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Lawmakers Seek to Stop Obama Arming Terrorists in Syria

Lawmakers have now introduced bills in both houses of Congress aimed at restraining President Obama and his lawless intervention in Syria on behalf of...

Unauthorized War on Syria Would Be Impeachable Offense, Rep. Warns

President Obama will be guilty of an impeachable offense if he intervenes militarily in Syria's civil war without authorization from Congress, according to a resolution introduced in Congress by Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr.

America’s “Afghan Exit” May Depend on Obama’s Dwindling “Syria Options”

Washington’s options in Syria are dwindling — and dwindling fast. Trumped up chemical weapons charges against the Syrian government this month failed to produce evidence...

Syria: The “Western Faces” Behind The Terror

In her extraordinarily bold and direct speech addressed to the Irish Parliament, Clare Daly (TD, Dublin North) called Obama a “war criminal”and “hypocrite of...

Obama in Africa

In recent years, the United States has increasingly been sidelined in areas of deep economic transformation in Africa because US engagement with Africa has...

US diplomatic thuggery in pursuit of Snowden

  26 June 2013 ...

Energy Companies Entering War on Terror

Daniel J. Graeber OilPrice.com June 24, 2013 Norwegian energy company Statoil said last week it was forming a special operations division to handle emergency...

Tunisia’s army chief of staff resigns

Tunisiaâ„¢s chief of staff of the armed forces has unexpectedly announced his resignation amid growing political criticism of the Tunisian army. General Rachid Ammar announced...

Ahmadinejad to meet Putin in Moscow

The Kremlin has announced that Iranâ„¢s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in an upcoming summit of the leaders...

‘Egypt enemies fuel sectarian discord’

People look on as a mob attacked Shia Muslims in Egyptâ„¢s village of Abu Mussalam, June 23, 2013.Iranâ„¢s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi says...

UK, U.S. non-lethal aid kills Syrians

Britain, U.S. kill innocent civilians through proxies in Syria The governments of Britain and the U.S. are conspiring for a bogus pretense for intervening...

UK, U.S. non-lethal aid kills Syrians

Britain, U.S. kill innocent civilians through proxies in Syria The governments of Britain and the U.S. are conspiring for a bogus pretense for intervening...

Al Qaeda: The Database

Global Research Editor’s Note This article originally published by Global Research in 2005 sheds light on the nature of Al Qaeda, an intelligence construct used...

The Tale of a Turkish Summer: Is there a Link between “Occupy Gezi” and...

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s fall from grace has manifested itself in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Taksim Square now resembles Egypt’s Tahrir Square. What is interesting...

Military Escalation. Qatar “Friends of Syria” Conference Opens “New Stage” in Syrian War

The “Friends of Syria” meeting in Qatar on June 22 ended with a communiqué announcing that Washington and its allies will “take all necessary...

Presidential Rule by Deception: Obama, the Master Con-man

Introduction In an electoral system, run by and for a corporate oligarchy, deception and demagoguery are essential elements — entertaining the people while working for...

Stasi in the White House

On June 19, 2013, US President Obama, hoping to raise himself above the developing National Security Agency (NSA) spy scandals, sought to associate himself...

Obama’s Faltering Legacy

President Obama’s disputed pronouncement that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and thus crossed his “red line” is significant in several respects, not least...

Qatari ruler plans crown shift to son

Qatari ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani reportedly plans to meet with the kingdomâ„¢s royal family and advisors in a bid to set...

Enemies of Syria Plan Escalated Aggression

Enemies of Syria Plan Escalated Aggression by Stephen Lendman So-called "Friends of Syria" are their worst enemies. They're a rogue's gallery of scoundrels. They're complicit with...

Qatar conference opens new stage in Syrian war

  By ...

Stasi in the White House

Are Al-Qaeda’s Lebanese Affiliates Opening a Lebanese Front in the Syrian War?

The US and its allies are working to open a new front of the Syrian conflict inside Lebanon. Lebanon has been sedated into a...

Obama: The Worst of Nixon/Bush Writ Large

Obama: The Worst of Nixon/Bush II Writ Large by Stephen Lendman Obama's a war criminal multiple times over. He bears full responsibility for genocidal crimes. In a...

General Wesley Clark: Whistleblower, Warrior

General Wesley Clark: Whistleblower, Warrior by Stephen Lendman One a warrior, always one. Clark hasn't forgotten. His credentials are notorious. He's a war criminal. He's also...

The Palin Doctrine?

by Patrick ...

Fast-Tracking Toward War on Syria

Fast-Tracking Toward War on Syria by Stephen Lendman America's run by sociopaths. They're out-of-control criminals. They're traitors. They menace humanity. They violate their sacred oaths of...

Putin Alone at G8

Putin Alone at G8 by Stephen Lendman On June 17, G8 leaders began two days of talks in Northern Ireland. Seven nations want escalated war on...

Stasi in the White House: Obama’s Lofty Words of Peace While Beating the Drums...

On June 19, 2013, US President Obama, hoping to raise himself above the developing National Security Agency (NSA) spy scandals, sought to associate himself...

Syria, The View From The Other Side

His security forces used live ammunition to mow down peaceful pro-democracy protesters, forcing them to take up arms to try to topple his brutal...

The Stunning Hypocrisy of the U.S. Government

The Government’s Hypocrisy Is the Core Problem Congress has exempted itself from the prohibition against trading on inside information … the law that got Martha...

New World Order Wants Yet Another War In Syria

Stop the carnage – Time to stop fighting Islamic countries and start trading with them!! New World Order Wants Yet Another War In  Syria Don’t you find it so hypocritical when the US, UK, EU and the New World Order Puppet (United Nations) start “Saber Rattling” and concocting stories of pure fantasy in order to […]

Britain plotting military coup in Syria

British Prime Minister David Cameron has uncovered his governmentâ„¢s conspiracy to launch a military coup in Syria after failing to rally support for invasion...

Russia: “Syria Will Be Armed With Weapons That Have Never Been Seen Before In...

Mac SlavoSHTFplan.comJune 22, 2013 Last week, Noble Peace Prize winner President Barrack Obama advised that his...

The Imperial Agenda in Syria. GRTV Feature Interview with Michel Chossudovsky

The aggressor nations in the war on Syria are now talking about “humanitarian aid” to support the Al Qaeda rebels they themselves sent into...

Stasi In The White House

Paul Craig RobertsInfowars.comJune 22, 2013 On June 19, 2013, US President Obama, hoping to raise himself...

Russia:”Syria Will Be Armed With Weapons That Have Never Been Seen Before In the...

Last week, Noble Peace Prize winner President Barrack Obama advised that his administration would be arming the Free Syrian Army with weapons to resist...

Stasi In The White House – Paul Craig Roberts

Stasi in the White House Paul Craig Roberts, June 21, 2013 On June 19, 2013, US President Obama, hoping to raise himself above the developing National Security Agency (NSA) spy scandals, sought to associate himself with two iconic speeches made at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy pledged: “Ich…

The post Stasi In The White House — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Russia:”Syria Will Be Armed With Weapons That Have Never Been Seen Before In the...

Last week, Noble Peace Prize winner President Barrack Obama advised that his administration would be arming the Free Syrian Army with weapons to resist...

Obama’s Syrian Press Pass: The Media are Loyal to the System, not to their...

The corporate media are the megaphones of humanitarian death, as dispensed by the U.S. and its allies. If Obama says “Assad must go,” the...

Syrian war threatens regional sectarian bloodbath

  21 June 2013 ...

America Is Running the World’s Largest Terrorist Operation

Chomsky: “Obama Is Running The Biggest Terrorist Operation That Exists” Leading liberal Noam Chomsky said yesterday: The Obama administration is dedicated to increasing terrorism. In fact,...

The Lies of Empire: Don’t Believe a Word They Say — Washington is the...

The U.S. reprises Iraq, inventing a WMD threat from Syria. The FBI concocts home-grown terror through stings, while the NSA claims it has secretly...

Fighting Al Qaeda by Supporting Al Qaeda in Syria: The Obama Administration is a...

A major transition in US counter-terrorism doctrine is unfolding. While Barack Obama, following in the footsteps of George W. Bush, remains firmly committed to waging...

Guantanamo Prisoner’s Case Demonstrates Unfairness of Military Commissions

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/guantanamo_prisoners_case_demonstrates_unfairness_of_military_commissions_2/ Posted on Jun 19, 2013 ...

Explaining Iran’s ‘Surprise’ Election

The dogs of war in the U.S. media bark and, in true Don Quixote fashion, it’s a sign that authors Hillary and Flynt Leverett...

The Naked Imperialism of Humanitarian Intervention

Some critics from the left and the right characterized my recent article “Syria and the Sham of Humanitarian Intervention” as an unnecessarily harsh indictment...

War by Another Name in Syria

Beirut. The Group of Eight leaders meeting in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, having called for an international conference on the ongoing crisis in Syria to...

No, NSA Spying Did NOT Prevent a Terror Attack on Wall Street

In response to the revelation that the NSA has been illegally spying on all Americans for more than a decade, NSA chief General Keith Alexander claimed that the spying prevented a terrorist attack on Wall Street and the New York subway.

People Around the World Oppose Arming Syrian “Rebels”

Washington’s BlogJune 19, 2013 A new Pew poll shows that 70% of Americans oppose arming the Syrian...

High Level Opposition to Obama’s Escalating Syria’s Conflict

Dozens of responsible world leaders oppose Washington’s war on Syria. They do so for good reason. They want peaceful conflict resolution. They’re against greater...

Syria Is Becoming Obama’s Iraq

In perfect Bush-like fashion, President Obama has invented a bogus pretense for military intervention in yet another Middle East country. The president’s claim that the...

West to send more arms to Syria

Informed diplomats have said a plan for providing foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government in the eastern city of Dara'a and on the...

The U.S. Military and the Unraveling of Africa

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_us_military_and_the_unraveling_of_africa_20130619/ Posted on Jun 19, 2013 ...

Syria Is Becoming Obama’s Iraq

In perfect Bush-like fashion, President Obama has invented a bogus pretense for military intervention in yet another Middle East country. The president’s claim that the...

Gitmo inmates continue hunger strike

A hooded demonstrator is seen at a protest calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison in front of the White House, May...

Yemeni's Gather to Protest Detention, Torture in Gitmo

Relatives of Yemeni detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison shout slogans during a protest to demand the release of the detainees, outside the U.S....

Yemeni's Gather to Protest Detention, Torture in Gitmo

Relatives of Yemeni detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison shout slogans during a protest to demand the release of the detainees, outside the U.S....

‘A Political Ploy’? The Guardian Editors Swallow US Claims On Syrian WMD

Last week, we reviewed the questions and doubts surrounding claims that the chemical weapon sarin has been used in Syria. The Obama administration has since claimed that its ‘red...

‘Gaddafi's son faces trial in August’

A top Libyan official says the trial for the second son of slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi will be held in August. The announcement was...

The Terror Diaspora: The U.S. Military and Obama’s Scramble for Africa

The Gulf of Guinea. He said it without a hint of irony or embarrassment. This was one of U.S. Africa Command’s big success stories....

The Empire’s New Clothes: The Naked Imperialism of “Humanitarian Intervention”

Some critics from the left and the right characterized my recent article “Syria and the Sham of Humanitarian Intervention” as an unnecessarily harsh indictment...

Divide and Rule in Africa

Divide and rule is a law of imperialism and western style “democracy” is how imperialism implements this law in neocolonial Africa. It’s called “elections”...

Syria no-fly zone against intl. law: MP

Reports indicate that the US is preparing to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. (File photo)An Iranian lawmaker says imposing a no-fly zone over...

Obama’s Humanitarianism as Window-Dressing for the US “Deep State” Agenda: The Case of...

This essay examines the connections between the foreign intervention crisis in Syria, the vast NSA surveillance program that has recently been exposed, and the...

Washington Is Insane

Paul Craig RobertsInfowars.comJune 18, 2013 In the 21st century the two hundred year-old propaganda that the...

Zimbabwe: The Revolution Examined

As I sit down to write the second part of my series on Zimbabwe, I am struck by the difficulty of the task before...

Chuck Todd, Syria, and the “Objective” View of U.S. Foreign Policy

Chuck Todd is NBC News’s political director and White House correspondent. He is presented as a straight reporter and analyst, not a commentator with...

G8 summit rent by divisions over Syria

  By ...

No to war in Syria!

  18 June 2013 ...

‘Saudis send missiles to Syria militants’

Saudi Arabia has been purchasing missiles from suppliers in France and Belgium since two months ago and has sent them to militants in Syria,...

Fake WMD Intelligence and Orwellian Double-speak : Washington Is Insane

In the 21st century the two hundred year-old propaganda that the American people control their government has been completely shattered. Both the Bush and...

Washington Is Insane – Paul Craig Roberts

Washington Is Insane Paul Craig Roberts In the 21st century the two hundred year-old propaganda that the American people control their government has been completely shattered. Both the Bush and Obama regimes have made it unmistakenly clear that the American people don’t even influence, much less control, the government. As far as Washington is concerned,…

The post Washington Is Insane — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Fighting Terrorism by Arming Terrorists

W. James Antle IIIThe American ConservativeJune 17, 2013 The Obama administration appears to be moving toward...

The Syrian Target

Syria is close to following Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as the target of a major Western military intervention. It certainly looks that way after...

U.S. Troops, Missiles at Syrian Border

A task force of 300 U.S. Marines and a Patriot anti-aircraft missile system have been deployed along Syria's border with Jordan as the United...

An Insight Into Palestinian Resilience in Gaza

In the eyes of many Westerners, Gaza is a dangerous and war torn place. Even activists, including myself, often imagine Gaza primarily as a...

An Insight Into Palestinian Resilience in Gaza

In the eyes of many Westerners, Gaza is a dangerous and war torn place. Even activists, including myself, often imagine Gaza primarily as a...

‘Russia not to allow Syria no-fly zone’

Russia will not permit the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman says following reports that US and its allies are...

Washington’s Battle Over Syrian Foreign Policy: Will Hawks Or Doves Prevail?

Like Putin’s policy in Russia, Obama’s Syrian policy is being tugged strenuously in Washington, both by hawks and by doves. On June 13, Obama...

The Chemical Weapons Pretext for War on Syria

In the wake of having its illegal domestic surveillance dragnet exposed, laying bare (yet again) the utter duplicity and criminality of the U.S. ruling...

U.S. Troops, Missiles at Syrian Border

A task force of 300 U.S. Marines and a Patriot anti-aircraft missile system have been deployed along Syria's border with Jordan as the United...

U.S. Troops, Missiles at Syrian Border

A task force of 300 U.S. Marines and a Patriot anti-aircraft missile system have been deployed along Syria's border with Jordan as the United...

The Chemical Weapons Pretext for War on Syria: A Pack of Lies

In the wake of having its illegal domestic surveillance dragnet exposed, laying bare (yet again) the utter duplicity and criminality of the U.S. ruling...

The Chemical Weapons Pretext for War on Syria

In the wake of having its illegal domestic surveillance dragnet exposed, laying bare (yet again) the utter duplicity and criminality of the U.S. ruling...

Obama urged to impose Syria no-fly zone

US lawmakers have urged President Barack Obama to go beyond supplying militants in Syria with lethal aid, urging him to consider imposing a no-fly...

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks NSA, Syria, Iran, Drones and Terrorism

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has spoken at length with RT about the world’s burning issues, including war-torn Syria, Iran, US surveillance and terrorism. He...

The Syria Chemical Weapons Hoax

Greater US intervention in Syria looms. Manufactured threats facilitate doing so. Replacing Assad with puppet leadership is planned. Independent governments aren’t tolerated.Fact: Washington bears...

Cameron warned not to even think about military intervention in Syria

Press TVJune 15, 2013 British Prime Minister David Cameron has been warned not to even think...

British PM warned about Syria invasion

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been warned not to even think about intervening in Syria militarily at a time when his coalition government...

Nigeria: Candidate for Political Destabilization and “Regime Change”?

It is worth reminding, if such reminder is at all necessary, how even in the contemporary circumstances of an omnipresent international security system represented...

Deleted Daily Mail Online Article: “US Backed Plan for Chemical Weapon Attack in Syria...

In January 29, 2013, Britain’s most popular Daily Newspaper, in its online version Dailymail.co.uk published an article titled: A few days later they pulled the...

Western-backed Syrian Rebels Massacre Shia Villagers

Less than a month after a spokesman for the Western-backed “Free Syrian Army” threatened in a television interview to exterminate Shia Muslims across the...

Admission: Special Forces were only hours from Benghazi

Aaron KleinWNDJune 15, 2013 In a bombshell admission that has until now gone unreported, Martin Dempsey,...

Obama moves to escalate Syrian slaughter

  15 June 2013 ...

No Evidence of Syria WMDs… And Still a Call for War? Again? Obama Pushes...

 No Evidence: ‘Obama does a Bush’ to get No-Fly Zone and war in Syria This sounds all too familiar. The Bush Administration did the exact...

Former French Foreign Minister: The War against Syria was Planned Two years before “The...

In an interview with the French TV station LCP, former French minister for Foreign Affairs Roland Dumas said: ‘’ I’m going to tell you something....

No-fly zone over Syria no easy task: US

The White House says establishing a no-fly zone over Syria is not within the bounds of possibility as it faces formidable obstacles not experienced...

Why Obama is Declaring War on Syria

Beirut. The short answer is Iran and Hezbollah according to Congressional sources. “The Syrian army’s victory at al-Qusayr was more than the administration could accept...

US Drums of War Beat Louder in Syria

In a statement released Thursday evening, the Obama administration is claiming to have proof that Syrian president Bashir al-Assad has been using chemical weapons–crossing...

Man Behind Syrian ‘Chemical Weapons’ Claim Is Fiction Writer Who Covered Up Benghazi

White House makes miraculous discovery to distract from domestic scandals Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comJune 14, 2013

Responsibility to Inflict

You wouldn’t expect a comedian to deliver an insight into the American doctrinal system, but George Carlin once did. During a memorable stand-up performance,...

Why I read the WSWS

  Bjørn Richter ...

Berlusconi sought to ‘eliminate’ Gaddafi

Former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi (L) and Italyâ„¢s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pose for photographers during a meeting in Rome on November 16,...

Berlusconi sought to ‘eliminate’ Gaddafi

Former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi (L) and Italyâ„¢s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pose for photographers during a meeting in Rome on November 16,...

‘S Africa to return Gaddafi-linked assets’

South Africa has reached an agreement with Libya to return more than 1 billion US dollars in assets stashed in the country by former...

Western-backed Syrian Rebels Massacre Shia Villagers

Less than a month after a spokesman for the Western-backed “Free Syrian Army” threatened in a television interview to exterminate Shia Muslims across the...

Snowden, Hong Kong Extradition, and a Good Old Fashioned Ratfucking

Further my speculation that Edward Snowden, as a CIA guy, may have chosen Hong Kong because the PRC would be less eager than most...

Who Killed the Syrian Peace Talks? The Rebels have been Defeated. Is the War...

The long awaited Syrian peace talks – instigated by power brokers Russia and the United States – had already passed their initial due date,...

Who Killed the Syrian Peace Talks?

The long awaited Syrian peace talks – instigated by power brokers Russia and the United States – had already passed their initial due date,...

Al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Mali may possess surface-to-air missiles

An Al Qaeda missile manual found in Mali suggests jihadists in the region may possess the SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, capable of taking down commercial...

Our priority is to stop violence – Lavrov on Syria crisis

Sergey Lavrov says the US and Russia must do “everything possible” to stop violence in Syria, warning that people who fight the Syrian army...

Don’t Worry About Surveillance: In Britain, Everything’s Okay!

Global Research and Countercurrents 12/6/2013 and The 4th Media 21/6/2013

In the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, a ‘war on terror’, fighting for ‘democratic freedoms’ or whatever the script happens to be this week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague can be relied on to sell US-British militarism to a public fed up with constant wars and (increasingly less) ignorant of their underlying reasons (1).    

In Syria, Hague has worked to try to replace Assad with a regime that could be controlled by the US and Israel. He has also campaigned for the EU to lift its arms embargo from the anti-Assad militants. Hague is a staunch supporter of Israel. His attitude towards Israel has been well documented: his dislike of the Syrian regime is backed up by a tangible strategy of aggression and destabilization, while mere lip service is paid to the protecting Palestinians or their treatment and plight (2). This is the same William Hague who declared that the intention was not regime change in Libya, but to protect civilians. The US and its allies, including Britain, helped instigate and fuel the war in Libya (3), and NATO bombs and western supported regime change have subsequently left over 100,000 Libyans dead, thousands more injured and much civilian infrastructure destroyed. 


During the Libyan conflict, 200 prominent African figures accused western nations of “subverting international law” in Libya. The UN had been misused to militarise policy, legalise military action and effect regime change, according to University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg. He stated that it was unprecedented for the UN to have outsourced military action to NATO in this way and challenged the International Criminal Court to investigate NATO for “violating international law.” 


Rather than being held to account for the death and destruction in Libya, Hague has carried on where he left off with strong rhetoric directed towards Iran and a call for sanctions (4) and a concerted commitment to topple the Syrian government by force (5) (6) (7). For public consumption, this is all spuriously carried out under the banner of humanitarianism or in the name of global security.


As a client state of the US (mainstream British media often portray this as a ‘special relationship), Britain can be relied on to do Washington’s bidding. When Hague beats the drum over LibyaAfghanistanSyria or Iran, the drum is provided courtesy of Washington and Tel Aviv. Foreign Secretary Hague beats it on cue. 


It all begs the question, how much trust can we place in someone like Hague, especially when they try to reassure the British public that British intelligence services do not illegally snoop on the British population?  


Documents leaked by former US intelligence worker Edward Snowden suggest GCHQ, the British Government’s ‘listening post’ in CheltenhamEngland (equivalent to the US National Security Agency), may have had access to the US spy programme PRISM since at least June 2010.


Hague has told the British parliament that British spies have not used US surveillance programmes to get around laws restricting their ability to eavesdrop on the public in Britain. He has said that there is no indiscriminate trawling for information through the contents of people's communications and GCHQ operates within a strict legal framework.


Hague has stated: "It has been suggested that GCHQ uses our partnership with the United States to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the United Kingdom… I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless."

Every time GCHQ wants to intercept an individual's communications, Hague asserts that the agency must seek a warrant signed by him, the interior minister or another secretary of state. He asserts that every decision is based on extensive legal and policy advice and warrants are legally required to be necessary, proportionate and carefully targeted.


The UK's 2001 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) permits international agreements that allow "mutual assistance in connection with, or in the form of, interception of communication," providing the foreign secretary has given his authority. It also allows for the interception of the content of both domestic communications and communications between the UK and elsewhere, provided a warrant has been signed, usually by a minister.


The 1994 Intelligence Services Act gives senior ministers the power to "disapply" UK law when granting written permission. This legislation ensures that no UK intelligence agency or officer is likely to be sued or prosecuted in Britain as a result of any mass surveillance operation.


In the US, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) gives US intelligence agencies wide-ranging powers to conduct surveillance of data that is held by or passes through the US: it provides for the gathering of information that may not only protect the US against hostile acts but which "is necessary to … the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States.”


The US government can therefore basically do what it deems necessary to maintain its global hegemony. It has access to huge amounts of global data thanks to the numerous sophisticated ‘listening posts’ the US has on foreign soil. The NSA's largest eavesdropping centre outside the US is based in North Yorkshire. It is a satellite receiving station that monitors foreign military traffic, but can also access Britain's telecommunications network. The US military refer to the ‘golf ball’ encased satellite systems there as helping to secure full spectrum dominance of land, sea, air, space and information. Writer Garbrielle Pickard believes its presence entails the US having full spectrum control over the UK (8).


Given that the US thus has access to so much data beyond its national borders, it is easy to see just why the issue of the British government circumventing British law to access information held by the US on British citizens is of vital concern to the public. Even more so given Hague argues that the growing and diffuse nature of threats from terrorists, criminals or espionage has only increased the importance of Britain’s intelligence relationship with the United States.


In a more general sense, the underlying message being put forward by officialdom is that ‘no one has anything to fear as long as you are not terrorists or some other threat to national interest.’ In an age of perceived terror threats and subsequent clampdowns on civil liberties as a result of the illegal wars and covert and overt interventions abroad that politicians like Hague attempt to justify on fallacious grounds, just who does that rule out? The ‘terror threat’ and vague notions of the ‘national interest’ are highly convenient reasons for including anyone or everyone in the surveillance net.


What about Muslims, dissidents, civil-liberties types, ‘trouble-makers’, environmental campaigners, 'occupy' individuals, ‘lefties’, trade unionists, human rights activists or particular writers, bloggers and journalists? Surveillance and the infiltration of groups deemed ‘subversive’ (but working well within the law and an integral part of plural democracy) have been carried out by the intelligence services for many decades (9). In pointing out some of these types of activities, Annie Machon in The Guardian notes that real democracies don’t infiltrate legitimate protest groups. But, as she notes, in Britain they do (10).


A key element here is that of trust. Do we trust what politicians like Hague say or do? Do we trust our governments? Should we trust Google, Facebook and any other company that stores our personal details (11)?


NSA whitleblower Edward Snowden apparently thinks we should not. He wanted to expose the “omniscient state powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.” Dennis Mitchell, a senior GCHQ officer, who retired in 1984 in protest at the Thatcher government's ban on trade unions there, referred to "actions which I believe would be considered unacceptable by the general public were it aware of them". He described GCHQ as a powerful, unaccountable arm of government. According to him, the only real watchdog at that time was the workforce, not the law.



Perhaps Snowden or Mitchell might agree to some extent with Michael Foucault’s premise that society now resembles a bright modern prison. Foucault warned that the bright visibility is a trap (12). Increasing visibility (on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc) leads to power being located on an individualised level throughout a person's entire life. Foucault suggested that a ‘carceral continuum’ runs through modern society, from the maximum security prison, through secure accommodation, probation, social workers, police and teachers, to our everyday working and domestic lives. In this digital age, now more than ever before.


Under the guise of fighting the so-called ‘war on terror’, combating weapons proliferation and gathering economic intelligence, institutions such as GCHQ and the NSA are, in reality, operating a highly intrusive Big Brother Police State Surveillance Empire that is being used to specifically monitor the activities of genuine political opposition and dissent, as well as undermine the privacy, freedom and constitutional civil liberties of targeted peoples and nations throughout the world… Identification technologies such as video surveillance, biometrics and national ID cards will undoubtedly find their way into the sprawling informational GCHQ/NSA vortex, eventually rendering all personal, communal, commercial, economic, and political control to the State - a system of absolute tyranny that can only be labeled as ‘global slavery’.” Steve Jones (13).


Notes





Anglo-American Militarism: Don’t Worry About Surveillence, In Britain, Everything’s Okay

In the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, a ‘war on terror’, fighting for ‘democratic freedoms’ or whatever the script happens to be this week, British...

Anglo-American Militarism: Don’t Worry About Surveillence, In Britain, Everything’s Okay

In the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, a ‘war on terror’, fighting for ‘democratic freedoms’ or whatever the script happens to be this week, British...

The US is a Police State

Global Research Editor’s NoteThis article by Professor McMurtry first published by Global Research in November 2011 had been commissioned by an academic journal called New Politics....

Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood: The Social Uprising against “Brother Erdogan”

For Thierry Meyssan, the Turkish people are not protesting against Recip Tayyeb Erdogan’s autocratic style, but against his policies; in other words, against the...

Putin on NSA leak: Government surveillance shouldn’t break law

Data surveillance is an acceptable measure if done within the law, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told RT while visiting the channel in the capital. ...

White House Convenes Meetings on Syria Escalation

The Obama White House is convening meetings this week to discuss measures to escalate the US-backed war for regime-change in Syria and prop up...

What Is The Government’s Agenda? – Paul Craig Roberts

What is the Government’s Agenda? Paul Craig Roberts It has been public information for a decade that the US government secretly, illegally, and unconstitutionally spies on its citizens. Congress and the federal courts have done nothing about this extreme violation of the US Constitution and statutory law, and the insouciant US public seems unperturbed. In…

The post What Is The Government’s Agenda? — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

White House convenes meetings on Syria escalation

  By ...

Checking Bill Maher in Real Time

In June 2009, Bill Maher readied himself to pick a fight with his comrades. He lashed out against those defending Obama for rather indefensible...

NATO Is Antithetical To The Spirit Of The United Nations

Colombia may be on a list for membership in NATO further expanding what was originally a North Atlantic defense organization, into a global...

Russia to Arm Syria, EU Lifts Embargo on Rebels

Heightening tension in the Middle East, the European Union recently decided to lift the embargo on weapons to the rebels in Syria. Syrian President...

‘More young whistleblowers 2.0 to seek justice through maximum exposure’

<!--Annie Machon-->Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for the UK's MI5, who resigned in 1996 to blow the whistle. She is now a...

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center, “Watch What You Say”

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale...

25 people dead in Benghazi clashes

Members of Libyan security forces run away holding weapons during clashes between protesters and militants in Benghazi on June 8, 2013. At least 25...

New Petition: We Demand President Obama Resign

Spare the nation the ordeal of impeachment Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comJune 8, 2013 A new petition launched on...

Cyber war is US ‘red herring’ to put pressure on China

The US-China cyber battle is just a distraction designed by the Obama Administration to pressure China at a time when the Washington is implementing...

Week in Review: Bilderberg Secrecy and the Surveillance State

America’s Economic War on the People of Iran: Obama Signs Executive Order Targeting Iran’s Currency and Auto Industry Timothy Alexander Guzman, June 07, 2013 America’s “Secret...

Clinton Slips in Poll After Benghazi Hits, Christie’s Up

John McCormickBloombergJune 7, 2013 Hillary Clinton hasn’t decided whether she’ll run for president in 2016, a...

Evil Takes the High Road

The natural gaze of human beings is to the heavens. The welcoming light of the dawn. The warmth of the noonday sun. The beauty...

Critics Blast Military Trial of WikiLeaks Whistleblower Manning

After a global outcry about his prosecution and alleged torture, whistleblower Bradley Manning (shown), an Army intelligence officer accused of “aiding the enemy” by...

Critics Blast Military Trial of WikiLeaks Whistleblower Manning

After a global outcry about his prosecution and alleged torture, whistleblower Bradley Manning (shown), an Army intelligence officer accused of “aiding the enemy” by...

Pipelinistan

I have written on more than one occasion about the value of preaching and repeating to the choir on a regular basis. One of...

Anti-Syrian Blame Game Escalates: Who is Behind Killings of Civilians?

Since early 2011, ongoing blame game strategy holds Syria responsible for Western-enlisted death squad crimes. In August 2011, the Human Rights Council (HRC) appointed a...

Obama reshuffles national security staff

  By ...

Susan Rice to Replace Tom Donilon as National Security Advisor

National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon will resign his post next month and will be replaced by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan E....

Susan Rice and the Illusion of Change

<!--Eric Draitser-->Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder of StopImperialism.com. ...

Obama names Rice natl. security adviser

US President Barack Obama (L) announces the appointment of Susan Rice (2ndR) as his new national security advisor, as he stands with current National Security Advisor Tom Donilon (R) in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 5, 2013.

A BRIEF FOR ANIMALS – Paul Craig Roberts

The article below is reprinted from CounterPunch, January 12, 2011. Since the article was first published, Washington has added the slaughter of Libyans, Yemeni, and Syrians along with that of wolves to its accomplishments. An addendum describes the wicked new “sport” of “canned hunting.” Hribal’s “Fear of the Animal Planet” A Brief for Animals by…

The post A BRIEF FOR ANIMALS — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Obama appoints UN envoy Rice to national security position amid controversy

The American ambassador to the United Nations who came under attack for misrepresenting last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi has been appointed to be...

Susan Rice to Replace Tom Donilon as National Security Advisor

National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon will resign his post next month and will be replaced by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan E....

Is the International Criminal Court Guilty of “International Racial Profiling”?

The ICC has managed to indict only Africans for crimes against humanity, “while ignoring numerous civilian deaths caused by U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan...

Obama natl. security advisor resigns

Obama natl. security advisor resigns, Susan Rice to take chargeUS National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon has resigned his post, with US Ambassador to the...

Syria has the Right to Peace and to Self-defense, Despite Western Claims

There can be little doubt that the lifting of the arms embargo to the armed insurgents and terrorist groups operating in Syria is one...

What Presidents Tell Our Students

In this season of college graduations, let us pause to remember the stirring words of America’s beloved scholar, George W. Bush, speaking in Florida...

What Our Presidents Tell our Young People

In this season of college graduations, let us pause to remember the stirring words of America’s beloved scholar, George W. Bush, speaking in Florida...

Istanbul Uprising

It seemed as if the world had entered the age of the austerity riots. And then Istanbul erupted. Let there be no mistake, Istanbul...

Zimbabwe: The Revolution Continues

The coming elections in Zimbabwe are no mere referendum on the leadership of the coalition government. Instead, the decision before Zimbabweans is a clear...

MSNBC Aligns With Objectives of the State

<!]>Celebrated liberal news outlet MSNBC has made some new hires, a couple weeks ago one of them being Mother Jones blogger Adam Serwer. According...

‘Turkish govt not used to dealing with such large-scale civil unrest’

Turkish police should be blamed for provoking violence in Istanbul, where peaceful actions grew into bloody protests. But despite the escalation, Turkey is still...

Zimbabwe: The Revolution Continues

The coming elections in Zimbabwe are no mere referendum on the leadership of the coalition government. Instead, the decision before Zimbabweans is a clear...

Syria and the Sham of Humanitarian Intervention

I continue to be amazed with the ease with which the dividing line is blurred between what is real and what is fiction in...

