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Most of the people in the West or in North Asia usually never think about it, but Southeast Asia is one of the most depressed and depressing parts of the world.

It has been through genocides, wars and atrocious military regimes.

Then, those monstrous income disparities.

According to The Bangkok Post, in 2018, “the 10% poorest Thais had 0% wealth.

50% of the poorest Thais (25 million people) had 1.7% of the country’s wealth while 70% (35mn) controlled 5%.” In the same year, 1% of the richest Thais controlled 66.9% of the country’s fortune.

Indonesia is not doing much better. In fact, if it were to provide correct, unmassaged statistics, it would easily overtake Thailand as the most unequal country on earth. But Indonesia does not even declare the precise number of people, as I was informed by my colleagues, UN statisticians. It still claims that it has around 270 million inhabitants, while in reality, even ten years ago, there were more than 300 million people living on the archipelago.

Except in the Communist Vietnam, super-rich Singapore, and (still) relatively wealthy Malaysia, poor people matter very little. Or more precisely, they do not matter at all. They do not exist. And poor people form the great majority in this part of the world, although you would hardly read it from the pages of official government bulletins.

It is enough to see Jakarta, Manila or Bangkok from the air, to understand that the Southeast Asian megapolises are totally fragmented, so they can serve the elites. Skyscrapers, malls and enormous hotels are surrounded by miserable houses and slums. Terribly inadequate public transportation (corrupt governments have been regurgitating every year, for decades, great numbers of cars and polluting scooters wishfully called ‘motorbikes’, instead of providing decent massive public transit systems) has made Jakarta and periodically Bangkok, some of the most polluted and depressing cities in the world.

Crime is out of control. Thailand has, per capita, according to Interpol, a higher murder rate than the United States. In the Philippines, before President Duterte came to power, cities such as Davao and Manila were suffering from some of the most horrid crime statistics in Asia. Indonesia, again, has escaped scrutiny, simply because of the absolutely amazing ability to hide the truth – most of the crimes committed there, particularly sexual ones, are never reported, and if reported, not registered.

The modern history of this part of the world is perhaps the most brutal on the planet. Brutal, but hushed up. The education system in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand is geared not to educate the children and young people about the monstrous genocides committed on the territory of Southeast Asia.

To mention just a few ‘occurrences’, the West murdered several million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, during the so-called ‘Vietnam War’ and ‘Secret War’. It carpet-bombed poor Laos and Cambodia, while supporting the most atrocious feudal regimes all over ‘Indochina’. It also displaced millions of peasants. As a result, multitudes died from hunger.

Indonesia perpetrated three genocides, killing millions. First, during the 1965-66 one, triggered by the U.S.A. and its allies, murdered 1 – 3 million intellectuals, artists, teachers, Communists and members of the Chinese minority. The second was the U.S.A, U.K. and Australia-backed occupation of East Timor, which took lives of 30%-40% of the islanders. The third genocide is the on-going, horrendous occupation and plunder of West Papua.

Burma, broke and divided by British colonialism, is yet another story. And so are the monstrous Malaysian massacres, which took place in 1969. And various massacres of the opposition as well as of immigrants, in Thailand. The Thai bombing of Vietnam and Laos, to impress handlers in Washington. And the U.S. massacres in the Philippines, as well as the brutal civil war there, in Mindanao.

The list goes on and on. It is a brutal horror show, the never-ending awfulness of Western neo-colonialism, as well as the sleazy servility of local rulers.

The results are omnipresent: the beaches of entire countries are devastated. Whole enormous islands like Borneo, Papua and Sumatra are finished, scarred and poisoned by local and multi-national corporations. It is smoke and filth, clogged rivers, collapsed cultures, entire civilizations. No mercy, no compassion, no future.

But it is all hushed up. Crimes are denied. Outraged, confused nations are called ‘lands of smiles’, or ‘’friendly and tolerant archipelagos’.

It is insane, but tens of millions of foreign tourists descend on this ruined part of the world, annually. They see nothing. Some like it. They only nurture their complexes of superiority here. They do not want to understand anything. They choose to be blind. Cheap sex, shitty alcohol and beach food, as well as monumental sunburns. They continue the demolition work which has been triggered by their governments.

 

The mood is terrible. In Indonesia, foreigners and even locals get insulted in the middle of the day, just for being ‘different’. Whites are. Chinese are. Indians are. Black people are, with terrible regularity and brutality.

In Thailand, foreigners get killed and raped, for almost no, or very little reason. The terrible occurrences are reported almost weekly by the local and foreign press.

Poor people feel that their beaches, their cities, have been stolen from them. In Indonesia, on the Bali and Lombok islands, everything has actually really been looted from the locals.

Societies have crumpled. The plunder of the resources, of nature, of everything, was already taking place for years and decades, even centuries.

No one knows the way out of this nightmare. Most of Southeast Asia knows nothing else than this subjugation. And it is not even called a nightmare. In Southeast Asia, or in the West which controlled these societies for as long as one can remember, the horror is being glorified.

 

And yet, yet… On the same continent, not far away, an enormous country, governed by the Communist Party, and professing ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, has been building a totally new society, defining and implementing an ‘ecological civilization’, pulling hundreds of millions of citizens out of poverty, constructing a great scientific base, the fastest trains on earth, massive mass transit systems in each and every city, first rate schools and universities, and stunning concert halls, opera houses and museums.

And all this with only a fraction of the financial resources, calculated on a per capita basis, of those of the West.

China… A country with 6,000 years of history and culture, with about 1.4 billion inhabitants, and with an absolutely, diametrically opposite economic and social system from that which was force-fed, for decades, to the people of Southeast Asia by the West.

A country, which, by 2020, as promised by her President Xi Jinping, will have no one, be it in the cities or in the villages, living in extreme poverty.

China, a country which is growing in order to serve its people. A country which is using capitalist companies in order to fulfill Communist and socialist goals. A country with a centrally planned and greatly successful economy. Where all land belongs to the government, and the entire future – to the people.

Imagine this country, near the decaying colossus of the mainly miserable, oppressed Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia, with mostly failed systems which has forced hundreds of millions of human beings to live in filthy, destitute cities and in the feudal countryside.

 
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There are stories that are unrelated to the news, but can explain much better than many combat reports, why people like me are fighting against the Empire and imperialism, with such determination and vehemence. Not all stories are ‘big’ or ‘heroic’; not all include famous people or iconic struggles. Not all take place on battlefields.

But they ‘humanize’ the struggle.

Once in a while, I like to share such stories with my readers. As I will do right now.

Because without them, frankly, nothing really makes sense.

 

It was a hot, humid night in Jakarta; a megapolis with the worst pollution on earth, and with some of the most monstrous contrasts on our planet. A literally sinking city, constructed against the people; fragmented, serving only the few hundred thousand extremely rich (most of them accumulating wealth through corruption and theft), while condemning millions of struggling individuals to a slow death.

For the ruthless Indonesian elites and their Western handlers, the poor of Jakarta (the great majority of city dwellers) simply do not exist. They live in crammed slums, called kampungs – literally translated as villages. Kampungs fill huge spaces between the skyscrapers, malls, and mostly empty five-star hotels. Individuals living there consume very little, and therefore matter close to nothing. Even their number is underplayed in the official statistics.

