The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery.
How do we know that this is a lie? Is it because we have heard nothing but lies about Russia from NATO, from US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, from assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, from Obama and his entire regime of pathological liars, and from the British, German, and French governments along with the BBC and the entirety of the Western media?
This, of course, is a good reason for knowing that the latest Western propaganda is a lie. Those who are pathological liars don’t suddenly start telling the truth.
But there are even better reasons for understanding that Russia has not invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops.
One reason is that Putin has invested heavily in diplomacy backed by non-provocative behavior. He would not risk his bet on diplomacy by sending in troops too few in numbers to have a decisive effect on the outcome.
Another reason is that if Putin decides he has no alternative to sending the Russian military to protect the Russian residents in eastern and southern Ukraine, Putin will send in enough troops to do the job quickly as he did in Georgia when the American- and Israeli-trained Georgian army invaded South Ossetia and was destroyed in a few hours by the Russian response. If you hear that 100,000 Russian troops accompanied by air cover have invaded Ukraine, it would be a more believable claim.
A third reason is that the Russian military does not need to send troops into Ukraine in order to stop the bombing and artillery shelling of the Russian populations by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev. The Russian air force can easily and quickly destroy the Ukrainian air force and artillery and, thereby, stop the Ukrainian attack on the secessionist provinces.
It was only two weeks ago that a fabricated report spread by the Guardian and the BBC that a Russian armored convoy entered Ukraine and was destroyed by the Ukrainian military. And two weeks prior to that, we had the hoax of the satellite images allegedly released by the US State Department that the corrupt US ambassador in Kiev spread around the world on social media allegedly showing that Russian forces were firing into Ukraine. One or two weeks from now we will have another lie, and another a week or two after that, and so on.
The cumulative effect of lie piled upon lie for most people is to build the view that the Russians are up to no good. Once this view is established, Western governments can take more serious moves against Russia.
The alleged entry of 1,000 Russian soldiers into Ukraine has been declared by NATO Brigadier General Niko Tak to be a “significant escalation in Russia’s military interference in Ukraine.” The champion liar Samantha Power told the US Security Council that “Russia has to stop lying.” The UK ambassador to the UN said that Russia was guilty of “a clear violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory.” UK prime minister Cameron warned Russia of “further consequences.” German chancellor Merkel announced that there would be more sanctions. A German Security Council advisor declared that “war with Russia is an option.” Polish foreign minister Sikorski called it Russian aggression that required international action. French president Hollande declared Russia’s behavior to be “intolerable.” Ukraine’s security council imposed mandatory conscription.
This suicidal drive toward war with Russia by Europe’s leaders is based entirely on a transparent lie that 1,000 Russian troops crossed into Ukraine.
Of course, the Western media followed in lock-step. The BBC, CNN, and Die Welt are among the most reckless and irresponsible.
The mountain of lies piled up by Western governments and media has obscured the true story. The US government orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine and imposed a US puppet in Kiev. Washington’s puppet government began issuing threats and committing violent acts against the Russian populations in the former Russian territories that Soviet leaders attached to Ukraine. The Russian people in eastern and southern Ukraine resisted the threat brought to them by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev.
Washington continually accuses the Russian government of supporting the people in the territories that have voted their separation from Ukraine. There would be no war, Washington alleges, except for Russian support. But, of course, Washington could easily stop the violence by ordering its puppet government in Kiev to stop the bombing and shelling of the former Russian provinces. If Russia can tell the “separatists” not to fight, Washington can tell Kiev not to fight.
The only possible conclusion from the facts is that Washington is determined to involve Europe in a war with Russia or at least in an armed standoff in order to break up Europe’s political and economic relations with Russia.
Europe’s leaders are going along with this because European countries, except for Charles de Gaulle’s France, have not had independent foreign policies since the end of World War II. They follow Washington’s lead and are well paid for doing so.
The inability of Europe to produce independent leadership dooms Russian President Putin’s diplomacy to failure. If European capitals cannot make decisions independently of Washington, there is no scope for Putin’s diplomacy.
Notice that the very day after Putin met with Washington’s Ukrainian vassal in an effort to resolve the situation, the new lie of Russian invasion was issued in order to ensure that no good can come of the meeting in which Putin invested his time and energy.
Washington’s only interest is in hegemony. Washington has no interest in resolving the situation that Washington itself created in order to bring discomfort and confusion to Russia. With the caveat that the situation could be resolved by Ukrainian economic collapse, otherwise the longer Putin waits to resolve the situation by force, the more difficult the task will be.
The US is once again on the warpath against Syria after the beheading of US citizen James Foley was released on the internet a week ago.
His execution is being used to justify a mixed anti-terror and ‘humanitarian’ intervention in northeastern Syria. An information offensive has now been launched to peddle the myth of ‘limited’ strikes against Islamic State (IS) targets, but in all actuality, such a campaign is impossible to contain within the strict limits US authorities are promising.
Obama has already authorized surveillance flights over Syrian territory, showing that an attack appears to be imminent. A quick exercise in scenario forecasting illustrates how any US intervention in Syria will most certainly evolve from a ‘limited anti-terror operation’ to a massive military offensive, complete with proxy occupations and a full-scale outbreak of chaos throughout the entire country.
Symbolism and Substance
Should the US make the decision to strike Syria, it will be carrying with it both symbolism and substance. The action would be symbolic due to it being in complete contravention of Syria’s sovereignty, a position which Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem reaffirmed earlier this week. Whether by drone or by jet, the US would be showing that it can and will violate Syrian sovereignty as it sees fit. This is enabled by the fact that IS’ turf is mostly removed from any of the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) air defense units, thereby allowing the US to attack with military impunity.
Secondly, the US’ strikes would surely carry with them prime substance, as the rhetoric being expressed by Washington guarantees nothing short of it. They would not be the token gestures evidenced in northern Iraq, but rather a full-fledged operation designed to achieve concrete military objectives. On the public front, this would be to decimate Islamic State and its leadership, but in fact, such an objective cannot be achieved by air strikes alone, especially in populated urban areas like Raqqa.
The Stepping Stone
This brings the US to the next probable stage of its military campaign – ground forces. It is extremely unlikely that the US will use its own conventional forces in the field, as its special forces are cheaper, more effective, and less of a political and physical liability. Another option, of course, is for the heavily armed and highly trained Kurdish Peshmerga to ‘chase’ IS into Syria from Iraq and carry out ground operations on behalf of the US. The precedent of joint military cooperation has already been set previously when both sides partook in a coordinated offensive against IS’ occupation of the Mosul Dam, with the US doing the bombing and the Kurds being the cannon fodder. The Iraqi Peshmerga’s military expansion into Syria would also achieve the dual purpose of expanding the fledgling (and de-facto recognized) Kurdish state, another major American strategic objective in the region.
