MatrixLeaks: October 2012

A Manifesto for Psychopaths




Objectivism is a philosophy created by Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982). Objectivism's central tenets are that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness (or rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans' metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.


                                                                    Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand’s ideas have become the Marxism of the new right


It has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the post-war world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power. It has already been tested, and has failed spectacularly and catastrophically. Yet the belief system constructed by Ayn Rand, who died 30 years ago today, has never been more popular or influential.

Rand was a Russian from a prosperous family who emigrated to the United States. Through her novels (such as Atlas Shrugged) and her non-fiction (such as The Virtue of Selfishness(1)) she explained a philosophy she called Objectivism. This holds that the only moral course is pure self-interest. We owe nothing, she insists, to anyone, even to members of our own families. She described the poor and weak as “refuse” and “parasites”, and excoriated anyone seeking to assist them. Apart from the police, the courts and the armed forces, there should be no role for government: no social security, no public health or education, no public infrastructure or transport, no fire service, no regulations, no income tax.


Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, depicts a United States crippled by government intervention, in which heroic millionaires struggle against a nation of spongers. The millionaires, whom she portrays as Atlas holding the world aloft, withdraw their labour, with the result that the nation collapses. It is rescued, through unregulated greed and selfishness, by one of the heroic plutocrats, John Galt.

The poor die like flies as a result of government programmes and their own sloth and fecklessness. Those who try to help them are gassed. In a notorious passage, she argues that all the passengers in a train filled with poisoned fumes deserved their fate(2,3). One, for example, was a teacher who taught children to be team players; one was a mother married to a civil servant, who cared for her children; one was a housewife “who believed that she had the right to elect politicians, of whom she knew nothing”.


Rand’s is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed. Yet, as Gary Weiss shows in his new book Ayn Rand Nation, she has become to the new right what Karl Marx once was to the left: a demi-god at the head of a chiliastic cult(4). Almost one-third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged(5), and it now sells hundreds of thousands of copies every year.

Ignoring Rand’s evangelical atheism, the Tea Party movement has taken her to its heart. No rally of theirs is complete without placards reading “Who is John Galt?” and “Rand was right”. Ayn Rand, Weiss argues, provides the unifying ideology which has “distilled vague anger and unhappiness into a sense of purpose.” She is energetically promoted by the broadcasters Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli. She is the guiding spirit of the Republicans in Congress(6).

Like all philosophies, Objectivism is absorbed second-hand by people who have never read it. I believe it is making itself felt on this side of the Atlantic: in the clamorous new demands to remove the 50p tax band for the very rich, for example, or among the sneering, jeering bloggers who write for the Telegraph and the Spectator, mocking compassion and empathy, attacking efforts to make the world a kinder place.


It is not hard to see why Rand appeals to billionaires. She offers them something that is crucial to every successful political movement: a sense of victimhood. She tells them that they are parasitised by the ungrateful poor and oppressed by intrusive, controlling governments.

It is harder to see what it gives the ordinary teabaggers, who would suffer grievously from a withdrawal of government. But such is the degree of misinformation which saturates this movement and so prevalent in the US is Willy Loman Syndrome (the gulf between reality and expectations(7)) that millions blithely volunteer themselves as billionaires’ doormats. I wonder how many would continue to worship at the shrine of Ayn Rand if they knew that towards the end of her life she signed on for both Medicare and Social Security(8). She had railed furiously against both programmes, as they represented everything she despised about the intrusive state. Her belief system was no match for the realities of age and ill-health.

But they have a still more powerful reason to reject her philosophy: as Adam Curtis’s documentary showed last year, the most devoted member of her inner circle was Alan Greenspan(9). Among the essays he wrote for Ayn Rand were those published in a book he co-edited with her called Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal(10). Here, starkly explained, you’ll find the philosophy he brought into government. There is no need for the regulation of business – even builders or Big Pharma – he argued, as “the ‘greed’ of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking … is the unexcelled protector of the consumer.”(11) As for bankers, their need to win the trust of their clients guarantees that they will act with honour and integrity. Unregulated capitalism, he maintains, is a “superlatively moral system”(12).

