The Economist’s Bello column this week has a column entitled “Memory is not history“, which argues that “there are dangers [in South America’s] intellectual fashion for “historical memory”.” It goes on to accuse “the left” of “rewriting history” – in fact, of imposing “memory” over an accurate “history”.
I would argue that the piece contains several important distortions, aside from trying to lump together a region from Colombia down to the Southern Cone.
The historical truth silenced by “memory” is that the cold war in Latin America was fought by two equally authoritarian sides.
But it was not. To take the example of Argentina, yes, there were Montoneros and there were incidences of left-wing violence before the 1976 coup. But to suggest that the small leftist group, which was largely destroyed before the military took power, was in any way equivalent to the forces of the State is very far off the mark.
The Economist points out that some human rights groups in Argentina tend to use the figure of 30,000 disappeared and it contrasts this with the nearly 9,000 victims recorded by the CONADEP commission. It is inaccurate and unfair to use the CONADEP list to undermine estimates of the disappeared, and I explained why in detail years ago. See also here for more on the numbers.
None of this mitigates the inexcusable barbarity of Pinochet or of the Argentine junta.
The problem is that it does. You can’t equate State terrorists with their victims, suggest that calculations of the disappeared are deliberately inflated, and then claim that you’re not weakening the accounts of the dictatorships’ crimes.
Memorials are a shorthand, yes. You can’t include the whole complexities of a country’s experiences on a plaque. Memory, in its wider sense, tends to include the testimonies of victims and relatives and it encompasses a whole range of commemorative acts, both formal and informal. Pulling out the memory/history dichotomy and reiterating the dos demonios theory (“each side was as bad as the other”) is a means of obscuring human rights abuses and seeking to paper over the crimes of the past.
Eugene V. Debs nearly 100 years ago was a political prisoner in the United States for the “crime” of opposing the United States government’s participation in World War I and conscription of people to fight in that war. In March of 1919, the US Supreme Court, pointing to the Espionage Act of 1917 for justification, upheld Debs’ conviction by a trial jury and ten-year prison sentence for making antiwar comments in a June 16, 1918 Canton, Ohio speech.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote the Supreme Court’s short Debs v. United States opinion that upheld the conviction and ten-year prison sentence of Debs for two charges that Holmes described as follows:
This is an indictment under the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917… It has been cut down to two counts, originally the third and fourth. The former of these alleges that on or about June 16, 1918, at Canton, Ohio, the defendant caused and incited and attempted to cause and incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States and with intent so to do delivered, to an assembly of people, a public speech, set forth. The fourth count alleges that he obstructed and attempted to obstruct the recruiting and enlistment service of the United States and to that end and with that intent delivered the same speech, again set forth.
In effect, Debs was incarcerated for exercising his right to free speech regarding two political matters — the US government choosing to participate in World War I and the US government using the draft to help fight that war. One may expect the justices to have reread the First Amendment to the US Constitution and promptly overturned Debs’ conviction. However, Holmes explains that a prior Supreme Court decision had already settled the inapplicability of Debs’ First Amendment defense.
The prior Supreme Court decision, announced just seven days earlier, was for the case Schenck v. United States. The Supreme Court’s Schenck opinion allowed Holmes in the Debs opinion to bypass offering ridiculous contortions of logic to justify throwing a prominent labor and political leader in prison for criticizing the heart of the US government’s war policy. Instead, Holmes could just summarily deem Debs’ conviction and sentence constitutional and legitimate based on precedent. Here is how Holmes, again writing for the Supreme Court, argued in the court’s Schenck opinion that a flier opposing the draft was not protected under the First Amendment:
We admit that, in many places and in ordinary times, the defendants, in saying all that was said in the circular, would have been within their constitutional rights. But the character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done. Aikens v. Wisconsin, 195 U.S. 194, 205, 206. The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 439. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree. When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.
So there you have it: the First Amendment protects your free speech so long as that speech cannot affect US government policy, or at least so long as your free speech cannot pose a serious threat to something the Supreme Court thinks it is very important to promote, such as the US government participating in World War I and forcing Americans to fight in that war.
Debs was an eloquent opponent of this war, and for that, coupled with his prominence in American labor and politics, he was imprisoned.
In addition to his labor union activities, Debs had run four times as the Socialist Party nominee for US president before his conviction, winning more votes each time. In his last pre-imprisonment run in 1912, Debs won over 900,000 votes — 6.0% nationwide.
In 1920, while serving his prison term, Debs again ran for president, winning a few thousand more votes than in 1912 and 3.4% nationwide.
Debs knew his June 16, 1918 Canton, Ohio speech — despite his care in presenting the speech such that it would comply with US government speech restrictions — could lead to his imprisonment. Indeed, in his speech, Debs talks of other individuals who had been imprisoned for the “crime” of exercising their right to free speech. Debs explains near the beginning of the speech why he spoke anyway:
I realize that, in speaking to you this afternoon, there are certain limitations placed upon the right of free speech. I must be exceedingly careful, prudent, as to what I say, and even more careful and prudent as to how I say it. I may not be able to say all I think; but I am not going to say anything that I do not think. I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets.
Debs’ complete speech may be read here.
Watch here actor Mark Ruffalo present a reading of some excerpts concerning war from the speech:
When placed in the proper context, recent events in Ukraine emerge as part of a pattern of “silent coups” typical of the era of President Barack Obama in which “regime change” is disguised as “democracy promotion” but actually overturns democratically elected leaders.
The Ukrainian coup unfolded in three stages: the establishment of the justification for the coup, the coup itself, and the exploitation of the coup to move Ukraine into the American sphere. All three stages bear the Obama administration’s fingerprint of looking like democracy even as the democratic will of a population is negated and reversed.
These modern coups are unlike the classic military coups executed by earlier U.S. presidents, such as those that removed Mossadeq in Iran in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 and Allende in Chile in 1973. Nor are they like President George W. Bush’s “regime change” involving overt U.S. invasions. The Ukrainian coup was so disguised as to be unrecognizable as a coup. The Obama-era coups require no tanks and few guns. They usually don the trappings of “pro-democracy” domestic protests.
The first stage establishes the justification for the coup. It pretends to be the expression of the public will through mass democratic expression in the streets. But it actually amplifies the voice of a disaffected and defeated minority. This pattern under President Obama took shape in the streets of Tehran in 2009 after the people of Iran made the mistake of once again choosing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as their president – not the choice America wanted, so the choice had to be changed.
Next, the complaints of the U.S.-desired but defeated Hossein Mousavi and his Green Movement were picked up and amplified by the West, claiming that the election had been fraudulent, justifying a popular uprising for “regime change.” Except that the result hadn’t been forced on the people.
Despite frequent promises to furnish evidence and despite frequent opportunities to do so, Mousavi never delivered the case for electoral theft. And, as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself pointed out, this was no narrow victory where the rigging of a few votes or even a few hundred thousand votes could steal a victory. “How can they rig eleven million votes?” the Ayatollah asked of an election that got about an 85 percent turnout and saw 40 million people cast ballots.
But it is not just the titanic challenge of moving millions of votes from one side of the electoral ledger to the other. The polls, both before and after the election, continually showed that the votes were always there for Ahmadinejad. Former U.S. national security officials Flynt Leverett and Hilary Mann Leverett have documented that 14 methodologically sound polls — run externally by experienced Canadian and American polling organizations and internally by the University of Tehran — demonstrated the predictability, reasonableness and legitimacy of Ahmadinejad’s 62.5 percent vote total.
On election night, the University of Tehran’s polls showed Ahmadinejad vacuuming up 57 percent of the vote. In post-election polls, between 55 percent and 66 percent of voters said they had voted for Ahmadinejad (who had a strong base of support among poorer Iranians and especially among rural voters whose opinions were less noticeable to the Western press).
The Western refusal to recognize the democratically elected Ahmadinejad coupled with the credence and amplification that America gave to the exaggeratedly popular Green Movement created the umbrella under which Mousavi’s movement could take to the streets and attempt the removal of a regime unwanted by Washington.
Such a coup-in-disguise exploits one of the potential troubles with democracy. It is the nature of democracy that the majority of people, not the unanimity of people, get to select the government. Even if a government wins a convincing 62.5 percent of the vote, that leaves a sometimes dissatisfied 37.5 percent of the people to take to the streets.
