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As the Light onto the Nations

cleaver-(R)dees

By Gilad Atzmon | November 21, 2009

‘Israel is the light onto the nations’ says the Torah. Indeed it is, and not just because the Torah says so. Israel is ahead of everyone else in many fronts. Take for instance, terrorizing civilian populations and practicing some of the most devastating murderous tactics upon elders, women and young.

The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday that the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, visited Israel earlier this week to study “IDF tactics and methods that the military alliance can utilise for its war in Afghanistan.” A senior Israeli defence official added “The one thing on NATO’s mind today is how to win in Afghanistan… Di Paola was very impressed by the IDF, which is a major source of information due to our operational experience.”

I would advise both the Israeli official and Admiral Di Paola to slightly curb their enthusiasm. The IDF didn’t win a single war since 1967. Yes, it murdered many civilians, it flattened many cities, it starved millions, it has been committing war crimes on a daily basis for decades and yet, it didn’t win a war. Thus, the IDF cannot really teach NATO how to win in Afghanistan. If NATO generals are stupid enough to follow IDF tactics, like the Israeli generals, they will start to see the charges of war crimes pile up against them. They may even be lucky enough to share their cells with some Israelis in due course, once justice is performed.

Admiral Di Paola spent two days with the infamous IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the man who led the IDF into Gaza last December.

In the Jewish state they were very enthusiastic with Admiral Di Paola’s visit. They regarded it as just another reassurance of ‘business as usual. The visit of a NATO high supreme official was there to convince them that no one takes note of the Goldstone report. “Di Paola’s visit is significant” says the Jerusalem Post, “since it comes at a time when the IDF is under increasing criticism in the wake of the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead as well as a decision by Turkey – a NATO member – to ban Israel from joint aerial exercises.”

However, it would be crucial to elaborate on the emerging mutual interests between the two parties, Israel and NATO. “During their meeting on Wednesday, Ashkenazi and Di Paola discussed ways to upgrade Israeli-NATO military ties as well as the plan to include an Israeli Navy vessel in Active Endeavor, a NATO mission established after the 9/11 attacks under which NATO vessels patrol the Mediterranean to prevent illegal terror trafficking”. This is indeed a necessary move for the Israelis. At the moment the Israeli Navy is operating in the Mediterranean as a bunch of Yiddish Pirates (Yidisshe Piraten), assaulting, hijacking and robbing vessels in international waters. Once operating under the NATO flag, the Israelis would be able to terrorise every vessel in the high seas in the name of the ‘West’. For the Jewish state this would be a major step forward. Until now the Israelis have been committing atrocities in the name of the Jewish people. Once operating under the NATO flag, the Israelis will be able to perform their piracy in the name of ‘Europe’. Such a move is further evidence of the spiritual and ideological transition within Zionism from ‘promised land’ into ‘promised planet’.

While the Israelis desperately need NATO’s legitimacy, NATO is far more modest. All it needs is knowledge and tactics. For some reason it insists on learning from the Israelis how to inflict pain on a civilian population. More pain, that is, than it is already making. “NATO’s Defence officials said that Di Paola used his meetings with the IDF to learn about new technology that can be applied to the war in Afghanistan”. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is a “known world leader in the development of specialized armor to protect against improvised explosive devices (IEDs), otherwise known as roadside bombs.” This is indeed the case. Israeli generals realised a long time ago that their precious young soldiers prefer to hide in their tanks rather than engage with the ‘enemy’ i.e. the civilian population, kids, elders and women. But it doesn’t stop there, Di Paola was also interested in “Israeli intelligence-gathering capabilities and methods that the IDF uses when operating in civilian population centers.” Di Paola noted that “NATO and the IDF were facing similar threats – NATO in Afghanistan and Israel in its war against Hamas and Hizbullah.”

I would suggest to Admiral Di Paola to immediately read the Goldstone report thoroughly, so he grasps his own personal legal consequences once he starts to implement ‘Israeli tactics’. If Admiral Di Paola wants to serve his army, he should indeed visit Israel, he should also meet every war criminal both in the military and politics so he knows exactly what NOT to do.

NATO’s chances of winning in Afghanistan are not limited, they are actually exhausted. It can only lose. Some military analysts and veteran generals argue that it is lost already. NATO has brought enough carnage on the Afghani people without achieving any of its military or political goals. Given that Israel was severely humiliated in Lebanon in 2006 by a tiny paramilitary Hizbullah and failed to achieve its military goals in Operation Cast Lead in its genocidal war against Hamas, there is nothing for NATO to learn from the Israelis. Should NATO proceed in implementing added IDF tactics, all it will achieve is a dramatic reduction of security across Europe and America.

If we are concerned with peace and we want it to prevail, what we have to do is to move away as far as we can from any spiritual, ideological, political and military affiliation with Zionism, Israel and its lobbies. If ‘Israel’ is indeed a ‘light onto the nations’, someone better explain to us all, why its prospect of peace is becoming slimmer and darker.

My answer is actually simple. Israel can be easily seen as the ‘light of nations’ as long as you learn from Israel what not to do. In fact this is the message passed to us by the great humanist prophets Jesus and Marx. Love your neighbour, be among others, transcend yourself beyond the tribal into the realm of the universal. In fact this is exactly what the Israelis fail to grasp. For some reason, they love themselves almost as much as they hate their neighbours.

If Admiral Di Paola wants to win the hearts and the minds of the Afghan people (rather than ‘winning a war’), he should first learn to love. This is something he won’t learn in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Gaza, Ramallha and Nablus are more likely.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

By John LaForge | CounterPunch | April 18, 2014

The corporate media is focused on the question of how or if Iran could ever break out of its promise under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to eschew nuclear weapons and use reactors only for civilian purposes. So many headlines refer to sanctions imposed against Iran that millions of people mistakenly think Iran has a nuclear arsenal. It doesn’t.

Meanwhile the Congress in January fully funded production of a new B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb, a program dubbed “Life Extension.” This year’s $537 million is the down payment on the new version of the B61 that the millionaires in DC agreed should get $11 billion over the next few years.

Dubbed the “solid gold nuke” by critics, the 700 pound H-bomb is running $28 million apiece at the moment. That much gold bullion is only worth $16 million.

The program to replace today’s B61s with a new “mod12,” is being condemned by our allies in NATO, by Congressional budget hawks and of course by the entire arms control community. Even former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright has said the bombs are “practically nil” in military value. (Gen. Cartwright only is partly right: Since it seems the Department of Defense is in the business of producing suicides by the thousands, among veterans and active duty soldiers, the suicidal mission of deploying B61s across Europe — for detonation there — seems a perfect fit.)

“This decision represents the triumph of entrenched nuclear interests over good government. The B-61 is no longer relevant for U.S. national security, but continues to rob billions of dollars from programs that would make America safer,” President Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund told Hans M. Kristensen for the Federation of American Scientists.

Kristensen reported March 12 that the Pentagon has decided that the new B61 will begin its deployment in Europe next year.

This 300-to-500 kiloton “variable yield” thermonuclear device has 24 to 40 times the destructive power of the US bomb that killed 170,000 people at Hiroshima in 1945. Still, this machine’s threat of meaningless, genocidal, radioactive violence is called “tactical.”

Rush to Deploy New H-bomb Before it’s Killed by Public Opposition

The Air Force budget makes it appear that the older B61s will all be replaced — in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany — by 2020. This rush job is being hustled through the military-industrial-complex in a very big hurry because the broad international condemnation of the program is gaining depth and breadth.