                                                                       Alan Greenspam

Once in government, Greenspan applied his guru’s philosophy to the letter, lobbying to cut taxes for the rich and repeal the laws constraining the banks, refusing to regulate the predatory lending and the derivatives trading which eventually brought the system down. Much of this is already documented, but Weiss shows that in the US Greenspan has successfully airbrushed this history.

Despite the many years he spent at her side, despite his previous admission that it was Rand who persuaded him that “capitalism is not only efficient and practical but also moral,”(13) he mentioned her in his memoirs only to suggest that it was a youthful indiscretion, and this, it seems, is now the official version. Weiss presents powerful evidence that even today Greenspan remains her loyal disciple, having renounced his partial admission of failure to Congress.

Saturated in her philosophy, the new right on both sides of the Atlantic continues to demand the rollback of the state, even as the wreckage of that policy lies all around. The poor go down, the ultra-rich survive and prosper. Ayn Rand would have approved.



References:

1.  In the spirit of Rand, I suggest you don’t pay for it, but download it here: http://tfasinternational.org/ila/Ayn_Rand-The_Virtue_of_Selfishness.pdf 


2.  The just desserts are detailed on page 605 of the 2007 Penguin edition.

3.  The gassing and subsequent explosion are explained on page 621.

4.  Gary Weiss, 2012. Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle
for America’s Soul. St. Martin’s Press, New York.


5.  This was a Zogby poll, conducted at the end of 2010, cited by Gary Weiss.

6.  To give one of many examples, Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, says that “the reason I got involved in public service,
by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be
Ayn Rand.” This is a little ironic, in view of the fact that Rand abhorred the idea of public service. Quoted by Gary Weiss.


7.  http://www.monbiot.com/2006/07/07/willy-loman-syndrome/ 

8.  Gary Weiss, pp61-63.

9.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011lvb9 

10.  Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan and Robert Hessen (Eds), 1967. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Signet, New York.

11.  Alan Greenspan, August 1963. The Assault on Integrity. First published in
The Objectivist Newsletter, later in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.


12.  As above.

13.  From an article by Soma Golden in the New York Times, July 1974, quoted by Gary Weiss.





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Middle East Energy War




On October 3, 2012 the Turkish military launched repeated mortar shellings inside Syrian territory. The military action, which was used by the Turkish military, conveniently, to establish a ten-kilometer wide no-man’s land “buffer zone” inside Syria, was in response to the alleged killing by Syrian armed forces of several Turkish civilians along the border.

There is widespread speculation that the one Syrian mortar that killed five Turkish civilians well might have been fired by Turkish-backed opposition forces intent on giving Turkey a pretext to move militarily, in military intelligence jargon, a ‘false flag’ operation.



Turkey’s Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Foreign Minister, the inscrutable Ahmet Davutoglu, is the government’s main architect of Turkey’s self-defeating strategy of toppling its former ally Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.


According to one report since 2006 under the government of Islamist Sunni Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his pro-Brotherhood AKP party, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood. A well-informed Istanbul source relates the report that before the last Turkish elections, Erdogan’s AKP received a “donation” of $10 billion from the Saudi monarchy, the heart of world jihadist Salafism under the strict fundamentalist cloak of Wahabism. Since the 1950’s when the CIA brought leading members in exile of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia there has been a fusion between the Saudi brand of Wahabism and the aggressive jihadist fundamentalism of the Brotherhood.

The Turkish response to the single Syrian mortar shell, which was met with an immediate Syrian apology for the incident, borders on a full-scale war between two nations which until last year were historically, culturally, economically and even in religious terms, closest of allies.

That war danger is ever more serious. Turkey is a full member of NATO whose charter explicitly states, an attack against one NATO state is an attack against all. The fact that nuclear-armed Russia and China both have made defense of the Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime a strategic priority puts the specter of a World War closer than most of us would like to imagine.

