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L'Ordre

L'Ordre

Venezuela and Russia sanctioned, Cuba and Iran “unsanctioned”?

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Les femmes, les enfants et les vieillards, les individus entraînés par la violence ne méritent pas sans doute le même sort que les monstres qui ont ourdi la révolte

Women, children and old people, people affected by violence probably do not deserve the same fate as the monsters that have precipitated revolt

Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot


I have always maintained that sanctions are an ineffective means of influencing other countries.

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US unilateral sanctions via Wikimedia Commons (not up to date, as Venezuela has since been punished too)

They didn’t work on Cuba or Iran, and expecting them to work against a mightier power like the Russian Federation or China is folly. It is also abundantly clear that the US government and its allies’ ability to apply sanctions is very limited, making sanctions an ineffective punishment mechanism against powers that are perceived to break international law. How frightened would you be of a form of punishment that has a poor record of success and the person applying it finds a new victim before he is even finished with you? This describes how the US has dealt with Cuba and Iran, and how it is now beginning to deal with Venezuela and Russia.

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The Global Tyrant: Collected Foreign Policy Commentaries

Cuba and Iran have done nothing but wait for the US’s sanctions regimes to be abandoned. The Cuban regime is no different now than it was when the US started sanctions against it, but the US has now given up. The same is true of Iran.

There is already talk that Europe will abandon its energy dependence on Russia in exchange for getting energy from Iran. It was the subject of an excellent Counterpunch article aptly titled “Another Idiotic Plan to Hurt Russia”. As argued there, the maneuver to get Europe to access Iran’s vast petrochemical resources via sanctions removal is ultimately aimed at isolating Russia, but first the western countries will have to swallow their arrogant rhetoric against Iran and accept Iran as a legitimate country (more legitimate than Russia). Think about this change of course by them, for a moment. In order for the west, the supposed global policemen, to isolate a country, they have to let another country out of jail unconditionally. It is a sign of weakness, and it was inevitable. To avoid isolating itself, the west (the US in particular) can only afford to bully a few countries at a time (and even these few countries are not under full economic sanctions, but only symbolic sanctions against specific personages). As the US became more and more hostile to the Maduro government in Venezuela and the Putin government in Russia, it abandoned its campaigns to isolate the governments of Cuba and Iran. It surrendered unconditionally to them, because it was too distracted by new enemies.

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What does this confessed inability of the Obama administration to continue sanctioning Cuba and Iran, while moving on to new targets like Russia and Venezuela, mean? It might be wise to point out that whenever the Obama administration seeks sanctions against a country on a particular continent, it seeks the removal of sanctions against a country on the same continent. One explanation could be to avoid damage to America’s trade opportunities. The US can only afford to sanction a limited number of countries at any time, or the damage will become reciprocal and the US will lose trade. The notion that the US plays an omnipotent role, striking or sanctioning countries that violate international law and removing the punishments once they comply, is implausible. Even the theory that a single country could ever be the arbiter of international law, punishing “rogue states”, is doomed to ridicule.

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The US government thinks of itself as a global policeman. However, it hardly behaves like one or has coercive power over other countries that might make it comparable to a policeman. It is determined to “go it alone” rather than serving as part of a police force, and it also breaks the law as frequently as it claims to enforce it.

The handcuffs the US tries to place on other countries are made of Plasticine, the rewards of cooperation unconvincing and often absent. The measures the Obama administration uses to bring countries down and compel them to obey US moral authority are weak, limited and only capable of assaulting a single country at a time. The US is unable to fight all its enemies, because it has too many.

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By Harry J. Bentham

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“Russian propaganda” and “paid trolls”? More like the truth and the blogosphere

posted by Harry J. Bentham

J’adore la liberté; j’abhorre la gêne, la peine, l’assujettissement.

I love liberty, and I loathe constraint, dependence, and all their kindred annoyances.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Suddenly, everyone is scared of the scale of “Russian propaganda”.

US and Russia comparison

A basic chart comparing the current offenses in US and Russian foreign policy, which challenge the spirit of the United Nations Charter.

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The new McCarthyism is born. They’re everywhere! No-one had known that “the Kremlin” had so many “paid trolls” throughout the Internet, including none other than me. Yes, apparently, I’m mind-controlled by Putin too. I’ll let you in on a little secret. We’re not paid by the Kremlin. Also, what we’re saying isn’t propaganda, it’s called the truth.

