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The broad principles underlying the United Nations (UN) are noble and peaceful. They have unfortunately been perverted from the UN’s inception.
The UN is currently being used as an instrument of domination by several permanent member States of the UN Security Council.
According to the Charter’s Preamble the UN was established:
“to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war [...] to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained [...]” (Charter of the United Nations)
The UN General Assembly (GA) is democratic. One country, one vote. Unfortunately, even if it represents all 193 member states and passes very important resolutions, its members often follow the diktats of the powerful nations on which they depend financially.
The GA has no power. The latter lies in the self-given authority of the five permanent members of the Security Council (U.S.,UK, France, Russia, China), the only ones in possession of the very arbitrary and very powerful veto.
The astonishing number of resolutions passed by the GA regarding Israel have had no effect whatsoever and have invariably been blocked by the US at the Security Council (SC).
In his historic speech at the UN in 2009, which the New York Times unfairly qualified as “rambling”, the late Muammar Gaddafi rightfully and virulently criticized the unjust and contradictory nature of the UN:
The Preamble is very appealing, and no one objects to it, but all the provisions that follow it completely contradict the Preamble. We reject such provisions, and we will never uphold them; they ended with the Second World War. The Preamble says that all nations, small or large, are equal. Are we equal when it comes to the permanent seats? No, we are not equal.
[…] Do we have the right of veto? Are we equal? The Preamble says that we have equal rights, whether we are large or small.
That is what is stated and what we agreed in the Preamble. So the veto contradicts the Charter. The permanent seats contradict the Charter. We neither accept nor recognize the veto.
The Preamble of the Charter states that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest. That is the Preamble that we agreed to and signed, and we joined the United Nations because we wanted the Charter to reflect that. It says that armed force shall only be used in the common interest of all nations, but what has happened since then? Sixty-five wars have broken out since the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council — 65 since their creation, with millions more victims than in the Second World War. Are those wars, and the aggression and force that were used in those 65 wars, in the common interest of us all? No, they were in the interest of one or three or four countries, but not of all nations. (Muammar Gaddafi cited in Who is Muammar Al-Qadhafi: Read his Speech to the UN General Assembly, Global Research, March 23, 2011)
It is worth noting that the Libyan leader was killed during the 2012 NATO military invasion, which had been been approved by the Security Council. Three of the SC”s permanent members namely the U.S., the UK and France, participated in this NATO led invasion.
According to Mahmoud Jibril, Libya’s interim Prime Minister during the Western-backed armed insurrection in 2011, Gaddafi was killed by a French intelligence operative “acting under direct instructions of the French government”.
French President “Sarkozy was eager to prevent the possibility of Gaddafi standing trial, particularly after the Libyan leader had threatened to expose his alleged financial dealings with the French President”. (Joseph Fitsanakis, Did French intelligence agent kill Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi?, intelNews.org, October 2, 2012.)
These allegations are not surprising since France played a leading role in the invasion of Libya.
Was the war on Libya, like the other wars Gaddafi mentioned, “in the common interest of us all” or “in the interest of one or three or four countries”?
Libya was invaded and its leader killed for many reasons, all of which were of financial and geostrategic nature. Mahdi Nazemroaya explains how only a few nations, most of all the U.S., control the UN:
The manipulation of the United Nations for imperialist interests, […] goes back a long way. From its inception, the United Nations was meant to facilitate the global influence of the US after the Second World War. [...]
The UN was used as a tool to control most these former Western European and American colonies of the Third World. At first the US and its post-war allies maintained their domination over the newly formed UN and the former colonies through their numbers and then through a Western Bloc monopoly over the structures of the United Nations. Hereto this monopoly includes control over the agencies and permanent veto-wielding chairs of the fifteen-member Security Council of the United Nations.
The Security Council above all has been used by the US as a means of protecting its interests. The purpose of the Security Council veto is to reject any international resolutions and consensuses against the national interests (or more precisely the interests of the ruling elites) of the US and the other major post-World War II powers [...]
As the Western Bloc began to lose its numerical advantage, control over the Secretariat would be maintained through the Security Council. The UN Security Council does this by filtering all the candidates for the top UN post in the Secretariat. Secretaries-general of the UN are appointed by the UN General Assembly based on the recommendation of the UN Security Council. Thus, the US and other permanent members of the Security Council have vetoes that can eliminate any candidates that would be hostile to their interests. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, America’s Takeover of the United Nations, Press TV 3 September 2012.)
The selection process of the UN Secretary-General reveals why those in office espouse concepts such as the so-called “responsibility to protect” (R2P), which actually refers to “military invasion”, and why they fail to act as “spokesm[e]n for the interests of the world’s peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them”, as their position requires. If R2P had been drafted with genuine intent, it would have been invoked to protect Palestinians against the permanent Israeli aggression. Under Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretariat has rather endorsed Israeli agressions and approved the illegal blockade of Gaza. Kofi Annan was “an enabler of ‘responsibility to protect’” and Ban Ki-moon its “executioner”, Nazemroaya argues.
In regards to both Libya and Syria, Ban Ki-moon has followed the US and NATO script for R2P and regime change. When a major propaganda effort was launched against Syria following the Houla Massacre, Ban Ki-moon and other UN officials quickly followed the US line and condemned Damascus at a special session of the UN General Assembly in New York City. (Ibid.)
Ronda Hauben details the “mysterious process” by which the Security Council was able to influence the way the UN investigation on the Houla massacre was conducted and how a one-sided version of the events supporting the Western propaganda prevailed:
By a rather mysterious process, the Security Council’s request that an investigation of the Houla massacre, which was to be carried out with the involvement of UNSMIS, was shifted to a significantly different process that was carried out by the Human Rights Council and the Commission of Inquiry it created, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (hereafter CoI). How this shift happened and the significance of this change, merit serious consideration by those who are concerned about the role the UN is playing in the conflict in Syria [...]
Major-General Robert Mood, head of UNSMIS, [...] said that UNSMIS had been to Houla with an investigating team [...] They interviewed locals who told one story. They interviewed locals who told another story. But the circumstances leading up to Houla, the detailed circumstances, the facts related to the incident still remained unclear to the UNSMIS investigators. This led General Mood to say that if there was a decision to support a more extensive on the ground investigation, UNSMIS could help to facilitate it.
In his June 15 press briefing, General Mood said the UNSMIS Report on Houla included statements and interviews with locals with one story and statements and interviews with locals with another story. The August Report of the CoI tells only one story and claims that they either do not have other information or that any other information they know of is inconsistent, so that they have accepted that there is only one story. The Reports that the CoI produced had no on-site interviews or statements, but only telephone or Skype interviews with insurgents or those supporting the account of Houla presented by the armed insurgents. (Ronda Hauben, US-NATO Sponsored Crimes against Humanity in Syria. Coverup by UN Human Rights Council, taz.de,November 28, 2012)
Of all 297 UNSMIS international unarmed military observers on the ground “to monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties“, none were from the US. The conditions of the UNSMIS mandate were set by the Security Council, which decided on July 20, 2012 it would allow the mission to be extended only if it confirmed “the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence sufficient by all sides”. The US must have known those conditions would be impossible to meet since it had itself been providing the rebels with heavy weaponry and contributing to the violence. Even The New York Times ran a story on the CIA arming Syrian rebels on June 21. The UNSMIS mandate was ended on August 19. If the US was not part of the UNSMIS, it was and still is, on the other hand, a member the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). The US possibly used its influent position at the Security Council to request that the HRC takes over the Houla massacre investigation, where it could play a part in its findings and align them with its war agenda.
[T]he US was elected to a second three-year term on the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). President Bush boycotted the HRC for criticizing Israel too much, but Obama joined in 2010 to ‘improve’ it. US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed Washington’s re-election this week, saying that the HRC “has delivered real results”, citing its criticism of Syria, though she criticized the rights council’s continued “excessive and unbalanced focus on Israel”. (Eric Walberg, Human Rights: the People vs the UN, November 18, 2012.)
While it should be the guardian and promoter of international law, the UN has shown several times it acts on behalf of the powerful against the powerless. NATO has been manipulating the UN to legitimize its brutal neo-colonial designs and international law is being used in a very selective manner by imperial powers. James Petras explains:
Imperial law supersedes international law simply because imperial law is backed by brute force; it possesses imperial/colonial air, ground and naval armed forces to ensure the supremacy of imperial law. In contrast, international law lacks an effective enforcement mechanism.
Moreover, international law, to the extent that it is effective, is applied only to the weaker powers and to regimes designated by the imperial powers as ‘violators’. [T]he application and jurisdiction of international law is selective and subject to constraints imposed by the configurations of imperial and national power [...]
To counter the claims and judgments pertaining to international law, especially in the area of theGenevaprotocols such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, imperial legal experts, scholars and judges have elaborated a legal framework to justify or exempt imperial-state activity [...]
This does not imply that imperial rulers totally discard international law: they just apply it selectively to their adversaries, especially against independent nations and rulers, in order to justify imperial intervention and aggression – Hence the ‘legal bases’ for dismantlingYugoslaviaor invadingIraqand assassinating its rulers [...]
Imperial legal doctrine has played a central role in justifying and providing a basis for the exercise of international terrorism. Executives, such as US Presidents Bush and Obama, have been provided with the legal power to undertake cross-national ‘targeted’ assassinations of opponents using predator drones and ordering military intervention, in clear violation of international law and national sovereignty. Imperial law, above all else, ‘legalizes’ aggression and economic pillage and undermines the laws of targeted countries, creating lawlessness and chaos among its victims. (James Petras“Legal Imperialism” and International Law: Legal Foundations for War Crimes, Debt Collection and Colonization,December 03, 2012)
On behalf of four men, Canadian and American lawyers recently filed a complaint against Canada with the United Nations Committee against Torture, because the Canadian authorities failed to prosecute George W. Bush during his visit to the country. Considering its strong economic, diplomatic and military ties to the U.S, such a move was not expected from Canada and its inaction demonstrates yet again how the U.S.’ imperial law overcomes international law.
As a signatory to the Convention against Torture, Canada has an obligation to investigate and prosecute a torture suspect on its soil. This is the first time a complaint concerning torture allegations against a high-level U.S. official has been filed with the U.N. Committee. The Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) and the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the complaint on the men’s behalf.
“Canada has the jurisdiction and the obligation to prosecute a torture suspect present in Canada, including a former head of state, and even one from a powerful country,” said Matt Eisenbrandt, CCIJ’s Legal Director. “Canada’s failure to conduct a criminal investigation and prosecution against Mr. Bush when there was overwhelming evidence against him constitutes a clear violation of its international obligations and its own policy not to be a safe haven for torturers.” (Lawyers against the War, Survivors File U.N. Complaint Against Canada for Failing to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture The Canadian Centre for International Justice, November 14, 2012.)
Global Research has been committed to peace and justice and over the years has provided its readers with insightful analyses pertaining to the UN, international law and illegal wars. We need your help to continue to fight the brutal domination of a ruling elite willing to send young men and women fight unjust wars of aggression to remain in power through destruction and exploitation. You find our articles useful? Make a donation or become a Global Research member!
America’s Takeover of the United Nations, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, September 3, 2012
US-NATO Sponsored Crimes against Humanity in Syria. Coverup by UN Human Rights Council, Ronda Hauben, November 28, 2012
Human Rights: the People vs the UN, Eric Walberg, November 18, 2012
“Legal Imperialism” and International Law: Legal Foundations for War Crimes, Debt Collection and Colonization, James Petras, December 03, 2012
Survivors File U.N. Complaint Against Canada for Failing to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture, Lawyers against the War, November 14, 2012
Hamas Shouldn’t Fire Rockets … But Israel Has Violated HUNDREDS of UN Resolutions, Washington’s Blog, November 20, 2012
UN General Assembly Vote On Syria: World Gone Unipolar – And Mad, Rick Rozoff, August 06, 2012
Canada’s Vote Opposing UN Recognition of Palestine. Quebec’s Motion to Recognize Palestine Statehood, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, December 05, 2012
UN Vote on Palestine, Stephen Lendman, December 01, 2012
UNESCO Human Rights Conference Honoring Israel’s President Shimon Peres. Four of Five Speakers Pull Out, Ali Abunimah, October 24, 2012
Boycott and Chaos at the United Nations in Geneva: Who Committed War Crimes in Iraq? Dirk Adriaensens, October 03, 2012
The UN and General Mood’s “Missing Report” on Conflicting Accounts of Houla Massacre, Ronda Hauben, September 11, 2012
UN Envoy Brahimi bears Poison Chalice to Syria, Finian Cunningham, September 10, 2012
NAM Summit: Ban Ki-Moon in disgraceful show of US puppetry, Finian Cunningham, August 30, 2012
Can the US and its Allies arbitrarily Violate International Law?, Rick Rozoff and John Robles, August 17, 2012
Terrorism as an Instrument of US Foreign Policy: UN-Backed Rogue States Plan Syria’s Slaughter, Felicity Arbuthnot, August 11, 2012
The United Nations Organization was founded in 1945 to stop conflicts and provide a forum for debate, discussion and dialogue for crisis management. It costs around 15 billion USD a year to run, so in indexed terms has already spent some one thousand billion dollars of taxpayers’ money. On…er…?
The basic question is, what is the UNO for? If the answer is a repetition of the paragraph above, then the response is that it has failed miserably and that it is an absurdly expensive waste of time and space. If it costs around 15 billion USD annually to run, that is getting on for two dollars per person per year, every year, and for what?
Did the United Nations Organization provide a basis for debate before the invasion of Iraq?
No, because the United States of America, the United Kingdom and a handful of NATO countries simply decided to sidestep the Organization, avoiding the UN Security Council because it would have voted against an invasion. The USA and UK therefore rendered it useless back in 2003. Since then, the UNO has spent an additional 150 billion dollars doing what exactly?
Did it stop the war in Libya?
No, it stood back as the aforementioned demonic duo, now joined by France (to form the FUKUS Axis – France, UK, US) ran amok, supporting terrorist groups on their own lists of proscribed groups, placing boots on the ground, despite being bound not to by UNSC 1970 and 1973 (2011) and yet again breaking every law in the book. If the British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary of State, William Hague, is still sitting smugly in his job despite breaking the law of his own country, then it becomes patently obvious that the United Nations Organization has as much clout as a squashed, syphilitic slug lying under a tonne of sea salt.
However, the slug doesn’t spend one thousand billion dollars and certainly doesn’t cost fifteen billion a year.
Let us now move on to Somalia: this conflict started back in the early nineties (more precisely in 1991). What has the United Nations done? What has the United Nations done to stop al-Qaeda, apart from allowing al-Qaeda into Iraq, from which it was barred by Saddam Hussein, and allow al-Qaeda into Libya, from which it was barred by Muammar al-Qadhafi?
Did the United Nations stop the conflict in the Balkans, as the West moved in to stir up hatred among Croats, Bosnians, Serbs, Macedonians?
Did the UNO stop al-Qaeda moving into the Balkans?
Did the UNO stop the Albanian terrorist movement Ushtria Çlirimtare ë Kosovës (Kosovo Liberation Army) perpetrating civil unrest attacks in Kosovo? Did the UNO stop the illegal declaration of independence of the Serbian Province of Kosovo and its subsequent (illegal and inconsequential) “recognition” by FUKUS poodle states?
And what has the UNO done to prevent the bloodshed in Syria, where once again the FUKUS Axis has sided with terrorists, is sending in its own special forces and is making the conflict bloodier, the more the Syrian Government resists this demonic scourge?
True, the UNO does some excellent humanitarian work, clearing up the mess it has failed to prevent; yet, if it did its job properly in the first place, there would be no need for the fire engine. True, UN Women does some excellent work against gender violence and towards women’s rights; UNESCO does a lot to protect world heritage, register languages and so on, António Guterres does a superb job in helping refugees at UNHCR and true, UNICEF does some excellent work in protecting and educating children.
As for the World Health Organization, it is useful as a research facility and reasonably good at distributing medicines and mosquito nets; as a disease prevention organism it is as risible as the crisis management arm – after all, during the Swine Flu crisis in 2009 it limited itself to informing us as to what Phase the new potentially fatal virus was reaching as the WHO sat back and watched Influenza A H1N1 go globe-trotting.
If this is where the UNO is at after sixty-seven years, then let us conclude it is a useful humanitarian organization but would be rendered useless if an effective United Nations Organization was to do the job the UN was set up to do in the first place.
Let us be honest, if any manager of any company had spent a thousand billion dollars over 67 years producing the same sort of ineffective results the UNO has presented, then (s)he would be crucified. As for the UNO, this year it is set to waste another 15 billion USD…of OUR money.
Give me ten valid professionals, a fraction of the money the UN has spent and seven years, not 67, and I can state publicly I would do a far better job myself.
Video: Is the Era of U.S.-Backed Anti-Castro Terrorism Over? Reflections on Restored Ties Between...
Will a UN Security Council resolution formally recognizing the establishment of a Palestinian state be passed by the end of 2015? Now that the Vatican has formally recognized a Palestinian state, there is a tremendous amount of international momentum for precisely such a UN Security Council resolution. In fact, France plans to push really hard for one by the end of this year. At this point, the only thing that could derail those plans is Barack Obama. For years, the threat of a Security Council veto has been the one thing stopping a resolution from moving forward. But now that Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected and has put together a cabinet that does not seem inclined to negotiate with the Palestinians, the Obama administration is pledging to “reevaluate our approach” and says that it will not “prejudge” what it will do if a vote comes up at the United Nations. And as you will see below, one news source is now reporting that behind the scenes Barack Obama has already given the “green light” for France to go ahead with a resolution on a Palestinian state at the UN. If this is truly what Obama plans to do, it will absolutely shatter U.S. relations with Israel and plunge the entire Middle East into chaos.
Most Americans don’t realize this, but 136 countries already formally recognize a Palestinian state. Those 136 nations have a combined population of more than 5.5 billion people.
As of this moment, the major holdouts are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe. But most of the European nations have already indicated that they are ready to recognize a Palestinian state if the United States will. In fact, as I mentioned above, France plans to lead the push for a Palestinian state at the UN Security Council.
The “State of Palestine” already has “non-member observer” status at the UN, but obviously they are not satisfied with that. They have been very eager for formal recognition by the UN, and now that the Vatican has given them formal recognition that has really bolstered their cause. The following is from a CNN article about the Vatican announcement that stunned the world on Wednesday…
The Vatican announced Wednesday that it had brokered a treaty with the “state of Palestine,” upsetting Israeli advocates and propelling Pope Francis into the heart of yet another geopolitical fray.
The treaty is expected to be signed “in the near future,” the Vatican said. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is scheduled to visit Pope Francis on Saturday, the day before the church canonizes two Palestinian nuns.
The treaty is thought to mark the first time the Holy See has formally recognized Palestinian statehood in a legal document.
Of course this didn’t come out of a vacuum. The truth is that the Vatican has been moving in this direction for quite some time. Just consider what the Washington Post had to say about the matter…
The move should not be too great a surprise. Since the U.N. General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state” in 2012, the Vatican has referred to the “state of Palestine” in its communiques. When Pope Francis visited the Holy Land last year, the official Vatican program referred to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the leader of the “state of Palestine.” And the pontiff publicly referred to the “state of Palestine” at a speech in the West Bank.
Now that the Vatican has done this, international pressure on Obama to support a UN Security Council resolution on a Palestinian state is increasing.
When the UN Security Council resolution being drafted by France comes up for a vote later this year, what will Obama do?
Well, according to Debka, Obama has already given the “green light” for France to move forward…
US President Barack Obama did not wait for Binyamin Netanyahu to finish building his new government coalition by its deadline at midnight Wednesday, May 6, before going into action to pay him back for forming a right-wing cabinet minus any moderate figure for resuming negotiations with the Palestinians.
Banking on Netanyahu’s assertion while campaigning for re-election that there would be no Palestinian state during his term in office, Obama is reported exclusively by our sources to have given the hitherto withheld green light to European governments to file a UN Security Council motion proclaiming an independent Palestinian state.
Not only that, Debka is also reporting that members of the Obama administration have actually traveled to France to help draft the resolution…
To show the administration was in earnest, senior US officials sat down with their French counterparts in Paris last week to sketch out the general outline of this motion. According to our sources, they began addressing such questions as the area of the Palestinian state, its borders, security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians and whether or not to set a hard-and-fast timeline for implementation, or phrase the resolution as a general declaration of intent.
Incorporating a target date in the language would expose Israel to Security Council sanctions for non-compliance.
If what Debka is reporting is accurate, this represents a massive betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration.
However, the Jerusalem Post is reporting just the opposite. They are reporting that Obama plans to veto the French resolution…
US President Barack Obama has told associates that he intends to veto the French proposal for a UN Security Council resolution mandating the creation of a Palestinian state and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within two years, Channel 10 is reporting on Friday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said this past March that Paris planned to start discussions with partners in the “coming weeks” on a United Nations Security Council resolution to lay out the parameters for ending the Middle East conflict.
“I hope that the partners who were reluctant will not be reluctant anymore,” said Fabius, referring to the United States, which has traditionally shielded its ally Israel from any action at the United Nations.
So what is the truth?
Only time will tell.
But what we do know is that Obama was absolutely furious when Netanyahu promised during his most recent campaign that there would not be a Palestinian state as long as he was in office.
And we do know that the Obama administration has pledged to “reevaluate our approach” and has said that it will not “prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action”…
The U.S. would “reevaluate our approach” based on Netanyahu’s “change in his position,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters as the president flew to Cleveland to deliver a speech on economic policy.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki raised the possibility that the reevaluation could include a shift in position at the U.N. She avoided the usual U.S. language about vetoing Security Council resolutions that Israel opposes.
“The prime minister’s recent statements call into question his commitment to a two-state solution,” Psaki told reporters. “We’re not going to prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action.”
In the final analysis it is so hard to tell exactly what Obama will do, because as he has shown over and over again, lying comes as naturally to him as breathing does.
However, I think that we can get some clues about how obsessed Obama is with the establishment of a Palestinian state from public statements that he has made throughout his presidency. The following quotes from Barack Obama regarding the need for a Palestinian state come from one of my previous articles…
#1 “Negotiations will be necessary, but there’s little secret about where they must lead: two states for two peoples”
#2 “And I think everybody understands the outlines of what a peace deal would look like, involving a territorial compromise on both sides based on ‘67 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, that would ensure that Israel was secure but would also ensure that the Palestinians have a sovereign state in which they can achieve the aspirations that they’ve held for so long.”
#3 “The only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine”
#4 “Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”
#5 “Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of goodwill around the world. That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. That is a goal that I will actively pursue as President of the United States.”
#6 “…we continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way for the long-term security of Israel, if it wants to stay both a Jewish state and democratic”
#7 “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.”
#8 “None of us are under any illusion that this would be easy. As I said in my speech this morning, it has already entailed significant political risk by President Abbas, as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. But I think the reason that they’ve been willing to take those risks is they realize this is the best way, the only way, for us to achieve what should be our goal: two states living side-by-side in peace and security. It’s right for Palestinian children. It’s right for Israeli children.”
#9 “Just as the Israeli people have the right to live in the historic homeland of the Jewish people, the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination. Palestinian children have hopes and dreams for their future and deserve to live with the dignity that can only come with a state of their own.”
#10 “The only solution is a democratic, Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent Palestinian state.”
In the end, I believe that Barack Obama is going to choose to betray Israel at the United Nations, and it will have very serious ramifications that will literally be felt all over the planet.
So what do you think? Please feel free to participate in the discussion by posting a comment below…
- "Grave" Geneva Convention breaches;
- "Willing killing..."
- "Intentionally launching an attack" knowing it will "cause incidental loss of life..."
- "Killing or wounding" combatants who've laid down their arms;
- extrajudicial killings; and
- "Killing or wounding treacherously a combatant adversary..."
Russia and China have just signed what is being called "the gas deal of the century", and the two countries are discussing moving away from the U.S. dollar and using their own currencies to trade with one another. This has huge implications for the future of the U.S. economy, but the mainstream media in the [...]
Is Detroit destined to become a Chinese city? Chinese homebuyers and Chinese businesses are starting to flood into the Motor City, and the governor of Michigan is greatly encouraging this. In fact, he has formally asked the Obama administration for 50,000 special federal immigration visas to encourage even more immigration from China and elsewhere. So [...]
So much for "isolating" Russia. The Chinese government is publicly siding with Russia on the crisis in Ukraine, and that is very bad news for the United States. Not only does it mean that the U.S. is essentially powerless to do anything about the situation in Ukraine, it also means that Russia and China are [...]
Americans have never had less economic freedom than they do right now. The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom has just been released, and it turns out that the level of economic freedom in the United States has now fallen for seven consecutive years. But of course none of us need a report or a survey [...]
While Barack Obama is busy gutting the U.S. nuclear arsenal, Russia and China are rapidly preparing for the day when they will nuke the United States. To most Americans, it sounds very strange to hear that Russia and China are concerned about nuclear war. After all, isn’t the Cold War over? Isn’t that what [...]
The Post’s report, “Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program,” testifies to the integration of the surveillance apparatus exposed in recent months into US imperialism’s global military operations. Officials cited by the Post said that the NSA has deployed analysts to work along side Central Intelligence Agency personnel at the CIA Counterterrorism Center and at “every major US embassy or military base overseas.”
The report further documents the NSA’s systematic attempts to overcome encryption, including the extraction of PGP encryption keys from targets. The agency reportedly was able to capture 16 keys from a single electronic raid on a suspected Al Qaeda computer.
According to the report, the NSA’s “Tailored Access Operations,” a cyber-warfare and intelligence gathering program, conducts surveillance of targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and throughout Africa. TAO runs programs such as UNITEDRAKE and VALIDATOR, which launch cyber attacks using “software implants” to grab sensitive data such as keystroke logs and audio files.
ArsTechnica reported in August that advanced software used by TAO enables operatives to tap directly into hardware such as “routers, switches and firewalls,” and that TAO’s activities are integrated into data systems such as XKeyscore.
Information gathered by the NSA has been used in particular in the course of the CIA’s drone war in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. As summarized by the Post, the NSA has “draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan.” One US intelligence official told the Post, “NSA threw the kitchen sink at the FATA.” To date, at least 3,000 people have been killed as a result of US drone operations in Pakistan, including hundreds of civilians.