In a December 2011 analysis of the competing forces in the region, former CIA analyst Philip Giraldi made the following prescient observation:

NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so. The intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was invoked to justify Libya. Turkish sources suggest that intervention would start with creation of a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border and then be expanded. Aleppo, Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, would be the crown jewel targeted by liberation forces.

Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army. Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers.




Little noted was the fact that at the same day as Turkey launched her over-proportional response in the form of a military attack on Syrian territory, one which was still ongoing as of this writing, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) undertook what was apparently an action to divert Syria’s attention from Turkey and to create the horror scenario of a two-front war just as Germany faced in two world wars. The IDF made a significant troop buildup on the strategic Golan Heights bordering the two countries, which, since Israel took it in the 1967 war, has been an area of no tension.

The unfolding new phase of direct foreign military intervention by Turkey, supported de facto by Israel’s right-wing Netanyahu regime, curiously enough follows to the letter a scenario outlined by a prominent Washington neo-conservative Think Tank, The Brookings Institution. In their March 2012 strategy white paper, Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change, Brookings geo-political strategists laid forth a plan to misuse so-called humanitarian concern over civilian deaths, as in Libya in 2011, to justify an aggressive military intervention into Syria, something not done before this.

The Brookings report states the following scenario:


Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Assad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training.

This seems to be precisely what is unfolding in the early days of October 2012. The authors of the Brookings report are tied to some of the more prominent neo-conservative warhawks behind the Bush-Cheney war on Iraq. Their sponsor, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, includes current foreign policy advisers to Republican right-wing candidate Mitt Romney, the open favorite candidate of Israel’s Netanyahu.

The Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy which issued the report, is the creation of a major donation from Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media billionaire who also owns the huge German Pro7 media giant. Haim Saban is open about his aim to promote specific Israeli interests with his philanthropy. The New York Times once called Saban, “a tireless cheerleader for Israel.” Saban told the same newspaper in an interview in 2004, “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.”

The scholars at Saban as well as its board have a clear neo-conservative and Likud party bias. They include, past or present, Shlomo Yanai, former head of military planning, Israel Defense Forces; Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel and founder of the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a major Likud policy lobby in Washington. Visiting fellows have included Avi Dicter, former head of Israel’s Shin Bet; Yosef Kupperwasser, former Head, Research Department, Israeli Defense Force’s Directorate of Military Intelligence. Resident scholars also include Bruce Riedel, a 30 year CIA Middle East expert and Obama Afghan adviser; Kenneth Pollack, another former CIA Middle East expert who was indicted in an Israel espionage scandal when he was a national security official with the Bush Administration.

Why would Israel want to get rid of the “enemy she knows,” Bashar al-Assad, for a regime controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood? Then Israel’s security would seemingly be threatened by the emergence of hard-line Muslim Brotherhood regimes in Egypt to her south and Syria to her North, perhaps soon also in Jordan.




   The geopolitical dimension

The significant question to be asked at this point is what could bind Israel, Turkey, Qatar in a form of unholy alliance on the one side, and Assad’s Syria, Iran, Russia and China on the other side, in such deadly confrontation over the political future of Syria? One answer is energy geopolitics.

What has yet to be fully appreciated in geopolitical assessments of the Middle East is the dramatically rising importance of the control of natural gas to the future of not only Middle East gas producing countries, but also of the EU and Eurasia including Russia as producer and China as consumer.

Natural gas is rapidly becoming the “clean energy” of choice to replace coal and nuclear electric generation across the European Union, most especially since Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear after the Fukushima disaster. Gas is regarded as far more “environmentally friendly” in terms of its so-called “carbon footprint.” The only realistic way EU governments, from Germany to France to Italy to Spain, will be able to meet EU mandated CO2 reduction targets by 2020 is a major shift to burning gas instead of coal. Gas reduces CO2 emissions by 50-60% over coal. Given that the economic cost of using gas instead of wind or other alternative energy forms is dramatically lower, gas is rapidly becoming the energy of demand for the EU, the biggest emerging gas market in the world.