Filling the Void
With all the hubbub and speculation about an American strike, few have actually put any public thought into what comes next. For example, IS could either be decimated or strategically driven like cattle away from the combat zone and closer to Damascus,(in the same fashion as they have been corralled into going from northern Iraq back into Syria), taking all of their heavy armaments with them along the way. No matter what happens, though, it remains indisputable that there will be a security void in their previously occupied territories, opening up the question of which entity should fill it.
It can be taken for granted that the US will never allow the SAA to liberate the territory after Washington’s tax-dollar funded bombs paved the way, since that would completely reverse the billions in dollars of funding and support that the US, EU, Turkey, and Gulf Kingdoms have placed in the anti-establishment forces fighting the Syrian government over the past three years. Thus, the US’ campaign will of course not be one of liberation, but rather of trading one occupier for another, in this case, the Kurds, a rejuvenated ‘Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Turks (with or without being an official NATO mission), or a combination thereof, with the public reasoning being that the failure to fill the resultant security void could create a breeding ground for an IS 2.0.
‘Finishing the Job’
After the removal of IS from their bastions in northeast Syria (whether by destruction or driving them towards Damascus) and their replacement with Kurdish/FSA/Turkish forces, the US and its ‘coalition of the willing’ will be pressured to ‘finish the job’ one way or another. In the first scenario branch, if IS is somehow destroyed and no longer a threat, then the US may want to seize the strategic initiative and make a drive towards Damascus to finally overthrow the government. After all, they would already be on the offensive and actively engaged in the war zone as it is, and Damascus is definitely within striking range of US aircraft or drones already bombing Syria. The new occupying forces of northern Syria could then carry their offensive south, break the security crescent linking Damascus with the coast, and go in for the paralyzing kill.
The second scenario branch is very similar, but instead of pursuing naked regime change, it strategically pushes IS towards Damascus by using airstrikes in the same manner as a shepherd uses a staff to herd sheep. This accomplishes two important goals; first, it pushes the world’s most deadly and militarily efficient non-state actor all the way through the country and towards the capital, sowing destruction in its wake; and secondly, it provides the US and its proxy allies with the justification for continuing their campaign all the way to the capital and de-facto carrying out regime change under an anti-terror guise.
Without a doubt, the regime change objective can be sped up or publicly ‘justified’ if Syria defends its airspace and fires on American jets or drones. If the beheading of a single citizen by a rogue terrorist group can be a casus belli against an entire state per the US’ reasoning, then it goes without saying how it would respond to missiles being launched against its military vehicles, especially those engaged in an ‘anti-terrorist’ mission. More than likely, Syria will then be painted as a terrorist-supporting state (there is already false information in the Western media that Syria cooperates with IS) and the entire government will then be officially targeted for elimination.
After having accomplished its soft coup in Iraq against Maliki, the US now feels emboldened enough to aggressively press forward with its long-held regime change dreams against Syria, feverishly seeking to exploit any opportunity to justifiably do so. This barbarically includes using a dead man’s decapitated head as a rallying cry in an effort to strike at the primordial emotions of every human being and manipulate them into supporting a ‘vengeful’ war. To appease the domestic and international audience, the US government is only talking about ‘limited’ airstrikes against IS targets in Syria, but when placed under a simple analysis, these are demonstrated to be anything but. Not only will they be used to justify regime change via various arguments, but they will also result in the replacement of one occupier of Syrian territory with another, which in turn can eventually make the de-facto partitioning of the country de-jure. This means that the Syrian Crisis is precipitously teetering on the brink of becoming a full-scale international war, one which places the very existence of secular Syria and its resistance identity into jeopardy.
President Obama is preparing to do something horrifically dangerous in Syria and Iraq. The rise of ISIS has crippled the empire’s decade’s old strategy of deploying Islamic fundamentalist fighters to do its dirty work in the Arab and Muslim world. ISIS, the Frankenstein birthed in the cauldron of America’s quest for regime change in Syria, has turned on its U.S., Saudi, Qatari and Turkish masters to establish its own caliphate, to which thousands of other Islamist fighters are flocking. Even U.S. corporate media now acknowledge that the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels that Obama wants to shovel $500 million at, are virtually non-existent. They were always a mirage, creatures of western propaganda. The Islamists were the only force that could challenge the Syrian army on the battlefield, and now that they are rallying to ISIS, or running away, Obama does not know which way to turn.
Certainly, the U.S. can bomb ISIS positions in Syria, and is already making preparations to do so, but that is not the war Obama wanted to fight. Three years ago, when Obama launched his dirty war against Syria, the plan was for Muslim jihadists to shed their blood to overthrow President Assad. Once the filthy deed was done, the jihadists were expected to allow NATO and the corrupt kings of the Arabian peninsula to pick the next rulers of Syria. The CIA was playing Lawrence of Arabia, using the jihadists as cannon fodder, to be cast aside when it came time to split up the spoils.
Such was also the plan in Libya, where NATO and the same gang of royal Arabian thieves funded and armed the overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan jihadists have also failed to cooperate with the empire’s scheme.
The global jihadist network that the Americans and Saudis created in the 1980s has declared its independence, and Washington has nothing to replace them. American boots on the ground are unacceptable to both the people of the region and the U.S. public. Obama and his minions say the U.S. and its allies will crush ISIS – but that will be like smothering one’s own child in its crib, and would remove all hope of the U.S. achieving its strategic goal of regime change in Syria.
Watch for the Big Switch
If Obama was serious about wanting to crush ISIS, the best and most logical ally would be Syrian President Assad, whose army has so far prevailed against every flavor of jihadist the U.S. has been able to throw at it, including ISIS in its previous incarnations. Nobody wants ISIS defeated more than Syria and its soldiers, more of whom have died in this U.S.-engineered war than any other group, civilian or rebels. If making the region safe from ISIS were the goal, Obama would coordinate his moves with the Syrian military. But he’s lying – just as the Bush administration lied to make the American people believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. The U.S. goal was not to avenge 9/11, but to invade Iraq. In the same way, Obama is compelled to respond to the defection of ISIS from western control, but his goal remains to overthrow President Assad. And, he will tell any lie, or combinations of lies, to somehow turn U.S. bombs on the Syrian government, under the guise of fighting ISIS. You can bet that the CIA is burning the midnight oil, seeking a pretext to turn this strategic U.S. defeat into an excuse to directly attack Syria. And that’s what makes this moment so dangerous.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
And the United States Government is Helping
There is a group of Jewish American billionaires who are apparently doing their best to make sure that negotiations with Iran go nowhere in the mistaken belief that they are doing what is best for Israel. And they would also appear to be assisted in their efforts by the White House, which is at the same time claiming that it wants the talks to be successful. The odd relationship is currently playing out in a Manhattan courtroom where the Justice Department is seeking to quash a lawsuit that it fears might expose the extent to which the government has hypocritically played fast and loose with classified information while simultaneously sending journalists and whistleblowers to jail over allegations that they have done the same.