In a large country like Iran, where 40 million people voted, that translates into 15 million people who can take to the streets. When picked up by a sympathetic Western media, protests by even a fraction of those numbers can create the appearance of a mass social movement that justifies supporting what appears to be a popular demand for a change in regime. A “pro-democracy” social movement is born.
In Iran, a group that could not change the government through the democratic electoral process appeared to make a strong “democratic” case to change the government through social pressure. A mass minority protesting in the streets produced a cry heard more loudly around the world than a silent majority in a secret polling booth. It was still the minority, but – in such cases – “democracy” can be wielded as a weapon against democracy. If you can’t bring about the government you want in the polls, bring it about in the streets.
This Iran experiment of legitimizing a coup by transforming the minority, which failed to democratically change the government at the polls, into a mass movement expressing the “public will” to change the government in the streets fell short of its goal although creating a widespread impression in the West that Ahmadinejad’s reelection was illegitimate.
Other ‘Silent Coup’ Attempts
Four years later, a similar silent coup attempt appeared in the streets of Venezuela. With the death of Hugo Chavez, America saw the opportunity for the first time since 1988 to have a leader elected in Venezuela who did not insist on his country’s autonomy from the U.S. But, to America’s dismay, the people voted to continue the Bolivarian Revolution by electing Chavez’s chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro.
The Western media lens immediately focused not on the election of Maduro and Chavez’s party but on the claims of fraud issued by Maduro’s opponent (and Washington’s choice) Henrique Capriles. Despite Maduro agreeing to an audit of the voting machines, despite Capriles never filing his legal charges, despite 150 electoral monitors from around the world – including the Carter Center – certifying the election as fair and despite recognition by every other country in the world, the U.S. State Department continued not to recognize the Maduro government and continued to call for a recount and review.
When Capriles called his democratically defeated supporters to the streets, the Western media lens, as in Iran four years earlier, focused on and amplified the protests. As with Iran, Washington’s refusal to recognize the elected government and the U.S. legitimization of the protests provided cover to the opposition while it attempted to overturn the election results and overthrow the elected government.
Once again, “democracy promotion” was wielded as a weapon against democracy. Yet, in Venezuela, the experiment failed again, as it may have in Turkey and Brazil where Washington also looked with disfavor on the election outcomes.
In Brazil, Lula da Silva won 61.3 percent of the vote in 2002 and 60.83 percent in 2006. In the most recent election, in 2010, Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, won a majority 56.05 percent of the vote. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, far from declining in popularity, had seen his government’s actions rewarded with increasing voter support: 34 percent in 2002, 46.66 percent in 2007 and 49.83 percent in 2011. Nevertheless, in both countries, the defeated minorities took to the streets to attempt what they could not achieve in the polls.
This silent coup technique would prove more successful in Egypt where the democratically elected Mohamed Morsi would be removed from office not by democracy and the ballot box but, at least in part, by the defeated minority walking out of the polls and into the streets. “Democracy promotion” protests in Cairo and elsewhere set the stage for Morsi’s ouster by the Egyptian military.
The Ukrainian ‘Success’
The first stage of the Ukrainian coup — the establishment of a justification for the coup — fits this same pattern. As Seamus Milne said in the Guardian, the protest in the streets of Ukraine was “played out through the western media according to a well-rehearsed script. Pro-democracy campaigners are battling an authoritarian government.” But, he adds: “it bears only the sketchiest relationship to reality.”
Though President Viktor Yanukovych is often portrayed in the Western media as a dictator who was flown in by Russia, the man the protestors were trying to remove on the streets was elected in 2010 by a plurality of 48.9 percent of the people in elections declared fair by international observers.
So this was not a mass “pro-democracy” movement ousting an unelected dictator. As in Iran, Venezuela and Egypt, this was the case of the losers of the last election trying to reverse those results by going into the streets. But, to make the script work, Western governments and media alter the roles and turn the democratically elected president into the undemocratic one and the opposition into the democracy.
Thus, the West cooperated in the de-legitimization of the elected government of Ukraine and the legitimization of a coup. Such a silent coup is made to appear “democratic” by making it look like a heroic “peoples” movement arising spontaneously from the street.
Having legitimized the cause of the coup-makers, the second stage is the silent coup itself. In this stage, the silent coup is disguised as the shuffling of the legal and constitutional workings of a nation’s parliament. Once again, the coup is executed by wielding “democracy” as the chief weapon.
This aspect of the silent coup – making it appear as simply a discontented population leading to a dispute among constitutional institutions – was developed and perfected in Latin America. During Obama’s presidency, it first appeared in Honduras where democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya was whisked out of the country in a kidnapping at gunpoint that was dressed up as a constitutional obligation because Zelaya had announced a plebiscite to determine whether Hondurans wanted to draft a new constitution (since the old one favored the privileged oligarchy).
The political establishment – hostile to Zelaya’s proposal – falsely translated his announcement into an unconstitutional intention to seek reelection. The ability to stand for a second term would have been considered in the constitutional discussions, but was never announced as an intention by Zelaya.
The Honduran Supreme Court declared the President’s plebiscite unconstitutional; the military kidnapped Zelaya; and the Supreme Court charged Zelaya with treason and declared a new president. In other words, it was a coup in constitutional disguise. As American diplomatic cables made clear, the U.S. State Department knew the change in regime was a coup cloaked in the costume of a constitutional act. (Nevertheless, the result of the coup was supported by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.)
The second appearance of this coup pattern occurred in Paraguay when the right-wing Frederico Franco took the presidency from democratically elected, left-leaning Fernando Lugo in a replay of the parliamentary coup. As in Honduras, a coup was made to look like a constitutional transition.
The right-wing opposition opportunistically capitalized on a skirmish over disputed land that left at least 11 people dead to unfairly blame the deaths on President Lugo. It then impeached him after giving him only 24 hours to prepare his defense and only two hours to deliver it. Embassy cables again show that the U.S. was prepared to permit this kind of coup.
The Ukrainian coup is the third incarnation of this pattern of silent coup during the Obama administration. The coup that removed Viktor Yanukovych was disguised to appear as the workings of parliamentary democracy (after street protests in Kiev – supported by U.S. officials – and violent clashes between police and demonstrators created a crisis atmosphere).
With the clashes growing more intense, the parliamentary process that removed the democratically elected leader of Ukraine had three phases. In Act I, after Yanukovych had reached an agreement guaranteed by three European nations to accept reduced powers and to call early elections so he could be voted out of office, government security forces withdrew from the streets leaving public buildings unguarded. That allowed protesters to take control.
In Act II, the opposition made sure that it had the numbers and the strength to take over the parliament by pouncing when, according to the UK Guardian, “many of the MPs for southern and eastern Ukraine were absent from the session. Instead they were at a pre-scheduled congress of regional politicians in Kharkiv” and by intimidating those who remained who were loyal to Yanukovych.
Journalist Robert Parry wrote that neo-Nazi right-wing protesters occupied the government buildings “and forced Yanukovych and many of his allies to flee for their lives.”
In Act III, political parties that held just a minority of the Ukrainian parliament — mostly from the west — dismissed Yanukovych, favorably altered the constitution and formed a new government and began passing new laws often unanimously under intimidation. Parry wrote that “With Yanukovych and many of his supporters fleeing for their lives, the opposition parties seized control of parliament and began passing draconian new laws . . . as neo-Nazi thugs patrolled the scene” – a coup in constitutional disguise.
So, what was really a coup was made to look, as in Honduras and Paraguay, like the legitimate democratic actions of the parliament.
Creating a Pretext
The original issue used as a pretext for the coup was Yanukovych’s abandonment of an economic alliance with the European Union in favor of an economic alliance with Russia. But polls clearly demonstrate that the numbers on each side of the choice paralleled the numbers in the 2010 election: a nearly even split. So, the side that took over in the streets and in the parliament was the same side that lost in the 2010 election and did not represent a democratic change of the people.
As in Honduras and Paraguay, the silent coup in parliamentary disguise was assisted by the West. The trigger for the coup was consistently presented in the West as Yanukovych simply abandoning the E.U. in favor of Russia. But the West pushed him into a situation that made the crisis inevitable.