Huge gas resource discoveries in Israel, in Qatar and in Syria combined with the emergence of the EU as the world’s potentially largest natural gas consumer, combine to create the seeds of the present geopolitical clash over the Assad regime.


   Syria-Iran-Iraq Gas pipeline

In July 2011, as the NATO and Gulf states’ destabilization operations against Assad in Syria were in full swing, the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq signed an historic gas pipeline energy agreement which went largely unnoticed amid CNN reports of the Syrian unrest. The pipeline, envisioned to cost $10 billion and take three years to complete, would run from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria via Iraq territory. Iran ultimately plans then to extend the pipeline from Damascus to Lebanon’s Mediterranean port where it would be delivered to EU markets. Syria would buy Iranian gas along with a current Iraqi agreement to buy Iranian gas from Iran’s part of South Pars field.

South Pars, whose gas reserves lie in a huge field that is divided between Qatar and Iran in the Gulf, is believed to be the world’s largest single gas field. De facto it would be a Shi’ite gas pipeline from Shi’ite Iran via Shi’ite-majority Iraq onto Shi’ite-friendly Alawite Al-Assad’s Syria.



Adding to the geopolitical drama is the fact that the South Pars gas find lies smack in the middle of the territorial divide in the Persian Gulf between Shi’ite Iran and the Sunni Salafist Qatar. Qatar also just happens to be a command hub for the Pentagon’s US Central Command, headquarters of United States Air Forces Central, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group RAF, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the USAF. In brief Qatar, in addition to owning and hosting the anti-Al-Assad TV station Al-Jazeera, which beams anti-Syria propaganda across the Arab world, Qatar is tightly linked to the US and NATO military presence in the Gulf.

Qatar apparently has other plans with their share of the South Pars field than joining up with Iran, Syria and Iraq to pool efforts. Qatar has no interest in the success of the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, which would be entirely independent of Qatar or Turkey transit routes to the opening EU markets. In fact it is doing everything possible to sabotage it, up to and including arming Syria’s rag-tag “opposition” fighters, many of them Jihadists sent in from other countries including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Libya.

Further adding to Qatar’s determination to destroy the Syria-Iran-Iraq gas cooperation is the discovery in August 2011 by Syrian exploration companies of a huge new gas field in Qara near the border with Lebanon and near to the Russian-leased Naval port of Tarsus on the Syrian Mediterranean. Any export of Syrian or Iranian gas to the EU would go through the Russian-tied port of Tarsus. According to informed Algerian sources, the new Syrian gas discoveries, though the Damascus government is downplaying it, are believed to equal or exceed those of Qatar.

As Asia Times’ knowledgeable analyst Pepe Escobar pointed out in a recent piece, Qatar’s scheme calls for export of its huge gas reserves via Jordan’s Gulf of Aqaba, a country where a Muslim Brotherhood threat to the dictatorship of the King is also threatening. The Emir of Qatar has apparently cut a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood in which he backs their international expansion in return for a pact of peace at home in Qatar. A Muslim Brotherhood regime in Jordan and also in Syria, backed by Qatar, would change the entire geopolitics of the world gas market suddenly and decisively in Qatar’s favor and to the disadvantage of Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq. That would also be a staggering negative blow to China.

As Escobar points out, “it’s clear what Qatar is aiming at: to kill the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, a deal that was clinched even as the Syria uprising was already underway. Here we see Qatar in direct competition with both Iran (as a producer) and Syria (as a destination), and to a lesser extent, Iraq (as a transit country). It’s useful to remember that Tehran and Baghdad are adamantly against regime change in Damascus.” He adds, “if there’s regime change in Syria – helped by the Qatari-proposed invasion – things get much easier in Pipelineistan terms. A more than probable Muslim Brotherhood (MB) post-Assad regime would more than welcome a Qatari pipeline. And that would make an extension to Turkey much easier.”

   The Israeli Gas dilemma

Further complicating the entire picture is the recent discovery of huge offshore Israeli natural gas resources.