The power and wealth of the anti-Iran groups as well as their unrivaled access to the United States government means that a policy of détente with Iran, which would be a no brainer based on both American and Iranian interests, only proceeds by fits and starts with the US Congress and much of the media lined up solidly to stop the effort. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its affiliated educational foundation, which have focused on the “Iranian threat” over the past three years, have a combined budget of more than $90 million while AIPAC’s spin-off the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) has $8.7 million.
The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) efforts are more diversified but uniformly hawkish when it comes to the Middle East. It has a budget of $45 million. Identified multi-million dollar donor/supporters of AIPAC, AEI, and WINEP include Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, Paul Singer of Elliot Management hedge fund and Bernard Marcus of Home Depot.
Other right wing think tanks including Heritage and Hudson in Washington also support unrelenting pressure directed against Iran. Even the more centrist Brookings Institute is hard core when it comes to Middle Eastern politics by virtue of its Saban Institute funded by Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban. And then there are the mainstream Jewish organizations to include the Anti Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the American Jewish Congress, all of which have vast resources and unparalleled access to the White House, Congress and the media.
All the pro-Israel anti-Iran groups engage in pressure tactics on Capitol Hill and have been effective in dominating the political debate. Of thirty-six outside witnesses brought in to testify at seven Senate hearings on Iran since 2012 only one might be characterized as sensitive to Iranian concerns. The enormous lobbying effort enables the anti-Iran groups to define the actual policies, move their drafts of legislation through congress, and eventually see their bills pass with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. It is democracy in action if one accepts that popular rule ought to be guided by money and pressure groups rather than by national interests.
Less well known is United Against Nuclear Iran, which has a budget just shy of $2 million. UANI is involved in the New York lawsuit. The group, which has somehow obtained a 501[c]3 “educational” tax status that inter alia allows it to conceal its donors, has offices in Rockefeller Center in New York City. It is active on Capitol Hill providing “expert testimony” on Iran for congressional committees, to include “help” in drafting legislation. At a July Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran all three outside witnesses were from UANI. It is also active in the media but is perhaps best known for its “name and shame” initiatives in which it exposes companies that it claims are doing business with Tehran in violation of US sanctions.
UANI is being sued by a Greek billionaire Victor Restis whom it had outed in 2013. Restis, claiming the exposure was fraudulent and carried out to damage his business, has filed suit demanding that UANI and billionaire Thomas Kaplan turn over documents and details of relationships regarding UANI donors who it is claimed are linked to the case. Kaplan, a New York City resident, made his initial fortune on energy exploration and development. More recently he has been involved in commodities trading in precious metals. His wife Daphne is Israeli and his involvement in various Jewish philanthropies both in the US and in Israel have invited comparison with controversial deceased commodities trader Marc Rich, who reportedly worked closely with the Israeli government on a number of projects.
The Justice department would like to the see the UANI lawsuit go away as it is aware that what is being described as “law enforcement” documents would include both privileged and classified Treasury Department work product relating to individuals and companies that it has investigated for sanctions busting. Passing either intelligence related or law enforcement documents to a private organization is illegal but the Justice Department’s only apparent concern is that the activity might be exposed. There is no indication that it would go after UANI for having acquired the information and it perhaps should be presumed that the source of the leak is the Treasury Department itself.
Who or what provided the documents to a private advocacy group that is also a tax exempt foundation supported by prominent businessmen with interests in the Middle East is consequently not completely clear but Restis is assuming that the truth will out if he can get hold of the evidence. The lawsuit claims that UANI intimidates its targets by defaming their business practices as well as by demanding both examination of their books and an audit carried out by one of its own accountants followed by review from an “independent counsel.”
Kaplan is named in the suit as he appears to be the gray eminence behind UANI. He once boasted “we’ve (UANI) done more to bring Iran to heel than any other private sector initiative.” Kaplan also employs as a director or officer in six of his companies the Executive Director of UANI Mark Wallace and reportedly arranged the awarding of the Executive Director position at Harvard’s Belfer Center to its President Gary Samore.
Kaplan is a business competitor to Restis, whose lawyers are apparently seeking to demonstrate two things: first, that the US government has been feeding sometimes only partially vetted information to UANI to help in its “name and shame” program and second, that UANI is itself supported by partisan business interests like Kaplan as well as by foreign sources, which apparently is meant to imply Israel. Or even the Israeli intelligence service Mossad. Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad, is on the UANI advisory board, which also includes ex-Senator Joseph Lieberman and former Senior Diplomat Dennis Ross, both of whom have frequently been accused of favoring Israeli interests and both of whom might well have easy access to US government generated information.
And then there is the Muhadedin-e-Khalq, the Iranian terrorist group that has assassinated at least six Americans and is now assisting the Israeli government in killing Iranian scientists, a prima facie definition of what constitutes terrorism. The group was on the State Department terrorist list from 1997 until 2012, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton de-listed it in response to demands coming from friends of Israel in Congress as well as from a large group of ex government officials, many of whom were paid large honoraria by the group to serve as advocates. The paid American shills included former CIA Directors James Woolsey and Porter Goss, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis Freeh and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. The promoters of MEK in congress and elsewhere claimed to be primarily motivated by MEK’s being an enemy of the current regime in Tehran, though its virulent anti-Americanism and terrorist history make it a somewhat unlikely poster child for the “Iranian resistance.”
Supporters of MEK also ignore the fact that the group is run like a cult, routinely executes internal dissidents, and has virtually no political support within Iran. But such are the ways of the corrupt Washington punditocracy, lionizing an organization that it should be shunning. MEK’s political arm is located in Paris and it has long been assumed that it is funded by the Israeli government and by at least some of the same gaggle of billionaires, possibly including their Israeli counterparts, who support the anti-Iranian agenda in the United States.
Iranian negotiators have accepted that their country should have only limited uranium enrichment capabilities coupled with a rigorous inspection regime but the talks in Geneva drag on and on as the United States continues to hesitate, raising new objections regularly in spite of claims that it operates in good faith and seeks a settlement. That an agreement is within reach is undoubtedly true and it would even be good for Israel as it would remove the regional nuclear option while making much less likely another pointless and devastating war. But the men who write the checks do not see it that way and, unfortunately, they are the ones who all too often both pay the piper and call the tune.