Even the rightwing Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., along with Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep Jared Polis, D-Colo., tried to curtail the program last year. Five NATO partners — Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Norway — asked four years ago that all B61s be removed permanently from Europe. In Germany, every major political party has formally resolved to pursue final withdrawal of the 20 remaining B61s at Buchel AFB.

Major US allies in Europe informed Gen. Cartwright’s critical opinion. High-level European politicians have been saying the B61s are “militarily useless” since the end of the Cold War. In a widely published op/ed in 2010, former NATO secretary-general Willy Claes and three senior Belgian politicians said, “The US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe have lost all military importance.”

Still, Kristensen reports, “integration” of the new B61 is supposed to take place on Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16 jets and on German and Italian Tornado fighter-bombers soon.

Another reason for the rush to deploy this perfect candidate for dumb bomb retirement is that Germany is considering replacing its Tornado jets in short order. All the expense of refitting its current Tornadoes to carry the “more accurate” and “more usable” B61-mod 12 would be wasted. New B61 production could also be made expensively moot by progress in arms control.

The “nuclear sharing” arrangement with the five technically non-nuclear NATO partners glaringly contradicts, in Kristensen’s words, “the non-proliferation standards that member countries are trying to promote in the post-Cold War world.” In its 2012 posture review, even NATO’s ministers pledged to work for a world without nuclear weapons.

So as the White House and its Secretary of State wag fingers at Iran, we and our NATO friends openly violate the binding promise made in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty “not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly.”

Maybe Iran can arrange for some sanctions to be imposed on us.

John LaForge works for Nukewatch, edits its Quarterly, and lives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Thirty Venezuelan Military Officials Allegedly Under Arrest for Coup Plotting

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | Aprilm 14, 2014

Thirty Venezuelan military officers of different ranks, including several generals, have been arrested for alleged conspiracy to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, a leading national newspaper has reported.

The information, reported by Ultimas Noticias, was attributed to “high level sources” in Miraflores presidential palace. The majority of those arrested are from the Venezuelan Air Force, however a few officers from the National Guard, Navy and Armed Forces were also arrested.

According to the sources, loyal military figures previously informed the national intelligence service that “something strange” was being planned by a group of officers, and due to this the alleged conspirators had been under observation by authorities for some time.

The UN report adds that a “destablisation attempt” was supposedly planned to occur on 20 March with an air operation and strafing of soldiers, among other incidents, to create “confusion” and “clashes”.

Further, the report alleges that “it has been confirmed” that the group of officers has been in contact “with at least one opposition leader”. There exist rumours that this politician is Julio Borges of the Justice First party, of which former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles is leader. According to the rumours, Borges met with a group of 60 military officials, to which those arrested would presumably belong.

Both Borges and Capriles participated in the nationally-broadcast dialogue meeting with the government last Thursday.

Authorities have not yet offered public comment on Ultimas Noticias’ allegations on the arrest of the thirty military officers.

On 25 March Maduro announced that three air force generals had been arrested “for conspiracy” but has not offered further details while the investigation continues. The government has also said that it has information of a plot from within a sector of the opposition to kill protest leader Leopoldo Lopez and blame the act on government supporters in order to provoke a coup attempt.

The Venezuelan armed forces are considered to be generally loyal to the government. The head of the Operational Strategic Command of the Armed Forces, Gen. Vladimir Padrino, said yesterday that a while a campaign was underway to “manipulate” the armed forces (FANB), the troops are committed to their role of upholding the Venezuelan constitution.

Venezuela has experienced a wave of opposition protests, riots and street barricades since early February, after hard-line leaders of the opposition called for resistance to the government in a strategy called “The Exit”.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Kiev to launch ‘full-scale’ military op as massive protests grip eastern Ukraine

RT | April 13, 2014

Thousands of pro-autonomy demonstrators rallied across eastern Ukraine, with the coup-imposed president in Kiev threatening to use military against the activists if they don’t clear the seized government buildings by Monday morning.

Over 10,000 people have taken part in protests in different town and villages of the Donetsk Region in Ukraine, the local administration said.

In the region’s capital, Donetsk, the local government headquarters still remain under the anti-Maidan activists’ control. Sunday, one of the leaders of the recently-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, once again stressed the urgent need “to send activists, who’ll prepare a referendum, to different towns of the Donetsk region” as he spoke at a rally in city’s center.

The recruitment of volunteers, eager to travel to Slavyansk and other towns in eastern Ukraine where “an anti-terrorist operation” against the protestors by the Ukrainian security forces is underway, also took place during the rally. Over 100 people volunteered by mid-day Sunday, with buses already prepared to take them to their destinations.

Hundreds also gathered for rallies in support of federalization in Druzhovka, Debaltsevo and other Donbas towns.

According to Ukrainian media, the city authorities in Zhdanovsk and Kirovsk have expressed readiness to start talks on the recognition of the legitimacy of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

A rally in Mariupol in south-east of the country resulted in the seizure of city council by the pro-Russian protesters, ITAR-TASS news agency reports. Over 1,000 demonstrators, who chanted “Slavyansk, we’re with you!” and “Referendum,” have forced the police, guarding the building, to retreat.

Some 1,500-2,000 people are out in the square in front of the office Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in Lugansk, which is held by the protestors for several days now. According to Rossiya 24 channel, the majority of the city’s police have switched to the side of the demonstrators, supporting their push for federalization.

Kharkov tensions

Meanwhile, dozens asked for medical assistance in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkov, after the pro-federalization demonstrators clashed with the Maidan activists. The rallies of two antagonistic sides, which saw a joint turnout of around 3,000, were staged in the city simultaneously, with the police being unable to prevent provocations.

“50 people required medical aid. Around 10 of them were taken to city hospitals. The doctors are speaking of minor or moderate injuries. Among the wounded there’s one policeman,” the local law enforcement authorities said.

Baseball bats, sticks, stones and stun grenades were used by both sides during the scuffle, Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reports.

Kiev issues new ultimatum

In the capital, Ukraine’s Security Council convened for an urgent session following the events in Slavyansk. A decision was taken to launch “a large scale” operation, “with the involvement of the military,” Ukraine’s coup-imposed president, Aleksandr Turchinov, said in a televised address.

Later he said that the operation in the east will involve a non-regular regiment consisting of 350 reservists.

According to Turchinov, the anti-Maidan activists must lay down their arms and abandon the administrative offices they have occupied till Monday morning if they want to avoid prosecution.

Turchinov also said the new authorities in Kiev are ready to consider giving more powers to the region. Earlier parliament-appointed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk pledged to push through a law allowing regional referendums in the country.

The order to use military against the pro-federalization protesters in eastern Ukraine by coup-imposed president, Aleksandr Turchinov, is “criminal” in its nature, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier on Sunday, a gun flight reportedly broke out at a checkpoint, which was established by protesters on the outskirts of the city of Slavyansk.

Reports on those killed and wounded kept streaming in all day, but lacked consistency and could not be independently verified. According to interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, one of the troops from Kiev was killed and five others were injured in the skirmish.

Protesters in Slavyansk said one person was killed and two others injured on their side, adding that two of the Kiev troops were killed.

Unrest has gripped eastern – Russian speaking – parts of Ukraine after pro-EU protests in Kiev ousted president, Viktor Yanukovich, back in February.

Following the accession of the Republic of Crime to Russia, people in Donetsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and other cities are also calling for a referendum to decide their future as part of Ukraine.