According to Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies at Princeton, “it was the European Union, backed by Washington, that said in November to the democratically elected President of a profoundly divided country, Ukraine, ‘You must choose between Europe and Russia’.” Cohen added that Washington and the E.U. rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer of collaboration for the E.U., America and Russia all to help Ukraine without forcing it to choose.
Having said that Yanukovych must choose one or the other, the West then made it impossible for him to choose the West. Robert Parry reported that the E.U. was “demanding substantial economic ‘reforms,’ including an austerity plan dictated by the International Monetary Fund.” Russia, however, offered $15 billion in loans without such demands.
And in addition to the austerity measures, Cohen added that the E.U. proposal also “included ‘security policy’ provisions . . . that would apparently subordinate Ukraine to NATO.” The provisions compelled Ukraine to “adhere to Europe’s ‘military and security’ policies.”
In effect, the West forced Yanukovych to choose Russia, thus setting the stage for the violent protests in the street. The U.S. government then protected and nurtured those protests. Both Sen. John McCain and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Victoria Nuland publicly endorsed and supported the protesters’ undemocratic demand for regime change.
Washington then provided cover and legitimacy to the violent movement in the street by condemning not the protesters’ fire bombs and other acts of violence but the police response. And America did more than rhetorically support the protest: it helped finance the disruptions.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was created by Ronald Reagan in 1983 to, according to Robert Parry, “promote political action and psychological warfare against targeted states.” Allen Weinstein, its original project director, said in 1991 that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the C.I.A.”
Parry reported that the U.S.-government-funded NED listed a staggering 65 projects that it funded inside Ukraine, creating “a shadow political structure of media and activist groups that could be deployed to stir up unrest when the Ukrainian government didn’t act as desired.” (In a September 2013, op-ed in the Washington Post, NED President Carl Gershman had referred to Ukraine as “the biggest prize.”)
In other words, NED money financed projects that helped drive the coup, but there was apparently much more U.S. money than what NED supplied. In December 2013, Victoria Nuland told an audience at the Ukraine Foundation Conference that the U.S. had invested over $5 billion in a “democratic Ukraine.”
But Nuland said more than that. She accidentally revealed the American handwriting on the Ukrainian coup script. In an intercepted phone call that was made public, she was caught plotting who the Americans wanted to be the winner of the regime change. She told the American ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, that Arseniy Yatsenyuk was America’s choice to replace Yanukovych (and he did).
Pyatt also refers to the West needing to “midwife this thing,” a metaphorical admission of America’s role in the coup. At one point, Nuland even seems to say that Vice President Joe Biden, himself, would be willing to do the midwifery.
The Third Stage
Having made what was clearly a coup appear to be the legitimate shuffling of parliamentary democracy, the new government was ripe to advance to the third stage: moving Ukraine into the American sphere. Like the silent justification of the coup and the silent coup in constitutional disguise, the moving of Ukraine into the American sphere was a silent takeover: no invasion necessary.
The new government formally asked to ally itself with the patrons who helped place it in power in the first place. On Aug. 29, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk—the very man Victoria Nuland was caught naming as America’s choice to replace Yanukovych – announced that his cabinet had approved a bill putting an end to Ukraine’s non-aligned status that would pave the way for “resumption of Ukraine’s course for NATO membership.” The bill will now be sent on to parliament.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen responded immediately to Yatsenyuk’s announcement by reminding the world of NATOs 2008 decision that Ukraine would become a member of NATO if it so wanted and added that NATO would “fully respect” Ukraine’s intention to join.
So the silent coup had set the stage for the silent takeover of Ukraine by the West, as Ukraine slides out of Russia’s orbit and into NATO’s, a hostile takeover of a country in democratic disguise.
On its own, the Ukrainian intervention clearly has the markings of a U.S.-backed coup. But, removed from isolation and placed into the context of other coups and attempted coups that have taken place during Obama’s presidency, the Ukrainian coup can be seen to be the culmination of a pattern of coups made to look not like coups but like the admirable exercise of “democracy.”
Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in U.S. foreign policy and history.
In the true spirit of capitalism, I’ve identified a niche in the academic market and plan to fill it. First, let’s state the problem: the recent spate of campus firings from Yale to the University of Illinois (with earlier episodes at Princeton, Brooklyn College and other institutions) have left schools in the messy position of having to rid themselves of controversial, undesirable prospective faculty and, God knows, sometimes even chaplains. The ensuing bad publicity generated by activist troublemakers too often gives these institutions a black eye they don’t deserve.
Wouldn’t it be better if schools could vet job candidates with a group of trusted consultants who would explore their background (especially their Twitter feeds), seeking embarrassing material and ideologically suspect expression in order to save administrators the trouble of learning about it when it’s too late? I call this new product I plan on offering, ZioCredit™. It’s based on the model of accreditation committees which travel the country examining the fitness of universities to call themselves legitimate academic institutions.
In my case, for a small fee, schools throughout the United States (but especially in communities with large pro-Israel markets) may hire my company to ensure peace of mind. A few of the more cynical among you may liken what I propose to protection rackets in which the Mafia offered businesses protection from assault. Those who refused often met unpleasant ends. If that’s what you’re thinking, you can put your mind at ease. This is the 21st century after all. Not Little Italy in the 1950s. We don’t operate that way. We’re as clean and classy as our clients and sport academic pedigrees to prove it.
So this is how the process works: if we find a candidate in the ideologically lower-tier it would be best to be rid of him or her immediately. We can take care of that for you (no, you won’t find him at the bottom of the East River in cement shoes–I kid!). Why should you get your hands dirty?
We will accredit your university, department by department to ensure each one hews to a proper line. We will even examine course curricula and weed out overly contentious books, essays and ideas. We will examine individual job candidates and prepare them and their case files for presentation to hiring committees and boards of trustees. Earning our accreditation (hence the company name, ZioCredit™), is the pro-Israel Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Working with us will guarantee that you will never face the unwanted attention of the Israel Lobby because after all, we are the Israel Lobby! But we’re a manageable and cooperative version. We don’t aim to embarrass you publicly. And we ask for so little in return.
There may be a few of you Old School academics worried about values like free speech and academic freedom. I can assure you that your concerns are unwarranted. After all, these values are overrated. Like tenure, they’ve outlived their usefulness in the modern age.
The premise behind ZioCredit™ is that in this new academic age what students really want is comfort. They want to enjoy their academic experience. They want civility. They don’t want unpleasant interactions with alien groups they’ve never met in their life. Ideas should be challenging but not too challenging. After all, you don’t want to scare off your students by forcing them to face realities better off avoided.
We will help transform the campus environment from a raucous free-for-all, in which feelings become bruised and identities confused, into a polite, civil society in which everyone takes their turn and knowledge is parceled out in nice, bite-sized packages.
Back to my product, it takes into account that there may be some candidates who, though suspect, are still for various reasons beneficial to the faculty. They may fill an unspoken race or gender quota; or even an ideological quota. They may help promote the school within certain demographic profiles and market niches.
For an extra fee, my company will work with such candidates to reframe academic interests so as to be acceptable within the community. After all, academics are such unusual individuals raised like hothouse flowers in intellectual environments so alien to the average person (by which I mean any supporter of Israel). They need to be coaxed into the real world, to be shown proper manners and etiquette, if you will. In particularly awkward situations, we may even be engaged to cleanse reputations and eliminate particularly egregious examples of anti-Israel hate speech from a candidate’s internet identity.
If the University of Illinois had only had such a product available, it could’ve avoided all that Steve Salaita unpleasantness. So messy and so unnecessary.
Now I can hear a skeptic or two among you (a small minority of course) wondering how this consultancy will be structured. I assure you we will engage some of the foremost experts in the field of internet surveillance and Zionist identity politics. These will be individuals with impressive resumes and who are lionized by everyone who matters. Discussions have already commenced to hire such luminaries as Ayan Hirsi Ali, Carey Nelson and Alan Dershowitz. They know what a good candidate should bring to the table. Either they will help your job seeker to become the best pro-Israel candidate he can be; or they will tell you in no uncertain terms to toss him aside. After all, who wants to waste time on hopeless causes?