The Obama Administration actively pressured Europe to impose harsh sanctions on Russia in order to defend the violent takeover (‘regime change’) in the Ukraine. England, France, Germany and the rest of the European regimes gave in to Washington’s demands.
Russia responded by imposing reciprocal sanctions, especially on agriculture goods, and is establishing alternative trading partners and increasing trade with China, Iran, Latin America and Africa.
The sanctions policies occur at a time when Europe’s economies are in deep economic crisis, exacerbating long-term stagnation and chronic recession. This paper will identify and analyze the crisis and how US-led sanctions policy is fracturing the European Union. Secondly, we will analyze how Washington’s militarist imperial policies undermine Europe economically and destabilize the rest of the world militarily. Thirdly, we will discuss how the European leaders are prodded by Washington, to put it crudely, through an aggressive ‘buggering process’, to surrender their economic sovereignty and how capitulation to the US project in the Ukraine will lead to their long-term decline and decay. Finally, we will discuss the long-term perspectives for a re-aligned world economy where military conflicts can result in large-scale changes.
From Stagnation to Recession from Sanctions to Depression
Across Europe, without exception, recession stalks the economies. The dominant countries, Germany, France and Italy are mired in recession, acutely exacerbated by the sanctions against Russia dictated from Washington. From Nordic Finland, passing through the Baltic States to Central and Southern Europe, the Eurozone ‘recovery’ is ‘kaput’! The ‘triple whammy’ of capitalist disinvestment, economic sanctions and wars has provoked a deepening economic crisis.
Germany: Regime ‘Lick-Spittle’ Scares Industry and Financial Sectors
The German financial market’s confidence is collapsing as a result of Chancellor Merkel’s support for economic sanctions against Russia and President Putin’s reciprocal response. Several hundred thousand German industrial jobs are at risk; imports of Russian oil and gas are in danger; large-scale, long-term German investments and lucrative export markets are at stake. These fears and uncertainties have led to declining investment and an unprecedented negative growth of 0.2% in the German economy in the second quarter of 2014. The recession in Germany ripples throughout Europe – especially affecting Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Southern Europe.
Merkel’s servile capitulation to the US President’s command to sanction one of Germany’s major trade partners, Russia, may seriously harm its economic future. Germany’s industrial exports to Russia amount to 36 billion Euros; there are 20 billion Euros in annual investments; and over 400,000 German workers are employed in companies exporting to Russia . . . Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, pointedly argued that “political tensions posed serious risks for Europe’s growth this year and next”. Sales in some sectors are down 15% since June 2014. Germany’s economy was already facing stagnation even before the coup in Kiev . . .but machinery exporters are especially concerned about losing the Russian market because other markets have declined. For example, German sales to Brazil are down nearly 20%.
In addition, German farmers suffer: Export of German meat and meat products to Russia amount to 276 million Euros or 21% of their non-EU exports. German dairy farmers earned $160 million Euros from trade with Russia, 14% of total exports to non-EU countries.
Merkel knowingly sacrificed German industry, agriculture and employment by submitting to Obama’s policy of ‘buggering his European allies’. On the other hand, Obama’s sanctions against Russia have virtually no impact on US economic interests. Only the Europeans will feel the pinch. Merkel’s support for the US-NATO coup in Kiev and the ongoing military assault against the anti-coup democrats in Eastern Ukraine is leading to a revival of the Cold War confrontational policies toward Russia, and has alienated the majority of German producers and exporters as well as the German public.
Italy: Capitalist Crises and Sanctions
Italy is stuck in a half decade of profound recession continuing throughout 2014. Its GDP fell by 0.2% in the second quarter, bringing the GDP below the level in the year 2000! The sanctions against Russia have cost Italy over $1 billion in lost exports, hitting Northern Italy most acutely and provoking the ire of the conservative Northern League. Big Italian energy companies, with major investments in Russia, face even bigger losses. Italian farmers, from Tuscany to Sicily, are experiencing major losses in agricultural exports. In other words, with sanctions Italy’s chronic sick economy has lost any chance for recovery and will likely pass from recession into depression.
France: From Zero Growth to Recession
France has entered a period of perpetual regression: Unemployment exceeds 11%, underemployment and ‘make work’ exceeds 20% . . . GDP hovers at recession levels, between zero and 0.5% . . . Austerity, involving large-scale cuts in social programs and tax write-offs for business, has eroded consumer spending without increasing capitalist investment. And Obama’s sanctions against Russia will further damage French exporters, especially its agricultural sector and weapons manufacturers. And ‘Hyper-Militarist-Socialist’ President Hollande has exacerbated France’s balance of payments and budget problems by sending the air force and ground troops to intervene on three continents. This has caused over 82% of French voters to choose alternative parties, propelling the nationalist right party, National Front, to the lead.
The ‘Backside of Europe’: Spain, Greece and Portugal
Deeply buried in a near decade-long depression with unemployment ranging from 26% in Greece and Spain to 16% in Portugal, Russia’s reciprocal sanctions against agricultural exports has hit their agro-export sectors most severely, causing mountains of grapes, tomatoes and other perishables to rot in the fields. Tons of Southern Europe’s produce will end up as compost. Tens of thousands of farmers face even greater problems and more will be forced into bankruptcy because of Washington’s dictates.
Spanish farmers stand to lose 158 million Euros from the sanctions against their fresh fruit and nuts, or 22% of their total exports to non-EU countries; Greek farmers will lose 107 million Euros, 41% of exports to non-EU countries. Spanish meat exporters will lose 111 million Euros or 13% of their non-EU markets.
The European Union, for its part, offers meager relief – expecting thousands of hard-pressed farmers to submit to Obama’s demands. In the meantime, as Russia establishes alternative markets in Latin America, the EU has sent its emissaries overseas to beg the Latin American governments to reject multi-billion dollar agro-business deals with Russia and comply with the US-EU sanctions. So far, every country in Latin America has rejected the EU’s ‘charm’ offensive. Ecuadorean President Correa heaped scorn on the EU: “We do not have to ask anyone’s permission to export to friendly nations. As far as I know, Latin America is not part of the European Union”. Egypt and Turkey are stepping in to replace the farmers of Europe and the US by exporting their agricultural produce to Russia.
Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Denmark and the Netherlands
Hungary’s President Viktor Orban rages at the sanctions and threatens to break ranks, as Budapest tallies up its losses in exports, and the threat to its energy-dependent country. Bulgaria’s compliant President caved in to Brussels’ pressure and reneged on a $40 billion dollar pipeline deal signed between Russia and local Bulgarian business leaders precipitating a major banking crisis and the collapse of its second largest bank – Corbank. The deposits of hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians were frozen or just disappeared. When Brussels buggers the Bulgarians, they bankrupt their own banks.