Syria and the Sham of “Humanitarian Intervention”

I continue to be amazed with the ease with which the dividing line is blurred between what is real and what is fiction in...

McCain’s Third-rate Escapade in Syria

“Third-rate men, of course, exist in all countries, but it is only here that they are in full control of the state,” wrote H.L....

US to send Patriot missiles to Jordan

The United States has decided to deploy Patriot missiles and F16 fighters to Jordan for a military drill and plans to keep the system...

McCain’s Third-rate Escapade in Syria

“Third-rate men, of course, exist in all countries, but it is only here that they are in full control of the state,” wrote H.L....

The Geopolitics of Gas and the Syrian Crisis: Syrian «Opposition» Armed to Thwart Construction...

What has one of the most democratic countries of the Middle East, Syria, done to tick off some of its neighbors in the West,...

America’s Greatest Affliction: The Presstitute Media

When Gerald Celente branded the American media “presstitutes,” he got it right. The US print and TV media (and NPR) whore for Washington and the corporations.

The Middle East According to Tony Blair

Tony Blair, one of the Chief architects of the wholly illegal, and barbaric act of aggression put upon the state of Iraq and its...

Who Gains From Syrian Bloodbath?

The best hope for an end to the killing in Syria is for the United States and Russia to push both sides in the...

Iraq Collapse Shows Bankruptcy of Interventionism

Ron PaulInfowars.comJune 3, 2013 May was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly five years, with...

Hague's Diplomatic Double Standards

Israeli regimeâ„¢s so-called opposition chief Tzipi Livni meets with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, (file photo).UK foreign Secretary William Hague continues to...

America’s Greatest Affliction: The Presstitute Media

Paul Craig RobertsInfowars.comJune 3, 3013 When Gerald Celente branded the American media “presstitutes,” he got it...

America’s Greatest Affliction: The Presstitute Media – Paul Craig Roberts

When Gerald Celente branded the American media “presstitutes,” he got it right. The US print and TV media (and NPR) whore for Washington and the corporations. Reporting the real news is their last concern. The presstitutes are a Ministry of Propaganda and Coverup. This is true of the entire Western media, a collection of bought-and-paid-for…

The post America’s Greatest Affliction: The Presstitute Media — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The President Of the United States *Video*

He’s a hero to tens of millions of Americans who have an almost cult-like belief in his demagogic super natural abilities to spread peace to...

War Criminal Tony Blair Continues to Push the Neo-Con Agenda.

A recent article in the Mail on Sunday penned by Mr. Blair, reveals how very little this man truly thinks of the public’s collective and individual ability to see straight through his ‘liberal’ veneer and blatant war propaganda.

The Chemical Weapon Accusations against Syria are Overshadowing the Insurgent’s Retreat

The timing of Tel Aviv’s repeated attacks on Syria in May 2013 and the kindling of yet another round of accusations and tensions between...

Who Was Behind the Woolwich Killing? Criminality of Britain’s Ruling Elite

The killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London has lifted a corner of the carefully constructed veil of lies, intrigue and criminality surrounding...

‘OPEC decides to maintain oil output’

The headquarters the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Vienna, Austria (file photo)Iran's oil minister says the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has...

Oops! Sen. McCain Met Syrian Rebels Accused of Kidnapping

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz., shown) and his goal of openly intervening in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the foreign-backed rebels – many of...

UK: Soldier Killing Suspect Approached by MI5 to Become Informer

Two British-Nigerians frightened the great former colonial empire to death by nearly beheading a soldier, in London. Yet British and other western politicians have...

‘Western countries are coup makers and Syria is going to be the same’

The lines of hypocrisy can be traced in France’s decision to pick and choose which Islamic conflicts to engage in. While they fight terrorism...

Oops! Sen. McCain Met Syrian Rebels Accused of Kidnapping

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz., shown) and his goal of openly intervening in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the foreign-backed rebels – many of...

Russia to Deliver More Than 10 Fighter Jets to Syria, MIG Head Says

Russia is planning to deliver more than 10 MiG fighter planes to the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, the head of the state-owned MIG corporation said Friday, in a move...

How Syria Became a More Dangerous Quagmire Than Iraq

For the first two years of the Syrian civil war foreign leaders regularly predicted that Bashar al-Assad’s government would fall any day. In November...

The FBI Murder of Ibragim Todashev: The Boston Witness “Who Knew Too Much”?

FBI and other law enforcement officials revealed Wednesday that Ibragim Todashev, the 27-year-old Chechen immigrant who was shot and killed after being interrogated for...

American Killed Fighting For Syrian Rebels Had Al-Qaeda Flag

Terrorist make-up of Syrian opposition underscored once again Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comMay 31, 2013 An...

Iran urges ceiling limit to OPEC output

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi has urged the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to maintain its crude output ceiling given the current situation...

Too Juvenile to Govern

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/too_juvenile_to_govern_20130531/ Posted on May 31, 2013 ...

Imperialism, Syria, and the threat of world war

  31 May 2013 ...

Regime-change case for Poirot: Syria conflict as ‘whodunnit?'

'The ABC Murders' comes to my mind every time I think of Libya and Syria and the ‘Arab Spring.’ When do you notice...

Regime-change case for Poirot: Syria conflict as ‘whodunnit?'

'The ABC Murders' comes to my mind every time I think of Libya and Syria and the ‘Arab Spring.’ When do you notice...

Poll: Scandals hit Obama approval rating

The results of a new poll indicate that scandals have dragged down US President Barack Obamaâ„¢s approval rating compared to less than a month...

Israel is fighting a regional war in Syria

The changing internal situation in Syria is putting a new set of plans into motion, which involve Israeli aggression against Syria. Not only have the...

Turkish Police find Chemical Weapons in the Possession of Al Nusra Terrorists heading for...

According to a report in Turkey’s state media agency Zaman, agents from the Turkish General Directorate of Security (Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü) ceased 2 kg...

Regime-change case for Poirot: Syria conflict as ‘whodunnit?'

'The ABC Murders' comes to my mind every time I think of Libya and Syria and the ‘Arab Spring.’ When do you notice...

Afghan war costs UK over £37bn so far

An independent study has found that the UK military's presence in Afghanistan's Helmand province, where most British troops are based, has cost the country...

Afghan war costs UK over £37bn so far

An independent study has found that the UK military's presence in Afghanistan's Helmand province, where most British troops are based, has cost the country...

IRS Coverup Continues

Last week, Lois Lerner, the director of the Internal Revenue Service’s Exempt Organizations division, told the House committee investigating the IRS scandal that she...

IRS Coverup Continues

Last week, Lois Lerner, the director of the Internal Revenue Service’s Exempt Organizations division, told the House committee investigating the IRS scandal that she...

House investigator subpoenas all communications on Benghazi

Shaun WatermanThe Washington TimesMay 29, 2013 House Republicans’ chief investigator issued a subpoena Tuesday for State...

Lifting the Fake EU Arms Embargo: Weapons for Al Qaeda in Syria

On May 27, the so-called one-year EU arms embargo on Syria’s opposition ended. Officially it does so on June 1. EU nations agreed to...

Syria Escalation poses Growing Risk of Regional War

In the wake of the European Union’s vote late Monday to lift a ban on directly arming Western-backed “rebels,” there is a mounting danger...

Ladies and Gentlemen, The President Of the United States *Video*

He’s a hero to tens of millions of Americans who have an almost cult-like belief in his demagogic super natural abilities to spread peace to...

Mr Marlboro burned: Al-Qaeda fires terrorist Moktar Belmoktar by letter

Al-Qaeda's North African branch leaders handed marching orders to one of the most notorious terrorists, Moktar Belmoktar, aka Mr Marlboro. In a letter obtained...

The Role of Turkey in the US-NATO-Israeli War on Syria

“Syria is worrying that it will be attacked by Turkey from above and by Israel from below. It is worrying that it will...

Three soldiers killed in Benghazi attack

Armed militias conduct a search operation in an area of Benghazi. (file photo)At least three soldiers have been killed and three others injured in...

Imposing Syria 'No Fly Zone' Would Be Over Act of War, Warn Critics

Rafale fighters, like the ones used by France over Libya in 2011, and which will likely be deployed again if a no-fly zone were...

Three soldiers killed in Benghazi attack

At least three soldiers have been killed and three others injured in an attack on a checkpoint in the Libyan eastern city of Benghazi....

Mr Marlboro burned: Al-Qaeda fires terrorist Moktar Belmoktar by letter

Al-Qaeda's North African branch leaders handed marching orders to one of the most notorious terrorists, Moktar Belmoktar, aka Mr Marlboro. In a letter obtained...

Bush’s Invasion of Iraq was Criminal … Obama’s About to Do the Same Thing...

Washington’s BlogMay 29, 2013 The former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the highest...

McCain Visits Rebel Army in Syria

John McCain (shown) has put "boots on the ground" in Syria after all – his own. The senior senator from Arizona and ranking Republican on...

How Obama and Al-Qaeda Became Syrian Bedfellows

For a president that is executing Bush’s “war on terror” against Al-Qaeda and “it’s affiliates,” it seems odd that President Obama has targeted the...

Under the Disguise of The “Battle against Terrorism”: The U.S., Britain and France Support...

The UK Foreign secretary William Hague, and his French counterpart Lauren Fabius, are leading an isolated charge within the EU to lift a supposed...

McCain Visits Rebel Army in Syria

John McCain (shown) has put "boots on the ground" in Syria after all – his own. The senior senator from Arizona and ranking Republican on...

European Powers Lift Embargo, Move to Arm Syrian Opposition. Direct Military Support to Al...

On Monday the foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) met in Brussels and agreed not to renew the arms embargo against Syria. This...

Send John McCain to Guantanamo Bay

Senator meets with America-hating, Al-Qaeda terrorists Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comMay 28, 2013 Given the fact...

How Obama and Al-Qaeda Became Syrian Bedfellows

For a president that is executing Bush’s “war on terror” against Al-Qaeda and “its affiliates,” it seems odd that President Obama has targeted the...

Soldier attacked while on security patrol in Paris

  By ...

McCain sneaks into Syria, meets rebels

Republican Senator John McCain, a staunch advocate of US military aid to the Syrian opposition, has made a surprise visit to war-torn Syria and...

More War, “Kill Courts” at Home. The Real Meaning of Obama’s National Security Speeches

 This past Thursday and Friday, President Obama delivered two speeches designed to outline his new thinking on national security and counter-terrorism. While much was...

Neoconservative Republicans Knock Obama's Shift in War on Terror

A number of neoconservative Republicans spent part of the Memorial Day weekend roundly criticizing the plan announced by President Obama to limit the scope...

Rand Paul Bolsters Libertarian Bona Fides, Delays Decision on 2016

CNN, quoting The Independent, reports that Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made the decision to run in 2016 – for reelection to the Senate. During a...

Syrian Rebel Alliance Openly Threatens Ethnic Cleansing

A spokesman for the primary rebel alliance in Syria, known as the “Free Syrian Army,” threatened that opposition forces could start implementing a broad...

Neoconservative Republicans Knock Obama's Shift in War on Terror

A number of neoconservative Republicans spent part of the Memorial Day weekend roundly criticizing the plan announced by President Obama to limit the scope...

Rand Paul Bolsters Libertarian Bona Fides, Delays Decision on 2016

CNN, quoting The Independent, reports that Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made the decision to run in 2016 – for reelection to the Senate. During a...

Rand Paul Bolsters Libertarian Bona Fides, Delays Decision on 2016

CNN, quoting The Independent, reports that Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made the decision to run in 2016 – for reelection to the Senate. During a...

Report on Syria — Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire: “The Syrian State is Under...

Report and Appeal to the International community to support a process of dialogue and reconciliation in Syria between its people and Syrian government and...

Syrian Rebel Alliance Openly Threatens Ethnic Cleansing

A spokesman for the primary rebel alliance in Syria, known as the “Free Syrian Army,” threatened that opposition forces could start implementing a broad...

Will EU Sanctions Once Again Target the Civilian Population of Syria?

Beirut. Under withering pressure from Washington and the UK, the European Union, is meeting this week to decide whether to increase the pressure on the...

US probe into IRS scandal may broaden

The recent US scandal over efforts by the nationâ„¢s taxing authority, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in targeting right-wing groups and individuals that supported...

Rep. Chaffetz: Administration covering up on Benghazi terror attack

Bernie BeckerThe HillMay 26, 2013 Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) charged Friday that the administration was covering...

Iran condemns terrorist attacks in Niger

Simultaneous attacks were carried out against a Nigerien military installation in the town of Agadez and French-run Areva SA (AREVA) uranium mine in Arlit...

Guns Versus Trade: U.S. and China Rivalry over Africa’s Riches

 In my report on France’s invasion of Mali published in the March issue of The Monitor, I wrote that, “According to U.K. journalist John...

Rand Paul: Senate Is Arming Al-Qaeda and Rushing to War in Syria

“This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda.” That was the declaration Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.; pictured) made...

Obama Updates Drone War Policy, Due Process Still Not Included

In a foreign policy speech at the National Defense University on May 23, President Obama set out his “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy,” including a plan...

Rand Paul: Senate Is Arming Al-Qaeda and Rushing to War in Syria

“This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda.” That was the declaration Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.; pictured) made...

Obama Updates Drone War Policy, Due Process Still Not Included

In a foreign policy speech at the National Defense University on May 23, President Obama set out his “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy,” including a plan...

‘Obama commits war crimes as pres.’

A political analyst tells Press TV that US President Barack Obama is committing war crimes by defending his administration's use of drones in a...

Why We Oppose U.S. and Israeli intervention in Syria

Having overthrown the Governments in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, the U.S. government has sought to topple the Syrian government during the...

Impeachment Support Soars as Voters Say Feds “Out of Control”

A recent Fox News poll shows more than two-thirds of American voters believe the federal government is “out of control” and a threat to...

Impeachment Support Soars as Voters Say Feds “Out of Control”

A recent Fox News poll shows more than two-thirds of American voters believe the federal government is “out of control” and a threat to...

SOAS serves as MI6 training ground

SOAS university of London serves as MI6 training ground for spies.SOAS University of London is involved in secret espionage activities under the cover name...

Woolrich London Killing: Terrorism or False Flag?

Reports said two assailants hacked a British soldier to death. He’s been identified as Lee Rigby. He was killed in broad daylight. It was...

Blood on the Streets of London: Who will Protect us from the Real Extremists?

Two men armed with knives and gun(s) apparently hack to death an off-duty soldier outside an army barracks in Woolwich, London. As the soldier lies...

The entire globe is a battlefield for Pentagon

<!--Pepe Escobar-->Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and...

The Silent Death of the American Left

Is there a Left in America today? There is, of course, a Left ideology, a Left of the mind, a Left of theory and critique....

The U.S. Press and Repression in the Obama Era

We are supposed to take seriously the outrage coming from members of the corporate press in response to the revelation that the Obama administration’s...

Explosive: President of CBS News and WH Benghazi fiction-writer are blood brothers

Jon RappoportInfowars.comMay 22, 2013 Just a coincidence. Nothing to see. Move along. Remember...

Impeachment Support Soars as Voters Say Feds “Out of Control”

A recent Fox News poll shows more than two-thirds of American voters believe the federal government is “out of control” and a threat to...

‘Woolwich-style attacks to become one of the main ways people protest’

<!--Annie Machon-->Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for the UK's MI5, who resigned in 1996 to blow the whistle. She is now a...

France to boost embassies' security

A car bomb exploded outside the French embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 23, 2013.The French government plans to spend 20 million...

Israel is fighting a regional war in Syria

<!--Mahdi D. Nazemroaya-->Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is sociologist, award-winning author, and noted geopolitical analyst. ...

Behind “Syria Peace Talks”, US Prepares Regional War

While ostensibly touring the Middle East to discuss a joint US-Russian proposal for peace talks between the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and...

David Cameron to Arm Woolwich Terrorists?

London attack boosts “clash of civilizations” narrative Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comMay 23, 2013 Image: Wikimedia...

Benghazi: Dissecting Congressional Follies, Media Coverage and ‘Cover-Up’ Charges

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/benghazi_dissecting_congressional_follies_media_coverage_and_cover-up_charg/ Posted on May 22, 2013 ...

‘Was the machete supplied by William Hague?’

<!--Afshin Rattansi-->Afshin Rattansi is a journalist, author of “The Dream of the Decade — the London Novels” and an RT Contributor. He can be...

‘Ivory trade menaces peace in C Africa’

A file photo taken on July 20, 2011 shows a Kenya Wildlife Services ranger standing guard in front of an illegal ivory stockpile at...

‘Was the machete supplied by William Hague?’

<!--Afshin Rattansi-->Afshin Rattansi is a journalist, author of “The Dream of the Decade — the London Novels” and an RT Contributor. He can be...

On the Road to Damascus: An Eyewitness Report

I participated, May 1-11, 2013 in the Mussalaha International Peace Delegation to Lebanon-Syria alongside fellow TRANSCEND member Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, from Ireland,...

Fed Pours Huge Sums Into Foreign Bank Coffers: Why Is the Fed Bailing Out...

We noted even before the TARP bailout law was signed into law that bailout moneys could flow to foreign banks. We were right. A large...

The Path of Hubris and War

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_path_of_hubris_and_war_20130522/ Posted on May 22, 2013 ...

The Path of Hubris and War

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_path_of_hubris_and_war_20130522/ Posted on May 22, 2013 ...

Kerry Complains About Hezbollah Fighters in Syria

Secretary of State says nothing about CIA’s foreign mercenaries, including al-Qaeda Kurt NimmoInfowars.comMay 22, 2013

FBI zeroes in on Benghazi attack suspects, lacks evidence for civilian prosecution

Five men have been identified by the US as linked to the September 2012 attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, though they...

Too Soon to Tell: The Case for Hope, Continued

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/too_soon_to_tell_the_case_for_hope_continued_20130521/ Posted on May 21, 2013 ...

The Caring Facade of French Imperialism

The “public relations” accompanying wars has become wearily predictable. Whenever one of its governments or allies conducts a military action, there is a...

Obama-Backed FSA Rebels Name Their Brigade “Osama Bin Laden”

White House openly seeking to arm terrorists in Syria Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comMay 20, 2013 Underlining once again...

European Union Directly Funds Al Qaeda Looting of Syrian oil

According to a report yesterday in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the European Union (EU) is directly funding US-backed Sunni Islamist terrorist groups fighting Syrian President...

White House Damage Control Script Jeopardized By New Disclosures

Zero HedgeMay 20, 2013 It has been a tough weekend for the President. First, the CEO of...

The Afghanistan War May End by 2024 … Maybe

Hamid Karzai has let the Pentagon’s cat out of the bag – to the displeasure of the Obama Administration. The Afghan president revealed inside...

The War on Mali: An Illustration of the Fragmented Totality that characterizes the Imperialist...

Interview Date: February 27, 2013 This week on Heart of Africa, Kudakwashe hosts renowned award winning author, global geopolitical analyst and sociologist, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, in...

Bashar al Assad Interview: Israel Supports Al Qaeda Terrorists

Bashar al-Assad: “I don’t give up. People say who stays and who should go, not U.S.” Bashar al-Assad interview with Argentine newspaper Clarin: “I don’t...

Africa and U.S. Imperialism: Post-Colonial Crises and the Imperatives of the African Revolution

Five decades since the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) while the Pentagon and NATO escalates its war drive on the continent...

Syrian Forces Inflict Heavy Losses on US Sponsored Terrorists

Reports from Syria suggest that the US sponsored Al Nusra mercenary force and affiliated formations have inflicted heavy losses in different part of the...

Gunmen raid military posts in Benghazi

Armed groups operate a checkpoint in Benghazi on May 16, 2013.Libyan military sources say unknown heavily-armed assailants have attacked at least three army posts...

Iran pres. expected to visit Russia

Iranâ„¢s Ambassador to Russia Seyyed Reza Sajjadi says the Iranian president is expected to visit Russia to participate in the meeting of Gas Exporting...

Europe’s “Little Guantanamo”: Why The U.S. Wants Serbia To Give Up Kosovo

The U.S. military base in Kosovo was constructed in 1999 without consulting with the government of Serbia and is the largest U.S. military...

America’s “Long War”: Pentagon tells US Senate Wars will Continue for Decades

Testifying before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services on Thursday, Pentagon officials claimed that “war on terror” legislation gives them sweeping powers to...

Syria : One Year After the Houla Massacre. New Report on Official vs. Real...

A week from now it will be one year since the world first heard about the horrors of a place in Syria called “Houla.”...

The CIA, Qatar, and the Creation of Syria’s Jabhat al Nusra

A recent interview given by: an ‘anonymous’ Qatari security official, has shed further light on CIA-led covert arms shipments to militants fighting in Syria....

Israel Threatens More Attacks against Syria

May 15 is Nakba Day. It follows Israel’s May 14 Independence Day. This year was no exception. Clashes erupted across the West Bank and East...

The Tragedy of Self Immolation – No One Cares Anymore

May 16, 2013  | ...

Breaking Through Mainstream Media Lies

Dear Readers, Friends and Fighters for Truth in Media, Day in and day out, people are tuning in to Global Research to find out what...

CIA-chief David Petraeus objected to Obama administration’s version of Benghazi terror attack events

James Nyedailymail.co.ukMay 16, 2013 The then CIA-Director David Petraeus strongly objected to the Obama administration’s version...

Benghazi and the Deepening Crisis of the Obama Administration

The controversy over last year’s Al Qaeda assault on US diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi, Libya has been revived amid a deepening political...

White House releases Benghazi emails, seeks to defuse controversy

Jeff Masonreuters.comMay 16, 2013 The White House on Wednesday sought to defuse controversy over its handling...

Top Constitutional Experts: Obama Is Worse than Nixon

Washington’s BlogMay 16, 2013 In the wake of the twin scandals of the IRS targeting conservative...

WH Benghazi Documents Show CIA, State Both Wanted Terror References Removed from Talking Points

Patrick GoodenoughCNS NewsMay 16, 2013 After days of media leaks and back-and-forth wrangling about administration officials’...

6 Reasons Why Obama’s Popularity Is Likely to Plummet

May 10, 2013  | ...

Benghazi and the deepening crisis of the Obama administration

  16 May 2013 ...

Top Constitutional Experts: Obama Is Worse than Nixon

Objective Analysis: Obama Versus Nixon In the wake of the twin scandals of the IRS targeting conservative groups and the Department of Justice spying on...

Why Obama’s ‘Red Line’ in Syria has turned Pink

Back in August 2012, things were a lot different in Washington DC and in the White House. The Obama administration was brandishing a confident swagger...

Why Obama's 'red line' in Syria has turned pink

<!--Patrick Henningsen-->Patrick Henningsen is a writer, investigative journalist, and filmmaker and founder of the news website 21stCentury Wire.com. ...

Obama, Cameron Hold Syria War Summit in Washington: “More Weapons for Al Qaeda”

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron met yesterday in Washington to step up their campaign for war in Syria and...

'US intervention in Syria a mistake'

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Fighting Words: Toward Freedom in Africa

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In September 1955 an editorial column in Toward Freedom, titled “Consent of the Governed,” criticized “the tendency to make the communist issue so big that it obscured all others.” During the recent Bandung conference, which had launched the non-aligned movement, the editor noted that the US press had focused hard on public criticisms of Soviet subversion. But it had ignored other statements by world leaders that “urged the third way of emphasizing democracy and the consent of the governed.”

The following month Bill LLoyd took up the urgent need for timetables leading to self-government:

“The fiction of France’s ‘domestic jurisdiction’ in Indochina 10,000 miles away brought the United States to the verge of war in April, 1954. The extreme version of this concept shelters both colonialism and communist totalitarianism, and promotes their interaction to undermine orderly, peaceful progress.”

Six former colonial areas – Jordan, Ceylon, Nepal, Libya, Cambodia and Laos – joined the UN in 1955. Lloyd said it was a time “when national freedom again was recognized as a logical, acceptable goal for all peoples.” The call issued in Bandung had helped power the drive for UN membership. He also acknowledged that the US maintained an air base in Libya and that the removal of Algeria from the UN agenda represented a setback. However, for the first time a UN visiting mission had proposed a timetable for independence in Tanganyika (Tanzania) – although it was just “within 25 years.”

Other countries were edging toward freedom. Ghana was preparing for full independence, Sudan’s parliament had declared it independent, Malaysia was preparing to vote, and Morocco was making slow progress. But thousands of lives were being lost in Algeria, nationalists were defying the British military occupation of Cyprus, and violence persisted in Kenya.

In the midst of the 1956 elections Lloyd addressed the connection between politics and morality. European powers had “milked the colonial people for all they could get,” he charged in an editorial with the pointed title, “Wrongs Must Be Righted.” Too many people forgot “the simple moral fact that the wrongdoer must make restitution before his good intentions can be given full confidence.” That meant restitution for descendants of “grievously wronged” Native Americans and the African people:

“… a full balancing would require colonial governments to spend more for the education of each African child than for each European child, and more for African than for European agricultural development, rather than the lesser amounts that actually are spent in both cases.”

If Europe’s governments claim that can’t afford it, Lloyd added, the US should handle a big part of the cost by shifting some money from military spending to a “huge and dramatic educational and development program through the United Nations.”

The Conference on Independent African States

When Ghana became a sovereign nation on March 6, 1957, Homer Jack represented the TF executive board at the independence celebrations and filed a report in the April issue. The British union jack had been replaced with Ghana’s flag of red, green and gold, he wrote, but economic colonialism lingered.

 Jack met with Prime Minister Nkrumah and saw promise in some of his bold ideas. For instance, he liked Nkrumah’s idea for a conference of independent African states – including the Union of South Africa – “to “achieve an African personality in international affairs.”  A year later he covered that event, as well as the Sixth Pan-African Conference, both held in Accra.

Although a few participants at the Conference of Independent African States, notably Tunisia and Ethiopia, were cautiously pro-Western the majority leaned toward neutralism, Jack reported. But there were various types – the positive neutralism of the United Arab Republic, Ghana’s positive non-alignment, and Morocco’s non-dependence. The final resolutions talked about “non-entanglement with the big power blocs.”

Asserting that the African states had a distinctive personality which would speak to the cause of peace, the conference called on the great powers to stop producing nuclear weapons and suspend all testing. In particular, they condemned France’s provocative intentions to test nukes in the Sahara. They urged more African representation in disarmament talks and more consultation generally on global affairs.

There was no anti-Israel rhetoric, by the way, only a call for a “just solution of the Palestinian question.” Part of the reason was that Ghana, which hosted the event, was becoming one of Israel’s closest friends on the continent. The other friend was the Union of South Africa.

Regional Federalism and Atomic Colonialism

Bill Lloyd frequently focused on the challenges of independence and the tension between centralization vs. federal states rights. In an April 1955 commentary he said that, taken to an extreme, self-determination could lead to fragmentation. On the other hand, new countries had a perfect right to suspect the colonial powers of trying to use divide and conquer tactics.

 The ideal was sovereignty of the people. But based on his Swiss research Lloyd argued pragmatically for the potential of “regional federalism under democratic guarantees.” This involved authority for the central government in the areas of defense, foreign relations, and trade but also suggested flexibility; for example, states and regions should be able to negotiate trade agreements with foreign governments subject to federal approval.

William B. LLoyd, Jr.

In matters like smuggling and piracy, on the other hand, the help of the world community should be welcomed. He also proposed an novel trade off: In return for aid, Lloyd suggested that new nations ought to allow their dissatisfied minorities “to appeal to public opinion through the world organization for a peaceful settlement of their claims.”

The continued testing of hydrogen bombs by the US, USSR and UK led to another idea – expanding the definition of colonialism. It needed to go beyond denial of basic rights of self-determination, he said, “to include the forceful imposition of radioactive fallout upon the citizens of unwilling and protesting nations.”

Foreign planes were prevented from violating the recognized air sovereignty of nations. Invasion by radioactive fallout was an even greater violation, he charged. It was atomic colonialism, the ultimate form of environmental racism.

In a follow up editorial TF Board member Robert Pickus discussed the “engineering of consent,” particularly by the Atomic Energy Commission. “We cannot trust our government to give us adequate information because we have given it a prior command: Secure us, by preparing for war,” Pickus wrote.

He identified a profound conundrum; Americans wanted democracy, which meant access to information, but they also wanted to be prepared to wage atomic war – which meant secrecy and ultimately loss of control over the government.

On the Road Toward Freedom: A Cold War Story, part three of six.

Next: Continent in Crisis

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West Drops Syria WMD Narrative As Evidence Points to Western-Armed Terrorists

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For the US, UK, France, and its regional partners including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, nothing would have suited their interests more than if the recent chemical attack reported in Aleppo Syria turned out to be (or could have been portrayed as being) the work of the Syrian government, or even “loose” weapons that had fallen into the hands of Al Qaeda terrorists the West both arms and condemns simultaneously.

However, a strange silence has fallen across the Western media regarding the chemical attack which Israel had even claimed to have “confirmed.”  Now, a recent report published in the London Telegraph by Channel 4 journalist Alex Thomson has produced convincing evidence that implicates the West’s terrorist proxies as the perpetrators, and goes far in explaining the otherwise inexplicable silence exhibited by Wall Street and London’s propaganda machine. Titled, “Syria chemical weapons: finger pointed at jihadists,” Thomson reported that:

The military’s version of events is that the home-made rocket was fired at a military checkpoint situated at the entrance to the town. The immediate effects were to induce vomiting, fainting , suffocation and seizures among those in the immediate area.

A second source – a medic at the local civilian hospital – said that he personally witnessed Syrian army helping those wounded and dealing with fatalities at the scene. That Syrian soldiers were among the reported 26 deaths has not been disputed by either side.

The military source who spoke to Channel 4 News confirmed that artillery reports from the Syrian Army suggest a small rocket was fired from the vicinity of Al-Bab, a district close to Aleppo that is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra – a jihadist group said to be linked with al-Qaeda and deemed a “terrorist organisation” by the US.

Thomson describes his contact in Syria as “a trusted and hitherto reliable source.” Thomson’s report, coupled with the silence across the West’s governments and media houses, implies that indeed this version of the story falls closest yet to the truth. The West’s silence in the face of an otherwise spectacular opportunity to advance its agenda may also indicate its faltering legitimacy and the loss of confidence that it can rewrite, at will, reality to suit its agenda – as it has done so many times in the past.

The West also faces a growing crisis if its terrorist proxies continue using chemical weapons, whatever their origin. CNN had reported in December of 2012, in a report titled, “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” that:

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.

The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.

This would implicate the West directly in giving terrorists using chemical weapons against Syria’s population the knowledge and training to handle just such weapons. While the West continues to insist there is a divide between the terrorists it is arming, funding, and training, and the terrorists openly fighting under the banner of sectarian extremism, it is clear that even the US’ hand-picked “interim government” is run entirely by the sectarian extremist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. Thomson’s report implicates the Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra as possibly being behind the attack, and notes that it is listed by the US as a “terrorist organisation.” However, so-called Syrian opposition leader, Moaz al-Khatib, had personally defended al-Nusra, openly admitting it was fighting alongside his Western-backed front.

As the West’s credibility crumbles regarding Syria, and as its “success” in Libya continues to burn, its arming, training, aiding and abetting of terrorists carrying out increasingly horrific atrocities which now appear to include the use of chemical weapons, will haunt them not only in their pursuit of transforming the Levant, but in many years to come, in regards to all of their geopolitical ambitions.

Drone Warfare is Neither Cheap, Nor Surgical, Nor Decisive: The Ever-Destructive Dreams of Air...

Today’s unmanned aerial vehicles, most famously Predator and Reaper drones, have been celebrated as the culmination of the longtime dreams of airpower enthusiasts, offering the possibility of victory through quick, clean, and selective destruction.  Those drones, so the (very old) story goes, assure the U.S. military of command of the high ground, and so provide the royal road to a speedy and decisive triumph over helpless enemies below.

Fantasies about the certain success of air power in transforming, even ending, war as we know it arose with the plane itself.  But when it comes to killing people from the skies, again and again air power has proven neither cheap nor surgical nor decisive nor in itself triumphant.  Seductive and tenacious as the dreams of air supremacy continue to be, much as they automatically attach themselves to the latest machine to take to the skies, air power has not fundamentally softened the brutal face of war, nor has it made war less dirty or chaotic.

Indeed, by emboldening politicians to seek seemingly low-cost, Olympian solutions to complex human problems -- like Zeus hurling thunderbolts from the sky to skewer puny mortals -- it has fostered fantasies of illimitable power emboldened by contempt for human life.  However, just like Zeus’s obdurate and rebellious subjects, the mortals on the receiving end of death from on high have shown surprising strength in frustrating the designs of the air power gods, whether past or present. Yet the Olympian fantasy persists, a fact that requires explanation.

The Rise of Air Power

It did not take long after the Wright Brothers first put a machine in the air for a few exhilarating moments above the sandy beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December of 1903, for the militaries of industrialized countries to express interest in buying and testing airplanes.  Previously balloons had been used for reconnaissance, as in the Napoleonic wars and the U.S. Civil War, and so initially fledgling air branches focused on surveillance and intelligence-gathering.  As early as 1911, however, Italian aircraft began dropping small bombs from open-air cockpits on the enemy -- we might today call them “insurgents” -- in Libya.

World War I encouraged the development of specialized aircraft, most famously the dancing bi- and tri-winged fighter planes of the dashing “knights of the air,” as well as the more ponderous, but for the future far more important, bombers.   By the close of World War I in 1918, each side had developed multi-engine bombers like the German Gotha, which superseded the more vulnerable zeppelins.  Their mission was to fly over the trenches where the opposing armies were stalemated and take the war to the enemy’s homeland, striking fear in his heart and compelling him to surrender.  Fortunately for civilians a century ago, those bombers were too few in number, and their payloads too limited, to inflict widespread destruction, although German air attacks on England in 1917 did spread confusion and, in a few cases, panic.