Russia is not the aggressor in Ukraine. In fact, Russia and the Russian-speaking people of eastern Ukraine are the innocent targets of the same stricken, evil world-conquering regime that carried out aggression against Iraq in 2003 because its arrogance leads it to think it is above the law. A regime consisting of torturers, mad doctors and paranoid spooks who will stop at nothing to control the lives of every human being on the face of the planet. The same government violating our civil liberties on an unprecedented grand scale, while decrying Russians along with anyone else as “authoritarian” by some hollow standard of so-called liberal democracy that has failed everywhere except – we are told – under the happy tin-plated dictatorship of Ukraine.

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Apparently, the solution to the truth and the bloggers who help to convey it against the tide of lies of the mainstream media is some dirty mound of money, and lots of it. Think of that paradox for a moment. On the side of the “dictator” Putin, there are grassroots bloggers all being rejected as “fake” by Western governments and “respected” journalists. Putin is called “plutocratic” by these liars, who came to office powered by corporate donors and who believe their dirty money is the “democratic” way to resist Putin “propaganda” emanating from (what looks like??) genuine, grassroots bloggers telling the truth about Ukraine. I guess that when you have no popular support on the blogosphere, all you can do is fabricate something or use the bullhorns of corporate media, and that’s where the billions of dollars spent on getting America’s message out to the world is going to go – towards countering the “propaganda” of millions of Internet users who are sick and tired of lies being stuffed down their throats and would prefer to examine the facts according to their own interests.

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We don’t benefit from the US government winning in Ukraine. For the good of the American people, the American government must lose. If our attempts to help this righteous conclusion come true are decried as “Russian” or “propaganda”, both labels are in error, but will probably help the US government lose by helping to demoralize it. Let them believe we are all “sent by Putin”. It will raise their blood pressure. From what we hear, heart attacks are apparently being had about “Russian propaganda” on the blogosphere.

In the spectrum of US-versus-Russia, the “new Cold War”, and the question of which side is worth supporting, I ask you to examine both sides’ records accordingly before picking a side. The US is currently waging a war of aggression against five countries or more (they are hellbent on eliminating the government of Venezuela and I haven’t even included that on my chart), while Russia is barely committing aggression against one. Anyone with a bee in his bonnet about the “Russians in Ukraine” (surprise, they have actually been there for thousands of years) has gone crazy or lacks any ability to weigh up two offenders in a balanced way.

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The Russian government isn’t perfect, and I won’t make any excuses for the way President Putin governs, but the US is in no position to lecture Russia about aggression. The US is the biggest and most consistent aggressor in the world and has continued a policy of aggression against a host of countries, even while it accused Russia of that same particular violation.

Most concerning is that the US government is swayed by an ideology of “exceptionalism”, which motivates it to this hypocrisy. The US would attack the whole world and murder all the world’s people in cold blood, and it will never suspend its crimes even as it condemns the smallest measure of Russian power and influence against an adjacent state swept up in a violent conflict. That particular form of meddling is also being done by the US itself in Syria – supporting rebel groups – and Congress approves bills to support this offense. Even the Russians don’t consider this to be aggression, but the US is prepared to whine about the Russians employing the same tactic in Ukraine, and will call it aggression. Keep in mind that the alleged Russian involvement in Ukraine is also only a response to the US aggression in the country, in which a democratically elected government was overthrown to install US-vetted puppet authority figures. As a response to aggression, it cannot itself be categorized as aggression.

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The United States government is not, as it claims, bending the rules in the interests of preserving international law and the peace of nations. There is a fundamental conflict by the US rogue state against the international system. On one side, the UN and international law. On the other side, the United States, disguised under the flimsy ideology of “exceptionalism”. The US complains against Russia with one hand for exercising any right to protect Russian children from American bombs in Ukraine, while the same American bombs bend the law to blow up children all over the world. When one is morally bankrupt, as US foreign policy is, propaganda does nothing to help. Russia is not “winning the information war” because it pays bloggers or has invented some devious form of mind-control, but because it is right and the US government is wrong. The evidence shows that the United States government is a deadly and criminal regime involved in aggression and responsible for murdering millions of people, and that the Russian government is not.

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The US government should stop creating corpses and stop protecting war criminals from judgment, if it wants to improve its standing in the world. Counter-propaganda does you little good if you are evil.


By Harry J. Bentham

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L’Ordre de la Montagne, a blogging society’s ascension

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Nous sommes tous montagnards, vive la montagne!

We are all Montagnards, vive La Montagne!