The Tamar natural gas field off the coast of northern Israel is expected to begin yielding gas for Israel’s use in late 2012. The game-changer was a dramatic discovery in late 2010 of an enormous natural gas field offshore of Israel in what geologists call the Levant or Levantine Basin. In October 2010 Israel discovered a massive “super-giant” gas field offshore in what it declares is its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The find is some 84 miles west of the Haifa port and three miles deep. They named it Leviathan after the Biblical sea monster. Three Israeli energy companies in cooperation with the Houston Texas Noble Energy announced initial estimates that the field contained 16 trillion cubic feet of gas—making it the world’s biggest deep-water gas find in a decade, adding more discredit to “peak oil” theories that the planet is about to see dramatic and permanent shortages of oil, gas and coal. To put the number in perspective, that one gas field, Leviathan, would hold enough reserves to supply Israel’s gas needs for 100 years.

Energy self-sufficiency had eluded the state of Israel since its founding in 1948. Abundant oil and gas exploration had repeatedly been undertaken with meager result. Unlike its energy-rich Arab neighbors, Israel seemed out of luck. Then in 2009 Israel’s Texas exploration partner, Noble Energy, discovered the Tamar field in the Levantine Basin some 50 miles west of Israel’s port of Haifa with an estimated 8.3 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of highest quality natural gas. Tamar was the world’s largest gas discovery in 2009.

At the time, total Israeli gas reserves were estimated at only 1.5 tcf. Government estimates were that Israel’s sole operating field, Yam Tethys, which supplies about 70 percent of the country’s natural gas, would be depleted within three years.

With Tamar, prospects began to look considerably better. Then, just a year after Tamar, the same consortium led by Noble Energy struck the largest gas find in its decades-long history at Leviathan in the same Levantine geological basin. Present estimates are that the Leviathan field holds at least 17 tcf of gas. Israel went from a gas famine to feast in a matter of months.

Now Israel faces a strategic and very dangerous dilemma. Naturally Israel is none too excited to see al-Assad’s Syria, linked to Israel’s arch foe Iran and Iraq and Lebanon, out-compete an Israeli gas export to the EU markets. This could explain why Israel’s Netanyahu government has been messing inside Syria in the anti-al-Assad forces. However, a Muslim Brotherhood rule in Syria led by the organization around Mohammad Shaqfah would confront Israel with far more hostile neighbors now that the Muslim Brotherhood coup by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi has put a hostile regime on Israel’s southern border.

It is no secret that there is enmity bordering on hate between Netanyahu and the Obama Administration. The Obama White House and US State Department openly back the Muslim Brotherhood regime changes in the Middle East. Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Turkey’s Davutoglu in August this year was reportedly aimed at pushing Turkey to escalate its military intervention into Syria, but without direct US support owing to US election politics of wanting to avoid involvement in a new Middle East debacle.

State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin has been accused by several Republican Congress Representatives of ties to organizations controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s appointee to the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, also a member of the US advisory council of the Department of Homeland Security, is openly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and an open foe of Israel as well as calling for the toppling of Syria’s al-Assad.  Obama’s Washington definitely seems to be backing the Muslim Brotherhood horse in the race for control of the gas flows of the Middle East.

   And the Russian role

Washington is walking a temporary tightrope hoping to weaken al-Assad fatally while not appearing directly involved. Russia for its part is playing a life and death game for the future of its most effective geopolitical lever—its role as the leading natural gas supplier to the EU. This year Russia’s state-owned Gazprom began delivery of Russian gas to northern Germany via Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from a port near St. Petersburg. Strategically vital now for the future role of Russia as an EU gas supplier, is its ability to play a strategic role in exploiting the new-found gas reserves of its former Cold war client state, Syria. Moscow has long been engaged in promoting its South Stream gas pipeline into Europe as an alternative to the Washington Nabucco pipeline which was designed to leave Moscow out in the cold. 



Already Gazprom is the largest natural gas supplier to the EU. Gazprom with Nord Stream and other lines plans to increase its gas supply to Europe this year by 12% to 155 billion cubic meters. It now controls 25% of the total European gas market and aims to reach 30% with completion of South Stream and other projects.