Pondering the hecatombs of dead from trench warfare, air power enthusiasts of the 1920s and 1930s not surprisingly argued strongly, and sometimes insubordinately, for the decisive importance of bombing campaigns launched by independent air forces.  A leading enthusiast was Italy’s Giulio Douhet.  In his 1921 work Il dominio dell’aria (Command of the Air), he argued that in future wars strategic bombing attacks by heavily armed “battle-planes” (bombers) would produce rapid and decisive victories.  Driven by a fascist-inspired logic of victory through preemptive attack, Douhet called for all-out air strikes to destroy the enemy’s air force and its bases, followed by hammer blows against industry and civilians using high-explosive, incendiary, and poison-gas bombs.  Such blows, he predicted, would produce psychological uproar and social chaos (“shock and awe,” in modern parlance), fatally weakening the enemy’s will to resist.

As treacherous and immoral as his ideas may sound, Douhet’s intent was to shorten wars and lessen casualties -- at least for his side.  Better to subdue the enemy by pressing hard on select pressure points (even if the “pressing” was via high explosives and poison gas, and the “points” included concentrations of innocent civilians), rather than forcing your own army to bog down in bloody, protracted land wars.

That air power was inherently offensive and uniquely efficacious in winning cheap victories was a conclusion that found a receptive audience in Great Britain and the United States.  In England, Hugh Trenchard, founding father of the Royal Air Force (RAF), embraced strategic bombing as the most direct way to degrade the enemy’s will; he boldly asserted that “the moral effect of bombing stands undoubtedly to the material effect in a proportion of twenty to one.”

Even bolder was his American counterpart, William “Billy” Mitchell, famously court-martialed and romanticized as a “martyr” to air power.  (In his honor, cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy still eat in Mitchell Hall.)  At the Air Corps Tactical School in the 1930s, U.S. airmen refined Mitchell’s tenets, developing a “vital centers” theory of bombing -- the idea that one could compel an enemy to surrender by identifying and destroying his vulnerable economic nodes.  It therefore came as no accident that the U.S. entered World War II with the world’s best heavy bomber, the B-17 Flying Fortress, and a fervid belief that “precision bombing” would be the most direct path to victory.

World War II and After: Dehousing, Scorching, Boiling, and Baking the Enemy

In World War II, “strategic” air forces that focused on winning the war by heavy bombing reached young adulthood, with all the swagger associated with that stage of maturity.  The moral outrage of Western democracies that accompanied the German bombing of civilian populations in Guernica, Spain, in 1937 or Rotterdam in 1940 was quickly forgotten once the Allies sought to open a “second front” against Hitler through the air.  Four-engine strategic bombers like the B-17 and the British Lancaster flew for thousands of miles carrying bomb loads measured in tons.  From 1942 to 1945 they rained two million tons of ordnance on Axis targets in Europe, but accuracy in bombing remained elusive.

While the U.S. attempted and failed at precision daylight bombing against Germany’s “vital centers,” Britain’s RAF Bomber Command began employing what was bloodlessly termed “area bombing” at night in a “dehousing” campaign led by Arthur “Bomber” Harris.  What became an American/British combined bomber offensive killed 600,000 German civilians, including 120,000 children, reducing cities like Cologne (1942), Hamburg (1943), Berlin (1944-45), and Dresden (1945) to rubble.

Yet, contrary to the dreams of air power advocates, Germany’s will to resist remained unbroken.  The vaunted second front of aerial battle became yet another bloody attritional brawl, with hundreds of thousands of civilians joining scores of thousands of aircrews in death.

Similarly mauled but unbroken by bombing was Japan, despite an air campaign of relentless intensity that killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians.  Planned and directed by Major General Curtis LeMay, new B-29 bombers loaded with incendiaries struck Tokyo, a city made largely of wood, in March 1945, creating a firestorm that in his words “scorched and boiled and baked [the Japanese] to death.”  As many as 100,000 Japanese died in this attack.

Subsequently, 60 more cities were firebombed until the apotheosis of destruction came that August as atomic bombs incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing another 200,000 people.  It quickly became an article of faith among American air power enthusiasts that these bombs had driven Japan to surrender; together with this, the “decisive” air campaign against Germany became reason enough to justify an independent U.S. Air Force, which was created by the National Security Act of 1947.

In the total war against Nazi and Japanese terror, moral concerns, when expressed, came privately.  General Ira Eaker worried that future generations might condemn the Allied bombing campaign against Germany for its targeting of “the man in the street.”  Even LeMay, not known for introspective doubts, worried in 1945 that he and his team would likely be tried as war criminals if the U.S. failed to defeat Japan.  (So Robert McNamara, then an Army Air Force officer working for LeMay, recalled in the documentary The Fog of War.)

But moral qualms were put aside in the post-war glow of victory and as the fear rose of future battles with communism.  The Korean War (1950-1953) may have ushered in the jet age, as symbolized by the dogfights of American Sabre Jets and Soviet MiGs over the Yalu River, but it also witnessed the devastation by bombing of North Korea, even as the enemy took cover underground and refused to do what air power strategists had always assumed they would: give up.

Still, for the U.S. Air Force, the real action of that era lay largely in the realm of dystopian fantasies as it created the Strategic Air Command (SAC), which coordinated two legs of the nuclear triad, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles in silos and nuclear-armed long-range bombers. (The third was nuclear-missile-armed submarines.)  SAC kept some of those bombers carrying thermonuclear weapons in the air 24/7 as a “deterrent” to a Soviet nuclear first strike (and as a constant first strike threat of our own).  “Thinking about the unthinkable” -- that is, nuclear Armageddon -- became all the rage, with “massive retaliation” serving as the byword for air power enthusiasts.  In this way, dreams of clean victories morphed into nightmares of global thermonuclear annihilation, leaving the 1930s air power ideal of “clean” and “surgical” strikes in the dust -- for the time being.

Reaping What We Sow

Despite an unimaginably powerful nuclear deterrent that essentially couldn’t be used, the U.S. Air Force had to relearn the hard way that there remained limits to the efficacy of air power, especially when applied to low-intensity, counterinsurgency wars.  As in Korea in the 1950s, air power in the 1960s and 1970s failed to provide the winning edge in the Vietnam War, even as it spread wanton destruction throughout the Vietnamese countryside.  But it was the arrival of “smart” bombs near that war’s end that marked the revival of the fantasies of air power enthusiasts about “precision bombing” as the path to future victory.

By the 1990s, laser- and GPS-guided bombs (known collectively as PGMs, forprecision guided munitions) were relegating unguided, “dumb” bombs largely to the past.  Yet like their predecessors, PGMs proved no panacea.  In the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, for example, 50 precision “decapitation strikes” targeting dictator Saddam Hussein’s top leadership failed to hit any of their intended targets, while causing “dozens” of civilian deaths.  That same year, air power’s inability to produce decisive results on the ground after Iraq’s descent into chaos, insurrection, and civil war served as a reminder that the vaunted success of the U.S. air campaign in the First Gulf War (1991) was a fluke, not a flowering of air power’s maturity.  (Saddam Hussein made his traditionally organized military, defenseless against air power, occupy static positions after his invasion of Kuwait.)

The recent marriage of PGMs to drones, hailed as the newest “perfect weapon” in the air arsenal, has once again led to the usual fantasies about the arrival -- finally, almost 100 years late -- of clean, precise, and decisive war.  Using drones, a military need not risk even a pilot’s life in its attacks.  Yet the nature of war -- its horrors, its unpredictability, its tendency to outlive its original causes -- remains fundamentally unaltered by “precision” drone strikes.  War’s inherent fog and friction persist.  In the case of drones, that fog is often generated by faulty intelligence, the friction by malfunctioning weaponry orinnocent civilians appearing just as the Hellfire missiles are unleashed.  Rather than clean wars of decision, drone strikes decide nothing.  Instead, they produce their share of “collateral damage” that only spawns new enemies seeking revenge.

The fantasy of air war as a realm of technical decision, as an exercise in decisively finding, fixing, and dispatching the enemy, appeals to a country like the United States that idolizes technology as a way to quick fixes.  As a result, it’s hardly surprising that two administrations in Washington have ever more zealously pursued drone wars and aerial global assassination campaigns, already killing 4,700 “terrorists” and bystanders. And this has been just part of our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president’s campaign of 20,000 air strikes(only 10% of which were drone strikes) in his first term of office.  Yet despite -- or perhaps because of -- these attacks, our global war against al-Qaeda, its affiliates, and other groups like the Taliban appears no closer to ending.

And that is, in part, because the dream of air power remains just that: a fantasy, a capricious and destructive will-o’-the-wisp.  It’s a fantasy because it denies agency to enemies (and others) who invariably find ways to react, adapt, and strike back.  It’s a fantasy because, however much such attacks seem both alluringly low-risk and high-reward to the U.S. military, they become a rallying cause for those on the other end of the bombs and missiles.

A much-quoted line from the movie Apocalypse Now captured the insanity of the American air war in Vietnam.  “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,”says an Air Cav commander played by Robert Duvall.  “Smelled like... victory.”  Updated for drone warfare, this line might read: “I love the sound of drones in the morning.  Sounds like... victory.”  But will we say the same when armed drones are hovering, not only above our enemies’ heads but above ours, too, in fortress America, enforcing security and conformity while smiting citizens judged to be rebellious?

Something tells me this is not the dream that airpower enthusiasts had in mind.

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US Sponsored Terror: Syria Teeters on Obama’s “Red Line”

Spokesmen of the Assad government recently accused foreign-backed militants of launching scud missiles containing chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo, killing dozens. Witnesses claim to have seen powder emanate from the rocket, causing those who inhaled the substance to suffocate or require immediate medical attention. An unnamed chemical weapons expert cited by Al-Jazeera claimed that the causalities were not consistent with Syria’s reputed stockpile of chemical agents, stating, “If it’s a chemical warfare agent, it’s not working very well.” Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, called on the UN Secretary-General to form an independent technical mission to investigate the use of chemical weapons by terrorist groups operating in Syria.

While on his first state visit to Israel, Barack Obama cast doubt and expressed deep scepticism toward the Assad government’s version of events, stating that if the government did indeed use chemical weapons, then it meant a “red line” had been crossed. Obama vowed not to make further announcements until concrete facts were established. What this essentially means is that Obama is now in a position to act on his statements and intervene more boldly and directly than the United States has already been doing since the beginning of the conflict. Additionally, NATO personnel have also indicated that they are prepared to employ a wide range of operations. US-European Command Admiral James Stavridis recently told media that the alliance was “prepared, if called upon, to be engaged as we were in Libya.”

Those who have critically monitored the situation from the beginning are under no illusions. The way in which mainstream media sources have covered the Syrian conflict, perhaps more so than any other topic in recent times, shows unequivocally how certain content providers have moved in step with the foreign policy of the Western and Gulf states who have enabled insurgent groups and provided diplomatic cover for opposition politicians who represent their economic and strategic interests. The Obama administration’s policy toward Libya and Syria eyes the same familiar endgame as what the Bush administration sought in its foreign policy adventures. The fact that many of those on the left who campaigned against Iraq and Afghanistan are now generally silent, or even supportive of Obama’s agenda, is proof that his policies have been packaged far more intelligently for mainstream consumption. The reality is that Syria is “Shock and Awe” by other means.

There are a myriad of reasons why Bashar al-Assad must go in the eyes of policy makers in Washington and Tel Aviv, and the destruction of his tenure could not have been possible without the financial muscle of Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s wretchedly opulent Sunni Monarchs. These glittering kingdoms of disaster-capitalism are not only responsible for supplying weapons and cash; a major incentive of theirs is exporting the Wahhabist and Salafist ideologies that many of Syria’s imported jihadists subscribe to, a warped and primal interpretation of Islam that has fueled the sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict and deepened social divisions to their most dangerous point – in a country that was once renowned for its tolerance of religious diversity. These Gulf kingdoms, which are more-or-less given a trump card to commit deplorable human rights violations institutionally, are also responsible for propping up the political arm of their militant foot soldiers, and that comes in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Syria’s opposition coalition, which is itself entirely a creation of foreign powers, has recently elected its own interim prime minister – enter, Ghassan Hitto, a virtually unknown political novice with a US passport and a computer science degree from Purdue University. Hitto is an Islamist Kurd with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has politically dominated the Syrian National Council since its creation, in addition to organizing tactical elements of the insurgency. The backbone of the Brotherhood’s relationship with the medieval monarchies of the Persian Gulf is grounded in a firm opposition to Shi’a Islam, as extolled by clerical leaders in Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah; Assad himself is also an Alawite, an offshoot of Shi’a Islam. It should be clear enough by now how enflaming sectarian divisions in the region was a prerequisite for those bank-rolling the insurgency, aimed at demolishing the secular Syrian state.

Several high-profile members of Syria’s opposition coalition boycotted the vote for interim prime minister, citing what they viewed as a foreign-backed campaign to elect Hitto. Kamal Labwani, a veteran opposition campaigner, was reported as saying, “We don’t want what happened in Egypt to happen in Syria. They hijacked the revolution.” Those who abstained from the vote accuse Hitto of being a puppet of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the SNC’s decisions were being dictated from the outside. Walid al-Bunni, another senior figure in the opposition, stated, “The Muslim Brotherhood, with the backing of Qatar, have imposed their prime minister candidate. We will keep away if the coalition does not reconsider its choice.” Let’s just get this straight – Assad, a leader whose presence today is a testament to the fact that he continues to enjoy majority popular support, is considered to have lost his legitimacy. On the other hand, Hitto, a man with no political experience who received 35 votes out of 49 ballots cast during a Syrian National Coalition meeting, is supposed to be legitimate representative of the Syrian people?

These realities can only be interpreted as the boot of the so-called “International Community” squashing the face of the Syrian people, imposing on them a man who does not represent them, but the business interests of multinational corporations who seek to plant their flags in the soil of a post-Assad Syria. Let’s not humor ourselves by thinking John Kerry, William Hague, Laurent Fabius or Qatari Emir Khalifa Al Thani actually care about the people of Syria. However many casualties the Syrian conflict has incurred thus far can be attributable to the influx of foreign funds, foreign arms, and foreign fighters. It would be intellectually dishonest to deny that the tactics of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Arab Army have also caused widespread civilian causalities and suffering. It is an enormous challenge for a state military to quell unconventional insurgencies of the sort carried out by militants in Syria when these battles take place in densely populated residential areas.

One should not cynically credit Syrian government forces with intentionally killing their own people; this does not serve the purposes of the state in anyway. Civilian deaths that have occurred as a result of government forces engaging the insurgency should more accurately be seen as a heinous by-product of a foreign campaign to topple the Syrian government. While the foreign ministries of Western capitals cite politically charged death-toll statistics to justify their campaign against “Assad the Butcher”, it is absolutely unconscionable that Paris and London have called for lifting the Syrian arms embargo, and for vowing to arm militant groups with or without the consent of the EU. Apparently some seventy thousand people have been killed in Syria according to the United Nations, and these cited European states, which allegedly are so concerned about terrorism, want to dump more guns into Syria – this is madness.

Western states want to install proxy leaders who will grovel to their multinationals and swallow IMF medicine, Gulf states seek unfettered hegemony in their own backyards, and they all want to see the Shi’a resistance smashed to pieces. Following the news of chemical weapons being used in Syria, the most immediate conclusion of this observer is that foreign-backed militants, who have used every opportunity to call for more material and support, employed the use of a smuggled chemical weapon of poor quality to bring about direct military intervention in their favor. Right on cue, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are frothing at the mouth, urging President Obama to “take immediate action” and consider deploying troops. Graham was quoted as saying, “If the choice is to send in troops to secure the weapons sites versus allowing chemical weapons to get in the hands of some of the most violent people in the world, I vote to cut this off before it becomes a problem.” There is no surer sign of a pathological mind than when one credits others with the blood on their own hands.

Nile Bowie is an independent political analyst and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected]

Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks” Stalk Streets With Machetes — Mass Slaughtering...

Myanmar

In Southeast Asia’s Myanmar, already 20 are reported dead in the latest genocidal violence carried out by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron monk” political movement. CNN’s, “Armed Buddhists, including monks, clash with Muslims in Myanmar,” reports that:

Buddhist monks and others armed with swords and machetes Friday stalked the streets of a city in central Myanmar, where sectarian violence that has left about 20 people dead has begun to spread to other areas, according to local officials.

The article also added that:

In the western state of Rakhine, tensions between the majority Buddhist community and the Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim group, boiled over into clashes that killed scores of people and left tens of thousands of others living in makeshift camps last year.

Most of the victims were Rohingya.

“The ongoing intercommunal strife in Rakhine State is of grave concern,” the International Crisis Group said in a November report. “And there is the potential for similar violence elsewhere, as nationalism and ethno-nationalism rise and old prejudices resurface.”

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks” are committing genocide in Myanmar.

The West has both created this movement and is silently supporting it, hoping to disrupt and ultimately drive out extensive Chinese interests found at the epicenter of the violence.

CNN’s citing of the corporate-financier funded “International Crisis Group,” which has supported and engineered similar strife elsewhere around the world, including Egypt in 2011, is particularly foreshadowing. And as in previous spates of recent violence, Aung San Suu Kyi has once again allowed opportunities to call on her own supporters to stand down, slip by in silent complicity.

Rakhine state is the site of an expanding Chinese presence, including a port and the terminal of a trans Sino-Myanmar pipeline and logistical network leading to China’s Yunnan province. The violence unfolding in Rakhine over the past months appears to be the execution of the well-documented US “String of Pearls” containment strategy versus China, and mirrors similar violence being carried out by US proxies in Pakistan.


Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks”

Similar violence in September of last year revealed the name of one of the leading “monks.” AFP’s September 2012 article, “Monks stage anti-Rohingya march in Myanmar, refers to the leader of these mobs as “a monk named Wirathu.”

However, this isn’t merely “a monk named Wirathu,” but “Sayadaw” (venerable teacher) Wirathu who has led many of “democratic champion” Aung San Suu Kyi’s political street campaigns and is often referred to by the Western media as an “activist monk.”

In March 2012, Wirathu had led a rally calling for the release of so-called “political prisoners,” so designated by US State Department funded faux-NGOs. Wirathu himself was in prison, according to AFP, for inciting hatred against Muslims, until recently released as part of an amnesty, an amnesty US State Department-funded (page 15, .pdf) Democratic Voice of Burma claims concerned only “political prisoners.”

Image: Real monks don’t do politics. The “venerable” Wirathu (front, left) leads a rally for “political prisoners” loyal to Aung San Suu Kyi’s “pro-democracy” movement in March, 2012. Wirathu himself has been often portrayed as an “activist monk” and a “political prisoner” who spent years in prison. In reality, he was arrested for his role in violent sectarian clashes in 2003, while Suu Kyi’s “pro-democracy” front is actually US-funded sedition. Wirathua has picked up right where he left off in 2003, and is now leading anti-Rohingya rallies across the country.

….

Human Rights Watch itself, in its attempt to memorialize the struggle of “Buddhism and activism in Burma” (.pdf),  admits that Wirathu was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years in prison along with other “monks” for their role in violent clashes between “Buddhists and Muslims” (page 67, .pdf). This would make Wirathu and his companions violent criminals, not “political prisoners.”

While Western news agencies have attempted to spin the recent violence as a new phenomenon implicating Aung San Suu Kyi’s political foot soldiers as genocidal bigots, in reality, the sectarian nature of her support base has been back page news for years. AFP’s recent but uncharacteristically honest portrayal of Wirathu, with an attempt to conceal his identity and role in Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron” political machine, illustrates the quandary now faced by Western propagandists as the violence flares up again, this time in front of a better informed public.

Image: An alleged monk, carries an umbrella with Aung San Suu Kyi’s image on it. These so-called monks have played a central role in building Suu Kyi’s political machine, as well as maintaining over a decade of genocidal, sectarian violence aimed at Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. Another example of US “democracy promotion” and tax dollars at work.

….

During 2007′s “Saffron Revolution,” these same so-called “monks” took to the streets in a series of bloody anti-government protests, in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and her Western-contrived political order. HRW would specifically enumerate support provided to Aung San Suu Kyi’s movement by these organizations, including the Young Monks Union (Association), now leading violence and calls for ethnic cleansing across Myanmar.

The UK Independent  in their article, “Burma’s monks call for Muslim community to be shunned,” mentions the Young Monks Association by name as involved in distributing flyers recently, demanding people not to associate with ethnic Rohingya, and attempting to block humanitarian aid from reaching Rohingya camps.

The Independent also notes calls for ethnic cleansing made by leaders of the 88 Generation Students group (BBC profile here) – who also played a pivotal role in the pro-Suu Kyi 2007 protests. “Ashin” Htawara, another “monk activist” who considers Aung San Suu Kyi,  his “special leader” and greeted her with flowers for her Oslo Noble Peace Prize address earlier this year, stated at an event in London that the Rohingya should be sent “back to their native land.”

The equivalent of Ku Klux Klan racists demanding that America’s black population be shipped back to Africa, the US State Department’s “pro-democratic” protesters in Myanmar have been revealed as habitual, violent bigots with genocidal tendencies. Their recent violence also casts doubts on Western narratives portraying the 2007 “Saffron Revolution’s” death toll as exclusively caused by government security operations.

While in late 2012 the Western media attempted to ignore the genocidal nature of Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks,” now it appears that more are catching on. The International Business Times published recently an article titled, “Burmese Bin Laden: Is Buddhist Monk Wirathu Behind Violence in Myanmar?” stating:

The shadow of controversial monk Wirathu, who has led numerous vocal campaigns against Muslims in Burma, looms large over the sectarian violence in Meikhtila.

Wirathu played an active role in stirring tensions in a Rangoon suburb in February, by spreading unfounded rumours that a local school was being developed into a mosque, according to the Democratic voice of Burma. An angry mob of about 300 Buddhists assaulted the school and other local businesses in Rangoon.

The monk, who describes himself as ‘the Burmese Bin Laden’ said that his militancy “is vital to counter aggressive expansion by Muslims”.

He was arrested in 2003 for distributing anti-Muslim leaflets and has often stirred controversy over his Islamophobic activities, which include a call for the Rhohingya and “kalar”, a pejorative term for Muslims of South Asian descent, to be expelled from Myanmar.

He has also been implicated in religious clashes in Mandalay, where a dozen people died, in several local reports.

The article also cites the Burma Campaign UK, whose director is attempting to rework the West’s narrative in Myanmar to protect their long-groomed proxy Suu Kyi, while disavowing the violence carried out by a movement they themselves have propped up, funded, and directed for many years.

Like their US-funded (and armed) counterparts in Syria, many fighting openly under the flag of sectarian extremism held aloft by international terrorist organization Al Qaeda, we see the absolute moral bankruptcy of Myanmar’s “pro-democracy” movement that has, up until now, been skillfully covered up by endless torrents of Western propaganda – Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize and recent “Chatham House Prize” all being part of the illusion. And just like in Syria, the West will continue supporting and intentionally fueling the violence while attempting to compartmentalize the crisis politically to maintain plausible deniability.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Western Proxy

In “Myanmar (Burma) “Pro-Democracy” Movement a Creation of Wall Street & London,” it was documented that Suu Kyi and organizations supporting her, including local propaganda fronts like the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio, have received millions of dollars a year from the Neo-Conservative chaired National Endowment for Democracy, convicted criminal and Wall Street speculator George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the US State Department itself, citing Britain’s own “Burma Campaign UK (.pdf).”

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1c/Rendition_of_Myitsone_Dam.jpg

Image: The Myitsone Dam, on its way to being the 15th largest in the world until construction was halted in September by a campaign led by Wall Street-puppet Aung San Suu Kyi, a stable of US-funded NGOs, and a terrorist campaign executed by armed groups operating in Kachin State, Myanmar.

….

And not only does the US State Department in tandem with Western corporate media provide Aung San Suu Kyi extensive political, financial, and rhetorical backing, they provide operational capabilities as well, allowing her opposition movement to achieve Western objectives throughout Myanmar. The latest achievement of this operational capability successfully blocked the development of Myanmar’s infrastructure by halting a joint China-Mynamar dam project that would have provided thousands of jobs, electricity, state-revenue, flood control, and enhanced river navigation for millions. Suu Kyi and her supporting network of NGOs, as well as armed militants in Myanmar’s northern provinces conducted a coordinated campaign exploiting both “environmental” and “human rights” concerns that in reality resulted in Myanmar’s continual economic and social stagnation.

The ultimate goal of course is to effect regime change not only in Myanmar, but to create a united Southeast Asian front against China. The unqualified “progress” the US claims is now being made in Myanmar moves forward in tandem with Myanmar’s opening to Western corporate-financier interests.

As reported in June, 2011′s “Collapsing China,” as far back as 1997 there was talk about developing an effective containment strategy coupled with the baited hook of luring China into its place amongst the “international order.” Just as in these 1997 talking-points where author and notorious Neo-Con policy maker Robert Kagan described the necessity of using America’s Asian “allies” as part of this containment strategy, Clinton goes through a list of regional relationships the US is trying to cultivate to maintain “American leadership” in Asia.

Image: (Top) The “Lilliputians” though small in stature were collectively able to tie down the larger Gulliver from the literary classic “Gulliver’s Travels.” In the same manner, the US wants to use smaller Southeast Asian nations to “tie down” the larger China. (Bottom) From SSI’s 2006 “String of Pearls” report detailing a strategy of containment for China. While “democracy,” “freedom,” and “human rights” will mask the ascension of Aung San Suu Kyi and others into power, it is part of a region-wide campaign to overthrow nationalist elements and install client regimes in order to encircle and contain China.

….

The US backing of puppet-regimes like that of  Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra, his sister Yingluck, or Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, installing them into power, and keeping them there is central to projecting power throughout Asia and keeping China subordinate, or as Kagan put it in his 1997 report, these proxy regimes will have China “play Gulliver to Southeast Asia’s Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and stakes.” Two of these “Lilliputians” are Yingluck Shinawatra and Aung San Suu Kyi, the rope and stakes are the street mobs and disingenuous NGOs funded by the US State Department to support their consolidation of power.

It is essential to look past the empty rhetoric of “democracy,” “human rights,” and “progress” used to justify foreign-funding and meddling to install servile autocrats like Thailand’s Thaksin, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, or even Malaysia’s proxy dictator-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, and see the greater geopolitical game at play. It is also essential to expose the disingenuous organizations, institutions, and media personalities helping promote this global corporate-fascist agenda.

With Suu Kyi’s movement now being exposed as violent, sectarian-driven mobs rather than the “pro-democracy” front it was claimed to be by its sponsors in the West, it remains to be seen whether well-meaning people worldwide turn their backs on this carefully crafted hoax and the corporate-financier interests that created it – and instead seek genuine causes that abandon political struggle for pragmatic solutions.

Unbreakable US/Israeli Ties

Longstanding US/Israeli ties remain firm. Obama's visit reinforces them. It does more. It assures continued support. It endorses hardline extremism. It affirms occupation harshness. It lets Israel do what it pleases.

Obama in Israel

His visit bodes ill, not good. He left late Tuesday night. On March 20, he arrived around noon Israeli time. Secretary of State John Kerry came earlier. Scores of officials, aides and security personnel accompanied him and Obama.

My Friend the Iraqi

My friend and I meet early for breakfast, cappuccinos and chocolate croissants at a French bakery in downtown Brooklyn, N.Y. My friend – I’ll call him Abraham — shows up in a dark suit and tie, an overcoat and a top hat, minus the prayer cap he sometimes wears.A photo of "Abraham," an Iraqi who became an American citizen on the anniversary of the U.S. invasion. He asked that his identity be protected. (Photo courtesy of the author)

“Are you nervous?” I ask.

“A little bit,” he says, as we walk through a rainy morning toward the courthouse.

On the way his father calls to check in, and to share news from home. Multiple bombings in Baghdad. More than 60 dead. “He’s on old man now, he deserves to live in peace.” Abraham sighs, and lights a cigarette as we cross busy Jay Street and turn the corner toward Cadman Plaza, heading toward the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Courthouse, a shiny new building a few blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge. “But just for this one morning I feel like acting like a selfish American. I don’t want to worry about it. I want to be happy.”

It’s Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 10 years to the day after the U.S. invaded Iraq and began an occupation that spawned a bloody civil war and led to one of the worst refugee crises in the Middle East in half a century. Abraham fled death threats in Baghdad to become one of those millions of refugees, and here he is today with a letter in his hand from the U.S. government confirming that he’s passed his citizenship test, and inviting him to take the oath of citizenship. And because I’ve never been to a swearing in ceremony before, and because over the years Abraham and I have developed a deep and quirky friendship that isn’t quite like any other I have in this town, here I am too.

At the courthouse we relinquish our phones and cameras at the door and pass through the metal detectors. Abraham is ushered into a packed courtroom, and I’m sent up to a crowded cafe on the floor above where other friends and relatives of soon to be naturalized Americans are sitting, waiting and watching a big-screen TV in the corner that functions as a sort of “Big Brother Courtroom,” broadcasting the proceedings downstairs in real time, which for quite some hours is also mostly people sitting, watching, waiting.

Then there’s Abraham up on the big screen, fidgeting and standing in line to pass in his old travel documents, and I feel this immense surge of feelings for the guy. For all he’s been through. For all this country has put him through, has put his family through, has put his country through. And for everything that’s been possible for him here, and what will continue to be possible for him here now. And I think, “Goddamn, he deserves this.” Goddamn, he’s an American now.

* * *

I met Abraham on a winter night about five years ago, in Astoria Queens. He’d been referred to me by a former USAID officer in Iraq who was now back in the States, who’d started an organization to track the exploding population of Iraqis who had fled the country, or were seeking to flee, because their work with the U.S. government or related companies or organizations put them at risk from the bewildering proliferation of armed groups and sectarian militias. I’d written a few articles on the topic and it was a story I wanted to keep on top of.

We ate dinner together that evening and he told me the basics; his move back to Baghdad from the Emirates after the invasion and Saddam’s ouster, hoping to take part in reconstruction. Landing a job as a translator with USAID, meeting Americans, seeing the Green Zone up close and personal. And things quickly going from bad to worse. Car bombs and shootouts, friends killed, the death threats. Then the escape: flying to Mumbai on forged documents, getting turned back and deported to Syria, then eventually to Cairo, where Abraham is arrested, tortured and imprisoned in an Egyptian jail, before finally getting registered with the U.N., and after months of living in limbo, flown to the U.S. on a refugee visa.

In many ways Abraham is one of the lucky ones. Before his first-term election, President Obama vowed massive support for Iraqi refugees, for the millions displaced throughout the region as a result of the war, and more specifically for those Iraqis who’d worked as translators, interpreters or support staff for the U.S. Army or U.S. contractors in Iraq. Now 15 months after full U.S. troop withdrawal and well into Obama’s second term, fewer than 20 percent of the special immigrant visas meant to assist these Iraqis have actually been granted, according to this recent McClatchy story, meaning that tens of thousands of Iraqis who worked directly for the U.S. remain shut out.

In New York Abraham’s first job is with the same NGO that helped him get to the States, listening to nightmare stories from displaced Iraqis around the world, and helping them try to navigate a byzantine American resettlement bureaucracy that seems structurally designed to keep as many of them out as possible.

“When Obama was reelected, I thought America was a country that corrects itself,” he tells me over dinner in the East Village a week or so before the swearing in ceremony. “But I’ve learned Americans don’t like sad stories, so I can see why they don’t want Iraqis around.”

Abraham shares a sage bit of advice he received from a fellow student at Columbia University a few years back, where he completed a masters in international human rights law. “At first I was honest when other students would ask me about Iraq — that it’s a war, that it’s bloody, violent, no end in sight. But then this friend from India told me: ‘Don’t tell them the truth. Americans don’t want to hear sad stories. They’ll peg you as the negative guy.’ And I started to see this is true. I mean, nobody wants a friend who tells you how fat you are.”

Our friendship over the years has been punctuated by dinners like this. Good food, rambling conversation, and dark Iraqi humor. No topic is off-limits: swine flu, terrorism, suicide bombings. “An American once asked me if we have cars in Iraq,” he once tells me over dinner many years ago. “I told him of course we do. How do you think we make car bombs?”

My friend’s observations on American culture and politics, often couched in humor, are consistently spot on, especially his take on a particular kind of American know-it-all-ness that plays out just as much in casual relationships as it does in a media environment where talking heads pontificating about, say, Iraq are almost never, you know, Iraqi.

“The funny thing here is that people always try to teach me about Iraq. They say, ‘Saddam was a very bad man,’ in the same way my English teacher used to say, ‘Repeat after me, very bad.’ I feel like a lot of times I’m the entrée for many Americans, because I’m ‘the good guy’ who used to work with the U.S. government. People listen to me, then they interrupt me.”

There are plenty of reasons Abraham and I have become good friends, but one of them is definitely this shared comedic sense of the absurd. One night over Korean barbecue we hatched a plan for a “Candid Camera”-style series we wanted to launch, called, “Shariah: America, Are You Ready?” We would travel to Tennessee, where a number of towns had begun to pass strict anti-Sharia ordinances to stamp out the Muslim menace, and set ourselves up in a grocery store parking lot. Abraham would wear his prayer cap and grow out his beard, and I’d throw on a full body chador to pose as his subservient wife, but more important, to operate the hidden camera. We’d ask shoppers to sign a petition in support of a pro-Shariah ordinance and watch the sparks fly.