One night, my small film crew and I were driving though the Klender neighborhood in East Jakarta; a poor, religious and monotonous part of the city.

Re-editing my big film about Indonesia after the US-sponsored military coup of 1965, an event which I often describe as an “Intellectual Hiroshima”, I had to again spend a few days in Jakarta, collecting latest footage, filming contrasts between the people and feudal elites.

We were all tired. Traffic jams have brought the city to an almost permanent gridlock. The pollution is unbearable. Life has come to a standstill. As planned by the regime, no one seemed to be thinking. Nothing seemed to be working.

We were driving past Klender train station a few minutes after midnight.

There were two young women standing by the side of the road. One of them caught my eye. She was clearly a prostitute, or a ‘sex-worker’, as they would call her in the West. But in reality, no, she was not a ‘worker’; not her. Just an abused, tired women.

I liked her face. Hers was an honest, good face. And after all that nonsense I heard during the day, after all that ‘feel good’ crap, I needed to hear something real, honest.

“Stop!” I shouted at my driver. He stepped on the brakes, then backed up a few meters.

“I want to talk to her,” I explained. Then to her: “I want to talk to you.”

She did not find my request strange. She nodded. After years of moving all around the world, while documenting the state of our humanity, I have developed certain instincts. I can tell from the faces of people, whether they have a story to tell; and whether they have the desire to speak. She did, both.

We emptied the front seat for her, next to the driver. She got in. Jakarta is a dangerous city, especially for women. But she did not seem to be frightened. She trusted me, as I trusted her.

“My name is Andre,” I said. “I am a filmmaker, and this is my team”.

“My name is Risna,” she answered and smiled.

“I want to hear your story,” I said.

“OK,” she said.

“Do you mind if I film?”

“Go ahead. I don’t mind.”

I put my GH5 over my knee, turned on the little light on the ceiling of the car, and pressed the “Record” button.

Just like that. No coaching, no preparation. And then it happened. She spoke. Clearly. Bitterly. Honestly.

 

“It was four of us,” she began, softly:

Four children. Little ones. Two boys and two girls. Our father, a pious religious man, used to use all of us. He had sex with us, with males and females. By then our mother was gone. He wanted to get married for the second time. To a young woman. But he had no money. And so, he began pimping all of us, for cash, so he could save enough, to start his new family. All four of us… you know; we all failed in life. At seven, I often slept on the streets. My siblings are all dysfunctional. I got married, had children, but my husband left me. I’m thirty years old now. I do this to support my children, and my brothers and sister.”

Trains kept passing-by. Loud express trains, rushing to far away cities: Yogyakarta, Solo, Surabaya.

I couldn’t’ talk to anybody. Here, it is always woman’s fault. No matter what happens, it is woman’s fault.”

I was frozen in my seat.

This is my story.”

“And now?” I could not think about anything else to ask.

Now I am speaking to you.”

I stopped the car in the middle of the night. I wanted to hear a story of a woman who was working by the side of the road. And that is precisely what I got: she described to me, briefly, her life.

She did it in a simple, touchingly naïve, pure way. There was nothing unnatural in her voice.

She spoke for herself, and for millions of Indonesian women like her, too.

I cared about her, but did not know how to express it, what to say.

We spoke for a bit, about the terrible fate of women in Indonesia. About the hypocrisy of this society. But it was well after midnight, and she had to earn her living. I had to let her go.

You will be in my film, together with your former President Gus Dur, and the greatest writer, Pramoedya Ananta Toer.”

She nodded, in a matter of fact way.

“What do you dream about?”

And that’s when her eyes filled with tears:

I want to raise my children as a good mother; from honest work.”

I looked at the monitor of my camera. 8 minutes and few seconds had passed since I began recording. One human life, in a summary. One complex, broken human life. I bowed to her. Shook her hand. Thanked her.

“Do you have hope?”

She looked at me, deep into my eyes. Then she nodded.

“Yes!”

 

At night, I couldn’t sleep.

I knew all about what she was talking about. My friend who works for the UNDP once explained to me, that Indonesia has one of the highest child abandonment rates in the world. And also, one of the highest amounts of sexual child abuse cases, particularly inside families; committed by family members. All these topics are taboo, and no ‘official’ study can be produced, as most women are only willing to speak ‘off the record’.

In Indonesia, after 1965, everything collapsed; was destroyed. But this downfall, and almost nothing related to it, can be discussed openly. Here, the fear of truth is omnipresent, and I will soon address this shocking issue in one of my upcoming essays.

 

In 1979, when the pro-US Somoza’s regime collapsed and the Sandinistas took over the devastated Nicaragua, my friend, an American poet and translator, happened to be in Managua.

He was very young and confused.

He understood, theoretically, the greatness of the revolution. But he was still lacking examples.

Then, one afternoon, he saw a bus. A beat-up public bus, slowly moving towards the center of the city, while sun was setting down, behind the hills.

He told me the story, a long time ago, in New York, as I was ready to depart for Peru, to cover the so-called Dirty War:

“It was the end of the week. The bus was full of girls; young women from slums. Some were barefoot. But they were dressed in their best. They were travelling to the center of the capital, to dance!”

The voice of my friend broke. He was overwhelmed by his memories.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy, History • Tags: Indonesia, Poverty 
Preface to My Russian Book
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I am Russian. That’s how I feel and therefore, that’s what I am. I was born in Russia, in the Soviet Union – in what was and still is a stunningly beautiful city on the Neva River called Leningrad.

For some reason, out of the almost 20 books that I have written, only 2 (if I am not mistaken) have been translated into the Russian language and published in Russia. How come? My books are available in about 40 languages. Even in Turkey, in the Turkish language, five have been printed.

Perhaps during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin era, Russia and I drifted apart. Not fully, but to a great extent.

I am an internationalist, an anti-colonialist fighter. I have worked in about 160 countries, writing about the horrors that are being spread by Western imperialism. I was screwed many times, battered and injured, tortured and even condemned to death. My Russia is a Russia of principles, of justice and courage. My grandparents fought for such a nation, and half of my relatives died, defending it. In the past, during those few terrible years when Russia was enchanted with the North American and European cheap glitter and lies, we found ourselves, unfortunately, far apart.

Of course, Russia’s obsession with the West did not last long. The country is too educated, too independent-minded. It cannot be fooled for decades. ‘My country’, my abstract, imaginary but nevertheless beloved homeland, got humiliated, robbed and almost destroyed by political and market fundamentalists in Washington, London, Paris. After the demolition of the Soviet Union, the life expectancy of Russian people dropped to sub-Saharan African levels. In those days, during one of my visits, I saw scientists from akademgorodog selling their libraries in the Novosibirsk subway underpass, in the bitter winter cold. Russia was shaken, stripped of its essence, and stepped on. The West gave nothing, it only took. And once the Soviet internationalism was out of the way, the United States, U.K. and France began the unbridled plunder of the world: Iraq, Serbia, Libya…

For several years, I looked in despair at how Russia was collapsing, losing its dignity, selling its great tangible and intangible achievements for a pittance. And how the West was laughing at it; grinning with its muzzle, expressing profound cynicism and scorn.