Rainer Seele, chairman of Germany’s Wintershall, the Gazprom partner in Nord Stream, suggested the geopolitical thinking behind the decision to join South Stream: “In the global race against Asian countries for raw materials, South Stream, like Nord Stream, will ensure access to energy resources which are vital to our economy.” But rather than Asia, the real focus of South Stream lies to the West. The ongoing battle between Russia’s South Stream and the Washington-backed Nabucco is intensely geopolitical. The winner will hold a major advantage in the future political terrain of Europe.

Now a major new option of Syria as a major source for Russian-managed gas flows to the EU has emerged. If al-Assad survives, Russia will be in the position as savior to play a decisive role in developing and exploiting the Syrian gas. Israel, where Russia also has major cards to play, could theoretically shift to back a Russian-Syrian-Iraqi-Iran gas consortium were Israel and Iran to reach some modus vivendi on the nuclear and other issues, not impossible were the political constellation in Israel to change after the coming elections. Turkey, which is presently in a deep internal battle between Davutoglu and President Gül on the one side and Erdogan on the other, is dependent on Russia’s Gazprom for some 40% of gas to its industry. Were Davutoglu and his faction to lose, Turkey could play a far more constructive role in the region as transit country for Syrian and Iranian gas.

The battle for the future control of Syria is at the heart of this enormous geopolitical war and tug of war. Its resolution will have enormous consequences for either world peace or endless war and conflict and slaughter. NATO member Turkey is playing with fire as is Qatar’s Emir, along with Israel’s Netanyahu and NATO members France and USA. Natural gas is the flammable ingredient that is fueling this insane scramble for energy in the region.





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Top 10 Evil Human Experiments



[WARNING] This list contains descriptions and images of human experimentation which may cause offense to some readers.] Human experimentation and research ethics evolved over time. On occasion, the subjects of human experimentation have been prisoners, slaves, or even family members. In some notable cases, doctors have performed experiments on themselves when they have been unwilling to risk the lives of others. This is known as self-experimentation. This is a list of the 10 most evil and unethical experiments carried out on humans.


10 - Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford prison experiment was a psychological study of human responses to captivity and its behavioral effects on both authorities and inmates in prison. The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by psychologist Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Undergraduate volunteers played the roles of both guards and prisoners living in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.



Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited “genuine” sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early. Finally, Zimbardo, alarmed at the increasingly abusive anti-social behavior from his subjects, terminated the entire experiment early.

9 - The Monster Study

The Monster Study was a stuttering experiment on 22 orphan children in Davenport, Iowa, in 1939 conducted by Wendell Johnson at the University of Iowa. Johnson chose one of his graduate students, Mary Tudor, to conduct the experiment and he supervised her research. After placing the children in control and experimental groups, Tudor gave positive speech therapy to half of the children, praising the fluency of their speech, and negative speech therapy to the other half, belittling the children for every speech imperfection and telling them they were stutterers.



Many of the normal speaking orphan children who received negative therapy in the experiment suffered negative psychological effects and some retained speech problems during the course of their life. Dubbed “The Monster Study” by some of Johnson’s peers who were horrified that he would experiment on orphan children to prove a theory, the experiment was kept hidden for fear Johnson’s reputation would be tarnished in the wake of human experiments conducted by the Nazis during World War II. The University of Iowa publicly apologized for the Monster Study in 2001.

8 - Project 4.1

Project 4.1 was the designation for a medical study conducted by the United States of those residents of the Marshall Islands exposed to radioactive fallout from the March 1, 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, which had an unexpectedly large yield. For the first decade after the test, the effects were ambiguous and statistically difficult to correlate to radiation exposure: miscarriages and stillbirths among exposed Rongelap women doubled in the first five years after the accident, but then returned to normal; some developmental difficulties and impaired growth appeared in children, but in no clear-cut pattern. In the decades that followed, though, the effects were undeniable. Children began to suffer disproportionately from thyroid cancer (due to exposure to radioiodines), and almost a third of those exposed developed neoplasms by 1974.