Since there is a growing acknowledgement that the customer should be represented at the table, we’re engaging students too, who’ve proven their allegiance to the cause, to sit on these vetting committees. Two of the stars of the field are Daniel Mael and Chloe Valdary. It’s a pretty tough environment for hiring such stellar young people. They have offers of employment at FoxNews and the Wall Street Journal respectively. But we hope to lure them with promises they will make the campuses of America safe for Israel. A more sacred mission I can’t conceive.
Though we believe this is a lucrative field we’re entering (creating, really), we don’t want our clients to think of us as money-grubbing capitalists. To that end, we plan on donating 5% of our net revenues (you didn’t think we were nuts enough to base this on gross revenues, did you?) to various worthy, non-political causes like Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, and one of our sister Israeli organizations, Im Tirzu. We’re proud of our association with our Israeli brethren who are bringing a “second Zionist revolution” to Israeli academe.
Please don’t get the idea that any of this is political. Zionism, after all, knows no denominations or sects. There are Christian, Jewish and heck, even Muslim Zionists. It’s entirely non-partisan. And that’s as it should be. There are so many enemies of the Jewish people out there flapping their mouths. God knows what they might say. But we know what’s right. And there isn’t a political bone in our body.
Don’t get the idea that we’re affiliated with one Israel Lobby group like Aipac. After all, how would it sound to say: Aipac Certified? That’s thinking too small. No, we’re going big. We want the whole enchilada. That’s why we call our process Zio Certification.
There may be a few holdout institutions who think they can do things the old-fashioned way. They can honor all the old cliches like academic freedom and pay the price by standing by faculty who speak inconveniently in public settings. To them I say, God speed. You don’t need our help. You need a time machine. You’ll find that you’re dinosaurs and this Brave New World we’re entering will soon pass you by.
My message to academe is: we’re ready to go–are you? Zionize or die.
From Central America to Syria
President Obama plans to increase funding and training of “moderate rebels” in Syria while escalating air strike operations against ISIS in Iraq and into Syria. From Central America in the 80s to Syria today, the US has supported proxy armies in violation of international law.
Syria: Civil War or War of Aggression?
The conflict in Syria has caused staggering destruction and bloodshed.The death toll is approaching 200,000 out of total population of 22 million. Somewhere between 70 and 100 thousand of the dead are Syrian soldiers and militia. The conflict has pitted the Syrian government supported by a majority of the population (documented here and here) against domestic and international fighters, many on salary and actively supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, USA, France and Britain.
While Syria’s President is of Alawi religious background, the Defense Minister is Sunni Muslim and the Foreign Minister is Christian. The majority of soldiers are Sunni. In fact it is a secular country where it’s considered impolite to ask one’s religion. With changes in the Constitution the country is no longer a one party state although the socialist Baath Party is still dominant. Higher education and healthcare are free. While any Syrian can start his or her own business with modest restrictions and taxes, foreign corporations investing in Syria are limited to 49% ownership. Thus the country is not under the thumb of Wall Street or the International Monetary Fund, and you do not see Burger King/Pizza Hut/Bank of America or Bank of London in downtown Damascus. The country has lots of economic and social challenges but compared to other countries in the Arab world is a bastion of secularism and independence from Western domination.
The international opponents are not hidden. They are the active members of the “Friends of Syria” openly dedicated to overthrowing the Damascus government. Some of their plans and actions are public information. After one conference it was publicly recorded that US would provide communications and non-lethal equipment while Saudi Arabia and Qatar would supply and fund the weapons and arms. Meanwhile Turkey has provided logistical support and the base of operations of the external arm and rebel command. At the conferences these foreign powers have also taken it on themselves to decide who is the “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people. The assertion that the US has not supported the rebels is false. As just one piece of evidence: during the winter 2012/2013 three thousand TONS of weapons were delivered to the rebels.
An Earlier War of Aggression: USA vs Nicaragua
During the 1980’s the US funded, trained and supplied weapons to the Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Nicaragua took the situation to the World Court, claiming the US was in violation of international law which prohibits countries from financing military forces to attack another country. On June 27, 1986 the International Court at the Hague issued its legal ruling:
Decision of the International Court at the Hague
Decides that the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the “contra” forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State.
By “training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying” the military rebel groups waging war against the Damascus government, the US and “friends” are committing the same crime that the USA did in the 1980’s.
The Negroponte Connection
There is an additional connection between Central America and Syria: the creation and management of the “Contra” rebels was overseen by the US Ambassador to Honduras, John Negroponte. In addition. he managed US policy supportive of the military dictatorships which used death squads in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Ambassador Negroponte later went to Baghdad where he was US Ambassador and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004-2005, when death squads and sectarian bloodshed in Iraq began. His deputy in Baghdad was Robert S. Ford. Mr Ford went on to be US Ambassador to Syria in the period leading up to the outbreak of violence in March 2011. Later in 2011, US Ambassador Ford was expelled from Syria because he was considered an instigator of violence and protest. Ambassador Ford had publicly encouraged the protests and was suspected of much more. Since his expulsion from Syria and up until earlier this year, Robert S. Ford has been the lead American in charge of managing US policy of ‘regime change’ in Syria.
Ignoring the Most Serious Crimes
The violation of Syrian sovereignty should have been exposed and publicly criticized by international justice organizations and United Nations’ officials. Unfortunately the major rights organizations are guided by liberal interventionists and the United Nations has become dominated by US and Western interests. For example Human Rights Watch is significantly funded by liberal billionaire George Soros while Executive Director Roth is a member of the 1% club with annual compensation of nearly half a million dollars ($477K in 2011). That might not matter except that Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been good at documenting specific violations and transgressions but does not distinguish between major and minor violations of international law and ignores or minimizes the most extreme violations of international law by powerful countries. For example, 9 months after the US invasion of Iraq HRW reported that it was “not a humanitarian invasion” and explained why it did not support or oppose the invasion. More recently HRW does not distinguish between Israeli violations in maintaining the prison of Gaza and periodically massacring thousands of Palestinians versus the Palestinian response of random rockets which are largely harmless. They have prominently focused on war crimes of the Syrian “regime”, but ignored the fact that many of the rebels are mercenaries supplied with weapons and paid by foreign governments. HRW soft pedals the violations of the major abusers and comes down hard on the victims. They ignore the “supreme crime” of initiating war by the US and “friends” while vigorously denouncing the transgressions of the Assad government. By not differentiating between crimes, and favoring the powerful, they effectively use international law as another tool of the powerful.
Meanwhile the United Nations has come under the dominance of the United States. For example the head political authority (Deputy Secretary for Political Affairs) is the former US Ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman. When you see UN reports and statements on situations, consider the source. Another real world example of what this means: In Syrian refugee camps run by the United Nations Syrian youth are recruited to join the rebels while UN officials pretend not to see.
Violating Air Space of Sovereign Syria
Under international agreement “Every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory.” President Obama is proposing to ignore the international agreement and to send military jets into Syrian airspace without authorization. The pretext is to attack ISIS but it’s likely this would simply be the foot in the door with attacks on Syrian soldiers to eventually follow. The rationale for NATO entering Libyan air space was to create a “no fly zone” to prevent a humanitarian crisis. But the emergency justifications turned out to be a fraud and the “no fly zone” quickly turned into devastating bombing attacks on the Libyan government.
ISIS does not recognize the Iraqi Syrian border but obviously there is an internationally recognized border, regardless whether it is recognized by a terrorist organization such as ISIS. Another legal fig leaf for the violation of Syrian sovereignty is that since ISIS has murdered American citizens in Syria, the US can intervene to attack the perpetrators. Again, this is without legal basis. Will Obama cook up a legal “justification” as the Bush Administration did to justify torture, rendition, etc etc?
Selective Use of American Deaths
In the past weeks the media have given extensive sensational coverage about the deaths of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Their beheading murders are being used to justify US military escalation and violations of international law. Ironically, both writers documented how unpopular the “moderate rebels” are and Steven Sotloff was reportedly sold to ISIS by one of the “moderate rebels” favored by President Obama. Unknown to most Americans many journalists have been killed in the Syrian conflict.
In sharp contrast, there was relatively little media attention when Americans were murdered in Central America by “our” rebel Contras and “our” Salvadoran dictatorship. Benjamin Linder was a young American engineer who went to Sandinista Nicaragua to help with development in rural areas. He was murdered by the US funded Contras. What was the reaction? Very little. In El Salvador four American nuns who were critical of the military dictatorship were murdered. The US reaction? Jeanne Kirkpatrick , US Ambassador to the UN, did not even express remorse let alone anger or outrage. Instead she remarked that “they were not just nuns”.