Like many of our late-night dinner schemes it never quite got off the ground, but our shared sense of the absurd is also sometimes not so funny. Two years ago, I worked with my friend on a letter to the editor to the New York Times, ultimately never published, about his feelings as an Iraqi refugee watching the uprisings of the Arab Spring from afar. Here’s a snippet:

This spring and summer we Iraqis watched with envy as our brothers and sisters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and now Syria had their moment in history. For generations to come those societies will have stories passed down from generation to generation, about the time when the people rose up against tyranny, and claimed their democracy. The stories us Iraqis will tell our children will be quite different. They will be about what happened when American tanks rolled into Baghdad, and about how in the ensuing years the country, already scarred and debilitated after decades under Saddam’s rule, further splintered, shattered, and fell apart under a brutal occupation and the chaos that it unleashed. We Iraqis deserved a better story to pass down, but we were deprived of that right. We were deprived of our moment in history.

And yet here in America is where Abraham is choosing to make his home. And here is where he wants to bring his family so they can retire in a quiet place, so his dad can garden, so his mother can read, so they don’t have to live through weekly bombings in their final years.

* * *

Abraham walks out of the courtroom with his citizenship certificate in hand, and two colleagues greet him at the courtroom door. They’ve come as a surprise. I snap a few photos and we walk out together — they’ll be ushering him off to a “surprise” party at work that is no longer much of a surprise. Like many unexpected things about his new life in the U.S., he now works full-time at a big NGO dedicated to monitoring and fighting hate groups and hate speech, the only Muslim in an office full of New York Jews.

Which reminds me of something Abraham told me the other night, while reflecting on the road that led him to today. “It takes some real chutzpah, as we say here, for somebody to challenge me being here, as if I came here on a picnic and overstayed my visa. I’ve become American the hard way.”

© 2013 Salon.com

Joseph Huff-Hannon

Joseph Huff-Hannon is an award-winning writer and a Senior Campaigner with Avaaz.org, a global human rights and social justice campaigning network with 20+ million members. See more of his work at josephhuffhannon.com

Towards the Globalization of CIA Torture and Rendition

cia

by Jeff Lincoln

A report released in early February by the Open Society Justice Initiative titled “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition” establishes that the Central Intelligence Agency, acting under the direction of the highest levels of the US government, has utilized a global network of secret prisons, foreign intelligence agents, and interrogation and torture centers to send detainees to without any legal protections.

This arrangement is worldwide and includes the involvement of at least 54 different countries touching almost every continent.

There is enormous diversity among the countries involved. They include Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and Jordan, which carried out the torture on suspects that the CIA rendered to them. Poland, Lithuania, Romania and Thailand hosted secret prisons operated by the CIA where detainees could be held clandestinely and have interrogations or torture conducted directly by American intelligence operatives.

European nations such as Macedonia, Georgia, and Sweden detained and delivered suspects to the CIA to be tortured. Larger countries such as Britain or Germany conducted some of the interrogations themselves while smaller countries such as Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, or Greece provided intelligence, logistical support, use of airspace, etc.

On the whole, the report stands as an indictment against all of Washington’s allies and client states in its self-proclaimed “war on terror.”

The Australian government stands implicated in the rendition of Mamdouh Habib, an Australian national, to Egypt where he was tortured and then later transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he was detained until he was released without charge in 2005.

Egypt stands as the country that has interrogated, tortured and abused the most people subject to extraordinary rendition. The relationship between the US and Egypt dates back to the Clinton administration that used the country almost exclusively for its rendition program, which was dramatically ramped up after September 11, 2001.

Italy’s secret services played a role in the abduction of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric who was previously given asylum in Italy but was abducted in Milan in 2003; he was then placed on a flight to Egypt. Italian authorities authorized some 46 stopovers by CIA operated aircraft at Italian airports.

The United Kingdom, the country that enjoys the closest relationship with US imperialism, has extensive involvement with America’s rendition program. In addition to providing airspace, MI6 and other British intelligence worked hand in glove with the CIA to abduct and interrogate suspects. Omar Deghayes, a Libyan national but a British resident was arrested in 2002 and transported by US and British intelligence agents to Bagram, where he was subjected to abuse. After interrogation by MI5 agents, he was sent to Guantanamo where he underwent further physical abuse, suffering a broken finger, a broken nose, and damage to his right eye.

In 2004, the British government arranged to have a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Sami al-Saadi, rendered into Libyan custody by approaching him in China and convincing him to fly to the British embassy in Hong Kong where he would be allowed to return to the UK. Instead, his whole family was taken into custody in Hong Kong and flown over to Libya where Mr. al-Saadi remained for six years and was subjected to torture by physical beatings and electric shocks.

While the report sheds some light on what countries are involved, the numbers of individuals subjected to rendition remains unknown. By 2005, it is estimated that about 150 persons were rendered to foreign countries according to admissions made by then-president George W. Bush. The real number is likely much higher, as Egypt alone has had to acknowledge that it received sixty to seventy terror suspects since September 11, 2001. Human Rights Watch has attempted to compile a list of persons who have been held in CIA prisons, and they have identified almost forty people who have either gone missing or whose whereabouts are unknown.

There are dozens more countries detailed in the report than just the ones mentioned above. Still, the report is extremely limited in scope in that it does not document transfers or detentions by any agency other than the CIA. It does not include the detention practices of the Defense Department, for example, and its notorious facilities in Guantanamo Bay or Afghanistan. Moreover, what is known is only based on the experiences of 139 individuals who have been released from custody. Nevertheless, it is now clear that the US government has been running a detention and “enhanced interrogation” operation with tentacles that span the globe.

It appears likely that the United States intentionally sought out the widespread involvement of so many countries to ensure that those who might later nominally reject these practices would themselves be so implicated that they would be unwilling to publicly expose the details of Washington’s dirty deeds.

Indeed, none of the countries mentioned in the report, save one, has even admitted any culpability for their participation in gross human rights violations. The lone exception is Canada, which assisted in the rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar in 2002 to Syria where he was tortured. A hastily conducted commission placed blame on the Royal Mounted Police but absolved those higher up in government of any responsibility. Other nations, such as Britain, Sweden and Australia have quietly settled lawsuits alleging their participation but have made no admission of liability.

As a matter of fact, far from acknowledging their complicity in abduction, rendition, and torture, many of the countries in the report were publicly denouncing these practices by the US government at the same time they were secretly abetting them.

A number of liberal and human rights organizations have reacted to the revelations in the Open Society Justice Initiative report by calling for and supporting the efforts of international tribunals to hear cases brought against officials of some of the countries complicit in assisting in the rendition of persons by the US Government.

While there are some actions pending in the European Court of Human Rights and other high courts against some of the countries named in the report for their role in assisting in rendition, the cases will have no impact on the operations of the CIA.

Setting aside the obvious fact that cases can only be brought by individuals whom the CIA has already decided to release, the outcome of these actions hinge on the narrow issue of the extent to which the participating countries knew or should have known torture was likely to occur. This glosses over the more fundamental issue that, unlike extradition, extraordinary rendition is, by definition, a transfer without legal process. In fact, the whole CIA program is designed to place detainee interrogations completely beyond the reach of law. Moreover, the US government has refused to recognize the jurisdiction of international courts of human rights.

President Barack Obama for his part, despite making claims of reversing the Bush-era CIA policies, has further escalated the crimes committed by his predecessor.

In January 2009, Obama issued a series of executive orders that purported to close down then existing CIA detention facilities and also created a task force to examine rendition practices and make recommendations to ensure humane treatment. These orders were nothing more than a sham to conceal the fact that, rather than restricting the ability of the CIA to conduct extraordinary renditions, the orders were purposely crafted to preserve it.

While Obama has ordered the CIA to shut down certain detention facilities, the directive specifically exempts facilities designed to hold people on a temporary or transitory basis. In other words, the executive order essentially codifies the CIA’s authority to detain suspects and then to render them to other countries to face interrogation, trial, or worse. Furthermore, if the CIA wanted the detainees to remain in the custody of the United States, they could be sent to a facility operated by the Department of Defense or kept offshore on a Navy vessel.

The task force created by Obama’s order functions merely as a fig leaf for the continuation of Bush-era policies. The report, which was completed in 2009, has not been made public and is not binding on any agency. However, as an example of its toothlessness, a Justice Department press release disclosed that one of the recommended safeguards was relying on assurances from the receiving country that the detainees would be treated humanely.

The Justice Department under Obama appointee Eric Holder has closed inquiries into the treatment of over 100 detainees who were in CIA custody overseas, including several who died while in custody, stating that no criminal charges would be pursued.

Arundhati Roy on Iraq War’s 10th: Bush May Be Gone, But “Psychosis” of US...

Amy Goodman: March 19th marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. According to a new report by Brown University, a decade of war led to the deaths of roughly 134,000 Iraqi civilians and potentially contributed to the deaths of many hundreds of thousands more. According to the report, the Iraq War has cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion, including half-a-trillion dollars in benefits owed to veterans. The report says the war has devastated rather than helped Iraq, spurring militant violence, setting back women’s rights and hurting the healthcare system. Most of the more than $200 billion supposedly set aside for reconstruction in Iraq was actually used for security or lost amid rampant fraud and waste. Many in Iraq continue to suffer the consequences of the invasion. This is Basma Najem, whose husband was shot dead by U.S. forces in Basra in 2011.

Basma Najem: [translated] We expected that we would live in a better situation when the occupation forces, the U.S. forces, came to Iraq. We expected that the situation would be improved. But contrary to our expectation, the situation deteriorated. And at the end, I lost my husband. I have no breadwinner in this world now, and I have six kids. I could not imagine my life would be changed like this. I do not know how it happened.

Amy Goodman: The consequences of the war are still visible here in the United States, as well. Military veterans continue to face extremely high levels of unemployment, traumatic brain injury, PTSDand homelessness. Almost a quarter of recent veterans come home injured either physically or emotionally, and an estimated 18 veterans commit suicide every day. This is Ed Colley, whose son, Army Private Stephen Colley, took his own life in 2007.

Edward Colley: We lost our son shortly after he returned from Iraq. He had asked for help, but he didn’t get the help that he needed. And clearly, he was trying to do what he could for himself and could think of no other cure, obviously, than to take his own life.

Amy Goodman: To talk more about this 10th anniversary, we’re joined by the award-winning writer and activist Arundhati Roy, one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq War. In a moment, she’ll join us from Chicago. But first let’s go back to 2003 to a speech she gave at Riverside Church here in New York.

Arundhati Roy: When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported al-Qaeda. None of this opinion is based on evidence, because there isn’t any. All of it is based on insinuation or to suggestion and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the "free press," that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests. Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multitiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.

Apart from the invented links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, we had the manufactured frenzy about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. George Bush the Lesser went to the extent—went to the extent of saying it would be suicidal for Iraq—for the U.S. not to attack Iraq. We once again witnessed the paranoia that a starved, bombed, besieged country was about to annihilate almighty America. Iraq was only the latest in a succession of countries. Earlier, there was Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya, Granada, Panama. But this time it wasn’t just your ordinary brand of friendly neighborhood frenzy. It was frenzy with a purpose. It ushered in an old doctrine in a new bottle: the doctrine of preemptive strike, also known as the United States can do whatever the hell it wants, and that’s official. The war against Iraq has been fought and won, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found, not even a little one.

Amy Goodman: Arundhati Roy, speaking in October of 2003 at Riverside Church here in New York, seven months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Arundhati has written many books, including The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize. Her other books include Walking with the Comrades and Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, among others. She now joins us from Chicago.

Arundhati Roy, welcome to Democracy Now! As you watch yourself 10 years ago and reflect back 10 years ago to this week when the U.S. invaded Iraq, your thoughts today?

Arundhati Roy: Well, Amy, before that, we remember how—I think it was 50 million people across the world who marched against the war in Iraq. It was perhaps the biggest display of public morality in the world—you know, I mean, before the war happened. Before the war happened, everybody knew that they were being fed lies. I remember saying, you know, it’s just the quality of the lies that is so insulting, because we are being—used to being lied to.

But, unfortunately, now, all these years later, we have to ask ourselves two questions. One is: Who benefited from this war? You know, we know who paid the price. I heard—I heard you talking about that, so I won’t get into that again. But who benefited from this war? Did the U.S. government? Did the U.S. people benefit? Did they get the oil contracts that they wanted, in the way that they wanted? The answer is no. And yet, today you hear Dick Cheney saying he would do it all over again in a second.

So, unfortunately, we are dealing with psychosis. We are dealing with a psychopathic situation. And all of us, including myself, we can’t do anything but keep being reasonable, keep saying what needs to be said. But that doesn’t seem to help the situation, because, of course, as we know, after Iraq, there’s been Libya, there’s Syria, and the rhetoric of, you know, democracy versus radical Islam. When you look at the countries that were attacked, none of them were Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalist countries. Those ones are supported, financed by the U.S., so there is a real collusion between radical Islam and capitalism. What is going on is really a different kind of battle.

And, you know, most people are led up a path which keeps them busy. And in a way, all of us are being kept busy, while the real business at the heart of it—I mean, apart from the people who suffered during the war. Let’s not forget the sanctions. Let’s not forget Madeleine Albright saying that a million children dying in Iraq because of the sanctions was a hard price but worth it. I mean, she was the victim, it seems, of the sanctions; you know, her softness was called upon, and she had to brazen herself to do it. And today, you have the Democrats bombing Pakistan, destroying that country, too. So, just in this last decade, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria—all these countries have been—have been shattered.

You know, we heard a lot about why—you know, the war in Afghanistan was fought for feminist reasons, and the Marines were really on this feminist mission. But today, all the women in all these countries have been driven back into medieval situations. Women who were liberated, women who were doctors and lawyers and poets and writers and—you know, pushed back into this Shia set against Sunnis. The U.S. is supporting al-Qaeda militias all over this region and pretending that it’s fighting Islam. So we are in a situation of—it is psychopathic.

And while anyone who resisted is being given moral lessons about armed struggle or violence or whatever it is, at the heart of this operation is an immorality and a violence and a—as I keep using this word—psychopathic violence, which even the people in the United States are now suffering for. You know, there is a connection, after all, between all these wars and people being thrown out of their homes in this country. And yet, of course we know who benefits from these wars. May not be the oil contracts, but certainly the weapons industry on which this economy depends for—you know, for a great part. So, all over, even between India and Pakistan now, people are advocating war. And the weapons industry is in with the corporations in India.

So, we are really being made fools of. You know, this is what is so insulting. We are being, you know, given lessons in morality while tens of thousands are being killed, while whole countries are shattered, while whole civilizations are driven back decades, if not centuries. And everything continues as normal. And you have—you have people, like criminals, really, like Cheney, saying, "I’ll do it again. I’ll do it again. I won’t think about it. I’ll do it again." And so that’s the situation we are in now.

Amy Goodman: Arundhati, a decade after the invasion of Iraq, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood by his decision to go to war, saying it saved Iraq from a fate worse than Syria’s at the moment.

Tony Blair: I think if we’d—if we’d backed off and we’d left him in power, you just imagine, with what is happening in Syria now, if you’d left Saddam in charge of Iraq, you would have had carnage on an even worse scale in Syria and with no end in sight. So, you know, this was the most difficult decision I ever took and the most balanced decision. But I still—personally, I still believe we were better to remove him than leave him.

Amy Goodman: That was British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former prime minister. Arundhati Roy, your response?

Arundhati Roy: Well, you know, I don’t know. Maybe they need to be put into a padded cell and given some real news to read, you know? I mean, how can you say this, after creating a situation in Iraq where no—I mean, every day people are being blown up? There are—you know, mosques are being attacked. Thousands are being killed. People have been made to hate each other. In Iraq, women were amongst the most liberated women in the world, and they have been driven back into having to wear burqas and be safe, because of the situation. And this man is saying, "Oh, we did such a wonderful thing. We saved these people." Now, isn’t that like—isn’t it insane? I mean, I don’t know how to respond to something like that, because it’s like somebody looking at somebody being slaughtered and saying, "Oh, he must be enjoying it. We are really helping him," you know? So, how do you argue rationally against these people?

Amy Goodman: Can you—

Arundhati Roy: We just have to think about what we need to do, you know? But we can’t have a conversation with them in this—at this point.

Amy Goodman: Do you see President Obama going in a different direction?

Arundhati Roy: Of course not. I don’t see him going in a different direction at all. I mean, the real question to ask is: When was the last time the United States won a war? You know, it lost in Vietnam. It’s lost in Afghanistan. It’s lost in Iraq. And it will not be able to contain the situation. It is hemorrhaging. It is now—you know, of course you can continue with drone attacks, and you can continue these targeted killings, but on the ground, a situation is being created which no army—not America, not anybody—can control. And it’s just, you know, a combination of such foolishness, such a lack of understanding of culture in the world.

And Obama just goes on, you know, coming out with these smooth, mercurial sentences that are completely meaningless. I was—I remember when he was sworn in for the second time, and he came on stage with his daughters and his wife, and it was all really nice, and he said, you know, "Should my daughters have another dog, or should they not?" And a man who had lost his entire family in the drone attacks just a couple of weeks ago said, "What am I supposed to think? What am I supposed to think of this exhibition of love and family values and good fatherhood and good husbandhood?" I mean, we’re not morons, you know? It’s about time that we stopped acting so reasonable. I just don’t feel reasonable about this anymore.

Amy Goodman: We’re going to break and then come back and talk about what’s happening in Kashmir, a place you’ve been focusing on recently, Arundhati. Arundhati Roy is the award-winning writer, renowned global justice activist. Among her books, The God of Small Things, her most recent book, Walking with the Comrades, and Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

10 Years After the War in Iraq, the Same Political Forces are Planning a...


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Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Wilkerson Report with Lawrence Wilkerson, who now joins us.Larry was former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He's currently an adjunct professor of government at the College of William & Mary. And he's a regular contributor.Thanks very much for joining us, Larry.COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO COLIN POWELL: Thanks for having me, Paul.JAY: So ten�years ago you were very involved in Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations. You were in the midst of all the preparations and politics for the Iraq War. And I'm not going to actually ask you again about that. You and I have discussed that many times, and down below this video player or next to it you'll find a link to a whole series of interviews we've done with Larry about that.But I want to talk about more today on what we have or have not learnt from the Iraq War and how it began. So I guess the simple question to kick off, Larry, is: could it all happen again?WILKERSON: Unfortunately, Paul, I think it could, and probably at the hands of some of the very same people, the neoconservatives in general. But the Richard Perles, the Bill Kristols, the other people like them could march us into war, another catastrophic war, in Western Asia, this time with Iran.JAY: Now, last time, they had this document called the Project for a New American Century, which kind of set a tone, I think, for the Bush administration, the idea that the United States should use its overwhelming superiority in military power to sort of reshape the world as it likes. And it really came down to the issue of regime change. And one could manipulate the media and the intelligence in whatever way was necessary to achieve that. Is that still the agenda?WILKERSON: I think that's basically the game plan. It's a little more sophisticated this time, as you might suspect. They learned a little bit. And it features some new characters. But it's basically the same plotting, careful, methodical use of the media, use of the Congress, use of Israel and AIPAC, use of all the instruments that they can get their hands on to kind of prod the American people, and mostly, of course, the administration, into a point where it doesn't really have any choice but to go to war with Iran.Now, that said, I'm confident here lately--at least, I'm more confident and I'm guardedly optimistic that we're going to stop it, partly because it's a different administration, partly because the American people are war-weary, partly because they are sick and tired also of fiscal irresponsibility and trillions of dollars going down the drain, but in many respects because they are beginning to realize just how badly, how truly badly we have messed up Iraq and Afghanistan and how much that has hurt our prestige and real power in the world.JAY: So is it fair to say, now that you can look back ten�years--and, again, we'll bring it back to current time--that the die was set when the Bush-Cheney administration was elected? They already knew they wanted to find an excuse, a way, a rationale for regime change in Iraq that would be the first in a set of dominoes, which would include Syria, which would include Iran. I'm not so sure they actually cared about Libya at the time. That sort of fell into place. But they would say kind of--or do anything to achieve that agenda.WILKERSON: I think that's true. Various ones of them, whether you're talking about Paul Wolfowitz or Bill Kristol or Richard Perle or Douglas Feith or whatever, or the ultimate non-neoconservative but ultranationalist Dick Cheney, whose single-man documentary is making its way ponderously across Showtime right now, you'd get a different angle, a different perspective, and maybe a different force behind it. But basically it's about pushing American power across the face of the globe at anyone who gets in our way.JAY: And the group that recently--I don't know. I don't think they've actually passed this resolution in the Senate yet, but Lindsey Graham is pushing this resolution that essentially says that if Israel attacks Iran, then the United States has to come to the defense of Israel. Am I reading that right? 'Cause doesn't that mean that Israel gets to decide what war the United States participates in?WILKERSON: You're reading it right, Paul. You're reading that a senator of the United States Congress wants to surrender the sovereign war power of the United States of America to another state, in this case Israel.JAY: Now, the alliance of forces that helped bring us the Iraq War was not just the neocons, though. At the same time we're running this interview, we're running an interview we did with Michael Ratner, and he focused to a large extent on the role The New York Times played in all of this. Is that kind of, you know, unholy alliance, if you will, also still there to be had, in other words, forces that like to describe themself as liberals teaming up with neocons to bring us a war?WILKERSON: I think that's true. I think you've got oil interest who are behind it. I think you've got people who are on the right wing, like AIPAC, who are behind it. You've got people who are messianic about freedom and democracy.But let me just address that last point you made about liberals. Paul, I was in New York City at Temple Emmanual, which is the synagogue in Great Neck, New York, Saturday, Friday and Saturday. And Friday night, after having Shabbat dinner and then going into the synagogue service with them, they asked me to speak, and I spoke. And my subject was we need not be enemies, Iran and the U.S., in the 21st century.And I will tell you that I got an overwhelming feeling in both conversation afterwards, in the Q&A, and their response during my general remarks that that community is very much opposed to war with Iran, very much opposed to the current situation that seems to be marching us there. So this is a liberal Jewish community, very affluent, very, shall we say, comfortable, taking care of themselves in that area of the world--got their schools there and everything, doing a good job, basically looking after one another, warm, hospitable community that's very much opposed to war with Iran. So I think it's unfair, for example, to say that the bulk of America's Jewish community is marching along with these neoconservatives.JAY: That brings up an interesting point, which was back in 2003--I guess it was on February�15, before the war, there was massive protests around the world, in the tens of millions of people if you add it all up, I think the greatest antiwar protest in the history of the world.WILKERSON: I was in London and saw some of it there, and I can tell you it was awesome.JAY: And did it have any influence at all? I mean, the war went ahead. Does an administration pay attention to such a thing?WILKERSON: Well, that administration didn't. And that brings up another point, Paul. You know, I lived through the '60s. You did, too. I saw the rage generated by the war in which I participated. And I've talked to many who either participated in that war or participated in that rage. And, frankly, I have a lot of respect for the people who participated in the rage part, particularly people like Mohammed Ali, Cassius Clay, who actually went to prison for his beliefs. They were right, and basically I was wrong.And I don't see that rage today. I do not see people standing up and going out in the streets and saying, stop this silliness, stop this murder, stop this slaughter, stop sending less than 1�percent of America's citizens, most of whom are socio-economically determined, to war and to death and to horrible wounds. I just don't see the rage. And I wonder what's happening to this country that it's become so apathetic.JAY: Well, some people argue it's--now, at least, it's partly because there's a Democratic Party in power and the president sounds like he's more rational about all these things. But, in fact, what's going on even still in Afghanistan, one would think there'd be a more serious antiwar movement about that, and you don't see it. How much of that is because it's a Democrat and not a Republican?WILKERSON: I'm sure that's part of it. And the Democrats are trapped, of course, in their own political need for not showing any ankle, any weakness at all on the issue of national security now that they seem to be balancing the polls or even maybe ahead in the polls with the Republicans.But that said, too, someone somewhere in here--and it ought to be the American people--have got to pull this back from polls and politics and put it back in the venue of the interests of this country, the ultimate interest of this country. And once that's done, I think we probably could right the ship of state, so to speak, and get it back on a more palatable course. But I think it's going to take the people. I don't see any moral courage, with very few exceptions--Angus King from Maine, for example, the independent from Vermont, maybe one or two--Jones from North Carolina. I don't see--other than these sort of mavericks, I don't see any moral courage amongst the leadership of this country. So I have to turn to the American people and say, over to you; it's your turn.JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Larry.WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Paul.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

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Iraq After Ten Years

March 19, 2013. Ten years ago today the Bush regime invaded Iraq. It is known that the justification for the invasion was a packet of lies orchestrated by the neoconservative Bush regime in order to deceive the United Nations and the American people.

UN Human Rights Council: America’s Imperial Tool

With few exceptions, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) marches in lockstep with Washington. It does so shamelessly. Poland's Remigiusz Henczel serves as president. America's waging hot war on Syria. It does so politically, economically and other ways against Iran.

America’s Dirty War in Iraq

America wages wars dirty. They're all unprincipled and lawless. It's official policy. Exceptions don't exist. No-holds-barred barbarism is longstanding.

The Threat of the Imperial Presidency

President Obama prepares to board Air Force 1. (AP Photo)Civil libertarians, human rights advocates and peace advocates should insist on a renewed congressional assertion of its power under the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, to take part in declaring war. Among the many reasons for this reassertion is that social movements typically have greater influence over elected congressional representatives than over the more remote and secretive executive branch.

Historically, American presidents have “encroached on Congress’s war making responsibilities, leaving the legislative branch increasingly irrelevent,” according to an analysis by Bennett Ramberg, a former State Department analyst in the first Bush administration.

Recent hearings by the Senate Intelligence Committee on CIA director John Brennan’s authority and the House Judiciary Committee into drones are at least momentary signs that Congress may be ready to reclaim some of its powers. Statements by President Obama literally asking Congress to write “new legal architecture” to “rein in” his presidency and those of his successors, are clear indications that the growth of an Imperial Presidency may be limited. The bipartisan vote of nearly 300 House members against the administration’s launching of the six-month 2011 Libyan war is the most concrete example of legislative unease.

As Congress considers its options, it is crucial that the public be included in a rightful role. The public sends its sons and daughters to risk their lives in war, pays the taxes that fund those wars and accepts the burden of debt, the paring back of social programs and restrictions on civil liberties in the name of war. The public has a right to know, obtained through public debate and public elections, the rationale, the costs and the predicted outcomes of any military venture. James Madison, cited by Ramberg, gave the reason centuries ago: “Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued or concluded.”

Section 4(b) of the War Powers Resolution mandates that “the President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad.” Yet only insistent congressional pressure has forced the Obama administration to disclose some of its internal legal memoranda concerning drones, apparently in exchange for senate approval of Brennan’s nomination. It continues to resist the spirit of Section 4(b).

Hopefully, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) will take up the reform of war-making powers as a major priority. Already, one of the CPC’s co-chairs, Representative Keith Ellison, has expressed the need to reform and reverse the administration’s secret drone war. In the Senate, strong leadership on transparency has come from Senator Ron Wyden. Libertarian Republican senator Rand Paul is demanding to know whether the White House will unleash drone strikes on American citizens. Longtime activist groups like Code Pink suddenly are finding themselves in the center of a national conversation.

Three senators who voted for Brennan’s confirmation—Wyden, Mark Udall and Susan Collins—also issued a call on March 5 “to bring the American people into this debate and for Congress to consider ways to ensure that the president’s sweeping authorities are subject to appropriate limitations, oversight and safeguards.”

By most accounts, this fuss over the Imperial Rresidency wasn’t supposed to be happening. The drone wars were supposed to be cheap for the taxpayer, erase American military casualties and hammer the terrorists into peace negotiations. The assassination of Osama bin Ladin was supposed to be the turning point. But even with the wars being low-intensity and low-visibility, the “secrets” have remained in the public eye, especially the drone war.

From a peace movement perspective, pressure from anywhere for any steps that will complicate and eventually choke off the unfettered use of drones will be an improvement over the status quo.

From a peace movement perspective, pressure from anywhere for any steps that will complicate and eventually choke off the unfettered use of drones will be an improvement over the status quo. For some, like Ramberg, a reform of the 1973 War Powers Act is overdue. That resolution, which passed during an uproar against the Nixon presidency, actually conceded war-making power to the president for a two-month period before requiring congressional authorization. The original 1973 Senate version of the war-powers bill, before it was watered down, required congressional authorization except in the case of armed attack on the US or the necessity of immediate citizen evacuation. No president has ever signed the war powers legislation, on the grounds that it encroaches on the executive branch, although most presidents have voluntarily abided by its requirements.

Ramberg lists the US military actions undertaken after the War Powers Resolution “with minimal or no congressional consultation,” as: Mayaguez (1975), Iran hostage rescue action (1980), El Salvador (1981), Lebanon (1982), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), Panama (1989), Iraq (May 1991, 1993), Somalia (1993) Bosnia (1993-95), Haiti (1993, 2004) and Kosovo (1999), leaving out Sudan (1998) and the dubious authorizations for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The immediate issue ripe for attention is the drone policy, conducted especially in Pakistan by the CIA in utter secrecy, but also spreading through Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Mali.

Drone attacks clearly are acts of war as defined by the War Powers Resolution, although the WPR was written mainly to contain the deployment of American ground forces. The drone war rests more squarely on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the underlying legal rationale for the “global war on terrorism.”

The challenge of reform, as opposed to emergency tinkering, will require prolonged efforts to amend and clarify both the WPR and AUMF. Allowing any president a sixty-day period before seeking congressional authorization, as the WPR does, makes no sense in drone warfare. Instead, the president should be required to seek congressional permission if he wishes to target a clearly definable “enemy,” and be required to issue public guidelines, including necessary disclosure, governing the use of force he contemplates. That means:

First, Congress should establish a special inspector general, like the SIGUR created for Iraq and Afghanistan, to define, monitor and determine civilian casualties (“collateral damage”) from drone strikes. Currently that information is collected by the CIA, which has a conflict of interest, not to mention a curtain of secrecy.

Second, Congress will need to draft guidelines sharply narrowing—or even banning—the use of “signature strikes,” which permit drone attacks against targets profiled according to identity, such as young males of military age (which could be civilians, participants in a wedding or funeral, etc.).

The open window for “reining in” the president’s executive powers could close at any time.

Third, Congress or the courts will have to restore the open-ended concept of “imminent threat” to its traditional meaning, as an immediate operational threat aimed at American citizens, US territory or facilities. Under the elastic formulation employed by Brennan and others, the simple fact of ill-defined jihadists holding meetings anywhere on the planet is an “imminent threat” justifying military action. And according to the CIA interpretation, the threat is a “continuous” one, carrying over from war to war. But if every “potential” threat is defined as “imminent,” and all the threats are continuous, the CIA, Special Forces and American military will be spread thin indeed from the jungles of the Philippines to the ghettos of Britain.

The 2001 AUMF was written to justify the unofficial military doctrine of the “long war,” developed by counterinsurgency advisers to General David Petraeus and the State Department, like David Kilcullen, who project a conflict of fifty- to eighty-years’ duration against ill-defined Muslim fundamentalists. The designated targets of the AUMF are “Al Qaeda” and “associated” terrorist groups. That overly broad definition authorizes a global war in the shadows against forces whose actual links to Al Qaeda are difficult to discern and who may or may not be threats against the United States. If targeted by the United States, however, the likelihood of their becoming threats will only increase.

A recent example in a long list of these targets is Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the 40-year-old Algerian who may or may not have been killed last week in Chad. Belmokhtar allegedly carried out the January attack on an Algerian gas plant in which thirty-seven foreign hostages died. He did so in retaliation against France’s military intervention in its former colony of Mali, and against Algeria’s siding with Western counterterrorism policies. Otherwise, Belmokhtar was nicknamed the “Marlboro Man” because of his decades-long involvement in smuggling cigarettes. Ten years ago he led one faction of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, before breaking away to form his own force in the Sahel.

The question is whether the 2001 AUMF was written to cover a regional warlord like the “Marlboro Man” whose history is “smuggling, kidnapping and fighting for decades in the Sahel,” or whether it is being used as a blanket authorization for official kill lists and CIA drone assassins everywhere.

Finally, Congress should commission an independent body to evaluate whether the war on terrorism, including the drone attacks, has made Americans “safer.” The rise of the drones—as well as cyber-warfare—has a lulling effect on public opinion since American group operations are ending and casualties are down. But the 9/11 attacks took place unexpectedly as a result of burning grievances in the Muslim world. The official metrics of safety (e.g., how many jihadist “leaders” have been killed, whether insurgent attacks are up or down) ignore the incendiary hatred and desire for revenge building in Muslim communities suffering from remote drone attacks. A few empirical studies have shown a direct correlation between the rise of suicide bombers and US/Western occupation of Muslim lands, but the mass illusion of safety from terrorism tends to persist. A national conversation, including the forgotten ways in which we are made less safe by the war on terrorism, is sorely needed.

In perspective, the effort to prevent the restoration of an Imperial Presidency is long and politically difficult, something like reversing the mass incarceration policies and police buildups that followed the neoconservatives’ “war on gangs” campaign of the early 1990s, which the Clinton administration adopted. Many liberals in general, and Democrats in particular, cringe at being labeled “soft on crime” (or “soft on terrorism”). Some on the left, on the other hand, seem to think that the threat of terrorism is manufactured. However, if another attack should occur against the United States, the danger that a second Patriot Act will pass is real. Current US policies inadvertently provoke that possibility, with the drone strikes the equivalent of attacking a hornet’s nest. Therefore, the open window for “reining in” the president’s executive powers could close at any time. Hearings to reform of the 2001 AUMF and the 1973 WPR could not be more urgent.