Yes, this is when Russia and I parted, for a short period of time. I did not want Russia to kneel – I wanted it to fight: for itself and for the world, as it always had done. Like most of the Russian people, I wanted the Soviet Union back; I felt embarrassed to see how cheap and sleazy capitalism was replacing Communist and Internationalist ideals. I felt deep scorn for the naiveté of Gorbachev, and right after that, for the perverted destructive servility of Yeltsin. For the sake of its own people and the world, Russia had no right to be weak; so much depended on it.

I wrote about it, about what I was witnessing, but Russia was not ready for me then. Many people there were searching for shortcuts. Countless honest people were spat at, degraded.

Eventually, majority of people understood. The government changed. Pride returned. The dark days of humiliation did not last long. Russia, indignant and righteous, once again got up from its knees, and confronted the Western usurpers and imperialism. It regained its soul, its compassion, and its great culture.

From that very moment, I regained my Motherland. This was the Russia that I knew, respected and loved. The Russia for which I was willing to, wanted to, fight for.

And a big, tough ideological fight it has been, since the moment that Russia began defending its interests and its people, as well as billions of oppressed human beings all around the world!

 

I speak the Russian language fluently. It is my ‘mother tongue’. But English is my ‘working language’. I have written some 15 books in English. It has become the tongue of ‘ideological combat’, and I feel comfortable using it for this purpose. The English language is my weapon of choice.

As I said earlier, for some reason, not much of my work is known ‘back home’, in my mental and emotional home, in Russia; a country where I was born and which I love, but where I have almost never managed to live.

The translation of dozens of my essays by the great Russian translator Andrey Maysov may change all this, very soon. I hope it will. I am grateful to him, for his determined labor; more grateful than he knows.

 

For many years, I have travelled all over the world, making documentary films and writing books. All this was “for the front” – for that intellectual, ideological front; for “my” countries: for Russia and China, Venezuela and Cuba, Syria, as well as many other ones.

I do not believe in ‘objectivity’. Objectivity is yet another British colonialist invention; a cover up for crimes committed all over the globe, and for propaganda with which billions of brains had been infected. In the name of objectivity, the most outrageous and devastating lies have been thrown around.

I fight Western propaganda with my essays, books and films. And by fighting it, I am trying to protect both Russia and all those colonized people of the world.

I do all this because I believe that Western imperialism is the only real danger that our planet is facing right now. If it is not defeated, humanity will not be able to survive.

My work is designed as a detox to Western indoctrination. It is a tough counter dose to the mainstream media lies, to entire institutes and NGOs in North America and Europe, whose only purpose is to turn both victims and victimizers into nihilist intellectual zombies.

I do not expect Russia or China to be ‘perfect’. I do not believe in perfection. I only want them to be human. And human they are. And they behave as such. The other side is not: for centuries it has been plundering, murdering and deceiving entire continents.

I don’t know whether this book will make my writing popular in Russia. I hope it will. Not for my own sake, of course, but simply because I think I now clearly understand how the global dictatorship functions, and I want “my countries” to know, too; to be ready, prepared and alert.

I want to ‘go home’, which for a writer means only this: to be able to share thoughts and feelings, fears and hopes with the people from his, no matter how distant, motherland.

 

[My book in Russian: “What you are not supposed to read”]

 
• Category: Foreign Policy, Ideology • Tags: Neoliberalism, Russia 
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As I pen this short essay, Iran is standing against the mightiest nation on earth. It is facing tremendous danger; of annihilation even, if the world does not wake up fast, and rush to its rescue.

Stunning Iranian cities are in danger, but above all, its people: proud and beautiful, creative, formed by one of the oldest and deepest cultures on earth.

This is a reminder to the world: Iran may be bombed, devastated and injured terribly, for absolutely no reason. I repeat: there is zero rational reason for attacking Iran.

Iran has never attacked anyone. It has done nothing bad to the United States, to the United Kingdom, or even to those countries that want to destroy it immediately: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Its only ‘crime’ is that it helped devastated Syria. And that it seriously stands by Palestine. And that it came to the rescue of many far away nations, like Cuba and Venezuela, when they were in awful need.

I am trying to choose the simplest words. No need for pirouettes and intellectual exercises.

Thousands, millions of Iranians may soon die, simply because a psychopath who is currently occupying the White House wants to humiliate his predecessor, who signed the nuclear deal. This information was leaked by his own staff. This is not about who is a bigger gangster. It is about the horrible fact that antagonizing Iran has absolutely nothing to do with Iran itself.

 

Which brings the question to my mind: in what world are we really living? Could this be tolerable? Can the world just stand by, idly, and watch how one of the greatest countries on earth gets violated by aggressive, brutal forces, without any justification?

I love Iran! I love its cinema, poetry, food. I love Teheran. And I love the Iranian people with their polite, educated flair. I love their thinkers. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them.

You know, you were of course never told by the Western media, but Iran is a socialist country. It professes a system that could be defined as “socialism with Iranian characteristics”. Like China, Iran is one of the most ancient nations on earth, and it is perfectly capable of creating and developing its own economic and social system.

Iran is an extremely successful nation. Despite the embargos and terrible intimidation from the West, it still sits at the threshold of the “Very high human development”, defined by UNDP; well above such darlings of the West as Ukraine, Colombia or Thailand.

It clearly has an internationalist spirit: it shows great solidarity with the countries that are being battered by Western imperialism, including those in Latin America.

 

I have no religion. In Iran, most of the people do. They are Shi’a Muslims. So what? I do not insist that everyone thinks like me. And my Iranian friends, comrades, brothers and sisters have never insisted that I feel or think the same way as they do. They are not fanatics, and they do not make people who are not like them, feel excluded. We are different and yet so similar. We fight for a better world. We are internationalists. We respect each other. We respect others.

Iran does not want to conquer anyone. But when its friends are attacked, it offers a helping hand. Like to Syria.

In the past, it was colonized by the West, and its democratic government was overthrown, in 1953, simply because it wanted to use its natural resources for improving the lives of its people. The morbid dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi was installed from abroad. And then, later, again, a terrible war unleashed against Iran by Iraq, with the full and candid support of the West.

I promised to make this essay short. There is no time for long litanies. And in fact, this is not really an essay at all: it is an appeal.

As this goes to print, many people in Iran are anxious. They do not understand what they have done to deserve this; the sanctions, the US aircraft carriers sailing near their shores, and deadly B-52s deployed only dozens of miles away.

Iranians are brave, proud people. If confronted, if attacked, they will fight. And they will die with dignity, if there is no other alternative.

But why? Why should they fight and why should they die?

Those of you, my readers, living in the West: Study; study quickly. Then ask this question to your government: “What is the reason for this terrible scenario?”

Rent Iranian films; they are everywhere, winning all festivals. Read Iranian poets. Go eat Iranian food. Search for images of both historic and modern Iranian cities. Look at the faces of the people. Do not allow this to happen. Do not permit psychopathic reasoning to ruin millions of lives.

There was no real reason for the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The West perpetrated the most terrible imperialist interventions, ruining entire nations.

But Iran – it all goes one step further. It’s a total lack of logic and accountability on the part of the West.

Here, I declare my full support to the people of Iran, and to the country that has been giving countless cultural treasures to the world, for millennia.

It is because I have doubts that if Iran is destroyed, the human race could survive.