Both the NSA surveillance and the policy of drone war that it facilitates are criminal operations, carried out in violation of international law. The Obama administration asserts the right to kill anyone in the world without due process, including US citizens, in violation of the Bill of Rights. Among those killed have been US citizens including Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in Yemen.
A full accounting of the Pakistanis murdered by US drones may never be completed. However, a study published by Stanford University and New York University earlier this year showed that large sections of the population living in the FATA suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the buzzing of drones overhead and the never-ending barrage of ordnance raining down on the area.
UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson wrote in March of this year, “As a matter of international law, the US drone campaign is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent, and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
The Post described the leaked NSA documents as “self-congratulatory in tone” and “drafted to tout the NSA’s counterterrorism capabilities.” According to Fox News, the Post withheld substantial information about the drone strikes “at the request of US intelligence officials.”
The Post report highlights the case of Hassan Ghul, who was killed as a direct result of intelligence acquired through electronic surveillance operations run by the NSA. After his capture in 2004, Ghul was held at a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe until 2006, where he was subject to “enhanced interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture), including slapping, sleep deprivation, and stress positions.
In 2006, Ghul was transferred to Pakistan, where he was released and rejoined Al Qaeda militants in Waziristan. Ghul worked to set up logistical networks for Al Qaeda after being freed, according to a Treasury Department document from 2011. No explanation has been offered by US or Pakistani authorities for Ghul’s release.
Ghul was then killed in 2012 by a drone strike in Mir Ali, after having been monitored for a year prior to his death by a secret NSA unit called the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell (CT MAC), which specializes in finding high priority targets in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Ghul’s location was discovered through analysis of an email sent to him by his wife. His death was never officially acknowledged by the US government, despite the fact that his interrogation supposedly provided intelligence about an Al Qaeda courier named al-Kuwaiti, which supposedly led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The scope of the integration of the NSA, CIA, military and police agencies extends far beyond what is taking place in Pakistan. The entire world is the subject both of the intelligence-gathering operations of the NSA and the drone strikes of the CIA.
Under the Obama administration, the NSA’s surveillance operations gather the communications of every telephone and Internet user on the planet, US citizens and non-citizens alike. This week has already seen new evidence emerge that the NSA is stealing address books—which often contain large amounts of personal information—from various web platforms and storing them in its archives. (See “ NSA ‘harvesting’ electronic address books and contact lists”)
The possibility of strikes being launched against American targets has been raised by top officials, and drones are already deployed on non-strike missions over the US. In a letter of March 4, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that the president “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil, and without trial,” saying that in certain cases such action would be “necessary and appropriate.”
If and when such operations are initiated, the state will have no shortage of data with which to target Americans, whose communications are subject to constant scrutiny by the surveillance apparatus.
The United Nations is hosting talks in New York today as more than 150 countries discuss a global arms treaty designed to lessen the illicit gun trade, especially as it intersects with international conflict zones.
The NRA's Wayne LaPierre lashes out at gun control efforts during his CPAC speech last week. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP) The National Rifle Association, however, is using the opportunity to once again prove that their primary mission is not the altruistic promotion of individual gun rights, but rather to serve the interests of the powerful US gun industry.
In a statement put out ahead of the conference, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, "It is our collective responsibility to put an end to the inadequate regulation of the global trade in conventional weapons — from small arms to tanks to combat aircraft."
Reiterating his support for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), Ban said agreement on the pact would "alleviate the plight of the millions of people affected by conflicts and armed violence and enable the United Nations to better carry out its mandate to promote peace, development and human rights around the world."
Describing the treaty and the nature of the negotiations, Reuters reports:
Diplomats say that if the treaty conference fails to reach the required consensus because the United States, Russia or another major arms producer opposes it, nations can still put the draft treaty to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly.
The other alternative is to amend the draft to make it acceptable to the U.S. and other delegations. But supporters of the treaty fear that could lead to a weak and meaningless pact.
"The U.S. traditionally has an allergy to treaties," a European diplomat told Reuters. "It might be better to have a good treaty without the U.S. and hope they come around later."
But as The Guardian's Karen McVeigh points out:
For years, the NRA has painted the UN as a bogeyman figure, claiming in its literature and fundraising drives that there is an international conspiracy to "grab your guns". Last July, when negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty broke down – in part because of US resistance to global regulations on gun sales – the gun lobby group claimed victory for "killing the UN ATT".
Supporters of the treaty accuse the NRA of deceiving the US public about the pact, which they say will have no impact on US domestic gun ownership as it applies only to exports.
Michelle Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs at Amnesty International USA, said they had witnessed a resurgence in the NRA's attempts to influence lawmakers and to use its opposition to the UN treaty as an opportunity for fundraising.
"We monitor what they send out to membership and put online" Ringuette told the Guardian. "It's nothing like the efforts they put in back in June and July but we have seen them step up. They have done exactly what we expected them to do, to stir up anti-UN panic."
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When your petulance, mugging for the cameras and obstruction get so bad that it's even too much for bully Joe Scarborough, you've got problems. Morning Joe Crew Rips Republicans For Hagel Obstruction: ‘It’s A Colossal Mistake’:
Republican Joe Scarborough is tired of his party’s mistreatment of Defense Secretary-nominee Chuck Hagel and its continuing, all-consuming focus on Benghazi.
The focus of Scarborough’s ire this morning on his MSNBC show Morning Joe was Sen. Lindsey Graham’s announcement on Sunday that he will place a hold not only on Hagel, but also on CIA Director-nominee John Brennan -- until he gets further action from the White House on Benghazi.
Scarborough lashed out at Graham and his neoconservative cohorts, unable to believe how misguided their attacks on the Obama administration have been:
SCARBOROUGH: If you’ve got a working class guy who has voted Republican every four years and he turns on the Sunday shows and he’s flipping around the channels and he sees Republicans in February still talking about Benghazi, saying they’re going to hold up the picks for secretary of defense and CIA director for something that happened back in the fall, and they are continuing on this…to hold up this and talk about it on Sunday morning, it’s a colossal mistake.
[...] Graham has been seeking out “the truth” on the attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead for months now, despite an ample amount of facts already having been uncovered. A Cabinet nominee has never been filibustered by the Senate, leaving Graham’s threat in a position to make history.
Regular Mike Barnicle wasn't much kinder. After Scarborough said the other members of the Senate basically need to tell Graham to get off of the television, he followed with this:
BARNICLE: Reading the transcripts is pretty disturbing, what Sen. Graham had to say yesterday. He basically said --and I'm paraphrasing here --if the President of the United States had picked up the phone and called someone in Libya, he could have saved the lives of the Americans.
Clearly, evidence means nothing to him. Clearly the timeline of events means nothing to him and someone should give Sen. Graham a Snickers bar and tell him to go sit in the corner until he's happy about something. It's disturbing.
I said before Graham's not going to stop as long as there's no punishment in the media for his behavior. Perhaps this is a start on seeing that happen, but until media outlets quit putting this arrogant, irrational twit on the air, he's going to keep it up.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: During his confirmation hearing Thursday, President Obama’s nominee to run the CIA, John Brennan, forcefully defended the president’s counterterrorism policies, including the increased use of armed drones and the targeted killings of American citizens. He also refused to say that waterboarding was a form of torture, and he admitted that he did not try to stop waterboarding while he was a top CIA official under President George W. Bush.
Four years ago, Brennan was a rumored pick for the CIA job when Obama was first elected, but he was forced to withdraw from consideration amid protests over his public support for the CIA’s policies of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" and extraordinary rendition program.
AMY GOODMAN: The start of Brennan’s confirmation hearing had to be temporarily halted following repeated interruptions by protesters. Members of the group CODEPINK began standing up one by one to condemn Brennan’s role in the drone war, much to the chagrin of Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein.
JOHN BRENNAN: Chairman Feinstein, Vice Chairman Chambliss, members of the committee, I am honored to appear—
ANN WRIGHT: [inaudible]
JOHN BRENNAN: —before you today as the—
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: All right.
JOHN BRENNAN: —president’s nominee to—
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Would you halt please? We’ll ask the police to please remove this woman.
ANN WRIGHT: ...no children, no women. We cannot—
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.
ANN WRIGHT: [inaudible] the sort of thing going on [inaudible]. But we cannot [inaudible]—
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Please remove—
ANN WRIGHT: —torture. It’s jeopardizing U.S. soldiers. It’s not defending them.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That CODEPINK protester interrupting John Brennan was retired Army colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright, who oversaw the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan in 2001 as deputy chief of mission. When she interrupted Brennan, she was wearing a sign around her neck with the name of Tariq Aziz, a 16-year-old Pakistani boy who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. The sign she held up read, "Brennan equals drone killing." Ann Wright and seven others were arrested. John Brennan later addressed the protesters as he defended the drone program.
JOHN BRENNAN: I think there is a misimpression on the part of some American people, who believe that we take strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions. Nothing could be further from the truth. We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there’s no other alternative to taking an action that’s going to mitigate that threat. So, we need to make sure that there is understanding, and the people that were standing up here today, I think they really have a misunderstanding of what we do as a government and the care that we take and the agony that we go through to make sure that we do not have any collateral injuries or deaths. And as the chairman said earlier, the need to be able to go out and say that publicly and openly, I think, is critically important, because people are reacting to a lot of falsehoods that are out there.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined via Democracy Now! videostream by Jeremy Scahill, producer and writer of the documentary, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, which premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival. His book, Dirty Wars, goes on sale in April. He’s national security correspondent for The Nation, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and Democracy Now! correspondent.
Jeremy, welcome to Democracy Now! Your assessment of what it is that John Brennan said yesterday and the questions he was asked?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, if you—if you look at what happened yesterday at the Senate Intelligence Committee, I mean, this is kabuki oversight. This was basically a show that was produced by the White House in conjunction with Senator Feinstein’s office. I mean, the reality was—is that none of the central questions that should have been asked of John Brennan were asked in an effective way. In the cases where people like Senator Angus King or Senator Ron Wyden would ask a real question, for instance, about whether or not the CIA asserts the right to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, the questions were very good. Brennan would then offer up a non-answer.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s—
JEREMY SCAHILL: And then there’d be almost no follow-up.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, let’s go to Democratic Senator Ron Wyden’s questioning of John Brennan Thursday. He has led the push for the White House to explain its rationale—Senator Wyden has—for targeting U.S. citizens.
SEN. RON WYDEN: Let me ask you several other questions with respect to the president’s authority to kill Americans. I’ve asked you how much evidence the president needs to decide that a particular American can be lawfully killed and whether the administration believes that the president can use this authority inside the United States. In my judgment, both the Congress and the public need to understand the answers to these kind of fundamental questions. What do you think needs to be done to ensure that members of the public understand more about when the government thinks it’s allowed to kill them, particularly with respect to those two issues, the question of evidence and the authority to use this power within the United States?
JOHN BRENNAN: I have been a strong proponent of trying to be as open as possible with these programs, as far as our explaining what we’re doing. What we need to do is optimize transparency on these issues, but at the same time optimize secrecy and the protection of our national security. I don’t think that it’s one or the other. It’s trying to optimize both of them. And so, what we need to do is make sure we explain to the American people what are the thresholds for action, what are the procedures, the practices, the processes, the approvals, the reviews. The Office of Legal Counsel advice establishes the legal boundaries within which we can operate. It doesn’t mean that we operate at those out of boundaries. And, in fact, I think the American people will be quite pleased to know that we’ve been very disciplined, very judicious, and we only use these authorities and these capabilities as a last resort.
AMY GOODMAN: That was John Brennan answering Senator Wyden’s question. He’s been the chief critic. President Obama, two days ago, called Senator Wyden, because a group of them had said they would stop the hearing if information wasn’t provided about the legal basis for drone strikes. When Wyden yesterday attempted to get that information, he raised in the hearing that he wasn’t able to. Jeremy Scahill?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, if you listen to John Brennan, I mean, it’s like he’s talking about buying a used car and what, you know, sort of little gadgets and whistles it has on it. He used "optimize"? Ron Wyden was asking him about whether—about the extent of the CIA’s lethal authority against U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil and abroad. And, see, the problem is that while some questions were asked that are central questions, there was almost no follow-up. People wouldn’t push—senators wouldn’t push Brennan back when he would float things that were nonsensical or just gibberish, you know, or using terms like "we need to optimize this, we need to optimize that." There was no sense that—I mean, remember, this is a guy who is, for all practical purposes, President Obama’s hit man or assassination czar. This guy has been at the center of a secret process where the White House is deciding who lives and who dies around the world every day, and yet the conversation that took place was as though they were, you know, sort of talking about whether or not they’re going to add a wing onto a school in Idaho or something, when they were talking about life-and-death issues for people, not only U.S. citizens, but around the world.
There was no discussion at all of the so-called signature strikes—the idea that the U.S. is targeting people whose identities it doesn’t know, whose actual involvement in terror plots is actually unknown. There was no discussion of the fact that the Obama administration authorized operations that killed three U.S. citizens in a two-week period in 2011, one of whom was a 16-year-old boy who was sitting and having dinner with his cousins in Yemen. No discussion of the case of Samir Khan, a Pakistani American who was killed alongside Anwar Awlaki. His family had met with the FBI prior to his death. The FBI told his family that Samir Khan was not indicted, that Samir Khan was not accused of a crime, and yet you have three U.S. citizens being killed.
When Anwar Awlaki’s name was raised during the course of the hearing, it was one of the most disgusting displays of a show trial or a faux trial that I’ve ever seen. Dianne Feinstein and John Brennan set out to put Anwar Awlaki on trial, posthumously, without presenting any evidence and to issue a guilty verdict. The whole thing was a show. And I believe that—
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, let’s go to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein asking Brennan to talk about Anwar Awlaki, what you’re describing, the American citizen who was assassinated in Yemen in a drone strike in 2011.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Could I ask you some questions about him?
JOHN BRENNAN: You’re the chairman.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: You don’t have to answer. Did he have a connection to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who would attempt to explode a device on one of our planes over Detroit?
JOHN BRENNAN: Yes, he did.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Can you tell us what that connection was?
JOHN BRENNAN: I would prefer not to at this time, Senator. I’m not prepared to.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: OK. Did he have a connection to the Fort Hood attack?
JOHN BRENNAN: That is a—al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has a variety of means of communicating and inciting individuals, whether that be websites or emails or other types of things. And so, there are a number of occasions where individuals, including Mr. Awlaki, has been in touch with individuals. And so, Senator, again, I’m not prepared to address the specifics of these, but suffice it to say—
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I’ll just ask you a couple of questions. You don’t—did Faisal Shahzad, who pled guilty to the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt, tell interrogators in 2010 that he was inspired by al-Awlaki?
JOHN BRENNAN: I believe that’s correct, yes.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Last October, Awlaki, did he have a direct role in supervising and directing AQAP’s failed attempt, well, to bring down two United States cargo aircraft by detonating explosives concealed inside two packages, as a matter of fact, inside a computer printer cartridge?
JOHN BRENNAN: Mm-hmm. Mr. Awlaki—
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Dubai?
JOHN BRENNAN: —was involved in overseeing a number of these activities, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s John Brennan answering Senator Feinstein’s questions. Jeremy Scahill, continue.
JEREMY SCAHILL: All right. I mean, see, what you’re seeing there—first of all, let’s remember, the Obama administration never sought an indictment against Anwar Awlaki, that we know of. He was never charged with a crime, that we know of. And he was executed on orders from the president of the United States in September of 2011. The issue here is not who Anwar Awlaki was or what we think of Anwar Awlaki. The issue here is the Constitution. The issue here is due process.
And what we saw, I believe—I believe that Senator Feinstein’s office coordinated this moment with the White House to put on this show trial because of the deadly serious questions surrounding the killing of a U.S. citizen without due process. And what we saw play out there was absolute theater, where you had Anwar Awlaki being posthumously tried, with no evidence. And what came after the clip you just played is Feinstein and Brennan agreeing, quite happily, that Anwar Awlaki was a bad man and that it was justified to take him out and kill him. There was no question about the fact that two weeks later they killed Anwar Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, who no one has ever alleged had any ties whatsoever to terrorism or any militant organization. His only connection was his lineage, who his father was. So, you know, there was something really insidious that happened there, and I think it really is patronizing of the sensibility of the American people to engage in something like that, with one of the most powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill essentially conspiring with the White House and its nominee to be the CIA to retroactively justify the killing of a U.S. citizen who was never charged with a crime.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeremy—
JEREMY SCAHILL: I’m not—go ahead.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeremy, I’d like to move to another aspect of the hearing, because in a few cases, some of the Republican members asked somewhat tougher questions of Brennan, and especially Saxby Chambliss, questioned him about the whole—the whole issue of high-value targets and how effective this program had been. Here’s a clip from that exchange.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: How many high-value targets have been captured during your service with the administration?
JOHN BRENNAN: There have been a number of individuals who have been captured, arrested, detained, interrogated, debriefed and put away by our partners overseas, which is, we have given them the capacity now, we have provided them the intelligence. And unlike in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when a lot of these countries were both unwilling and unable to do it, we have given them that opportunity. And so, that’s where we’re working with our partners.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: How many high-value targets have been arrested and detained, interrogated by the United States during your four years with the administration?
JOHN BRENNAN: I’ll be happy to get that information to you, Senator, in terms of those high-value targets that have been captured with U.S. intelligence support.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: I submit to you the answer to that is one. And it’s Warsame, who was put on a ship for 60 days and interrogated.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Saxby Chambliss. However, Dianne Feinstein had a little different take in terms of what had happened in terms of the high-value targets. This is what she said at a certain point in the hearing.
SEN. ANGUS KING: Having the executive being the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner, all in one, is very contrary to the traditions and the laws of this country, and particularly in a situation where there is time. If—a soldier on a battlefield doesn’t have time to go to court. But if you’re planning a strike over a matter of days, weeks or months, there is an opportunity to at least go to some outside-of-the-executive-branch body, like the FISA court, in a confidential and top-secret way, make the case that this American citizen is an enemy combatant.
JOHN BRENNAN: Senator, I think it’s certainly worthy of discussion. Our tradition, our judicial tradition, is that a court of law is used to determine one’s guilt or innocence for past actions, which is very different from the decisions that are made on the battlefield as well as actions that are taken against terrorists, because none of those actions are to determine past guilt for those actions that they took. The decisions that are made are to take action so that we prevent a future action, so we protect American lives. That is an inherently executive branch function.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Angus King, Senator Angus King, questioning Brennan, not Dianne Feinstein. But, Jeremy, your response to those two clips?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I mean, first of all, Senator Angus King did a very good job of raising some of these issues. I mean, he’s new to the Senate and didn’t get the memo that you don’t talk to—to White House officials that way, so it was actually kind of a relief within the hearing when King started to ask these questions.
You know, Juan, though, you brought up the issue of the Republicans asking tougher questions. I mean, in general, what we saw the Republicans doing was engaging in a partisan theater of their own, where, you know, they made the whole issue about White House leaks, for the most part. They were talking about, you know, Benghazi, which is sort of the second coming of 9/11 to the—to a lot of the Republicans on Capitol Hill and this sort of Watergate-type scandal. But I think there’s something—while the Republicans did ask some good questions, there’s something that’s just fundamentally dishonest and full of hypocrisy with the GOP line on this. You know, they’ve been hammering, since the Department Justice white paper came out a couple of days ago, that sort of outlines some of the legal basis for—or, purported to outline the legal basis for targeting U.S. citizens—they’ve been hammering away on the Obama administration and saying, you know, "How is it that Obama is able to essentially conduct these killing operations around the world with very little protest?" The reality is that, you know, when George Bush was president, he was doing these very same actions and engaged in a widespread targeted killing operation, and he was running secret prisons around the world, and they were torturing people, and they were using waterboarding and other techniques, and the Republicans are sort of portraying it as though: "Well, in the good old days of the Bush administration, we would actually arrest people, and we would ask them questions, and now Obama is just running around the world bumping them off." Well, there’s some nugget of truth to the idea that the Obama administration seems to prefer to just kill people rather than take them into custody. But the idea that the Republicans have a moral ground to stand on with this is absolutely laughable. I mean, these guys were Murder Inc. for two straight administrations, where members of Congress just participated in rubber stamping these operations, particularly the Republican members of Congress. So, you know, I take what they say with a grain of salt.
But at the end of the day, I mean, I can’t say I was surprised at what happened on Capitol Hill, but it really was more or less a love fest between the most powerful senators, when it comes to intelligence operations in the U.S., and John Brennan, a man who could not get confirmed last time Obama tried to make him CIA director, because of very serious questions about his views on and role in the torture program under the Bush administration—has served for more than four years as the assassination czar, and it basically looked like they were discussing purchasing a used car on Capitol Hill. I mean, it was total kabuki oversight. And that’s a devastating commentary on where things stand right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Jeremy, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, in her opening statement, asserting few civilians have died in U.S. drone strikes.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I would invite all—
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to—we’re going to play a clip.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: [I’ve ... been attempting to speak publicly] about the very low number of civilian casualties that result from such strikes; I have been limited in my ability to do so. But for the past several years, this committee has done significant oversight of the government’s conduct of targeted strikes, and the figures we have obtained from the executive branch, which we have done our utmost to verify, confirm that the number of civilian casualties that have resulted from such strikes each year has typically been in the single digits.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill, your final comment?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I would invite Senator Feinstein and other members of the Intelligence Committee to travel to Abyan province in Yemen, where I was a few months ago, and meet with the Bedouin villagers of al-Majalah, where more than 40 people were killed, several dozen of them women and children, their bodies shredded into meat with U.S. cluster bombs, and then come back and go on national television and talk about single digits. There were over 40 people killed in one strike alone. And you know what? That wasn’t even a drone strike. That was a cruise missile strike. Everyone is talking about drones these days and obsessed with drones. The U.S. uses AC-130 gunships, night raids, Tomahawk cruise missile strikes. Some of the most devastating strikes were not even drone attacks.
So, you know, this Congress is totally asleep at the wheel when it comes to actually having any effective oversight. You know, they allowed John Brennan to say repeatedly, "Well, I’m not a lawyer," while simultaneously saying, "Everything we’ve done is perfectly legal." And then they say, "Well, what about torture?" And he goes, "Well, I’m not a lawyer, and that has legal implications." I mean, what kind of a show is this? I mean, what does this say about our society when this is the extent of the debate we can have when an administration in power has asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens and foreigners alike around the world without trial? I mean, it’s devastating. It should be a very sobering moment for all of us.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, the last bit of news that we read in headlines today about the U.S. news outlets—you complained about the Democratic senators working with the White House. What about U.S. news outlets facing criticism for revealing they complied with an Obama administration request to hide the location of a U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia that had already been publicly reported?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, what’s new? What’s new? I mean, this has been going on—this has been going on forever in this country. I mean, look at how many times we had major powerful media outlets colluding with the Bush administration to either—you know, either facilitating administration propaganda, or as you’ve called it, sort of this conveyor belt of lies, or, on the other hand, concealing potentially illegal programs or actions that were being conducted by the Bush administration. I mean, this happened throughout the Bush era. And so, to have it right now with the Obama administration is just par for the course. I mean, this is how things are done in Washington.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, we want to thank you for being with us. Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation magazine, he is also the narrator and subject of the new film, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, and is author of a forthcoming book by the same title.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the woman who has just returned from Pakistan who went to John Brennan’s house, knocked on the door, and he answered, invited her in, and they had a conversation. She’s the founder of CODEPINK, Medea Benjamin. Stay with us.
My fellow Americans, I have said in previous addresses on this occasion that the key to our future success is to make sure that the education we provide our young people is the best in the world. I have said that we must out-educate and out-innovate other nations.
Signs at an education rally in Austin, TX. (Photo: Cyberchuck2000 via Flickr)Over the past four years, I have learned what we need to do. First, we must end the pressure on teachers to teach to the test. I have said it before and I will say it again: We want teachers to teach with creativity and passion. I call on states not to pay bonuses to teachers to produce higher test scores and to stop evaluating teachers based on the test scores of their students. We now realize that this causes teaching to the test. That must stop now. Of course, teachers should be evaluated, but they should be evaluated by other professionals, not by their students’ test scores.
Too much testing crushes creativity and innovation, and that’s why we must stop it — now.
Second, we must strengthen and improve our public schools. We must end all efforts to privatize them. I am firmly opposed to vouchers. I will cancel federal subsidies to any charter school that does not seek out and enroll students with disabilities and students who have dropped out. I call on the states to prohibit for-profit schools and for-profit management of schools. Every dollar taken from taxpayers must go to classrooms, not to investors.
Let us recognize here and now that public education is an essential institution of our democratic society. We must make it better, not privatize it.
We will improve education by improving the lives of children. The United States leads the advanced nations of the world in child poverty. This is a scandal, and we must dedicate ourselves to reducing it.
We are #24 in the world in providing early childhood education. We must extend early childhood education to all children, especially those who are poorest.
A study last year by the March of Dimes said we are #131 out of 184 nations in assuring prenatal care for pregnant women. Women who don’t get prenatal care are at risk of having children with developmental deficiencies. That is unacceptable.
When all our children start school healthy and ready to learn, we will be a better society with better schools. Let’s start now.
© 2013 Public Affairs Television Inc.
Diane Ravitch is a historian of education at New York University. She is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has written many books and articles about American education, including: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform, (Simon & Schuster, 2000); The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Knopf, 2003); The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know (Oxford, 2006), which she edited with her son Michael Ravitch.
In a "major milestone in tax history," 11 European countries are taking on the financial industry by agreeing on Tuesday to implement a Robin Hood tax earning potentially billions of euros for a region besotted with economic distress, finally taxing those institutions that created the current fiscal mess.
Proponents of the tax who campaigned last February can now celebrate the 11 EU Nations who agreed to the levy on Tuesday Jan. 22. (Photo: Martin Argles/ the Observer) The micro 0.1-0.01% financial transaction tax (FTT) would apply to trading in stocks, bonds and derivatives and could be implemented as early as next year.
The goal of the tax, according to a statement issued by the European Council, is "for the financial industry to make a fair contribution to tax revenues, whilst also creating a disincentive for transactions that do not enhance the efficiency of financial markets."