© 2013 The Nation

Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden is a former state senator and leader of 1960's peace, justice and environmental movements. He currently teaches at PitzerCollege in Los Angeles. His books include The Port Huron Statement [new edition], Street Wars and The Zapatista Reader.

If Corporations Don’t Pay Taxes, Why Should You?

Go offshore young man and avoid paying taxes. Plunder at will in those foreign lands, and if you get in trouble, Uncle Sam will come rushing to your assistance, diplomatically, financially and militarily, even if you have managed to avoid paying for those government services. Just pretend you’re a multinational corporation.

That’s the honest instruction for business success provided by 60 of the largest U.S. corporations that, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, “parked a total of $166 billion offshore last year” shielding more than 40 percent of their profits from U.S. taxes. They all do it, including Microsoft, GE and pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories. Many, like GE, are so good at it that they have avoided taxes altogether in some recent years. 

But they all still expect Uncle Sam to come to their aid with military firepower in case the natives abroad get restless and nationalize their company’s assets. We still have a blockade against Cuba because Fidel Castro more than a half century ago dared seize an American-owned telephone company. During that same period, we have consistently intervened to maintain the lock of U.S. corporations on the world’s resources, continuing to the present task of making Iraq and Libya safe for our oil companies. 

America’s multinational corporations still need the Navy to protect shipping lanes and the Commerce Department to safeguard U.S. copyrights. They also expect the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department to intervene to provide bailouts and cheap money when the corporate financial swindlers get into trouble, like GE, which almost went aground when its GE Capital financial wing got caught in the great banking meltdown. 

They want a huge U.S. government to finance scientific breakthroughs, educate the future workforce, sustain the infrastructure and provide for law and order on the home front, but they just don’t feel they should have to pay for a system of governance, even though it primarily serves their corporate interests. The U.S. government exists primarily to make the world safe for multinational corporations, but those firms feel no obligation to pay for that protection in return.

Think of that perfectly legal and widespread racket when you go to pay your taxes in the next weeks, and consider that you have to make up the gap left by the big boys’ antics. Also, when you contemplate the painful cuts coming because of the sequester that undoubtedly will further destabilize the economy, remember that, as the Wall Street Journal estimated, the tax savings of just 19 of those companies would more than cover the $85 billion in spending reductions triggered by the congressional budget impasse.

The most skilled at this con game are the health care and technology companies, which, as a Senate investigation last year revealed, have become quite expert at shifting marketing rights and patents offshore to low-tax countries. Microsoft boosted its foreign holdings by $16 billion last year, and by the end of the company’s fiscal year on June 30, 2012, had $60.8 billion stashed internationally. Through creative accounting, Microsoft was able to claim that only 7 percent of its pretax profit last year was domestically generated.

Oracle increased its foreign holdings by one-third, including new subsidiaries in low-tax Ireland, and thereby was able to add a cool $272 million to the company’s bottom line by avoiding U.S. taxes. Abbott estimates that it saved $1.6 billion in U.S. taxes through its operations in more than a dozen countries. By moving $8.1 billion of its profits overseas, Abbott was able to claim a pretax loss on its U.S. operations. Johnson & Johnson, another health industry giant, has almost all of its cash—$14.8 billion out of $14.9 billion—abroad, yet still claims to be a U.S. company. 

One of the longtime leaders in offshore tax avoidance has been that once-American-as-apple-pie company GE, which in a more innocent time hired Ronald Reagan to advertise its wares. Now GE has nearly two-thirds of its jobs abroad, avoided U.S. taxes in the previous two years and has $108 billion stashed overseas.

Two years ago, President Obama appointed GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair his Jobs Council, despite the fact that Immelt had cut his company’s U.S. workforce by a fifth. GE’s expertise is no longer in appliance manufacturing, a division Immelt has tried to shed, but rather in financial manipulation. 

GE Capital was a leader in the financial scams that still haunt the U.S. economy, and Immelt has been most effective in lobbying Washington politicians to rig the tax laws to benefit his and other multinational corporations. He has created some jobs, but unfortunately, they are abroad, along with his company’s untaxed profits. 

For all these multinational corporations, the love of profit trumps loyalty to country.

© 2013 TruthDig.com

Robert Scheer

Robert Scheer is editor of Truthdig.com and a regular columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Open War Crimes: US and British-Backed Weapons Airlift From Croatia to Terrorists in Syria

It’s well known by now that the NATO and Gulf States' initial plans to overturn the sovereign state of Syria has been running behind schedule since their operation was launched two years ago. They had hoped for the sort of slam dunk which they enjoyed in overturning the country of Libya in late 2011.

This same formula could not be applied again however, so Plan B, a ground war using proxies has meant a longer drawn out conflict, with western backed terrorist groups sustaining heavy losses in their fight to topple the Assad government on behalf of NATO and its Gulf allies.

The main obstacle with Plan B is that the very idea of directly arming terrorists in Syria is not one which can be sold openly in either the US or Britain. Plan C is to draw in the UN by creating a ‘chemical weapons’ crisis in Syria, but thanks to a prominent online leak of documents relating to UK DOD contractor Britamthe British have been caught brokering a deal transferring ex-Gaddafi stocks from Libya to Syria to be blamed on Assad, paid for by Qatar. The WMD threat still remains a hard sell for western voters…

From the NATO Allied corner, something drastic needed to be done.

Whilst politicians in the West, namely those in Washington DC, London and parts of Europe, have been publicly denying that they were helping to organise running arms into Syria and issuing very public pleads for ‘humanitarian aid’ for those they identify as the Syrian Opposition, activity back stage has been furious. The debate in government and the media has been mere window dressing for the real operation being quietly carried out.

NATO Gun-running via Croatia

It can now be revealed that NATO allied nations were busy using proxy states to drive their war in Syria – putting together one of the biggest international black operation transfers of military supplies in recent history. So it’s official: large caches of hardware from the West have been transferred to the Syrian jihadist mercenary collective known as the ‘Free Syrian Army’ , ‘Syrian Rebels’, or ‘Syrian Opposition’ – depending on who you ask, a brash move which may be vehemently opposed by other UN Security Council members – namely Russia and China.

Multiple media sources reveal the details of this massive airlift comprised of 75 airplanes, and an estimated 3,000 tons of military weaponry on board has left Croatia and has already been delivered… to Syria.

It is also confirmed from these reports that Saudi Arabia has financed a large portion of this purchase secretly transported to al Qaeda and other FSA fighters – who are working with the support of the CIA, MI6 and others, along with other financial and material support of Qatar and Saudi, to further destabilise and overthrow the Assad government in Syria.

Croatia’s daily newspaper Jutarnji List reported:

From the start of November last year, till February this year, 75 planes flew out from Zagreb Airport with over 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition bound for Syrian rebels…

The newspaper, quoting diplomatic sources, says that besides Croatian weapons the planes were full with weapons from other European countries including the UK. The weapons were organised by the United States of America.

Sources say that the first few flights to leave Croatia bound for Syria with weapons were operated by Turkish Cargo, which is owned by Turkish Airlines. After those flights, Jordanian International Air Cargo took over the flights. The deal to provide arms to the rebels was made between American officials and the Croatian Ambassador to the US.

In addition to this huge gun-running operation, Croatia also appears to be guilty of either having advanced knowledge, or possibly coordinating with Syrian terrorists as evidenced by their recently withdraw all of troops from the UN observer mission in Golan Heights, indicating that the recent kidnapping by Free Syrian Army Terrorists of at least 20 UNIFIL peacekeepers in the Golan Heights was known in advance by Croatia.

The kidnapping incident may have been designed to test the UN, but also to pull Syria’s southern neighbor, Israel, even closer to the conflict, a development which would almost surely prompt the UN to declare this as trigger to a regional crisis, followed by an authorised military intervention. Pulling Israel in would also risk involving Hezbollah from Lebanon, who are already engaging in assisting Assad in training a new specialist paramilitary force in Syria to deal with urban warfare.

If it was known by Croatia, then one can only conclude that this was also known by US and British operatives as well. Both the US and Britain will naturally claim deniability as their legal out in this case, by deniability through the use of proxies makes no innocent parties when the prospect of a multi-regional war beckons as a result of the west’s financial, logistical, political, and now material involvement in the overthrow of a sovereign state and internationally recognised government.

Much worse, however, is that by employing proxies like Jordan, Croatia, Turkey,and others, the NATO allies have guaranteed long-term retribution down the road, should Syria prevail in this fight. For Syria, it is now known which countries collaborated with the West to dismantle their country. This fact alone will ensure conflict in the region for a generation.

US officials are on record as admitting to helping arrange the weapons airlift, as cited in this Feb 25, 2012 article in the New York Times:

“An official in Washington said the possibility of the transfers from the Balkans was broached last summer, when a senior Croatian official visited Washington and suggested to American officials that Croatia had many weapons available should anyone be interested in moving them to Syria’s rebels.”

Terrorist receive recoilless guns from the former Yugoslavia

Revelations are not limited to the Croatian news report, as we see the US and Europe’s mainstream media wall of silence has begun to crack, including here a recent report from London’s Daily Telegraph sent across Syria’s borders with Jordan and NATO-member Turkey. The article entitled, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’“ goes on to give further details of direct European involvement in illegal weapons running:

The United States has coordinated a massive airlift of arms to Syrian rebels from Croatia with the help of Britain and other European states, despite the continuing European Union arms embargo, it was claimed yesterday…

Decisions by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, to provide non-lethal assistance and training, announced in the past week, were preceded by much greater though less direct Western involvement in the rebel cause, according to a Croat newspaper.

The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours.

as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.

British military advisers however are known to be operating in countries bordering Syria alongside French and Americans, offering training to rebel leaders and former Syrian army officers…

… The weapons, including rocket launchers, recoil-less guns and the M79 anti-tank weapon, have been seen in rebel hands in numerous videos, and were first spotted by an arms expert Eliot Higgins, who blogs under the name Brown Moses. He traced them moving from Dera’a in the south, near the Jordanian border, to Aleppo and Idlib provinces in the north.

Hague: Denies Britain’s involvement in gun-running

It is also no big secret that Britain has deployed a significant contingent of troops and support personnel to Jordan at least as far back as Autumn 2012 as part of its ongoing ‘joint military exercises’ with the Jordan military, but this latest revelation puts into clearer perspective the overwhelming likelihood that high level British military operation have actually been involved in the transfer of arms from Jordan into the hands of the international terrorist confab of mostly foreign fighter running under the west’s media banner of “Syrian Rebels”.

Consequences for Croatia, and Britain

What Britain may be guilty of here, is cynically – and illegally, trying to side-stepping the EU embargo on arms into Syria by using the fledgling EU state of Croatia as their delivery mechanism, because Croatia does not officially join the EU until July 1, and has not implemented any binding EU legislation. This flagrant violation of both EU and international law should mean that Croatia’s entrance into the EU could be appealed by other members states willing to raise an objection, with what are now clear grounds to mount a legal challenge against Croatia.

Regardless of any EU outcomes however, Croatia at least –  is guilty of international war crimes.

International and EU Sanctions Against the US, Britain, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia

As expected, Britain’s Foreign Office denies all of the claims connecting it to the Croatian gun-running program, but if Britain is involved – even indirectly, through a proxy like Croatia, or if British military personnel are aiding and abetting these known terrorist fighters in Syria through the transfer of weaponry, then Britain can also be brought into the international legal framework to answer for what it has done behind the public’s back.

The international war crimes which are now in the public view could test the legal framework of the EU, the UN and the ICC in the Hague. The legal door is now open for charges against state actors including US, Britain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – for the crimes of illegally arming a force of foreign fighters and known terrorists in Syria – designed to destroy the country from within. Many UN resolutions, including the recent Resolution 1973 applied in Libya by the UN, have been implemented on much more spurious and shaky grounds than the overwhelming evidence available regarding Syria.

Consequences for NATO and the UN

Despite any denials in Brussels, NATO are involved through their member states Turkey and Croatia, as well as US, UK, and France from behind. Any involvement should question these country’s NATO status, or at least it begs the question what is NATO for, or even the UN, if their member states are conspiring together to subvert international law?

Moreover, Israel’s unwarranted airstrike against a Syrian Military Research facility last month was also ignored by the UN, but this is not surprising as Israel has long been allowed to operate outside of international law and norms.

If the international community does not act in this instance, then it opens the door to more brazen criminality sans borders, which could spawn similar illegal operations against Iran, opening the door to a Third World War.

US uniformed Personnel Training Rebels in Jordan

Der Spiegel also reports this week that, despite denials by Washington DC, Americans are definitely training Syrian rebels in neighboring Jordan. The reports goes on:

It is not clear if the Americans are members of the US armed forces or are part of a private contracting firm, but the trainers wear uniforms, the paper reported.

It added that the training, which also involves Jordanian intelligence officers, had been going on “for some time,” and that the rebels were being taught how to use anti-tank weaponry.

France sends ‘aid’ for Syria to Jordan

France played an integral part in the destruction of Libya in 2011, and they might also have an interest in their former colonial possessions in Syria, but it’s not clear as yet if France’s commitment to overthrowing the Assad government is on par with the US and Britain’s efforts. Back in August 2012, France had also been sending large shipments designated for Syria via Jordan, claiming that these shipment contained ‘aid and medical supplies’ – intended for Syrian refugees. Real Syrian News reported:

An Antonov 124 cargo aircraft landed at the Marka military airport in Amman on Saturday. The cargo is said to include a field hospital and medical supplies for the refugees in the Zaatari camp near the Syrian border. An A310 airliner carrying 85 French military staff and medical equipment arrived in Jordan on Thursday.

After the Croatian airlift, it’s now not a stretch to suspect that other countries could be involved in similar operations under the cover of supplying ‘humanitarian aid’.

Consequences for Jordan

The overwhelming body of evidence proves that Jordan is playing the key role as proxy and facilitator for the West’s wishes and desires to destroy the country of Syria. The consequences for Jordan, should the West’s efforts fail, is that Jordan has now exposed itself as a provocateur and enemy of both Syria, and Lebanon, and indeed Iran also. It is not know how much Jordan has been paid for its services, or what promises have been made to its royal family in exchange for facilitating the Syrian upheaval, but it cannot compensate Jordan for playing the crucial role in possibly fomenting a regional or multi-theatre global war.

Syria Crisis Planned by the US and NATO Allies Before the ‘Arab Spring’

Despite previous denials and avoiding the issue by states persons like Hillary Clinton and William Hague, it is certain that ‘al Qaeda’ terrorists are operating in Syria and receive various kinds of support from the West and their Gulf allies, and that these are many of the same terrorist who are responsible for violence and killing in Iraq. The New York Times confirmed this fact recently:

Iraqi officials said the extremists operating in Syria are in many cases the very same militants striking across their country. “We are 100 percent sure from security coordination with Syrian authorities that the wanted names that we have are the same wanted names that the Syrian authorities have, especially within the last three months,” Izzat al-Shahbandar — a close aide to the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — said in an interview on Tuesday. “Al Qaeda that is operating in Iraq is the same as that which is operating in Syria,” he said.

Bangkok based analyst, Tony Cartalucci, from Land Destroyer blog, adds another important piece of evidence in this mix, pointing out the fact that the US and its NATO operatives have been engineering the crisis in Syria well before the official ‘uprising’ began in 2011:

Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?“stated explicitly that: “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Cartalucci provides further background to support the west’s own knowledge and involvement is the current crisis:

Is there any doubt that the US has executed this plot in earnest, arming and funding sectarian extremists “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” on both Syria’s northern and southern border? Where else, if not from the West and its regional allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, could extremists be getting their weapons, cash, and logistical support from?

And of course, Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey have been long-ago identified by the US Army’s own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) as hotbeds of sectarian extremist/Al Qaeda activity – hotbeds that the West is purposefully funneling thousands of tons of weaponry through, while disingenuously claiming it is attempting to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of extremists.

The CTC’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” identified Syria’s southeastern region near Dayr Al-Zawr on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the northwestern region of Idlib near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border, as having produced the majority of fighters found crossing over into Iraq throughout the duration of the Iraq War.


Image: (Left) West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from during the US invasion/occupation. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria’s southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called “pro-democracy fighters.” These areas are now admittedly the epicenters of fighting, and more importantly, despite being historical hotbeds of Al Qaeda activity, precisely where the West is flooding with cash, weapons, and military “advisers.”

Just like in Libya where the West literally handed an entire nation to sectarian extremists, we are watching a verbatim repeat in Syria – where we are told Al Qaeda terrorists are “pro-democracy” “freedom fighters” that deserve US cash, weapons, and support, when it couldn’t be any clearer they aren’t.  

Not only has the US and UK lied to the world about their policy toward Syria and their current level of support for increasingly overt terrorists committing an array of atrocities – their latest act including the taking of over 20 UN peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights - but have revealed once again the manufactured facade that is the “War on Terror…”

Terrorist Groups Currently Active in Syria

Known terrorist groups are operating in Syria and are receiving the full backing of NATO Allies and Gulf states Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They include – but are not limited to, Saudi Intelligence-backed Jabhat al-Nusra or ‘al Nursa Front’, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group,  Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Al Baraa ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade, the jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham, the PKK (in northeast Syria), Kata’ib Mohadzherin from the Russian Caucus region - to name only a few.

Earlier reports of rogue Russian and Chechen terrorists filtering into Syria appear to be preceded by Salafists killing Sufi leaders in the Russian Federation. The Pakistan Christian Post reports:

Recently in Dagestan the Sufi spiritual leader Said Efendi Chirkeisky was killed by a suicide bomber along with a few followers. This happened in late August and the closeness to the recent attack against Sufi leaders in Tatarstan is a clear reminder that Salafism is a potent force within parts of the Russian Federation. Therefore, not surprisingly the Russian Federation is extremely alarmed by major Western powers once more working in collusion with the FSA, al-Qaeda and a whole array of Salafi terrorist organizations.

It’s worth noting also that like Libya’s new militant governor of Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, terrorist group Kata’ib Mohadzherin’s leader Airat Vakhitov was also imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002 after being captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Both were released and filtered back into fighting regions to organise al Qaeda-type Islamist groups – both active in countries which the US and NATO have been actively vying for regime change, in Libya and Syria respectively. You can draw your own conclusions here about what Guantanamo is in reality.

The same New York Times article (above) also mentions terrorists’ theocratic designs of establishing some caliphate in the region:

One Qaeda operative, a 56-year-old known as Abu Thuha who lives in the Hawija district near Kirkuk in Iraq, spoke to an Iraqi reporter for The New York Times on Tuesday. “We have experience now fighting the Americans, and more experience now with the Syrian revolution,” he said. “Our big hope is to form a Syrian-Iraqi Islamic state for all Muslims…"

It’s important to understand that such claims by any shadowy ‘al Qaeda’ figures must also be balance with the reality that these militants have been historically, and are still today, directed and funded at the highest levels of both US and Saudi intelligence, and others. When you see terror spokesman like Ayman al-Zawahri, the alleged leader of Al Qaeda, praise the Syrian fighters by referring to them as “the lions of the Levant,” in messages released exclusively via a known CIA media dissemination outlets like SITE, or INTEL CENTER, then readers should be suspicious of why it’s been released and what political effect it is designed to have.

Now that some of the scope of NATO Allies operation in Syria has been exposed to the public, perhaps political representatives, media journalist, and editors will be able to report more accurately on the Syrian crisis, and demand a withdrawl of NATO, Arab League and others country’s support for the growing and highly dangerous paramilitary and other al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups who are currently working to take power by destabilising the country of Syria.

It’s all happening out in the open now.

N. Korea rejects UN sanctions as war ghosts are conjured

Published time: March 09, 2013 08:22

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (AFP Photo / Kins)

Amid the growing tension in the Korean Peninsula, Pyongyang has formally rejected the new round of UN sanctions aimed at undermining its missile and nuclear programs. The sanctions, while trumpeted as a serious blow to North Korea, may prove futile.

The resolution passed by the UN Security Council on Friday is the fifth of its kind since 2006, when the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted its first nuclear test. Adopted in response to the third detonation of a nuclear device by North Korea, it aims to tighten financial restrictions and cargo inspections against Pyongyang.

Responding to the move, the North said in a statement by a Foreign Ministry spokesman: "The DPRK, as it did in the past, vehemently denounces and totally rejects the 'resolution on sanctions' against the DPRK, a product of the US hostile policy toward it."

"The world will clearly see what permanent position the DPRK will reinforce as a nuclear weapons state and satellite launcher as a result of the US attitude of prodding the UNSC into cooking up the 'resolution’," Pyongyang said.

The adoption of the new round of sanctions and particularly enlisting the support of China, North Korea’s sole ally, was hailed as a big step forward by some diplomats. UN Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who led the drafting of the document and negotiated with Beijing on the matter, said that "these sanctions will bite and bite hard."

The sanctions are not unlike those imposed by the US and its allies against Iran in early 2012, which some Western officials say were successful. They crippled Tehran’s oil exports and hurt its economy, which suffered from rampaging inflation. But there is some doubt that the restrictions would be effective with North Korea, which has a much more closed economy stemming from its state ideology of self-reliance.

In addition, China’s support of the sanctions on the top level may become mitigated on the level of implementation. For example, while the resolution makes inspections of cargo going to North Korea mandatory, it is up to the inspecting country to judge whether it is related to missile or nuclear development and is subject for detention.

“Really, the sanctions themselves aren’t going to make a huge difference in this conflict, and I think going along with it, whoever knows what gets decided and traded off at the back door of politics,” told RT Eric Sirotkin, co-founder of the National Campaign to End the Korean War.

A day after the UNSC resolution was adopted Beijing indicated that sanctions are not the key to easing the tension in the Korean Peninsula.

"We always believe that sanctions are not the end of Security Council actions, nor are sanctions the fundamental way to resolve the relevant issues," China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Saturday at a media conference.

He added, "The only right way to resolve the issue is to take a holistic approach and resolve the concerns of all parties involved in a comprehensive and balanced manner through dialogue and consultations."

China is far from welcoming a nuclear North Korea at its borders, but it has limited leverage on Pyongyang and cannot make it disarm through diplomatic means. However, cutting trade links and aid may result in the collapse of the regime, which would prove greater problems for China. 

Those may range from thousands of economic refugees rushing into China and stockpiles of arms looted from the North’s military depots spreading across the region all the way up to a new war. Many experts say such considerations will make Beijing reluctant in mounting pressure on its troublemaker neighbor.

The sanctions come amid heightened tension between North Korea and its opponents. The US and South Korea are conducting massive annual military games not far from North’s border, much to Pyongyang’s annoyance. The DPRK’s military command said it suspects the drills to be a cover for preparation of a real attack and threatened to response in full force, warning that North Korea will not share the fate of Balkans, Iraq or Libya.

North Korea also announced Friday that it is withdrawing from the armistice agreement which ended the war in 1953. It is the sixth time since 1994 that Pyongyang has done so, each of the episodes linked to some violent conflict or escalation of tensions between the two Koreas. Seoul never signed the document.

Friday’ pull-out from the non-aggression pact is accompanied with the severing of a hotline between Pyongyang and Seoul. This may have dangerous and absolutely unintended ramifications.

“Even though none of the countries, none of the parties want a full-scale war, any small incident in the Korean Peninsula could lead to both sides stepping on the escalation ladder. That’s how wars start, even when there’s no intention for war,” anti-war activist Brian Becker told RT.

“The need now is to reduce tensions, and the onus for that is not on North Korea, which is not threatening the US. It’s the US that should stop carrying out war games simulating the invasion and bombing of North Korea and lift sanctions,” he said.


Mission Unaccomplished: Why the Invasion of Iraq Was the Single Worst Foreign Policy Decision...

I was there. And “there” was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness -- and oh yes, it was madness -- not filtered through a complacent and sleepy media that made Washington’s war policy seem, if not sensible, at least sane and serious enough. I stood at Ground Zero of what was intended to be the new centerpiece for a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the invasion of Iraq turned out to be a joke. Not for the Iraqis, of course, and not for American soldiers, and not the ha-ha sort of joke either. And here’s the saddest truth of all: on March 20th as we mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion from hell, we still don’t get it. In case you want to jump to the punch line, though, it’s this: by invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined at the time. And we -- and so many others -- will pay the price for it for a long, long time.

The Madness of King George

It’s easy to forget just how normal the madness looked back then. By 2009, when I arrived in Iraq, we were already at the last-gasp moment when it came to salvaging something from what may yet be seen as the single worst foreign policy decision in American history. It was then that, as a State Department officer assigned to lead two provincial reconstruction teams in eastern Iraq, I first walked into the chicken processing plant in the middle of nowhere.

"By invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined at the time. And we -- and so many others -- will pay the price for it for a long, long time."

By then, the U.S. “reconstruction” plan for that country was drowning in rivers of money foolishly spent. As the centerpiece for those American efforts -- at least after Plan A, that our invading troops would be greeted with flowers and sweets as liberators, crashed and burned -- we had managed to reconstruct nothing of significance. First conceived as a Marshall Plan for the New American Century, six long years later it had devolved into farce.

In my act of the play, the U.S. spent some $2.2 million dollars to build a huge facility in the boondocks. Ignoring the stark reality that Iraqis had raised and sold chickens locally for some 2,000 years, the U.S. decided to finance the construction of a central processing facility, have the Iraqis running the plant purchase local chickens, pluck them and slice them up with complex machinery brought in from Chicago, package the breasts and wings in plastic wrap, and then truck it all to local grocery stores. Perhaps it was the desert heat, but this made sense at the time, and the plan was supported by the Army, the State Department, and the White House.

Elegant in conception, at least to us, it failed to account for a few simple things, like a lack of regular electricity, or logistics systems to bring the chickens to and from the plant, or working capital, or... um... grocery stores. As a result, the gleaming $2.2 million plant processed no chickens. To use a few of the catchwords of that moment, it transformed nothing, empowered no one, stabilized and economically uplifted not a single Iraqi. It just sat there empty, dark, and unused in the middle of the desert. Like the chickens, we were plucked.

In keeping with the madness of the times, however, the simple fact that the plant failed to meet any of its real-world goals did not mean the project wasn't a success. In fact, the factory was a hit with the U.S. media. After all, for every propaganda-driven visit to the plant, my group stocked the place with hastily purchased chickens, geared up the machinery, and put on a dog-and-pony, er, chicken-and-rooster, show.

In the dark humor of that moment, we christened the place the Potemkin Chicken Factory. In between media and VIP visits, it sat in the dark, only to rise with the rooster’s cry each morning some camera crew came out for a visit. Our factory was thus considered a great success. Robert Ford, then at the Baghdad Embassy and now America's rugged shadow ambassador to Syria, said his visit was the best day out he enjoyed in Iraq. General Ray Odierno, then commanding all U.S. forces in Iraq, sent bloggers and camp followers to view the victory project. Some of the propaganda, which proclaimed that “teaching Iraqis methods to flourish on their own gives them the ability to provide their own stability without needing to rely on Americans,” is still online (including this charming image of American-Iraqi mentorship, a particular favorite of mine).

We weren’t stupid, mind you. In fact, we all felt smart and clever enough to learn to look the other way. The chicken plant was a funny story at first, a kind of insider’s joke you all think you know the punch line to. Hey, we wasted some money, but $2.2 million was a small amount in a war whose costs will someday be toted up in the trillions. Really, at the end of the day, what was the harm?

The harm was this: we wanted to leave Iraq (and Afghanistan) stable to advance American goals. We did so by spending our time and money on obviously pointless things, while most Iraqis lacked access to clean water, regular electricity, and medical or hospital care. Another State Department official in Iraq wrote in his weekly summary to me, “At our project ribbon-cuttings we are typically greeted now with a cursory ‘thank you,’ followed by a long list of crushing needs for essential services such as water and power.” How could we help stabilize Iraq when we acted like buffoons? As one Iraqi told me, “It is like I am standing naked in a room with a big hat on my head. Everyone comes in and helps put flowers and ribbons on my hat, but no one seems to notice that I am naked.”

By 2009, of course, it should all have been so obvious. We were no longer inside the neocon dream of unrivaled global superpowerdom, just mired in what happened to it. We were a chicken factory in the desert that no one wanted.

Time Travel to 2003

Anniversaries are times for reflection, in part because it’s often only with hindsight that we recognize the most significant moments in our lives. On the other hand, on anniversaries it’s often hard to remember what it was really like back when it all began. Amid the chaos of the Middle East today, it’s easy, for instance, to forget what things looked like as 2003 began. Afghanistan, it appeared, had been invaded and occupied quickly and cleanly, in a way the Soviets (the British, the ancient Greeks…) could never have dreamed of. Iran was frightened, seeing the mighty American military on its eastern border and soon to be on the western one as well, and was ready to deal. Syria was controlled by the stable thuggery of Bashar al-Assad and relations were so good that the U.S. was rendering terror suspects to his secret prisons for torture.

For decades to come, the U.S. will have a big enough military to ensure that our decline is slow, bloody, ugly, and reluctant, if inevitable. One day, however, even the drones will have to land.

Most of the rest of the Middle East was tucked in for a long sleep with dictators reliable enough to maintain stability. Libya was an exception, though predictions were that before too long Muammar Qaddafi would make some sort of deal. (He did.) All that was needed was a quick slash into Iraq to establish a permanent American military presence in the heart of Mesopotamia. Our future garrisons there could obviously oversee things, providing the necessary muscle to swat down any future destabilizing elements. It all made so much sense to the neocon visionaries of the early Bush years. The only thing that Washington couldn’t imagine was this: that the primary destabilizing element would be us.

Indeed, its mighty plan was disintegrating even as it was being dreamed up. In their lust for everything on no terms but their own, the Bush team missed a diplomatic opportunity with Iran that might have rendered today’s saber rattling unnecessary, even as Afghanistan fell apart and Iraq imploded. As part of the breakdown, desperate men, blindsided by history, turned up the volume on desperate measures: torture, secret gulags, rendition, drone killings, extra-constitutional actions at home. The sleaziest of deals were cut to try to salvage something, including ignoring the A.Q. Khan network of Pakistani nuclear proliferation in return for a cheesy Condi Rice-Qaddafi photo-op rapprochement in Libya.

Inside Iraq, the forces of Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict had been unleashed by the U.S. invasion. That, in turn, was creating the conditions for a proxy war between the U.S. and Iran, similar to the growing proxy war between Israel and Iran inside Lebanon (where another destabilizing event, the U.S.-sanctioned Israeli invasion of 2006, followed in hand). None of this has ever ended. Today, in fact, that proxy war has simply found a fresh host, Syria, with multiple powers using “humanitarian aid” to push and shove their Sunni and Shia avatars around.

Staggering neocon expectations, Iran emerged from the U.S. decade in Iraq economically more powerful, with sanctions-busting trade between the two neighbors now valued at some $5 billion a year and still growing. In that decade, the U.S. also managed to remove one of Iran’s strategic counterbalances, Saddam Hussein, replacing him with a government run by Nouri al-Malaki, who had once found asylum in Tehran.

Meanwhile, Turkey is now engaged in an open war with the Kurds of northern Iraq. Turkey is, of course, part of NATO, so imagine the U.S. government sitting by silently while Germany bombed Poland. To complete the circle, Iraq’s prime minister recently warned that a victory for Syria's rebels will spark sectarian wars in his own country and will create a new haven for al-Qaeda which would further destabilize the region.

Meanwhile, militarily burnt out, economically reeling from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lacking any moral standing in the Middle East post-Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, the U.S. sat on its hands as the regional spark that came to be called the Arab Spring flickered out, to be replaced by yet more destabilization across the region. And even that hasn’t stopped Washington from pursuing the latest version of the (now-nameless) global war on terror into ever-newer regions in need of destabilization.

Having noted the ease with which a numbed American public patriotically looked the other way while our wars followed their particular paths to hell, our leaders no longer blink at the thought of sending American drones and special operations forces ever farther afield, most notably ever deeper into Africa, creating from the ashes of Iraq a frontier version of the state of perpetual war George Orwell once imagined for his dystopian novel 1984. And don’t doubt for a second that there is a direct path from the invasion of 2003 and that chicken plant to the dangerous and chaotic place that today passes for our American world.

Happy Anniversary

On this 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, Iraq itself remains, by any measure, a dangerous and unstable place. Even the usually sunny Department of State advises American travelers to Iraq that U.S. citizens “remain at risk for kidnapping... [as] numerous insurgent groups, including Al Qaida, remain active...” and notes that “State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of Protective Security Details.”

In the bigger picture, the world is also a far more dangerous place than it was in 2003. Indeed, for the State Department, which sent me to Iraq to witness the follies of empire, the world has become ever more daunting. In 2003, at that infamous “mission accomplished” moment, only Afghanistan was on the list of overseas embassies that were considered “extreme danger posts.” Soon enough, however, Iraq and Pakistan were added. Today, Yemen and Libya, once boring but secure outposts for State’s officials, now fall into the same category.

Other places once considered safe for diplomats and their families such as Syria and Mali have been evacuated and have no American diplomatic presence at all. Even sleepy Tunisia, once calm enough that the State Department had its Arabic language school there, is now on reduced staff with no diplomatic family members resident. Egypt teeters.

The Iranian leadership watched carefully as the American imperial version of Iraq collapsed, concluded that Washington was a paper tiger, backed away from initial offers to talk over contested issues, and instead (at least for a while) doubled-down on achieving nuclear breakout capacity, aided by the past work of that same A.Q. Khan network. North Korea, another A.Q. Khan beneficiary, followed the same pivot ever farther from Washington, while it became a genuine nuclear power. Its neighbor China pursued its own path of economic dominance, while helping to “pay” for the Iraq War by becoming the number-one holder of U.S. debt among foreign governments. It now owns more than 21% of the U.S. debt held overseas.

