September 21, 2014
Jacob took his life this past week.
Since the start of the war on Afghanistan in 2001, through 2013, 2.5 million members of the military, Coast Guard, Reserve and National Guard units have deployed.
Last week, the House and Senate voted to rubber stamp President Obama’s war plans for the Middle East. Both bodies, on a bipartisan basis, authorized the US to begin openly training and arming the rebels who have been fighting for three years to overthrow the Assad government in Syria.
Although the Syrian government has also been fighting ISIS and related extremist groups for three years, the US refuses to speak to the Syrians and has warned Assad not to interfere with the coming US attack on sovereign Syrian territory
President Obama promised that airstrikes alone would “degrade and destroy” ISIS, telling the US military in a speech last week that:
“The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission… I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”
But of course any US troops sent into a war zone are “combat” troops. And more are on their way.
While the president was swearing that there would be no boots on the ground, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, was in open disagreement. General Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that US forces would need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops in combat situations under certain circumstances.
The limited mission the president promised just weeks ago has already greatly escalated, and now threatens to become another major regional war. In reality, however, this is just a continuation of the 24 year US war on Iraq that President George Bush began in 1990 and candidate Obama promised to end as President.
Under last week’s authorization bill, the president would have authority to train 5,000 fighters in Saudi Arabia for insertion into the civil war in Syria. This is in effect a re-arrangement of the deck chairs. To this point the training was carried out by the CIA in Jordan and Turkey. Now, the program will be moved to the Pentagon and to Saudi Arabia.
The CIA training of the rebels thus far has resulted in a direct pipeline of weapons from “vetted moderates” to the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front and to the very ISIS that the administration claims to be fighting. In July, a full brigade of 1,000 fighters affiliated with the US-backed Free Syrian Army joined ISIS! Of course they took their US-provided weapons and training with them, some of which will certainly be used against the rapidly increasing US military personnel in the region.
That Saudi Arabia is considered a suitable place to train Syria’s future leaders must be some kind of sick joke. While ISIS was beheading two American journalists – as horrific as that is – the repressive Saudi theocracy was beheading dozens of its own citizens, often for relatively minor or religious crimes.
If we want to stop radical terrorists from operating in Syria and Iraq, how about telling our ally Saudi Arabia to stop funding and training them? For that matter, how about the US government stops arming and training the various rebel groups in Syria and finally ends its 24 year US war on Iraq.
There are 200 million people bordering the countries where ISIS is currently operating. They are the ones facing the threat of ISIS activity and expansion. Let them fight their own war, rather than turning the US military into the mercenary army of wealthy Gulf states.
What follows is an approximate transcription of an interview with Ken O’Keefe, a peace activist from London.
Press TV: Do you see this as a project that the United States really wants to stop this terrorist group or not?
O’Keefe: Absolutely not, and I find it laughable that anybody would even consider the United States to be seriously interested in ending terrorism.
We have had over 13 years of this farcical war on terror, all of it built on lies, from the false-flag of 9/11 to the non-prosecution of Osama bin Laden because the FBI admitted that there was no evidence linking him to 9/11, from every policy since the invasion, occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq; the attack on Libya, destroying that country; attempting to fully destroy Syria, all of this is terrorism – terrorism on a grand scale!
Let’s throw in Israel and its genocide against the Palestinians, the use of white phosphorus, depleted uranium and all sorts of other weapons of mass destruction against a civilian population in Gaza, which is comprised of over 900,000 children, and you find that the United States is without question the number one terrorist of the 20th and 21st century.
How in the world can anyone seriously believe that the United States has any interest in ending terrorism?
It is the ultimate terrorist.
Its little boogeyman creations of al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL – whatever the hell they call themselves tomorrow – is nothing more than the boogeyman necessary to justify this military industrial complex which is running roughshod over the world.
Press TV: Does the killing of an American citizen always trigger a specific type of a reaction from the United States?
O’Keefe: These beheadings have largely been debunked.
At the very least the people that are being executed in these videos are not alive.
We know when you execute somebody by cutting off their head when their heart is still beating blood will pour forth very profusely. This is not the case with these videos.
