issues. (Though you would not guess almost any of this from listening to the commentariat on MSNBC and CNN).

David McReynolds