Writing for the Guardian, Peter Hain notes:
The social justice arguments for an FTT are incontrovertible: the City's financial elite may have sparked the financial crisis, but it is the rest of society, especially the poor, who are paying the price with the harshest program of austerity since world war two. Yet amid the 2.5 million unemployed and the threat of a triple dip recession, the financial sector has over the past year enjoyed one of the strongest performances of any sector on the FTSE 100. But it is the economic common sense, the potential to raise billions in additional revenue, that has led the center-right in Angela Merkel's Germany, Mariano Rajoy's Spain and Mario Monti's Italy to back this tax. It will collectively raise the 11 countries involved £30bn [$47.5bn] a year – no small beer.
Meeting in Brussels at the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, the participating EU member states are Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain; together making up 90% of Eurozone GDP.
The one notable exception to the group is the United Kingdom. As the largest trading hub in Europe, British participation would bring an additional £8bn [$12.7bn] of annual revenue. "[The British] government opted out," said Hain, "choosing instead to dance to the City of London's tune," referring to the financial elite in the UK.
Calling the vote "an example the rest of Europe and the world should follow," EU policy adviser for Oxfam International Nicolas Mombrial called on those involved to ensure the tax lives up to its moniker and help fund climate and other development projects.
“It will only be a Robin Hood Tax if a big chunk of the estimated €37 billion annual revenue is used to help poor people at home and abroad who have been hit hardest by the economic crisis and climate change,” he said.
Oxfam is asking for a quarter of the sum be allocated to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), to help fund low-emission and climate-resilient development, particularly in poor, more vulnerable nations. However, there is no agreement yet on how revenues will be allocated.
Sarah Anderson from the Institute for Policy Studies said that international campaigners, like Oxfam, who have been pushing for this tax for several years, "will be redoubling their efforts to demand that revenues to go towards social and environmental purposes"
The European Commission still needs to draft the final legislation, and the 11 states in favor of the law will have to give their unanimous approval before it becomes law.
(Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi)
Widespread gun ownership and lax firearms controls were deemed major reasons for the US topping a list of violent deaths in wealthy nations. The study comes amid a fiery gun control debate, triggered by the fatal school shooting at Sandy Elementary.
The 378-page survey by a panel of experts from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, listed unintentional injuries, quite often caused by guns, among reasons why people in America die young more often than in other countries.
“The prevalence of firearms in the United States looms large as an explanation for higher death rates from violence, suicidal impulses, and accidental shootings,” read the recent study, based on a broad review of mortality and health studies and statistic.
The blame placed on firearms – that in the US are often being stored unlocked at home –comes amid an increasingly divided battle over American gun regulation. Fiery debate on the issue was triggered anew by the deadly shooting in a Newtown school. The massacre on December 14 claimed lives of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Conn. – 20 of whom were children.
The study highlights “dramatic” numbers of arms possessions in the US.
For example, the United States has the highest rate of firearm ownership among peer countries — 89 civilian-owned firearms for every 100 Americans, and the US is home to about 35 to 50 per cent of the world's civilian-owned firearms, the report noted.
“One behavior that probably explains the excess lethality of violence and unintentional injuries in the United States is the widespread possession of firearms and the common practice of storing them (often unlocked) at home,” said the survey.
The United States has about six violent deaths per 100,000 residents, says the report, that also reviewed Canada, Japan, Australia and much of Western Europe. None of the 16 other countries examined in the study came anywhere close to that figure. Finland, which is said to have slightly more than two violent deaths per 100,000 residents, was closest to the US in the table.
“Although US youth may be no more violent than those in other countries, they are more likely to carry a firearm. In a survey of high school students in Boston, 5 percent reported carrying a firearm,” showed the study.
The researches listed homicide as the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, adding that the large majority of those homicides often involve firearms.
“The presence of a firearm in the home is a risk factor for suicide: fully 52 percent of all US suicides involve a firearm,” researchers found out.
The survey revealed that the life expectancy for men in the United States ranked the lowest among the 17 countries reviewed, at 75.6 years, while women ranked second lowest at 80.7 years.
To explain this, the researchers examined three categories: the US health care system, harmful behaviors and social and economic conditions.
Thus, in addition to the impact of gun violence, Americans consume the most calories among peer countries and are involved in more accidents involving alcohol and drug use. AIDS, infant mortality and unintentional injuries have been also listed among reasons of lower life expectancy.
“With lives and dollars at stake, the United States cannot afford to ignore this problem,” the report said.
Gun control debate reloaded
The horrific Newtown shooting has once again sparked debates over the nation's gun laws. Many politicians and public figures called for new restrictions, whilst gun rights defenders claim the ban on arms violates the second Amendment and will not stop shooters, because the “real problem is the criminal”.
Vice- President Joe Biden, whose leading a panel on the issue, formed after 20 schoolchildren and six adults were killed on December 14, kicked off a series of meetings on gun violence Wednesday. It will negotiate with gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters.
His group is expected to recommend to Congress the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
President Obama has vowed to make gun control his priority as soon as he begins his second term on January 20.
The president said he believes that most Americans would support the reinstatement of a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons as well as background checks on buyers before all gun purchases.
On September 4th the Harper government clearly signaled its intention to:
1) Focus all its efforts to assimilate First Nations into the existing federal and provincial orders of government of Canada;
2) Terminate the constitutionally protected and internationally recognized Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights of First Nations.
Termination in this context means the ending of First Nations pre-existing sovereign status through federal coercion of First Nations into Land Claims and Self-Government Final Agreements that convert First Nations into municipalities, their reserves into fee simple lands and extinguishment of their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.
To do this the Harper government announced three new policy measures:
- A “results based” approach to negotiating Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements. This is an assessment process of 93 negotiation tables across Canada to determine who will and who won’t agree to terminate Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights under the terms of Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies. For those tables who won’t agree, negotiations will end as the federal government withdraws from the table and takes funding with them.
- First Nation regional and national political organizations will have their core funding cut and capped. For regional First Nation political organizations the core funding will be capped at $500,000 annually. For some regional organizations this will result in a funding cut of $1-million or more annually. This will restrict the ability of Chiefs and Executives of Provincial Territorial organizations to organize and/or advocate for First Nations rights and interests.
- First Nation Band and Tribal Council funding for advisory services will be eliminated over the next two years further crippling the ability of Chiefs and Councils and Tribal Council executives to analyze and assess the impacts of federal and provincial policies and legislation on Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
These three new policy measures are on top of the following unilateral federal legislation the Harper government is imposing over First Nations:
- Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act
- Bill C-45: Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 [Omnibus Bill includes Indian Act amendments regarding voting on-reserve lands surrenders/designations]
- Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
- Bill S-6: First Nations Elections Act
- Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations
- Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act [Private Conservative MP's Bill, but supported by Harper government]
Then there are the Senate Public Bills:
- Bill S-207: An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (non derogation of aboriginal and treaty rights)
- Bill S-212: First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill
The Harper government’s Bills listed above are designed to undermine the collective rights of First Nations by focusing on individual rights. This is the “modern legislative framework” the Conservatives promised in 2006. The 2006 Conservative Platform promised to:
“Replace the Indian Act (and related legislation) with a modern legislative framework which provides for the devolution of full legal and democratic responsibility to aboriginal Canadians for their own affairs within the Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Of course “modern” in Conservative terms means assimilation of First Nations by termination of their collective rights and off-loading federal responsibilities onto the First Nations themselves and the provinces.
One Bill that hasn’t been introduced into Parliament yet, but is still expected, is the First Nations’ Private Ownership Act (FNPOA). This private property concept for Indian Reserves – which has been peddled by the likes of Tom Flanagan and tax proponent and former Kamloops Chief Manny Jules – is also a core plank of the Harper government’s 2006 electoral platform.
The 2006 Conservative Aboriginal Platform promised that if elected a Harper government would:
“Support the development of individual property ownership on reserves, to encourage lending for private housing and businesses.”
The long-term goals set out in the Harper government’s policy and legislative initiatives listed above are not new; they are at least as old as the Indian Act and were articulated in the federal 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, which set out a plan to terminate Indian rights at the time.
Previous Termination Plans:
1969 White Paper and Buffalo Jump of 1980s
The objectives of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy were to:
- Assimilate First Nations.
- Remove legislative recognition.
- Neutralize constitutional status.
- Impose taxation.
- Encourage provincial encroachment.
- Eliminate Reserve lands and extinguish Aboriginal Title.
- Economically underdevelop communities.
- Dismantle Treaties.
As First Nations galvanized across Canada to fight the Trudeau Liberal government’s proposed 1969 termination policy the federal government was forced to consider a strategy on how to calm the Indian storm of protest.
In a memo dated April 1, 1970, David Munro, an Assistant Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs on Indian Consultation and Negotiations, advised his political masters Jean Chrétien and Pierre Trudeau, as follows:
“… in our definition of objectives and goals, not only as they appear in formal documents, but also as stated or even implied in informal memoranda, draft planning papers, or casaul conversation. We must stop talking about having the objective or goal of phasing out in five years… We can still believe with just as much strength and sincerity that the [White Paper] policies we propose are the right ones…
“The final [White Paper] proposal, which is for the elimination of special status in legislation, must be relegated far into the future… my conclusion is that we need not change the [White Paper] policy content, but we should put varying degrees of emphasis on its several components and we should try to discuss it in terms of its components rather than as a whole… we should adopt somewhat different tactics in relation to [the White Paper] policy, but that we should not depart from its essential content.” [Emphasis added]
In the early 1970s, the Trudeau Liberal government did back down publicly on implementing the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, but as we can see from Mr. Munro’s advice the federal bureaucracy changed the timeline from five years to a long-term implementation of the 1969 White Paper objectives of assimilation/termination.
In the mid-1980s the Mulroney Conservative government resurrected the elements of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, through a Cabinet memo. In 1985, a secret federal Cabinet submission was leaked to the media by a DIAND employee. The Report was nicknamed the “Buffalo Jump of the 1980s” by another federal official. The nickname referred to the effect of the recommendations in the secret Cabinet document, which if adopted, would lead Status Indians to a cultural death – hence the metaphor.
The Buffalo Jump Report proposed a management approach for First Nations policy and programs, which had the following intent:
- Limiting and eventually terminating the federal trust obligations;
- Reducing federal expenditures for First Nations, under funding programs, and prohibiting deficit financing;
- Shifting responsibility and costs for First Nations services to provinces and “advanced bands” through co-management, tri-partite, and community self-government agreements;
- ‘Downsizing’ of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) through a devolution of program administration to “advanced bands” and transfer of programs to other federal departments;
- Negotiating municipal community self-government agreements with First Nations which would result in the First Nation government giving up their Constitutional status as a sovereign government and becoming a municipality subject to provincial or territorial laws;
- Extinguishing aboriginal title and rights in exchange for fee simple title under provincial or territorial law while giving the province or territory underlying title to First Nations lands.
The Mulroney government’s “Buffalo Jump” plan was temporarily derailed due the 1990 “Oka Crisis.” Mulroney responded to the “Oka Crisis” with his “Four Pillars” of Native Policy:
- Accelerating the settlement of land claims;
- Improving the economic and social conditions on Reserves;
- Strengthening the relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and governments;
- Examining the concerns of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples in contemporary Canadian life.
In 1991, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney also announced the establishment of a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which began its work later that year; the establishment of an Indian Claims Commission to review Specific Claims; the establishment of a B.C. Task Force on Claims, which would form the basis for the B.C. Treaty Commission Process.
In 1992, Aboriginal organizations and the federal government agreed, as part of the 1992 Charlottetown Accord, on amendments to the Constitution Act, 1982 that would have included recognition of the inherent right of self-government for Aboriginal people. For the first time, Aboriginal organizations had been full participants in the talks; however, the Accord was rejected in a national referendum.
With the failure of Canadian constitutional reform in 1992, for the last twenty years, the federal government – whether Liberal or Conservative – has continued to develop policies and legislation based upon the White Paper/Buffalo Jump objectives and many First Nations have regrettably agreed to compromise their constitutional/international rights by negotiating under Canada’s termination policies.
Canada’s Termination Policies
Legitimized by Negotiation Tables
It has been thirty years since Aboriginal and Treaty rights have been “recognized and affirmed” in section 35 of Canada’s constitution. Why hasn’t the constitutional protection for First Nations’ Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights been implemented on the ground? One answer to this question is, following the failure of the First Ministers’ Conferences on Aboriginal Matters in the 1980s, many First Nations agreed to compromise their section 35 Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights by entering into or negotiating Modern Treaties and/or Self-government Agreements under Canada’s unilateral negotiation terms.
These Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements not only contribute to emptying out section 35 of Canada’s constitution of any significant legal, political or economic meaning. Final settlement agreements are then used as precedents against other First Nations’ who are negotiating.
Moreover, Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government policies are far below the international standards set out in the Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada publicly endorsed the UNDRIP in November 2010, but obviously Canada’s interpretation of the UNDRIP is different than that of most First Nations, considering their unilateral legislation and policy approach.
Canada voted against UNDRIP on Sept. 13, 2007, stating that the UNDRIP was inconsistent with Canada’s domestic policies, especially the Articles dealing with Indigenous Peoples’ Self-Determination, Land Rights and Free, Prior Informed Consent. Canada’s position on UNDRIP now is that they can interpret it as they please, although the principles in UNDRIP form part of international not domestic law.
The federal strategy is to maintain the Indian Act (with amendments) as the main federal law to control and manage First Nations. The only way out of the Indian Act for First Nations is to negotiate an agreement under Canada’s one-sided Land Claims and/or Self-Government policies. These Land Claims/Self-Government Agreements all require the termination of Indigenous rights for some land, cash and delegated jurisdiction under the existing federal and provincial orders of government.
Canada has deemed that it will not recognize the pre-existing sovereignty of First Nations or allow for a distinct First Nations order of government based upon section 35 of Canada’s constitution.
Through blackmail, bribery or force, Canada is using the poverty of First Nations to obtain concessions from First Nations who want out of the Indian Act by way of Land Claims/Self- Government Agreements. All of these Agreements conform to Canada’s interpretation of section 35 of Canada’s constitution, which is to legally, politically and economically convert First Nations into what are essentially ethnic municipalities.
The first groups in Canada who have agreed to compromise their section 35 Inherent and Aboriginal rights through Modern Treaties have created an organization called the Land Claims Agreement Coalition. The Coalition Members are:
- Council of Yukon First Nations (representing 9 land claim organizations in the Yukon)
- Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
- Gwich’in Tribal Council
- Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
- Kwanlin Dun First Nation
- Maa-nulth First Nations
- Makivik Corporation
- Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach
- Nisga’a Nation
- Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
- Nunatsiavut Government
- Sahtu Secretariat Inc.
- Tlicho Government
- Tsawwassen First Nation
- Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
The Land Claims Agreement Coalition members came together because the federal government wasn’t properly implementing any of their Modern Treaties. So the Coalition essentially became a lobby group to collectively pressure the federal government to respect their Modern Treaties. According to members of the Coalition Modern Treaty implementation problems persist today.
The fact that Canada has already broken the Modern Treaties shouldn’t inspire confidence for those First Nations who are already lined up at Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government negotiation tables. According to the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs there are 93 Modern Treaty and/or Self-Government negotiation tables across Canada. Those First Nations who are negotiating at these 93 tables are being used by the federal government (and the provinces/Territories) to legitimize its Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies, which are based upon extinguishment of Aboriginal Title and termination of Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
The First Nations who have been refusing to negotiate and are resisting the federal Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government negotiating policies are routinely ignored by the federal government and kept under control and managed through the Indian Act (with amendments).
Attempts by non-negotiating First Nations to reform the federal Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies aren’t taken seriously by the federal government because there are so many First Nations who have already compromised their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights by agreeing to negotiate under the terms and funding conditions of these Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies.
For example, following the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw v. British Columbia decision, which recognized that Aboriginal Title exists in Canada, the Assembly of First Nations tried to reform the Comprehensive Claims policy to be consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision. However, the then Minister of Indian Affairs, Robert Nault on December 22, 2000, wrote a letter addressed to then Chief Arthur Manuel that essentially said why should the federal government change the Comprehensive Claims policy if First Nations are prepared to negotiate under it as it is? A fair question: why do First Nations remain at negotiation tables that ultimately lead to the termination of their peoples Inherent and Aboriginal rights, especially since it appears that Modern Treaties are routinely broken after they are signed by the federal government?
Many of these negotiations are in British Columbia where despite the past twenty years of negotiations the B.C. Treaty process has produced two small Modern Treaties, Tsawwassan and Maa’Nulth. The Nisga’a Treaty was concluded in 2000, outside of the B.C. Treaty process. All of these Modern Treaties have resulted in extinguishing Aboriginal Title, converting reserve lands into fee simple, removing tax exemptions, converting bands into municipalities, among other impacts on Inherent and Aboriginal rights.
The Harper Government’s
Aside from the unilateral legislation being imposed, or the funding cuts and caps to First Nation’s and their political organizations, the September 4, 2012, announcement of a “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations amounts to a “take it or leave it” declaration on the part of the Harper government to the negotiating First Nations.
Canada’s Comprehensive Claims Policy requires First Nations to borrow money from the federal government to negotiate their “land claims.” According to the federal government:
“To date, the total of outstanding loans to Aboriginal groups from Canada to support their participation in negotiations is $711-million. This represents a significant financial liability for the Aboriginal community. In addition, the government of Canada provides $60-million in grants and contributions to Aboriginal groups every year for negotiations.”
It is Canada’s policies that forced First Nations to borrow money to negotiate their “claims,” so the “financial liability” was a policy measure designed by the federal government to pressure First Nations into settling their ‘claims’ faster. As the federal government puts it, the Comprehensive Claims negotiation process has instead “spawned a negotiation industry that has no incentive to reach agreement.”
This accumulated debt of $711-million along with the $60-million annual in grants and contributions have compromised those negotiating First Nations and their leaders to the point that they are unable or unwilling to seriously confront the Harper government’s termination plan.
Over 50% of the Comprehensive Claims are located in B.C. and the First Nations Summit represents the negotiating First Nations in B.C., although some negotiating First Nations have now joined the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), thus blurring the historic distinctions between to two political organizations. The latter organization previously vigorously opposed the B.C. Treaty process, but now the UBCIC remains largely silent about it.
These two main political organizations – the First Nations Summit and the UBCIC – have now joined together into the B.C. First Nations Leadership Council, further blending the rights and interests of their respective member communities together, not taking into account whether they are in or out of the B.C. Treaty process.
This may partially explain why the Chiefs who are not in the B.C. Treaty process also remain largely silent about the Harper government’s “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations.
First Nations in British Columbia are failing to capitalize on that fact, that since the Delgamuukw Decision, the governments have to list unresolved land claims and litigation as a contingent liability. Such liabilities can affect Canada’s sovereign credit rating and provincial credit ratings. To counter this outstanding liability, Canada points to the British Columbia Treaty Process as the avenue how they are dealing with this liability, pointing to the fact that First Nations are borrowing substantive amounts to negotiate with the governments.
Another recent example of how disconnected B.C. First Nations and their organizations are on international versus domestic policy and law, is the First Nations’ outcry over the recent Canada-China Treaty.
The B.C. Chiefs and their organizations are publicly denouncing the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement as adversely impacting on Aboriginal Title and Rights, yet they say or do nothing about Harper’s accelerated termination plan. It seems the negotiating First Nations are more worried about the Canada-China Treaty blocking a future land claims deal under the B.C. Treaty process.
The Chiefs and their organizations at the B.C. Treaty process negotiation tables have had twenty years to negotiate the “recognition and affirmation” of Aboriginal Title and Rights, but this continues to be impossible under Canada’s policies aiming at the extinguishment of collective rights. As a result only two extinguishment Treaties have resulted from the process. Even Sophie Pierre, Chair of the B.C. Treaty Commission has said “If we can’t do it, it’s about time we faced the obvious – I guess we don’t have it, so shut her down.”
By most accounts the twenty year old B.C. Treaty process has been a failure. It has served the governments’ purpose of countering their contingent liabilities regarding Indigenous land rights. Yet it seems the negotiating First Nations are so compromised by their federal loans and dependent on the negotiations funding stream that they are unable or unwilling to withdraw from the tables en masse and make real on the demand that the Harper government reform its Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies to be consistent with the Articles of the UNDRIP.
The same can also be said for the negotiating First Nations in the Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions.
The Chiefs who are not in the B.C., Quebec or Atlantic negotiating processes have not responded much, if at all, to Harper’s “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government. The non-negotiating Chiefs seem to be more interested in managing programs and services issues than their Aboriginal Title and Rights. As one federal official put it, the Chiefs are involved in the elements of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy like economic and social development while ignoring the main White Paper objective – termination of First Nations legal status.
Given their silence over the Harper government’s “results based” “take it or leave it” negotiations approach, it seems many of the negotiating First Nations at the Comprehensive Claims and/or Self-Government tables are still contemplating concluding Agreements under Canada’s termination policies. This can only lead to further division among First Nations across Canada as more First Nations compromise their constitutional and international rights by consenting to final settlement agreements under the terms and conditions of Canada’s termination policies, while undermining the political positions of the non-negotiating First Nations.
In the meantime, Harper’s government will continue pawning off Indigenous lands and resources in the midst of a financial crisis through free trade and foreign investment protection agreements, which will secure foreign corporate access to lands and resources and undermine Indigenous Rights.
Some First Nation leaders and members have criticised AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo for agreeing to a joint approach with the Harper government, including the Crown-First Nations Gathering (CFNG), but to be fair, the Chiefs across Canada did nothing to pressure Prime Minister Harper going into the CFNG. Instead, many Chiefs used the occasion as a photo op posing with the Prime Minister.
The negotiating First Nations who are in joint processes with Canada seem to be collectively heading to the cliff of the “Buffalo Jump” as they enter termination agreements with Canada emptying out section 35 in the process.
Much of the criticism of AFN National Chief Atleo has come from the Prairie Treaty Chiefs. Interestingly, if one looks at the federal chart of the 93 negotiation tables not too many First Nations from historic Treaty areas are involved in the Self-Government tables, except for the Ontario region where the Union of Ontario Indians and Nisnawbe-Aski Nation are negotiating Self-Government agreements.
As a result of the September 4, 2012 announcements regarding changes to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations, cuts and caps to funding First Nations political organizations and unilateral legislation initiatives, it is obvious that Prime Minister Harper has tricked the AFN National Chief and First Nations by showing that the CFNG “outcomes” were largely meaningless.
One commitment that Prime Minister Harper made at the CFNG – which he will probably keep – is making a progress report in January 2013. The Prime Minister will probably announce the progress being made with all of the negotiating tables across Canada, along with his legislative initiatives.
It appears First Nations are at the proverbial “end of the trail” as the Chiefs seem to be either co-opted or afraid to challenge the Harper government. Most grassroots peoples aren’t even fully informed about the dangerous situation facing them and their future generations.
The only way to counter the Harper government is to:
- have all negotiating First Nations suspend their talks; and
- organize coordinated National Days of Action to register First Nations opposition to the Harper government’s termination plan;
- Demand Canada suspend all First Nations legislation in Parliament, cease introducing new Bills and
- Change Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government Policies to “recognize and affirm” the Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of First Nations, including respect and implementation of the Historic Treaties.
If there is no organized protest and resistance to the Harper government’s termination plan, First Nations should accept their place at the bottom of all social, cultural and economic indicators in Canada, just buy into Harper’s jobs and economic action plan – and be quiet about their rights. •
Russell Diabo is the Publisher and Editor of First Nations Strategic Bulletin where this article first appeared.
Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.