It also is one massive manipulation to suggest that the life of one or two Americans somehow justifies yet another invasion and occupation in which we have destroyed three countries at the very minimum in terms of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
We have largely caused the breeding grounds for so-called terrorism all around the region.
It beggars’ belief that anyone would be manipulated in yet another policy in which invasion, bombing, occupation and ultimately destruction of entire areas is somehow going to make the world a better place.
We have seen this all before and the United States is repeating its same role as it has been and it will make for more blood and more guts and more misery, and ultimately a breeding ground for those who see the West for what it is: absolutely hypocritical.
The West has no moral authority whatsoever.
It is in no position at all to discuss any issue regarding morality because it is the most corrupt and most violent of all peoples on this planet.
The West is the problem, not the rest of the world.
Our little boogeyman that we create will stop once we stop having the power through the global reserve currency of the US dollar to be able to pay these psychopaths to run around and behead and so on and so forth.
Press TV: What kind of precedent does this send? – Because US President Barack Obama has basically sent a message to the Syria government that if the Syrian government attacks any of their airplanes that they will take out their anti-aircraft system, basically that they would be under attack.
What does this mean when you’re talking about a sovereign country that another country has the right to go in and do whatever they want? – Whether they agree or disagree with the way that government does this business. What type of precedent does this set?
O’Keefe: It is not a precedent at all.
We have already been bombing Pakistan, Yemen. We have been running around the world and basically in a lawless kind of way have been carrying out policies including executions of anyone anywhere anytime based on the so-called president of the United States having a meeting and declaring somebody to be a terrorist.
This even includes American citizens. There is no sovereignty of nations. There is no international law.
This so-called intelligence analyst, this intelligence analyst seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that it was the United States which supported the Mujahideen which became al-Qaeda, which morphed into the al-Nusra Front, then ISIS, ISIL, IS – whatever the hell you want to call it – has been funding these people, training these people, providing bases, training in Jordan and also in Turkey, their little proxies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Kuwait have been funneling money and arms.
And now we’re being told that they are going to be training these so-called moderate factions of resistance in Syria in Saudi Arabia. That bastion of moderate behavior, the Wahabi Saudi Arabia regime, one of the most offensive – if not the most offensive regimes – on the planet, a place that we give weapons and we give cover to, political cover, media cover.
The idea that an intelligence analyst could be so oblivious and so completely incompetent at its own field that he does not recognize that the United States having supported, armed, trained, coddled and protected all these terrorists for decades now is beyond belief.
He cannot be so stupid, surely, not to know that the United States has an inherent interest in propping up continuously one boogeyman after another to justify what I said earlier, the military industrial complex, the goal of full spectrum dominance, military bases all around the world, and people with half a brain know this.
Press TV: We are looking at this type of scenario that it seems to repeat itself time and time again, especially if we are looking at a post-9/11 world. As you have said, we see boogeyman after boogeyman sort of being created.
I want to look at then the American people and do you think that this time they had to take it or it appears that the extremist nature that ISIL is presenting itself was something that it had to be that extreme in order to shake the American people up, who are extremely war-weary but because of the extent of the violence that they’re seeing that actually they will get on the bandwagon for another war in the region?
O’Keefe: What we have really is an amazing point in human history in which the sleeping masses that are literally mind-controlled through many different mechanisms from childhood in schools are brainwashed with all sorts of rubbish.
Even the pledge of allegiance which I said, along with every other school kid, ends with “liberty and justice for all”.
We have been indoctrinated with such incredible insanity that it becomes a reality for us, and many Americans are still caught up in that as are many people around the world.
But we also have at this time a growing number of people who are recapturing the ability to think for themselves and to recognize the history of both the United States and the West in general, and also the crimes of others – let us not be oblivious to the crimes of others.
But at the end of the day I come from the West and what we can see is that my birth nation, the United States, is the number one terrorist. This is simply not debatable.
I understand that many people are still being conned into believing this nonsense, the latest boogeyman creation, but ever-growing numbers of people are not buying it. They are not. And this is extremely promising and a necessary step for us to create a better world.