Slogan used in an address to the Jacobin Club, 1793


I have been privileged to help publicize a growing club of bloggers known as the Mont Order or La Montagne.

Screen capture of the new trial appearance for the website lordre.net, proposed as a communal blog for Mont Order members

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By helping to cultivate this club, my desire has been to help other authors wield the same kind of influence that I have found myself to possess through online media. However, I feel that this particular blog hosted by Beliefnet is too central to that purpose and makes me look unnecessarily important in all of this. I propose a remedy to that, and I will announce it here, as news both to the Mont Order’s participants and the public.

The similarity between this blog’s name, L’Ordre, and the name of the Mont Order, is purely a coincidence. I had no intention for this blog to be a central part of some kind of “infrastructure” of the Mont Order on the web. If we are to have any online infrastructure, it should be horizontal, distributed in form, with components at all members’ own blogs, social media accounts and websites. I believe control over the fate of this club should not be invested in an individual. The Wave Chronicle‘s own pages express this idea exactly, as Mike created a space dedicated to Mont Order resources at the Wave Chronicle. I am not asking for all our bloggers to make the same commitment (indeed it would look confusing if we all competed to offer the permier resources on the Mont Order), but to at least mention the Mont Order at members’ blogs is useful at contributing to our online infrastructure.

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Urban legend holds that the Mont Order once existed as a secretive network, and has appeared in the pages of history before. At my bidding, we have broken with that tradition of dormancy and decided to surface, using the vast new resources and tools of the Internet to empower voices and make the Order known. As Pope Francis famously argued, in line with his desire to update the Roman Catholic Church to a more modern form, the Internet is a gift from God that cannot be denied as it builds bridges between diverse peoples, unlike any other invention.

In a world of unlimited transparency, in which secrets have become impossible and archaic even for the most closed organizations and government departments, the time for humility and the denial of the Order’s existence is over. In order to be, the Order must be known.

Here is my proposition to undo this blog’s perceived centrality to the Mont Order and change the Mont Order’s infrastructure. Bloggers will be encouraged to highlight their membership in the Order, if they have not already done so, to help draw attention to the Order and make it a household name. Second, I propose a communal blog where members will be able to post links to their blogs and their most recent articles, announcing them, or logging the collaboration that they have participated in with other Mont Order members. To increase the effectiveness of this move, I am prepared remove the lordre.net domain name’s current redirection to this blog and direct it instead to the new communal blog, where my face will no longer be displayed at the landing page.

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Above all the Mont Order should be a round table and collaborative venture. I am not “running the show”, because if I tried to do that, I would quickly be found to be a poor leader. Also, it is not a secret that I have anarchist leanings that make me averse to lording over anyone, but happy to be a broker.

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As well as adding the following four new writers to the Mont Order’s lists both here at Beliefnet and the new Mont Order blog in the last few days, I am drafting a list of at least a hundred possible new candidates to join the club, as I envisage the club assuming an increasingly “elite” role among bloggers in the future. The list will soon be submitted before the Mont Order for approval.

  1. D. Helene (diaryofa99percenter)
  2. Rathorebaba (Rathorebaba’s Blog)
  3. Steve Topple (Mutterings from The Left)
  4. Deborah Dupré (National Human Rights Examiner)

I will be hoping to get the approval of the Mont Order on the communal blog idea. If there is a genuine desire by Mont Order writers to participate in some kind of communal blog, I believe the idea will hold and be very effective. At present, the blog will remain its draft form at lordredelamontagne.blogspot.co.uk, waiting for approval to be renamed lordre.net and for invitations to be sent out to authors.

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By Harry J. Bentham

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Easier to accuse a poor isolated regime of censorship than a world-controlling regime?

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Il n’y a pas d’amis : il y a des moments d’amitié.

There are no friends: there are moments of friendship.

Jules Renard


Making it in the mainstream media has and continues to be one my goals. However, controversy is fun, and a useful fire. Kindling it makes life less boring.

Browse my fiction and nonfiction contributions to the Amazon Kindle store

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There is a tension, perhaps a clash of philosophy, between established journalists and Internet bloggers/dissidents. This clash is discussed to an interesting degree in Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files, when Harding is characterizing the new species of journalist that Glen Greenwald belongs to. One publication that rests at the boundary between the established journalists and the bloggers is The Guardian. It is a respected news source, but it also has some of the most prominent blogs and has covered issues that most of the mainstream media tried to ignore, including being the first to cover the Snowden leaks.