[First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook]

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter. His Patreon

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Iran 
Again, The West Tries to Destroy China, Using Religion and Terror
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Important note: The Uyghurs have managed to create a very old and deep culture. Most of them are good, law abiding citizens of the PRC. Also the great majority of followers of Sunni Islam are peaceful people. This work is addressing terrible problems related to extremism and terrorism, most of them crafted and then fueled by the West and its allies. The goal is to damage China. The victims live in various countries.

They are everywhere, where their Western, Gulf states and Turkish handlers want them to be.

Their combat as well as political cells and units are based in Syria and Indonesia, in Turkey and occasionally in Egypt.

When they are told to kill, they murder with unimaginable brutality; decapitating, or cutting to pieces priests, infants, old women.

They are China’s worst nightmare. They are unleashing religious fundamentalism and foreign-sponsored militant nationalism and separatism. They are potentially the greatest obstacle and danger to President’s Xi Jinping’s marvelous BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).

Both the West and Turkey are glorifying them; the most extremist of Uyghurs. They are financing and arming them. They are labelling them as victims. Uyghurs are now a new ‘secret weapon’, to be used against Beijing’s determined march forward, towards socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The West and its allies are doing all they can, to smear China (PRC), to derail its progressive course, and to arrest its increasingly positive and optimistic influence on all the corners of the world. They invent and then support/finance all imaginable and unimaginable adversaries of the Communist Party of China. Religious sects are the favorite ‘weapon’ used against China by both North America and Europe. That is true about the extremists who belong to Tibetan Buddhism, concentrated around an agent and darling of the Western intelligence agencies, the Dalai Lama. Or yet another radical Buddhist/Taoist extremist sect – Falun Gong.

The West does everything in its power to destroy China. It was clearly detectable 30 years ago during the so-called Tiananmen Square Incident (an event supported by the West, and later twisted by Western mass media), as it has been obvious during two recent ‘rebellions’ in Hong Kong, fully sponsored by Western organizations (NGOs) and governments.

The latest chapter of the anti-Chinese attacks, conducted by the West, is perhaps the most dangerous, and the ‘best crafted’ multi-national onslaught against the interests of both China (PRC) and the developing world, particularly the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

It is the so-called Uyghur issue.

 

Uyghurs live predominantly in the northwest of China. They were recognized as ‘native’ in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. They belong to one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities of China, and are predominantly of Muslim faith.

For decades, some Uyghurs fought for independence from China (before the Communist PRC was declared on October 1, 1949, there were at least two Uyghur independent states declared in the region, the one most known – the First East Turkestan Republic – with the help of the Soviet Union).

Since the formation of the PRC, China has offered equal rights and constantly improving standards of living to the Uyghur minority. However, several extremist Muslim factions have kept fighting, brutally, for a Turkic independent state. They have not been representing the majority of Uyghurs, but being against the PRC, have enjoyed moral and financial support from the West, its allies in Gulf states, and from Turkey.

Dr. Gaye Christofferson, wrote in September 2002, in her work “Constituting the Uyghur in U.S.-China Relations: The Geopolitics of Identity Formation in the War on Terrorism” how divisive the actions of the Uyghurs were on the territory of the PRC:

“Uyghur separatists and independence movements claim that the region is not a part of China, but that the Second East Turkestan Republic was illegally incorporated by the PRC in 1949 and has since been under Chinese occupation. Uyghur identity remains fragmented, as some support a Pan-Islamic vision, exemplified by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, while others support a Pan-Turkic vision, such as the East Turkestan Liberation Organization. A third group would like a “Uyghurstan” state, such as the East Turkestan independence movement. As a result, “[n]o Uyghur or East Turkestan group speaks for all Uyghurs, although it might claim to”, and Uyghurs in each of these camps have committed violence against other Uyghurs who they think are too assimilated to Chinese or Russian society or are not religious enough.”

This was before the big propaganda push from the West; during the years when even Western academia was still relatively free to assess the situation in Xinjiang.

But soon after, the North American and European policy changed and radicalized.

In the West, the Uyghur issue was designated as ‘central’ and ‘essential’ to achieve three main goals:

  • To smear and humiliate China, portraying it as a country that ‘violates human rights’, ‘religious rights’ and the rights of minorities.
  • Uyghurs were literally inserted by NATO countries, including Turkey, into several violent combat zones: in Syria, Afghanistan and Indonesia, to name just a few, with one sole purpose: to train and to harden its fighters, who could be later deployed as de-stabilizing factors in China, Russia and former Soviet Central Asian Republics.
  • To sabotage great infrastructural projects, particularly the BRI. BRI is the brainchild of China’s President Xi Jinping. High-speed rail links, highways and other infrastructural arteries would be going through Xingjian, towards east. If brutal terrorist attacks backed by the West and its Islamist allies, and perpetrated by the Uyghur terrorists, would shake the region, the entire project which has been created in order to help to improve life for the entire humanity, (by wrestling various poor and developing countries from deadly Western neo-colonialist embrace), could be jeopardized, even collapse.

But what is really happening?

For several years, I investigated this ‘issue’; in China and Syria, in Turkey, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Indonesia.

It is because I consider it to be one of the most important, and one of the most dangerous issue our planet is now facing.

I was able to trace patterns, and to find roots. What I discovered is disturbing and threatening. For China and for the world.

The “March of Uyghurs” is backed by “useful idiots”, all over the Western world, but also in Turkey, and elsewhere. They want to “defend victims”, but in this case, the ‘victims’ are actually ‘victimizers’ and usurpers.

Here I am putting my findings (and the findings of other colleagues and comrades) on the record. I do it so no one who is searching for truth would be able to say now or in ten years: “I did not know”, or “The information has not been available.”

Before we begin, let me point out how enormous the hypocrisy of the West is: The TIP (Turkistan Islamic Party, which is the militant wing of the Uyghur’s separatist Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM)), has been designated as a terrorist organization by China. But not by China alone; also, by the European Union. Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Pakistan! The terrorists supported by the West and at least by part of its public, is designated as a terrorist organization by London, Brussels and Washington.

 
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It used to be comical, but suddenly it is not, anymore. In the past, blind hatred towards China could had been attributed to ignorance, or at least to indoctrination by the Western propaganda and mass media outlets.

But now? China’s tremendous leap forward, its excellent, humane social policies and determined people-oriented scientific research, as well as its march towards a so-called “ecological civilization” are well-documented, to the point that if anyone really wants to know, he or she has plenty of opportunities to learn the truth.

But it appears that very few want to learn. At least very few in the West.

China is seen negatively in almost all Western countries and their satellites. While surveys in places like Africa, where China intensively interacts with the people, helping them to break the chains of dependency on their neo-colonialist masters from Europe and North America, clearly indicate that it is admired and liked.

Last year (2018), a survey by the influential Pew Research Center (“Five Charts on Global Views of China”) established that China is viewed mostly positively in non-Western countries: 67% in Kenya where China is involved in substantial infrastructural and social projects, 61% in the most populous African nation – Nigeria, 70% in the Arab country of Tunisia, 53% in the Philippines, despite the fact that there, the West has been fueling a dispute over the islands in the South China Sea, and 65% in Russia, which is now the closest Chinese ally.

In the U.K., 49% of citizens see China positively, 48% in Australia, but only 39% in Germany and 38% in the United States.