April 13, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | | Leave a comment

Brazil Marks 50th Anniversary of Military Coup

On 50th anniversary, Archive posts new Kennedy Tape Transcripts on coup plotting against Brazilian President Joao Goulart

Robert Kennedy characterized Goulart as a “wily politician” who “figures he’s got us by the —.”

Declassified White House records chart genesis of regime change effort in Brazil

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 465 – Edited by James G. Hershberg and Peter Kornbluh | April 2, 2014

Washington, DC – Almost two years before the April 1, 1964, military takeover in Brazil, President Kennedy and his top aides began seriously discussing the option of overthrowing Joao Goulart’s government, according to Presidential tape transcripts posted by the National Security Archive on the 50th anniversary of the coup d’tat. “What kind of liaison do we have with the military?” Kennedy asked top aides in July 1962. In March 1963, he instructed them: “We’ve got to do something about Brazil.”

The tape transcripts advance the historical record on the U.S. role in deposing Goulart — a record which remains incomplete half a century after he fled into exile in Uruguay on April 1, 1964. “The CIA’s clandestine political destabilization operations against Goulart between 1961 and 1964 are the black hole of this history,” according to the Archive’s Brazil Documentation Project director, Peter Kornbluh, who called on the Obama administration to declassify the still secret intelligence files on Brazil from both the Johnson and Kennedy administrations.

Revelations on the secret U.S. role in Brazil emerged in the mid 1970s, when the Lyndon Johnson Presidential library began declassifying Joint Chiefs of Staff records on “Operation Brother Sam” — President Johnson’s authorization for the U.S. military to covertly and overtly supply arms, ammunition, gasoline and, if needed, combat troops if the military’s effort to overthrow Goulart met with strong resistance. On the 40th anniversary of the coup, the National Security Archive posted audio files of Johnson giving the green light for military operations to secure the success of the coup once it started.

“I think we ought to take every step that we can, be prepared to do everything that we need to do,” President Johnson instructed his aides regarding U.S. support for a coup as the Brazilian military moved against Goulart on March 31, 1964.

But Johnson inherited his anti-Goulart, pro-coup policy from his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. Over the last decade, declassified NSC records and recently transcribed White House tapes have revealed the evolution of Kennedy’s decision to create a coup climate and, when conditions permitted, overthrow Goulart if he did not yield to Washington’s demand that he stop “playing” with what Kennedy called “ultra-radical anti-Americans” in Brazil’s government. During White House meetings on July 30, 1962, and on March 8 and 0ctober 7, 1963, Kennedy’s secret Oval Office taping system recorded the attitude and arguments of the highest U.S. officials as they strategized how to force Goulart to either purge leftists in his government and alter his nationalist economic and foreign policies or be forced out by a U.S.-backed putsch.

Indeed, the very first Oval Office meeting that Kennedy secretly taped, on July 30, 1962, addressed the situation in Brazil. “I think one of our important jobs is to strengthen the spine of the military,” U.S. Ambassador Lincoln Gordon told the President and his advisor, Richard Goodwin. “To make clear, discreetly, that we are not necessarily hostile to any kind of military action whatsoever if it’s clear that the reason for the military action is… [Goulart's] giving the country away to the…,” “Communists,” as the president finished his sentence. During this pivotal meeting, the President and his men decided to upgrade contacts with the Brazilian military by bringing in a new US military attaché-Lt. Col. Vernon Walters who eventually became the key covert actor in the preparations for the coup. “We may very well want them [the Brazilian military] to take over at the end of the year,” Goodwin suggested, “if they can.” (Document 1)

By the end of 1962, the Kennedy administration had indeed determined that a coup would advance U.S. interests if the Brazilian military could be mobilized to move. The Kennedy White House was particularly upset about Goulart’s independent foreign policy positions during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although Goulart had assisted Washington’s efforts to avoid nuclear Armageddon by acting as a back channel intermediary between Kennedy and Castro — a top secret initiative uncovered by George Washington University historian James G. Hershberg — Goulart was deemed insufficiently supportive of U.S. efforts to ostracize Cuba at the Organization of American States. On December 13, Kennedy told former Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek that the situation in Brazil “worried him more than that in Cuba.”

On December 11, 1962, the Executive Committee (EXCOMM) of the National Security Council met to evaluate three policy alternatives on Brazil: A. “do nothing and allow the present drift to continue; B. collaborate with Brazilian elements hostile to Goulart with a view to bringing about his overthrow; C. seek to change the political and economic orientation of Goulart and his government.” [link to document 2] Option C was deemed “the only feasible present approach” because opponents of Goulart lacked the “capacity and will to overthrow” him and Washington did not have “a near future U.S. capability to stimulate [a coup] operation successfully.” Fomenting a coup, however “must be kept under active and continuous consideration,” the NSC options paper recommended.

Acting on these recommendations, President Kennedy dispatched a special envoy — his brother Robert — to issue a face-to-face de facto ultimatum to Goulart. Robert Kennedy met with Goulart at the Palacio do Alvarada in Brazilia on December 17, 1962. During the three-hour meeting, RFK advised Goulart that the U.S. had “the gravest doubts” about positive future relations with Brazil, given the “signs of Communist or extreme left-wing nationalists infiltration into civilian government positions,” and the opposition to “American policies and interests as a regular rule.” As Goulart issued a lengthy defense of his policies, Kennedy passed a note to Ambassador Gordon stating: “We seem to be getting no place.” The attorney general would later say that he came away from the meeting convinced that Goulart was “a Brazilian Jimmy Hoffa.”

Kennedy and his top aides met once again on March 7, 1963, to decide how to handle the pending visit of the Brazilian finance minister, Santiago Dantas. In preparation for the meeting, Ambassador Gordon submitted a long memo to the president recommending that if it proved impossible to convince Goulart to modify his leftist positions, the U.S. work “to prepare the most promising possible environment for his replacement by a more desirable regime.” (Document 5) The tape of this meeting (partially transcribed here for the first time by James Hershberg) focused on Goulart’s continuing leftward drift. Robert Kennedy urged the President to be more forceful toward Goulart: He wanted his brother to make it plain “that this is something that’s very serious with us, we’re not fooling around about it, we’re giving him some time to make these changes but we can’t continue this forever.” The Brazilian leader,” he continued, “struck me as the kind of wily politician who’s not the smartest man in the world … he figures that he’s got us by the—and that he can play it both ways, that he can make the little changes, he can make the arrangements with IT&T and then we give him some money and he doesn’t have to really go too far.” He exhorted the president to “personally” clarify to Goulart that he “can’t have the communists and put them in important positions and make speeches criticizing the United States and at the same time get 225-[2]50 million dollars from the United States. He can’t have it both ways.”

As the CIA continued to report on various plots against Goulart in Brazil, the economic and political situation deteriorated. When Kennedy convened his aides again on October 7, he wondered aloud if the U.S. would need to overtly depose Goulart: “Do you see a situation where we might be—find it desirable to intervene militarily ourselves?” The tape of the October 7 meeting — a small part of which was recently publicized by Brazilian journalist Elio Gaspari, but now transcribed at far greater length here by Hershberg — contains a detailed discussion of various scenarios in which Goulart would be forced to leave. Ambassador Gordon urged the president to prepare contingency plans for providing ammunition or fuel to pro-U.S. factions of the military if fighting broke out. “I would not want us to close our minds to the possibility of some kind of discreet intervention,” Gordon told President Kennedy, “which would help see the right side win.”