As I recently wrote in an op-ed at Press TV, published as “No true freedom of expression in US” (Press TV’s title, not mine), I believe The Guardian‘s reporting may have deteriorated and turned them into the courtiers of power that Greenwald despised. Since the UK government forced it to smash its own hard drives and dragged it to hearings where they questioned its national loyalties in an archaic fashion, The Guardian seems to have made itself less radical. I believe this is a great loss for democracy and freedom of expression.

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There may be no official political censorship model in the US and UK, but prominent media sources do tend to put their careers over the truth and it causes them to court ruling politicians and deny a platform for the best critics. The effect of this is as bad as totalitarian censorship. In fact, the only reason the totalitarian censorship model isn’t being pursued by the oligarchs may simply be that they don’t find it necessary, for purely technical reasons. The openly autocratic regimes of the world are in weaker, more isolated countries where they feel it is necessary to cut people off from foreign propaganda. In the US and UK, our governments are bought and run by the very same corporations making the propaganda and with the highest technical skill in it.

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As our mainstream media have the distinct advantage in funding and reach over their counterparts in more isolated and poorer countries, they don’t need to employ overt means of censorship (although on occasion, foreign media like Press TV and RT have gained significant audiences and on those occasions our governments did consider overt means of censorship). The difference between a poorer country censoring information and a richer country allowing freedom of expression is less about a difference of values than a difference of technologies, a bit like the difference between poorer countries using live rounds against protesters while richer countries can afford rubber bullets and tear gas. It has nothing to do with the richer country having more respect for human rights, but being more technologically advanced and therefore having a broader set of options for suppressing dissent. We too often ignore this difference of technologies, and invariably end up condemning the world’s poor as unfree and praising the rich as free. It is why we accuse countries like Syria or Iran of being exceptionally restrictive or brutal towards their populations, when the reality is that they simply had less tear gas and other means of crowd control than our “democratic” governments have. If our governments only had sabers and bayonets at their disposal, do you think our own police and army would remain so hesitant to kill us?

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It is also easy to accuse poorer or more isolated countries of censorship than it is to accuse the rich and well-connected ones, even when the latter are doing it overtly. Our own western media is being aggressively screened by the same oligarchic controllers who lobby the government and are effectively the real, de facto ruling oligarchs. These are the people who control the technological platforms of freedom of expression, and they do it in a way that is devastating to the people they don’t like.

The best role of a blogger in all of this is to be controversial and challenge the mainstream media narratives. If we don’t do this, we might as well not put pen to paper at all. There are plenty of politicians to enforce the status quo, and so writing in devotion and support about them isn’t playing any role at all in journalism.  We are part of a new medium on the Internet, and should use it to reform the way people think about politics rather than perpetuate old ignorance.

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By Harry J. Bentham

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Previous Posts

Venezuela and Russia sanctioned, Cuba and Iran "unsanctioned"?
Les femmes, les enfants et les vieillards, les individus entraînés par la violence ne méritent pas sans doute le même sort que les monstres qui ont ourdi la révolte Women, children and old people, people affected by violence probably do ...

posted 11:00:53pm Apr. 24, 2015 | read full post »

"Russian propaganda" and "paid trolls"? More like the truth and the blogosphere
J'adore la liberté; j'abhorre la gêne, la peine, l'assujettissement. I love liberty, and I loathe constraint, dependence, and all their kindred annoyances. Jean-Jacques Rousseau Suddenly, everyone is scared of the scale of ...

posted 11:00:35pm Apr. 18, 2015 | read full post »

L'Ordre de la Montagne, a blogging society's ascension
Nous sommes tous montagnards, vive la montagne! We are all Montagnards, vive La Montagne! Slogan used in an address to the Jacobin Club, 1793 I have been privileged to help publicize a growing club of bloggers known as the Mont Order ...

posted 11:00:26pm Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

Easier to accuse a poor isolated regime of censorship than a world-controlling regime?
Il n'y a pas d'amis : il y a des moments d'amitié. There are no friends: there are moments of friendship. Jules Renard Making it in the mainstream media has and continues to be one my goals. However, controversy is fun, and a useful ...

posted 11:00:11pm Apr. 11, 2015 | read full post »

Snowden had to act because the government was too slow
Le vrai Citoyen préfère l'avantage général à son avantage. The true Citizen prefers everyone's benefit over his own benefit Jean-Jacques Rousseau Oliver Stone may direct a thriller called Snowden, telling the heroic story of ...

posted 11:00:06pm Apr. 10, 2015 | read full post »

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