Finland, once the poster-child of the ‘Third Way’ ideologues, is in a long-term depression. Its economy has shrunk for the past 4 consecutive years and even regime optimists estimate that they will need 10 years to recover. Finnish Prime Minister, Alex Stubbs, a free market ideologue, is a staunch supporter of sanctions against Russia although these will drastically cut into agricultural exports (dairy goods, meat, fish, etc.). Stubbs defends his catastrophic capitulation to NATO’s power grab in the Kiev by proclaiming that “our principles (sic) are not for sale; we believe in international institutions; we believe in the rule of law”.
Finland, under its ‘law-abiding’ President, will lose at least 253 million Euros this year or 68% of its exports to non-EU countries. In other words this political marionette has sacrificed the welfare of hundreds of thousands of Finnish dairy farmers and growers to support a NATO-imposed regime in Kiev, which has been sending units of neo-Nazis to slaughter Ukrainian resistance fighters and civilians.
Poland’s billion dollar agricultural export trade with Russia has collapsed, causing Warsaw to beg Washington and Brussels for emergency subsidies and pleading with the apple-exporting Americans to ‘eat Polish apples’. Polish fruit growers will lose 317 million Euros in sales or 61% of their exports to non-EU countries. Their meat exporters will lose 162 million Euros, 20% of its trade with non-EU countries. Dairy farmers will lose 142 million Euros, 32% of exports to non-EU countries.
The Poles, who at every turn have assumed the most reactionary Russophobic posture and were deeply implicated in organizing and training the neo-fascist gangs which overthrew the elected Ukraine government, are now pushing carts down the streets of Warsaw peddling apples and sausages, instead of stocking the supermarket shelves of Russia – and whining that New Yorkers should forsake Upstate apples to take up the slack!
Lithuania will lose 308 million Euros in fresh fruit exports to Russia or 81% of their exports to non-EU countries; dairy farmers will lose 161 million Euros in sales or 74% of non-EU exports. Denmark and Holland will lose over 800 million Euros in agro-exports to Russia –deepening their recession.
While the ever-persuasive con-man in Washington, President Obama has buggered EU leaders into pushing their own economies even deeper into recession, so he can launch a new Cold War with Russia, the US plunges deeper into military confrontations in Iraq, Ukraine and Syria. Obama appears to have lost control over military aid programs in the chaos: Netanyahu’s Zionist allies in Congress managed to by-pass the White House and State Department and approve additional shipments of Pentagon arms to Israel, undercutting any administration leverage over the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza.
Japan joins the US-EU sanctions against Russia exacerbating its own economic crisis: In 2014 Japan experienced its worst contraction since 2009, with a 7.1% drop in the second quarter. The increasingly unpopular, Japanese Prime Minister Abe is committed to a military build-up. More Japanese politicians visit Yasukuni Shrine, the militarist temple honoring its war criminals, re-awakening the horrific memories of Imperial Japan’s victims. There are increasingly bellicose Japanese confrontations with China over disputed piles of rock in the South China Sea . . . As Obama’s military pivot to Asia increases, so Japan’s economy sinks.
No European country can benefit from embracing the failed regime in Kiev. . . Ukraine’s currency is in free-fall – ranking below toilet paper. Its major industries, totally dependent on trade with Russia, are bankrupt or have been bombed by the NATO-putsch regime in Kiev. Its agricultural exports are devastated. Meanwhile Ukrainian families are advised to chop their own wood or dig their own coal in anticipation of a winter totally cut off from Russian gas because the oligarchs in Kiev have been unable or unwilling to pay the huge energy debt. For their staunch support of this bankrupt regime, ruled by a ‘Billionaire Oligarch’ in Kiev, for upholding the ‘principles’ so lauded by Finnish President Stubbs, one million European farmers will bury their own apples, pour their own milk in the streets and dump their grapes, oranges and tomatoes in rotting heaps. . . And this is so their leaders, Obama, Cameron, Merkel and Hollande can uphold their real ‘principles’ of territorial expansion, extend their military operations to the borders with Russia and posture as warriors while destroying their countries productive economies, bankrupting their farmers and manufacturers, driving millions more into unemployment and deepening the pains of recession.
Ukraine will join a growing list of countries, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, that Washington and NATO have “saved” (to paraphrase an American general) . . . by being destroyed.
Once again the US military-driven empire-building policy trumps economic development: Destructive wars and sanctions destroy viable markets and impoverish entire sectors of the economy. Imposing sanctions abroad invites retaliation – the boomerang effect cripples domestic producers. As world trade and investment shrink, internal stagnation becomes endemic, recessions deepen and recovery becomes a distant chimera. The financial press, the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, which have become megaphones for the western warlords, no longer publish paeans to the free market but unleash vitriolic screeds crying for war and sanctions… which close markets and destroy investor confidence.
Buggered by Obama, European bootlickers bankrupt their own economies and then pass around the begging cup.
Italy faces the reality of a decade of stagnation.
Portugal’s economy crashes and crawls.
Germany’s manufacturing machinery grinds to a halt.
Finland’s ‘principled’ brown-nosing boomerangs.
England is converted into a money-laundering bankers’ city-state where one-third of its children live in poverty.
Poland consumes itself, drunk with weapons and rotting apples.
In a word, by submitting to Washington’s doctrine of permanent wars, Europe eschews the only road out of permanent crisis: peaceful co-existence. The mega-buggers in Washington and the bootlickers in Europe have chosen sanctions over trade and destruction over prosperity. They are paying a price: domestic unrest, displacement from markets by emerging economies and the ascendancy of chaos as a way of life in Western Europe.
Eric Holder just published an op-ed in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, apparently aiming to generate confidence in DOJ’s investigation into Darren Wilson’s killing of Mike Brown.
It starts with 3 sentences describing Brown’s killing — with no mention of Wilson, or even that a cop killed Brown.
Since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, the nation and the world have witnessed the unrest that has gripped Ferguson, Mo. At the core of these demonstrations is a demand for answers about the circumstances of this young man’s death and a broader concern about the state of our criminal justice system.
At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened.
A disembodied shooting killed Brown in this telling; violence did not.
Holder then spends several paragraphs discussing both the investigation itself, as well as the actions of the Civil Rights Division before he turns – in the course of one paragraph — to the protests. Here, violence is described as violence.
We understand the need for an independent investigation, and we hope that the independence and thoroughness of our investigation will bring some measure of calm to the tensions in Ferguson. In order to begin the healing process, however, we must first see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson. Although these acts have been committed by a very small minority — and, in many cases, by individuals from outside Ferguson — they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice. And they interrupt the deeper conversation that the legitimate demonstrators are trying to advance.