Under Gordon’s supervision, over the next few weeks the U.S. embassy in Brazil prepared a set of contingency plans with what a transmission memorandum, dated November 22, 1963, described as “a heavy emphasis on armed intervention.” Assassinated in Dallas on that very day, President Kennedy would never have the opportunity to evaluate, let alone implement, these options.

But in mid-March 1964, when Goulart’s efforts to bolster his political powers in Brazil alienated his top generals, the Johnson administration moved quickly to support and exploit their discontent-and be in the position to assure their success. “The shape of the problem,” National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy told a meeting of high-level officials three days before the coup, “is such that we should not be worrying that the [Brazilian] military will react; we should be worrying that the military will not react.”

“We don’t want to watch Brazil dribble down the drain,” the CIA, White House and State Department officials determined, according to the Top Secret meeting summary, “while we stand around waiting for the [next] election.”

 


THE DOCUMENTS

Document 1: White House, Transcript of Meeting between President Kennedy, Ambassador Lincoln Gordon and Richard Goodwin, July 30, 1962. (Published in The Presidential Recordings of John F. Kennedy, The Great Crises, Volume One (W.W. Norton), edited by Timothy Naftali, October 2001.)

The very first Oval Office meeting ever secretly taped by President Kennedy took place on July 30, 1962 and addressed the situation in Brazil and what to do about its populist president, Joao Goulart. The recording — it was transcribed and published in book The Presidential Recordings of John F. Kennedy, The Great Crises, Volume One — captures a discussion between the President, top Latin America aide Richard Goodwin and U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Lincoln Gordon about beginning to set the stage for a future military coup in Brazil. The President and his men make a pivotal decision to appoint a new U.S. military attaché to become a liaison with the Brazilian military, and Lt. Col. Vernon Walters is identified. Walters later becomes the key covert player in the U.S. support for the coup. “We may very well want them [the Brazilian military] to take over at the end of the year,” Goodwin suggests, “if they can.”

 

Document 2: NSC, Memorandum, “U.S. Short-Term policy Toward Brazil,” Secret, December 11, 1962

In preparation for a meeting of the Executive Committee (EXCOMM) of the National Security Council, the NSC drafted an options paper with three policy alternatives on Brazil: A. “do nothing and allow the present drift to continue; B. collaborate with Brazilian elements hostile to Goulart with a view to bringing about his overthrow; C. seek to change the political and economic orientation of Goulart and his government.” Option C was deemed “the only feasible present approach” because opponents of Goulart lacked the “capacity and will to overthrow” him and Washington did not have “a near future U.S. capability to stimulate [a coup] operation successfully.” Fomenting a coup, however “must be kept under active and continuous consideration,” the NSC options paper recommended. If Goulart continued to move leftward, “the United States should be ready to shift rapidly and effectively to…collaboration with friendly democratic elements, including the great majority of military officer corps, to unseat President Goulart.”

 

Document 3: NSC, “Minutes of the National Security Council Executive Committee Meeting, Meeting No. 35,” Secret, December 11, 1962

The minutes of the EXCOMM meeting record that President Kennedy accepted the recommendation that U.S. policy “seek to change the political and economic orientation of Goulart and his government.”

 

Document 4: U.S. Embassy, Rio de Janeiro, Airgram A-710, “Minutes of Conversation between Brazilian President Joao Goulart and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Brasilia, 17 December 1962,” December 19, 1962

In line with JFK’s decision at the Excom meeting on December 11 to have “representative sent specially” to talk to Goulart, the president’s brother made a hastily-prepared journey to “confront” the Brazilian leader over the issues that had increasingly concerned and irritated Washington-from his chaotic management of Brazil’s economy and expropriation of U.S. corporations such as IT&T, to his lukewarm support during the Cuban missile crisis and flirtation with the Soviet bloc to, most alarming, his allegedly excessive toleration of far left and even communist elements in the government, military, society, and even his inner circle. Accompanied by US ambassador Lincoln Gordon, RFK met for more than three hours with Goulart in the new inland capital of Brasília at the modernistic lakeside presidential residence, the Palácio do Alvorada. A 17-page memorandum of conversation, drafted by Amb. Gordon, recorded the Attorney General presenting his list of complaints: the “many signs of Communist or extreme left-wing nationalists infiltration” into civilian government, military, trade union, and student group leaderships, and Goulart’s personal failure to take a public stand against the “violently anti-American” statements emanating from “influential Brazilians” both in and out of his government, or to embrace Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress. Turning to economic issues, he said his brother was “very deeply worried at the deterioration” in recent months, from rampant inflation to the disappearance of reserves, and called on Goulart to get his “economic and financial house in order.” Surmounting these obstacles to progress, RFK stressed, could mark a “turning point in relations between Brazil and the U.S. and in the whole future of Latin America and of the free world.” When Goulart defended his policies, Kennedy scribbled a note to Ambassador Gordon: “We seem to be getting no place.” JFK’s emissary voiced his fear “that President Goulart had not fully understood the nature of President Kennedy’s concern about the present situation and prospects.”

 

Document 5: Department of State, Memorandum to Mr. McGeorge Bundy, “Political Considerations Affecting U.S. Assistance to Brazil,” Secret, March 7, 1963

In preparation for another key Oval office meeting on Brazil, the Department of State transmitted two briefing papers, including a memo to the president from Amb. Gordon titled “Brazilian Political Developments and U.S. Assistance.” The latter briefing paper (attached to the first document) was intended to assist the President in deciding how to handle the visit of Brazilian Finance Minister San Tiago Dantas to Washington. Gordon cited continuing problems with Goulart’s “equivocal, with neutralist overtones” foreign policy, and the “communist and other extreme nationalist, far left wing, and anti-American infiltration in important civilian and military posts with the government.”

 

Document 6: Excerpts from John F. Kennedy’s conversation regarding Brazil with U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Lincoln Gordon on Friday March 8, 1963 (Meeting 77.1, President’s Office Files, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston)

On March 8, 1963, a few days before Dantas’ arrived, JFK reviewed the state of US-Brazilian relations with his top advisors, including Secretary of State Dean Rusk, his ambassador to Brazil, Lincoln Gordon, and his brother Robert. Unofficially transcribed here by James G. Hershberg (with assistance from Marc Selverstone and David Coleman) this is apparently the first time that it has been published since the tape recording was released more than a decade ago by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. As the comments by Rusk, Gordon, and RFK make clear, deep dissatisfaction with Goulart persisted. “Brazil is a country that we can’t possibly turn away from,” Secretary of State Rusk told the president. “Whatever happens there is going to be of decisive importance to the hemisphere.” Rusk frankly acknowledged that the situation wasn’t yet so bad as to justify Goulart’s overthrow to “all the non-communists or non-totalitarian Brazilians,” nor to justify a “clear break” between Washington and Rio that would be understood throughout the hemisphere. Instead, the strategy for the time being was to continue cooperation with Goulart’s government while raising pressure on him to improve his behavior, particularly his tolerance of far-leftist, anti-United States, and even communist associates-to, in JFK’s words, “string out” aid in order to “put the screws” on him. The president’s brother, in particular, clearly did not feel that Goulart had followed through since their meeting a few months earlier on his vows to put a lid on anti-U.S. expressions or make personnel changes to remove some of the most egregiously leftist figures in his administration. Goulart, stated RFK, “struck me as the kind of wily politician who’s not the smartest man in the world but very sensitive to this [domestic political] area, that he figures that he’s got us by the—and that he can play it both ways, that he can make the little changes…and then we give him some money and he doesn’t have to really go too far.”