And don’t put away the joke book just yet. Subbing as apologist-in-chief for an absent George W. Bush and the top officials of his administration on this 10th anniversary, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently reminded us that there is more on the horizon. Conceding that he had “long since given up trying to persuade people Iraq was the right decision,” Blair added that new crises are looming. “You’ve got one in Syria right now, you’ve got one in Iran to come,” he said. “We are in the middle of this struggle, it is going to take a generation, it is going to be very arduous and difficult. But I think we are making a mistake, a profound error, if we think we can stay out of that struggle.”

Think of his comment as a warning. Having somehow turned much of Islam into a foe, Washington has essentially assured itself of never-ending crises that it stands no chance whatsoever of winning. In this sense, Iraq was not an aberration, but the historic zenith and nadir for a way of thinking that is only now slowing waning. For decades to come, the U.S. will have a big enough military to ensure that our decline is slow, bloody, ugly, and reluctant, if inevitable. One day, however, even the drones will have to land.

And so, happy 10th anniversary, Iraq War! A decade after the invasion, a chaotic and unstable Middle East is the unfinished legacy of our invasion. I guess the joke is on us after all, though no one is laughing.

© 2013 Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Now in Washington, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His new book is We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).

Venezuela and the Middle East After Chavez

Venezuela and the Middle East After Chavez

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Posted on Mar 7, 2013
ABr / José Cruz via WikiMedia Commons (rights reserved)

By Juan Cole

This post first appeared on Juan Cole’s website, Informed Comment.

The foreign policy of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez imagined that socialism and anti-imperialism are the same thing, and that he could lead a new sort of socialist international. (He also seems not to have distinguished between anti-Americanism and anti-imperialism.) These considerations shaped his Middle East policy in ways that were contradictory and hypocritical. Chavez, supposedly a man of the people, stood against Iran’s 2009 Green Movement, against the Libyan Revolution to overthrow the erratic Muammar Qaddafi, against the Syrian Revolution.

Iran, while it is a profound critic of the United States, is not a socialist country. Its gini coefficient or measurement of social inequality now is probably worse than in the days of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the monarch overthrown in 1979. As with all oil states, its public sector is large, but it also has a lively private sector, which is dominated by wealthy oligarchs, including some of the ayatollahs and institutions like the Revolutionary Guards. Iran is a right wing theocracy, not a left wing socialist state. If Chavez could embrace a repressive theocracy run for the benefit of wealthy oligarchs, merely because it is anti-American, then of what logical acrobatics was he incapable?

Likewise, Chavez’s support for the Ghaddafis in Libya was based on an extremely superficial reading of Libyan political, economic and social system. The Ghaddafi family looted the country of its wealth, wasting it on ruinous African adventures or squirreling it away in Western banks and real estate. Libya was not a socialist country but a post-Soviet, Russian-style oligarchy. Ordinary Libyans, especially in the east of the country, were increasingly cut out of any share in the country’s oil bonanza. I was shocked last year on my visit there how dowdy and relatively undeveloped Benghazi is; Ghaddafi had clearly punished the country’s second largest city by declining to spend much money on it. Nor was Ghaddafi of 2010 even particularly anti-imperialist. He had welcomed European investment in his oil and gas industries and had much improved relations with the Bush administration. Far from being anti-American, Ghaddafi had a thing for Condi Rice and called Barack Obama his African son. Chavez’s own ally, Iran, largely supported the struggle of the Libyan people against what one ayatollah called “this shell-shocked individual,” though of course Iran condemned the NATO air intervention.

Syria is also no longer a socialist country. The relatives and hangers-on of the ruling al-Assad family transformed themselves into billionaires, using their government contacts to gain lucrative contracts and establishing monopolies. Working Syrians were facing declining real wages in the past decade and very high youth unemployment. Poverty was increasing. Nor was Syria particularly anti-imperialist. In the 1970s and 1980s in Lebanon, Baathist Syria had gladly helped defeat the Palestine Liberation Organization and its Druze and Muslim allies on behalf of the pro-American, right wing Phalangist Party supported by some Christians. After 9/11, the Syrian government tortured al-Qaeda suspects for the Bush administration. It was the US congress that cut Syria off in 2003, not the other way around. And when Obama reopened the US embassy and sought better ties in 2009, al-Assad was perfectly happy to accept.

Whatever one thought of Chavez, he did genuinely improve the lot of the Venezuelan working classes. He won elections and was genuinely popular for this reason. He appears not to have been able to imagine that Khamenei, Ghaddafi and al-Assad are rather less interested in an ideal like the public welfare.

Unable to perform a basic political-economy analysis that would demonstrate that Iran, Libya and Syria had abandoned whatever socialist commitments they once had (Iran of the ayatollahs had never been progressive), Chavez in his own mind appears to have thought that they were analogous to the Bolivia of Eva Morales or the Ecuador of Rafael Correa. Emphatically not so.

He also imagined these countries as anti-American (only Iran really is), and appears to have believed that such a stance covers a multitude of sins on the part of their elites– looting the country, feathering their own nests, and authoritarian dictatorship and police states that deploy arbitrary arrest and torture. In the case of Libya and Syria, the regimes showed a willingness to massacre thousands of their own citizens with bombings from the air and heavy artillery and tank barrages fired into civilian neighborhoods. US imperialism has been guilty of great crimes in Central America and often backed right wing dictators in Latin America generally. You understand how it made a bad impression on Chavez. But the US supported Algeria and many other decolonizing countries in the 1960s and “imperialism” is a thin reed as an all-encompassing analytical tool. There is a sense in which capitalist Russia is seeking a superpower supremacy in parts of the Middle East. Chavez was happy to align with that development.

Venezuela’s stances on the Middle East under Chavez were not usually important in any practical sense. Despite a lot of verbiage, its economic cooperation with Iran has been minor for both countries, and Chavez did no more than make angry speeches about Libya and Syria. Good Iranian-Venezuelan relations provoked a great deal of hysteria in the US, but they don’t actually appear to have been consequential, either in the sphere of economics or in that of security. Despite dark predictions by US hawks, it is probably not very important whether Venezuela keeps its current foreign policy or alters it.

But Chavez did sully his legacy as a progressive with his superficial reading of what ‘anti-imperialism’ entails and his inability to see the neo-liberal police states of the Middle East for what they had become.


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Shadow Lives: How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women...

Once, as a reporter, I covered wars, conflicts, civil wars, and even a genocide in places like Vietnam, Angola, Eritrea, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, keeping away from official briefings and listening to the people who were living the war.  In the years since the Bush administration launched its Global War on Terror, I’ve done the same thing without ever leaving home.

In the last decade, I didn’t travel to distant refugee camps in Pakistan or destroyed villages in Afghanistan, nor did I spend time in besieged cities like Iraq’s Fallujah or Libya’s Misrata.  I stayed in Great Britain.  There, my government, in close conjunction with Washington, was pursuing its own version of what, whether anyone cared to say it or not, was essentially a war against Islam.  Somehow, by a series of chance events, I found myself inside it, spending time with families transformed into enemies.

I hadn’t planned to write about the war on terror, but driven by curiosity about lives most of us never see and a few lucky coincidences, I stumbled into a world of Muslim women in London, Manchester, and Birmingham.  Some of them were British, others from Arab and African countries, but their husbands or sons had been swept up in Washington’s war. Some were in Guantanamo, some were among the dozen Muslim foreigners who did not know each other, and who were surprised to find themselves imprisoned together in Britain on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda. Later, some of these families would find themselves under house arrest.

In the process, I came to know women and children who were living in almost complete isolation and with the stigma of a supposed link to terrorism. They had few friends, and were cut off from the wider world. Those with a husband under house arrest were allowed no visitors who had not been vetted for “security,” nor could they have computers, even for their children to do their homework.  Other lonely women had husbands or sons who had sometimes spent a decade or more in prison without charges in the United Kingdom, and were fighting deportation or extradition.

Gradually, they came to accept me into their isolated lives and talked to me about their children, their mothers, their childhoods — but seldom, at first, about the grim situations of their husbands, which seemed too intimate, too raw, too frightening, too unknowable to be put into words.

In the early years, it was a steep learning curve for me, spending time in homes where faith was the primary reality, Allah was constantly invoked, English was a second language, and privacy and reticence were givens. Facebook culture had not come to most of these families. The reticence faded over the years, especially when the children were not there, or in the face of the kind of desolation that came from a failed court appeal to lift the restrictions on their lives, an unexpected police raid on the house, a husband’s suicide attempt, or the coming of a new torture report from Washington’s then-expanding global gulag of black sites and, of course, Guantanamo.

In these years, I met some of their husbands and sons as well.  The first was a British man from Birmingham, Moazzam Begg. He had been held for three years in Washington’s notorious offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to be released without charges.  When he came home, through his lawyer, he asked me to help write his memoir, the first to come out of Guantanamo.  We worked long months on Enemy Combatant. It was hard for him to relive his nightmare days and nights in American custody in Kandahar and in the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and then those limbo years in Cuba. It was even harder for him to visit the women whose absent husbands he had known in prison and who, unlike him, were still there.

Was My Husband Tortured?

In these homes he visited, there was always one great unspoken question: Was my husband or son tortured? It was the single question no one could bear to ask a survivor of that nightmare, even for reassurance. When working on his book, I deliberately left the chapter on his experiences in American hands in Bagram prison for last, as I sensed how difficult it would be for both of us to speak about the worst of the torture I knew he had experienced.

Through Moazzam, I met other men who had been swept up in the post-9/11 dragnet for Muslims in Great Britain, refugees who sought him out as an Arabic speaker and a British citizen to help them negotiate Britain’s newly hostile atmosphere in the post-9/11 years.  Soon, I began to visit some of their wives, too.

In time, I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death unless he was given refugee documents to leave Britain, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I was halfway through working on Moazzam’s book when London was struck by our 9/11, which we call 7/7. The July 7, 2005, suicide bombings, in three parts of the London underground and a bus, killed 52 civilians and injured more than 700. The four bombers were all young British men between 18 and 30, two of them married with children, and one of them a mentor at a primary school. In video statements left behind they described themselves as “soldiers” whose aim was to force the British government to pull its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Just three weeks later, there were four more coordinated bomb attacks on the London subway system.  (All failed to detonate.) The four men responsible, longterm British residents originally from the Horn of Africa, were captured, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. In this way, the whole country was traumatised in 2005, and that particularly includes the various strands of the Muslim community in Great Britain.

The British security services quickly returned to a post-9/11 stance on overdrive. The same MI5 intelligence agents who had interrogated Moazzam while he was in U.S. custody asked to meet him again to get his thoughts on who might be behind the attacks. However, three years in U.S. custody and five months at home occupied with his family and his book had not made him a likely source of information on current strains of thought in the British Muslim community.

At the same time, the dozen foreign Muslim refugees detained in the aftermath of 9/11 and held without trial for two years before being released on the orders of the House of Lords were rearrested. In the summer of 2005, the government prepared to deport them to countries they had originally fled as refugees.

All of them had been made anonymous by court order and in legal documents were referred to as Mr. G, Mr. U, and so on. This was no doubt intended to safeguard their privacy, but in a sense it also condemned them.  It made them faceless, inhuman, and their families experienced it just that way. “They even took my husband’s name away, why?” one wife asked me.

The women I was meeting in these years were mostly from this small group, as well as the relatives of a handful of British residents — Arabs — who were not initially returned from Guantanamo with the nine British citizens that the Americans finally released without charges in 2004 and 2005.

Perhaps no one in the country was, in the end, more terrorised than them, thanks to the various terror plots by British nationals that followed. And they were right to be fearful.  The pressure on them was overwhelming.  Some of them simply gave up and went home voluntarily because they could not bear house arrest, though they risked being sent to prison in their native lands; others went through years of house arrest and court appeals against deportation, all of which continues to this day.

Among the plots that unnerved them were one in 2006 against transatlantic aircraft, for which a total of 12 Britons were jailed for life in 2009, and the 2007 attempt to blow up a London nightclub and Glasgow International Airport, in which one bomber died and the second was jailed for 32 years. In the post-9/11 decade, 237 people were convicted of terror-related offences in Britain.

Though all of this was going on, much of it remained remote from the world of the refugee women I came to know who, in the larger world, were mainly preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, with Palestinian developments, filled their TV screens tuned only to Arabic stations.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares, but for anyone in their company there was no mistaking them: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another, with several small children, turned back from a prison visit, despite a long journey, because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

Here was the texture of a hidden war of continual harassment against a largely helpless population.  This was how some of the most vulnerable people in British society — often already traumatised refugees and torture survivors — were made permanent scapegoats for our post-9/11, and then post-7/7 fears.

So powerful is the stigma of “terrorism” today that, in the name of “our security,” whether in Great Britain or the United States, just about anything now goes, and ever fewer people ask questions about what that “anything” might actually be. Here in London, repeated attempts to get influential religious or political figures simply to visit one of these officially locked-down families and see these lives for themselves have failed. In the present political climate, such a personal, fact-finding visit proved to be anything but a priority for such people.

A Legal System of Secret Evidence, House Arrest, and Financial Sanctions

Against this captive population, in such an anything-goes atmosphere, all sorts of experimental perversions of the legal system were tried out.  As a result, the British system of post-9/11 justice contains many features which should frighten us all but are completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of people in the United Kingdom.

Key aspects for the families I have been concerned with include the use of secret evidence in cases involving deportation, bail conditions, and imprisonment without trial. In addition, most of their cases have been heard in a special court known as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission or SIAC, which is housed in an anonymous basement set of rooms in central London.

One of SIAC’s innovative features is the use of “special advocates,” senior barristers who have security clearance to see secret evidence on behalf of their clients, but without being allowed to disclose it or discuss it, even with the client or his or her own lawyer. The resignation on principle of a highly respected barrister, Ian Macdonald, as a special advocate in November 2004 exposed this process to the public for the first time — but almost no one took any interest.

And a sense of the injustice in this arcane system was never sufficiently sparked by such voices, which found little echo in the media. Nor was there a wide audience for reports from a team of top psychiatrists about the devastating psychological impact on the men and their families of indefinite detention without trial, and of a house-arrest system framed by “control orders” that allow the government to place restrictions of almost any sort on the lives of those it designates.

An even less noted aspect of the anti-terror legal system brought into existence after 9/11 was the financial sanctions that could freeze the assets of designated individuals.  First ordered by the United Nations, the financial-sanctions regime was consolidated here through a European Union list of designated people. The few lawyers who specialized in this area were scathing about the draconian measures involved and the utter lack of transparency when it came to which governments had put which names on which list.

The effect on the listed families was draconian.  Marriages collapsed under the strain. The listed men were barred from working and only allowed £10 a week for personal expenses. Their wives — often from conservative cultures where all dealings with the outside world had been left to husbands — suddenly were the families’ faces to the world, responsible for everything from shopping to accounting monthly to the government’s Home Office for every item the family purchased, right down to a bottle of milk or a pencil for a child. It was humiliating for the men, who lost their family role overnight, and exhausting and frustrating for the women, while in some cases the rest of their families shunned them because of the taint of alleged terrorism. Almost no one except specialist lawyers even knew that such financial sanctions existed in Britain.

In the country’s High Court, the first judicial challenge to the financial-sanctions regime was brought in 2008 by five British Muslim men known only as G, K, A, M, and Q. In response, Justice Andrew Collins said he found it “totally unacceptable” that, to take an especially absurd example, a man should have to get a license for legal advice about the sanctions from the very body that was imposing them. The man in question had waited three months for a “basic expense” license permitting funds for food and rent, and six months for a license to obtain legal advice about the situation he found himself in.

In a related case before the judicial committee of the House of Lords, Justice Leonard Hoffman expressed incredulity at the “meanness and squalor” of a regime that “monitored who had what for lunch.” More recently, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court endorsed the comments of Lord Justice Stephen Sedley who described those subject to the regime as being akin to “prisoners of the state.”

Among senior lawyers concerned about this hidden world of punishment was Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism. He devoted one of his official U.N. reports to the financial sanctions issue. His recommendations included significantly more transparency from governments who put people on such a list, the explicit exclusion of evidence obtained by torture, and the obligation of governments to give reasons when they refuse to remove individuals from the list.  Of course, no one who mattered was paying the slightest attention.

Against ideological governments obsessed by terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic and a culture numbed by violent anti-terrorist tales like “24” and Zero Dark Thirty, such complicated and technical initiatives on behalf of individuals who have been given the tag, implicitly if not explicitly, of “terrorist” stand little chance of getting attention.

“Each Time It’s Worse”

Nearly a decade ago, at the New York opening night of Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Freedom, the play Gillian Slovo and I wrote using only the words of the relatives of prisoners in that jail, their lawyers, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, an elderly man approached Moazzam Begg’s father and me.  He introduced himself as a former foreign policy adviser to President John Kennedy. “It could never have happened in our time,” he said.

When the Global War on Terror was still relatively new, it was common for audiences to react similarly and with shock to a play in which fathers and brothers describe their bewilderment over the way their relation had disappeared into the legal black hole of Guantanamo Bay. In the years since, we have become numb to the destruction of lives, livelihoods, futures, childhoods, legal systems, and trust by Washington’s and London’s never-ending war on terror.

In that time, I have seen children grow from toddlers to teenagers locked inside this particular war machine.  What they say today should startle us out of such numbness. Here, for instance, are the words of two teenagers, a girl and a boy whose fathers had been imprisoned or under house arrest in Britain for 10 years and whose lives in those same years were filled with indignities and humiliations:

“People seem to think that we get used to things being how they are for us, so we don’t feel the injustices so much now. They are quite wrong: it was painful the first time, more painful the second, even more so the third. In fact, each time it’s worse, if you can believe that. There isn’t a limit on how much pain you can feel.”

The boy added this:

“There is never one day when I feel safe. It can be the authorities, it can be ordinary people, they can do something bad for us. Only like now when we are all in the house together can I stop worrying about my mum and my sisters, and even me, what might happen to us. On the tube [subway], in class at university, people look at my beard.  I see them looking and I know they are thinking bad things about me. I would like to be a normal guy who no one looks at. You know, other boys, some of my friends, they cut corners, things like driving without a current license, everyone does it. But I can’t, I can’t ever, ever, take even a small risk. I have to always be cautious, be responsible… for my family.”

These children have been brought up by women who, against all odds, have often preserved their dignity and kept at least a modicum of joy in their families’ lives, and so, however despised, however unnoticed, however locked away, made themselves an inspiration to others. They are not victims to be pitied, but women our societies should embrace.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s response to recent proposals that Washington establish a secret court to oversee the targeting of terrorist suspects for death-by-drone and President Obama’s expanding executive power to kill, speak for the world beyond the West.  They offer a different perspective on the war on terror that Washington and Great Britain continue to pursue with no end in sight:

“Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the nineteenth century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.  I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.”

Victoria Brittain, journalist and former editor at the Guardian, has authored or co-authored two plays and four books, including Enemy Combatant with Moazzam Begg. Her latest book, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013) has just been published.

S Korea warns North against provocation

South Korea has warned the North that it would take retaliatory measures against any ‘provocation’ by Pyongyang following a reported threat by North Korea to invalidate a truce that ended the Korean War.

"If North Korea carries out provocations that threaten the lives and safety of South Koreans, our military will carry out strong and resolute retaliations," said South Korean Army General Kim Yong-Hyun in a press briefing on Wednesday, reacting to a call by Pyongyang to nullify the 1953 armistice between the two neighbors, AFC reported.

North Korea announced on Tuesday that it would “completely declare invalid” the truce agreement between the two nations in case the United Nations moves ahead with efforts to impose additional sanctions on the country following its recent nuclear test.

The latest exchange of threats, however, occurs at a time of newly intensified tensions between the two Koreas after the North's successful launch of a long range rocket in December and its nuclear test last month.


North Korea’s military statement on Tuesday, according to the report, further mentioned its possession of "lighter and smaller nukes" than before.

The UN Security Council is expected this week to decide on even harsher sanctions on the North, further inciting a reaction from Pyongyang, which is also fuming about a series of joint military maneuvers by US and South Korean in the region.

In his press briefing in Seoul, General Kim, who is director general of operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, further announced that a South Korean retaliation would not only target the "origin of provocation" but also the North's commanding forces, according to the report.

The yearly US-South Korea military drills, known as Foal Eagle, involves over 10,000 American troops and a much larger South Korean force that began on March 1 and scheduled to continue through April 30.

Additionally, says the report, a largely computer-simulated joint exercise, named ‘Key Resolve,’ is due to be held by the two military forces from March 11-21.

Meanwhile, the recent North Korean statement condemned the joint military drills as the "most dangerous nuclear war maneuvers... and the most undisguised military provocation."

"This land is neither the Balkans nor Iraq and Libya," said the statement, warning the launch "diversified precision nuclear strikes" by North Korea in response.

MFB/MFB

Shadow Lives: How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women...

Once, as a reporter, I covered wars, conflicts, civil wars, and even a genocide in places like Vietnam, Angola, Eritrea, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, keeping away from official briefings and listening to the people who were living the war.  In the years since the Bush administration launched its Global War on Terror, I’ve done the same thing without ever leaving home.

In the last decade, I didn’t travel to distant refugee camps in Pakistan or destroyed villages in Afghanistan, nor did I spend time in besieged cities like Iraq’s Fallujah or Libya’s Misrata.  I stayed in Great Britain.  There, my government, in close conjunction with Washington, was pursuing its own version of what, whether anyone cared to say it or not, was essentially a war against Islam.  Somehow, by a series of chance events, I found myself inside it, spending time with families transformed into enemies.

I hadn’t planned to write about the war on terror, but driven by curiosity about lives most of us never see and a few lucky coincidences, I stumbled into a world of Muslim women in London, Manchester, and Birmingham.  Some of them were British, others from Arab and African countries, but their husbands or sons had been swept up in Washington’s war. Some were in Guantanamo, some were among the dozen Muslim foreigners who did not know each other, and who were surprised to find themselves imprisoned together in Britain on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda. Later, some of these families would find themselves under house arrest.

In the process, I came to know women and children who were living in almost complete isolation and with the stigma of a supposed link to terrorism. They had few friends, and were cut off from the wider world. Those with a husband under house arrest were allowed no visitors who had not been vetted for “security,” nor could they have computers, even for their children to do their homework.  Other lonely women had husbands or sons who had sometimes spent a decade or more in prison without charges in the United Kingdom, and were fighting deportation or extradition.

Gradually, they came to accept me into their isolated lives and talked to me about their children, their mothers, their childhoods -- but seldom, at first, about the grim situations of their husbands, which seemed too intimate, too raw, too frightening, too unknowable to be put into words.

In the early years, it was a steep learning curve for me, spending time in homes where faith was the primary reality, Allah was constantly invoked, English was a second language, and privacy and reticence were givens. Facebook culture had not come to most of these families. The reticence faded over the years, especially when the children were not there, or in the face of the kind of desolation that came from a failed court appeal to lift the restrictions on their lives, an unexpected police raid on the house, a husband’s suicide attempt, or the coming of a new torture report from Washington’s then-expanding global gulag of black sites and, of course, Guantanamo.

In these years, I met some of their husbands and sons as well.  The first was a British man from Birmingham, Moazzam Begg. He had been held for three years in Washington’s notorious offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to be released without charges.  When he came home, through his lawyer, he asked me to help write his memoir, the first to come out of Guantanamo.  We worked long months on Enemy Combatant. It was hard for him to relive his nightmare days and nights in American custody in Kandahar and in the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and then those limbo years in Cuba. It was even harder for him to visit the women whose absent husbands he had known in prison and who, unlike him, were still there.

Was My Husband Tortured?

In these homes he visited, there was always one great unspoken question: Was my husband or son tortured? It was the single question no one could bear to ask a survivor of that nightmare, even for reassurance. When working on his book, I deliberately left the chapter on his experiences in American hands in Bagram prison for last, as I sensed how difficult it would be for both of us to speak about the worst of the torture I knew he had experienced.

Through Moazzam, I met other men who had been swept up in the post-9/11 dragnet for Muslims in Great Britain, refugees who sought him out as an Arabic speaker and a British citizen to help them negotiate Britain’s newly hostile atmosphere in the post-9/11 years.  Soon, I began to visit some of their wives, too.

In time, I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death unless he was given refugee documents to leave Britain, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I was halfway through working on Moazzam’s book when London was struck by our 9/11, which we call 7/7. The July 7, 2005, suicide bombings, in three parts of the London underground and a bus, killed 52 civilians and injured more than 700. The four bombers were all young British men between 18 and 30, two of them married with children, and one of them a mentor at a primary school. In video statements left behind they described themselves as “soldiers” whose aim was to force the British government to pull its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Just three weeks later, there were four more coordinated bomb attacks on the London subway system.  (All failed to detonate.) The four men responsible, longterm British residents originally from the Horn of Africa, were captured, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. In this way, the whole country was traumatised in 2005, and that particularly includes the various strands of the Muslim community in Great Britain.

The British security services quickly returned to a post-9/11 stance on overdrive. The same MI5 intelligence agents who had interrogated Moazzam while he was in U.S. custody asked to meet him again to get his thoughts on who might be behind the attacks. However, three years in U.S. custody and five months at home occupied with his family and his book had not made him a likely source of information on current strains of thought in the British Muslim community.

At the same time, the dozen foreign Muslim refugees detained in the aftermath of 9/11 and held without trial for two years before being released on the orders of the House of Lords were rearrested. In the summer of 2005, the government prepared to deport them to countries they had originally fled as refugees.

All of them had been made anonymous by court order and in legal documents were referred to as Mr. G, Mr. U, and so on. This was no doubt intended to safeguard their privacy, but in a sense it also condemned them.  It made them faceless, inhuman, and their families experienced it just that way. “They even took my husband’s name away, why?” one wife asked me.

The women I was meeting in these years were mostly from this small group, as well as the relatives of a handful of British residents -- Arabs -- who were not initially returned from Guantanamo with the nine British citizens that the Americans finally released without charges in 2004 and 2005.

Perhaps no one in the country was, in the end, more terrorised than them, thanks to the various terror plots by British nationals that followed. And they were right to be fearful.  The pressure on them was overwhelming.  Some of them simply gave up and went home voluntarily because they could not bear house arrest, though they risked being sent to prison in their native lands; others went through years of house arrest and court appeals against deportation, all of which continues to this day.

Among the plots that unnerved them were one in 2006 against transatlantic aircraft, for which a total of 12 Britons were jailed for life in 2009, and the 2007 attempt to blow up a London nightclub and Glasgow International Airport, in which one bomber died and the second was jailed for 32 years. In the post-9/11 decade, 237 people were convicted of terror-related offences in Britain.

Though all of this was going on, much of it remained remote from the world of the refugee women I came to know who, in the larger world, were mainly preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, with Palestinian developments, filled their TV screens tuned only to Arabic stations.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares, but for anyone in their company there was no mistaking them: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another, with several small children, turned back from a prison visit, despite a long journey, because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another turned back from a prison visit because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

Here was the texture of a hidden war of continual harassment against a largely helpless population.  This was how some of the most vulnerable people in British society -- often already traumatised refugees and torture survivors -- were made permanent scapegoats for our post-9/11, and then post-7/7 fears.

So powerful is the stigma of “terrorism” today that, in the name of “our security,” whether in Great Britain or the United States, just about anything now goes, and ever fewer people ask questions about what that “anything” might actually be. Here in London, repeated attempts to get influential religious or political figures simply to visit one of these officially locked-down families and see these lives for themselves have failed. In the present political climate, such a personal, fact-finding visit proved to be anything but a priority for such people.

A Legal System of Secret Evidence, House Arrest, and Financial Sanctions

Against this captive population, in such an anything-goes atmosphere, all sorts of experimental perversions of the legal system were tried out.  As a result, the British system of post-9/11 justice contains many features which should frighten us all but are completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of people in the United Kingdom.

Key aspects for the families I have been concerned with include the use of secret evidence in cases involving deportation, bail conditions, and imprisonment without trial. In addition, most of their cases have been heard in a special court known as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission or SIAC, which is housed in an anonymous basement set of rooms in central London.

One of SIAC’s innovative features is the use of “special advocates,” senior barristers who have security clearance to see secret evidence on behalf of their clients, but without being allowed to disclose it or discuss it, even with the client or his or her own lawyer. The resignation on principle of a highly respected barrister, Ian Macdonald, as a special advocate in November 2004 exposed this process to the public for the first time -- but almost no one took any interest.

And a sense of the injustice in this arcane system was never sufficiently sparked by such voices, which found little echo in the media. Nor was there a wide audience for reports from a team of top psychiatrists about the devastating psychological impact on the men and their families of indefinite detention without trial, and of a house-arrest system framed by “control orders” that allow the government to place restrictions of almost any sort on the lives of those it designates.

An even less noted aspect of the anti-terror legal system brought into existence after 9/11 was the financial sanctions that could freeze the assets of designated individuals.  First ordered by the United Nations, the financial-sanctions regime was consolidated here through a European Union list of designated people. The few lawyers who specialized in this area were scathing about the draconian measures involved and the utter lack of transparency when it came to which governments had put which names on which list.

The effect on the listed families was draconian.  Marriages collapsed under the strain. The listed men were barred from working and only allowed £10 a week for personal expenses. Their wives -- often from conservative cultures where all dealings with the outside world had been left to husbands -- suddenly were the families’ faces to the world, responsible for everything from shopping to accounting monthly to the government’s Home Office for every item the family purchased, right down to a bottle of milk or a pencil for a child. It was humiliating for the men, who lost their family role overnight, and exhausting and frustrating for the women, while in some cases the rest of their families shunned them because of the taint of alleged terrorism. Almost no one except specialist lawyers even knew that such financial sanctions existed in Britain.

In the country’s High Court, the first judicial challenge to the financial-sanctions regime was brought in 2008 by five British Muslim men known only as G, K, A, M, and Q. In response, Justice Andrew Collins said he found it "totally unacceptable" that, to take an especially absurd example, a man should have to get a license for legal advice about the sanctions from the very body that was imposing them. The man in question had waited three months for a "basic expense" license permitting funds for food and rent, and six months for a license to obtain legal advice about the situation he found himself in.

In a related case before the judicial committee of the House of Lords, Justice Leonard Hoffman expressed incredulity at the "meanness and squalor" of a regime that "monitored who had what for lunch." More recently, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court endorsed the comments of Lord Justice Stephen Sedley who described those subject to the regime as being akin to “prisoners of the state.”

Among senior lawyers concerned about this hidden world of punishment was Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism. He devoted one of his official U.N. reports to the financial sanctions issue. His recommendations included significantly more transparency from governments who put people on such a list, the explicit exclusion of evidence obtained by torture, and the obligation of governments to give reasons when they refuse to remove individuals from the list.  Of course, no one who mattered was paying the slightest attention.

Against ideological governments obsessed by terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic and a culture numbed by violent anti-terrorist tales like “24” and Zero Dark Thirty, such complicated and technical initiatives on behalf of individuals who have been given the tag, implicitly if not explicitly, of “terrorist” stand little chance of getting attention.

"Each Time It's Worse"

Nearly a decade ago, at the New York opening night of Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Freedom, the play Gillian Slovo and I wrote using only the words of the relatives of prisoners in that jail, their lawyers, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, an elderly man approached Moazzam Begg’s father and me.  He introduced himself as a former foreign policy adviser to President John Kennedy. “It could never have happened in our time,” he said.

When the Global War on Terror was still relatively new, it was common for audiences to react similarly and with shock to a play in which fathers and brothers describe their bewilderment over the way their relation had disappeared into the legal black hole of Guantanamo Bay. In the years since, we have become numb to the destruction of lives, livelihoods, futures, childhoods, legal systems, and trust by Washington’s and London’s never-ending war on terror.

In that time, I have seen children grow from toddlers to teenagers locked inside this particular war machine.  What they say today should startle us out of such numbness. Here, for instance, are the words of two teenagers, a girl and a boy whose fathers had been imprisoned or under house arrest in Britain for 10 years and whose lives in those same years were filled with indignities and humiliations:

"People seem to think that we get used to things being how they are for us, so we don't feel the injustices so much now. They are quite wrong: it was painful the first time, more painful the second, even more so the third. In fact, each time it’s worse, if you can believe that. There isn’t a limit on how much pain you can feel."

The boy added this:

"There is never one day when I feel safe. It can be the authorities, it can be ordinary people, they can do something bad for us. Only like now when we are all in the house together can I stop worrying about my mum and my sisters, and even me, what might happen to us. On the tube [subway], in class at university, people look at my beard.  I see them looking and I know they are thinking bad things about me. I would like to be a normal guy who no one looks at. You know, other boys, some of my friends, they cut corners, things like driving without a current license, everyone does it. But I can’t, I can’t ever, ever, take even a small risk. I have to always be cautious, be responsible... for my family."

These children have been brought up by women who, against all odds, have often preserved their dignity and kept at least a modicum of joy in their families’ lives, and so, however despised, however unnoticed, however locked away, made themselves an inspiration to others. They are not victims to be pitied, but women our societies should embrace.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s response to recent proposals that Washington establish a secret court to oversee the targeting of terrorist suspects for death-by-drone and President Obama’s expanding executive power to kill, speak for the world beyond the West.  They offer a different perspective on the war on terror that Washington and Great Britain continue to pursue with no end in sight:

"Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the nineteenth century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.  I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity."

© 2013 Victoria Brittain

Victoria Brittain

Victoria Brittain, journalist and former editor at the Guardian, has authored or co-authored two plays and four books, including Enemy Combatant with Moazzam Begg. Her latest book, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013) has just been published.