Ray McGovern is a retired CIA officer. McGovern was employed under seven US presidents for over 27 years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. McGovern was born and raised in the Bronx, graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University, received an M.A. in Russian Studies from Fordham, a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University, and graduated from Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. McGovern now works for “Tell the Word," a ministry of the inner-city/Washington Church of the Saviour, which sent him forth four weeks ago to join other Justice people on "The Audacity of Hope," the U.S. Boat to Gaza.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.President Obama announced his nominations for the new secretary of defense and director of the CIA, Chuck Hagel at defense and John Brennan for the CIA. Now joining us to discuss these appointments is Ray McGovern. Ray is a former CIA analyst for several decades. He's a prolific writer, does many things, including he's an often-contributor to The Real News. Thanks for joining us, Ray. So let's start with Chuck Hagel at Defense. You wrote a piece for The Baltimore Sun where you thought it would be a good idea for President Obama to select Hagel, and he did. But why did you think that would be a good idea?RAY MCGOVERN, CIA AGENT (RET.): Well, in short, Paul, Hagel is no chickenhawk. He volunteered to go to Vietnam at the worst of the fighting, wounded twice. He'd been there, done that. Okay? And he's been very, very upfront about his reluctance or anyone's reluctance should be to send U.S. troops into battle for no good reason.JAY: And chickenhawk, for those that don't know, although I suppose everybody does, is somebody who sits in Washington ordering other people to go fight.MCGOVERN: That's exactly right. Or you could go back to George W. Bush, who, you know, his daddy got him a job with the Texas National Guard because expressly, explicitly George Bush said he didn't want to go to Vietnam. Or you look at Dick Cheney, with five deferments. How many deferments do you think Joe Biden had? Five. Okay? So you've got a bunch of people that have no direct experience in war. That is really important. Chuck Hagel would be the first person with combat experience to be secretary of defense in 30 years. Mel Laird was the first one. He was a naval—he was a midshipman.JAY: Okay. You would think with this kind of a record it would be a rather popular choice. He's a Republican. You would think Republicans would embrace him. But as we know, far from embracing him, there's a campaign to block this nomination. In fact, there's already a lobby group been formed with lots of money to take out ads against Hagel. Apparently there's been some website created specifically just to attack Hagel. So what's getting them all riled up?MCGOVERN: Well, Paul, Hagel has not been sufficiently passionately attached to Israel. He said some things that have really rubbed some noses out of joint. For example, he had the temerity to say that I am the American senator, not an Israeli senator. Oh. Now, on the face of that, you know, who could object to that? Well, there's an awful lot of people, like the felon Elliot Abrams, who I heard at NPR yesterday saying that Hagel was anti-Semitic. He's anti-Semitic because he's the senator from the U.S. [crosstalk]JAY: Well, no, they say he's anti-Semitic 'cause he talked about the Jewish lobby and not the Israel lobby. He used the—he didn't say Zionist or Israel; he said Jewish.MCGOVERN: Yeah. Well, okay. So he said that. The problem really is that these folks—they're called the neocons—these folks who have real difficulty distinguishing between the objective aims or the strategic aims of Israel on the one hand and the strategic needs of the United States on the other, those are the people that think that Hagel might decide that contrary to even what the president has said in terms of marching in lockstep with Israel, that Hagel might say, wait a second, wait a second, does this really make sense. I mean, Mr. President, I know you said before the Super Bowl last year that your primary objective is the defense of the United States, and also Israel; I think we should give the United States a separate sentence this year and say, your primary objective is to secure the United States, and then if you want to add as a second sentence, "And we're also interested in defending Israel," that'll be alright. But people need to know that you're interested first and foremost in U.S. policy toward the Middle East bereft of any passionate attachment, the kind of attachment that George Washington himself warned against in his—.JAY: It's a very interesting appointment by Obama, because he had to know the pressure that was going to be brought to bear against him on this. He knew that the Likud, the right-wing party in power in Israel, and their allies in AIPAC and the lobby group in the United States and all the senators and members of the House, he knew this was going to be not very well liked, and he did it anyway.MCGOVERN: Yeah, and that's a very good sign, Paul. It shows that there's a little bit of maybe a spine implant that Obama has gotten over Christmas. This is big. Last year was really a rollercoaster with respect to U.S.-Israeli relations. In February, as I already said, Obama's saying, we're going to march in lockstep with Israel. Israel is equal foot in terms of our determination to defend it. Come around September, come around late August, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is saying, I don't want to be complicit if the Israelis attack Iran. Hillary Clinton is saying, you know, these red lines about Netanyahu, that's BS; we're not interested in that. And the president is saying, sorry, I have to be on The View on TV. I can't meet with you, Netanyahu, when you come to the United States. There was a sea change there. Obama faced them down. Now, this appointment, which I dearly feared would be in jeopardy because of all this opposition, Obama stood by it. And that speaks volumes. It means that the second part of 2012 is the continuity here and not the blind, the blind support of whatever Netanyahu does, including the settlements that keep going on with just verbal opposition from the United States. But that's the thing of the past, that this is a new era, and Hagel's going to make some changes.JAY: Well, we don't know yet whether there's any change in terms of Obama and pressure on Israel vis-à-vis settlements and resolution with the Palestinians and two-state issues and those kinds of questions. What we do know from Obama's history—and if you look at what he said about the Iraq War, he opposed the Iraq War not because he's against projecting U.S. power all over the world; he just thought it was a stupid war, the Iraq War. And I think what this is telling us is he thinks an attack on Iran would be stupid and doesn't want to do it. It doesn't mean he's against projecting U.S. power. And you can see this from his second appointment of John Brennan—the guy he's been sitting with choosing who to kill with drones is now head of the CIA.MCGOVERN: Well, you're right about that. But, you know, he also realizes now, four years later, that Afghanistan is a fool's errand and he needs support in the Senate to contend with the backsniping that is already occurring about losing Afghanistan. So the Iran thing is crucial. And Hagel is one of the last people that would think that we could send U.S. service people into war with Iran simply because Israel started it or simply because Israel wanted us to do it. So that is big. Okay?Now, with respect to projecting power, you know, there's only a limited amount of power you can project. And what we're seeing now is a retrenchment. You know the problems here in this country. I think Obama will be helped by Hagel in sort of delimiting the defense budget, which is going out of all proportion to the threats that Americans face.JAY: I guess my point is I think it's a rational, it's a good thing that Hagel's there, because—I don't know if people on The Real News have heard me say this; I've been saying it informally right from the first day Obama was president, that the one thing I was actually hopeful for is he might be more rational on Iran than the Republicans would be. I didn't have a lot of expectations otherwise. And I think this Hagel appointment is that. But when you look at Brennan going to the CIA, does it not mean sort of an expansion of this drone assassination program?MCGOVERN: Sure. Now, Paul, just one little footnote about Hagel. Hagel has served on the president's foreign intelligence advisory board. That is key. He knows intelligence back and forth. And he knows very well that in November 2007, the entire intelligence community pronounced itself unanimously and with great confidence that Iran had stopped building a nuclear weapon at the end of 2003. And that judgment has been revalidated every year since by the director of national intelligence. I think Hagel will be able to use that cudgel against the neocons, say, why do we have to attack a country that's not building nuclear weapons. So that's a key thing. You're right to focus on Iran. I'm more hopeful now than I would have been if the president had sort of caved again and [crosstalk]JAY: Alright. So what do you make of the John Brennan appointment as director of the CIA?MCGOVERN: Well, I wish I could be more optimistic, Paul. I know Brennan. I know him as a young sort of failed analyst. The way you promote yourself these days at Washington is you find a job in the White House and catch the attention of people like George Tenet, who was at the White House. And Tenet brought him back when Tenet became deputy CIA director, brought him back to CIA and made him into what he is today. He even sent him to Saudi Arabia to be a chief of station. Now, Brennan pretends to know Arabic. He can say Abdulmutallab just really good—I'll practice that: Abdulmutallab. Okay? So when he goes before the press and he says "Abdulmutallab," that's very impressive. But when Helen Thomas asks him, why do they hate us, why did they do these things, why did Abdulmutallab try to knock down that plane over Deroit, he says, they're hardwired to hate us. It's their religion. Helen says, oh, so it's the—. Well, it's not the religion; it's the way—I—they just hate us, they hate us, and they're a danger to our homeland.Now, either Brennan is dumb (and that's possible, you know) or he's really sold out to the people who are profiteering on these unending wars. Right? Why would you continue to press these things? Pakistan has 175 million people. What are we doing? We're alienating hundreds of them every day with these drone strikes. They also have nuclear weapons. So, you know, it doesn't make any sense, unless—.JAY: Well, just to refresh everybody's memory here, Brennan sits in the White House with President Obama deciding who they're going to kill with drones. He helps draw up the kill list. Is that correct?MCGOVERN: That's right. Yeah. That's pretty confirmed now. You know, picture it. Now, I've been in the White House. I used to brief there. But, you know, my picture is Brennan comes in on Tuesday, 'cause that's the day they do the kill list, and he says, Mr. President, we have 13 here, here are the names, can you sign off on this. And Obama looks at him, and he says, well, number three—didn't you tell me last week number three has three small kids? Well, yes, Mr. President, but we know, we know he's a suspected militant, we know. So, well, look, take three, put him in—let's do three next week, and let's just do 12 this week. Sign off. And then he goes—Barack Obama goes to have a nice lunch with his wife.Give me a break. That's what goes on in the White House now. You know, that's almost as bad as Condoleeza Rice presiding over demonstrations of enhanced interrogation techniques, which were also done at the White House.JAY: And this was more or less leaked to The New York Times, right? It's not like you're speculating. The New York Times kind of described these meetings.MCGOVERN: Well, yeah. This was when the White House saw some incentive in showing the president to be a tough guy like Brennan, you know. I know Brennan. He's from northern New Jersey. He's a tough guy. When he says, yeah, we do this without due process, well, don't be stupid here. We do due process right here in the White House. That's how we do due process now. Eric Holder says so. Give me a break. That's the kind of mentality you have there. And what really, really is missing here: where's the legal profession in this country? You know? Due process means the judiciary, it means the courts. And here they're letting these people get away with saying no, no, we do due process here in the White House. It's unconscionable.JAY: So what does it mean for the CIA? Any changes from the way it's acting?MCGOVERN: Well, Paul, as you know, there are two CIAs, one the analysis CIA that Truman envisaged and set up. That's the one I worked in, and that's the one that prevented a war with Iran—that's no exaggeration, with that estimate saying they had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003. That one still has some people of integrity in it. The other one that Truman never envisaged, this operational, you know, covert actions sort of thing, well, they're riding high. They're flying drones all over the place. And Brennan can be expected to enhance the military capabilities that really should not belong in the CIA. And Truman said so before he died.JAY: And now President Obama has his guy controlling those drones. So in a sense it's an extension of the drone program and what they've been doing together.MCGOVERN: I think Obama, you know, has a certain confidence in Brennan that he has in nobody else. I hope it's not a misplaced confidence. Brennan's a pretty treacherous guy, and I think the way Obama looks at the CIA is, if he has his own man controlling the CIA, Brennan, that there's less danger that the CIA will play games, less prospect that the CIA will get involved in the kinds of things against John F. Kennedy that happened then.JAY: Thanks for joining us, Ray.MCGOVERN: Most welcome.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
EndDISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
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Hagel and Brennan Nominations: The Empire’s Agenda is Covert Warfare, Targeted Assassinations and “Counterterrorism”
Senate confirmation on both is required. Expect little opposition to Brennan. More on him below.
Republicans will challenge Hagel. At issue is political opportunism more than who serves. Questions about Obama’s nominee are exaggerated. More on that below.
Rarely ever are presidential nominations rejected. Expect nothing different this time. Candidates are carefully vetted. Selection depends on full support for US policies.
Hagel is a reliable imperial supporter. His Senatorial voting record offers proof. The Peace Majority Report rated him highly. The lower the score, the higher the rating. He scored 5%. John McCain got 4%, Joe Lieberman 26%, and Bill Clinton 74%.
The American Conservative Union called him solidly Republican. It gave him a lifetime 84% rating.
In 1996, Hagel suspiciously defeated Nebraska’s popular Democrat governor Ben Nelson.
At stake was a US Senate seat. Polls suggested a close race. Hagel won by 15 points. Few Nebraskans knew about Hagel’s ties.
He was part owner, chairman and CEO of Election Systems & Software (ES&S). It’s an electronic voting machine company.
At the time, it was called American Information Systems. AIS’ parent company founder, Michael McCarthy, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer. His easy victory made winning suspect.
He never disclosed his business ties. A Senate Ethics Committee investigation was requested. It was rejected. Nothing followed. Expect little or nothing said now.
Hagel serves as chairman of the Atlantic Council (ACUS). In 1961, former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter established it. It was done to support NATO.
It’s headquartered in Washington. It supports Washington’s global agenda. Past and current members include a rogue’s gallery of reliable American imperial supporters.
Among others, they include Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Schlesinger, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, James Jones, Condoleezza Rice, Richard Holbrooke, Susan Rice, and an array of current and former top military officials.
Frederick Kempe is president and CEO. He’s a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, editor and associate publisher. He’s a regular major media commentator.
Damon Wilson is executive vice president. Formerly he served on George W. Bush’s National Security Council. He’s committed to strengthening NATO. Like all past and current ACUS members, he supports America’s imperial project.
The Washington Post listed other Hagel credentials. Past and current ones include:
- US senator (Nebraska-R.) from 1997 – 2009;
- chairman of the US Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee;
- co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and Defense Policy Board member;
- Private Sector Council president and CEO;
- Vanguard Cellular Systems co-founder, director and executive vice president;
- Communications Corporation International LTD chairman;
- Hagel & Clarke co-founder, director and president;
- president McCarthy & Co,;
- Veterans Administration deputy administrator;
- Firestone Tire & Rubber government affairs director; and
He’s no dove. He’s solidly right-wing. He supported Bush’s war on terror. He backs it now. He voted for every National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He endorsed NATO’s 1999 Yugoslavia war.
At the time he said: “When you’re in a war, you’re in a war to win.” He called Slobodan Milosevic “a butcher loose in the backyard of NATO.” He viewed Kosovo as a “goal-line stand.”
He said if America doesn’t respond, “we will be tested every day for the next who knows how many years.” He favored sending US forces to Kosovo. He said “never….take any military option off the table.”
He voted for the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts. He endorsed an “urgent need” for missile defense. He called the 1972 US/Soviet Russia Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) “obsolete.”
He said “We can’t hold America’s national security interests hostage to any threats from some other nation.”
After Bush withdrew from ABM in December 2001, he said “What the president did was responsible. I support it. I think it was the right thing to do.”
He accused North Korea of being “on the verge of fielding a ballistic missile capable not only of striking my home state of Nebraska, but anywhere in the United States.”
He supported the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”
The Afghanistan war followed. It rages. It shows no signs of ending. It’s America’s longest war. It was lost years ago.
Hagel supported the 2003 Iraq war. When it was too late to matter, his tone got more dovish.
He favors lawless warrantless surveillance. He opposes habeas and due process rights for Guantanamo detainees.
On January 7, the Washington Post headlined “On Israel, Iran, and spending, Chuck Hagel looks a lot like Robert Gates,” saying:
His opponents claim he’ll dramatically change defense spending and America’s position on Israel and Iran. Reality suggests otherwise.
“The bottom line is that” Hagel and Gates “are remarkably similar and appear to share a number of policy preferences.” They include drawing down in Iraq and arguing against Libyan intervention.
Both men differ somewhat on Iran. Gates is more hardline. Hagel tried having it both ways. On the one hand, he claimed sanctions are counterproductive. At the same time, he said they’re “working.”
In his first post-nomination interview, he said critics “completely distorted” his record.
“I have said many times that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism,” he stressed. “I have also questioned some very cavalier attitudes taken about very complicated issues in the Middle East.”
Nonetheless, he favors “direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran.”
He called for direct Hamas/Hezbollah engagement. In 2008, he endorsed direct talks with Syria and North Korea.
There’s “not one shred of evidence” that he’s anti-Israeli, he said. “Israel is in a very, very difficult position. No border that touches Israel is always secure. We need to work to help protect Israel so it doesn’t get isolated.”
He calls “distortions about (his) record….astonishing.” During Senate confirmation hearings, he welcomes “an opportunity to respond” to critics.
At the same time, Politico quoted him saying “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator. I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for the Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”
Politico added that:
“In 2006, (he) used the term ‘Jewish Lobby,’ ” saying:
“The political reality is….that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel. I just don’t think it’s smart for Israel.”
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) head Abe Foxman responded, saying:
“What I find more troubling is, he had sufficient time to distance himself from the ‘Jewish lobby’ quote, to explain, and he hasn’t.”
“He let it stand. I find that more troubling than the original statement. He sees it out there. He sees it being seen as this truly conspiratorial view, that the Jewish lobby controls foreign policy, and there’s no comment.”
AIPAC withheld comment. The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) said:
“While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, (Hagel) will follow the president’s lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel – on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran’s nuclear program.”
On January 8, the right-wing Jerusalem Post headlined “Ayalon: Hagel sees Israel as ‘true and natural’ ally,” saying:
Ayalon is Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister. He’s positive on Hagel’s nomination. “I have met him many times,” he said, “and he certainly regards Israel as a true and natural US ally.”
Netanyahu withheld comment. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin expressed concerns. “Because of his statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel, we are worried,” he said.
He added that Washington’s ties to Israel don’t depend on “one person.”
The New York Times commented on Hagel and Brennan. Obama chose “two trusted advisers,” it said.
Expect Senate hearings for Hagel to be “bruising,” it added. Confirming both will likely follow.
John Brennan is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. He’s Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor.
He heads the administration’s Murder, Inc. agenda. He chairs a panel of National Security Council officials. CIA, FBI, Pentagon, State Department, and others are involved.
America’s war on terror is wide-ranging. It includes direct and proxy wars. Special Forces death squads operate in 120 or more countries. CIA agents are virtually everywhere. They’re licensed to kill.
US citizens are fair game. They’re vulnerable at home and abroad. Obama’s kill list picks targets. Brennan advises on who next to assassinate. Victims are a closely held secret.
Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world. Ordinary people, distinguished ones, or officials are fair game. Their crime is opposing US imperialism.
Drone wars are prioritized. Human lives don’t matter. Rule of law principles are spurned. Summary judgment overrides them.
Obama usurped diktat authority. He appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. He and Brennan meet regularly. Eliminating America’s enemies matter most.
Washington calls innocent victims “terrorists.” Names go on kill lists. It’s called America’s “disposition matrix.” Brennan’s in charge of global assassinations. Prioritizing them made him top CIA director choice.
Expect drone wars to expand. So will targeted assassinations. Summary executions will be prioritized. Rule of law principles, standards, and protocols won’t matter. Counterterrorism takes no prisoners.
The CIA Is Taking Over the Dirty Work in Fighting America’s Wars
Obama has nominated a veteran – not a chickenhawk – to serve as Secretary of Defense. The Washington Post reports that Chuck Hagel:
… was deputy director of the Veterans Administration during the Reagan administration and later served as president of the United Service Organizations.
U.S. News and World Report notes:
The Vietnam War veteran and the recipient of the purple heart, Hagel would be the first enlisted soldier in the military to rise to the ranks of defense secretary.
Indeed, while all of the neocon warmongers are chickenhawks who dodged service to their country, many veterans and active-duty service men are opposed to the endless wars, which only weaken our national security and increase terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.
No wonder Hagel is more moderate than those who want to start conflagrations all over the world.
U.S. News and World Report continues:
While Hagel is a Republican, his views on foreign policy alarm some of his GOP colleagues. During his time in the Senate, Hagel was verbose in his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he voted against sanctioning Iran on multiple occasions and has suggested Israel should negotiate with Hamas directly. Republicans and Democrats alike worry he’s not a strong enough friend to Israel …
The Washington Post reports:
Last year, Hagel endorsed a report by the advocacy group Global Zero that called for an 80 percent reduction in the U.S. nuclear-weapons arsenal. Such a cut could save $100 billion over 10 years, the group estimated.
On the other hand, Obama’s nominee for CIA director – John Brennan – endorsed torture, assassination of unidentified strangers without due process, and spying on all Americans. As Glenn Greenwald writes:
Brennan, as a Bush-era CIA official, had expressly endorsed Bush’s programs of torture (other than waterboarding) and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program.
Obama then appointed him as his top counter-terrorism adviser…. In that position, Brennan last year got caught outright lying when he claimed Obama’s drone program caused no civilian deaths in Pakistan over the prior year. He also spouted complete though highly influential falsehoods to the world in the immediate aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing, including claiming that bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with Navy SEALS and had “used his wife as a human shield”. Brennan has also been in charge of many of Obama’s most controversial and radical policies, including “signature strikes” in Yemen – targeting people without even knowing who they are – and generally seizing the power to determine who will be marked for execution without any due process, oversight or transparency.
What do these two nominations tell us?
That the Obama administration doesn’t plan on fighting as many conventional wars with men in uniform – soldiers, sailors, pilots and marines – but does plan to crank up assassinations, drone strikes and other covert operations worldwide.
Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.
Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.
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 Ratner Report with Michael Ratner, who now joins us from New York City.Michael is the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. He's chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. And he's a board member of The Real News.Thanks for joining us again, Michael.MICHAEL RATNER, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: It's always good to be with you. And happy new year to you and all your viewers.JAY: Thank you. And what are you following now?RATNER: You know, it's—unfortunately, it's more of the same, which is the war-on-terror excesses, first of the Bush administration, and now the Obama administration. We're going into, really, the middle of the 11th year of what I consider to be a lawless way of carrying out the so-called war on terror. The model that has been used is essentially presidential fiat, congressional fiat, no due process, no trials, indefinite detention. And just this week the president signed—and it's into law—the National Defense Authorization Act, which comes up every year. It's a 620-page bill. It funds all our military adventures all over the world. But for my purposes, on the so-called war on terror what it does is continue what I call the Bush–Obama policies.The first of those policies is indefinite detention, that you can pick up people anywhere in the world—and what's interesting: including American citizens—and hold them indefinitely without trial, and even hold them offshore. We expected this last Congress to try and put in legislation that would at least prohibit the holding of U.S. citizens. They didn't, so it's still authorized by the law. And, of course, that's the lawsuit that Chris Hedges and Daniel Ellsberg had gone to court to try and declare that section of the old law, now of the new law, unconstitutional. So you have an NDAA that first allows indefinite detention of anyone in the world, including U.S. citizens. Secondly, it really destroys any chance of closing Guantanamo.JAY: Before you get into that, Michael, wasn't there some amendment that came out of the Senate that ensures or at least is supposed to ensure habeas rights for U.S. citizens?RATNER: Well, they have a habeas right, but they can still be held indefinitely in detention.JAY: So explain what that means, a habeas right.RATNER: Okay. Everyone can now, because of the cases we won at the Center over the last ten years, has a right to go to court and say to the court, which will say to the jailor, the United States, are you holding me legally. The problem with it is is legally is now defined by the NDAA as holding someone in indefinite detention for their, quote, associational interests, or association with al-Qaeda or related forces. And so all that the government has to come into court and prove is that somehow this person has some relationship to al-Qaeda or whatever related forces means, which could be almost anything. And that's the way it's been used. So the U.S. picks up people, whether it's in Afghanistan or Pakistan, or Yemen,—JAY: Or Pittsburgh.RATNER: —Pittsburgh, or Somalia, or anywhere, or England, or anywhere, and says, well, that person's associated with al-Qaeda or associated forces. And then you have a right, yes, to go to court and challenge that.But the court has been completely unwilling to hear those challenges. The lowest court has heard them, and in some cases even said, well, the government's not holding with a good reason; it goes to the court of appeals, and they have never actually let anyone out of Guantanamo or any other type of this indefinite detention. My problem, of course, is not that they give habeas rights. Sure, that's good. But the problem is they use a indefinite detention model and not a law enforcement model. My view is no one should be held in indefinite detention. Every human being who's picked up anywhere in the world should be charged with a crime if they're going to be kept, and tried for the crime. Instead, you have these masses of people being held without being charged. And if we look at Guantanamo, it's the perfect example. And that gets to the second part of the NDAA legislation. There's 166 people left in Guantanamo. Eighty-six of those people have been cleared for release. That means they shouldn't be there at all. The rest of them—whatever, 80 or so—have not been charged, with exceptions of a few, such as the so-called, you know, people who were allegedly involved in the conspiracy of the World Trade Center, which is a half a dozen people or so. So most of those people have never been charged. And, in fact, more than half have been cleared for release. So what does the NDAA do to those people? It says two things, which it said consistently year after year, that the president can't transfer anybody to the United States, even those cleared for release. So that means: how do you get those people out of Guantanamo? And secondly, it puts very heavy restrictions on transferring any of those people to foreign countries. They have to notify the Senate, they have to approve it in certain ways. And, in fact, because of those restrictions, no one's been transferred to a foreign country, or to the United States, obviously, in the last two years.Now, so that's what you have. You have heavy restrictions. So that means you're going to have trouble closing Guantanamo altogether. Now, Obama made all kinds of noises last year, and he made all kinds of noises this year, that he was going to veto the NDAA because of what he considers these restrictions on his presidential power to, one, transfer people out of Guantanamo to the United States, or transfer them to foreign countries. But last year he didn't veto it, and this year he didn't veto it. So what he does is he does a bunch of saber-rattling. But what he did was do a signing statement. Now, signing statements, I want to explain, have no legal efficacy. In the United States, you either have to approve legislation as the president or veto it. Obama, by approving it, basically says this is the law. He then signs something that says, well, I don't like this law, I don't think it's constitutional, I don't think this, I don't think that, but that it has no legal efficacy. The law is the law, and he's not about to necessarily disobey the law—he didn't last year, and he didn't this year.Now, what's interesting about Obama's signing statements is two things. One, he criticized them when Bush used them, saying, Bush shouldn't be doing these signing statements; he should either veto the law or approve the law, but not say, I approve it, but—you can't do that. And secondly, last year when he made a signing statement on the NDAA, he said, I will challenge this law as unconstitutional in these respects, etc., etc. This time, because it's past the election, he didn't even say that. And so we now have an NDAA that ostensibly allows the indefinite detention of American citizens, makes it impossible to close Guantanamo, and a president who is unwilling to challenge Congress about the law.JAY: And what's the status of that lawsuit that Chris Hedges and his colleagues launched?RATNER: Well, Judge Forrest, who is a very good judge in the District of Columbia, actually ruled in favor of Hedges and Ellsberg that the law was unconstitutional because Ellsberg, Hedges, and others who challenge the law could actually be held in indefinite detention for the words that they spoke or what they wrote. And the government refused to say initially that they couldn't be held like that. And so Judge Forrest, who is the judge, said, well, I'm ruling it's unconstitutional. The government then, in the most aggressive way they could, Obama appealed that to the circuit court. The circuit court stayed the decision, which means they said, we're not going to hold this unconstitutional; we're going to stay it until we hear the entire argument again. So right now the NDAA is still good law, because the circuit court went against the district court, the lower court, and basically said, we're going to allow the law to continue. So it's still being heavily, heavily litigated. Now, it seems to me that two things are apparent to me. One is, of course, I don't think it's good to hold anyone in indefinite detention, citizens or not. Of course, Hedges attacked the most pernicious aspect and the most constitutionally protected aspect, which is holding an American citizen. And secondly, we're still left with Guantanamo. Now, it brings me to—so we have an NDAA out there. Now, it brings me to a second issue that I want to get to in this short piece, which is Obama's drone policy. Again, it comes up in the context of the murder of, killing of American citizens Anwar al-Aulaqi, his son, Rahman al-Aulaqi, and another American citizen, all in Yemen. The Center for Constitutional Rights challenged those killings initially. We lost. They were killed by drones after our lawsuit.We now have another challenge, challenging them in terms of trying to get damages for them. But an extraordinary decision was written this week by a judge about targeted assassinations by Obama and his administration. It was a case in which the ACLU and The New York Times went to court to try and get the legal basis under which Obama said he could designate people for death, American citizens and otherwise. And the judge said that they weren't entitled, in the end, to the document that was written by the Department of Justice laying out the legal reasoning about why you could kill American citizens or others utterly outside a war zone, whether in Yemen or in Somalia or in the United Kingdom or here in the United States. The judge said—because it was classified, while the judge didn't like giving the decision she did, she'd said, I can't do anything about it, my hands are tied, I'm in a catch-22. And what she said about it was extraordinary. She said, look it, when we had torture in the United States, it was critical to get out the memos regarding the legal reasoning about why the U.S. could torture people, so that it could be fully, fully debated. Here my hands are tied. And what we should have is, like torture, we should get out the legal memos about why the president should be able to assassinate people outside a war zone so we can have a serious debate about it.JAY: Well, does the president have to show these memos to anybody?RATNER: Not really, no.JAY: There's no congressional oversight? Not given the history of whatever oversight there's been would mean that much, but is there? I mean, I don't understand. The—then I don't understand. The president could create any memo he wants and—?RATNER: Well, the Justice Department creates the memo, they give it to the president. He could technically withhold it from Congress. I don't know whether Congress has asked him for it or whether he has withheld it, or whether Congress is entitled to find out much about the policy, because while the Congress is entitled to find out about, particularly, CIA covert operations, whether this falls within that is hard to say. And secondly, this isn't only done by the CIA, but targeted assassination is done by Joint Special Operation Command, or JSOC, the military. Congress has no ability to really—or no law that requires the president to report to Congress on the murders or assassinations by JSOC. So you have this policy of the president on his own deciding who can be murdered or assassinated, even if they're American citizens. And what was incredible about the judges' decision, the judge said or implied that the president could actually be criminally prosecuted for killing of a U.S. citizen overseas and said the president is not exempt from the law that prohibits people or citizens in the United States or people anywhere in the world from killing U.S. citizens overseas. So she made an implication that it may be that the president could actually be prosecuted for these targeted assassinations around the world. So while she denied, ultimately, the memo, it's just this opinion, which is some 75 pages long, just drips with anger and really, I think, what you would have to say is deep unease at the president saying on his own, without providing the American people with a legal basis, for assassinating American citizens anywhere in the world.Taken together, what you have here, you have the NDAA law which allows the indefinite detention of American citizens, you have the al-Aluaqi decisions, and this recent one which allows the targeted assassination of American citizens, both detention and killing, at the behest of one man. And what the judge says: this is supposed to be—supposed to be a democracy, a constitutional democracy based on the rule of law and not on the rule of men. And I guess she's questioning whether that's what we have any longer.JAY: Thanks for joining us, Michael.RATNER: Thanks for having me, Paul.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
EndDISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
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Press TV has conducted an interview with Hani al-Basoos, a professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, from Washington to get his take on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks over popular resistance against Israeli occupation.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: How likely will Israel give in to Abbas’s conditions?