 

Document 7: CIA, Current Intelligence Memorandum, “Plotting Against Goulart,” Secret, March 8, 1963

For more than two years before the April 1, 1964 coup, the CIA transmitted intelligence reports on various coup plots. The plot, described in this memo as “the best-developed plan,” is being considered by former minister of war, Marshal Odylio Denys. In a clear articulation of U.S. concerns about the need for a successful coup, the CIA warned that “a premature coup effort by the Brazilian military would be likely to bring a strong reaction from Goulart and the cashiering of those officers who are most friendly to the United States.”

 

Document 8: State Department, Latin American Policy Committee, “Approved Short-Term Policy in Brazil,” Secret, October 3, 1963

In early October, the State Department’s Latin America Policy Committee approved a “short term” draft policy statement on Brazil for consideration by President Kennedy and the National Security Council. Compared to the review in March, the situation has deteriorated drastically, according to Washington’s point of view, in large measure due to Goulart’s “agitation,” unstable leadership, and increasing reliance on leftist forces. In its reading of the current and prospective situation, defining American aims, and recommending possible lines of action for the United States, the statement explicitly considered, albeit somewhat ambiguously, the U.S. attitude toward a possible coup to topple Goulart. “Barring clear indications of serious likelihood of a political takeover by elements subservient to and supported by a foreign government, it would be against U.S. policy to intervene directly or indirectly in support of any move to overthrow the Goulart regime. In the event of a threatened foreign-government-affiliated political takeover, consideration of courses of action would be directed more broadly but directly to the threatened takeover, rather than against Goulart (though some action against the latter might result).” Kennedy and his top aides met four days later to consider policy options and strategies–among them U.S. military intervention in Brazil.

 

Document 9: Excerpts from John F. Kennedy’s conversation regarding Brazil with U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Lincoln Gordon on Monday, October 7, 1963 (tape 114/A50, President’s Office Files, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston)

“Do you see a situation where we might be-find it desirable to intervene militarily ourselves?” John F. Kennedy’s question to his ambassador to Brazil, Lincoln Gordon, reflected the growing concerns that a coup attempt against Goulart might need U.S. support to succeed, especially if it triggered an outbreak of fighting or even civil war. This tape, parts of which were recently publicized by Brazilian journalist Elio Gaspari, has been significantly transcribed by James G. Hershberg (with assistance from Marc Selverstone) and published here for the first time. It captured JFK, Gordon, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara and other top officials concluding that the prospect of an impending move to terminate Goulart’s stay in office (long before his term was supposed to come to an end more than two years later) required an acceleration of serious U.S. military contingency planning as well as intense efforts to ascertain the balance between military forces hostile and friendly to the current government. In his lengthy analysis of the situation, Gordon — who put the odds at 50-50 that Goulart would be gone, one way or another, by early 1964 — outlined alternative scenarios for future developments, ranging from Goulart’s peaceful early departure (“a very good thing for both Brazil and Brazilian-American relations”), perhaps eased out by military pressure, to a possible sharp Goulart move to the left, which could trigger a violent struggle to determine who would rule the country. Should a military coup seize power, Gordon clearly did not want U.S. squeamishness about constitutional or democratic niceties to preclude supporting Goulart’s successors: “Do we suspend diplomatic relations, economic relations, aid, do we withdraw aid missions, and all this kind of thing — or do we somehow find a way of doing what we ought to do, which is to welcome this?” And should the outcome of the attempt to oust Goulart lead to a battle between military factions, Gordon urged study of military measures (such as providing fuel or ammunition, if requested) that Washington could take to assure a favorable outcome: “I would not want us to close our minds to the possibility of some kind of discreet intervention in such a case, which would help see the right side win.” On the tape, McNamara suggests, and JFK approves, accelerated work on contingency planning (“can we get it really pushed ahead?”). Even as U.S. officials in Brazil intensified their encouragement of anti-communist military figures, Kennedy cautioned that they should not burn their bridges with Goulart, which might give him an excuse to rally nationalist support behind an anti-Washington swerve to the left: Washington needed to continue “applying the screws on the [economic] aid” to Brazil, but “with some sensitivity.”

 

Document 10: State Department, Memorandum, “Embassy Contingency Plan,” Top Secret, November 22, 1963

Dated on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, this cover memo describes a new contingency plan from the U.S. Embassy in Brazil that places “heavy emphasis on U.S. armed intervention.” The actual plan has not been declassified.

 

Document 11: NSC, Memcon, “Brazil,” Top Secret, March 28, 1964

As the military prepared to move against Goulart, top CIA, NSC and State Department officials met to discuss how to support them. They evaluated a proposal, transmitted by Ambassador Gordon the previous day, calling for covert delivery of armaments and gasoline, as well as the positioning of a naval task force off the coast of Brazil. At this point, U.S. officials were not sure if or when the coup would take place, but made clear their interest in its success. “The shape of the problem,” according to National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, “is such that we should not be worrying that the military will react; we should be worrying that the military will not react.”

 

Document 12: U.S. Embassy, Brazil, Memo from Ambassador Gordon, Top Secret, March 29, 1964

Gordon transmitted a message for top national security officials justifying his requests for pre-positioning armaments that could be used by “para-military units” and calling for a “contingency commitment to overt military intervention” in Brazil. If the U.S. failed to act, Gordon warned, there was a “real danger of the defeat of democratic resistance and communization of Brazil.”

 

Document 13: Joint Chiefs of Staff, Cable, [Military attaché Vernon Walters Report on Coup Preparations], Secret, March 30, 1964

U.S. Army attaché Vernon Walters meets with the leading coup plotters and reports on their plans. “It had been decided to take action this week on a signal to be issued later.” Walters reported that he “expects to be aware beforehand of go signal and will report in consequence.”

 

Document 14 (mp3): White House Audio Tape, President Lyndon B. Johnson discussing the impending coup in Brazil with Undersecretary of State George Ball, March 31, 1964.

 

Document 15: White House, Memorandum, “Brazil,” Secret, April 1, 1964

As of 3:30 on April 1st, Ambassador Gordon reports that the coup is “95% over.” U.S. contingency planning for overt and covert supplies to the military were not necessary. General Castello Branco “has told us he doesn’t need our help. There was however no information about where Goulart had fled to after the army moved in on the palace.

 

Document 16: Central Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Cable, “Departure of Goulart from Porto Alegre for Montevideo,” Secret, April 2, 1964

CIA intelligence sources report that deposed president Joao Goulart has fled to Montevideo.

These materials are reproduced from http://www.nsarchive.org with the permission of the National Security Archive.

For more information contact:
James G. Hershberg, 202/302-5718
Peter Kornbluh, 202/374-7281
nsarchiv@gwu.edu

April 11, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

NATO/ISAF’s ‘parting gift’ to Afghan children

Interventions Watch | April 10, 2014

A new report from The Washington Post highlights the increasing number of Afghan children who are being killed by unexploded ordinance on abandoned NATO/ISAF firing ranges.

The report says that ‘of the casualties recorded by the United Nations, 88 percent were children’, with ‘most of the victims . . . taking their animals to graze, collecting firewood or searching for scrap metal’.

A bare minimum of 77 people have been killed in this fashion since 2012, but the number is likely higher.

This was the experience of a couple of Afghan families:

‘Last month, Jawad’s father, Sayed Sadeq, heard a boom and ran onto the range. He spotted his son’s bloodied torso.