As a Department of Energy Committee writing on the human radiation experiments wrote, “It appears to have been almost immediately apparent to the AEC and the Joint Task Force running the Castle series that research on radiation effects could be done in conjunction with the medical treatment of the exposed populations.” The DOE report also concluded that “The dual purpose of what is now a DOE medical program has led to a view by the Marshallese that they were being used as ‘guinea pigs’ in a ‘radiation experiment.’”

7 - Project MKULTRA

Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a CIA mind-control research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence, that began in the early 1950s and continued at least through the late 1960s. There is much published evidence that the project involved the surreptitious use of many types of drugs, as well as other methodologies, to manipulate individual mental states and to alter brain function.

Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions. LSD and other drugs were usually administered without the subject’s knowledge and informed consent, a violation of the Nuremberg Code that the U.S. agreed to follow after WWII.



Efforts to “recruit” subjects were often illegal, even discounting the fact that drugs were being administered (though actual use of LSD, for example, was legal in the United States until October 6, 1966). In Operation Midnight Climax, the CIA set up several brothels to obtain a selection of men who would be too embarrassed to talk about the events. The men were dosed with LSD, and the brothels were equipped with one-way mirrors and the “sessions” were filmed for later viewing and study.

In 1973, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA files destroyed. Pursuant to this order, most CIA documents regarding the project were destroyed, making a full investigation of MKULTRA virtually impossible.

6 - The Aversion Project

South Africa’s apartheid army forced white lesbian and gay soldiers to undergo ‘sex-change’ operations in the 1970′s and the 1980′s, and submitted many to chemical castration, electric shock, and other unethical medical experiments. Although the exact number is not known, former apartheid army surgeons estimate that as many as 900 forced ‘sexual reassignment’ operations may have been performed between 1971 and 1989 at military hospitals, as part of a top-secret program to root out homosexuality from the service.

Army psychiatrists aided by chaplains aggressively ferreted out suspected homosexuals from the armed forces, sending them discretely to military psychiatric units, chiefly ward 22 of 1 Military Hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte, near Pretoria. Those who could not be ‘cured’ with drugs, aversion shock therapy, hormone treatment, and other radical ‘psychiatric’ means were chemically castrated or given sex-change operations.



Although several cases of lesbian soldiers abused have been documented so far—including one botched sex-change operation—most of the victims appear to have been young, 16 to 24-year-old white males drafted into the apartheid army.

Dr. Aubrey Levin (the head of the study) is now Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry (Forensic Division) at the University of Calgary’s Medical School. He is also in private practice, as a member in good standing of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.

5 - North Korean Experimentation

There have been many reports of North Korean human experimentation. These reports show human rights abuses similar to those of Nazi and Japanese human experimentation in World War II. These allegations of human rights abuses are denied by the North Korean government, who claim that all prisoners in North Korea are humanely treated.

One former North Korean woman prisoner tells how 50 healthy women prisoners were selected and given poisoned cabbage leaves, which all the women had to eat despite cries of distress from those who had already eaten. All 50 were dead after 20 minutes of vomiting blood and anal bleeding. Refusing to eat would have meant reprisals against them and their families.


Kwon Hyok, a former prison Head of Security at Camp 22, described laboratories equipped respectively for poison gas, suffocation gas and blood experiments, in which 3 or 4 people, normally a family, are the experimental subjects. After undergoing medical checks, the chambers are sealed and poison is injected through a tube, while “scientists” observe from above through glass. Kwon Hyok claims to have watched one family of 2 parents, a son and a daughter die from suffocating gas, with the parents trying to save the children using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for as long as they had the strength.

4 - Poison laboratory of the Soviets

The Poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services, also known as Laboratory 1, Laboratory 12 and “The Chamber”, was a covert poison research and development facility of the Soviet secret police agencies. The Soviets tested a number of deadly poisons on prisoners from the Gulag (“enemies of the people”), including mustard gas, ricin, digitoxin and many others. The goal of the experiments was to find a tasteless, odorless chemical that could not be detected post mortem. Candidate poisons were given to the victims, with a meal or drink, as “medication”.