If we really wanted to end ISIS we would cut off their funding. And if we wanted to we could help the Iraqi government and the military and they could wipe them out in no time with a little bit of genuine financial support to be able to do what they need to do.
Iran would be an excellent partner in this. I would encourage Iraq to invite Iran in to help them wipe them out, because Iran definitely has an interest in ending real terrorism. That is why the foreign minister all too rightly said we are not all too convinced that America is serious about it. I think he is way too diplomatic, quite frankly.
But at the end of the day the United States is not serious about ending terrorism. It thrives on terrorism. Many Americans are growing to understand this.
Press TV: What scenario is this setting up, Ken, if we are looking at on the one hand, as you said that the United States does not really want to end terrorism, and on the other hand they are directly once again involved in the region, not that they were not in the region but now more directly in Iraq and again Syria.
What is this setting up? Tell me, how do you see this basically? How are you reading what is going to happen with the United States getting involved with this situation with ISIL? What is it? Do you think that they really want to destroy them because perhaps they have served their purpose or no, do they just want to see this chaos continue in the region?
O’Keefe: Chaos in the region is extremely advantageous.
The Project for a New American Century and Clean Break is an important document to read also.
Also, Oded Yinon’s strategy for Israel in the 1980s made it very clear that Iraq was target number one because of its strong Arab nationalist dictatorship.
Ultimately in the overall scheme you have this fantasy agenda of greater Israel: Israel expanding as the next great empire into Iraq, into Syria, Lebanon, also in part of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. This is their goal and it is a psychopath’s goal.
Right now all of this chaos that you see in that region fits perfectly in line with strategy papers. The policy is being carried out exactly as it was written. And the seeds of sectarian hatred and divide, which are necessary to fracture the people of the region so that they will be in a weakened state and therefore be subject to the real intention and goal, is again to expand the Israeli empire.
Ultimately this is all going to fall flat on its face but right now the chaos that is being sown is extremely advantageous for the powers that be.
President Obama has announced that he is seeking a coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS in Iraq, Syria and wherever else it may be. That coalition, however, will apparently be neither a NATO coalition nor a United Nations coalition. Why not?
Part of the problem is that NATO member Turkey is refusing to allow air strikes against ISIS to be launched from its territory. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Turkey has been providing safe passage, safe haven, arms and other support for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and – oh yes – buying stolen oil at cut rate prices from them?
To be fair, Britain, France, Germany and other NATO countries have also balked at violating the sovereign air space of Syria. They undoubtedly remember that Syrian forces shot down a Turkish aircraft that entered Syrian air space in 2012 and that Syria is equipped with some of the most advanced and effective antiaircraft systems in the world, the Russian S-300 (and possibly S-400) series. They also might care about their own sovereignty.
On the other hand, the Syrian government is willing and has actually offered to cooperate. ISIS is their arch-enemy, and Syria has said that it would welcome US participation in the fight, as long as Syrian sovereignty is respected through coordination with the Syrian armed forces.
However, the US might not be needed in Syria. Chances are that the Syrians might be able to bring along their Russian and Iranian allies, and perhaps China, too. If the objective is to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, there’s no faster and more effective way to do it than to create a “coalition of the willing” that includes nearly everyone.
Of course, the US might not like to work with these countries, but so what? If they are willing, the plan removes a burden from the US and also eliminates the issue of violating Syrian sovereignty. They will get the job done, which allows the US and its allies to concentrate on ISIS forces in Iraq. A UN resolution to this effect is likely to be a shoo-in if it has US backing. No need to thank them.
Of course, such a plan is much too logical. It makes the assumption that the US actually wants to get rid of ISIS. In fact, that’s not the case at all. Most ISIS weapons come from the US via Saudi Arabia, Turkey (NATO), Libya, Qatar, and the “moderate Syrian rebels”, who are “moderate” only by stretching the term to include some of the most intolerant Takfiri Islamists. Many are also not Syrian, but have been recruited from all over the world. They are also not rebels, but rather mercenaries that commute to the battle zones from safe havens in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon.