From Central America in the 1980’s to Syria and the Middle East today there is a consistency in US policy. Governments which challenge US domination are demonized. Surrogate armies to overthrow them are sometimes created. Bloodshed and mayhem follows. Individual American deaths are ignored or sensationalized depending on whether it benefits US policy. International law is ignored or used as another weapon against the victim.
It’s time for a realistic look at the Syrian government and rebels, including ISIS. It’s time to demand that the US start respecting instead of trampling on international law.
Rick Sterling is a founding member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
The anniversary of the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington would be a propitious day to arrest Henry Kissinger for crimes against humanity.
For while Kissinger is guilty of many war crimes, including the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese, it was on September 11th that he committed two of his most memorable outrages: The murder of Chilean President Salvador Allende and installation of the torture-loving Pinochet junta in 1973; and the explosive demolition of the World Trade Center, and massacre of nearly 3,000 people in New York and Washington in 2001.
Kissinger was undeniably the mastermind of the first 9/11. As President Nixon’s National Security Advisor in 1973, and the head of the “40 Committee” that oversaw US covert operations, Kissinger designed the coup that overthrew and murdered Allende. That operation was “Made in USA” and financed with American taxpayers’ money. Kissinger’s operatives paid lavish bribes to corrupt Chilean military officers including Pinochet, essentially hiring them to murder Allende and thousands of other honest, democracy-loving Chileans.
Kissinger’s complicity in the torture and murder of thousands of Chileans, and the destruction of democracy in Chile, is no secret. Kissinger actually confessed his intentions toward Chile on June 20th, 1970 when he famously said, “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.” (In fact, Allende was a democratic socialist, not a communist; his sin, in Kissinger’s eyes, was believing that Chile should control its own economy and resources.)
During the past two decades, many countries’ judicial officials have tried to prosecute Kissinger for the first 9/11. In 1998, Kissinger’s Chilean stooge, General Pinochet, was arrested – and spent the rest of his life under real and virtual house arrest, fighting prosecutions for crimes against humanity before he died in 2006.
Prosecutors in Chile, Argentina, Spain and France have subpoenaed Kissinger. Chilean judge Juan Guzman submitted 30 questions to Kissinger about his relationship with Pinochet but Kissinger refused to answer them. At one point Kissinger had to flee France to avoid arrest.
Though at various times he has been a wanted man in various countries, somehow Kissinger is still walking around free…and planning new war crimes. Since the coup of September 11th, 2001, Kissinger has been a leading advocate of the neoconservative plan to destroy “seven countries in five years” as Gen. Wesley Clark revealed.
Though they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan first, and then destabilized Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Syria – all of which took longer than the planned five years – the neocons’ biggest and most important post-9/11 target has always been Iran. During the past decade Kissinger has been feuding with his fellow mummified ex-National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, about whether the US should attack Iran for Israel. While Brzezinski has been arguing against attacking Iran, Kissinger and his stable of Israel-loving neoconservatives have been beating the drums for war on Tehran.
Kissinger’s anti-Iran extremism was on display Saturday when he told National Public Radio that Iran is a bigger threat than ISIL. What he didn’t say is that by “threat” he meant threat to Israel, not the USA.
Kissinger’s close association with the fanatically pro-Israel, anti-Iran neoconservatives since September 11th, 2001 has surprised some observers, who traditionally viewed the former National Security Advisor as a realist rather than an ideologue.
Why did Kissinger turn neocon? Some speculate that as his mind deteriorates he is rediscovering his tribal roots and experiencing a Zionist second childhood. Evidence supporting this view includes his petulant statement to the New York Post that “In ten years there will be no more Israel.” Apparently Kissinger has fallen victim to the kind of Zionist existential anguish that lies at the root of the radicalism of such neocons as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Scooter Libby, Douglas Feith, Dov Zakheim, and others of that ilk.
But there may be another reason for Kissinger’s succumbing to what Gilad Atzmon calls Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That reason, in a nutshell, is Kissinger’s complicity in the neoconservative coup d’état of September 11th, 2001. By helping design the 9/11 shock-and-awe psychological warfare operation, Kissinger appears to have indelibly wedded his own fate to that of the neoconservative September criminals.
How do we know Kissinger was involved in the 9/11-anthrax operation? Because President Bush, acting under orders of Dick Cheney and the 9/11 perpetrator cabal, appointed Kissinger to head the 9/11 Coverup Commission. Only a person with intimate knowledge of what needed to be covered up, as well as a strong grasp on the crumbling “19 hijackers led by a dying man in a cave” cover story, could have been entrusted to head the Commission.
Since Kissinger was a known war criminal, mass murderer, and Machievellian conspirator who had orchestrated at least one September 11th coup d’état, the victims’ family members protested his appointment as Executive Director of the 9/11 Cover-up Commission. Due to public pressure, Bush was forced to fire Kissinger and replace him with another likely planner of the 9/11-anthrax operation, Philip Zelikow.
Unlike Kissinger, Zelikow was a relatively unknown war criminal. The architect of the Bush Doctrine of disguising the supreme crime of aggressive war under the “pre-emptive” euphemism, Zelikow is a self-described expert in “the creation and maintenance of public myths.” One of the likely creators of the 9/11 myth, Zelikow wrote the 9/11 Commission Report in chapter-by-chapter outline in March, 2003, before the Commission had even convened. That early draft, which is virtually identical with the Report’s final draft, was probably based on a Hollywood-style script for the 9/11-anthrax events written by Zelikow, Kissinger and others to serve as a playbook for the covert operatives who perpetrated the attacks.
During and immediately after the 9/11-anthrax false flag operation, Kissinger sat on the Defense Policy Board under key 9/11 suspect Richard “Prince of Darkness” Perle, a leading PNACer who demanded a “New Pearl Harbor” in September 2000 – and got one exactly one year later. As Perle’s senior advisor, Kissinger would have been one of the most significant architects of the 9/11-anthrax operation and subsequent cover-up.
Like Perle, who boasts of his satanic nickname “Prince of Darkness,” Kissinger revels in criminality and evil: “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
9/11-anthrax wasn’t just unconstitutional; it entailed the destruction of the Constitution in an American Reichstag Fire. It took Kissinger and his neoconservative and Israeli allies years to plan; and they have spent the past 13 years covering their tracks by “fleeing forward” into a widening circle of wars.
If the 9/11 wars ever end, and the post-2001 state of emergency is lifted, the September criminals could face prosecution. No wonder Kissinger and his neocon pals are demanding war with Iran and Russia – either one of which could likely escalate into World War III.
To save the planet, we need to arrest Henry Kissinger for his September 11th crimes: those of 2001 as well as 1973.
A Dead Statesman
I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
– Rudyard Kipling, “Epitaphs of the War”
How can a just peace be achieved between the Israelis and the Palestinians? The answer is simply to appoint as peace envoy a war criminal who — like former French President Nicolas Sarkozy — also happens to be an Israeli sayan. Before qualifying as a fully fledged war criminal, Blair started out as a lawyer whose cosy, potentially corrupt, and now war criminal connection with Israel began in earnest in 1994 when he first met Michael Levy — an encounter that was calculated rather than fortuitous — at a dinner party hosted by Israeli diplomat Gideon Meir who, like Blair was friendly with Eldred Tabachnik, a senior barrister and Queens Council at 11 King’s Bench Walk, the chambers founded by Derry Irvine where Blair had been a junior tenant on its foundation in 1981. Tabachnik was also a former president (1994-2000) of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Following their initial meeting Blair and Levy became friends, tennis partners, and political cohorts with Levy running the Labour Leader’s Office Fund to finance Blair’s 1997 general election campaign which received substantial contributions from notables such as Alex Bernstein (Granada Group Chairman 1979-1996) and Robert Gavron (publishing). Generally referred to as “Lord Cashpoint” in media and political circles, Levy was the Labour Party’s leading fundraiser with over £100m raised between 1994 to 2007. After becoming Prime Minister, Blair ennobled Bernstein and Gavron and made Levy a life peer whom the Jerusalem Post — owned by the subsequently convicted felon Canadian newspaper publisher Conrad Black — described as “undoubtedly the notional leader of British Jewry.”