But what is truly shocking, is the attitude of the West towards the leadership of China’s President – Xi Jinping – a determined thinker who is leading China towards true socialism with Chinese characteristics; almost eliminating extreme poverty (by the year 2020, there should be no pockets of misery left, anywhere on the territory of the PRC), and who is putting culture, a high quality of life, ecology and the general wellbeing of the Chinese people above economic indicators.

Conservative, anti-Communist Poland leads the pack: only 9% Poles “have confidence” in the leadership of President Xi. 11% of Greeks, 14% of Italians and 15% of Spaniards. That says something about Europe, as even in Canada, the number is 42%, and in the United States – 39%.

Is it truly just ignorance?

When interviewed by various Chinese media outlets, I am often asked the same question: “Why are we constantly criticized in the West, while we try to play by the rules, and doing our best to improve the planet?”

The answer is obvious: “Precisely for that reason.”

 

Some 20 years ago, China and its socialist project, were still in the ‘unfinished stage’. There were big differences in standards of living, between the urban areas in the east, and the countryside. Transportation was inadequate. Pollution in the industrial cities was very, very bad. Tens of millions of people were trying to migrate from the countryside to the cities, in search of jobs and a better living, putting great strains on the social system of the nation.

Those who did not like China, had plenty of ‘ammunition’, when criticizing it then. The country was moving forward, but the task to make it prosperous, clean, and healthy, appeared to by Sisyphean.

What followed was an absolute miracle, unprecedented in human history. Only the Soviet Union before the WWII registered greater growth and improvement of the standards of living of its people, than China did in the two last decades.

Everything in China changed. Its cities became clean, green, ecological, full of public parks, exercise machines for adults and children. Urban centers are now overflowing with a first class public transportation (all ecological), with impressive museums, concert halls, excellent universities and medical centers. Subsidized super-high trains are connecting all major cities of the country. In Communist China, everything is planned by the government and by the Communist Party, and the private sector is there to serve the nation, not vice versa. It works. It works remarkably well. Citizens have much more say about how their country is governed, than those in the West.

Cities are clean, efficient, built for the people. No beggars and no slums. No misery. Things are getting better and better.

Foreigners who come to China for the first time are shocked: China looks much wealthier than the US or UK. Its streets, its airports, its metro systems, high-speed trains, theatres, sidewalks, parks, easily put those in New York of Paris to shame.

But, it is not rich. Far from it! China’s GDP per capita is still relatively low, but that is precisely what makes “socialism with Chinese characteristics” so impressive and superior to the Western capitalism fueled by imperialism. China does not need to have average incomes of some $50,000+ per capita to prosper, to give its people an increasingly great life, to protect the environment, and to promote great culture.

Could it be, that this is precisely why the West is shaking in fear?

The West, where economic growth is everything, where people live in constant fear, instead of optimistic hope for the future. The West, where trillions of dollars and euros are wasted annually, so the elites can live in bizarre luxury and preside over irrational, unnecessary over-production and arms accumulation, which bring no well-being to the majority.

China and its central planning are offering a much better and logical system, for its citizens and for the world.

Most of its science is geared to the improvement of life on this planet, not for cold profits.

President Xi’s brainchild – BRI – is designed to lift up billions of people world-wide out of poverty, and to connect the world, instead of fragmenting it.

So why is President Xi so much disliked in Europe?

Could it be, that it is precisely because of the gigantic success of China?

 

Back to the previous point: 20 years ago, China had enormous social and environmental problems. The Westerners who did not like Communist Party of any type, would come and point fingers at things: “You see, Shanghai and Shenzhen are now prosperous, but look at other cities on the coast: see the contrast?”

Then the cities on the coast, all, began improving, planting parks, universities, metros, beautiful streets.

Criticism from the West continued: “Now leave the coast, go west, and you will see how unequal China is!”

Eventually, the west of China improved so much, that there was virtually no difference between the quality of life in the cities there, and on the coast.

“It is all so cynical,” the rant went on: “the difference between the cities and the countryside is so huge that peasants are forced to abandon their villages and seek jobs in the big cities.”

Under the leadership of President Xi, the entire countryside received an enormous overhaul. Transportation, medical services, educational facilities and job availability improved so much, that in 2018, for the first time in modern history, people began migrating back from the cities to the countryside.

Now what? What next? “Human rights?” Not much to trash, anymore, if one sees with eyes open.

But the better China becomes, the more it cares about its people, as well as people all over the world, the harder it gets attacked.

Not one “Wow!” from Western regime and its mainstream media. Not one “China is now leader of the world in ecology, social policies, science, and virtually everything public.”

Why?

 
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: American Media, China, Xi Jinping 
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Almost every day we read about the latest outbursts in Europe, targeting pro-immigration policies. There are protests, even riots. Right-wing governments get voted in, allegedly, because the Europeans “have had enough of relaxed immigration regulations”.

That is what we are told. That’s what we are supposed to understand, and even sympathize with. Anti-immigration sentiments are even pitched to the world as something synonymous with the desire of Europeans “to gain independence from Brussels and the elites”. The right-wing, often racist, spoiled and selfish proletariat is portrayed by many as a long-suffering, hard-working group of people, with progressive aspirations.

If seen from a distance, such arguments are outrageous and even insulting; at least to the billions of those who have already lost their lives, throughout history; victims of the European and North American expansionist genocides. And to those individuals who have, until this day, had their motherlands ruined, livelihoods destroyed, political will violated, and in the end, free and unconditional entry denied; entry into those very countries that keep violating all international laws, while spreading terror and devastation to virtually all corners of the world.

 

In this essay, let us be as concrete as possible. Let us be brief.

I declare from the start, that every African person, every Asian, every citizen of the Middle East and every Latin American (how perverse this very name “Latin” and “America” is, anyway) should be able to freely enter both Europe and North America. Furthermore, he or she should be then allowed to stay for as long as desired, enjoying the free benefits and all those goodies that are being relished by Westerners.

To back this statement, here are several (but not all) basic moral and logical arguments:

First of all, Europe and North America do not belong to their people. They belong to the people from all corners of the globe. In order to build the so-called West, close to one billion (cumulatively, according to my friends, the UN statisticians) had to die, throughout modern and the not so modern history. Virtually everything, from theatres, schools, hospitals, parks, railroads, factories and museums, have been built, literally, on the bones and blood of the conquered peoples. And nothing much has really changed, to these days. Europe and later North America invaded almost the entire planet; they looted, killed, enslaved and tortured. They robbed the world of everything, and gave back nothing, except religion and a servile and toxic bunch of ‘elites’, who are continuously plundering their countries, on behalf of the West. Therefore, Europe and North America were built on credit, and now this credit is due.

Secondly, the Western culture, without any competition, is the most violent civilization on earth. I repeat, without any competition. It cannot be defeated militarily, without further losses; losses which could be easily counted in billions of human lives. Therefore, the only possibility of how to reduce the scale of further global tragedies, is to ‘dilute’ the West and its fundamentalist culture of racial and cultural superiority. The fact that Westerners are now in minority in such cities like London or New York, has not fully stop the U.K. and U.S.A. from committing monstrous crimes, attacking and pillaging foreign countries. But were Europe and North America still homogeneous, there would hardly be any free, independent country left anywhere in the world. Migration to the West is helping, at least to some extent, to save the world. Migrants, from the first and oldest generations, demand that the voices of non-westerners, would be listened to, at least some extent.