“The left side of his body was torn up. I could see his heart. His legs were missing,” the father said.

One of the boys, it appeared, had stepped on a 40mm grenade, designed to kill anyone within five yards. Both teens died.

“If the Americans believe in human rights, how can they let this happen?” Sadeq said’.

‘Two months after his family moved to Bagram, Abdul Wakhil, 12, walked around the area looking for firewood and unknowingly entered the range. Thirty feet from the main road, he stepped on an explosive.

One of his legs was blown off. The other was amputated at a Kabul hospital.

He doesn’t have prosthetics or a wheelchair, so he has to be carried everywhere.

“What can he do without legs?” said his brother, Abdul Mateen, 25. “His future is hopeless.”

The Occupiers have promised to clean up the ranges, although some military officials have expressed doubt as to the feasibility of this, given a lack of manpower.

The article also states that ‘because Afghanistan is not a signatory to the U.N. Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, U.S. officials say they are not legally obligated to clear any of the unexploded ordnance’.

The Occupying powers have also ‘refused to construct fencing’ around the ranges, saying that this ‘would be prohibitively expensive and probably ineffective’.

Let us not forget that the life of an Afghan civilian can be worth as little as $210  to the Occupying forces, so paying the ‘compensation’ for any deaths could well turn out to be more cost effective than constructing thousands of square miles of  barriers (that grim calculus aside, Afghans losing access to tens of thousands of square miles of their own land, simply because the Occupiers wanted to use it to test the weapons which had previously been used to kill them with, would be a Kafkaesque injustice indeed).

But at this moment in time, it appears that even if – and that’s a big and very doubtful ‘if’ – the Occupying forces do completely withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, they will continue to kill and maim Afghan children long into the future.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Killer Drones in a Downward Spiral?

By Medea Benjamin and Kate Chandley | Dissident Voice | April 7, 2014

Illegal US drone strikes continue (the Long War Journal says there have been 8 drones strikes in Yemen so far in 2014), but efforts to curb the use of killer drones have made remarkable headway this year.

While the faith-based community has taken far too long to address the moral issues posed by remote-controlled killing, on February 13, the World Council of Churches — the largest coalition of Christian churches — came out in opposition to the use of armed drones. The Council said that the use of armed drones poses a “serious threat to humanity” and condemned, in particular, US drone strikes in Pakistan. This is a breakthrough in the religious community, and should make it easier for individual denominations to make similar pronouncements, as the Church of the Brethren has.

There have also been major developments in the secular world. In February, the European Union, with an overwhelming vote of 534-49, passed a resolution calling on EU Member States to “oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial targeted killings” and demanding that EU member states “do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states.” This resolution will pressure individual European nations to stop their own production and/or use of killer drones (especially the UK, Germany, Italy and France), and to stop their collaboration with the US drone program.

People on the receiving end of US drone strikes have also stepped up their opposition. On April 1, a group of friends and family of drone strike victims in Yemen came together to form the National Organization for Drone Victims. This is the first time anywhere that drone strike victims have created their own entity to support one another and seek redress. The organization plans to conduct its own investigations, focusing on the civilian impact of drone attacks. At the official launch, which was packed with press, the group said any government official supporting the US drones should be tried in a criminal court. “Today, we launch this new organization which will be the starting point for us to get justice and to take legal measures on a national and international scale against anyone who is aiding these crimes,” said the organization’s president Mohammad Ali al-Qawli, whose brother was killed in a drone strike.

The Pakistani government has taken its opposition to drone strikes directly to the UN Human Rights Council. Pakistan, with the co-sponsorship of Yemen, introduced a resolution calling for transparency in drone strikes and for setting up a committee of experts to address the legal issues. Despite the opposition of the United States, which boycotted the talks and lobbied to kill the resolution, it passed on March 24 by a vote of 27-6, with 14 abstentions. The panel of experts that will be convened is scheduled to present its findings at the UN Human Rights Council session in September 2014.

UN Special Rapporteur on Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, also used this session of the UN Human Rights Council to release a detailed report on the issue of drones. Emmerson examined 37 instances of drone strikes in which civilians were reportedly killed or injured and concluded that nations using drones must provide a “public explanation of the circumstances and a justification for the use of deadly force.” Emmerson said it was critical for the international community to reach a consensus on many issues presented by drones strikes, including state sovereignty and whether it is legal to target a hostile person in a non-belligerent state.

These new developments have come about due to increasing public scrutiny and protests against drone attacks, such as the ongoing protests at the Hancock, Beale, and Creech Air Force Bases, the headquarters of drone manufacturer General Atomics, the White House, CIA, Congress and the Pentagon. The entire month of April has been designated for Days of Action, with film showings, talks, die-ins, re-enactments of drone strikes and other creative actions happening throughout the country.

Activists opposing weaponized drones are pleased to finally see more movement at the international level, and hope this will result in heightened pressure on the Obama administration, both internationally and domestically, to stop its policy of targeted assassinations and instead adhere to the rule of law.

April 9, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

U.S. Argument Against Nuclear Abolition Profoundly Flawed

By Ira Helfand | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | April 8, 2014

Back in the 1980s there was a very, very widespread understanding of what was going to happen if there were a nuclear war. We’ve lost that understanding, by and large. Certainly, in the general population, there is very little understanding about what nuclear weapons can do or even how many there are in the world.

What is really quite new, I think, is the discovery in the last eight years, starting in 2006, that even a very limited use of nuclear weapons would cause a global catastrophe. In a war in which cities were targeted with nuclear weapons, perhaps as many as 20 million people would be killed in the first week directly from the explosions, from the firestorm, from the direct radiation. In all of World War II, about 50 million people died over eight years. This is 20 million people dying in the course of a single week.

Moreover, this limited use of nuclear weapons—far  less than half of a percent of the world’s nuclear arsenals—causes profound global climate disruption. Temperatures worldwide drop about 1.3 degrees centigrade and this effect lasts for about a decade. As a result of that, there would also be a very significant disruption of global precipitation patterns. And as a result of these combined effects, there would be a very profound impact on food production. We issued a report in April of 2012 suggesting that up to a billion people worldwide could die of famine. Since then, new data shows that there will be widespread hunger in China as well – another 1.3 billion people at risk.

We have never had an event like this in human history where anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the human population dies over the course of a decade. And this is a real possibility in the event of a war between India and Pakistan, which is itself a real possibility.

The effects of a large-scale war dwarf even these horrors. If only 300 warheads in the Russian arsenal detonated over targets in American urban areas, between 75 and a hundred million people would be dead in the first 30 minutes, and a U.S. counterattack on Russia would cause the same kind of destruction. In addition to killing this many people in half an hour, this attack would also completely destroy the economic infrastructure of this country.

But again, as mind-boggling as this kind of direct toll is, it is not the worst part of the story because a war between the United States and Russia also causes profound climate disruption. A hundred small warheads in South Asia put 5 million tons of debris into the upper atmosphere and dropped global temperatures 1.3 degrees centigrade. A war between the United States and Russia, using only those weapons that are still allowed when New START is fully implemented in 2017 – that war puts 150 million tons of debris into the atmosphere, and it drops global temperatures 8 degrees centigrade on average.  In the interior regions of Eurasia and North America, the temperature decline is 25 to 30 degrees centigrade. We have not seen temperatures on this planet that cold in 18,000 years, since the coldest moment of the last ice age.  In the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere, there would be three years without a single day free of frost.  Temperature goes below freezing at some point every single day for three years. And that means there is no agriculture, there is no food production. Most of the ecosystems in this zone collapse. The vast majority of the human race starves to death, and it is possible that we become extinct as a species.