Al-Basoos: I don’t think that the Israelis will give in to Abbas’ conditions. We understand the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition government are extremists who do not believe in peace, they do not believe in establishing a Palestinian state. And he made it clear in a statement in his campaign for the election that no Palestinian state would be established. So, I don’t think that such an extremist person will give in to Mr. Mahmoud Abbas and to the Palestinians.
This is what led Abu-Mazen, Mahmoud Abbas, to make his statement saying that the possibility for the Palestinian people is to struggle against the Israeli occupation. Because, we today commemorate the 67th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, which is continuous, where the Israeli army and Jewish forces in Palestine 67 years ago expelled most of the Palestinian people.
The situation is continuous in Gaza and the West Bank and even in Jerusalem [al-Quds]. I think even the stand which has been taken by the Israeli government for past few year, which is sustained now by the Israeli government, would not give any chance for the peace process to come back again to life. I think the chance for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people is to stand against the occupation.
There are many means and methods could be used by the Palestinian Authority like going to the UN. And the UN, we understand the fact, the UN has not even been able to make a stand with the Palestinian Authority to satisfy the needs of the people of Palestinian. When it comes even to the United States, which has not been able to even make any pressure on Israeli side, I think, the only one of the means for the Palestinian people is to stand against the Israeli occupation by all means they have. That is what we have been witnessed for the past few days that Palestinian factions and the Palestinian Authority ... calling for an end to the Israeli occupation.
Press TV: We know that Palestine is a member of ICC now, but how powerful a leverage is Palestine’s membership at the ICC to use it against Israel to give in to Palestine’s demands and end settlement construction and so on?
Al-Basoos: I think this is one of the options of the Palestinian people going to the ICC but this should be taken ahead by the Palestinian Authority, which I think still Mr. Mahmoud Abbas is hesitant to take a step toward the ICC, because he thinks the reaction would be so harsh from the Israeli side and from the United States’ administration, because they might stop the money going to the Palestinian Authority, they would limit freedom of movement of Palestinian leaders and elites.
I think this is an option and could be taken now soon by the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority to go to the ICC to prosecute the Israeli war criminals. There is no fear on the Palestinian side, because some were saying that maybe this would cause even harm to the Palestinians because they have been involved in action against the Israeli civilians but this is not the case, this is not the fact.
The fact we have seen for the past years, the occupation forces have launched many attacks against Palestinian civilians. We witnessed this in summer last year when I was in Gaza devastating, destruction action by the Israeli army have been taken that, I think it is a clear evidence which could be taken to the ICC. And the Palestinian Authority can take an action and should not be late. I think the action has to be taken soon.
Press TV: We know that Pop Francis recently recognized Palestine as a state, how much could this help?
Al-Basoos: This would help them but not on the political level. We understand the fact that many states and the European community and lately the Vatican have recognized Palestine as state, but we need actions, we need to stop the occupation.
The state they have been talking about is [based] on the 1967 border and this has been under the Israeli occupation for many years. I think the European community, the international community has to take action against the occupation to stop the occupation to dismantle the settlements and not only to recognize Palestine.
Palestine exists by all means, by its own people and by its own authorities. The Palestinian people have been doing their best to preserve the rights for them to have their own state. So, action has to be taken by the international community from a legal point of view and from a political point of view.
Even if the United States is not with this stand, I think the situation would change and it is maybe a year or two where the international community including the United States has to accept the fact Palestine is a state and has to be established by all means.
And I think, this acknowledgement and the recognitions by some states and the European community and lately by the Vatican would help to sustain and to support the Palestinian demand that the international community have to come or have come to understand the fact that the people of Palestine have to establish their state based on the United Nations resolutions and based on their basic rights. This would help again step by step by the international community. They come to term that Palestine has to exist by all means legally and politically.
The history books tell us about how evil and wicked the Nazis were, so why aren’t we more alarmed that the United States is becoming more like Nazi Germany with each passing day? More than three years ago, I wrote an article entitled “25 Signs That America Is Rapidly Becoming More Like Nazi Germany” which got a ton of attention. Unfortunately, nothing has gotten better since I first published that piece. Government control freaks are still watching us, tracking us, recording our phone calls and monitoring our emails. TSA thugs at our airports are still fondling the private parts of our women and children and laughing while they do it. Our police and our military are still training for civil unrest and martial law in America. And even though our politicians are socializing our economy and destroying our constitutional freedoms, the American people keep sending most of them back to Washington time after time. It is an incredibly sad thing to watch the country that you love slowly die right in front of your eyes.
At the heart of Nazism was a desire to control everyone and everything, and that is exactly what we are seeing in America today. Most of our “leaders” are psychotic control freaks that want to micromanage every aspect of our lives. For example, a bill that was just introduced in Congress would force all children in public schools nationwide to be vaccinated with no exceptions whatsoever. Other new legislation that was just introduced would ban all sales of ammunition over the Internet and require ammo dealers to report all bulk sales to individuals to the government. Our founders intended for this nation to be a place where individual freedom and liberty were maximized, but today we literally have millions of laws, rules and regulations that wrap us so tightly in red tape that we can hardly breathe.
To say that we are becoming just like the Nazis is a very strong statement, but I think that after reviewing the evidence you will agree with me. The following are 10 pictures that show how America is becoming just like Nazi Germany…
#1 It surprises most people to learn that the Nazis were actually radical leftists that had great animosity for free market capitalism. For example, National Socialist theologian Gregor Strasser once made the following statement…
We National Socialists are enemies, deadly enemies, of the present capitalist system with its exploitation of the economically weak … and we are resolved under all circumstances to destroy this system.
With that in mind, I want you to check out the following political cartoon from 1934. The same kinds of things that helped the communists rise to power in Russia and the Nazis rise to power in Germany are happening in the United States today…
#2 Just like in Nazi Germany, political leaders in America tend to foster cult followings. At this point, there are millions of Americans that would support Barack Obama and believe whatever he had to say even if he was sacrificing children on the White House lawn. These kinds of followers are called “sheeple” for a reason…
#3 The Nazis were well known for their brutal police tactics, and that is definitely true of us today. The following photo is a powerful commentary on the transformation of police in America over the past several decades…
Just recently, representatives from 117 countries confronted the U.S. about all of this police brutality at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this is actually going to change anything…
The United States was slammed over its rights record Monday at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, with member nations criticizing the country for police violence and racial discrimination, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility and the continued use of the death penalty.
The issue of racism and police brutality dominated the discussion on Monday during the country’s second universal periodic review (UPR). Country after country recommended that the U.S. strengthen legislation and expand training to eliminate racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement.
#4 Why do so many of our police insist on dressing up like Darth Vader these days? Yes, I know that body armor is called for in certain situations, but many believe that the primary goal of these outfits is to intimidate. The following photo was submitted to Flickr by Elvert Barnes…
#5 In recent years, the American people have become conditioned to seeing troops in our streets. This next picture is from the Ferguson protests. The fact that sharpshooters were deployed on rooftops during the unrest there is more than a little disconcerting…
#6 Just like in Ferguson, when rioting started in Baltimore the police were initially ordered to stand down and allow it to spiral out of control. Then after a few hours, National Guard troops were finally deployed to help restore order. We are slowly getting used to the idea that martial law in our cities is a good thing…
#7 Meanwhile, “progressives” continue to use our system of public education to launch a relentless attack on the values that this country was founded upon. The Nazis were also big believers in “public education”, and they used it with shocking efficiency. Today, our children are being brainwashed to accept “progressive values”, and most Americans don’t seem to be too concerned about what is happening…
#8 Yes, the Nazis loved gun control. In fact, they eventually had everyone in the general population turn in their guns, and that is precisely what the “progressives” would love to see take place in the U.S. today. But what would this country look like if that actually happened? I think that this next photo which has been circulating on Facebook gives us a clue…
#9 Under the Nazis, the Germans were taught to salute a new flag and to adopt an entirely new set of values. In America today, it is not “politically correct” to display the American flag publicly or to show honor for it. Instead, we are being trained to think of ourselves as “global citizens” and to never question the growing power of international institutions such as the United Nations. Fortunately, there are many Americans that never plan to accept the “global governance” that the elitists have planned…
#10 In the end, the reason why the Nazis were so successful in Germany was because the vast majority of the German population simply complied with their demands. As Americans, we are going to be faced with our own choices in the years ahead…
So what do you think?
Is America becoming more like Nazi Germany?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Five European defense ministers are to discuss military action to halt human trafficking to their shores and stem the flow of migrants from North Africa’s coastal waters.
Defense ministers from France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain are to meet Sunday on the sidelines of the events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Lorient in western France to discuss ways to counter what they refer to as a new threat to Europe that has so far left thousands dead, AFP reported.
Following a number of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks ever witnessed in the Mediterranean so far this year, the ministers "will examine possible options for European (military) action," the French Defense Ministry said.
The most controversial option due to be discussed during the meeting will be the destruction by military force of the boats used by human traffickers before they are loaded with migrants for a risky journey to European shores.
Most of the boats load the migrants in the lawless shores of the war-ravaged Libya, where persisting national conflict among rival governing bodies has allowed human traffickers to operate with impunity.
The development comes after over 5,000 refugees were killed over the past 18 months as boats operated by human traffickers capsized off Libya's coastal waters, alarming European authorities to stop the flow of immigrants.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is also scheduled to submit a plan to the United Nations Security Council on Monday, demanding that the UN lead military operations against smugglers.
Critics, however, insist that taking military action in Libyan waters or halting a vessel flying the country's flag without an international mandate would be in violation of the international law.
Additionally, the defense ministers are also expected to discuss the Saturday crash of the new Airbus A400M military aircraft in Spain during a test flight that killed four people.
The deadly incident led Britain, Germany and Turkey to ground their new troop and vehicle transporter, while France announced that it will continue flying its fleet of the aircraft.
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The relationship between the U.S. and Israel in the last 6 years under the Obama administration has never been stronger. In 2012, The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) declared that President Obama’s aid package for Israel was the largest in U.S. history, a fact that is hard to ignore:
President Barack Obama requested a record $3.1 billion in military assistance to Israel for the 2013 fiscal year. The requested amount is not just the largest assistance request for Israel ever; it is the largest foreign assistance request ever in U.S. history
President Barack H. Obama and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged tenuous relationship is not what it seems. Sure they probably annoy each other, but Obama has provided U.S. foreign aid just as every U.S. President before him. The invitation granted by the speaker of the house John Boehner to Netanyahu so that he can present his case against Iran to the U.S. congress to prove that Obama’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program was a “bad deal.” According to Netanyahu, Iran threatens Israel’s existence and the world. Netanyahu’s speech was political theater. Several democrats did not attend Netanyahu’s show. Those that did criticized Netanyahu for trying to undermine the Obama administration is once again, all political theater. The democrats who skipped Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech to show solidarity with President Obama’s policy towards Iran were going to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) event featuring an appearance by Netanyahu the following week as the Washington Examiner reported earlier this month:
All of the members skipping Netanyahu’s congressional speech the Examiner interviewed were quick to say their anger toward the prime minister and his attempt to scuttle the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program did not extend to pro-Israel committee.
“Why would I not want to meet with my friends? They’re coming to see me next week and why wouldn’t I see them?” asked Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., referring to two American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists he’s known and worked with for 25 years
Since 1948, U.S and Israeli actions taken in the Middle East has proven to be a tragic period for all people of the Middle East whether Arab, Christian, Jew, Kurdish, Sunni or Shiite. Nothing but wars and Sectarian conflicts, poverty and Western-funded extremists has destroyed Arab countries and killed millions of Muslim men, women and children that are physically and emotionally scarred for the rest of their young and innocent lives.
Can anyone think of the U.S. and its Democratic ideals as a success? The U.S. has done everything it can to create “order out of chaos.” In 1947 following the “creation of Israel” by Great Britain when the Foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour confirmed a “national home of the Jewish People” when he sent the Balfour Declaration to Walter Rothschild, head of the Rothschild banking dynasty, the Palestinian people have been living in hell. Palestine became a prison enforced by Israel’s security apparatus that resembles what George Orwell described as a total police state in his classic book “1984.” Palestine has been divided; 1.7 million Palestinians live in an open air prison in the Gaza strip while others live in the West Bank under a police state controlled by heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police. The Palestinians have been losing lands in an unprecedented fashion and in recent decades only to be accelerated under Netanyahu’s watch with a 40% increase in 2014 alone, outpacing the prior year.
Israel’s ambitions for nuclear weapons capability began after Israel became a Western sponsored state with the U.S, U.K. and France as its main allies. Many conflicts in the Middle East soon followed. The Israeli war of Independence against the Arab countries included Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria which led to the 1949 Armistice which outlined the borders of Israel. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soon began military operations against Egypt, Lebanon and Jordon to prevent terrorist attacks against its Jewish citizens. In 1956, Great Britain and France joined Israel in attacking Egypt after its government decided to nationalize the Suez Canal after the U.S. and Great Britain declined to fund the Aswan Dam. Israel was forced to retreat from the attack by the U.S. and the USSR. Soon after, the Six-Day War in 1967 began when Israel fought againstEgypt, Syria and Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others contributed weapons and troops to the Arab forces. Israel defeated the Arab armies and expanded its territory in the West Bank which included East Jerusalem to Jordan, the Golan Heights in Syria, the Sinai and the Gaza strip. Then the War of Attrition (1967-1970), the Yom Kippur War (1973) and the War in Lebanon (1982) which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invaded Southern Lebanon to eliminate Palestinian guerrilla fighters (the resistance) from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) which led to the Israeli Security Zone in South Lebanon. Then the South Lebanon conflict with Hezbollah that lasted for at least 20 years. It still continues today. The first and Second Intifadas began with the Palestinian uprising against a brutal Israeli occupation and the disappearance of their lands. Several wars soon followed. The last war called ‘Operation Protective Edge’ which Israel launched against the Gaza Strip. According to the State of Palestine Ministry of Health who reported on August 17, 2014 that there were 2,300 deaths and over 19,000 injured in Gaza which was a devastating conflict that traumatized the Palestinian people especially the children. It is a tragic consequence that will last a lifetime for many.
During all of the conflicts, Israel was seeking weapons to defend their new “Jewish” nation. Israel was eventually exposed as an undeclared nuclear power thanks to an Israeli man named Mordechai Vanunu who spent 18 years in the Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, with 10 of those years in solitary confinement. Mordechai exposed Israel’s secrets nuclear program to the British press in 1986.
Israel is the aggressor. It’s an illegal occupation which began under the British government and it is supported by other Western-powers, mainly the U.S. and France. Israel’s history is filled with conflicts and terrorism against the Arab world. Israel has committed political assassinations, supported extremists to topple governments including its current support to “moderate rebels” to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. It has control over the natural resources including vital water supplies that Palestinians solely depend on to survive. So my question is why everyone is surprised by Netanyahu’s speech he recently gave in the U.S. House of congress? Several members of congress were “appalled” or “upset” because he disrespected U.S. lawmakers, but the reality is that the majority of elected officials in congress and every administration even before Obama have approved military aid for Israel’s security since Israel was created in 1948. Who are they fooling? Netanyahu sounded like he was the U.S. president with constant standing ovations and thunderous applauds by the AIPAC controlled congress. Those on both sides of the aisle whether democrat or republican always look forward to Jewish (Zionist) support for campaign funds. There are several members of congress who have dual citizenships that seek to protect Israel at all costs (although the actual “costs” come at the expense of U.S. taxpayers). The U.S. has been involved in the Middle East for a long time. Do not expect peace or stability. War and conquest is the true nature of both the Americans and Israeli’s regarding Middle East policies. ISIS is a perfect example of how the U.S. operates by bringing democracy to an already volatile region with its support of the Syrian rebels, al-Nusra and the decade old “al-Qaeda” with weapons to topple governments not in line with Washington only proves that war is on the agenda. Not only does the U.S. and its allies support ISIS and other terrorist organizations to topple Arab governments they protect them according to an article by Michel Chossudovsky titled ‘Obama’s “Fake War” against the Islamic State (ISIS). The Islamic State is protected by the US and its Allies’ and made an important point when he said:
What would have been required from a military standpoint to wipe out an ISIS convoy with no effective anti-aircraft capabilities? Without an understanding of military issues, common sense prevails. If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June
The U.S. and Israel clearly want chaos in the Middle East. It is obvious. However, Netanyahu did say that:
The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics. Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American — of America’s people and of America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama
Yes, the alliance between the U.S. and Israel is “above politics” and I agree it’s supposed to achieve “Full Spectrum Dominance” with the West and Israel controlling every aspect of Arab life including its lands, economy, and its natural resources in the Middle East. This is the “destiny” which Netanyahu speaks of. There is a vast amount of resources including the obvious oil, water and natural gas in the Middle East for which both the U.S. and Israel is solely interested in. It also provides a market for the Military-Industrial Complex and corporate interests. Netanyahu’s speech in Washington resembles what a genuine hypocrite that will claim it is he who is a victim of hatred, while committing heinous crimes against those he hates. Netanyahu thanked President Obama for his support over the years which are no surprise:
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.
Now, some of that is widely known. Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N. Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.
I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid. In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment. Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists
‘Operation Protective Edge’ was supported by the Obama administration. They have collaborated on various programs including Israel security forces that provided training to U.S. Police forces. I was not surprised by the recent revelations in Chicago, Illinois concerning its secret black sites used by the Chicago police department to detain and even torture suspects. This happened under former White House Chief of Staff and also an IDF civilian volunteer and Israel supporter Rahm Emanuel whose father Benjamin M. Emanuel was once a member of the Irgun, a terrorist organization that operated in Mandate Palestine. As Netanyahu continued:
But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.
The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship
Netanyahu said that “religious Zealots” imposed a dark brutal dictatorship? Well I guess the Western-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi or the “Shah of Iran” and his secret police force the Savak who terrorized the Iranian people was their preference to keep Iran under their control. Savak was trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli Mossad. The most brutal dictatorship in the Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia is an ideal model for the U.S. and Israel. If you look at the dictatorships the U.S. has supported to spread “American-Style Democracy” in the last 100 years. The results of “American-style democracy” were disastrous causing human rights violations, countless deaths and disease. Those same nations the U.S. either invaded or helped overthrow their respective governments (many of them democracies) still suffer from Washington’s “medicine.” From Pinochet in Chile, to the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua, Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier regime in Haiti to the Gulf Monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the list goes on, U.S. policy is about dominating nations for geopolitical interests including for the control of their natural resources. The U.S. and Israel have an interest in the Middle East and that is to dominate it under their so-called “World Order.” If they remove Syria and then Iran, the Middle East would become a region that would look like Iraq or Libya. It would be a cash bonanza for the Military-Industrial Complex if they keep the civil wars among different sects and tribes going, creating a market for weapons exports. Netanyahu said Iran is a “grave threat” to World peace. Can someone say “Samson Option”? Seymour M. Hersh’s ‘The Samson Option’ noted a commentary by Norman Podhoretz that summarizes how Israel would respond if they were on the verge of defeat at the hands of Arab nations in the Middle East:
For Israel’s nuclear advocates, the Samson Option became another way of saying “Never again.” [In a 1976 essay in Commentary, Norman Podhoretz accurately summarized the pronuclear argument in describing what Israel would do if abandoned by the United States and overrun by Arabs: "The Israelis would fight . . . with conventional weapons for as long as they could, and if the tide were turning decisively against them, and if help in the form of resupply from the United States or any other guarantors were not forthcoming, it is safe to predict that they would fight with nuclear weapons in the end. ... It used to be said that the Israelis had a Masada complex . . .but if the Israelis are to be understood in terms of a 'complex' involving suicide rather than surrender and rooted in a relevant precedent of Jewish history, the example of Sarnson, whose suicide brought about the destruction of his enemies, would be more appropriate than Masada, where in committing suicide the Zealots killed only themselves and took no Romans with them."
Podhoretz, asked years later about his essay, said that his conclusions about the Samson Option were just that—his conclusions, and not based on any specific information from Israelis or anyone else about Israel's nuclear capability
What Mr. Podhoretz was describing was a “if we go down, everyone else is going down with us” scenario which is a dangerous policy for the world peace. Netanyahu also says that Assad who is backed by Iran is slaughtering Syrians. This serves the Obama Administration’s long-term goal to remove Assad from power:
Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply
Netanyahu claim that the Jewish people can defend themselves which I agree especially when you have nuclear weapons that can destroy the entire Middle East:
We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves
Iran, Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza) are targets for the U.S. and Israel. They want to destabilize Syria and Iran and turn it into an Iraq and Libya with tribal and sectarian infighting among the populations. The U.S. destroyed Iraq with the intention of dividing the people. They create the conflict, develop hatred along Sunni and Shiite sects, and enforce a government subservient to Western interests. How does this benefits Israel? They keep the wars going by destabilizing regimes through ISIS and other Western-funded terrorist groups while Israel expands its territories beyond its borders. Once Syria and Iran are destroyed, the U.S. and Israel will have no use for ISIS. No more weapons will be shipped to ISIS and other groups and the U.S. and Israel with its military capabilities can easily defeat ISIS as Chossudovsky mentioned in his article. It sounds cynical but it’s the truth. It is what I call “Mafia-Style” politics, something the U.S. and Israel are very good at. The world is not fooled by the bickering between the democrats and republicans because as we all know, they are one, united with an “unbreakable bond “with Israel as Obama declared in 2013. We all know that without U.S. support, Israeli occupation of Palestine would end tomorrow. But that will not happen unless the U.S. Empire falls from power and only then, a lasting peace will ensue.
Netanyahu concluded with “May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America” And no one else, right Mr. Netanyahu? What kind of God would bless two nations that have committed genocide against its indigenous populations? Why would God bless a nation that lies to its people and declares war on nations that want their sovereignty respected? If this is the God we as humans supposed to honor, then God is not who we think he is.
In conclusion, Netanyahu should listen to an interview conducted by Press TV based in Tehran, Iran in 2014 with Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, associate director of ‘Neturei Karta International: Jews United against Zionism’ (www.nkusa.org) and was asked about U.N. monitor Richard Falk who accused Israel of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. His response was as follows:
With the help of the almighty, I pray to the almighty to bestow upon me his truth, his wisdom. We are always confounded by this seeming ignorance of the issues and the ignoring of what is happening. The issues are clear from day one. Well over one hundred years ago when this Zionist ideology came about of Jewish people creating their own sovereignty and then eventually deciding to make their sovereignty in the Holy Land, the biblical authorities in the Holy Land, the chief rabbi of Palestine, Rabbi Dushinsky..., of that time, and later in 1947 prior to the ratification of... Israel by the United Nations, the chief rabbi was Rabbi Dushinsky; he went to a meeting in Jerusalem [al-Quds] with the members of the United Nations and he pleaded with them in the name of Judaism and the religious community that we do not want, in any form, a state …, that it is illegal, it is illegitimate. Judaism does not permit us to have to have a Jewish sovereignty, Judaism does not permit us to oppress other people, steal the land, or in any manner being uncompassionate to the people.
On the contrary we were living together with the Muslim community, with the Arabs and Muslims for hundreds and hundreds of years in Palestine and every Muslim state in total harmony without any human rights group to protect us and since this creation of Zionism and then eventually … Israel, there is an endless river of bloodshed. It is impossible to subjugate people and expect that there will be peace. Now, we are condoning what is emanating from this fact that there is a state but the fact is that it defies logic; it flies in the face of …, righteousness and everything that the humanity calls for, by occupying Palestine and so our rabbis universally opposed the existence of … Israel and that the world should totally confuse this issue.
According to Mathew Holehouse in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper (here), former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson will this week accuse the European Union and Greenpeace of condemning people in the developing world to death by refusing to accept genetically modified crops. Speaking in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday, Paterson will warn that a food revolution that could save Africa from hunger is being held back and that the world is on the cusp of a green revolution, of the kind that fed a billion people in the 1960s and 1970s as the world’s population soared.
"This is also a time, however, of great mischief, in which many individuals and even governments are turning their backs on progress. Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organised, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves ‘progressive’, but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive… their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. And their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques would decimate the earth’s remaining wild spaces, devastate species and biodiversity, and leave our natural ecology poorer as a result.”
“We don’t have a goal of developing GM products here or to import them. We can feed ourselves with normal, common, not genetically modified products. If the Americans like to eat such products, let them eat them. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” (see here)
“We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial to us. We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia, and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.”
“… the statements that they [supporters of GMOs] use such as “thousands die of hunger daily in India” are irresponsible and baseless scare-mongering with a view to projecting GM as the only answer. When our people go hungry, or suffer from malnutrition, it is not for lack of food, it is because their right to safe and nutritious food that is culturally connected has been blocked. That is why it is not a technological fix problem and GM has no place in it.”
“The problem is that the poor have no money to buy food and increasingly, no access to land on which to grow it… GM is a dangerous distraction from real solutions and claims that GM can help feed the world can be viewed as exploitation of the suffering of the hungry. GM crops do not increase yield. Nor are there any GM crops that are better than non-GM crops at tolerating poor soils or challenging climate conditions. Thus it is difficult to see how GM can contribute to solving world hunger… The two major GM crops, soy and maize, mostly go into animal feed for intensive livestock operations, biofuels to power cars, and processed human food – products for wealthy nations that have nothing to do with meeting the basic food needs of the poor and hungry.”