Furthermore, and this is of a course well-known argument: the only reason why people from previously wealthy countries like Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, Iran or Syria are forced to emigrate, is because their nations were either bombed back to the Stone Age, or destroyed through sadistic sanctions. Why? So, there would be change of the government, and instead of local citizens, the profits from natural resources would benefit Western corporations. Also, of course, in order to prevent the “Domino Effect”. The West hates the idea of the “Domino Effect”: read, the regional or global influence of Communist, socialist or progressive governments which would be determined to improve the lives of their people. West needs obedient, frightened slaves, not great heroes and bright thinkers! To stop the “Domino Effect”, millions had to die in the 1965 coup in Indonesia, in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, to name just a few unfortunate nations. If you come to a rich, socially-balanced nation, rob it of everything, overthrow its government, and reduce it to a ‘failed state’, in order for your own nation and people to prosper, would you be shocked if some of its people were to decide to try to follow the resources that you have stolen; meaning, moving to your own country?

The reason why people in the West do not follow this train of logic is simply because they are thoroughly ignorant; trying extremely hard, for decades and centuries, to remain blind. If they claim ignorance, they don’t have to act. They can just enjoy the loot, without paying the price. It is simple, isn’t it?

 

Are those right-wing voters in the U.K., in Hungary, in Greece, France and Italy, as well as in other EU countries, really so blind, or so morally corrupt, that they do not see the reality?

Do they expect to have a ‘free ride’ for another century or two?

Do they teach history in European schools? I wonder. And if they do, what kind of history? I was shocked to realize that even some of my Spanish friends who are working for the United Nations, have absolutely no clue about the barbarity their country had committed in Central and South America. Or Portugal, in what is now Brazil or Cape Verde.

Now, the Italians with their Northern League (oh yes, “anti-establishment”, they love to say) firmly in government, are criminalizing people who are helping the ‘boat people’ sailing from Libya and other devastated African countries (mainly ruined by France and other EU nations) to reach Italian shores. Good ‘working people’ would rather if the refugees sank in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, as hundreds and thousands already have. And this anti-immigration rhetoric is actually being glorified as ‘brave’ and ‘anti-establishment’. How beastly, how low, the European culture continues to be. It was always ultra-violent and aggressive, but now it is also shallow, illogical and fanatic. It is not racist, anymore. It is far beyond that. It is turbo-racist, monstrously selfish. I often describe it as ‘fundamentalist’, not unlike what one encounters in the so-called ‘logic’ of movements such as ISIS and al Nusra.

In the U.S.A., the situation is not much better. Wall on the Mexican border? Study your history! The United States robbed half of Mexico, through expansionist wars. Most of migrants who are crossing the border illegally, are actually not Mexicans (Mexico is, with all its social problems, an OECD country), but from impoverished Central American nations. And why are these nations impoverished? Every time they democratically elect their progressive governments which would be ready to work on behalf of the people, the U.S. immediately applies its fascist dictatorial “Monroe Doctrine”, overthrows the government, injects right-wing death-squads, forces privatization, and strips the country of everything, like a locust. Don’t the people from Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras or Dominican Republic, have the full right to follow the loot, too, and settle near it, in the United States?

 

 
• Category: History, Ideology • Tags: Immigration 
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The United States believes that it is so invincible, exceptional and so frightening that no one would ever dare to protest, let alone defend its people against constant humiliation, economic embargos and military threats.

It used to be like this for quite some time. In the past, the West used to bully the world before and after each well-planned assault. Also, well-crafted propaganda used to be applied.

It was declared that things are done ‘legally’ and rationally. There were certain stages to colonialist and imperialist attacks: “define your goals”, “identify your victim”, “plan”, “brainwash your own citizens and people all over the world”, and then, only then, “bomb some unfortunate country back to the stone ages”.

Now, things are slightly different. “The leader of the free world” wakes up in the middle of the night, and he tweets. What comes from his computer, tablet or phone, (or whatever he uses), is spontaneous, unpolished and incredibly dangerous. Similar in substance to what made him wake up in the middle of the night, in a first place.

He does not seem to plan; he shoots off from the hip. Today, as I am writing this essay, he has declared that he has “five strategies for Venezuela”. Go figure. Bravo!

Earlier, as he was about to land outside London, he embarked on insulting the Mayor of the British capital, calling him names. A bit like we used to do to each other, when we were five years old, in the neighborhood playground.

He has been regularly offending Mexico, and of course Iran, China and Russia.

He basically tells the leader of the most populous nation on earth – China – to “be there”, at the G20 Summit, or else.

Whenever he and his lieutenants are in the mood, they get busy antagonizing everyone: Cuba and Nicaragua, DPRK and Venezuela, Bolivia and Syria.

Of course, the main “culprits” are always the ‘biggest bad boys’, Russia and China.

Anyone, at any time, could easily land on the proverbial hit list of President Trump, and hawks of his United States of A. It could be India (which, during ‘good submissive times’ is called by the West the “biggest democracy”, or perhaps Turkey (militarily the second mightiest NATO country). The world had been converted into an entity which appears to be run by a bloodthirsty and unpredictable dictatorship. The world is an entity where everyone is terrified of being purged, imprisoned, starved to death, or directly attacked, even liquidated.

It was always like this, at least in the modern history of the planet. Colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism: they have many different faces but one common root. Root that has been often hidden deep under the surface.

But this time it is all in the open, raw and brutally honest.

 

Both George W. Bush and Donald Trump have one thing in common: they are honest.

Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama were both ‘suave’ presidents. They were loved in Europe, as they knew how to speak politely, how to dine elegantly, and how to commit mass murder in a ‘rational, righteous way’; ‘old-fashioned, European-style’.

The brutal, vulgar ways of W. Bush and Donald Trump, have been consistently shocking all those individuals who are pleased when things are done ‘stylishly’ and ‘politically correctly’; be it a coup or the starvation to death of millions through embargos. Or be it invasions or ‘smart’ bombing (practically, ‘smart’ meaning very far from the inquisitive eyes).

But it is not only the ‘offended sensibilities’ of predominantly European population, that matter.

The danger is that someone might take Donald Trump seriously, and respond accordingly.

In the past, verbal insults similar to those unleashed now by the US President, could easily have led to a war, or at least to the breaking up of diplomatic relationships.

And now?

In case Westerners have not realized it, yet – people all over the world are indignant. I talk to Libyans, Afghans, Iraqis, Venezuelans, Cubans, Iranians: they hate what comes from Washington; hate it with passion. They know that what is being done to them is terrorism, thuggery. But for now, they do not know how to defend themselves. Not yet, but they are thinking.

The entire world now resembles a brutal ghetto, or a slum, where a heavily armed gang controls the streets, and in fact every corner and alley.

At least in the past, subjugated people were able to hide behind decorative words and ideological pirouettes. They were able to ‘save their face’. They were sodomized in the name of ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’. Now, a horrible reality is flying directly into all directions: “You will do as you are told!” “It is us who will decide.” “Obey, because we said so”. Entire proud nations are being reduced into states of slaves or even worse – lap dogs.

 

As everyone is well aware of, even lackeys and slaves often hold grudges. And abused dogs can bite.

Throughout history, slaves rebelled. True heroes came from rebellious and enslaved nations.