Finally, a preparation with the desired properties called C-2 was developed. According to witness testimonies, the victim changed physically, became shorter, weakened quickly, became calm and silent and died within fifteen minutes. Mairanovsky brought to the laboratory people of varied physical condition and ages in order to have a more complete picture about the action of each poison.

In addition to human experimentation, Mairanovsky personally executed people with poisons, under the supervision of Pavel Sudoplatov.

3 - The Tuskegee Syphilis Study 

The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male was a clinical study, conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama, in which 399 (plus 201 control group without syphilis) poor — and mostly illiterate — African American sharecroppers were denied treatment for Syphilis.

This study became notorious because it was conducted without due care to its subjects, and led to major changes in how patients are protected in clinical studies. Individuals enrolled in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study did not give informed consent and were not informed of their diagnosis; instead they were told they had “bad blood” and could receive free medical treatment, rides to the clinic, meals and burial insurance in case of death in return for participating. In 1932, when the study started, standard treatments for syphilis were toxic, dangerous, and of questionable effectiveness.



Part of the original goal of the study was to determine if patients were better off not being treated with these toxic remedies. For many participants, treatment was intentionally denied. Many patients were lied to and given placebo treatments—in order to observe the fatal progression of the disease.

By the end of the study, only 74 of the test subjects were still alive. Twenty-eight of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.

2 - Unit 731

Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel.

Some of the numerous atrocities committed by the commander Shiro Ishii and others under his command in Unit 731 include: vivisection of living people (including pregnant women who were impregnated by the doctors), prisoners had limbs amputated and reattached to other parts of their body, some prisoners had parts of their bodies frozen and thawed to study the resulting untreated gangrene. Humans were also used as living test cases for grenades and flame throwers.



Prisoners were injected with strains of diseases, disguised as vaccinations, to study their effects. To study the effects of untreated venereal diseases, male and female prisoners were deliberately infected with syphilis and gonorrhea via rape, then studied. A complete list of these horrors can be found here.

Having been granted immunity by the American Occupation Authorities at the end of the war, Ishii never spent any time in jail for his crimes and died at the age of 67 of throat cancer.

1 - Nazi Experiments

Nazi human experimentation was medical experimentation on large numbers of people by the German Nazi regime in its concentration camps during World War II. At Auschwitz, under the direction of Dr. Eduard Wirths, selected inmates were subjected to various experiments which were supposedly designed to help German military personnel in combat situations, to aid in the recovery of military personnel that had been injured, and to advance the racial ideology backed by the Third Reich.



Experiments on twin children in concentration camps were created to show the similarities and differences in the genetics and eugenics of twins, as well as to see if the human body can be unnaturally manipulated. The central leader of the experiments was Dr. Josef Mengele, who performed experiments on over 1,500 sets of imprisoned twins, of which fewer than 200 individuals survived the studies. Dr. Mengele organized the testing of genetics in twins. The twins were arranged by age and sex and kept in barracks in between the test, which ranged from the injection of different chemicals into the eyes of the twins to see if it would change their colors to literally sewing the twins together in hopes of creating conjoined twins.

In 1942 the Luftwaffe conducted experiments to learn how to treat hypothermia. One study forced subjects to endure a tank of ice water for up to three hours (see image above). Another study placed prisoners naked in the open for several hours with temperatures below freezing. The experimenters assessed different ways of rewarming survivors.

From about July 1942 to about September 1943, experiments to investigate the effectiveness of sulfonamide, a synthetic antimicrobial agent, were conducted at Ravensbrück. Wounds inflicted on the subjects were infected with bacteria such as Streptococcus, gas gangrene, and tetanus. Circulation of blood was interrupted by tying off blood vessels at both ends of the wound to create a condition similar to that of a battlefield wound. Infection was aggravated by forcing wood shavings and ground glass into the wounds. The infection was treated with sulfonamide and other drugs to determine their effectiveness.

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