In 1998 Blair appointed Levy as his personal envoy to the Middle East and it is perhaps no coincidence that as a consequence of being financed and in effect controlled by Israeli interests, Blair — like the semi-illiterate President Bush in the U.S. — was inveigled into launching an illegal war against Iraq despite widespread opposition to such a conflict. The need for war was then “sold” to the British and American people on the basis of doctored intelligence reports backed by Blair’s now infamous claim to Parliament that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order to use them. Everyone now knows that the 45-minute claim was a blatant lie because Iraq had nothing even remotely resembling a weapon of mass destruction. So once again an AIPAC-controlled U.S.-led alliance was conned by Israel to wage war on Israel’s behalf against an “enemy” Arab neighbour. Other Israeli targets for Western alliance death and destruction included Iran and Syria.
“Lord Cashpoint” Levy, who praised Blair for his “solid and committed support of the State of Israel,” maintained close ties with Israel’s political leaders and kept a home in Herzliya, a city in the central coast of Israel. Daniel Levy, his son, was active in Israeli politics, and at one time served as an assistant to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and to Knesset member Yossi Beilin. Daniel — amongst other positions — is a senior research fellow of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation and director of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. It is the calculated placement of such dedicated, eager beaver people in strategic positions that exert influence over Western decision-making on the Middle East that favour Israel’s political purpose.
In March 2006 it was revealed that Tony Blair’s Labour Party had raised £14 million in loans from private individuals of whom some were later nominated for peerages. Levy was later arrested but released on bail pending Scotland Yard’s investigation into what came to be known as the “cash for honours” controversy. In July 2007 — one month after the Jewish Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith had stepped down at the same time as Blair — the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Levy would neither be prosecuted in connection with the affair nor face any other charges.
When Tony Blair and his disgraced Zionist “Lord Cashpoint” controller voluntarily decided to step down in June 2007, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the past decade, assumed the office of Prime Minister following the approval of Queen Elizabeth II. Having been for a long time Blair’s bitter competitor for residence at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Brown was not to be outdone and was himself bankrolled and influenced by Ronald Cohen who as the Labour Party’s fourth largest supporter was also ennobled. The Egyptian-born Lord Cohen was in 2002 an inaugural inductee into the Private Equity Hall of Fame, at the British Venture Capital Association and Real Deals’ Private Equity Awards. So long as money — corporate, Jewish or otherwise — is permitted by the majority of the people to influence and control the governance of a nation, then there can be no democracy because the people become conditioned subjects rather than citizens.
In June 2007 Blair was appointed Middle East envoy working on behalf of the U.S., Russia, the UN and the EU quartet with his sterling peace efforts resulting in Israel’s 2008 Operation Cast Lead. Being an Israeli stooge, however, has its rewards and in May 2009 Blair received the $1 million Dan David prize at a Tel Aviv university ceremony. Blair’s office stated that 90 percent of the money from the prize — which is named after Dan David, the Jewish-born Romanian international businessman who made his millions by setting up Photo-Me booths in shopping malls around the world — would be donated to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that promotes religious understanding by bringing together young people (excluding young Palestinian “beasts”) of different faiths.
This was followed up in September 2010 with the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal and $100,000 (£65,000) prize being awarded by former President Bill Clinton to Blair. The Center is an independent, non-profit organisation that promotes understanding of the U.S. constitution and its relevance. The $100,000 was to be donated to Blair’s charitable foundations. Officials acknowledged that Blair, who had just been forced to cancel promotional events for a new autobiography amid protests by critics of his role in the U.S.-led Iraq war, was a contentious choice. The Center’s Jewish (surprise, surprise) president David Eisner, said that “There is always an element of controversy when you pick people at the forefront of change. They are usually very controversial figures. We understand … how differently Tony Blair appears to be viewed by many people in the UK as compared with many people in the US.” That is probably because the British people had not forgotten how he deliberately involved Britain in a war on the strength of a barefaced Blair lie.
Following the September 2014 much criticised GQ glossy magazine’s “Philanthropist of the Year” award” to Blair, the Charity Commission has just announced that it will meet representatives of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) over concerns brought to its attention by former senior employee turned whistleblower, Martin Bright. Bright, who as editor of the TBFF website for the charity analysed religious conflict, has complained about Blair’s interference and effectively accused him of abusing his role as patron to use the charity as a think tank for his private office which allegedly spent large sums of money on a sizeable communications team whose priority appeared to be the protection Mr Blair’s image, rather than the promotion of the charity. Bright further maintained that “the Faith Foundation is an independent charity with Tony Blair as its patron. He is not supposed to have any executive role … But it was clear from the outset that … his [Mr Blair’s] reputation was to be protected at all costs.”
Though other Labour Party leaders have since endeavoured to jettison the pernicious legacy of the illegal Iraq war, Blair has steadfastly continued to maintain that he made the right decision . . . “If we hadn’t removed Saddam from power just think, for example, what would be happening if these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam, who’s probably 20 times as bad as Assad in Syria, was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq? Think of the consequences of leaving that regime in power.” Anyone thinking about it — taking into account how Iraq’s entire infrastructure has since been destroyed, its communities divided, and its people devastated with millions killed — would have to honestly conclude Iraq and its people were much better off under Saddam Hussein who as a war criminal was strictly an amateur compared to leaders like Blair, Bush Jr., and Barack Obama.
Apart from all the blood on his hands, Blair has also been busy stuffing his pockets with filthy lucre to the extent that his approximate earnings of £150,000 as Prime Minister are now dwarfed by varied estimates of tens of millions. Finally, Israeli stooge and war criminal Blair is to be given a knighthood — one of the Catholic church’s top awards — for “services to peace” by a gutless and hypocritical Pope who failed to condemn the recent butchery in Gaza while presiding over a Church that has always condemned the use of contraception so as to protect the the sanctity of human life.
William Hanna can be reached at: email@example.com.
According to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Henry Lee McCollum deserved to die for the brutal rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie. There’s just one problem, and a frequent one in death penalty cases: Henry Lee McCollum didn’t do it.
Instead of tracking down the true killer, police and prosecutors went after Henry Lee McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown, two intellectually disabled and innocent teenagers. While his mother wept in the hallway, not allowed to see her son, officers interrogated McCollum for five hours, ultimately coercing him to sign a confession they had written. In a trial without forensic evidence and plagued by racial bias, these two half-brothers with IQs in the 50s and 60s were sent to death row. Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown, whose sentence was later reduced to life in prison, have been behind bars for the last 30 years.
Last week, they were finally exonerated in another disturbing example of how deeply flawed the death penalty is, particularly for African-American men in the South.
Death penalty supporters have long cast Henry Lee McCollum as a mythic boogeyman. After North Carolinians passed the Racial Justice Act, a law outlawing racial bias in capital cases, opponents of the law mailed sensationalized fliers showing McCollum’s mug shot, claiming it would lead to the release of convicted killers like him. Justice Scalia depicted McCollum as a strong argument against death penalty abolition because of the gruesomeness of Sabrina Buie’s murder.
There is a perverse irony here. Henry McCollum, long invoked as an argument for the death penalty, is innocent. Instead of the ultimate threat, he represents the ultimate injustice: a government condemning an innocent man to die. McCollum is not a boogeyman. Rather he is a case study of everything wrong with a broken capital punishment system that has no place in this country.
In another cruel irony, McCollum’s boogeyman status was successfully used to thwart the Racial Justice Act, which proved racial bias in four cases before it was repealed last year. And that’s tragic because North Carolina and other southern states desperately need laws like these to protect the innocent from racial bias.
Southern states, like North Carolina, are the most likely to wrongfully convict and sentence innocent people to death. And in those states, black defendants bear the greatest burden of wrongful convictions. Of the nine men wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in North Carolina, eight are men of color and seven – including McCollum and his half-brother – are black.
Race showed up in McCollum’s trial from the start. The trial prosecutors in McCollum’s case deliberately and unconstitutionally struck multiple qualified black jurors from jury service. This is a common practice: statewide, prosecutors were more than twice as likely to strike qualified black jurors as all other jurors.