The implication, of course, is that the violence comes exclusively from that “very small minority,” not the cops shooting rubber bullets from their tanks.
I find the next paragraph truly remarkable.
The Justice Department will defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told. But violence cannot be condoned. I urge the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters, vandals and others seeking to inflame tensions and sow discord.
The Justice Department — the Agency Eric Holder leads, the 40 FBI Agents and Civil Rights prosecutors Holder described — has done nothing visible thus far to defend the First Amendment.
And then, Holder says, “violence cannot be condoned.” A bizarre passive sentence with no agent. By whom? Who cannot condone violence?!?!
And he uses it to urge “the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights” — many of whom have been arrested, bullied, tear gassed, some of whom have formed chains to protect businesses — to “join with law enforcement,” the same law enforcement that has been bullying them. Holder asks these citizens — who presumably are the ones he says cannot condone violence — to join the cops who have been engaging in violence to condemn others who have also been engaging in violence. Those “others” inflame tensions and sow discord. The cops don’t, according to this telling.
It takes a good paragraph and a half before Holder says the cops must restore trust. Only unlike the “citizens” of Ferguson, Holder does not urge the cops directly to do … anything. He just describes what should happen, he doesn’t command it to happen.
At the same time, good law enforcement requires forging bonds of trust between the police and the public. This trust is all-important, but it is also fragile. It requires that force be used in appropriate ways. Enforcement priorities and arrest patterns must not lead to disparate treatment under the law, even if such treatment is unintended. And police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
Note what else happens? That violence — unmentioned in Mike Brown’s actual shooting, but explicitly described when “those others” did it — here becomes “force.” Something distinct from the violence of looters.
Darren Wilson’s shooting of Mike Brown? Not described as violence — not even described as the act of a known man. The looters’ looting? They’re engaged in “violence.” And finally, the cops, whom Holder doesn’t dare urge to tone things down? They are exercising “force,” not “violence.”
I get there are legal reasons why he did this — notably, this permits him to endorse findings that Wilson used “force” out of fear for his own safety! But the grammar and vocabulary of this op-ed insists on the state’s monopoly on violence that it has been abusing for 10 days.
Last month at a teachers union meeting the Democratic National Committee’s Donna Brazile announced the formation of Democrats For Public Education. Supposedly DFPE will fight against the policies of elite Democrats and Republicans who want to privatize public education. As the daughter of a longshoreman from a family of teachers and a product of public schools Brazile declared herself unafraid to call out those of her own party who are demonizing teachers and privatizing public education, though as a top Democrat she did not use the p-word.
But Donna Brazile didn’t call out anybody, not then and not in the month since. Because if she did name names, number one would have to be her president, Barack Obama, and number two would be his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Cabinet appointments are not accidents. Presidents pick appointees with proven commitment and track records of accomplishing the very policies a president wants imposed, and President Obama was deeply in the pocket of the charter school sugar daddies.
As Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan ravaged, savaged and privatized. He fired thousands of mostly black teachers with little or no due process, and handed big chunks of public resources over to the operators of private charter schools. This record and his personal friendship with the president got Duncan appointed Secretary of Education.
Over the last six years, President Obama, Secretary Duncan and their Department of Education have let representatives of the private charter schools, testing companies, and consultants from the Walton Family, Eli Broad, Bill & Melinda Gates and other foundations ideologically committed to running schools like businesses and education like a market write the federal guidelines school districts must follow to receive federal funds – something they call the Race To The Top program. The same consultants have also been allowed to deeply embed themselves embed themselves in the supposedly impartial private institutions officially recognized by the Department of Education which evaluate schools, school districts.
By now the processes of privatization have an institutional momentum backed up by billions of public and private dollars. You can’t fight that juggernaut if you cannot name its name and the names of the politicians it buys and rents. But Democrats don’t publicly criticize each other much, black Democrats even less, and a prominent black Democrat contradicting the black president is unthinkable, it’s just not in their DNA.
So why does DFPE exist? It can raise money, but nothing compared to the vast sums its opponents can. Apart from possible interference in next year’s Chicago mayoral contest, its only conceivable purpose is an utterly cynical one. DFPE will house surrogates for Hillary Clinton’s 2018 campaign who will give the credulous faithful an excuse to believe that Hillary, unlike Barack, is not on the side of the privatizers and charter school sugar daddies, the same way Obama had unofficial spokespeople everywhere assuring us that he was pro net neutrality, against the Patriot Act, the Iraq war, torture, wanted to renegotiate NAFTA, and whatever else some of us wanted to hear. Democrats For Public Education is just that, the cynical sound byte that some self-deceiving Democrats need to hear.
Teachers unions after all, don’t just provide big checks to Democratic presidential candidates, its rank and file activists are the foot soldiers, the door to door and phone canvassers, the flesh and blood of a nationwide street operation which a successful Democratic presidential candidate needs to mobilize the Democratic base. You want to make that happen you’ve got to tell those foot soldiers what they want to hear, whether your candidate means it or not. That’s called a campaign field operation.
A Palestinian man salvages items from the rubble of his home destroyed by Israeli strikes on a building in northern Gaza Strip. Aug 7, 2014. UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan
Washington — United Nations officials and human rights organisations have characterised Israeli attacks on civilian targets during the IDF war on Gaza as violations of the laws of war.
During the war, Israeli bombardment leveled whole urban neighbourhoods, leaving more than 10,000 houses destroyed and 30,000 damaged and killing 1,300 civilians, according to U.N. data. Israeli forces also struck six schools providing shelter to refugees under U.N. protection, killing at least 47 refugees and wounding more than 340.
The administration’s public stance in daily briefings in the early days of the war suggested little or no concern about Israeli violations of the laws of war.
But the Barack Obama administration’s public posture during the war signaled to Israel that it would not be held accountable for such violations.
A review of the transcripts of daily press briefings by the State Department during the Israeli attack shows that the Obama administration refused to condemn Israeli attacks on civilian targets in the first three weeks of the war.
U.S. officials were well aware of Israel’s history of rejecting any distinction between military and civilian targets in previous wars in Lebanon and Gaza.
During the 2006 Israeli War in Lebanon, IDF spokesman Jacob Dalal had told the Associated Press that eliminating Hezbollah as a terrorist institution required hitting all Hezbollah institutions, including “grassroots institutions that breed more followers”.
And during Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in December 2008 and January 2009, the IDF had shelled a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing 42 civilians. The IDF’s justification had been that it was responding to mortar fire from the building, but officials of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) who ran the school had denied that claim.