Who supports ISIS, anyway, if not the countries committed to “degrade and destroy” it? These include the US, European NATO countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others. ISIS is a convenient way of dividing, weakening and sometimes overthrowing all the societies in the region.
All except one.
Is it a coincidence that the countries in question are all in Israel’s neighborhood? That they were named in Israel’s Clean Break plan as early as 1996? That the authors of the Clean Break plan, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, became top advisers in the G.W. Bush administration?
The plan is at least half implemented. Having coopted the Jordanian monarchy, overthrown the first freely elected civilian Egyptian government, destroyed the Libyan government and society, prevented a popular takeover of the Yemeni dictatorship, bribed and protected the Saudi and Gulf monarchies and laid waste to Iraq, there remain the northern tier of Lebanon, Syria and Iran, as well as the ongoing destruction of Iraq. Is it a coincidence that, with the exception of Iran, this is exactly where ISIS operates?
For whose benefit is this if not Israel’s? Certainly not for the US. We are exhausting our resources and manpower and creating more enemies for ourselves, not less. Granted, the weapons manufacturers and oil companies are doing great, but the rest of US society is paying a heavy price, as funds to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, educate our children, provide health care, increase home ownership and otherwise preserve and build upon the gains of our society over the last century are diverted to costly military adventures on behalf of Israel.
If we want to dispose of ISIS, we have no need to drop our bombs, only our hypocrisy. Not a single country in the world admits to supporting ISIS. We have only to use the end user terms of our arms sales to NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other recipients of US arms to prevent those arms from reaching ISIS. We can use our influence with Turkey to shut down the sale of oil from ISIS-held territory. We can also end the practice of providing arms to forces fighting the Syrian government. Most of those arms end up in ISIS hands.
ISIS began as a small insurgency in Iraq, but we and our regional allies are responsible for making it the problem that exists today. Our purpose was to use ISIS to weaken and divide all the countries in the region (except Israel). Now we are trying to use it as a pretext for direct US intervention in Syria, which the American people rejected last year.
If the US is serious about getting rid of ISIS, there are better ways to do it than sending our combat aircraft into Syria without the permission of the Syrian government, the UN, or even NATO. Let’s stop trying to deceive the American public, the Congress and the world about our intentions. The Obama plan doesn’t pass the smell test.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.
The British are mystified by their Muslim citizens becoming “jihadists” and joining the so-called Islamic State. They are horrified by the beheading of an American journalist by “John” a British citizen and member of the IS.
I must admit that I, too am horrified. It is not Islamic at all. Islam does not advocate violence and terror. The people who were defeated by the Prophet were not even converted to Islam, much less executed. The Quran says, “There is no compulsion in Islam.”
But we are seeing more and more violence and atrocities committed by Muslims. And now we have the Islamic State “Jihadists”, some of whom come from countries where they had migrated to because life is good there. Having enjoyed the good life, why are these people opting to join revolutionary movements and live dangerous lives, fighting against the very people who are their hosts. Could it be, as some people suggest, that they have been reading books such as “Islam for Dummies?”
Why? Recently we saw the mass killings of Muslims and destruction of their homes and towns by Israelis in Gaza. More than 2000 Muslims have been killed. They include little children and old people, non-combatants all. Thousands more have been seriously wounded, many losing arms and legs.
No concern or sympathy has been shown by the Europeans and Americans. In fact the Americans gave money and arms for Israelis to kill more Muslims and destroy their homes and towns.
If the beheading of a European Journalist is evidence of the barbarity of Muslims, cannot there be the same perception of Israeli killings of Muslims in Gaza? No. They are all terrorists, babies included, and a democratic country like Israel has every right to kill them and destroy their homes, towns and cities.
If we care to look back, we cannot but acknowledge that the so-called Middle Eastern Muslims were very hospitable to the Europeans before. But, the European nations played their great games there. They created the states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine out of one single entity called Sham by the Arabs. Muslims then had no nation-states. They only regard themselves as the Muslim community, the Ummah.
The Europeans expelled the Turks and proceeded to divide Sham between them, although they had promised the Arabs that Sham would be liberated and handed over to the Arabs.