For years now, North Carolina prosecutors have known about the statistical evidence showing widespread bias in the way they pursue capital convictions. Rather than addressing the findings and changing their practices, they have fought the Racial Justice Act and tried to keep statistical evidence of racial bias out of court. These misplaced priorities further erode the capital punishment system’s ability to produce accurate and just results, leading to errors that can never be erased.
North Carolina’s legislators now need to take a close look at Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown and see how racial bias distorts and undermines the state’s criminal justice system. Two innocent men are now middle aged, leaving prison after being locked up since they were teenage boys. Sabrina Buie’s loved ones have been strung along for three decades by police and prosecutors, believing two innocent men took their little girl from them in a rural North Carolina soybean field. And a community’s trust in the ability of its courts to produce a just outcome – accurate and untainted by racial bias – has been eroded.
After three decades of needless injustice, it is good to celebrate the fact that Henry McCollum and Leon Brown are going home. But the statistics tell us that there are many more like them, many who made it to death row only because of a broken and biased system. We need more protections, not fewer, to reduce the risk of wrongful convictions and eliminate racial bias. Ending the death penalty would be a good start.
The unique national strategy for the state of Israel
Strangler fig is the generic name given to a class of vines that sprouts high in the canopy of trees in tropical forests. It is deposited by birds that eat its fruit. Its roots envelope the tree and feed off it, weakening the tree. If the process is allowed to continue indefinitely, it sinks its roots into the ground at the base of the tree and destroys it completely but takes its form, creating a hollow shell of living vines where the tree once stood.
On Friday, July 18, 2014, as one of the most powerful military forces in the world laid waste to the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip, leaving widows and orphans in its wake while nevertheless killing a significant number of them, the United States Senate, without objection and by unanimous consent from all 100 senators, passed a resolution supporting this act of genocide and condemning its victims for provoking the powerful aggressor by trying to resist.
At that point, Israel had killed more than 250 Palestinians, mostly civilians, while the resistance forces in Gaza had killed one Israeli, who had been delivering food to troops at the time. The Senate resolution had been drafted by the AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the pillars of the Israel Lobby. Fifty days later more than 2000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 72 Israelis, mostly soldiers, lay dead.
How did the Israel Lobby come to so totally dominate the US Senate and in fact the entire US government?
The story goes back more than a century, to the early years of the Zionist movement to create a Jewish state. Zionism grew out of the 19th and 20th century European racist and nationalist philosophies like Fascism, Nazism and Falangism, which promoted the idea that each race in the world needed a homeland and should seek to fulfill its national destiny there.
The definition of both race and homeland were given much latitude. Despite all genetic evidence to the contrary, Jews were considered a race, and after considering Uganda and Argentina as potential homelands, the Zionists settled on Palestine.
In order to fulfill its “destiny”, however, the Zionists realized that they would need the support of at least one great power in order to force themselves upon an unwilling population in Palestine and ultimately expel or eliminate them, as the Europeans had largely accomplished in the great genocide of indigenous peoples in the western hemisphere. For this purpose, they selected Great Britain as it was about to take control of Palestine, and when the Zionists might be able to argue that their support could be critical to British ambitions, both during and after the Great War.
Indeed, Britain served their purpose well, facilitating the settlement of Palestine with Zionist Europeans. Zionist leaders also assisted Nazi Germany in removing its Jewish population and transferring them to Palestine, arguing that Nazism and Zionism had complementary interests. Before long, however, the relationship with Britain turned adversarial when Zionist terrorist groups began attacking the British in Palestine, with a view toward forcing the creation of an independent Jewish state in a territory where they constituted a minority of the population.
Although the Zionists continued to maintain an important support community in Great Britain, they knew that they would need other sponsors, and found their warmest welcome in the United States, starting in the late 19th century. Following World War II, President Harry Truman considered the Zionists to be important enough to his 1948 election campaign that he showered them with whatever they wanted, and especially immediate recognition of their declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948. This event set a pattern for Zionist influence in the US that would be repeated on a vast scale decades later.
During the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, the Israel Lobby, though powerful, could not act with impunity. Eisenhower suspended aid to Israel and forced it to pull back from its invasion of Sinai in 1956. Kennedy supported Senator J. William Fulbright’s hearings to force AIPAC to register as a foreign agent.
Those hearings were cut short in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, and Lyndon Johnson proved much more compliant, twice ordering the US sixth fleet to recall its aircraft sent to defend the US naval ship Liberty, which was attacked by Israeli air and naval forces in June, 1967. The Liberty sustained 34 dead and 171 wounded US military personnel, and barely avoided being sunk with all lives lost. However, the entire affair was quashed, with the Johnson administration foisting flimsy excuses upon a compliant American press and public, which accepted them with little question.
Since then, the Israel Lobby has grown with few constraints, fed by its domination of the American Jewish community, extensive control of publishing and the media, the establishment and control of strategic think tanks that provide governmental advisers, and by a well-coordinated and lavishly funded political campaign machine. This machine is now sufficiently influential to assure huge congressional appropriations to Israel that are filled by contractors who in turn show their gratitude by donating to the lobby that feeds them.
This history is well documented in works like The Lobby: Jewish political power and American foreign policy, by Edward Tivnan (1987), The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (2008), Against Our Better Judgement, by Alison Weir (2014), and other publications and articles. Today, Israel oversees the careers of politicians throughout the US from the city and county level up to state and national races to make sure that no one hostile to Israel achieves significant political office and that its agenda receives overwhelming approval. It prevails upon the gratitude of elected officials to appoint its candidates as staffers throughout Congress as well as state and local offices. It maintains control of news, cinema, television, publishing and other media, so that its narrative will dominate public portrayal of Middle East issues. It even implants both volunteers and paid staff to populate web comment lists.
As a result, Israel is now much more than a lobby. Powerful lobbies may bend a government to their benefit, but their strength and survival ultimately depend upon the health of the country or countries that are their home. In a sense, therefore, they serve the national interest, even if they serve the interests of certain segments of society more than others. This is also why they care little for the health of the countries that they exploit, which are not their home.
It also explains why Israel increasingly treats the US like an exploited colony: the Israeli elite can use the US to their benefit, but it is not their home. Israel now controls US policy in the Middle East much more than it ever did Great Britain, to such an extent that it can often use US resources and power even in defiance of US national interest.
Trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives have been expended to destroy Iraq, Libya, Syria and Lebanon. Did these wars strengthen or weaken the strategic interest of the US and its economy? Would these wars have been fought if not for the Israel lobby in the US? While Israeli policy has been to weaken and destroy its neighbors, it is far from obvious that the same policy is in the US national interest.
To the contrary, until the end of World War II and even until the 1960s, the US was widely regarded in the Arab world as the “good” western power, untainted by colonialism in the region and without Arab blood on its hands. As John Sheehan, SJ said, “Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.”
Of course, some will argue that these and other US government policies and actions are in fact consistent with some definition of national interest. That is necessary, because anything that is obviously destructive to the well-being of the country will encounter too much resistance to implement. Every policy benefits someone. However, there is an important difference between those who benefit more than others from enterprise that in fact strengthens the nation and those who benefit from the sacrifices – and to the detriment – of the rest of the nation.
The Middle East wars of the G.W. Bush and Obama administrations are different from earlier ones, including the first Iraq war, primarily with respect to the degree to which Israel supplied the intelligence on which they were based and the extent to which their lobby influenced Congress to act. The Bush administration, for example, is notable for the Office of Special Plans, which was a veritable Israel liaison office in the heart of the Pentagon with extraordinary access to top secret information and in fact set up by Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense.
In fact, the G.W. Bush administration marks the maturation of a program of Israel-nurtured neoconservative influence and control that began at least a decade earlier and coalesced into the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a Washington think tank that brought together many of the principals that would hold high office in that administration. Although initially derided as fanciful in the Clinton administration and its predecessors, it constituted the first open presentation of plans to orient and ultimately subordinate U.S. policy to the goals and policies of the state of Israel.
The plans took shape as part of what became known as the neoconservative agenda. This was a major departure from the paradigm that began in 1947 with the publication of George Kennan’s seminal work counseling the projection of American power in order to maintain an equilibrium of power, (known as the “containment” principle) in international relations, so as to avoid disastrous and dangerous confrontations of the type that characterized the first half of the twentieth century. One may argue the extent to which such policy was effective, but the neoconservatives in PNAC argued that the end of the Soviet Union and the advent of the unipolar world provided the US with an unprecedented opportunity for domination, if only it would pursue a policy of military intervention and adventurism.