"In the morning, you make porridge from maize and send the kids to school. For lunch, boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, ugali, [a staple dough-like maize dish, served with meat]… [today] it’s a monoculture diet, being driven by the food system – it’s an injustice.” (see here and here for the sources that quote Maingi and other commentators mentioned below).
“It’s a system designed to benefit agribusinesses and not small-scale farmers.”
“What the World Bank has done, the International Monetary fund, what AGRA and Bill Gates are doing, it’s actually pretty wrong. The farmer himself should not be starving”.
“… take capitalism and business out of farming in Africa. The West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology, education and infrastructure and stand in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement.” Daniel Maingi, Growth Partners for Africa.
“The “economic therapy” imposed under IMF-World Bank jurisdiction is in large part responsible for triggering famine and social devastation in Ethiopia and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, wreaking the peasant economy and impoverishing millions of people. With the complicity of branches of the US government, it has also opened the door for the appropriation of traditional seeds and landraces by US biotech corporations, which behind the scenes have been peddling the adoption of their own genetically modified seeds under the disguise of emergency aid and famine relief. Moreover, under WTO rules, the agri-biotech conglomerates can manipulate market forces to their advantage as well as exact royalties from farmers. The WTO provides legitimacy to the food giants to dismantle State programmes including emergency grain stocks, seed banks, extension services and agricultural credit, etc.), plunder peasant economies and trigger the outbreak of periodic famines.” See the full article (‘Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia’) from which this extract is taken here.
Assume for a moment that instead of Palestinians, over 1.8 million Jews were crammed into the 11 mile Gaza strip and the state of Palestine, subsidized and supported by a superpower, was administering the calories to the Jews in Gaza, keeping them to a limit of 2,300 a day.
Imagine that instead of Palestinian children, it was Jewish children living under a Palestinian embargo that denied them toys, books, music and until a few years ago, even pasta. How do you think the world would react? Imagine if it were Palestinian commandos who had assaulted a peaceful cargo ship attempting to break the embargo to bring supplies to Jews in Gaza, killing nine, including one American. Do you think 85 US Senators would have signed a letter supporting the embargo on Gaza and the deadly attack on the cargo ship if that ship had been on a humanatarian mission to help Jews in Gaza?
NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin reported first hand the death of four boys playing on the beach in Gaza. “The attack - and its heartrending aftermath – was witnessed by NBC News. Moments earlier, the boys were playing soccer with journalists on the beach. The four victims were named as Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both 10 years old, Mohamed Ramez Bakr, 11, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr, 9.” Ayman Mohyeldin, who is Egyptian-American, was later ordered by NBC to leave Gaza.
Glenn Greenwald reported that, “numerous NBC employees, including some of the network’s highest-profile stars, were…indignant,” and that Mohyeldin had been removed from Gaza allegedly due to pressure from Neo-con quarters which claimed Mohyeldin had been soft on Hamas.
It's almost impossible to imagine that Mohyeldin would have been replaced if he had been reporting on the death of four Jewish youngsters at the hands of a Palestinian gunboat. What we see repeatedly in Gaza is how the media values Palestinian lives differently than Israeli ones.
The day after the attack, Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, began her comments this way:
"The United States is deeply concerned about the rocket attacks by Hamas and the dangerous escalation of hostilities in the region. In particular, we are concerned about the devastating impact of this crisis on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians."
"The United States is deeply concerned about the Israeli incursion into Gaza and the dangerous escalation of hostilities in the region..."
Why is this inconceivable? Because Ms. Power and the government she represents support Israeli apartheid and simply do not value the lives of Palestinian children the same way they value the lives of Israeli children.
As reported by MSN, CNN reporter Diana Magnay was removed from Gaza because:
"Magnay was reporting live on the air as a group watched the Israeli bombardment of Gaza around her. After the report was over, she wrote on Twitter: ‘Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza; threaten to 'destroy our car if I say a word wrong.' Scum.’ CNN said in a statement Friday that Magnay was referring specifically to those who threatened her. CNN said the network and Magnay are sorry if anyone was offended. The network said Magnay has been reassigned to Moscow.”
If the people on the hill above her had been Arabs cheering on a Palestinian artillery battery hammering Jews, would Ms. Magnay have been reassigned to Moscow for calling those who threatened her ‘scum’? Unlikely.
World renowned Israeli novelist Amos Oz, who supports the war calling it “justified, but excessive”, asked the following questions during an interview to explain why he supports the Israeli offensive:
QUESTION 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap, and starts shooting machine-gun fire into your nursery?
QUESTION 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?
Maybe the question for Mr. Oz should be: What would you do if your entire neighborhood was forced to live in a giant outdoor prison where your children were denied books, toys and forced to live on a bare minimum of calories? Would you fight back? Would your rhetoric become extreme?
Over 400 hundred Palestinian children have been killed during the current fighting in Gaza, children who during their short lives had been denied the basic necessities for having committed the crime of being born in the land of their ancestors. No one had more of a right to live in Palestine than did those children, yet Bob Scheifer of CBS News said the following:
“In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause – a strategy that might actually be working at least in some quarters.”
Scheifer can only blame the Palestinians for 'provoking' the IDF.
Of course in Europe, the coverage is somewhat more balanced, but Roger Cohen of the NY Times let's us know what's behind that. He begins by quoting poet James Lasdun, "There is something uncannily adaptive about anti-Semitism: the way it can hide, unsuspected, in the most progressive minds." Then Cohen continues, "...the war has also suggested how the virulent anti-Israel sentiment now evident among the bien-pensant European left can create a climate that makes violent hatred of Jews permissible once again." What Mr. Cohen is saying is that if one applies the full measure of moral outrage towards the Israeli slaughter of children, as the Europeans are doing and the Americans refuse to do, then you are toying with anti-Semitism of the National Socialist variety.
A good example of Cohen's logic at work was when Jimmy Carter used the word ‘apartheid’ to describe the situation in Gaza and was branded "dangerous and anti-Semitic" for simply stating the obvious.
While there has been some limited criticism from the United States regarding the Israeli invasion, no one should doubt who is calling the shots in the US/Israeli relationship. During the last conflict in Gaza in 2009, Condolezza Rice was going to vote for a UN resolution calling for a cease fire but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would have nothing of it. He explained what happened in a speech:"When we saw that the secretary of state, for reasons we did not really understand, wanted to vote in favour of the UN resolution ... I looked for President Bush and they told me he was in Philadelphia making a speech. I said, 'I don't care. I have to talk to him now'. They got him off the podium, brought him to another room and I spoke to him. I told him, 'You can't vote in favour of this resolution.' He said, 'Listen, I don't know about it, I didn't see it, I'm not familiar with the phrasing.' He gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favour of it - a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organised and maneuvered for. She was left pretty shamed and abstained on a resolution she arranged."
Who decides when a child deserves books, toys, and pasta or is better served by an artillery barrage? Mr. Netanyahu and his accomplices in the American government and media have no doubts about who deserves what.
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – According to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers will travel to Jordan and then Turkey to discuss a “range of issues, including the effects of the conflict in Syria.” The meetings are to take place starting on June 10th until the 14th. Powers is a war hawk and a supporter of the American Empire who has advocated for air strikes against the government of Bashar al-Assad in the past. Powers wrote an article for the New Republic that explains her stance, the title alone says it all ‘Force Full.’ She wrote:
These days, though, the best argument for marrying power and principle is that power exerted in a unilateralist, morally selective, ahistoric, unprincipled fashion is not simply harming foreigners; it is gravely undermining U.S. security. The terrorists will thrive in a sea of anti- Americanism. That sea will not be drained by adding another $46 billion to the U.S. defense budget. It will not be drained by training more Arabists in the U. S. government. Liberals and conservatives, hawks and doves alike, must see that American power can be a force for human rights around the world, and greater human rights enjoyment is an indispensible requirement for the preservation of U.S. power.
Embedding U.S. power in an international system and demonstrating humility would be painful, unnatural steps for any empire, never mind the most potent empire in the history of mankind. But more pain now will mean far less pain later
It is a bold statement made by Powers to admit that the US Empire is a force for good in the world. In a 2013 speech at the Center for American Progress, Powers explains to the audience why limited off-shore strikes against Syria were necessary. She said:
From 1992, when the Bosnian genocide started, til 1995, when President Clinton launched the air strikes that stopped the war, public opinion consistently opposed military action there. Even after we succeed in ending the war, and negotiating a peace settlement, the House of representatives, reflecting public opinion, voted against deploying American troops to a NATO peace-keeping mission.
There is no question that this deployment of American power saved lives and returns stability to a critical region of the world and a critical region for the United States.
We all have a choice to make, whether we are Republicans or Democrats, whether we have supported past military interventions or opposed to them, whether we have argued for or such action in Syria prior to this point
The Obama administration is re-launching a campaign to remove President Bashar al-Assad even though he won more than 88% of votes in recent elections which does legitimize his presidency. What will the US government attempt besides aiding the rebels with more military hardware? Will they attempt to launch limited air strikes into Syrian territory? Better yet, Will Turkey and Jordan follow Washington’s orders to destabilize Syria? The Turkish government has supported Syrian opposition groups who crossed into Syrian borders with US backing. Turkey also has a joint military-intelligence apparatus with Israel that gathers information on Syria. Turkey has also pressured Damascus to conform to Washington’s demands for regime change. Turkey and Jordan has given covert support to the Syrian rebels including the transfer of weapons across borders since the civil war began. Turkey and Jordan is subservient to Washington and Israel. Samantha Powers is planning the next step to remove the Assad government with the help of both Turkish and Jordanian governments. Powers or the Obama administration is not interested in preventing war or genocide of innocent civilians as Powers has claimed in the past, it really is about US imperial ambitions over the resource rich Middle East region.
Iraq’s not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement
US President Barack H. Obama
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extreme fascist Islamic terrorist organization has taken control of Mosul and Tikrit and now they’re on their way to Bagdad. The Washington Post reported what had occurred in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul:
Death was everywhere in the sacked the city of Mosul, a strategically vital oil hub and Iraq’s largest northern city. One reporter said an Iraqi woman in Mosul claimed to have seen a “row of decapitated soldiers and policemen” on the street. Other reports spoke of “mass beheadings,” though The Washington Post was not able to confirm the tales. But the United Nations Human Rights chief, Navi Pillay, said the summary executions “may run into the hundreds” and that she was “extremely alarmed
Iraq is a monumental failure for US foreign policy. The US-led war to “spread democracy” and freedom to the people of Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom was a farce. The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 for two main reasons according to the Bush administration and Congress. First, they claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems capable of striking the United States. Second, they publically lied to the world that Iraq had been involved in the 9/11 terror attacks with Al-Qaeda through its “credible” intelligence services. Both claims were completely fabricated. The Pentagon and CIA (although there were some members that did not agree with the assessment) knew that the case was being made for war and eventually went along with the Bush administration’s plan to invade Iraq. The US government wanted absolute control over the production and transport of oil for US markets and for the military-industrial complex war machine. The result is catastrophic. More than 1.4 million Iraqis, 4,800 US soldiers and 3,400 International occupation forces were killed. The total cost of the war exceeds $1.5 trillion.
The US exploited differences between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds since Iraqi society was already deeply divided. These divisions were manipulated by coalition forces to subdue the population. Between 2006 and 2008, a sectarian conflict erupted which resulted in over 60,000 deaths most of them civilians. Now there is the threat of Iraq becoming even more divisive, one of them becoming an Islamic state based on Sharia law under the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Since the US invasion, Iraqi population has constantly witnessed terrorist attacks resulting in numerous deaths including women and children. Divisions between Sunni and Shite are even greater today than under Saddam Hussein.
US Vice-President Joe Biden wanted to systematically divide Iraq along ethnic-lines into three states. He wrote a New York Times opinion editorial in 2006 with Council of Foreign Relations member Leslie H. Gelb how the plan would work:
The idea, as in Bosnia, is to maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group — Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab — room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests. We could drive this in place with irresistible sweeteners for the Sunnis to join in, a plan designed by the military for withdrawing and redeploying American forces, and a regional nonaggression pact
Well Biden’s wish is might be coming true. Iraq is becoming increasingly more divided and even more dangerous since the US withdrew its forces in 2011. Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish groups remain divided. Now with a situation involving al-Qaeda and its splinter groups such as ISIS forming their own organization whether Western-funded or not, the Iraqi government is losing control. According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) the Syrian government is blaming the West and Saudi Arabia for its ties to ISIS:
Syrian state media on Thursday accused Saudi Arabia and the West of complicity with the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) that has captured swathes of Iraqi territory. Echoing claims often made by the regime and its supporters, state media said Saudi and other allies of the Syrian opposition were funding and arming jihadist groups like ISIS. “Terrorism is spreading in front of the eyes of the western world… and alongside it are the fingers of Saudi Arabia, providing money and arms,” the Al-Thawra daily wrote
Iraqi President Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also believes that Saudi Arabia and Qatar has funded terrorist groups in Iraq according to a report by Patrick Cockburn of The Independent:
Iraq has long suspected the hidden hand of Wahhabism, the variant of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia, as being behind many of its troubles. But it was only this month that Mr Maliki, in an interview with France 24 television, put the blame squarely on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, saying that “these two countries are primarily responsible for the sectarian, terrorist and security crisis in Iraq
The United States and the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar support of ISIS seems accurate since Iraq has been divided along ethnic lines and the attempt to further destabilize Syria has been part of the US foreign policy. Cockburn says:
How much truth is there in Mr Maliki’s accusations? A proportion of aid from the Gulf destined for the armed opposition in Syria undoubtedly goes to Iraq. Turkey allows weapons and jihadist volunteers, many of them potential suicide bombers, to cross its 500 mile-long border into Syria and inevitably some of the guns, fighters and bombers will go to Iraq. This is hardly surprising given that Isis operates in both countries as if they were one
The Guardian reported on what Wikileaks cables had revealed Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s memo on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in financing terrorist organizations “Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton”.
The BBC reported in 2013 that Al-Nusra and ISIS are the majority of foreign fighters in Syria:
According to a recent estimate by Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, there could be up to 11,000 of these fighters. It raises the questions of which groups they join, and what the relations between these groups are. By far the two most popular banners for these foreign fighters are al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
ISIS is the result of a unilateral attempt by the leader of Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to merge his group with al-Nusra. The move was rejected al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, and by al-Qaeda overall leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but Baghdadi refused to disband ISIS
Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Leader of ISIS?
The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Dua. ISIS was created in Iraq after the Bush Administration’s orchestrated a US-led invasion. Who is al-Baghdadi? According to Patrick Cockburn, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS was a former prisoner in an American run facility called the Bocca Camp in Southern Iraq:
There are disputes over his career depending on whether the source is ISIS itself, US or Iraqi intelligence but the overall picture appears fairly clear. He was born in Samarra, a largely Sunni city north of Baghdad, in 1971 and is well educated. With black hair and brown eyes, a picture of al-Baghdadi taken when he was a prisoner of the Americans in Bocca Camp in southern Iraq between 2005 and 2009, makes him look like any Iraqi man in his thirties.
His real name is believed to be Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, who has degrees in Islamic Studies, including poetry, history and genealogy, from the Islamic University of Baghdad. He may have been an Islamic militant under Saddam as a preacher in Diyala province, to the north east of Baghdad, where, after the US invasion of 2003, he had his own armed group. Insurgent movements have a strong motive for giving out misleading information about their command structure and leadership, but it appears al-Baghdadi spent five years as prisoner of the Americans
The US has offered a $10 million reward for leads that can either capture or kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2011. That offer still stands. The US has destabilized Iraq, and now terrorist organizations threaten all nations across the Middle East, including Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Syria. It is no coincidence that the Obama administration is taking advantage of Iraq’s situation. Last month, Obama gave a speech in a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. It signified how Washington is planning to topple the Syrian government. He said:
A critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in Syria. As frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers there, no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering anytime soon. As president, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian civil war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people. And in helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos.
So with the additional resources I’m announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support Syria’s neighbors — Jordan and Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq — as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share of support to the Syrian people
Syria is part of the US Imperial agenda. Now with ISIS expanding its base and launching attacks across Iraq creating an uncertain future for the war torn country, Syria will experience the same fate if President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power. The Syrian government and the people will prevent ISIS and Washington’s so called “moderate rebels” from destabilizing their country. ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are all Western backed terrorist groups seeking to gain power across the region. The consequence of the US invasion has destabilized Iraq with no hope of re-establishing itself as a united country as it once was under Saddam Hussein. The US, Turkey, Israel and the Gulf states are attempting to do the same to Syria by funding terrorist organizations in hopes of installing a puppet regime that will remain loyal to Western interests. Iraq is a failed state because of Western intervention, so why would they attempt the same policy towards Syria knowing what happened to Iraq? Do they believe this time would be successful? I certainly doubt it. But then again do they really want success? Or do they want to divide the region in order to control all sides?
The National – 9 June 2014
In last week’s celebratory atmosphere as the Palestinian unity government was sworn in, ending a seven-year feud between Fatah and Hamas, it was easy to overlook who was absent.
Hamas had agreed to remain in the shadows to placate Washington, which is legally obliged to refuse aid to a government that includes a designated terrorist group. The new Palestinian cabinet looked little different from its predecessor. Hamas’s input was limited to three independents, all in low-level ministerial positions.
And because this transitional government is still operating within the confines of Israeli occupation, the three ministers from Gaza were refused permits to travel to the West Bank for the swearing-in ceremony.
The appointment of a temporary government of technocrats is likely to be the easiest phase of the reconciliation agreed in late April. The deal has endured so far because Hamas, in even more desperate straits than its rival, Fatah, has capitulated.
For that reason, the US and most of the world hurried to offer their blessing. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, made dire warnings about the “strengthening of terror” and approved 3,300 settler homes to punish the Palestinians.
A far trickier stage is still to come: the Palestinian cabinet under President Mahmoud Abbas needs to oversee a bitterly contested national election between Fatah and Hamas.
The elections, expected next year, are vital. Palestinians have had no say in who rules them since 2006, when Hamas was victorious. A year later, Hamas and Fatah created separate fiefdoms in Gaza and the West Bank. Both need to prove their legitimacy at the ballot box. Should voting take place, and Hamas win again, the US and others can be expected to boycott the new government as they did back in 2006.
Other aspects of the earlier election’s conduct are instructive. In the months prior to voting eight years ago, Israel initiated a wave of arrests of Hamas leaders in an attempt to disrupt the democratic process. Israel also hoped to block voting in occupied East Jerusalem, which it considers part of its “eternal, indivisible” capital. But the White House – realising a ballot without Jerusalem would lack credibility – pressured Israel into grudging acquiescence.
Less well remembered is that Fatah quietly conspired with Israel to try to postpone the national vote. Fearing that Hamas would sweep the board, Fatah hoped to use Israeli intransigence in Jerusalem as the necessary pretext to delay the wider elections to a time more favourable to its candidates.
Mr Netanyahu has already announced that he will not allow an election in East Jerusalem, as well as indicating that Hamas will be barred from running elsewhere. That is hardly surprising: Israel has spent the past eight years eradicating Hamas from Jerusalem by jailing its leaders or expelling them.
But Fatah’s behaviour in 2006 hints at an even bigger obstacle to consummating the reconciliation. The reality is that Hamas and Fatah have entered the process only out of mutual despair.
Hamas’s political and geographical isolation in Gaza has plumbed new depths since the Egyptian regime turned hostile. Blockaded on all sides, Hamas has seen its support erode as the enclave’s economic crisis has deepened. A deal with Fatah seems the only way to open the borders.
The credibility of Fatah and Mr Abbas, meanwhile, has been steadily undermined by years of cooperation with Israel – all while the settlements have expanded – in the hope of extracting a concession on statehood.
Mr Abbas’s new strategy – creating a momentum towards statehood at the United Nations – requires that his government-in-waiting establish its democratic credentials, territorial integrity and a national consensus behind the diplomatic option.
The priority for Mr Netanyahu is not only to void the elections but to weaken the two sides’ commitment to unity by punishing them for their insolence. He can do so given Israel’s control over all aspects of Palestinian life.
Israel has begun not only with another fierce round of settlement building, but by declaring war on the Palestinian economy, refusing to accept shekel deposits from Palestinian banks, and by imposing collective daily blackouts on Palestinians for unpaid bills to Israel’s electricity company.
Mr Abbas, now responsible for paying the salaries of tens of thousands of public employees in Gaza each month, will be even more vulnerable to Israeli threats to refuse to transfer tax and customs revenues. It emerged yesterday that Israel is also lobbying foreign capitals to hold the Palestinian president directly responsible for any rockets fired from Gaza.
Hamas faces a no less difficult period ahead. If it strays too far from Fatah’s dictates, it will be blamed for destroying the unity pact, but if it adheres too close to Fatah, it will lose its identity and risk being outflanked by more militant groups like Islamic Jihad.
Samah Sabawi, a political analyst, observed of the unity government: “What we need more than ministries and authorities is resistance and liberation.” The unity government – whether of technocrats or elected officials – will still operate within the limitations imposed by Israel’s occupation.
In fact, the unity government simply breathes new life into the illusion – created by the Oslo accords of two decades ago – that good governance by the Palestinian Authority can change the Palestinians’ situation for the better.
In practice, such governance has entailed submitting to Israel’s security demands, a Palestinian obligation Mr Abbas termed “sacred” last week.
As Ms Sabawi suggests, an occupied people needs not better rubbish collection or street lighting but an effective strategy for resistance.
Palestinians will not benefit from a PA that polices the occupation simply because it becomes more “unified”. Rather, their struggle to attain real freedom will grow that bit more daunting.
- Condemn the violence unleashed by extreme right wing elements during opposition rallies and marches that led to the death of innocent people as a result of that violence, and condemn any undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional actions against the democratically elected and constitutional government of President Maduro.
- Call for the immediate cessation of extreme right wing violence against the established and constitutional authorities of Venezuela, and urge everybody to heed President Maduro's call for peace and dialogue in Venezuela.
- Express our unconditional support for President Maduro, his elected government and the constitutional principles enshrined in the democratically-endorsed constitution.
- Urge statements of solidarity for the the elected government of Venezuela and condemning the extreme right wing violence."
A new review carried out by the organization GRAIN reveals that small farms produce most of the world’s food. However, they are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland. The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of the rich and powerful. If we do nothing to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – Libya has been steadily deteriorating politically and economically since the US-NATO invasion of 2011. The South African based News24 reported that a battle had erupted between rebel forces that ousted President Muammar Gaddafi and Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi. Khalifa Haftar (who helped the West remove Gaddafi) and his ‘National Army’ were seeking to “Purge” Libya of suspected terrorists. There were witnesses and even a reporter from the Agence-France Presse (AFP) who actually saw what happened at the scene. “The witnesses said a group led by Khalifa Haftar, a former rebel chief in the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, was backed by warplanes that pounded a barracks occupied by the Islamist “February 17 Brigade” militia” the report said. “Militiamen responded by opening up with anti-aircraft fire.” Both groups also battled in the Sidi Fradj area in the south of Benghazi. According to News24 “Haftar’s group calls itself the “National Army” and a spokesperson for the force, Mohammed Al-Hijazi, told a local broadcaster it has launched “a large-scale operation to flush terrorist groups out of Benghazi”. Interestingly, the Chief of Staff of the army Abdessalem Jadallah al-Salihin “denied the force was involved in clashes in Benghazi.” So who does Khalifa Haftar represent? “In a statement on national television, Salihin called on “the army and revolutionaries to oppose any armed group that tries to control Benghazi by force of arms”. It confirms that Libya is in a chaotic situation. Many former soldiers have joined the ‘National Army’ after constant attacks by various militias and elements of Al-Qaeda since the US-NATO invasion had ended.
The Libyan government currently in power has seen constant violence against its security forces, government officials and even foreigners since the Obama administration ordered “regime change” in the North African country. The intervention in Libya began when President Obama declared “Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians” and “In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people.” The Libyan people have been the victims of Western Imperial powers that sought control over oil supplies and other resources.
The European Union should also be concerned that terrorists can launch attacks against its member states as former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan had warned last month in a report by Al Arabiya News. He said “Libya is in danger of becoming an Al-Qaeda terror base for attacks targeting European countries like Britain and France” he also said that “Libya could be a base for Al-Qaeda for any operation to Italy, to Britain, to France, to Spain, to Morocco, to everywhere. Weapons are everywhere, ammunition is everywhere.” What would happen if a terrorist attack did occur on European territory, especially when its economy is in decline? With austerity measures imposed on millions of working class people all across Europe, a terrorist attack by al-Qaeda or its affiliates would allow European governments to clamp down on anti-austerity protests in the name of fighting terror. It would be a convenient excuse to do so. Let’s hope it does not go that far.
Reuters also reported that the Pentagon has relocated 200 Marines from Spain to Sicily in case the situation spirals out of control. Reuters stated the Pentagon’s main concern is over the security of its US embassies, but the Libyan government might lose control of its oilfields if the civil war intensifies:
The Pentagon declined to single out any countries but two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said American concerns were centered squarely on Libya, where armed groups and Islamists refused to disarm after the 2011 ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.” The report also said that “The Marines are part of a crisis response unit focused on embassy security created after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans
Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren said that the Marines can handle other missions besides providing security for US personal as Reuters explained “Warren stressed that while the Marines were “unquestionably” focused on the protection of embassies, he did not rule out the possibility they could be called upon for a different mission.” Libya’s civil war has not helped the economy increase oil production due to its relentless infighting between terrorist groups and tribal militias. Libya is one of the main oil exporters to Europe. If the situation worsens, then the US Marines would be ordered to protect the oilfields at any cost. Reuters also released a report on Libya’s oil supply and how the government attempted to increase oil production when it negotiated a deal with protesters:
Libya’s El Feel oilfield has been shut again by protests and the OPEC producer’s El Sharara field remains closed, bringing national oil output down to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) – far from the 1.4 million bpd pumped last year. On Monday, the government said it was bringing western oilfields and pipelines back up after reaching a deal with protesters, and output had slowly clawed back to around 300,000 bpd
Rising tensions between the Libyan government, terrorist organizations and local militias has Washington, Brussels and multinational oil corporations concerned. If the Libyan government were to lose control of the oilfields, it would disrupt the EU’s oil supply and raise prices at the pump. The US and EU’s decision to remove Muammar Gaddafi has created a terrorist haven in North Africa. However, Brussels is under Washington’s orders, so NATO forces invaded Libya and imposed a new government even though European bureaucrats knew about the political and economic consequences it might have in the future. Since the US-NATO alliance defeated Libyan forces and replaced Gaddafi with the National Transitional Council of Libya, they secured oil exports for Western markets at least for a short period of time. Now internal conflicts for power and economic control are becoming more intense as former rebels and various terrorist groups from Syria and Iraq enter Libya with their own agendas. It creates a dangerous scenario as terrorist organizations expand their operations to other areas of Africa and even possibly Europe.