Given that history, Obama administration policy makers knew that Israel would certainly resort to similar targeting in its Gaza operation unless it believed it would suffer serious consequences for doing so. But the administration’s public stance in daily briefings in the early days of the war suggested little or no concern about Israeli violations of the laws of war.
On July 10, two days after the operation began, State Department spokesperson Jan Psaki was asked in the daily briefing whether the administration was trying to stop the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, as well as the firing of rockets by Hamas.
Psaki’s answer was to recite an Israeli talking point. “There’s a difference,” she said, “between Hamas, a terrorist organisation that’s indiscriminately attacking innocent civilians…in Israel, and the right of Israel to respond and protect their own civilians.”
After four children playing on a beach were killed as journalists watched on July 16, Psaki was asked whether the administration believed Israel was violating the international laws of war. She responded that she was unaware of any discussion of that question.
Psaki said that “tragic event makes clear that Israel must take every possible step to meet its standards for protecting civilians from being killed. We will continue to underscore that point to Israel; the Secretary [of State John Kerry] has made that point directly as well.”
The IDF shelled Al-Wafa Rehabilitation and Geriatric Hospital on July 17, claiming it was a response to launches of rockets 100 metres from the hospital. Psaki was asked the next day whether her failure to warn the Israelis publicly against bombing the hospital had “made any difference”.
She said, “We’re urging all parties to respect the civilian nature of schools and medical facilities….” But she refused to speculate about “what would’ve happened or wouldn’t have happened” had she issued an explicit warning,
On June 16, two days before the ground offensive began, the IDF began dropping leaflets warning the entire populations of the Zeitoun and Shujaiyyeh neighbourhoods to evacuate. It was a clear indication they were to be heavily bombed. IDF bombing and shelling leveled entire blocks of Shujaiyyeh July 20 and 21, citing rockets fired from that neighbourhood.
Kerry was recorded commenting to an aide on an open microphone July 20 that it was a “hell of a pinpoint operation”, revealing the administration’s private view. But instead of warning that the Israeli targeting policy was unacceptable, Kerry declared in a CNN interview that Israel was “under siege from a terrorist organisation”, implying the right to do whatever it believed necessary.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said on July 21 that Kerry had “encouraged” the Israelis to “take steps to prevent civilian casualties”, but she refused to be more specific.
On July 23, Al Wafa hospital was hit by an Israeli airstrike, forcing the staff to evacuate it. The IDF now charged that it had been used as a “command centre and rocket launching site”.
Joe Catron, an American who had been staying at the hospital as part of an international “human shield” to prevent attacks on it, denied that claim, saying he would have heard any rocket launched close to the hospital.
On the same day, three missiles hit a park next to the Al Shifa hospital, killing 10 and wounding 46. The IDF blamed the explosions on Hamas rockets that had fallen short. The idea that three Hamas rockets had fallen short within such short distances from one another, however, was hardly a credible explanation.
The IDF also appeared to target facilities run by the UNRWA. On July 23 and 24, Israeli tank shells hit Palestinian refugees at two different school compounds designated as U.N. shelters, despite intensive communications by U.N. officials to IDF asking to spare them.
An attack on a U.N. refugee shelter at Beit Hanoun elementary school July 24 killed 15 civilians and wounded more than 200. The IDF again claimed a Hamas rocket had fallen short. But it also claimed Hamas fighters had fired on Israeli troops from the compound, then later retreated from the claim.
At the July 24 briefing, Harf read a statement deploring the Beit Hanoun strike and the “rising death toll in Gaza” and said that a UNRWA facility “is not a legitimate target”.
Harf said Israel “could do a bit more” to show restraint. But when a reporter asked if the United States was “willing to take any kind of action” if Israel did not respond to U.S. advice, Harf said the U.S. focus was “getting a ceasefire”, implying that it was not prepared to impose any consequences on Israel for refusing to change its military tactics in Gaza.
On July 25, a reporter at the daily briefing observed that the hospital and schools had been targeted despite reports confirming that there had been no militants or rockets in them.
But Harf refused to accept that characterisation of the situation and repeated the Israeli line that Hamas had used U.N. facilities to “hide rockets”. She said she could not confirm whether there were rockets in “the specific school that was hit”.
The IDF hit another UNRWA school sheltering refugees at Jabaliya refugee camp July 30, killing 10 and wounding more than 100. The IDF acknowledged it had fired several tank shells at the school, claiming again that mortar shells had been fired from there.
That was too much for the Obama administration. White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the attack “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible” and even made it clear that there was little doubt that Israel was responsible.
Even then, however, the administration merely repeated its call for Israel to “do more to live up to the high standards that they have set for themselves”, as Earnest put it.
On August 3, the IDF struck yet another refugee facility at the Rafah Boys Prep School A, killing 12 refugees and wounding 27. The IDF said it had been targeting three “terrorists” riding a motorcycle who had passed near the school.
“The suspicion that militants operated nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians,” said Psaki.
But that criticism of Israeli attacks was far too restrained and too late. The IDF had already carried out what appear to have been massive violations of the laws of war.
By The Numbers
Gaza: Indiscriminate Israeli War Crimes against Civilians
Number of Gazans killed by Israel: 1,943 (with 80 percent civilian casualties including 437 children and 243 women)
Number of Gazans wounded by Israel: 9,886
Number of Houses Destroyed: 5,622; Damaged: at least 36,700
Number of Mosques Destroyed: 64; Damaged: 152
Number of Schools or Educational Facilities Destroyed or Damaged: 189
Number of Hospitals or Medical Facilities Destroyed or Damaged: 24
Number of Structures Destroyed including the only Electric Power Plant: More than 1500
Egypt: A Brutal Military Coup To Halt Democracy and Silence Political Dissent
Number of people killed by the coup regime from July 3, 2013 to January 31, 2014: at least 3248 (including 299 students with 289 males and 10 females (table 5 at the bottom); at least 80 died while in custody)
Number of people injured by the coup regime from July 3, 2013 to February 28, 2014: 18,535 (including at least 1400 students)
Number of people arrested by the coup regime from July 3, 2013 to May 31, 2014: 41,163 (By April 2014 only 9,220 have been tried with about 1,260 receiving death sentences in mass trials)
Syria: a Bloody Civil War Fueled by Sectarianism and Foreign Interference
Number of Syrian Refugees and Displaced Persons according to the UN by end of July 2014: 2,951,423 (three fourths of which are women and children)
American Military Aid to Israel: Aiding and Abetting Israeli War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
Israel GDP per capita: $38,700 (more than Japan)
Gaza GDP per capita: less than $2,000 (164 in the world; less than half of West Bank)
Annual U.S. military aid to Israel: $3.6 Billion ($3.1B in direct military aid and $504 million in subsidies to Israeli military industries)
Daily U.S. military aid to Israel: $10 million
All Time Aid US Aid to Israel: $125 Billion ($160B when adjusted to inflation)
Amount of weapons and munitions US sent to Israel since its 2012 war on Gaza: $276 million not including exports of military transport equipment and high technologies
Amount of stockpile of ammunition the US military stores in Israel for that country’s use (called War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel): $1 Billion
Amount of rocket launchers, guided missiles, bombs, grenades and munitions of war US sent to Israel between January and May 2014: $37 million
Congressional Vote to give Israel $225 million in emergency military aid in early August 2014: House of Representatives: 395 to 8; Senate: 100 to 0.