This, what we have now on our planet, is not good, not a healthy situation.

The more countries that are being intimidated, the higher the chances are that somewhere, soon, things will let go; collapse.

Only terrible fear, so far, assures that if a Syrian or a Libyan or an Afghan city is leveled to the ground, there is no real retaliation: urban areas in the USA stay intact.

Only incredible patience of the Russian or Chinese leaders guarantees that, so far, even as their economies are being battered by ridiculous sanctions, the two powerful nations do not retaliate and ruin the US financial system (which is only a paper tiger).

Trump dares. He tortures and humiliates more than half of the world, then looks straight ahead and laughs: “So what are you going to do now?”

So far, the world is doing nothing.

Even the proud and mighty Iran is not ‘crossing the line’. As millions of its people are suffering because of insane sanctions, the Iranian navy is not yet engaging the US battleships that are sailing very near its shores.

Even as more and more US bases are being built right next to both Russia and China’s borders, so far there are no substantial military bases being erected by Moscow or Beijing in places such as Nicaragua, Cuba or Venezuela.

 

All this may change, soon.

And the so much dreaded (by Washington) “domino effect” may actually take place.

Non-Western leaders have also their ‘bad days’ and terrible nights. They also wake up in the middle of the night, and think, want to communicate and to act.

Imagine an Iranian leader, waking up at 2AM, and suddenly feeling overwhelmed by wrath, because Iranian men, women and children are suffering, for no reason, as a result of the perverse sadism being regurgitated by the West. What if he Tweets an insult, too? What if he just orders, on a spur of the moment, to have all those obsolete US aircraft carriers and destroyers that are floating in the vicinity, be sunk? Iran can do it: everyone knows that it can! Technically, militarily, it is easy: those ships are just sitting ducks.

Then what? Will Washington nuke Iran?

Someone may say: The West is killing millions every year, anyway. Better to fight it, in order to stop it, once and for all. Others may join. And then, then what? Will Trump give orders to kill tens of millions, just to maintain control over the world?

What if the US navy vessels bump into a Russian or a Chinese ship, as they almost did in the South China Sea, recently? What if a Russian or Chinese ship sinks, dozens of sailors die. And there is a retaliation? Then what?

 
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Beirut is mad! It is thoroughly insane. And that is not an insult. The inhabitants of this Middle Eastern metropolis are proud of their own lunacy. They wear it as a coat-of-arms, as their identity.

“Do you like Beirut?”

“Yes. But it is mad,” you reply.

“Yes!!!” They grin at you with delight. It means, you understand, and you are part of them.

My life has been connected to this city for exactly five years. I don’t live here always, but at least for a substantial amount of time. Like everyone who resides here, I love Beirut, and I hate it, too. Passionately, how else? I feel intrigued by it, insulted and outraged by it, sometimes enamored, often disgusted.

Of course, Beirut does not give a damn what I feel, what we feel, what anyone feels. It is above all us all, selfish, capricious, outrageous. It suffers from a maddening complex of superiority. It is convinced that it is “Paris of the Middle East” (or perhaps that Paris is the “Beirut of Europe”) and the only city in the region which at least has some brain, style and talent.

It had been invaded, bombed to the ground, battered by wars and conflicts; it had been divided by religions, overwhelmed by immigrants; it collapsed economically and socially, got into unserviceable debt, periodically covered itself with garbage as if it was a duvet, screwed its people by electricity and water shortages, paralyzed its streets with traffic jams, and yet, yet it is still standing here, confident and some would say arrogant, but standing with confidence and beauty, never defeated and always proud. Yes, even when on its knees – proud.

Beirut is like no other city in the Middle East. Like no other city in the world. This is no criticism and no compliment; it is simply a fact.

So, let me try to define this incredible place. Let me pay a tribute to its madness.

 

Apart from the Gulf countries and Indonesia, I don’t know of any other place on earth which is so religiously capitalist, selfish, obsessed with profits and wealth-flashing.

The pretentiousness of Beirut is so extreme that it can even somehow not be taken seriously: it appears grotesque and surreal. Here, some miserable slums can be found rubbing shoulders with Achrafieh or Verdun, neighborhoods so affluent that they put many centers of the European capitals to shame.

In Beirut, a dinner that would cost 14 euros in Paris sells for 50 dollars, while a Lacoste polo can easily set you back $220.

Money does not matter. Those who have it, are hardly working for the salary. Lebanon’s rich thrive on the banking sector, on plundering the natural resources of West Africa, on the production of narcotics in Beqaa Valley, and on remittances. The Lebanese diaspora is tremendous: many more Lebanese people live abroad (in South and North America, Europe, Australia, Gulf and elsewhere) than in Lebanon itself. Just in Brazil alone, 5-7 million Lebanese have made it their new home.

Those who do not have money matter nothing. They simply don’t exist. Nobody talks about them, the media does not write about them, there is hardly any public transportation to move them around the city. They form an invisible minority, or perhaps majority. Nobody knows their precise numbers, as Lebanon does not use censuses (in order not to ‘upset the peace’ between Christians and Muslims).

Only around 60% of the citizens of Lebanon send their children to public schools, and public education is terrible, in terms of infrastructure as well as the quality of teachers.

Driving home my Beetle, I am terrified, trying not to hit Lotuses, Lamborghinis and Porsches, leisurely parked near the curb. The citizens of Beirut would do anything to show off: it is a well-known fact that young people often continue living in their parent’s homes, and save every cent, just in order to buy luxury, and often badly maintained cars. Then, in order to be noticed, they frequently take off mufflers and attach weird stickers on the bumpers, such as: “Louder than your mother last night!”

The Zaitunai Bay luxury marina in the Downtown Beirut has some ultra-luxury vessels. One of them has a telling name painted at the rear: “Thank You Daddy III”. Clearly, there must be “Thank You Daddy I and II” somewhere.

‘Reverse snobbism’ is unknown here. Even the waiters and attendants of valet parking places are dressed in the latest Armani and Hugo Boss outfits. Dressing up is yet another obsession, here.

Every detail matters in Beirut: from where one lives, to where he or she comes from. From nail polish to university degrees, from the car one drives to where one spends summer holidays.

‘Domestic help’ matters a lot, too. Asian and African maids are status symbols. They are being exhibited as jewelry, cars or expensive watches; in malls, restaurants and elegant cafes. No rich person could do without flashing his or her Ethiopian, Philippine, or Kenyan maid. The more of them, the better. Maids do everything for the upper middle class and elites: they take care of their children, walk their dogs, clean, shop, cook and provide other, better not to mention unsavory services. Physical abuse of foreign workers is common, while the regressive kafala system so common in the Gulf is still in place here, too.

The treatment of Palestinian refugees is horrific. For decades, they have been living in monstrous camps; ghettos, with limited rights and very limited numbers of professions legally available to them.

 

So far, sounds like a hell on earth? But it actually is not. And the fact that it is not is actually a mystery, and not only to this writer, but also to many citizens of Lebanon.

What saves Lebanon is its people’s passion for life. Here, individuals from all social classes, from all religions (as well as those who despise religions), are living full throttle, enjoying every moment and every opportunity that comes their way. Life is often lived in a manic way, but it is lived to the fullest.

It is also the city’s humor, that helps to get-by: dark, irreverent humor; politically incorrect, self-depreciative and at the same time, extremely sophisticated.

