Europe, Canada and US,

Just a few months into his reign, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds himself embroiled in Middle East politics. New to the heady world of governance, he jumped into the Syrian refugee crisis with a generous offer of asylum for 25,000 victims of the civil war, to praise from all except a few malcontents at home pepper spraying some refugees in protest. But more serious protests have arisen over two other government policies -- the $15 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, and government attempts to quash BDS, the popular campaign to boycott Israeli goods.

Arms for civil rights

Harper's swan song was the $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which Harper boasted would provide 3,000 jobs (kind of expensive job creation) by selling weaponized armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The combat vehicles with machine guns and anti-tank cannons are clearly intended to 'protect' the Mideast kingdom’s monarchy from internal threats. The proposed sale is now being protested in a class action law suit by University of Montreal professor Daniel Turp. Turp and his group's challenge--Operation Armoured Rights--points to how poorly Saudi Arabia treats its own citizens (47 executions in January, mostly public beheadings) and their horrific bombing campaign in Yemen.

My contribution to Another French False Flag?: Bloody Tracks from Paris to San Bernardino, ed. Kevin Barrett, 2016.

In a 2008 World Public Opinion Poll, 46% of world citizens, including almost 80% of Americans, said they believe al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11. In Muslim countries, the opinion was mixed, from  from 3% in Pakistan and 11% in Jordan, to 35% in Morocco, 43% among Palestinians, and up to 71% in Nigeria (only 40% Muslim). There are leading public intellectuals, who do not share this view; some, notably contributors to this book and its predecessor We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo, raise questions about the official version of this year’s events in Paris.

I will not focus here on the details of the two French 9/11s, as some call them. My focus is broader and of course starts with 9/11 itself. Let me warn you: I am a doubting Thomas on all-encompassing conspiracy theories in general. I don't deny that 9/11 was a conspiracy, but so far, in my view, claims of such a conspiracy as MHOP (made it happen on purpose) by a secret cabal of hundreds of high level officials are even more incredible that the conventional wisdom, primarily because of Ockham's Razor, which states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.*

That said, my thesis is that indeed we live in a world of conspiracy, a systemic one called capitalism, that shapes our actions and our thinking. The moment 9/11 happened, as I watched the towers fall in real time from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, I thought 'Is this a Zionist plot?' I have great respect for Jewish know-how and determination. It has been honed year after year since 1947 in the Holy Land, where a Jewish settler-state has faced overwhelming opposition from the angry native Arabs, displaced to compensate European and American Jews for the crimes of Germans—the most glaring 'conspiracy' around, one which most people accept because it is 'good'—inciting, of course, many lesser plots of all kinds.

Surprise, surprise, cui bono (who benefits) points the finger at Israel in 9/11. There were tantalizing hints of cell phone warnings to Jews from an Israeli server, and a remarkable absence of Israelis among the dead, airline stock options mysteriously sold just days before the event, the famous dancing Israelis watching the collapse from across New York Bay in Jersey City, comments of delight from Israeli leaders (quickly adjusted to condolences), etc, etc.

But no smoking gun. Ditto, shadowy Pentagon figures. Lots of cui bono but no identifiable figures caught with their fingers in the pie in the sky. The one clear example of a false-flag attack at the time of 9/11 was the anthrax attack a few days afterwards, later implicitly acknowledged by the US government as a false-flag attack from an American germ warfare lab, designed to incite hatred of Muslims and solidarity with Israel.

Trump's latest TV ad says it all, even before you listen. The caption is: Paid for by Donald J Trump, Inc., Approved by Donald Trump. It's almost as if he's running his campaign as a send-up of the other hopefuls, beholden to lobbyists and the mainstream media. The only one with name recognition is Jeb Bush, and that, only because his brother was president (disastrously) eight years ago. Think of Trump as The Joker in the film "The Dark Knight" (2008): “I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.”

He electrifies audiences, much as fascist scalawags Hitler or Mussolini did when Germans and Italians felt hopeless in the face of economic disaster. But where Nazism is defined as "a form of socialism featuring racism and expansionism", Trump is no Nazi. It is precisely because he is not a Nazi (and hence easy game for the mainstream) that the US imperial elite are so incensed by him and his sudden, immense popularity. He is neither a socialist nor an expansionist. In as much as he has a coherent philosophy, it is libertarian and isolationist. He wants good relations with Russia, and cooperation on fighting al-Qaeda's latest incarnation. "Russia wants to get rid of ISIS. We want to get rid of ISIS. Maybe let Russia do it. Let them get rid of ISIS. What the hell do we care?"

Alternative to the Bush-Obama project

Ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the defeated ogre, licking his wounds, finds little comfort from his hawkish "best friend", despite his love for Israeli birds for whom he helped raise more than ten million Canadian dollars to build a bird sanctuary in the Promised Land. This was in preference to Canadian birds, who along with almost all other Canadians, had their funding slashed.

He did this with the help of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an innocuous sounding organization, one which operates worldwide, but one which was founded to 'disappear' Palestinians and their homes, building bland pine forests (though not indigenous, they grow quickly and help us forget), where villagers once grew olives and tended sheep.

His JNF friends decided to honour him by naming the park, the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre. The new Harperland is near the Golan Heights, on land confiscated from 30,000 Bedouin in 1948. Lake Hula was vital, not only to the Bedouin, but to Nature, as a wetland. But as part of the plan to "make the desert bloom", the lake was drained, creating a dust bowl, and the new kibbutz soon abandoned. (I'm not kidding.)

In the ogre's favour, Harperland at least tries to provide migrant birds with refuge, if not the original occupants. In a slick promo JNF video advertising the park and lauding Harper as the new messiah (I'm still not kidding),  DJ Schneeweiss, Toronto's Israel consul general enthuses, "The birds know no borders."

Canada's yuletide welcome of 10,000 Syrian refugees (target 25,000 by February) continues to draw criticism. Originally, the criticism was from the Conservatives, arguing that a hasty infusion of thousands of Syrians would represent a security risk. One of the Paris bombers was reportedly carrying a Syrian passport. It turned out that the passport was a forgery (common practice among desperate immigrants everywhere), and all the alleged bombers were European citizens.

Nonetheless, Canada decided to limit Syrians to families, single women and children. This sounds like a human rights violation: discrimination against single men, on the pretext that they could be terrorists. Not fair, but understandable, given the Paris bombings and the need to be seen to act carefully. There are lots of women and children and married men still alive there to fill the quota.

But some vigilant and politically correct Canadians are raising a stink. Gay spokesmen have protested the exclusion of gay men from the list of preferred refugees. "We know, firsthand, from those types of countries, LGBT refugees are very vulnerable to violence and persecution," said Pride Winnipeg's Jeff Myall.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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