Now, if that is the starting point of the conversation, the next thing that flows from that is these weapons cannot exist. We know that there is a real and finite possibility every day that they will be used. And if that is true, then it is simply a matter of time until they actually are used, and that means they cannot be allowed to exist. And that is a very different starting point than where we are in the current conversation about disarmament. And that’s why this argument, I think, has become so powerful.

The plans of the nuclear weapon states to maintain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely are simply unacceptable, and we need a fundamentally different new approach. They say that politics is the art of the possible. Statesmanship, I think, is clearly the art of the necessary. And it is time that we ask our leaders to act like statesmen, not like politicians. It’s time that we demand that behavior of them. And I think that’s what this whole movement is about at this point. It is calling the nuclear weapons states, saying that we will not accept their behavior anymore, and demanding that they change.

So the question becomes, how do we move the process forward? Well, people could just abandon the NPT, or they could try to engage in some kind of productive international diplomatic initiative to achieve the stated goals of the NPT, which is the elimination of nuclear weapons. And I think the people who have been advocating for a convention to ban nuclear weapons understand this is not the end stage; this is a way of trying to move the ball down the field, of trying to put some pressure on those nuclear weapon states that are using the NPT process, frankly, to preserve their nuclear monopoly. And there’s just no patience left in this idea of acceptable nuclear apartheid.

The nuclear-weapon states can’t have it both ways. They can’t say “it’s OK for us to have nuclear weapons because we’re never going to use them” on the one hand, and on the other hand say “our policy is based on deterrence. For deterrence to work, we have to convince people that we will use them.” You just can’t do this. It’s one or the other. You can’t say we’re never going to use nuclear weapons and then talk about the circumstances in which we can use them legitimately and safely and without it being a humanitarian disaster. Either you’re going to say that you’re never going to use them, or you’re going to say that you are going to use them. And if you’re going to say that you are going to use them, then if it’s OK for the U.S. to use them and to have them so we can use them, then how can you tell the rest of the world that they can’t? And the fact of the matter is, we have lost that argument. The rest of the world rejects that—and rightly so—because the argument is profoundly flawed.

The nuclear ban treaty that’s been proposed is a political tool to try to create pressure to get to a nuclear weapons convention. What has been proposed is a treaty that bans not just use, but also possession, to make the point that these weapons should not be maintained, even when countries say they’re never going to use them, because of the very clear fact that the countries that say they’re never going to use them in fact do have plans for using them. If this administration in the United States, which is so allergic to the idea of a ban treaty, put forward any significant initiative at this point, I think we would all rally behind it. A ban treaty really does move things forward in a very dramatic way and I would encourage people to support that, but I think if other ideas come forward, you know, it’s fine – whatever moves the ball forward. We’ve just got to get some movement in the right direction and we’re not getting it right now.

The humanitarian message, I think, is the key.  The thing that motivated Gorbachev, according to his memoirs, to take the initiatives which he took in the 1980s were the conversations he had with physicians from my organization, in which they explained to him what was going to happen if the weapons were used.  And remarkably, as the head of a nuclear power, he didn’t fully understand what was going to happen if a nuclear war took place. The same is true of most of the leaders of the nuclear weapons states today.

On March 31, IPPNW co-president Ira Helfand participated in a roundtable discussion on the NPT and the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, co-sponsored by the Arms Control Association and IPPNW’s US affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility. This article is adapted from Dr. Helfand’s remarks. A complete transcript, including presentations by Ambassador Desra Percaya, Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations; Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, Senior Research Associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies; and George Perkovich, Director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is available at the Arms Control Association website.

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Russia wants answers on NATO troop movement in Eastern Europe

RT | April 3, 2014

Russia expects detailed explanations from NATO regarding expanding its military presence in Eastern Europe, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The statement comes after the NATO bloc announced boosting its military presence in the area.

“We have addressed questions to the North Atlantic military alliance. We are not only expecting answers, but answers that will be based fully on respect for the rules we agreed on,” Lavrov told reports at a joint briefing with Kazakhstan’s FM Yerlan Idrisov.

However, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he had not received any questions from Moscow. In response he called Russian accusations about NATO’s actions “propaganda and disinformation.”

He denied that NATO was violating the 1997 treaty on NATO-Russian cooperation by boosting its forces in Eastern Europe.

The accusations by Russia, he said, are based “on a wrong interpretation” of a fundamental act of the 1997 treaty on NATO-Russian cooperation, in which NATO vowed to provide collective defense by using reinforcements rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces at regular bases.

Lavrov’s statement came after the NATO chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the bloc will deploy more troops to Eastern Europe. According to him, NATO is considering “revised operational plans, military maneuvers and adequate troop reinforcements.” This military buildup was approved by many eastern European countries. On April 1, Polish PM Donald Tusk praised the NATO presence in the country.

After the announcement of deploying troops in Ukraine, NATO also said that it is suspending all military and civilian cooperation with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, a move that was immediately blasted by Moscow who said that neither Russia, not NATO would benefit from such a step. Russia called this move reminiscent of Cold War language.

Lavrov also called upon the world’s powers to abide by the rules of the Montreux Convention, which allows a warship of any non-Black Sea country to stay in the region for only 21 day.

“US warships have recently extended their presence in the Black Sea several times,” he said, “This extension didn’t always obey the rules of the Montreux Convention.”

The statement comes after the USS Truxtun destroyer started a military exercises in March with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies a few hundred miles from Russian forces of the Black Sea Fleet.

Meanwhile, Lavrov also responded to Western criticism over the presence of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, saying that the EU and Kiev should not stir up a conflict surrounding Russian drills launched in the south of the country.

According to the Russian FM, Russia had the right to move forces on its territory, and furthermore the troops would return to their permanent bases after completing military exercises.

“There are no restrictions on Russia’s troop displacement on Russian territory,” he said.

In March, Russia’s Defense Ministry launched artillery drills in the southern military district, which involved some 8,500 troops and a large amount of hardware. It coincided with war games conducted by the country’s Airborne Troops.

Although Russia has repeatedly denied any troop build-up on the borders with Ukraine, as well as plans to send any troops into Ukraine, the West has been turning a deaf ear to the claims.

Lavrov also commented on the crisis situation in Ukraine, saying that all its regions should be taking part in the constitutional process.

“We are all convinced that constitutional reform should be proper, not “cosmetic,” it is necessary to stabilize the situation in Ukraine and overcome the crisis,” he added.

According to Lavrov, it is necessary to remind the Ukrainian authorities that constitutional reform was written in the February-21 agreement on the crisis settlement, which was signed by ousted president Yanukovich and opposition leaders, including Arseny Yatsenyuk and Vladimir Klitschko, on ending the political crisis in the country. The agreement was witnessed by EU foreign ministers from Germany and Poland.

April 3, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

9/11 and other lies

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts | Press TV | April 3, 2014

Disinformation succeeds because so many people and interest groups across the political spectrum find that it serves their agendas as well as the agenda of the government. Consider for example the explanation of 9/11 that blamed Muslim terrorists for the attack.

This served the interests of the neoconservatives, the private armaments companies, the US military, the private security companies, government security agencies such as the CIA, the left-wing, the right-wing, the Israel Lobby, and the print and TV media.