Brussels obviously knew that there would be consequences of a “humanitarian intervention” in Libya when they collaborated with Washington. They knew how Europe would be affected in the foreseeable future, it was predictable. But they saw political and economic opportunities by removing Gaddafi from power. It is also important to understand that the US and its European partners were also concerned with Gaddafi’s plan to launch the gold dinar as a single African currency, a clear threat against the dollar and euro hegemony on the African continent. Brussels may be just following orders, after all Washington was instrumental in the creation of NATO in the first place. Either way, the people on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea will suffer at the expense of Western Imperialism and their reckless foreign policies.
Al-Jazeera – 1 May 2014
This week, Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Nazareth had a note delivered at his home, warning that he and his followers had until May 5 to leave the “land of Israel”. On Tuesday April 29, Israeli police announced that a Jewish man from Safed had been arrested after delivering the note.
In a similar incident, vandals also targeted a church at Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee that marks the site where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. A cross was smashed and several pews damaged.
“The Christian community feels increasingly threatened,” Samuel Barhoum, the Episcopalian archdeacon of Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera. “We see that Israel is going further and further to the right. It does not matter whether you are Muslim or Christian, in these people’s eyes we are the enemy.”
A wave of violence over the past fortnight, including attacks on two mosques and a church, has shocked Israel’s Palestinian citizens, who comprise a fifth of the population, and raised fears that Israeli right-wing extremists are growing bolder as they shift attention to targeting Palestinian areas inside Israel.
One such incident took place in Umm al-Fahm, the second largest Palestinian city in Israel.
On April 18, Palestinian worshippers, arriving at the Araq al-Shabab mosque in Umm al-Fahm for morning prayers, discovered the mosque had been the target of an arson attack. The doors, according to Jamil Mahajana, the local imam, were still smouldering and the words “Arabs out!” had been sprayed nearby.
The attacks prompted Amir Peretz, a dovish minister in Israel’s government, to speak out, warning that violence by Jewish extremists had become a “dangerous epidemic”.
Palestinians have been protesting against the attacks and demanding action. This week, some 2,500 residents of Fureidis, a town south of Haifa, marched to demand action from the police and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the day after a local mosque was defaced with a Star of David and graffiti saying “Shut down mosques”. Some 20 cars parked nearby had their tyres slashed.
The protesters chanted, “Netanyahu is a coward” and “Racism is spreading.”
Mohammed Barakeh, a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament who led a protest last week in Umm al-Fahm, personally blamed Netanyahu for the spate of attacks.
“Extremist groups are being encouraged by Netanyahu’s constant sloganeering that Israel is a Jewish state, suggesting that an Arab population has no right to be here,” Barakeh told Al Jazeera.
“The extremists see Netanyahu has made recognition of Israel’s Jewishness a central demand in the peace talks. They see the racist legislation his government adopts. They see the police do nothing to tackle this phenomenon. And they conclude that the government quietly approves of their behaviour.”
In January, a report by a United Nations agency, OCHA, documented 2,100 incidents of settler violence in the occupied territories alone since 2006.
Right-wing extremists describe violence against Palestinians, whether in the occupied territories or in Israel, as “price tag” attacks. The term is meant to indicate that there will be a cost to Palestinians if either the power of the settlers is challenged or the Palestinians seek diplomatic concessions from Israel.
The first major price-tag attack inside Israel occurred in late 2011, when a mosque in the Galilee village of Tuba-Zangaria was set on fire. No one has been charged for the attack.
There may be several possible triggers for this current wave of attacks, including the Israeli right’s concern that the peace talks, which formally came to an end this week, do not make headway. Jewish nationalists are also reportedly angry at the impending visit of the pope.
Israeli officials have indicated recently that they intend to take price-tag attacks more seriously, after several outbreaks of violence by extremist settlers against Israeli security forces. In the most recent incident last month, police were beaten as they tried to demolish unauthorised buildings in the militant settlement of Yitzhar.
‘Acts of terror’
In response, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said he was considering – for the first time – using administrative detention orders against right-wing extremists. That would allow them to be locked up on secret evidence, as is currently the case with the Palestinians.
However, the government has so far refused to categorise settler violence as “acts of terror”, which would give the security forces stronger powers. During a cabinet debate on the subject last summer, Netanyahu reportedly said such a move would be a diplomatic mistake, encouraging observers to draw a comparison between the settlers and the Palestinian movement Hamas.
Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli police, confirmed that there has been a recent “escalation” in violence by hardline nationalists inside Israel, as well as in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Rosenfeld denied that the police were not doing enough to stop the attacks. A special task force was established last year to investigate price-tag attacks. Its activities, however, are limited to the West Bank. Police say they face serious difficulties in tracking down suspects.
“There is no network planning these incidents. They are sporadic and committed by individuals who often decide on the spur of the moment to carry out an attack,” said Rosenfeld.
Calling the attacks “unsettling”, Netanyahu promised that the government would invest more resources, including bringing in the Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence service that is more commonly used against Palestinians.
Palestinian leaders, however, accused Israeli authorities of repeatedly turning a blind eye to attacks by Jewish extremist groups. “If these crimes were being committed by Palestinians against Jews, the culprits would be caught within hours or days,” said Awad Abdel Fattah, a member of the Higher Follow-Up Committee, the main political body for Palestinians inside Israel.
“But no one is protecting us from these attacks. The police and the government see us, not these extremists, as the enemy,” Abdel Fattah told Al Jazeera.
Red line crossed
Barakeh said the attack on a large Palestinian city like Umm al-Fahm was seen as crossing a red line and showing a greater confidence among the extremists.
It is not the first time that Umm al-Fahm has attracted the attention of hardline nationalist groups. The city has also been the focus of a campaign by far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He wants to redraw Israel’s borders to strip some 250,000 Palestinians, including the city’s residents, of their citizenship.
In unfortunate timing for Israel, the US State Department published its annual Country Report on Terrorism this week, noting that “price tag” attacks in Israel and the occupied territories had gone “largely unprosecuted”.
Abdel Fattah said Palestinians in Israel were increasingly concerned that official inaction over these attacks could encourage “another Eden Nathan Zada” – a reference to a settler who opened fire on a bus in the Palestinian town of Shefaram in 2005, killing four passengers and wounding 12 more, apparently as a protest against the disengagement from Gaza.
Abdel Fattah pointed out that the Follow-Up Committee had no trust in the police. Instead, it had decided to establish local popular committees in Israel to organise night-time patrols that would guard communities. They would be modelled on similar committees operating in parts of occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Zahi Njeidat, spokesman for the Islamic Movement in Israel, sharply criticised the police for failing to make progress in the arson attack on Araq al-Shabab mosque. “These are terrorist attacks,” Njeidat told Al Jazeera. “The goal is to make us feel like we have no security in our homes and in our communities, so that we will leave. This is about carrying out our transfer, but we are staying put.”
Last year, according to OCHA’s figures, there were 93 attacks by settlers that resulted in injuries to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Our fear is that, if these extremists see that nothing is being done to stop them [in Israel], they will move from attacks on property to attacks on people,” Abdel Fattah said.
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama met to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian Peace talks. However, it should be no surprise that there is no optimism in the talks. Netanyahu said that “Israel has been doing its part and, I regret to say, the Palestinians have not” according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The US Secretary of State John Kerry has a deadline on April 29th for a “framework Agreement” between Israel and Palestine. “It’s my belief that ultimately it is still possible to create two states, a Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine, with people living side by side in peace and security,” Obama said. “But it’s difficult. It requires compromise on all sides” the report said. On Tuesday Netanyahu demanded that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish State’, “President Abbas: recognize the Jewish state and in doing so, you would be telling your people.. to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees” he said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) earlier this month. One of the major compromises that the Palestinians would have to accept according to Netanyahu is for Israel to be recognized as a “Jewish State”. Netanyahu demands comes at a time when his administration continues to build Jewish settlements at unprecedented levels which have been admitted by the Israeli media including the Times of Israel. The Times of Israel stated the facts:
New construction in the West Bank skyrocketed in 2013 compared to 2012, new Israeli data revealed on Monday. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported an increase of 123 percent in construction of new homes in the West Bank in 2013 compared to 2012, a ratio dramatically higher than in the other six districts examined. The southern district, coming in second, witnessed an increase of 12%, Haifa 8%, Jerusalem 3%, central Israel 2%, and northern Israel 1%. New construction in the Tel Aviv district dropped 19% between 2012 and 2013
The Lebanese based online news website the Daily Star reported that Mohammad al-Madani who quoted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as saying “We cannot continue negotiations with ongoing settlement construction,” concerning the negotiations imposed by Washington. The report confirmed that Abbas met Zehava Galon who is head of the Meretz party (an Israeli left wing political party) in Ramallah this past Monday:
A statement from Galon’s office said that in addition to a settlement freeze, Abbas would also demand a release of “further prisoners beyond the next tranche, including women, youths and administrative detainees.”
Israel committed in July to releasing 104 Palestinian prisoners in four tranches. It has so far released 78 of those in three batches.
Abbas also told Galon that “if the American framework agreement will not sufficiently address the fundamental principles of the core issues, we won’t enable extending the negotiations,” according to the statement
For the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ would be devastating politically. It would concede that all Jewish people would have a natural right to be in Palestine. For Palestinians who do live in Palestine, it will be only by permission of the “Jewish State” not as a natural right of the Palestinians who have been in the land for thousands of years. If the Palestinians were to recognize Israel as a “Jewish State” then the Palestinians living in Palestine has been illegitimate. This is one of the main reasons the Palestinians would not accept the “Jewish State” status of Israel. One other factor that the Israel and the Palestinian Authority will not succeed is because the United Nations recognition of Palestine based on its pre-1967 borders with Israel. This does not sit well with Israel because it legitimizes the Palestinians territorial integrity. Historically Palestinians have a right to be in Palestine and exercise their right to establish a sovereign state of their own. It is important to note that Israel as a Jewish State would also jeopardize the rights of all Palestinians who currently live in the Palestinian territories and of the Palestinian refugees who were forcibly expelled from their homes in 1948 after the state of Israel was created under the Balfour Declaration.
Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is not beneficial for all people living within Israel as well since 25% of the current population is actually non-Jewish. Despite Netanyahu’s demands, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat recognized Israel in the 1980’while Israel did not recognize Palestine. In 1988, The New York Times reported that Yasir Arafat and the PLO with the Palestinian parliament had ”accepted the existence of Israel as a state in the region” and ”declared its rejection and condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.” But it was rejected by both Washington and Tel Aviv as the New York Times explained why they were not convinced:
In Jerusalem, Israeli leaders discounted the Stockholm declaration and Mr. Arafat’s comments. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres characterized them as a ”cunning exercise in public relations.” What was needed, he said, was ”a commitment in reality” to an end to violence. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was similarly dismissive.
The United States has long said it would not deal with the P.L.O. until it stated unambiguously that it recognized Israel’s right to exist and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which lay out the basis for a negotiated settlement and peace in the Middle East. The United States has also asked for an unequivocal statement that the P.L.O. renounces all forms of terrorism
The peace process began in 1991 in Madrid with the intention of establishing peace between Israel and Palestine. The United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 was eventually accepted by Arafat and the PLO in 1993 during the Oslo accords disregarding the Palestinian people. The Oslo Accords or the Declaration of Principles (DOP) resulted in the recognition of Israel by the PLO and Israel recognizing the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people for whom the Israeli government can negotiate with. The Oslo Accords helped create the Palestinian Authority (PA) with limited self-government over Palestinian lands, but many issues involving Israel’s recognition of Palestine as a state and its occupation and the Palestinian right of return remained unsolved. Overall, a Palestinian state was never granted under the Oslo Accords, it was a failure. When the Oslo Accords began and Yasir Arafat agreed to recognize Israel as a state, it only gave the Israeli government more power over the negotiations and the Palestinian people. In an article written by human rights advocate and fellow Palestinian Edward Said called ‘The Morning After’ he criticized Arafat’s decision to recognize Israel as a State. He wrote:
By contrast Arafat’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist carries with it a whole series of renunciations: of the PLO Charter; of violence and terrorism; of all relevant UN resolutions, except 242 and 338, which do not have one word in them about the Palestinians, their rights or aspirations. By implication, the PLO set aside numerous other UN resolutions (which, with Israel and the US, it is now apparently undertaking to modify or rescind) that, since 1948, have given Palestinians refugee rights, including either compensation or repatriation. The Palestinians had won numerous international resolutions – passed by, among others, the EC, the non-aligned movement, the Islamic Conference and the Arab League, as well as the UN – which disallowed or censured Israeli settlements, annexations and crimes against the people under occupation
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Yasir Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994 for their peace efforts during the Oslo Accords agreement. According to the Oslo Declaration of Principles, it states that “a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338″ which did not address Palestinian rights. MIT professor Noam Chomsky explained in Z magazine in 1993 the flaws regarding UN Resolution 242 and what it meant for the Palestinian people. He wrote:
The draft agreement makes no mention of Palestinian national rights, the primary issue on which the US and Israel broke with the international consensus from the mid-1970s. Throughout these years, it was agreed that a settlement should be based on UN 242.
There were two basic points of contention: (1) Do we interpret the withdrawal clause of 242 in accord with the international consensus (including the US, pre-1971), or in accord with the position of Israel and US policy from 1971? (2) Is the settlement based solely on UN 242, which offers nothing to the Palestinians, or 242 and other relevant UN resolutions, as the PLO had proposed for many years in accord with the nonrejectionist international consensus. Thus, does the settlement incorporate the right of refugees to return or compensation, as the UN has insisted since December 1948 (with US endorsement, long forgotten), and the Palestinian right to national self-determination that has repeatedly been endorsed by the UN (though blocked by Washington)? These are the crucial issues that have stood in the way of a political settlement.
On these issues, the agreement explicitly and without equivocation adopts the US-Israeli stand. As noted, Article I states that the “permanent status will lead to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338,” nothing more. Furthermore, as Beilin made explicit, the withdrawal clause of UN 242 is to be understood in the terms unilaterally imposed by the US (from 1971). In fact, the agreement does not even preclude further Israeli settlement in the large areas of the West Bank it has taken over, or even new land takeovers. On such central matters as control of water, it speaks only of “cooperation” and “equitable utilization” in a manner to be determined by “experts from both sides.” The outcome of cooperation between an elephant and a fly is not hard to predict.
Chomsky was correct in his assessment on UN resolution 242 when one of the Nobel Peace Prize Winners Shimon Peres addressed the Israeli public in 1995 and stated that “the deal kept the following in Israeli hands: 73 percent of the lands of the territories, 97 percent of security and 80 percent of the water.” Another important factor regarding the DOP is in Article XVII Jurisdiction 1.
In accordance with the DOP, the jurisdiction of the Council will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory as a single territorial unit, except for:
a. issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis; and
b. powers and responsibilities not transferred to the Council
Which means that the Palestinian matters concerning Israel’s strategic military locations, Israeli settlements, the Palestinian Right of Return to their lands and the issue of Jerusalem becoming the capital of Israel would be under political and strategic control of the Israeli government. Oslo Accords was a failure for the Palestinians and for Israel for the simple matter that they could not wrap their tentacles around the Palestinian people and its lands any tighter than it already is. Israel would have come out being the benefactor to the peace agreements, not the Palestinians. The peace talks are unfortunately going to fail once again. The pre-conditions for the Palestinians to accept a peace deal with Israel through Secretary of State John Kerry’s “Framework Agreement” will backfire. “Jerusalem will not be divided so long as I’m prime minister” Netanyahu was quoted as saying on Israeli television this past January. President Abbas responded by saying “The Palestinians want confirmation in writing that the capital of a future Palestinian state will be in East Jerusalem, Abbas told the Meretz leader. With regard to the refugee issue, Abbas said that claims he wants to flood Israel with 5 million Palestinian refugees are a lie.” President Abbas was also responding to Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC conference. President Abbas said “If the American framework agreement doesn’t address our basic principles regarding the core issues, we will not allow the talks to be extended beyond the original end date of April 29,” Gal-On quoted Abbas as saying” according to the Haaretz report. “Back in the region, Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On said after meeting with Abbas yesterday that he was pessimistic about the chances of reaching a framework agreement that would allow the peace talks to continue.”
Allowing Palestine to accept Israel as a “Jewish State” will not happen. The new peace talks are not any different from the previous efforts by the United States and Israel. This time Netanyahu demands the Palestinian government to recognize the “Jewish State” of Israel. However, he does want a two-state solution, but on his terms. He once said “I think that peace will require two states, a Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”
The Palestinians deserve their own state; Palestine is a place that dates back thousands of years, it is a nation. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister admitted that the Palestine belonged to the Palestinians in 1938 speech when he clearly stated “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves … politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country.” Maybe Netanyahu should revisit the historical speeches of Israel’s past leaders, but that would not make a difference anyway. Peace is unachievable with the US backed “Framework Agreement” because what Israel is asking the Palestinians to accept is unrealistic. It is only a process that would advance Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East and allow it to expand its territory and obtain natural resources with its advanced military capabilities with the help of Washington.
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News- A congressional candidate named Allan Levene is proposing a solution to Israel’s problem with the Palestinians (since 1948) by creating a second ‘Israeli’ state in Eastern Texas. Yes, you read this right. Eastern Texas. According to the Times of Israel, Mr. Levene’s idea would only work if “eminent domain” is established by the US government and if Israel withdraws to it pre-1967 borders. That would set the stage for a ‘New Israel’ within the United States:
The idea, briefly, is to take (through eminent domain) roughly 8,000 square miles of sparsely populated land bordering the Gulf of Mexico and give it to Israel as a second, non-contiguous part of the State of Israel. Israel would get the land only if it agrees to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders
I would be curious to see how Texans would react to a Jewish homeland in East Texas. Besides one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States is located in San Antonio, Texas called ‘Christians United for Israel (CUFI)’ who wish to educate Christians on why they should support the State of Israel:
While millions of Christians support Israel, there are millions more who do not yet vocally stand up for the Jewish state. It is crucial to educate Christians on the Biblical and moral imperatives to support Israel and to build Christian support for Israel throughout America
If Levene’s plan follows through if he is elected to congress, Will Texans still support a state of Israel in their own backyard? But Levene says “everybody wins” if the US government agrees to partition the state of Texas:
Israel wins because it would gain a new, peaceful territory far from the strife of the Middle East, in a place where, as Levene suggests, “the climate is similar,” and Israel could “have access to the Gulf of Mexico for international trade.” The U.S. wins because it would no longer need to send Israel billions of dollars a year in foreign aid. Texas wins because of all the construction jobs from building an entirely new state within its borders. The Palestinians win because they get the West Bank, and because now Israel, too, gets to see just how fun it is to have a non-contiguous state. Everybody wins!
The father of modern-political Zionism and the founder of the State of Israel, Thomas Hertzl considered a number of locations including Uganda, Argentina and even Alaska to form a Zionist state of Israel. The Times of Israel also stated:
And, in fact, it’s an idea with plenty of precedent. Theodor Herzl temporarily embraced a British proposal to establish a Jewish homeland in Uganda (though the backlash against the idea almost destroyed the Zionist movement). And in 1938-40, various plans were floated to settle European Jewish refugees in the Alaska territories – a notion that later inspired Michael Chabon’s novel, “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.”
This idea of a Jewish State besides one based in Palestine is not new. An interesting event took place in Basel, Switzerland on August 26th, 1903. Before the British government offered the country of Palestine to the Zionist political movement in 1948, a country in Africa called Uganda was on the list of possible future Jewish settlements known as the “Uganda Plan”. Before Palestine was turned into the state of Israel, Uganda was seen as a possible home for the Jewish people who were persecuted in Russia. They were subject to anti-Jewish sentiments among the Russian population. Other areas in the world were also considered for a Jewish homeland including Patagonia in Southern part of Argentina. In Joseph Telushkin’s ‘Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History’ stated a historical fact that “Britain stepped into the picture, offering Herzl land in the largely undeveloped area of Uganda (today, it would be considered an area of Kenya).” The proposal was controversial to the Jewish community. The idea was rejected at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905. It is interesting to note that a small number of Jewish families did immigrate to Kenya before and after World War II, mostly in the capital of Nairobi. Today, there are a few hundred Kenyan Jews living in Nairobi.
It is hard to imagine the state of Israel in Africa. Besides, racism in Israel is comparable to Apartheid South Africa in the 1960’s. With Ethiopian Black Jews living in Israel facing unprecedented levels of racism including the forced massed sterilizations on Ethiopian women according to a report conducted by Haaretz in 2012 reported that “Women who immigrated from Ethiopia eight years ago say they were told they would not be allowed into Israel unless they agreed to be injected with the long-acting birth control drug Depo Provera, according to an investigative report aired Saturday on the Israel Educational Television program “Vacuum.” According to IRIN, a humanitarian news and analysis service launched by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2012, racism against Ethiopian Jews in Israel does exist:
An estimated 125,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, but while they are supposed to be full citizens with equal rights, their community has continued to face widespread discrimination and socio-economic difficulties, according to its leaders. A recent decision – as reported by local media – by 120 homeowners not to sell or rent their apartments to Israeli-Ethiopian families has brought discrimination against Ethiopian Jews in Israel back into the spotlight.
Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis took to the streets on 18 January to protest the move by landlords in the southern city of Kiryat Malakhi – Shay Sium’s hometown.
It is an interesting part of history that forces to ask the question: What if Israel did make Uganda, a country in Eastern-Africa their home? If the Palestinians, Ethiopian and Sephardic Jews suffer from racism in modern-day Israel, imagine if Uganda was turned into a Jewish homeland? Would it have been another Palestine? “Shall we choose Palestine or Argentina? Thomas Hertzl wrote. Argentina? That would have been interesting, but Eastern Texas as the ‘New Israel’? Would Texan’s then be the new Palestinians? Creating a state through “eminent domain” would treat the citizens of Texas as such. And it sure won’t be a good start to diplomatic relations. What is interesting about Allan Levene is that he is running for a congressional seat in two states, Hawaii and Georgia under the Republican Party, but not in the state of Texas. Another very interesting note on Levene’s candidacy is that “He also wants to put conspiracy theories to rest by investigating national catastrophes with not one, not two, but three separate commissions.” I actually agree with his idea for new commissions, perhaps a new “911 commission?” Allan Levene’s proposal would not happen anytime soon, even if he is elected. But the real question we should ask is, would Washington and Brussels consider creating a ‘New Israel’ in Eastern Texas if a war were to take place in the Middle East resulting in the destruction of several countries including Israel? It does raise a serious debate.
The National – 6 April 2014
There was a mad scramble by Washington last week to prevent the seemingly inevitable – an implosion of the Middle East peace talks. In a last-ditch effort to stop Israel reneging on a promise to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, the US briefly threw in possibly the biggest bargaining chip in its hand: the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
With Israel still dragging its feet, an infuriated Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas submitted applications to join 15 United Nations conventions, thereby reviving a campaign to win international recognition of Palestinian statehood.
Although Washington will continue quietly arm-twisting the two sides a little longer, President Barack Obama is reported to be worried that US diplomacy is starting to appear “desperate”.
The negotiations’ failure could prove an important clarifying moment, signalling the effective demise of the two-state solution.
Both the US and Israel have come to rely on the endless theatrics of the two-decade peace process. Settlement freezes, prisoner releases, rows about Palestinian Authority funding and, of course, intermittent negotiations have served as useful distractions from the main developments on the ground.
As Bassem Khoury, a former Palestinian Authority minister, observed last week: “Israel hasn’t changed. It is the same colonial entity pursuing the same ethnic cleansing policies it did for decades.”
That was also the little-noticed conclusion reached by Richard Falk as he stepped down last month as the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories. In line with warnings he has issued in his UN post for the past six years, Mr Falk, a professor emeritus in international law at Princeton University, said Israeli policies were designed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the occupied territories, and especially East Jerusalem, the expected capital of any Palestinian state.
Mr Falk noted that Israel had cynically exploited the peace process to expand its settlement programme, as it did again during these past nine months of talks.
In his meeting last month with Mr Obama at the White House, Mr Abbas unveiled a map showing that Israel had approved more than 10,000 settler homes since the talks began. That number has grown further, with Israel unveiling 2,000 more, including 700 last week in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo.
For every settler home built, Palestinians lose territory needed not only for a state but also to keep individual families living where they are now. The innocuous term “settlements” conceals their true role: as Israel’s primary vehicle for ethnic cleansing Palestinians through dispossession and harassment.
Washington welcomed Mr Falk’s departure, calling him a “noxious” presence. But his warnings have been echoed by others, including Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations. Mr Falk’s findings were also confirmed by a usually circumspect group: European Union diplomats. A leaked joint report by EU consulates in the occupied territories observed that ethnic cleansing was advancing at an ever-accelerating pace in East Jerusalem.
The diplomats’ immediate concern is a “conflagration” as Israel’s extreme right is allowed ever greater access to the supremely sensitive site of the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Pushing to be given prayer rights there, the Israeli right hope they can eventually win from their government a partition of the site, as occurred earlier at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron. There, the settlers’ control has effectively turned the once-thriving centre of Hebron into a Palestinian ghost town.
In East Jerusalem, Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies are at their most intense. As the EU notes, Palestinians have been starved of municipal funds, deprived of schools and blocked from commercial activity, and are leaving, heading for the greater security of West Bank cities.
In recent weeks, Palestinians in sections of East Jerusalem have even discovered that, despite its claims to treat Jerusalem as its “unified capital”, Israel has stopped supplying them with water.
Official data provide clues to Israel’s real intentions. This year’s first-quarter figures show that Israel sold more land to settlers for house building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than it did for construction inside Israel itself.