While suffering from countless social ailments, this is easily the classiest, the most educated city in the entire Arab world. The best films are made here, and the best books published. The left-wing Al-Mayadeen television channel which is closely related to the Venezuelan Telesur broadcasts to the entire Arab world from here. The daring, Pan-Arab Al-Akhbar newspaper comes from Beirut, too.

The most celebrated Pan-Arab singer, Fairuz, is from here.

The best university in the Arab region – the American University of Beirut (AUB), where, for instance, one of the greatest modern architects, Iraqi Ms. Zaha Hadid, studied – is right here – near the Corniche. Despite its name, it is now only loosely related to the United States.

Lebanese art is playing a huge role in keeping this country together and afloat.

Local filmmakers and artists are not sitting on their backsides: the creative vibes in Beirut are somehow similar to those great intellectual outbursts in Europe and Japan in the 1950’s and 1960’s, in Latin America in 1970’s and in China and Iran now.

Everything bad, everything controversial that is happening in the city is never swept under the carpet. On the contrary, it is exposed, shouted out from the film screens and pages of books.

Almost all the negative issues that I mentioned above, are described and filmed, candidly and determinedly.

Perhaps the two most ‘iconic’ Lebanese contemporary films – “The Insult” (2017, Director: Ziad Doueiri) and “Capernaum’’ (2018, Director: Nadine Labaki) –deal with issues that could never be frankly addressed almost anywhere else in the world.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Lebanon 
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No one is talking about it openly, but, let us face it: those U.S.-made planes are crashing; the performance of Apple phones and computers is falling far behind those made by Huawei and other Chinese companies. Lenovo took over IBM and is doing extremely well. NASA is absolutely incapable of building decent rockets that would be able to deliver people or even satellites to space, cheaply and safely.

In the field of electric automobiles, China is far, far ahead. In fact, anyone who visits a major or secondary Chinese city, would be shocked to see that the implementation of ‘zero emission’ vehicles there is not something that is in the planning stage, it has for several years been a dream come true, reality: dozens of Chinese cities already have an excellent network of metro trains, of ecological electric buses, and of enormous public sidewalks that encourage people to stroll and remain healthy. Even police cars in China are electric.

Russia is doing extremely well, in several fields. In fact, it is at the vanguard, when it comes to such grounds as science and culture. Those days of ‘humiliation’ of the Gorbachev and Yeltsin era are far back, when Moscow naively believed Thatcherites and Reaganites! Russia is rolling: now producing and exporting excellent, often organic food. Its icebreakers are opening new paths for both people and goods. Russian space rockets are second to none, and its passenger airplanes are back in the skies. Nuclear and other power plants are helping to supply energy to many countries, all over the world.

You name it; China and Russia are producing it, developing it, helping to create it! Both nations are cooperating, scientifically, working for people, not just for business.

Citizens in both countries are enthusiastic, optimistic, full of hope. Their lives are improving, and there is so much to look forward to! They are building their nations, and helping the world to survive, to move forward. It can be called Communism or socialism with Chinese characteristics. Or it can be called nothing in particular in Russia (according to surveys, most of the citizens there want both the Soviet Union and Communism back, and the government is attentively listening, steering the country into the right direction). Perhaps, soon, the definition will be ‘socialism Russian-style’, without huge posters, but with plenty to show, and to celebrate.

But whatever it really is, it is working; working very well. Standards of living are growing. Health is improving. The environment is improving. Culture is everywhere. People are ecstatic.

 

And the West? The United States of A?

No, really! Honestly. Recently I spoke at several universities in Canada and Europe; I worked on two books in California. What a depressing experience!

Everyone bitching about everything; no optimism, and no spirit of building the motherland or improving the world. Cynicism, nihilism, bad moods on every corner. Nothing is ‘sacred’.

People shackled by debts and loans, scared of leaving the insane rat race.

In the US of A, there is horror of getting sick and ending up on the street. And those bizarre, truly repulsive student loans: the regime forces you to study in order to get brainwashed, becoming a reliable lackey, and then slams you with tens of thousands of dollars in basically unserviceable debts. And where does it all lead to? To some tremendous scientific breakthroughs? To groundbreaking works of art? To pushing the boundaries with new, magnificent works of philosophy? No way! It only leads to the printing of new and newer diplomas, of PhD. certificates, each costing tens, hundreds of thousands of dollars. And those desperate research labs in the USA (most of them private, anyway) are importing scientists from India and China, trying to brain-drain the nations who are educating their people for free or cheaply. While concert halls in New York and London are begging the Chinese, Korean, Argentinian, Russian and Japanese pianists to come and play, even Western classical music.

What is it, President Trump? ‘Making America great again’ is somehow not working, is it?

Your country tried to ruin Soviet and Chinese communism for decades, telling the East Europeans through propaganda media outlets how great, how glorious the Western market system was, and how pathetic the command economy was, central planning and internationalism.

Look at them now – those who ate your lies: in Bulgaria and Romania, both EU countries, people are living in misery, industry ruined or eaten by German and French multi-nationals. Look at Ukraine: a country with a standard of living approaching that of the poorest Southeast Asian countries. Even in the rich Czechia, I recently saw people eating from garbage bins, while once mighty factories like Skoda have been totally cannibalized by West European businesses. That’s what you used to tell them – East Europeans: “Come back to Europe. Come to the West!” So, they did. Talk to them now: nobody seems to be happy.

Western nihilism ate all basic, healthy human instincts, alive. Look at the West European citizens. Most of them shout at their television sets from bar stools or sofas; no internationalist principles left. Human beings reduced to only desiring more money, more food, more booze, more privileges – “benefits”. At the expense of others. A finished ‘culture’. Nothing great is being produced – literature, films, music. A total collapse of basic values. Putting people who are trying to help refugees on the high seas into prison; refugees who are escaping from countries ruined and destabilized by Western terror, aggression and greed. Disgusting. “New Europe”.

At least Europe is still producing some decent watches, shoes, cars and fragrances. Nothing that could justify the outrageously high standard of living of its citizens. Not much, really; no major breakthroughs from which humanity could benefit, but at least something, still.

 

But what is it that could “Make America “Great Again?” in the US of A?

If it is not loot and naked imperialism, what makes the country so rich? And rich it is. Not necessarily its people, but the country, definitely.

Once again, others are producing better planes, better cars, better computers, communication systems, phones, audio devices. Others are building better cities with a much higher quality of life. Others have created incomparably greater high-speed rail networks, public transportation, better pharmaceutical research institutions. Others are making much better films (not that horror and violent crap of Hollywood), write much better books, think and dream about much better societies.

So, what is it, President Trump, that America (let’s actually call it the United States, as your country does not own America, which, despite its idiotic name derived from that greedy ‘discoverer’ Amerigo Vespucci, spreads all the way down to Fire Land and was ‘the greatest’ before it got invaded and plundered by that Western imperialist scum) could still offer to this scarred but increasingly alert planet?

Should we celebrate subjugation? Should we climax from being coerced into slavery?

Your weapons, which are murdering millions, annually, in all corners of the globe? Should your weapons which are produced from an unbridled military budget, which not even your own government could calculate properly, make America great again?

Because if not your weapons, then what?

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: American Media, American Military 
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