Following the European great games Iraq went to the British while Syria and Lebanon to the French. Palestine was made a British mandated territory to be returned to the Palestinians later. Palestine for centuries had been inhabited by Muslim and Christian Arabs and a small number of Jews. Under Muslim rule they lived in peace despite their different religions.
Then the British decided to make a Jewish state out of Palestine in order to solve the Jewish problem in Europe. Balfour, in 1917, promised to give land belonging to the Palestinian to the Zionist. It was so easy. Take other people’s land to give to the Jews without any regard for the majority Arabs living there. And the Jews celebrated the creation of Israel with massacres of Arabs and expulsion from Palestine. This was apparently sanctioned by the UN in 1948 when Israel was recognised as a state. Arab resentment was ignored.
Since then the Middle East has experienced no peace. Every time the Palestine Arabs tried to regain their homeland, they were prevented by the massive help and support of Israel by the European nations, in particular by America.
With every failure the Arabs became even more angry and determined to regain their homeland. The Arab countries stopped helping the Palestinians. Undeterred, they set up Al-Fatah to throw stones at Israeli soldiers in armoured cars. The stone-throwing children were shot at by the soldiers with rubber coated and then live bullets.
Fatah acquired some ineffective weapons to fight in defence. They were shot and killed and thousands were captured and thrown into Israeli jails for indefinite periods without trial. Palestine lands were seized and settlements for Jews built. It was against all laws and practices which the Europeans pride in saying they uphold.
And so instead of stopping Israel, the Europeans continued their support with funds and arms. The Israelis actually occupied Palestine land and set up road blocks to control movements of the Palestinian and visitors. Roads were built through Palestinian land for the exclusive use of the Israelis. High walls were constructed in Palestine territory for Israeli security. Gaza is put under siege by Israel. Ships in international waters were seized by the Israeli navy.
Aid workers on high seas were shot and killed; their ships boarded and forced to go to Israeli ports. The aid goods were confiscated. All these are against international laws but the big powers did nothing. But these were not all. Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments and acts were exhibited by Europeans elsewhere also. Having predicted a clash of civilisations they seem bent on making it a reality.
In Bosnia Herzegovina 12,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered with axes and bludgeons after Dutch NATO troops who were supposed to protect them simply moved away to allow Serbs to carry out their murderous work.
Then came the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after blaming the Muslims for the destruction of the twin towers of the world trade centre in New York. The Iraqis were not responsible for this. But Iraq was accused of having weapons of mass destruction capable of being launched against Britain within 45 minutes. Later it was admitted by the Brits that this was a lie. Unashamedly the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ordered the collaboration with the United States in the invasion of Iraq claimed that the attack, the massive destruction of Iraqi cities and towns and the killings of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis was in order to liberate them from Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was caught and hanged. But the occupation and war continued. When finally the Americans and Europeans left Iraq, this once stable and progressive Arab country descended into anarchy and civil war with Iraqis killing Iraqis.
Afghanistan was invaded to overthrow the Taliban and to kill Osama bin Ladin. Osama is dead but there is no peace in Afghanistan. The Iraqi and Afghan invasion was supposed to be over in three months. But after ten years and the almost total destruction of the two countries, meaningful democracy and peace have not come to these two unfortunate nations. They have been rendered totally unstable and fratricidal wars are tearing them apart.
The CIA has drawn up a list of Muslims to be killed. The West condemns the practices of detention without trial. Now we see in the West death sentences being passed on Muslims without trial. The intended victims are not even told about their death sentence. No attempt is made to arrest even. Drones are simply dispatched to kill these Muslims. In the case of Osama bin Ladin killer squads were dropped into Pakistan without even informing that country. And Osama’s body was thrown into the sea, a practice worthy of barbarians.
Through all these, the U.S., Britain and other European countries express no regret and certainly no sympathy for the Muslim victims of their war on terror. Thousands of them, men, women, children, babies, old and sick people have been and are being killed without evoking the slightest concern or regret among the Europeans.