The official explanation gave the neoconservatives the “new Pearl Harbor” that they needed for their program of invasions of Middle Eastern countries. The private armaments companies could look forward to decades of high profits. Wars always bring the military rapid promotions and higher retirement benefits. Private manufacturers of security equipment and spyware enjoy a rising demand for their products and have grown fat from the products sold to the TSA and NSA. Homeland Security has vastly expanded the federal workforce and administrative positions. The left-wing has proof of “blowback” caused by US interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The right-wing has proof that America has enemies against whom defense at all costs is necessary. The Israel Lobby has the US to overthrow the regimes in the way of Israel’s territorial expansion. The media has the story of the century with which to boost ratings and curry the favor of government.

These are formidable interests arrayed against the mere obvious truth, obvious, that is, to any educated person. The 2,100 Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth have no vested interest in any explanation of 9/11. Indeed, they are harmed by disproving, as they have done, the government’s explanation. None of them will ever again get a government contract, and many of their former clients have turned their backs on “those damn anti-Americans who don’t believe their own government!” Cass Sunstein, a Chicago and Harvard law professor who sold out his integrity, if any, to the Obama regime by accepting an appointment and arguing that the federal government should infiltrate the 9/11 truth movement with agents and set-up truth-tellers so that they could be discredited, possibly even prodding them into actions for which they could be arrested.

In other words, the government’s story cannot stand the light cast by the facts and independent experts, and the government’s false story must be protected by shutting down the truth-telling experts. The government, Sunstein argued, needs to either gain control over these experts or to shut them down.

Just as many different collections of interest groups and people have stakes in the Obama regime’s story of the killing of Osama bin Laden by US Navy SEALS in Abbottabad, Pakistan. This story and its selling by an enthusiastic media guaranteed Obama’s reelection. It served the emotions of super patriots desperate for revenge who wear their gullibility on their sleeves. It served the myth of CIA and NSA prowess. It served the reputation of the killing power of US Special Forces teams. It proved that America won even though it lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the trillions of dollars spent were worth it. We got revenge on the guy who did 9/11.

No one remembered that the US government, unable to find bin Laden for 10 years, had settled on a different “9/11 mastermind,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and had him water-boarded 183 times until he confessed to being responsible for 9/11.

If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z,” why were SEALS sent, illegally, into Pakistan to murder bin Laden? As the FBI says, there is no evidence that bin Laden is responsible for 9/11. That is why bin Laden was not wanted on that charge by the FBI, as the FBI publicly stated.

How was bin Laden, who was known in 2001 to be suffering from terminal illnesses, including renal failure, and whose death was widely reported in 2001 still alive ten years later to be murdered by SEALs?

What sense does it make that the greatest terrorist leader of our time only had two unarmed women to protect him. What sense does it make that the US would murder the terrorist mastermind with all the plots in his head instead of capturing and questioning him? How can anyone be so gullible as to believe such a nonsense tale as told to them by Obama and the presstitute media? Is America really a nation of utter fools?

Like the 9/11 story, the story of bin Laden’s murder is losing credibility with the US population. Pakistani National TV shot Obama’s story down with an eyewitness interview that reported that not one single person, dead body, or any piece of evidence left Abbottadad, because the only helicopter that landed blew up when it attempted to leave and there were no survivors. No other helicopters landed. So there was no dead bin Laden to be buried at sea (there are no known witnesses to the alleged burial) and no photographs of a dead bin Laden.

Yet the nonexistent photos of a dead bin Laden have now emerged in controversy. Allegedly, the US government had photos of bin Laden’s corpse after he was blown away by trigger-happy SEALs who didn’t have enough sense to keep the “mastermind” alive for questioning. The tough macho SEALs were so threatened by two unarmed women that they just opened fire.

Judicial Watch has been trying to pry the (nonexistent) photos of a dead bin Laden from the government’s hands. For “national security reasons” the US government does not want anyone to see evidence that supports its far-fetched tale of bin Laden’s murder. The photographic evidence of a successful raid are off limits. They are like the alleged videos of the airliner hitting the Pentagon that we are not permitted to see for “national security reasons.”

In other words, the photos and videos do not exist and never did. No government, not even the American one, would be so totally stupid as to withhold the evidence for its claims.

The government, seeing its unbelievable stories lose believability at home and abroad used Judicial Watch’s lawsuit to boost the credibility of its story. Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the photos that the Obama regime alleged to have of the murdered bin Laden but refused to release. Obviously, the government has no such photos and never had any such photos. But the government does not need evidence when it can rely on the gullibility of the American people.

As the government had no photos to release, the US government decided to use the opportunity presented by Judicial Watch to bolster its story that photos of bin Laden murdered and dead were once in its possession. The government released to Judicial Watch a document under the Freedom of Information Act that is an order from Special Operations Commander Admiral William McRaven to “destroy immediately” the photos of the dead bin Laden.

Judicial Watch took the bait. Instead of realizing that there was no reason whatsoever for the government to destroy the only evidence that might support its claim to have murdered bin Laden, Judicial Watch focused on the illegality of destroying the evidence.

Judicial Watch says that “Federal law contains broad prohibitions against the ‘concealment, removal, or mutilation generally’ of government records.”

Judicial Watch played into the government’s hands. Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton was maneuvered by the government into defining the scandal as the destruction of evidence, “revealing both contempt for the rule of law and the American people’s right to know.” To the contrary, the real scandal is the massive lie that bin Laden was killed by a SEAL raid and the acceptance of this lie by the American people and Judicial Watch.

By damning the government for destroying evidence, Judicial Watch has given credibility to the government’s claim that SEALs murdered Osama bin Laden.

The SEAL team credited with bin Laden’s murder was quickly eliminated when the team was loaded onto a 1960s vintage helicopter in Afghanistan. Apparently the team members were asking one another, “Were you on that mission that killed bin Laden?” Of course, no one was, and this information was too dangerous for the Obama regime.

April 3, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

A 15-Year Murder Spree

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | April 3, 2014

“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.

April 3, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

US seeks to boost troops at Black Sea base: Romania

Press TV – April 1, 2014

Romania says the United States wants to boost its military presence in the eastern European country amid tensions in neighboring Ukraine.

Romanian President Traian Basescu said on Tuesday that Washington has asked to increase the number of its troops and aircraft at a Black Sea airbase in eastern Romania.

“The US Embassy in Bucharest has asked for support from Romanian authorities to expand current operations at the Mihail Kogalniceanu base,” Basescu said in a letter to the speaker of Romania’s lower house of parliament.

Political analysts believe the move is part of NATO’s efforts to increase its military presence in Eastern Europe.

Basescu also said the US has decided to add up to 600 troops to the 1,000 forces currently positioned in the country.

The Pentagon also wants to station military aircraft used for specific missions at the airbase, which is a major hub for US forces and equipment leaving Afghanistan and northern Iraq.

The US has used the air base, just a few hundred kilometers away from Russia’s Crimea region, since 1999.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers of NATO member states held a meeting in Brussels to discuss steps to reinforce the security of member states in Eastern Europe following Crimea’s reunion with Russia.

Tensions between the Western powers and Moscow heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16, in which nearly 97 percent of voters in Crimea chose to rejoin Russia.

On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law documents that officially made the Black Sea peninsula part of the Russian territory despite condemnation from the West and the new Ukrainian government.

The move sparked angry reactions from the US and the European Union, both imposing punitive measures against a number of Russian officials and authorities in Crimea.

April 2, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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