It is no accident that the early movement found favor with Israel. Israel quickly saw that neocon interventionism could be made to use American military might to serve Israel’s agenda of crushing its real, potential and perceived opponents in the Middle East. The Israel lobby therefore invested heavily in university departments and think tanks devoted to strategic studies and promoting the careers of neoconservatives that became advisers and appointed officials throughout government.
Examples of these are the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, the Hudson Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Cato Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Project for a New American Century, the Hoover Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (founded by AIPAC) and others. Through their doors have passed the likes of Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Dennis Ross, Douglas Feith, Robert Kagan, Martin Indyk, David Wurmser, Michael Ledeen and many others that have achieved high government office, especially since the start of the G.W. Bush administration in 2001.
Israel’s investments have paid off in a big way. Today, all officials elected or appointed to national office are either pro-Israel or must say they are. In fact, they cannot deviate or dissent or disagree with the Israel lobby in any way without risk of losing their career, as Cynthia McKinney, Paul Findley, Earl Hilliard, Pete McCloskey, William Fulbright, Roger Jepsen, Adlai Stevenson III and others have discovered to their dismay. Other prominent figures, like Vanessa Redgrave and others in entertainment and the arts, that have dared to criticize Israel, also find themselves pilloried in the press and subject to fewer opportunities for their professional practice. Those aspiring to careers in mainstream film, journalism and even sports or music may find the doors closed to them if speak out in any way against Israel.
Israel has thus constructed a strangler fig network of roots and vines that is feeding itself from the resources of world’s most powerful nation while gradually starving that nation. It is placing itself inside the workings of the US government and society so as to hobble its workings to Israel’s requirements under the carefully crafted illusion that they are serving the US national interest.
An example of this is the US relationship with Iran, and specifically the Iranian nuclear program, as set forth in Gareth Porter’s book, Manufactured Crisis [Just World Books, 2014]. As Porter meticulously shows, although Iran has no nuclear weapons program, never had one and never proposed to have one, and although the US has repeatedly found no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program and only evidence to the contrary, the US continues to impose sanctions against Iran for the sole reason that Israel wants to do as much damage as possible to Iran and to prevent good and productive relations between Iran and the United States.
Porter shows that Israel has brought to bear its skill in creating forged documents, its influence in American intelligence, its threat of Congressional opposition to administration policies and other instruments of deception and coercion in order to prevent a rapprochement between the US and Iran. Israel’s hand can also be seen in US policy toward Syria, the rise of ISIS, the overthrow of Egypt’s very first democratically elected government, the destruction of Libya and many other of the developments in the Middle East. If we ask cui bono, Israel will be at the top of the list, at least from its own definition of objectives. Whether the US benefits from a strategic and economic viewpoint is highly questionable, although Israel’s allies in the US rarely fail to come out ahead.
There are of course limitations to Israel’s power. Even a strangler fig cannot change the shape of the tree. The US has thus far resisted the Israeli attempt to create an actual war with Iran, and it barely skirted direct intervention in Syria, which continues to be on Israel’s wish list. Nevertheless, the power of Israel over the workings of the US government and society is unprecedented in international relations that are otherwise as asymmetrical as those of the US and Israel.
Ordinarily the relation is the reverse: powerful nations are infamous for manipulating their vassals and colonial nations for exploiting their colonies. Yet Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu infamously bragged that “America is a thing you can move very easily.” What Israel has done is to create the potential for a new type of superpower, a small nation that survives and advances its interests by penetrating the workings of nations that have larger economies and militaries, and harnessing those resources.
In fact, Israel appears to be applying this model to other countries. In England, for example, a majority of the MPs of the three major parties belong to the “Friends of Israel” societies within those parties. Similarly, the BBC coverage of Israel and the Middle East is controlled by appointees that are invariably selected for their bias towards Israel. Canada and India are two formerly nonaligned nations that are now governed by parties and coalitions that have sworn allegiance to Israel. In India’s case, Israel’s promotion of Islamophobia has created an alliance with racist Hindu nationalist parties while making India the world’s largest customer of the Israeli arms industry.
Where will it end? Will Israel exhaust the economic and military resources of the US for its own perceived benefit? To what extent did it already contribute to the economic problems of the last decade? Or will Israel overextend its reach and find that the Zionist experiment to create and perpetuate a nation based on dubious historical, ethnic and religious claims and at the expense of other peoples will precipitate the very reaction that it was ostensibly formed to prevent?
This much we know: that if a strangler fig is allowed to thrive, its host will wither and die, and only its form will remain as an empty shell for as long as the parasite continues to survive.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.
A complete halt to all nuclear weapons testing is within reach. The testing of nuclear weapons is already prohibited under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) of 1996.
The problem is that not enough countries have yet ratified the treaty for it to enter into force. Along with 159 other governments, the nuclear-weapon-possessing states that have ratified the treaty so far are Great Britain, France, and Russia, while the US and China are still reluctant to do so, for who knows what reason (www.ctbto.org ). China says it will ratify the treaty the day the US does. For the CTBT to enter into force, however, six other States still need to ratify the treaty: India, Pakistan, Israel, the DPRK, Egypt, and Iran. Many experts believe that US ratification is the key to all the others. Consequently, the whole world is held hostage just because the US Senate refuses to ratify an international treaty that is vital to us all.
During the past week, IPPNW held its 21st World Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan, with around 300 physicians and medical students from 35 countries participating. Our host country has suffered a lot from nuclear weapons testing. From 1949 until 1989 the former Soviet Union had its main testing site for nuclear weapons near the town of Semipalatinsk in eastern Kazakhstan. During that time the USSR performed at least 456 nuclear tests at the site of which at least 92 were atmospheric, introducing a serious radiation burden into the environment. Radiation from nuclear fallout was far beyond what humans can normally tolerate.
The health consequences of testing in Kazakhstan have been studied in recent years. They have been—and still are—dramatic: excess cancers and other diseases, malformations, and genetic damage. The good news in this terrible situation is that when Kazakhstan became independent in 1991, the government decided to shut down the nuclear weapons test site and to dismantle or return to Russia all of the 1,410 nuclear warheads that Kazakhstan had inherited from the former Soviet Union. The transfer was completed in 1995 and made Kazakhstan a much safer place for its 18 million inhabitants.
Moreover, in 2006, the independent states Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan declared Central Asia a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and, in May 2014, the five old states that still possess nuclear weapons issued a guarantee that they would never use nuclear weapons against any of the Central Asian states. Good news for them.
As the Kazakhs have seen the terrible long term effects of nuclear testing on their own people, they have initiated an international campaign against nuclear testing called the ATOM project (Abolish Testing – Our Mission). They have called for 29 August to be the International Day Against Nuclear Weapons Testing, and the occasion was marked with a minute of silence in many places while we were in Kazakhstan.
I think that the states that have not yet ratified the CTBT, in particular the US and China, owe it to the victims of nuclear weapons testing and uranium exploitation all over the world to ratify the treaty right away as a concrete and necessary step on our way towards a safer world free of nuclear weapons.
BUENOS AIRES – A lawsuit was filed on Saturday against Israel by actors, activists, politicians and pro-Palestinian solidarity groups in Argentina, a statement released by the Palestinian embassy in Buenos Aires said.
The case was brought before the federal court of justice in the city of Cordoba.
The case was named “Lawsuit against the Authorities of Israel for Committing Crimes against Humanity and Genocide against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.”
Journalist Serkhio Ortiz, head of the Argentinean committee of honoring the missing and victims, actor Juan Jose-Tutu, and singer and actress Mara Santosho, were among the people who signed the case.
The signatories called in their lawsuit for issuing an international arrest warrant against Israeli figures through the Interpol and forcing Israel to compensate for the human and material losses that it had caused during its war on Gaza.
I don’t wanna see no more blood shed
I don’t wanna see no more violence
We don’t want no war tonight, we don’t want a fuss and a fight
if we all unite
We don’t want no war tonight, we don’t want a fuss and a fight
if we all unite
Mala – Anti War Dub (Compa Refix)