German Imperialism: Parliament Approves Military Operations in Mali

Flag_of_Germany_(state).svg

February 27, the German parliament voted by a large majority to support the French colonial war in Mali. In April, up to 330 German soldiers are to be stationed in that country.

The parliamentary motion includes two mandates. As part of the European Union (EU)-led training mission EUTM, 180 soldiers will be used to train the Malian army. The German army (Bundeswehr) will send 40 scouts and 40 medics and doctors to Koulikoro, 65 kilometres northeast of the capital city, Bamako. Another 100 soldiers are on standby to intervene “if necessary” to “protect the German soldiers.”

According to the commander of the EUTM mission, General François Lecointre, the military trainers from the EU will commence training more than 2,500 Malian soldiers beginning April 2.

The aim of the mission is to stabilise the ailing Malian army and enable it to support the combat mission conducted by French troops in the north of the country. About one year ago and before the French invasion, the Malian army had been driven out of the region by a coalition of Islamist rebels and Tuareg warriors.

The second mandate involves an additional 150 soldiers to logistically support the combat mission of the French Air Force. The plan is to use an Airbus to refuel French Rafale and Mirage fighter jets in the air. In addition, 63 soldiers and three Transall planes will continue to transport French combat troops and troops from the Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Mali.

In January, shortly after the beginning of the war, the German army commenced logistical support of combat French and African troops, without a mandate from the German parliament. Since then, the Transall planes have transported some 570 soldiers and about 290 tons of material in 117 flights carried out in the area of operation.

According to official estimates, the German military operation will cost at least €55.5 million. In addition to the governing parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens also voted in favour. From a total of 567 MPs, 496 voted in favour of the training mandate, and 492 for the deployment of “logistical support.”

The mandate initially runs for 12 months but is likely to be extended. Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere (CDU) had already prepared parliamentarians in the first discussion in parliament for a prolonged military campaign, declaring, “No deployment is a walk in the park.”

The parliamentary vote is a further expansion of the dirty imperialist colonial war in Mali. The official website of the federal parliament states, “Germany [will] contribute, through its actions, to bring under state control those areas in northern Mali still under the influence of terrorist, extremist and armed groups.”

Officially, the Bundeswehr missions in both Mali and Afghanistan have been justified with the alleged “war against terrorism”.

In parliament, Rainer Stinner, foreign policy spokesman of the FDP parliamentary group, declared that the situation in Mali “has long-term influence on our German security interests” and that there was “a risk that terrorist forces or forces with evil intent would spread in another regions of the world.”

The reference to “terrorism” by imperialist powers to justify their colonial wars is hypocritical. The same Islamists active in northern Mali were in 2011 important allies of Western powers in their campaign against the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi. Now, these powers and their regional allies are backing similar reactionary forces in Syria to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and install a pro-Western puppet regime.

In reality, the wars in Mali and Afghanistan have nothing to do with a “struggle against terrorism,” but are rooted in definite geo-strategic and economic interests.

The latest military campaign in Mali is part of the imperialist campaign for a renewed colonial subjugation of Africa, which began with the NATO war against Libya two years ago. In common with the entire Sahel region, Mali is rich in natural resources. The major imperialist powers are seeking to secure these resources in an increasingly aggressive competitive race with China, which has close economic ties with Mali and other countries in the region.

After hesitating to participate in the Libya campaign, the German bourgeoisie is determined to gain a share of the spoils in Mali. German companies have made clear they intend to join the race for raw materials in Africa.

A long and detailed report last week in the German business newspaperHandelsblatt made clear that the German business and political elite are preparing to intensify their capacity to wage wars to secure the resources so necessary for the German export industry. The article lists China as one of Germany’s biggest competitors in this race, and explicitly identifies North Africa as one of the most strategically important regions in this respect.

The article relates that the German ambassador to NATO has been “given the job of reassessing north Africa and Middle East, along with its regional allies, to define which countries are of particular importance for Western and German security interests.”

German imperialism also regards the war against Mali as a prelude to further wars in the region. This was indicated in a comment by the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Greens, Kerstin Müller, who declared that the German operation amounted to “emergency surgery in order to prevent an even worse situation.” She then added: “If we want avoid intervention in the future in Niger or Burkina Faso, then we need a strategy for the entire Sahel.”

A particularly cynical role in the return of German imperialism is being played by the Left Party. Well aware that the motion would be passed overwhelmingly, the party voted against for tactical reasons.

In her speech before the vote, the “peace spokeswoman” of the Left Party, Christine Buchholz, gave the other parties a clear signal that the Left Party is quite willing to support future German military operations. She argued against a “general debate on the war policy of the federal government” and called instead for “a general discussion about how we can solve economic and social problems and the extreme problems that the arms trade causes in the world.”

The readiness of the Left Party to support military intervention in the interests of German imperialism was already clear from the position it took towards the Western aggression against Syria. In December of last year, leaders of the party backed an appeal for an intervention in Syria. The statement was also supported by the leaders of the CDU, the SPD and the Greens.

Imperial America’s in Good Hands with Philip Gordon

He's an American diplomat. He's a foreign policy specialist. He's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. His portfolio includes 50 countries. He's moving on. More on that below.

UK Min visits Algeria for security deal

Alistair Burt (R) Abdelkader Messahel (L) in Algiers, April 2011.

British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt is to pay a two-day visit to Algeria in an apparent bid to hunt for new natural resources for Britain through greater security cooperation with Algiers.

Burt’s trip follows British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to the African country late in January and will focus on a new strategic security agreement between Algiers and London, Algeria Press Service quoted a British diplomatic source as saying.

Burt is planned to hold talks with Algerian ministers including Minister for Maghreb and African Affairs Abdelkader Messahel during his stay.

Top on the agenda of the British minister will be the security situation in Sahel, Syria and Libya as well as bilateral trade.

Cameron’s visit to Algeria was the first by a British PM since the African nation won independence from France in 1962.

The PM’s travel followed the Amenas gas plant siege and raised speculations that London is planning a security presence in Algeria, which supplies 5 percent of Britain’s gas needs.

The move will give London a toehold in the strategic North African country, which is a neighbor of Libya and Mali.

Britain is involved in the French offensive on the Malian dissidents near the Algerian borders.

London also has significant oil interests in Libya and the Algerian security deal triggers fears that British officials are planning new imperialistic moves to hunt for resources in other countries.

Britain said in a state-prepared Energy Security Strategy back in November that “declining reserves of fossil fuels in the North Sea are making the UK increasingly dependent on imports at a time of rising global demand and increased resource competition”, which is leaving the UK “increasingly exposed to the pressures and risks of global markets”.

The document said North Sea oil supplies that currently account for 70 percent of Britain’s oil demand will run out in 20 years in the context of a 15 percent rise in the global oil demand by 2035.

AMR/HE

Al-Qaeda leader behind Algeria gas plant hostage massacre killed in Mali — Chadian army

Published time: March 03, 2013 00:32

Mokhtar Belmokhtar (AFP Photo / HO / ANI)

A senior commander for al-Qaeda's north African wing has been killed by Chadian soldiers in Mali. Mokhtar Belmokhtar allegedly masterminded the raid on the gas plant in southern Algeria that left 37 hostages dead.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar was killed during an assault on an Islamist rebel base on Saturday, Chad's military have reported.

“The Chadian forces in Mali completely destroyed the main jihadist base in Adrar of the Ifoghas mountains,” an army statement said, adding that the death toll included “several dead terrorists, including their leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar.”

West Africa and Chad sent some 1,000 soldiers to Mali in January to help the French effort to drive Al-Qaeda linked forces out of the northern part of the country, which was seized following a coup in Mali in March last year.

The purported killing of Belmoktar comes a day after Chad's president announced that another senior regional commander of al-Qaeda, Abou Zeid, had been eliminated by French and Chadian forces.

French officials so far have not confirmed the killing of either Abou Zeid or Belmokhtar. On Friday, French president Francois Hollande said that terrorist groups in Mali have taken refuge “in an especially difficult zone” but refused to confirm progress until “the end of the operation” is reached.

Although several diplomats, including a US official, described the earlier report about Abou Zeid death as “very credible,” radical Islamist sources have not yet confirmed the killing of any their senior commanders.

A French university professor and al-Qaeda specialist, Matthieu Guidere, told AFP that the absence of any confirmation from jihadists could mean the reports are not true as they “never try to hide their dead and immediately broadcast their martyrdom.”

Chadian soldiers on a truck leaving Niamey for the Malian border (AFP Photo / Boureima Hama)

The hostage crisis at an In Amenas gas plant in Algeria resulted in the deaths of 37 foreign hostages of eight nationalities and dozens of terrorists.

On 16 January 2013, an al-Qaeda-linked group believed to be led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar captured a total of some 800 workers and kept the foreign hostages at the Tigantourine gas facility, releasing the Algerians.

The Islamist 'Mulathameen Brigade' claimed responsibility for the hostage crisis saying it had conducted the raid in retaliation for France’s engagement in the Mali crisis. The militants allegedly demanded the release of two terrorists held in the US in return for the hostages.

Twenty-nine militants were killed and three captured when Algerian Special Forces stormed the facility after the four-day-long standoff. The hostage takers included nationals from Egypt, Canada, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and Tunisia, who allegedly crossed into the country from neighboring Libya.

A general view of damage caused by a siege by Islamist militants earlier this month at the Tiguentourine Gas Plant in In Amenas, southeast of Algiers, January 31, 2013 (Reuters / Louafi Larbi)


The Geopolitics of Oil and Natural Gas: Russia is Back to Stay in the...

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By Felix Imonti

Russia is back. President Vladimir Putin wants the world to acknowledge that Russia remains a global power. He is making his stand in Syria.

The Soviet Union acquired the Tartus Naval Port in Syria in 1971 without any real purpose for it. With their ships welcomed in Algeria, Cuba or Vietnam, Tartus was too insignificant to be developed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lacked the funds to spend on the base and no reason to invest in it.

The Russian return to the Middle East brought them first to where the Soviet Union had its closest ties. Libya had been a major buyer of arms and many of the military officers had studied in the Soviet Union. Russia was no longer a global power, but it could be used by the Libyans as a counter force to block domination by the United States and Europeans.

When Gaddafi fell, Tartus became Russia’s only presence in the region. That and the discovery of vast gas deposits just offshore have transformed the once insignificant port into a strategic necessity.

Earlier at the United Nations, Russia had failed to realize that Security Council Resolution 1973 that was to implement a new policy of “responsibility to protect” cloaked a hidden agenda. It was to be turned from a no-fly zone into a free-fire zone for NATO. That strategic blunder of not vetoing the resolution led to the destruction of Gaddafi’s regime and cost Russia construction contracts and its investments in Libyan gas and oil to the tune of 10 billion dollars.

That was one more in a series of humiliating defeats; and something that Putin will not allow to happen again while he is president. Since his time as an officer in the KGB, he has seen the Soviet Empire lose half of its population, a quarter of its land mass, and most of its global influence. He has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “geopolitical catastrophe.”

In spite of all of the pressure from Washington and elsewhere to have him persuade Bashar Al-Assad to relinquish power, Putin is staying loyal to the isolated regime. He is calculating that Russia can afford to lose among the Arabs what little prestige that it has remaining and gain a major political and economic advantage in Southern Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean.

What Russia lost through the anti-Al-Assad alliance was the possibility to control the natural gas market across Europe and the means to shape events on the continent. In July 2011, Iran, Iraq, and Syria agreed to build a gas pipeline from the South Pars gas field in Iran to Lebanon and across the Mediterranean to Europe. The pipeline that would have been managed by Gazprom would have carried 110 million cubic meters of gas. About a quarter of the gas would be consumed by the transit countries, leaving seventy or so million cubic meters to be sold to Europe.

Violence in Iraq and the Syrian civil war has ended any hope that the pipeline will be built, but not all hope is lost. One possibility is for Al-Assad to withdraw to the traditional Aliwite coastal enclave to begin the partitioning of Syria into three or more separate zones, Aliwite, Kurdish, and Sunni. Al-Assad’s grandfather in 1936 had asked the French administrators of the Syrian mandate to create a separate Alawite territory in order to avoid just this type of ethnic violence.

What the French would not do circumstance may force the grandson to accept as his only choice to survive. His one hundred thousand heavily armed troops would be able to defend the enclave.

The four or five million Alawites, Christians, and Druze would have agricultural land, water, a deep water port and an international airport. Very importantly, they would have the still undeveloped natural gas offshore fields that extend from Israel, Lebanon, and Cyprus. The Aliwite Republic could be energy self-sufficient and even an exporter. Of course, Russia’s Gazprom in which Putin has a vital interest would get a privileged position in the development of the resource.

In an last effort to bring the nearly two year long civil war to an end, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged Syrian president Bashar al-Assad at the end of December to start talks with the Syrian opposition in line with the agreements for a cease fire that was reached in Geneva on 30 June. The Russians have also extended the invitation to the Syrian opposition National Coalition head, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib. The National Coalition refuses to negotiate with Al-Assad and Al-Assad will not relinquish power voluntarily.

The hardened positions of both sides leaves little hope for a negotiated settlement; and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has made it clear that only by an agreement among the Syrians will Russia accept the removal of Al-Assad. Neither do they see a settlement through a battlefield victory which leaves only a partitioning that will allow the civil war to just wind down as all sides are exhausted.

The Russians are troubled by what they see as a growing trend among the Western Powers to remove disapproved administrations in other sovereign countries and a program to isolate Russia. They saw the U.S involvement in the Ukraine and Georgia. There was the separation of Kosovo from Serbia over Russian objections. There was the extending of NATO to the Baltic States after pledging not to expand the organization to Russia’s frontier.

Again, Russia is seeing Washington’s hand in Syria in the conflict with Iran. The United States is directing military operations in Syria with Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia at a control center in Adana about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to the American air base in Incirlik. The Program by President Obama to have the CIA acquire heavy weapons at a facility in Benghazi to be sent to Turkey and onward to Syria is the newest challenge that Putin cannot allow to go unanswered. It was the involvement of Ambassador Chris Stevens in the arms trade that may have contributed to his murder; and the Russians are not hesitating to remind the United States and Europeans that their dealings with the various Moslem extremists is a very dangerous game.

The Russians are backing their determination to block another regime change by positioning and manning an advanced air defense system in what is becoming the Middle East casino. Putin is betting that NATO will not risk in Syria the cost that an air operation similar to what was employed over Libya will impose. Just in case Russia’s determination is disregarded and Putin’s bluff is called, Surface to surface Iskander missiles have been positioned along the Jordanian and Turkish frontiers. They are aimed at a base in Jordan operated by the United States to train rebels and at Patriot Missile sites and other military facilities in Turkey.

Putin is certain that he is holding the winning hand in this very high stakes poker game. An offshore naval task force, the presence of Russian air defense forces, an electronic intelligence center in Latakia, and the port facilities at Tartus will guarantee the independence of the enclave. As the supplier of sixty percent of Turkey’s natural gas, Moscow does have leverage that Ankara will not be able to ignore; and Ankara well knows that gas is one of Putin’s diplomatic weapons.

When the Turks and U.S see that there is little chance of removing Al-Assad, they will have no option other than to negotiate a settlement with him; and that would involve Russia as the protector and the mediator. That would establish Russia’s revived standing as a Mediterranean power; and Putin could declare confidently that “Russia is back.” After that, the Russians will be free to focus upon their real interests in the region.

And what is Russia’s real interest? Of course, it is oil and gas and the power that control of them can bring.

Washington’s “Expanded Battlefield Aid” to Syria Opposition Terrorists

The US State Department, and to a greater extent, US foreign policy itself, having exhausted completely their collective credibility, has attempted yet another “reset.” By bringing in John Kerry to pose as the next US Secretary of State, it is hoped global opinion will see US foreign policy in a new, more tolerant light. Kerry, however, has wasted no time attempting to simply resell verbatim the same failed, absurd policy US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed her career peddling, spinning, and covering up – as finalized in the case of Benghazi, Libya.

Image: US Secretary of State John Kerry talks with pro-Al Qaeda Mouaz al-Khatib, who heads the militant front set to receive an additional $60 million in US aid claimed to be “non-lethal.” The UK, and more astonishingly, France who is fighting terrorists in Mali created by a similar intervention in Libya in 2011, have announced similar plans to further aid and abet terrorists in Syria. 

….

The Washington Post’s piece, “U.S. announces expanded battlefield aid to Syrian rebels, but not arms,” rehashes the same tired, patently false narrative that has been used throughout the duration of the US-fueled Syrian conflict. The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration will provide food and medicine to Syrian rebel fighters, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Thursday, announcing a cautious U.S. foray into front-line battlefield support that falls far short of the heavy weapons or high-tech gear the rebels seek.

“The stakes are really high, and we can’t risk letting this country — in the heart of the Middle East — be destroyed by vicious autocrats or hijacked by the extremists,” Kerry said following discussions among a group of Western and Arab nations that are funding, and in some cases arming, the fighters.

The United States will, for the first time, send supplies through the rebels’ central military headquarters, with U.S. advisers supervising the distribution of food rations and medical supplies, U.S. officials said. The shift is intended to give the U.S.-backed Syrian Opposition Coalition greater say over the aid, but it is also a test of the rebels’ ability to keep donated supplies out of the hands of extremists in their midst.

The Washington Post report is a verified lie. US assistance, cash, weapons, and covert military support had been ongoing in Syria since 2007 – in other words – before the current conflict even began. And the US has been providing this support not for moderates, but specifically and intentionally for the ideological foundation of Al Qaeda itself, the sectarian extremist Muslim Brotherhood, since the Bush administration.

Outright admissions by administration officials, Saudi and Lebanese officials working in tandem with the US, and US intelligence agents have outlined a criminal conspiracy that has now transcended two presidencies and provided the clearest example yet of  the corporate-financier driven “continuity of agenda” that truly guides Western foreign policy. This criminal conspiracy has also incurred a staggering list of egregious crimes against humanity, crimes we are reminded of daily by the very interests responsible for them, including the 70,000 alleged dead in the Syrian conflict so far.


Secretary John Kerry’s Narrative is a Verified Lie 

Secretary Kerry’s “desire” to keep weapons out of the hands of extremists is willfully disingenuous misdirection. It has been extremists the US has been, on record, purposefully propping up in Syria years before the conflict even began in 2011.

Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?“stated explicitly that:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Hersh’s report would also include:

“the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.”

Hersh also reported that a supporter of the Lebanese pro-US-Saudi Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.”

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007 US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.”

At one point in Hersh’s report, it is even admitted that officials from US ally Saudi Arabia admitted to “controlling” the “religious fundamentalists.” The report states specifically:

“…[Saudi Arabia's] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

While Kerry, as did Clinton before him, and others throughout the Western establishment attempt to portray the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its armed front, Al Qaeda, in Syria as an unforeseeable, unfortunate consequence of an equally unforeseeable, unfortunate conflict – it is clear that in 2007, such “consequences” were essential elements of a premeditated conflict the West had poured cash, weapons, and logistics into the creation of, along with its partners in the Middle East, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

Also in 2007, the Wall Street Journal would publish a report titled, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers.” In this report, it was revealed that even in 2007, Syrian opposition groups were being created from whole-cloth by the US State Department and paraded around in front of Syria’s embassies in the West. The article begins with one such protest, stating:

On a humid afternoon in late May, about 100 supporters of Syria’s largest exile opposition group, the National Salvation Front, gathered outside Damascus’s embassy here to protest Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule. The participants shouted anti-Assad slogans and raised banners proclaiming: “Change the Regime Now.”

Later in the article, it would be revealed that the National Salvation Front (NSF) was in contact with the US State Department and that a Washington-based consulting firm in fact assisted the NSF in organizing the rally:

In the weeks before the presidential election, the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, which promotes regional democracy, and NSF members met to talk about publicizing Syria’s lack of democracy and low voter turnout, participants say. A Washington-based consulting firm, C&O Resources Inc., assisted the NSF in its planning for the May 26 anti-Assad rally at the Syrian embassy, providing media and political contacts. State Department officials stress they provided no financial or technical support to the protestors.

And while the Wall Street Journal then, just as the US State Department and the Western media houses are now portraying the Syrian opposition as representing a wide range of interests across Syrian society, it was admitted then, just as it is plainly obvious now, that the sectarian extremist Muslim Brotherhood was in fact at the very center of the “uprising:”

One of the NSF’s most influential members is the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — the decades-old political movement active across the Middle East whose leaders have inspired the terrorist groups Hamas and al Qaeda. Its Syrian offshoot says it has renounced armed struggle in favor of democratic reform.

It was evidently clear, even in 2007, that extremists would play a leading role in any future armed conflict to overthrow the Syrian government, and now, years later, that engineered conflict has been executed verbatim and to horrific consequence – consequences the West not only refuses to take responsibility for, but seeks to further compound with increased aid to the forces of armed sedition it itself created.

Absurdity of Kerry’s Narrative Only Outdone by Proposed Solution

The solution Kerry proposes is to flood Syria with more cash, equipment, training, weapons, and other aid, either directly, or laundered through proxies such as Al Qaeda’s chief financiers and arms providers, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Washington Post’s report states:

The goal of the new money is to counter the increasingly effective network of services provided by militants.

Unfortunately, the so-called “Syrian Opposition Coalition” handcrafted by the US, and founded in Doha, Qatar, is led by an extremist, Mouaz al-Khatib, who openly embraces Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra front in Syria, credited with some of the most heinous atrocities committed during the 2 year conflict, as well as systematic abuse, oppression, and subjugation in all areas along Syria’s border with NATO-member Turkey it controls.

In late 2012, al-Khatib demanded that the US reverse its decision to list al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization. Reuters quoted al-Khatib as saying:

“The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed. We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.”

The more recent Washington Post article, in fact, reaffirms al-Khatib’s support for extremists groups, stating:

Coalition chairman Mouaz al-Khatib angrily appealed for a humanitarian corridor to the besieged city of Homs and said the rebels are tired of Western complaints about extremists in their ranks. He argued that the real enemy is the Assad regime but said too many outsiders are worried only about “the length of a beard of a fighter.”

“No terrorists in the world have such a savage nature as those in the regime,” Khatib said in Arabic.

The Syrian opposition leader’s finger-jabbing anger was in marked contrast to Kerry’s clipped and measured tone. Kerry looked at Khatib without expression as the Syrian spoke.

And yet this US-created “opposition” movement, run by a leader openly embracing and defending Al Qaeda, will be the recipient of some $60 million in “non-lethal aid” and “training” to allegedly “undermine” Al Qaeda. The Washington Post indicated that France and the UK were even considering sending armored vehicles to the openly pro-Al Qaeda front.

The face-value absurdity of current Western foreign policy in the wake of a decade-long “War on Terror” that has left it bankrupt, thousands of its soldiers dead, tens of thousands more maimed or mentally ill, is perhaps so profoundly acute, it is hoped it is easier to instead believe US Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated lies.

And astonishingly, even as French soldiers die fighting militants in Mali – armed, trained, and funded by NATO’s similar intervention in Libya in 2011, and allegedly still funded and armed by US, UK, and French ally Qatar – the Washington Post article indicates France will be eagerly making the same “mistake” in Syria, and will be further assisting terrorists there, including the training of rebel forces “outside Syria.”

The exhausted legitimacy of the West, punctuated by unhinged hypocrisy, and rapidly unraveling financial and military might, would seem a perfect opportunity for the United Nations to prove its relevance or legitimacy by condemning the purposeful expansion of an already intolerable proxy war initiated by Western interests. Instead, it remains silent, or worse yet, complicit in the premeditated, documented assault on Syria under the increasingly tenuous guise of “democracy promotion,” “revolution,” and “humanitarian concern.”

Nations existing outside the West’s unraveling international enterprise would do best to continue resisting, and increasingly condemning the overt state-sponsorship of terrorism that is destroying Syria. For the rest of us, we must identify the corporate-financier interests driving this agenda – interests we most likely patronize on a daily basis, and both boycott and permanently replace them to erode the unwarranted influence they have used to both plan and execute this assault on Syria’s people.

Democracy Canadian-style

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Given Canada’s neo-realpolitik internationally, it is no surprise that Canadian domestic affairs are following an identical logic. In the past, Canada appeared to stand apart from such settler colonies as the US and Australia in dealing more fairly with its natives. John Ralston Saul argues for the “originality of the Canadian project”, that contained elements of a rejection of the Enlightenment project of Europe/ the US, which was based on secular rationality and liberal revolution. Canada was never a monolithic nation state, but rather based on consensus, incorporating the native philosophy of man as part of nature. Canada’s policy of constant immigration furthermore fuelled the need for a multicultural “intercultural” ethic.

It was never a ‘melting pot’ and Canadians have always prided themselves on their lack of US-style national chauvinism. (Europe is formally multicultural because of its need for cheap immigrant labor, but old imperial nationalisms live on.)

Saul argues that Canada was ‘founded’ as a modern nation not in 1867 but in 1701 with the Great Peace of Montreal between New France and 40 First Nations of North America. This treaty, achieved through negotiations according to Native American diplomatic custom, was meant to end ethnic conflicts. From then on, negotiation would trump direct conflict and the French would agree to act as arbiters during conflicts between signatory tribes. The paradigm is a confederation of tribes, consensus, the Aboriginal circle, “eating from a common bowl”. The treaty is still valid and recognized as such by the Native American tribes involved.

French Canadians are generally pre-French-revolution immigrant stock. Similarly Anglo-Canadians were against the American revolution (a merchants’ revolt against the crown). The downside of this is Canada’s enduring colonial mentality, and the constant reassertion of conservative elites (Confederation, Borden, Mulroney, Harper) and kowtowing to the Britain/ US imperial center. (Diefenbaker was the one exception, defying US empire over stationing nuclear weapons on Canadian soil, and he was shafted by US do-gooder JFK and our own do-good Nobel Peacenik Lester Pearson.)

Sadly, this contradiction in Canada’s conservative colonial heritage has meant that the thread of continuity from the days when natives counted (it was their land which the whites wanted to expropriate, albeit peacefully) has now officially snapped, as Bill C-45, and the political and media campaign against the native resistance shows.

Natives face not only official pressure to give up their rights, but they face abuse, even by those who are supposed to protect them. The residential education programs, intended to forcibly assimilate native children by wiping out their languages and traditions and replacing them with modern (or rather ‘postmodern’) education, was exposed in recent years, even eliciting an official apology from Prime Minister Harper himself. Most recently Canada’s national police force stands accused of sexually abusing aboriginal women and girls in British Columbia, Human Rights Watch has revealed.

The Idle No More protest movement, spearheaded by native activists, and joined by other Canadians who are opposed to the Conservatives’ agenda, is making alliances with similar groups in the US who are opposed to the neoliberal agenda. At the “Forward on Climate” march in February in Washington DC, Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saikuz First Nation warned that the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline will not only threaten indigenous communities living in its path, but the myriad of ecosystems that it will invade (the equivalent of the empire’s military invasions around the world). “When we take care of the land, the land [takes] care of us,” she pleaded.

Canadian pitbull

Harper is counting on Canada’s past do-good reputation to see it through in its new, hardnosed role as imperial pitbull. “Canada remains in a very special place in the world. We are the one major developed country that no one thinks has any responsibility for the [financial] crisis. We’re the one country in the room everybody would like to be,” he boasted at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh in 2009. The other G20 nations “would like to be an advanced developed economy with all the benefits that conveys to its citizens and at the same time not have been the source, or have any of the domestic problems, that created this crisis. We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them.”

Harper should read a less tendentious history book. Canada is the colonial success story par excellence, and continues to be. In most colonies (for example, India), a small number of Europeans ruled over much larger Indigenous populations. In order to make profits from a colony, Europeans needed the labor of the people they had conquered to amass profit.

Colonialism in Canada was different. Here it took the form of settler colonialism (other states with this type of colonialism include the USA, Australia and Israel). “Settler colonialism took place where European settlers settled permanently on Indigenous lands, aggressively seized those lands from Indigenous peoples and eventually greatly outnumbered Indigenous populations,” writes analyst David Camfield. It destroyed the organic cultures that grew out of relationships with those lands, and, ultimately, eliminating those Indigenous societies.

What’s left of the natives, with their very different way of life, ended up tangled up in the legal system, desperately them trying to keep their original treaties alive, though these treaties, with their many vague loop-holes, have in any case proved threadbare over time. And watch out for retribution. Native spokesperson Cindy Blackstock, who has spent more than five years trying to hold Ottawa accountable for a funding gap on the welfare of aboriginal children on reserves, found herself hounded by government surveillance intended to discredit her, as recently confirmed by a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal statement.

Similarly, (white) Canadians who run afoul of the neocolonial role Canada plays abroad have been burned. Gary Peters, an Australian national based in Canada, was found complicit in “crimes against humanity”, and Cyndy Vanier — of involvement in organized crime and falsification of documents, for helping deposed Libyan president Gaddafi’s son, Saadi Gaddafi, flee Libya in 2011.

Canada has graduated as the consummate colonial success story, and has now moved smoothly into its postmodern role as ‘supporter of human rights’ — not by promoting disinterested NGOs and providing lots of funding, but via invasion, exploitation and/or subterfuge at home and abroad. This should come as no surprise, where the indicator for success in economics and politics is not fairness and consensus, but profit and engineered majority-rule.

Canada’s own democratic traditions have been trampled time and again by Harper, who prorogued Parliament twice, becoming the first prime minister ever to be found guilty of contempt of parliament, and flagrantly ignores freedom of speech by muzzling senior bureaucrats, withholding and altering documents, and launching personal attacks on whistleblowers. There is an ongoing investigation into voting fraud perpetrated by the Conservatives in the last election.

That this reality continues to be touted as Canada’s success story is a sorry commentary on our postmodern reality, where truth is in the eyes of the beholder, and public opinion is in any case shaped by ‘them that controls the words’.

The Real Iran Hostage Crisis: A CIA Covert Op

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Global Research Editor’s Note

The script of Best Film Academy Award Movie  “Argo” which depicts the Iran Hostage Crisis is largely based on fiction.

The purpose of the film is to rewrite history, to falsify what actually happened as well as provide a human face to US foreign  policy.

Amply documented, the Iran Hostage Crisis was a complex CIA covert operation intent upon stalling the Iranian Revolution as well as spearheading the political demise of President Jimmy Carter.

The following article first published in 1995 is based on extensive documentation collected by Fara Mansoor, a prominent Iranian intellectual.

Michel  Chossudovsky, February 26, 2013


By Harry V. Martin

Free America, 1995

Fara Mansoor is a fugitive. No, he hasn’t broken any laws in the United States. His crime is the truth. What he has to say and the documents he carries are equivalent to a death warrant for him, Mansoor is an Iranian who was part of the “establishment” in Iran long before the 1979 hostage taking. Mansoor’s records actually discount the alleged “October Surprise” theory that the Ronald Reagan-George Bush team paid the Iranians not to release 52 American hostages until after the November 1980 Presidential elections.

Mansoor’s meticulous documents, shared exclusively with this magazine, shows a much more sinister plot, the plot to take the hostages in the first place. “For 15 years the truth about the nature and origins of the Iranian hostage crisis has been buried in a mountain of misinformation,” Mansoor states. “Endless expert analysis has served only to deepen the fog that still surrounds this issue. We have been led to believe that the ‘crisis’ was a spontaneous act that just sprang out of the ‘chaos’ of the ‘Islamic Revolution’. Nothing could be further from the truth!”

“To really understand the hostage crisis and ‘who done it’, one has to look not only with a microscope, but also a wide angle lens to have a panoramic view of this well scripted ‘drama’,” Mansoor states. “That ‘drama’ was the result of large historical patterns, models, and motives. Once its true nature is understood, it will be clear how Iran/Contra happened.

Why Rafsanjani has been trying to ‘move toward the West,’ and why Reagan called him a ‘moderate’. And why, during the Gulf War, James Baker said, ‘we think Iran has conducted itself in a very, very credible way through this crisis’” Mansoor emphasizes that the “October Surprise” myth has served as dangerous misinformation.

THOUSANDS OF DOCUMENTS IN SUPPORT

With thousands of documents to support his position, Mansoor says that the “hostage crisis” was a political “management tool” created by the pro-Bush faction of the CIA, and implemented through an a priori Alliance with Khomeini’s Islamic Fundamentalists.” He says the purpose was twofold:

  • To keep Iran intact and communist-free by putting Khomeini in full control.
  • To destablize the Carter Administration and put George Bush in the White House.

“The private Alliance was the logical result of the intricate Iranian political reality of the mid-70s, and a complex network of powerful U.S.-Iranian ‘business’ relationships,” Mansoor states. “I first met Khomeini in 1963 during the failed coup attempt against the Shah. Since that time I have been intimately involved with Iranian politics. I knew in 1979 that the whole, phoney ‘Islamic Revolution’ was ‘mission implausible’.” Mansoor was frank. “There is simply no way that those guys with the beards and turbans could have pulled off such a brilliantly planned operation without very sophisticated help.”

Mansoor has spent 10 years researching the issue.

“I have collected enough data to yield a very clear picture. Mr. Bush’s lieutenants removed the Shah, brought Khomeini back to Iran, and guided his rise to power, sticking it to President Carter, the American people (52 in particular), and the Iranian people.”

He stated with boxes and boxes of evidence to support his contentions.

“My extensive research has revealed the heretofore untold truth about this episode. This is not another ‘October Surprise’ theory purporting how the hostage crisis resulted in some Khomeini-Republic better deal. That theory puts the cart before the horse. Its absurd premise is that a major international deal was initiated and consummated in three weeks. Give me a break! Bill Casey didn’t have to go to Paris to play lets-make-deal. The ‘deal’ had been in operation for at least two years. This game of blind-man’s-bluff around Casey’s gravestone was more disinformation, damage control.”