Last week a Knesset committee effectively stymied efforts to force the government to disclose how much it is spending on settlement construction. Nonetheless, left wing legislators managed to extract partial treasury figures showing that the settlement budget has increased by at least $143 million (Dh525m) over the past six months, during the height of talks with the Palestinians.
In another sign of how Israel has been entrenching the settlements while paying lip-service to a peace process, the Israeli media revealed that 24 major infrastructure projects had been approved for the West Bank. They include more than $57 million for new settler roads and the first planned train service linking the settlements to Israel.
Israeli dispossession policies are not limited to the occupied territories. Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s plan to redraw the borders to strip part of Israel’s large Palestinian minority of its citizenship received a major fillip last month. For the first time government lawyers rejected the opinion of international law experts and gave their blessing to what the liberal Haaretz daily called Mr Lieberman’s programme of “ethnic cleansing” of its own citizens.
If negotiations collapse, it should be clear that, while both sides were supposed to be talking, one side – Israel – was vigorously and unilaterally acting to further its goals.
It now seems the Palestinian leadership will respond in kind, by pushing their bid for statehood at the UN. Israel has already threatened “punitive measures”, meaning things are likely to turn yet uglier. But the era of wishful thinking may finally be coming to an end – and that will be progress in itself.
Al-Jazeera - 3 April 2014
US using Jonathan Pollard as a bargaining chip raises the stakes in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations
Reports that Washington was offering to free Israel’s most notorious spy, Jonathan Pollard, as part of an unorthodox prisoner exchange has provoked feverish excitement in Israel.
US security officials have always objected to releasing Pollard early, after he was jailed 29 years ago for passing thousands of classified documents to Israel while serving in US naval intelligence. Pollard is eligible for a parole hearing next year.
The move appeared to be the sweetener in a last-ditch effort by US President Barack Obama’s administration to prevent the demise of current peace talks on April 29. Washington wants to persuade Israel and the Palestinian leadership to extend the negotiations timetable till at least the end of the year.
Neve Gordon, an Israeli political scientist at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, said the Israeli right had turned Pollard into a “powerful symbol”.
“The right asks: How can we leave Pollard rotting in prison – and not just any prison, a US prison? Most Israelis feel Pollard has been in jail too long and suffered too much. It feels like a horrendous act of vindictiveness by the US.”
Pollard, an American Jew, was given Israeli citizenship in 1995 and his role as a spy officially was confirmed by Israel three years later. Requests for clemency have been rejected by previous US administrations.
The Obama administration was said to be considering freeing Pollard in return for Israel’s agreement to carry out a promised release of 26 Palestinian prisoners due last weekend.
After Israel failed to deliver, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied to the United Nations this week to become a signatory of 15 international conventions, apparently reviving the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to win international recognition of Palestinian statehood.
The US deal, it is reported, would also require Israel to release hundreds more Palestinian prisoners and implement a temporary freeze on settlement building.
The possibility of Pollard being used as a bargaining chip has upset many commentators. A New York Times editorial called the move “lamentable“, while The Washington Post wondered why the US was the one “offering its own concessions” to keep the two sides talking.
Yossi Alpher, a political analyst and former adviser to Ehud Barak, Israel’s prime minister during the Camp David peace talks in 2000, said Obama’s chief concern was keeping the negotiations going.
“This deal has been put together not to advance a two-state solution but to buy time, to keep a ‘non-process’ rolling a few months more so that the Obama administration can get past the elections.”
Although the reports that Pollard might soon be handed over were welcomed in Israel, analysts warned there was a danger it could rub salt into a still-festering wound. Writing in Haaretz newspaper, Anshel Pfeffer noted: “A national carnival around the liberated spy will cause new damage to the relationship with Washington.”
Alpher concurred, saying the right had turned Pollard into a “martyr”. “They have presented him as a persecuted Jew, suggesting that it is Israel’s duty to save him.”
Pollard appealed unsuccessfully to the Israeli Supreme Court in 2005 to have himself recognised as a “prisoner of Zion“, a title that more usually refers to Jews who were imprisoned by the Soviet Union to prevent them from emigrating to Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been closely identified with the campaign to win Pollard’s release. Although recent Israeli prime ministers have quietly lobbied Washington on Pollard’s behalf, Netanyahu became the first to risk incurring the White House’s ire by making a public call for clemency in early 2011.
He also raised the matter with the White House in 2010 during an earlier round of peace talks, proposing a continuation of a partial settlement freeze in return for Pollard’s release. On that occasion, talks broke down.
In a sign of the consensus over Pollard, 106 of the 120 legislators in Israel’s parliament signed an appeal to Obama last December urging him to release the spy as a “humanitarian gesture“. Those not signing were mostly Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset.
At that time, Israel’s Channel 10 TV station quoted an unnamed White House source saying Obama’s view was that “Pollard committed a very serious crime, and he has no intention of releasing him”.
During Pollard’s plea bargain before he was sentenced in 1987, it emerged that he had been paid at least $50,000 by Israeli handlers for information. Pollard told the court he had passed on “360 cubic feet” of documents over a 17-month period, reportedly to South Africa and Pakistan as well as Israel.
The information is believed to have included the location of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s headquarters in Tunisia, which Israel bombed in 1985, killing 35 people, and reports on Soviet arms shipments to Arab states. He is also reported to have revealed details of how the US operated its intelligence-gathering satellites.
According to US media reports, some of the classified documents may have found their way to the Soviet Union, probably in exchange for the emigration of Russian Jews to Israel.
Netanyahu’s support for Pollard had won popular backing, said Alpher, because most Israelis felt a strong obligation to Pollard, even if it meant antagonising the US. “It’s deep in the Israeli culture not to leave behind someone who is wounded or captive, whatever the circumstances.”
But the right, he added, had gone further, creating the impression that he is “being held in unreasonable conditions, that he is being singled out by the US”. There was, he added, an implication that the American treatment of Pollard was driven by “anti-semitism”.
That served the right’s cause, he said, justifying their refusal to make territorial and political concessions in peace talks.
Pfeffer noted that while in prison, Pollard had adopted the hardline positions of the Israeli extreme right. His thinking, Pfeffer said, had been affected by what he called a stream of visits by “far-right Israeli politicians and settler rabbis”.
In 2009, Pollard was reported to have opposed a prisoner deal to free Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held in Gaza for five years by Hamas. He suggested Israel instead made a list of Hamas prisoners in its jails so that it could “kill one of them every day until they release Gilad”.
The Pollard campaign has been bolstered among the Israeli public by the publication late last year of documents, originally leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, that the US had spied on its closest allies, including Israel. Israelis sensed a double standard from Washington, said Neve Gordon.
Gordon added that Netanyahu would benefit from Pollard’s release. “Pollard has come to represent for Israelis a sense of our own powerlessness, even with our friend the US. If Netanyahu manages to get him freed, it will strengthen his political position.”
The biggest carrot that might keep the Palestinians at the talks, meanwhile, would be a promise from Israel to release the Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is widely seen as Abbas’ heir apparent.
Last week’s cancelled prisoner release was always likely to be contentious for Israel, because it included 14 members of Israel’s large Palestinian minority.
Alpher said the arrangement put a question mark over who the 14 prisoners owed their allegiance to – Israel or Abbas? “That plays straight into the hands of people like [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman, who says Israeli Arabs are not loyal and cannot be trusted.”
Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organisation based in Ramallah, warned it was difficult to trust Israel in such deals.
It noted that, as part of a 2011 prisoner exchange for Shalit, Israel agreed to release a first batch of 477 Palestinians in October that year. Over the next two months, the organisation documented some 470 new arrests across the West Bank.
Gavan Kelly, a spokesman for Addameer, said: “Israel gives with one hand and takes with the other. On this occasion too, Israel can agree to free Palestinians and then make more arrests or re-arrest those it releases.”
According to Addameer, 5,000 political prisoners are in Israeli jails, including more than 130 who have never been charged.
"The notion of a 'humanitarian war' would have rang in the ears of the drafters of the UN Charter as nothing short of Hitlerian, because it was precisely the justification used by Hitler himself for the invasion of Poland just six years earlier." —Michael Mandel
Fifteen years ago, NATO was bombing Yugoslavia. This may be difficult for people to grasp who believe the Noah movie is historical fiction, but: What your government told you about the bombing of Kosovo was false. And it matters.
While Rwanda is the war that many misinformed people wish they could have had (or rather, wish others could have had for them), Yugoslavia is the war they're glad happened -- at least whenever World War II really fails as a model for the new war they're after -- in Syria for instance, or in Ukraine -- the latter being, like Yugoslavia, another borderland between east and west that is being taken to pieces.
The peace movement is gathering in Sarajevo this summer. The moment seems fitting to recall how NATO's breakout war of aggression, its first post-Cold-War war to assert its power, threaten Russia, impose a corporate economy, and demonstrate that a major war can keep all the casualties on one side (apart from self-inflicted helicopter crashes) -- how this was put over on us as an act of philanthropy.
The killing hasn't stopped. NATO keeps expanding its membership and its mission, notably into places like Afghanistan and Libya. It matters how this got started, because it's going to be up to us to stop it.
Some of us had not yet been born or were too young or too busy or too Democratic partisan or too caught up still in the notion that mainstream opinion isn't radically insane. We didn't pay attention or we fell for the lies. Or we didn't fall for the lies, but we haven't yet figured out a way to get most people to look at them.
Here's my recommendation. There are two books that everyone should read. They are about the lies we were told about Yugoslavia in the 1990s but are also two of the best books about war, period, regardless of the subtopic. They are: How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage, and Crimes Against Humanity by Michael Mandel, and Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions by Diana Johnstone.
Johnstone's book provides the historical background, the context, and analysis of the role of the United States, of Germany, of the mass media, and of various players in Yugoslavia. Mandel's book provides the immediate events and a lawyer's analysis of the crimes committed. While many ordinary people in the United States and Europe supported or tolerated the war out of good intentions -- that is, because they believed the propaganda -- the motivations and actions of the U.S. government and NATO turn out to have been as cynical and immoral as usual.
The United States worked for the breakup of Yugoslavia, intentionally prevented negotiated agreements among the parties, and engaged in a massive bombing campaign that killed large numbers of people, injured many more, destroyed civilian infrastructure and hospitals and media outlets, and created a refugee crisis that did not exist until after the bombing had begun. This was accomplished through lies, fabrications, and exaggerations about atrocities, and then justified anachronistically as a response to violence that it generated.
After the bombing, the U.S. allowed the Bosnian Muslims to agree to a peace plan very similar to the plan that the U.S. had been blocking prior to the bombing spree. Here's U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali:
"In its first weeks in office, the Clinton administration has administered a death blow to the Vance-Owen plan that would have given the Serbs 43 percent of the territory of a unified state. In 1995 at Dayton, the administration took pride in an agreement that, after nearly three more years of horror and slaughter, gave the Serbs 49 percent in a state partitioned into two entities."
These many years later it should matter to us that we were told about fake atrocities that researchers were unable to ever find, any more than anyone could ever find the weapons in Iraq, or the evidence of plans to slaughter civilians in Benghazi, or the evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use. We're being told that Russian troops are massing on the border of Ukraine with genocidal intentions. But when people look for those troops they can't find them. We should be prepared to consider what that might mean.
NATO had to bomb Kosovo 15 years ago to prevent a genocide? Really? Why sabotage negotiations? Why pull out all observers? Why give five days' warning? Why then bomb away from the area of the supposed genocide? Wouldn't a real rescue operation have sent in ground forces without any warning, while continuing diplomatic efforts? Wouldn't a humanitarian effort have avoided killing so many men, women, and children with bombs, while threatening to starve whole populations through sanctions?
Mandel looks very carefully at the legality of this war, considering every defense ever offered for it, and concludes that it violated the U.N. Charter and consisted of murder on a large scale. Mandel, or perhaps his publisher, chose to begin his book with an analysis of the illegality of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and to leave Yugoslavia out of the book's title. But it is Yugoslavia, not Iraq or Afghanistan, that war proponents will continue pointing to for years to come as a model for future wars -- unless we stop them. This was a war that broke new ground, but did it with far more effective PR than the Bush administration ever bothered with. This war violated the UN Charter, but also -- though Mandel doesn't mention it -- Article I of the U.S. Constitution requiring Congressional approval.
Every war also violates the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Mandel, all too typically, erases the Pact from consideration even while noting its existence and significance. "The first count against the Nazis at Nuremberg," he writes, "was the 'crime against peace . . . violation of international treaties' -- international treaties just like the Charter of the United Nations." That can't be right. The U.N. Charter did not yet exist. Other treaties were not just like it. Much later in the book, Mandel cites the Kellogg-Briand Pact as the basis for the prosecutions, but he treats the Pact as if it existed then and exists no longer. He also treats it as if it banned aggressive war, rather than all war. I hate to quibble, as Mandel's book is so excellent, including his criticism of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for refusing to recognize the U.N. Charter. But what they're doing to make the U.N. Charter a treaty of the past, Mandel himself (and virtually everyone else) does to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, awareness of which would devastate all arguments for "humanitarian wars."
Of course, proving that every war thus far marketed as humanitarian has actually harmed humanity doesn't eliminate the theoretical possibility of a humanitarian war. What erases that is the damage that keeping the institution of war around does to human society and the natural environment. Even if, in theory, 1 war in 1,000 could be a good one (which I don't believe for a minute), preparing for wars is going to bring those other 999 along with it. That is why the time has come to abolish the institution.
Al-Jazeera – 29 March 2014
For the first time Israel’s Supreme Court is set to consider evidence on April 2 that senior Israeli political and military officials committed war crimes in relation to major military operations in Gaza and Lebanon.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the current justice minister, are among the high-level figures accused of breaking the laws of war when they launched attacks on Lebanon in 2006, and on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09.
The allegations have been levelled by Marwan Dalal, the only Israeli lawyer to have served as a senior prosecutor in one of the international criminal courts at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Dalal, who spent three years as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, belongs to Israel’s Palestinian minority, which comprises a fifth of the country’s population.
He said he had based his petition to the court on “strong factual and legal findings” from public sources, including the reports of Israeli official inquiries.
His evidence includes statements from senior Israeli officials in which they appear to implicate themselves in actions – including killing, collective punishment and attacks on civilian infrastructure – not justified by military necessity. Such acts are breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as Israeli law.
Dalal will argue before the court that the Israeli police are required to investigate the evidence in preparation for possible indictments for war crimes.
“The evidence is in the public realm and obliges Israeli prosecutors to order investigations,” he said. “The failure to do so is unreasonable conduct and the court must rectify the matter.”
The action is the first brought by Dalal under the auspices of Grotius, an organisation he founded last year to collect information on war crimes. Although Grotius’ focus is on Israel and the occupied territories, it has also provided information to the special tribunal for Lebanon, investigating the killing in 2005 of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
The 52-page petition relates to three major military operations launched by Israel over a four-year period, in which many of the same officials were involved: the war against Lebanon in summer 2006, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in late 2008, and a naval attack in international waters on a humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza in May 2010.
Israel has become increasingly fearful that its officials may face prosecutions for war crimes, either in third countries or, since the United Nations’ vote in 2012 to upgrade the Palestinians’ membership status, at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
One of the conditions insisted on by Israel and the US before launching the current peace talks, was that the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas promise not to apply for membership of international bodies, including The Hague court.
The Israeli legal system has launched a handful of criminal investigations into the actions of relatively low-ranking soldiers involved in Cast Lead. The three-week operation killed some 1,400 Palestinians, of which only 400 have been identified as fighters.
Of the criminal prosecutions, the longest sentence, at seven and a half months, was imposed on a soldier who stole a credit card.
Israeli prosecutors have so far not considered the evidence of war crimes committed by its leaders.
Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for B’Tselem, an Israeli organisation that documents human rights abuses in the occupied territories, said the impunity of senior Israeli officials was a great concern.
“There has been no discussion in Israel of the responsibility of high-ranking officials for issuing apparently illegal orders such as using white phosphorus in built-up areas, the adoption of flexible open-fire regulations, and a policy of targeting certain population groups, such as males over a certain age.”
Dalal has had previous high-profile successes against the Israeli military in Israel’s Supreme Court. In 2005, the court ordered the Israeli army to stop the practise of using Palestinians as “human shields” during military operations.
Grotius has sent an advisory paper to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah detailing the status of Israeli settlement-building in the occupied territories as a war crime.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Al Jazeera in February that the Palestinians’ first approach to the International Criminal Court (ICC) would be to ask it to investigate Israeli officials for sanctioning the construction of settlements and moving Israelis into the occupied territories.
Sharon Weill, an international law expert at the Sciences Po in Paris, said that the ICC is only authorised to consider war crimes that occur after a party ratifies its establishing treaty, the Rome Statute.
“It seems clear that in international law the settlements are a war crime and an ongoing one as they are being continuously built and expanded. So the Palestinians could bring a case after they decide to join the ICC.”
Dalal conceded that he expected “judicial resistance” in Israel to his current petition.
In 2003, the Supreme Court rejected a petition from Yesh Gvul, a group of Israeli combat veterans who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, which argued that the head of the Israeli air force should be investigated for breaches of international law.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Dan Halutz had approved dropping a one-tonne bomb on a residential district of Gaza in 2002 that killed 14 people, many of them children.
However, Dalal and other leading lawyers note that refusal by the court to order an investigation could suggest that Israel lacks a reliable domestic procedure for holding officials accountable for war crimes.
Several countries, including most prominently, the UK, the Netherlands and Spain, have adopted the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows them to prosecute war crimes that took place outside their territory and did not involve any of their nationals.
Michael Sfard, an Israeli lawyer who was involved in the Yesh Gvul petition, said: “A case that indicates Israel is unwilling to seriously investigate or bring to justice officials whose decisions appear to have violated international law can help outside actors seek their own legal remedies.”
In addition to Olmert and Livni, the petition names two former military chiefs of staff, along with a former domestic intelligence chief and a former minister of defence.
According to Dalal, factual evidence of war crimes is provided in official Israeli reports produced by the Winograd inquiry into the 2006 Lebanon war and the two Turkel inquiries into the 2010 attack on the aid flotilla.
Dalal also drew on the extensive research of UN-appointed investigations, including the Goldstone commission into the attack on Gaza in late 2008, and two commissions, led respectively by Karl Hudson-Philips and Geoffrey Palmer, into the flotilla attack.
In the case of the 2006 Lebanon war, for example, Dalal cites several statements that implicate Halutz, the then-military chief of staff, in policies of collective punishment and targeting civilian infrastructure.
Some 1,200 Lebanese were killed in the month-long war, of which the majority were civilians. The UN children’s charity UNICEF has estimated that nearly a third of the dead were children under the age of 13.
In the Winograd inquiry, Halutz is quoted as saying, shortly after two soldiers were captured by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, his forces “should operate on two levels, against the state of Lebanon and against Hezbollah without leaving anyone immune from targeting. This is the meaning of deterrence.”
The same day, the media reported him issuing similar threats to “turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years”, unless the soldiers were returned.
The Winograd report cited him telling the prime minister the next day: “The main objective is to make Lebanon take a stance [against Hezbollah] by targeting infrastructure.”
Dalal said: “The Winograd report clearly shows that the military and political leadership either intended to hurt civilians in Lebanon or at the very least had a disregard for their safety. From their statements we can show both an intention and operational results that accorded with that stated intention.”
Halutz and Olmert, who ordered the attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, recently announced that they would be setting up a new consultancy firm expected to offer advice on defence matters.
The UN’s Palmer Commission into the killing by Israeli naval commandos of nine humanitarian activists aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza in May 2010, found evidence that suggested most of the victims had been executed.
In its prepared response to the court, the Israeli justice ministry stated: “Our position is to recommend the rejection of this petition because the accusations are too general, they lack a minimal foundation in factual evidence, while the events are now far in the past, as well as being unrelated to each other.”
Israel has claimed that efforts to prosecute its officials are part of a campaign of delegitimisation it terms “lawfare“.
It has also pressured European countries to change their universal jurisdiction laws. Its concerns were heightened in 2009 by the decision of a London court to issue an arrest warrant for Livni in connection to Operation Cast Lead. The warrant was revoked when it emerged that Livni was not in the UK.
Earlier, several senior Israeli military commanders, including Halutz, were forced to cancel visits to the UK for fear of being arrested.
Under pressure from Israel, Britain altered its rules in 2011, giving the head of the state prosecution service the power to overrule a court decision to issue an arrest warrant for a visiting official.
Weill said it would be difficult to get either the ICC or countries with universal jurisdiction laws to investigate Israel because political considerations tended to overshadow legal ones.
“It is hard to persuade Western countries that a state like Israel, which is seen as a similar kind of democracy, has a failing legal system, incapable of conducting proper investigations.”
- preventing a European-backed settlement;
- "assert(ing) its dominance over European allies in the arbitration of European conflicts;"
- expanding NATO through a new "out of area" humanitarian mission (aka US dominated colonization); and
- "gain(ing) influence in the Muslim world by championing the Bosnian Muslims."
- power plants;
- civilian transportation;
- telecommunications facilities;
- roads, bridges and rail lines;
- fuel depots;
- a TV station;
- China's Belgrade embassy willfully on a false pretext (claiming a mistake didn't wash);
- government offices;
- historic landmarks; and more.
- "31. (1) the Governor in Council may place the Canadian forces or any component, unit or other element thereof on active service anywhere in or beyond Canada at any time when it appears advisable to do so.
- (a) by reason of an emergency, for the defence of Canada; or
- (b) in consequence of any action undertaken by Canada under the United Nations Charter, the North Atlantic treaty or any other similar instrument for collective defence that may be entered into by Canada."
The National – 23 March 2014
For the first time since the US launched the Middle East peace talks last summer, the Palestinian leadership may be sensing it has a tiny bit of leverage. Barack Obama met the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Washington last week in what Palestinian officials called a “candid and difficult” meeting. The US president hoped to dissuade Mr Abbas from walking away when the original negotiations’ timetable ends in a month.
The US president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, want their much-delayed “framework agreement” to provide the pretext for spinning out the talks for another year. The last thing the US president needs is for the negotiations to collapse, after Mr Kerry has repeatedly stressed that finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is imperative.
The US political cycle means Mr Obama’s party is heading into the Congressional midterm elections this autumn. A humiliating failure in the peace process would add to perceptions of Mr Obama as a weak leader in the Middle East.
Renewed clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in the international arena would also deepen US diplomatic troubles at a time when Washington needs to conserve its energies for continuing negotiations with Iran and dealing with the fallout from its conflict with Russia over Crimea.
Mr Obama therefore seems committed to keeping the peace process show on the road for a while longer, however aware he is of the ultimate futility of the exercise.
In this regard, US interests overlap with those of Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has been the chief beneficiary of the past eight months: diplomatic pressure has largely lifted, Israeli officials have announced an aggressive programme of settlement building in return for releasing a few dozen Palestinian prisoners and the White House has gradually shifted ground even further towards Israel’s hardline positions.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, have nothing to show for their participation, and have lost much of the diplomatic momentum gained earlier by winning upgraded status at the United Nations. They have also had to put on hold moves to join dozens of international forums, as well as the threat to bring Israel up on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.
Mr Abbas is under mounting pressure at home to put an end to the charade, with four Palestinian factions warning last week that the Kerry plan would be the equivalent of national “suicide”. For this reason, the White House is now focused on preventing Mr Abbas from quitting next month – and that requires a major concession from Israel.
The Palestinians are said to be pushing hard for Israel’s agreement to halt settlement building and free senior prisoners, most notably Marwan Barghouti, who looks the most likely successor to Mr Abbas as Palestinian leader.
Some kind of short-term settlement freeze – though deeply unpopular with Mr Netanyahu’s supporters – may be possible, given the Israeli right’s triumph in advancing settlement-building of late. Mr Abbas reportedly presented Mr Obama with “a very ugly map” of more than 10,000 settler homes Israel has unveiled since the talks began.
Setting Mr Barghouti free would be an even harder pill for the Israeli government to swallow. Cabinet ministers are already threatening a mutiny over the final round of prisoner releases, due at the end of the week. But Israeli reports yesterday suggested Washington might consider releasing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, possibly in return for Israel freeing more Palestinians, to keep the talks going.
Simmering tensions between the US and Israel are suggestive of the intense pressure being exerted by the White House behind the scenes.
Those strains exploded into view again last week when Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defence minister, used a speech to lambast Washington’s foreign policy as “feeble”. In a similar vein, he infuriated the White House in January by labelling Mr Kerry “obsessive” in pursuing the peace process. But unlike the earlier incident, Washington has refused to let the matter drop, angrily demanding an explicit apology.
The pressure from the White House, however, is not chiefly intended to force concessions from Israel on an agreement. After all, the Israeli parliament approved this month the so-called referendum bill, seen by the right as an insurance policy. It gives the Israeli public, raised on the idea of Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive and “eternal capital”, a vote on whether to share it with the Palestinians.
Washington’s goal is more modest: a few more months of quiet. But even on this reckoning, given Mr Netanyahu’s intransigence, the talks are going to implode sooner or later. What then?
Mr Obama and Mr Kerry have set out a convincing scenario that in the longer term Israel will find itself shunned by the world. The Palestinian leadership will advance its cause at the UN, while conversely grassroots movements inside and outside Palestine will begin clamouring for a single state guaranteeing equality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Israel’s vehement and aggressive opposition on both fronts will only serve to damage its image – and its relations with the US.
An unexpected voice backing the one-state solution emerged last week when Tareq Abbas, the Palestinian president’s 48-year-old son, told the New York Times that a struggle for equal rights in a single state would be the “easier, peaceful way”.
Bolstering Washington’s argument that such pressures cannot be held in check for ever, a poll this month of US public opinion revealed a startling finding. Despite a US political climate committed to a two-state solution, nearly two-thirds of Americans back a single democratic state for Jews and Palestinians should a Palestinian state prove unfeasible. That view is shared by more than half of Israel’s supporters in the US.
That would constitute a paradigm shift, a moment of reckoning that draws nearer by the day as the peace process again splutters into irrelevance.
Indian Oil and Environment Minister Veerappa Moily has added fuel to the debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by approving field trials of 200 GM food crops on behalf of companies like Monsanto, Mahyco, Bayer and BASF. This is despite Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) recommending a ten-year moratorium on GM organism approvals until scientifically robust protocols, independent and competent institutions to assess risks and a strong regulatory system are developed.