The eight courageous dissenters in the House (four Democrats and four Republicans) are: Keith Ellison (D-MN), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Justin Amash (R-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC), Tom Massie (R-KY), and Mark Sanford (R-SC).
Esam Al-Amin can be contacted at email@example.com.
President Obama may want us to sympathize with patriotic torturers, he may turn on whistle-blowers like a flesh-eating zombie, he may have lost all ability to think an authentic thought, but I will say this for him: He knows how to mark the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin fraud like a champion.
It’s back in Iraq, Jack! Yackety yack! Obama says the United States has fired missiles and dropped food in Iraq — enough food to feed 8,000, enough missiles to kill an unknown number (presumably 7,500 or fewer keeps this a “humanitarian” effort). The White House told reporters on a phone call following the President’s Thursday night speech that it is expediting weapons to Iraq, producing Hellfire missiles and ammunition around the clock, and shipping those off to a nation where Obama swears there is no military solution and only reconciliation can help. Hellfire missiles are famous for helping people reconcile.
Obama went straight into laying out his excuses for this latest war, before speaking against war and in favor of everything he invests no energy in. First, the illegitimate government of Iraq asked him to do it. Second, ISIS is to blame for the hell that the United States created in Iraq. Third, there are still lots of places in the world that Obama has not yet bombed. Oh, and this is not really a war but just protection of U.S. personnel, combined with a rescue mission for victims of a possible massacre on a scale we all need to try to understand.
Wow! We need to understand the scale of killing in Iraq? This is the United States you’re talking to, the people who paid for the slaughter of 0.5 to 1.5 million Iraqis this decade. Either we’re experts on the scale of mass killings or we’re hopelessly incapable of understanding such matters.
Completing the deja vu all over again Thursday evening, the substitute host of the Rachel Maddow Show seemed eager for a new war on Iraq, all of his colleagues approved of anything Obama said, and I heard “Will troops be sent?” asked by several “journalists,” but never heard a single one ask “Will families be killed?”
Pro-war veteran Democratic congressman elected by war opponents Patrick Murphy cheered for Obama supposedly drawing a red line for war. Murphy spoke of Congress without seeming aware that less than two weeks ago the House voted to deny the President any new war on Iraq. There are some 199 members of the House who may be having a hard time remembering that right now.
Pro-war veteran Paul Rieckhoff added that any new veterans created would be heroes, and — given what a “mess” Iraq is now — Rieckhoff advocated “looking forward.” The past has such an extreme antiwar bias.
Rounding out the reunion of predictable pro-war platitudes and prevarications, Nancy Pelosi immediately quoted the bits of Obama’s speech that suggested he was against the war he was starting. Can Friedman Units and benchmarks be far behind?
Obama promises no combat troops will be sent back to Iraq. No doubt. Instead it’ll be planes, drones, helicopters, and “non-combat” troops. “America is coming to help” finally just sounded as evil as Reagan meant it to, but it was in Obama’s voice. The ironies exploded like Iraqi houses on Thursday. While the United States locks Honduran refugee children in cages, it proposes to bomb Iraq for refugees. While Gaza starves and Detroit lacks water, Obama bombs Iraq to stop people from starving. While the U.S. ships weapons to Israel to commit genocide, and to Syria for allies of ISIS, it is rushing more weapons into Iraq to supposedly prevent genocide on a mountaintop — also to add to the weapons supplies already looted by ISIS.
Of course, it’s also for “U.S. interests,” but if that means U.S. people, why not pull them out? If it means something else, why not admit as much in the light of day and let the argument die of shame?
Let me add a word to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman David Swanson, who is not me and whom I do not know: Please do keep pushing for actual humanitarian aid. But if you spoke against the missiles that are coming with the food, the reporters left that bit out. You have to fit it into the same sentence with the food and water if you want it quoted. I hope there is an internal U.N. lobby for adoption by the U.N. of the U.N. Charter, and if there is I wish it all the luck in the world.
Spokesperson of the US Department of State Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that her country objects to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to try Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Commenting at a daily press briefing in Washington on what she called “reports of a push for an ICC investigation”, she said: “Our view is that we continue to strongly oppose unilateral actions that seek to circumvent or prejudge the very outcomes that can only be negotiated.”
She continued: “We’ve been very clear that, while we’ve expressed concerns when we’ve had them, there is – the only realistic path for realising Palestinian aspirations of statehood is through direct negotiations between the parties.”
Earlier on the same day, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki said he is optimistic that the latest ceasefire in Gaza will hold, even as Palestinians renewed efforts to bring Israel before the ICC.
“We expect the ceasefire to expand into another 72 hours and beyond,” Al-Malki told reporters at a press conference at The Hague, where he met the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.
“We have heard that Israel has really committed itself to withdrawing… but it really depends on Israel and the seriousness of the Israeli side,” Al-Malki said.
He also openly expressed that the Palestinian Authority is planning to bring Israel to the ICC over the massacres carried out in the Gaza Strip during the last four weeks.
On Friday, we wrote briefly about President Obama’s “admission” that “we tortured some folks.” At the time I was going off of the press reports of the conference, but now that I’ve read the full transcript of his statement, it’s much worse than just that brief comment. Here’s the relevant portion:
With respect to the larger point of the RDI report itself, even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.
I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.
It was the “we tortured some folks” that reasonably made headlines, but the following paragraph, in which he tries to brush it off, is what’s really troubling. Imagine any other crime, and think about whether or not you’d have someone say it was okay because there was “enormous pressure” on the people committing the crime. Imagine any other crime, and being told “not to feel too sanctimonious” because of what a “tough job” any other criminal had. I’m sorry, but I don’t care how much pressure anyone was under, plenty of people who are actually “real patriots” know that you don’t torture people. Not only does it not work, it’s morally reprehensible. “You don’t torture” is a pretty straightforward concept — and one that was pretty clearly known and articulated prior to all of this. Nothing that happened on 9/11 or in the aftermath magically made war crimes like torture okay.
Those aren’t “patriots,” and defending them because of the “pressure” they were under is an incredibly cowardly and disgusting move.