REAGAN, BUSH AND THATCHER IN IRAN IN 1978

Mansoor produced a confidential document called the “Country Team Minutes” of April 26, 1978, more than a year before the hostage crisis. The meeting was held in Iran. The second paragraph of the routine minutes, states, “The Ambassador commented on our distinguished visitors, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Margaret Thatcher, and commented that Teheran seems to be the site for an opposition parties congress.” Mansoor indicates the entire relationship was probably the most sophisticated criminal act in recent history. “That the people who, until recently, were holding power in Washington and those who currently are still in control in Teheran, got there by totally subverting the democratic process of both countries is news. That their methods of subversion relied on kidnapping, extortion and murder is criminal,” Mansoor states.

Mansoor became a target after he did a radio show in Portland on November 13, 1992. It was the first time he attempted to go public with his documents and information. The Iranian regime has placed a bounty on Mansoor’s head and he has received many death threats.

Is Mansoor just another conspiracy nut? Ervand Abrahamian of Baruch College of New York stated in a letter to Mansoor,

“As you know I am very weary of conspiracy theories. But, despite my preconceived bias, I must admit I found your manuscript to be thoroughly researched, well documented, and, of course extremely relevant to the present. You have done an first-class job of interviewing participants, collecting data from scattered sources, and putting them together like a highly complicated puzzle.”

Mansoor’s meticulous research clearly demonstrates how Khomeini’s published vision of an Islamic Government (Vilayat-Faqih) dovetailed with the regional and global strategic objectives of a hard-core subset of the U.S. National Security establishment loyal to George Bush. It shows that the Iranian hostage crisis was neither a crisis nor chaos. In 1953, the CIA orchestrated a coup in Iran, which threw out the democratic government and installed the Shah.

In order to understand the imperative of this Alliance, we must realistically examine the sociopolitical alignment both in Iran and the U.S., and accurately assess their respective interests to find the command ground for this coalescence. The anti-monarchic forces in mid-70s Iran consisted of various nationalists groups including religious reformist, the Islamic Fundamentalists, and the leftists and communist.

The Nationalist forces were varied. Some were from within the government, but they were poorly organized and without grass-roots support. Their position was clearly anti-left and anti-communist, but they were vulnerable to being taken over by the well-organized left.

The Islamic Fundamentalists had no government experience, but they had major grassroots supports. Islam, in its Shi’ite format was deeply embedded in the lives of the vast majority of the Iranian people. The Fundamentalists were absolutely anti-communist.

CARTER FIRES 800 CIA COVERT OPERATORS

The philosophical divide within the U.S. National Security establishment, especially the CIA, became quite serious in the aftermath of Watergate. To make matters worse, the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, his campaign promise to clean the “cowboy” elements out of the Central Intelligence Agency and his “human rights” policies alarmed the faction of the CIA loyal to George Bush. Bush was CIA director under Richard Nixon. Finally, the firing of CIA Director George Bush by Carter, and the subsequent “Halloween Massacre” in which Carter fired over 800 CIA covert operatives in 1977, angered the “cowboys” beyond all measure. That was Carter’s October surprise, 800 firings on Halloween 1977.

Bush and his CIA coverts were well aware of the Shah’s terminal cancer, unknown to President Carter. The team had an elaborate vested interest to protect. They were determined to keep Iran intact and communist-free and put George Bush in the White House.

TIMELINE: SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

Hence, the Islamic Fundamentalists were the only viable choice through which the Bush covert team could implement its own private foreign policy. The results: the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the fall of President Carter, and the emergence of something called the “New World Order.” Mansoor’s documents show step-by-step events:

1. In 1974, the Shah of Iran was diagnosed with cancer.

2. In 1975, former CIA director, and the U.S. Ambassador to Iran, Richard Helms learned of the Shah’s cancer through the Shah’s closest confidant, General Hossein Fardoust. The Shah, Helms and Fardoust had been close personal friends since their school days together in Switzerland during the 1930s.

3. On November 4, 1976, concurrent with Jimmy Carter’s election as President, CIA Director George Bush issued a secret memo to the U.S. Ambassador in Iran, Richard Helms, asking:

“Have there been any changes in the personality pattern of the Shah; what are their implication pattern for political behavior? Identification of top military officers that most likely play key roles in any transference of power if the Shah were killed…who will be the leading actors? How will the Shah’s pet projects, including the economic development program, be effected by his departure?”

4. By July 1977, anticipating trouble ahead, the Bush covert team issued preliminary script for the transition of power in Iran. According to John D. Stemple, a CIA analyst and Deputy Chief Political officer of the U.S. Embassy in Iran, “A ten page analysis of the opposition written by the embassy’s political section in July 1977 correctly identified Bakhiar, Bazargan, Khomeini and Behesti as major actors in the drama that begin unfolding a year later.”

5. Contrary to this analysis, in August 1977, the “official wing” of the CIA fed President Carter a 60-page Study on Iran which concluded:

“The Shah will be an active participant in Iranian life well into the 1980s…and there will be no radical changes in Iranian political behavior in the near future.”

6. On October 31, 1977, president Carter made good on his campaign promise to clean the “cowboys” out of the CIA. He fired over 800 covert operatives from the Agency, many of whom were loyal to George Bush. Carter’s presidency split the CIA. It produced in them, among whom were “many well-trained in political warfare, a concerted will for revenge.” By the end of the 1970s many of these special covert operatives had allied themselves with George Bush’s candidacy, and later with Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign.

7. On November 15, the Shah of Iran visited Washington, D.C. Carter toasted his guest, “If ever there was a country which has blossomed forth under enlightened leadership, it would be the ancient empire of Persia.”

8. On November 23, Ayatollah Khomeini’s elder son, Haji Mustafa, died mysteriously in Najaf, Iraq. According to professor Hamid Algar, he was “assassinated by the Shah’s U.S.-instituted security police SAVAK…the tragedy inflamed the public in Iran.” Ayatollah Khomeini placed an advertisement in the French Newspaper Le Monde which read: “thanking people for condolences that had been sent of the murder of his son”. He also “appealed to the army to liberate Iran, and to the intellectuals and all good Muslims to continue their criticism of the Shah”.

9. December 31, 1977, Carter visited the Shah in Iran. He toasted the Shah for maintaining Iran as “an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” Ironically, that so-called stability evaporated before the champagne lost its fizz.

10. On January 7, 1978, an insidious article entitled Iran and the Red and Black Colonialism, appeared in the Iranian daily newspaper Ettela’at. It castigated the exiled Khomeini, and produced a massive protest riot in the Holy City of Qum the next day. The clergy had little choice but to rally to Khomeini’s defense. The Qum incident shifted many of the clergy from a position of support for the Shah’s monarchy to an active opposition. That “dirty trick” perpetuated by General Fardoust was the trigger that sparked Islamic movement participating in the anti-Shah democratic Revolution. John D. Stempel, characterized Fardoust’s importance to the Alliance: “it is hard to over estimated the value of having a mole in the inner circle of the Shah.”

11. On February 3, a confidential communiqué from the U.S. Embassy clearly reflected the vision of the Alliance: “Though based on incomplete evidence, our best assessment to date is that the Shia Islamic movement dominated by Ayatollah Khomeini is far better organized, enlighten and able to resist Communism than its detractors would lead us to believe. It is rooted in the Iranian people more than any western ideology, including Communism.”

12. April 1978, Le Monde “identified Khomeini’s Liberation Movement of Iran as the most significant force in the opposition followed by the Shi’ite Islam joins the reformist of progressive critics of the Shah on the same ground. In fact, this analysis was contrary to what Mohaammad Tavassoli, leader of the Liberation Movement of Iran, expressed to John D. Stempel on August 21, 1978: “The nationalist movement in Iran lacks a popular base. The choice is between Islam and Communism…close ties between the Liberation Movement of Iran and the religious movement was necessary. Iran was becoming split by Marxist and the religious.”

13. On April 26, the confidential minutes of the U. S. Embassy Country team meeting welcomed Bush, Reagan and Thatcher.

14. On May 6, Le Monde became the first western newspaper to interview Khomeini in Najaf, Iraq. Khomeini acknowledged his compatibility with the strategic imperatives of the Bush covert team, “we would not collaborate with the Marxists, even to the overthrow of the Shah.”

15. The same month, Khomeini’s old ally from the failed 1963 coup (that resulted in Khomeini’s arrest and major uprising in June 1963 and his subsequent exile to Iraq) General Valliollah Qarani sent his emissary to meet Khomeini in Najaf. Qarani had been a major CIA asset in Iran since the 1953 coup. Seeing another chance to gain power for himself, he advised Khomeini, according to former Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-sader:

“if you settle for the Shah’s departure and don’t use anti-American rhetoric, Americans are ready to take him out.”

16. In August, the Bush team sent its own point man to meet the exiled Ayatollah in Najaf. Professor Richard Cottam carried excellent credentials. During the 1953 coup, he had been in charge of the CIA’s Iran Desk, also, he had been in close contact with Dr. Ibrahim Yazdi in the U.S. since 1975. Curiously, he admitted to Bani-sadr in 1987, that he had not been working for the Carter Administration. Cottam’s visit must have had an impact, because Iran suddenly began to experience a series of mysterious catastrophes:

  • In Aberdeen, Fundamentalist supporters burned down a theater killing the innocent occupants, blaming it on the SAVAK and the Shah.
  • There were riots in Isfahan that resulted in martial law.
  • On August 27, one of Khomeini’s rivals among the Shia Islamic faithful outside of Iran, Ayatollah Mosa Sadr mysteriously disppeared. According to an intelligence source he was killed and buried in Libya.

17. By late August, the Shah was totally confused. U.S. Ambassador Sullivan recorded the Shah’s pleadings over the outbreak of violence:

“he said the pattern was widespread and that it was like an outbreak of a sudden rash in the country…it gave evidence of sophisticated planning and was not the work of spontaneous oppositionists…the Shah presented that it was the work of foreign intrigue…this intrigue went beyond the capabilities of the Soviet KGB and must, therefore, also involve British and American CIA. The Shah went on to ask ‘Why was the CIA suddenly turning against him? What had he done to deserve this sort of action from the United States?”

18. September 8, the Shah’s army gunned down hundreds of demonstrators in Teheran in what became known as the “Jaleh Square Massacre”.

19. On September 9, President Carter phoned the Shah to confirm his support for the Shah, a fact that enraged the Iranian population.

20. A few days later, Carter’s National Security aide, Gary Sick, received a call from Richard Cottam, requesting a discrete meeting between him and Khomeini’s representative in the U.S., Dr. Yazdi. Sick refused.

21. Khomeini for the first time, publicly called for the Shah’s overthrow.

22. In Mid-September, at the height of the revolution, “one of the handful of Khomeini’s trusted associates”, Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Beheshti, secretly visited the United States among others, he also meet with Yazdi in Texas. Beheshti was an advocate of the eye-for-an-eye school of justice.

23. In early October 1978, the agent for the Bush covert team arranged to force Khomeini out of Iraq.

24. October 3, 1978, Yazdi picked up Khomeini in Iraq and headed for Kuwait. According to Gary Sick, he received an urgent call from Richard Cottam, learning for the first time that Khomeini had been forced out of Iraq. Sick was told that Khomeini and his entourage were stuck in no man’s land while attempting to cross the border. Cottam was requesting White House intervention to resolve the issue. Sick respond, “there is nothing we could do”.

25. October 6, Khomeini’s entourage, having gotten back through Baghdad, popped up in Paris. According to Bani-sadr, “it was Khomeini who insisted on going to Paris instead of Syria or Algeria”. Whoever helped Khomeini out of the Kuwaiti border impasse had to have been on good terms with both the French and Saddam Hussein.

26. December 12, Yazdi made a trip to the U.S. to promote Khomeini and his Islamic Republic. Yazdi met secretly with Henry Precht on an unofficial capacity. Precht was the Director of the Iran Desk at the State Department and one of the Bush team’s main choke points in the Carter Administration. Later Precht and Yazdi appeared together for televised discussion of Iran. Yazdi assured the American public that Khomeini had not really called for a “torrent of blood”, and that the “election would be absolutely free”. The Islamic Republic “would enjoy full freedom of speech and the press, including the right to attack Islam.

27. December 28, Cottam visited Khomeini in Paris where he noted that U.S. citizen Dr. Yazdi was the “leading tactician in Khomeini’s camp” and apparent “chief of staff”. Khomeini was not interested in the Mullahs taking over the government. Also noted that “Khomeini’s movement definitely plans to organize a political party to draw on Khomeini’s charisma. Cottam thinks such a party would win all Majlis seats.”

28. Leaving Paris, Cottam slipped into Teheran, arriving the first week in January 1979, to prepare Khomeini’s triumphal return to Iran.

29. January 4, 1979, Carter’s secret envoy, General Robert Huyser arrived in Iran. His mission was to prevent the “fall of the Shah”. According to Huyser, Alexander Haig, ostensibly a strong Shah supporter-inexplicably, “took violent exception to the whole idea.” Huyser recalled that “General Haig never gave me a full explanation of his strong objections.” Huyser also revealed that Ambassador Sullivan “had also expressed objections.” Two pro-Shah advocates opposed to the prevention of the Shah’s fall.

30. On January 14, President Carter finally “authorized a meeting between Warren Zimmerman and Ibrahim Yazdi. On the same day, Khomeini, in an interview on CBS claimed, “a great part of the army was loyal to him” and that “he will be in effect the strong man of Iran.”

31. On January 16, in an exact repeat of the 1953 CIA coup, Bush’s covert team ushered the “eccentric and weak” Shah out of Iran.

32. On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini staged his own version of a “triumphal return” in the streets of Teheran.

33. Khomeini moved quickly to establish his authority. On February 5 he named Mehdi Bazargan, a devoted Muslim and anti-communist, interim Prime Minister. Yazdi and Abbas Amir Entezam became Bazargan’s deputies, Dr. Sanjabi Foreign Minister, and General Qarani was named military Chief of Staff.

34. On February 11, 1979, in seemingly a bizarre twist, General Qarani asked the Shah’s “eyes and ears” General Hossien Fardoust for recommendations to fill the new top posts in Iran’s armed forces. Outside of the Chief of SAVAK, all the other recommendations were accepted. Shortly after, General Fardoust became head of SAVAMA, Khomeini’s successor to SAVAK.

35. On February 14, 1979, two weeks after Khomeini’s return to Iran, the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was seized by Khomeini supporters disguised as leftist guerrillas in an attempt to neutralize the left. U.S. hostages were seized, but to the chagrin of Khomeini’s Fundamentalist, the Iranian coalition government restored order immediately. Ironically, in the same day in Kabul, Afghanistan, the U.S. Ambassador was also kidnapped by fanatic Islamic Fundamentalists disguised as leftist guerrillas and killed in the gunfight.

36. On February 14, soon after the order was restored at the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, Khomeini’s aide Yazdi supplied the Embassy with a group of Iranians for compound security. Ambassador Sullivan installed armed, and trained this Swat squad lead by SAVAK/CIA agent Mashallah Kahsani, with whom Sullivan developed a close working relationship.

37. By August, pro-Bush CIA official George Cave was visiting Iran to provide intelligence briefings to Khomeini’s aides, especially Yazdi and Entezam. These intelligence exchanges continued until October 31, the day Carter fired Bush and the 800 agents. Then with all the Iranian officials who had restored order in the first Embassy seizure eliminated, the stage was set for what happened four days later.

38. On November 4, 1979, the U.S. Embassy was taken again. Leading the charge was none other than Ambassador Sullivan’s trusted Mashallah Kashani, the Embassy’s once and former security chief.

With the evidence and documentation supplied by Mansoor, the alleged October Surprise would not have been necessary. President Carter was the target, in revenge for the Halloween Massacre, the night 800 CIA operatives and George Bush were fired by Carter. The man thrust, however, was to prevent a communist takover of Iran on the Shah’s anticpated death.

Multibillion Weapons Exports: Germany Arms the Persian Gulf Monarchies

persiangulf

In the past year, Germany has more than doubled its arms exports to the Arab Gulf monarchies. Algeria, too, received more defense materiel than in 2011. This emerges from a response by the ministry of economics to a parliamentary question of the Left Party, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last week.

In 2012, arms exports valued at €1.42 billion were approved for the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In the previous year, these exports were just €570 million. At €1.24 billion, the largest share went to Saudi Arabia, nine times as much as the year before. Export permits for Bahrain and Qatar rose to €4.3 and €17.6 million, respectively.

As for arms exports to Algeria, in 2010 they were around €20 million, while in 2011 they had risen to €217 million, and in 2012 to €287 million.

According to the economics ministry, these figures are based upon a “preliminary” analysis of arms exports permits issued in 2012. Definitive figures will be published towards the end of the year in the government’s arms export report. They are expected to be far higher.

At the end of last year, it was revealed that Saudi Arabia had officially requested the purchase of hundreds of “Boxer” armoured transport vehicles and 30 “Dingo” armoured reconnaissance vehicles from Germany. More recently, the German media reported that the Saudi monarchy was also seeking to buy German patrol boats worth €1.5 billion. In 2011, it was revealed that Germany had supplied 200 “Leopard 2” tanks to Saudi Arabia.

The massive stepping-up of arms supplies to the Gulf States by Germany reflects the geo-strategic interests of German imperialism, which is increasingly acting with military aggression to satisfy its hunger for raw materials and to impose its own interests against those of its rivals.

Last week, the financial daily Handelsblatt published an article headlined “Expedition raw materials: Germany’s new course”, which laid out German imperialism’s new doctrine. The article states that German industry and government agree that the “securing of raw materials” is a “strategic theme for German foreign policy”. Securing them must also involve the use of “instruments of security and military policy”, the paper wrote. Handelsblatt placed the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, in this context. “In the view of Chancellor Angela Merkel, German interests are already being secured through arms exports to strategically important regions such as the oil state of Saudi Arabia”, it wrote. “The controversial export of ‘Leopard 2’ and ‘Boxer’ tanks, as well as patrol boats, to Saudi Arabia should also be seen against this background. According to the ‘Merkel doctrine’, Germany’s ‘strategic partners’ should be supported not only politically but also by force of arms—before being compelled in a crisis to send one’s own soldiers.”

Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière, who is restructuring the German army into a global fighting force, describes this doctrine cynically as “strengthening instead of intervening.” In an interview with news weekly Der Spiegel last November, he said that it was a matter of “strengthening the security forces, including through military equipment, in weak countries with halfway decent governments, so that they can take security into their own hands.”

What de Maizière means is the suppression of protests by governments that the German bourgeoisie regards as central for the defence of its strategic interests. The Gulf States are not only an important source of raw materials for Germany; they also play a key role in containing revolutionary struggles in the Arab world, which began with the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and in defending imperialist interests in the region.

The semi-feudal al-Saud monarchy, under which executions and torture are an almost daily occurrence, suppresses all protests against their dictatorial rule by police violence. The al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain has employed extreme brutality in dealing with mass protests over the last two years. Qatar first supported the NATO bombing campaign against Libya and is now playing a key role organizing the war against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, waged by the West.

The Gulf States also play a key role in the preparations for war against Iran. The Gulf Cooperation Council—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates—was founded in 1981 as a direct response to the Iranian revolution. In recent years, the Gulf States have been continually provided with the latest military technology as part of the Western powers’ preparations for war against Iran.

The German government justifies its arms sales to Saudi Arab directly with the preparations for war against Iran. In an interview with the news program Tagesthemen, when Chancellor Merkel was asked about German defense exports to Saudi Arabia, she declared that Germany enjoyed a “strategic partnership” with some of the Gulf States, since the Iranian nuclear program was regarded as a “very serious threat”.

A war against Iran would not only trigger a conflagration throughout the region, but risks armed conflict with Russia and China, who support Tehran. This testifies to the dangers of a third World War.

The resurgence of German militarism, which in the last century plunged humanity into two world wars, is opposed by broad layers of the German population. Against this backdrop, the opposition parties are trying to distance themselves from the unpopular arms exports.

The Social Democratic Party candidate for chancellor in this year’s federal elections, Peer Steinbrück, claims an “SPD-Green Party government under my leadership would turn off arms exports”.

This is pure hypocrisy. The last SPD-Green Party government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Greens) not only supported the bloody colonial wars in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Like the Merkel government, it exported weapons to the Middle East, including hundreds of “Leopard” battle tanks to Turkey, 1,200 anti-tank weapons to Saudi Arabia and submarines to Israel.

Nothing has changed regarding the SPD and the Green’s fundamental support for war. Only last week, they voted with the government parties for the deployment of 330 German troops to Mali to support the French invasion.

The Left Party’s criticism of arms exports is an equally mendacious attempt to divert attention from their own role supporting Germany’s war policy.

Like all the other parties of the German bourgeoisie, the Left Party has supported the murderous war against Syria, where over the last two years pro-Western militias have organized a terrorist war to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad and to install a pro-Western puppet government. Late last year, leaders of the Left Party signed a statement together with politicians from the Christian Democrats, the SPD and Greens in support of war against Syria. The Syrian opposition forces supported by the Left Party are mainly funded and armed by the Gulf States.

The collaboration of all the parties in the Bundestag (federal parliament) with the Gulf States, or with forces supported by them, is a warning to the working class. As soon as mass protests against war and austerity break out in Germany, the ruling class will suppress them with the same brutality employed by the Gulf monarchies, which they have armed to the teeth.

The Al Qaeda Most Americans Know Is Basically a Myth at This Point

The world recently got a good taste of how al Qaeda operatives have a lot in common these days with cubicle-dwelling bureaucrats.

February 24, 2013  |  

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When I left Vegas last week, Mali was still the center of the world. I got home today, after taking a few wrong turns, and Mali is well on its way back to nowhere. Google News only listed 23 stories tagged “Mali” last week, and they were all about a supposedly secret Al Qaeda communique found in Timbuktu after the Jihadis bugged out.

This is just a phase, like your parents told themselves when you were 12. It’s the phase where the war reporters lag behind the war, and don’t get into town until the fighting is over (not that there was much fighting in Mali in the first place) after the French have tidied up after their airstrikes. Now, when the big fuss is over, Timbuktu and Gao are crawling with reporters who just can’t find much to talk about—because there never really was much to talk about in these teeny desert outposts, not even when the Jihadis were in charge. So Associated Press  is screaming to anybody who’ll listen that its reporters found a vital secret document while snuffling through the trash in Timbuktu:

”TIMBUKTU, Mali - (AP) -- In their hurry to flee last month, al-Qaida fighters left behind a crucial document: Tucked under a pile of papers and trash is a confidential letter, spelling out the terror network's strategy for conquering northern Mali and reflecting internal discord over how to rule the region.”

That’s a pretty cool lead sentence, like the start of a good spy novel, until you realize every key word should have an asterisk after it, leading to a footnote that says, “Look, we needed a big story here—you know how much it costs to get to this stinking hellhole? So give us a break.”

So let’s break it down, phrase by phrase.

First, “Al Qaeda”. Every time you read that name, you should spit and shrug like a peasant turning down a horse with a hernia. It’s a scam. First of all, who says there is such a thing in the first place? Al Qaeda is an organization that makes no sense in traditional guerrilla terms. You don’t hold guerrilla jamborees, guerrilla mixers—you compartmentalize and only let members who are already blown meet with other movements. The whole idea of Al Qaeda as a jihadi ecumenical lovefest is so stupid that  almost two years ago, I said we should be asking whether there even is such a thing as Al Qaeda.

There wasn’t anything like a “terror network” operating in Mali, even when the northern half of the country was marked with those diagonal red lines meaning “under Islamist control” a few months ago. Al Qaeda is as dead as bin Laden, and it died—if it ever really existed—years before the Old Man himself was shot up while watching Jeopardy reruns in Abbotabad.

There are plenty of Islamists, from one or another of the hardline traditions—Salafist, Wahhabi, Deobandi—but they don’t report to any central Al Qaeda Board of Directors. It’s always local, much more local than the news services want to tell you. In Mali, there was a simple physics problem, a surplus of energy in the Maghrib, the rim of North Africa. Some of that energy spun back south, across the Sahara, into places like Mali.

Normally, if you’ll recall your HS Physics, “Nature abhors a vacuum,” but Nature is normally willing to tolerate one in Mali. It was just that for a while, after the Islamists lost the Algerian Civil War and Qaddafi was blasted out of Libya, there was so much excess weaponry and such a huge surplus of unemployed freelance jihadis up there, a lot of them Tuaregs nursing the old ambition to have their own ridiculous landlocked chunk of Sahara, that something was bound to pop in Mali.

When “War is Peace”: “Peace Prizes” Awarded to War Criminals

war

French President François Hollande was awarded UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for “valuable contribution to peace and stability in Africa” according to the United Nations website: www.un.org.  Former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, chaired the Jury of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize stated that “After analyzing the global situation, it is Africa that held the attention of the Jury with the various threats affecting the continent” with instability affecting Northern Mali by various Al-Qaeda elements created by the west, gave France an opportunity to invade the former colony. “Having assessed the dangers and the repercussions of the situation on French President Francois HollandeAfrica, and on Mali in particular, as well as on the rest of the world, the Jury appreciated the solidarity shown by France to the peoples of Africa.”  Does appreciating “the solidarity” shown by France mean killing hundreds of Malian people since the invasion?  France has killed many civilians that includes children.  The human rights organization Amnesty International has accused French forces of killing civilians since there was “evidence that at least five civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike.”  UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize is similar to the Nobel Peace Prize whose past winners were known for war crimes.

Henry Kissinger

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the notorious war criminal responsible for an estimated 3 to 4 million deaths during the Vietnam War including the bombing of Cambodia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.  He was responsible for the overthrow of President Salvador Allende of Chile and installed Fascist General Augusto Pinochet which created a “Police State” among the Chilean population.  Kissinger also was instrumental in giving support to one of the worst dictatorships in human history, the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot.  Henry Kissinger committed many other crimes including genocide under both Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as an “advisor” under the NSA (National Security Agency) and as Secretary of State.  President Barack Obama was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize although he was in office less than a year.  Obama has expanded Drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, opened several US military bases in Colombia and one in Chile, he ordered a war in Libya without congressional approval, maintained a military presence in Iraq and escalated the war in Afghanistan.  Obama’s record of peace on the international level is questionable.  Obama said that he was “Surprised” and “deeply humbled” after he received the award.  He said the Nobel Peace Prize is a “Call to Action”, meaning more war.  It is fair to say that the US government has been involved in many “actions” across the world, whether militarily or economically that has done more harm than good.

US President Jimmy Carter

The Nobel Peace Prize has also awarded three Israeli Prime ministers that have systematically committed numerous crimes against Palestinians that includes Menachem Begin in 1978, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1994. UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize also awarded Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1993 along with Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) during the Oslo I Accord as an attempt by both sides to set up a roadmap to a resolution to end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.  The Oslo Accords actually failed since Israel never ended its occupation and continued to build “Israeli Settlements.”

The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in 1994 and the Nobel Prize in 2002 were both awarded to former US President Jimmy Carter.  Carter supported the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran and The Somoza dictatorship of Nicaragua.  He also supported Indonesia’s Suharto militarily and diplomatically during the invasion and occupation of East Timor.  Under President Carter, US Military Aid to Suharto’s Military increased under Carter causing the deaths of over 200, 000 East Timorese.  UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize are in fact an insult to “World Peace”.  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the Nobel Peace Prize have both proved that “Western political influence” dominate both prizes.

Both awards for “Peace” are just a propaganda tool for Western Powers to wage war to establish peace.  The war on Mali will expand under Hollande since his new peace award would allow him and other key players such as AFRICOM to wage war to establish peace.  George Orwell was correct when he wrote in his classic book “1984” that “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength.”  Mali will see more war because peace is on the agenda, right?

About the author:

Timothy Alexander Guzman is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on political, economic, media and historical spheres. He has been published in Global Research, The Progressive Mind, European Union Examiner, News Beacon Ireland, WhatReallyHappened.com, EIN News and a number of other alternative news sites. He is a graduate of Hunter College in New York City.

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Virtually ALL of the Big Banks’ Profits Come from Taxpayer Bailouts and Subsidies

bankers

The government has propped up the big banks for years through massive, never-ending bailouts and subsidies.

Bloomberg noted last year that 77% of JP Morgan’s net income comes from government subsidies.

Bloomberg reported yesterday:

What if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?

***

Lately, economists have tried to pin down exactly how much the subsidy lowers big banks’ borrowing costs. In one relatively thorough effort, two researchers — Kenichi Ueda of the International Monetary Fund and Beatrice Weder di Mauro of the University of Mainz — put the number at about 0.8 percentage point. The discount applies to all their liabilities, including bonds and customer deposits.

Small as it might sound, 0.8 percentage point makes a big difference. Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest U.S. banks by assets, it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of$83 billion a year. To put the figure in perspective, it’s tantamount to the government giving the banks about 3 cents of every tax dollar collected.

The top five banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – – account for $64 billion of the total subsidy, an amount roughly equal to their typical annual profits (see tables for data on individual banks). In other words, the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry — with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy — would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfareIn large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.

The money hasn’t just gone to the banks shareholders … It has also gone to line the pockets of bank management:

Indeed:

All of the monetary and economic policy of the last 3 years has helped the wealthiest and penalized everyone else. See thisthis and this.

***

Economist Steve Keen says:

“This is the biggest transfer of wealth in history”, as the giant banks have handed their toxic debts from fraudulent activities to the countries and their people.

Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz said in 2009 that Geithner’s toxic asset plan “amounts to robbery of the American people”.

And economist Dean Baker said in 2009 that the true purpose of the bank rescue plans is “a massive redistribution of wealth to the bank shareholders and their top executives”.

We’ve noted for years that the big banks – including CitiWellsBank of America and the rest – areactually insolvent.

Breaking up the big banks would stabilize the economy … and dramatically increase Main Street’s access to credit.

But the government has chosen the banks over the little guy … dooming both:

The big banks were all insolvent during the 1980s.

And they all became insolvent again in 2008. See this and this.

The bailouts were certainly rammed down our throats under false pretenses.

But here’s the more important point. Paulson and Bernanke falsely stated that the big banks receiving Tarp money were healthy, when they were not. They were insolvent.

Tim Geithner falsely stated that the banks passed some time of an objective stress test but they did not. They were insolvent.

Both the creditors and the debtors were mortally wounded by the 2008 financial crisis. The big banks wouldn’t have survived without trillions in handouts, guarantees, loans, idiot-proof profits courtesy of the government.

The little guy hasn’t been helped since 2008. He has been left to suffer with his life-threatening wounds. See thisthis and this.

So the government chose sides. The creditors were wiped out, just like a lot of Main Street was wiped out. In one sense, the government chose who would live (the giant banks and other bailed out and favored companies) and who would die (the other 99%).

But in fact, the big banks were no longer creditors after the 2008 crash. Specifically, the big banks which held the mortgages and the loans were wiped out.

The government moved the arms and legs of the big banks to pretend they were still alive … and have been doing so ever since. But they were no longer going concerns after they went bust.

The government pumped blood back in these dead banks and turned them into zombies. They will never come back to life in a real sense … they are still zombies, 3 years later.

Many of the world’s leading economists and financial experts say that by choosing creditors over debtors, the government is dooming the economy. See this and this.

The big zombie banks can never come back to life, and – by trying to save them – the government is bleeding out the little guy.

By choosing the big banks over the little guy, the government is dooming both.

Remember, the Federal Reserve has paid banks high interest rates to stash money (their “excess reserves”) with the Fed for the express purpose of preventing loans to Main Street.

And the Fed plans to throw more money at the banks when the Federal Reserve starts to tighten.  As FTreports:

US Federal Reserve officials fear a backlash from paying billions of dollars tocommercial banks when the time comes to raise interest rates.

The growth of the Fed’s balance sheet means it could pay $50bn-$75bn a year in interest on bank reserves at the same time as it makes losses and has to stop sending money to the Treasury.

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In an interview with the Financial Times, James Bullard, president of the St Louis Fed, said: “If you think of the profitability of the biggest banks, if you’re going to talk about paying them something of the order of $50bn – well that’s more than the entire profits of the largest banks.”

***

At the moment it only pays 0.25 per cent interest on those reserves. But according to its exit strategy, published in June 2011, the Fed plans to raise interest rates before it sells assets. Interest of 2 per cent on $2.5tn of reserves would run to $50bn a year.

***

The eventual tightening could lead to substantial amounts being transferred to commercial banks from the Fed, given the amounts of cash they have parked there. Wells Fargo has $97.1bn sitting at the Fed, the largest amount of any bank, ahead of JPMorgan Chase at $88.6bn and Goldman Sachs at $58.7bn, according to an FT analysis of SNL data.

Foreign banks also have a striking amount of cash at the Fed, potentially aggravating the Fed’s PR problem. Analysts at Stone & McCarthy noted recently that there had been a steep increase in foreign banks placing reserves at the Fed and suggested that “US banks may have distaste for the opportunistic arbitrage”, between lower market rates and the interest on reserves, whereas overseas institutions “might not feel encumbered in the same fashion”.

Canada’s TD Bank, Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Switzerland’s UBS each have more than $12bn at the Fed.

And while this post focuses on bailouts and subsidies to big American banks,  a large percentage of the bailouts went to foreign banks (and see this). And so did a huge portion of the money from quantitative easing. More here and here.

The Moral Decoding of 9-11: Beyond the U.S. Criminal State, The Grand Plan for...

911

We are bring to the consideration of our readers this incisive and carefully formulated analysis by Canada’s renowned philosopher Professor John McMurtry. 

The complete text published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies can be downloaded in pdf

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I was sceptical of the 9-11 event from the first time I saw it on television. It was on every majo