I don’t for one moment regard the beheading of the American journalist as Islamic, despite the claim of ISIL. I think it is disgraceful for Muslims to do such thing. It is against the teachings of Islam. But can any young and impressionable Muslim be blamed if they are so easily mislead into committing heinous crimes to avenge the injustice and oppression of their brothers and sisters in religion.
It is not the religion of Islam that led the Muslims to committing heinous acts. It is simply anger, hate and rage over not being able to do anything to stop the Europeans or West from oppressing people who profess the same religion as themselves. And Europeans, most of whom are not practicing Christians, react in the same way when Christians are faced with any threat.
Look at the record of the Europeans, especially after they created Israel. Now, although they will not admit it, they are carrying out a crusade against Islam and the Muslims. Call it a war on terror or the clash of civilizations. But factually it is still a continuation of the crusade of the past centuries.
Against this modern Crusade the Muslims have no answer. They don’t have a Saladin (Salah El Din) to lead them. And over the centuries they have allowed themselves to become weak. They have ignored the injunctions of Allah in the Quran that they must be prepared to defend the ummah and Islam.
Their religious teachers tell them to pray to Allah for help. But they neglect to inform that in the Quran Allah enjoins upon Muslims to help themselves first if they want Allah to answer their prayers. Quite obviously the Muslims have not followed this injunction. In fact many believe that it has been preordained that they should suffer European oppression.
Today not a single Government of a Muslim country has dared to challenge the Europeans. Indeed many believe that the Europeans are a superior race that they should look up to; that it is futile to defend themselves against European aggression and oppression. Not a single Muslim country dares to stand up to the Europeans.
Expecting no help from the Governments of Muslim countries, many angry and frustrated Muslims took upon themselves to take revenge against the hated Europeans. For this purpose they preach their version of the teachings of Islam so as to influence young Muslim to be prepared to sacrifice their lives in a holy war.
All Muslims truly believe that to die in the defence of Islam and the Muslims results in martyrdom and heaven in the afterlife. It is not too difficult to convince young Muslims in the face of the injustice and oppression of Muslims that the war against the Europeans is a holy war.
But a war against the European promises no easy victory. Seeking revenge through acts of terror is much easier. And so the so-called jihadists are prepared to commit atrocities like beheading a European and recording it for the world to see. I would like to say it again, it is not Islamic this beheading. Certainly it is not Islamic for Sunnis to massacre captured Shiahs or Shiahs to murder Sunnis.
The two sects had always fought each other in their mutual belief that the other is not Muslim. But what is happening today is bloodlust which started with the fight against Jewish Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel. Unable to defeat the Jews and their nominally Christian Europeans backers, the Muslims have now turned against each other. And occasionally when they manage to capture a European, they vent their spite on him.
This will go on for decades and even centuries, waxing and waning, for as long as there is the state of Israel and the Palestinians are denied their right to a homeland.
It is the seizure of Palestinian land to form the state of Israel which triggered the violent reaction of the Muslims in the last 70 over years. The Jewish reaction to the violent struggle of the Palestinians is to out terrorise them. That in turn resulted in other Muslims joining the Palestinian struggle. Unable to wage war they resort to acts of terror. And Israeli state terror escalated.
Directly and indirectly the Europeans back Israeli state terrorism. And so it goes on. So what is the solution? It is certainly not more suppression and oppression of the Muslims, and in particular the Palestinian.
The solution lies in fairness and justice for the Palestinians.
I am writing this in Chechnya, a republic in the Russian Federation. The Chechens fought a war of independence against the Russians. It was a futile war. Three million ill-equipped Chechens against 200 million Russians with one of the most powerful military forces in the world. Chechnya and Grozny its capital were razed to the ground before they were forced to stop fighting.
After the war the Russians allocated a trillion dollars to rebuild Chechnya and Grozny. Today, eight years after war ended, there is not a trace of the massive destruction caused by Russian missiles and bombs. Instead the whole country, and in particular Grozny has been completely rebuilt.
And today the Chechens can once again believe and practice the Muslim religion. Beautiful mosques and religious school abound. There is no more communist sanction against Islam. Chechnya remains a republic in the Russian Federation but in religion and in many ways it is independent. The relation with Russia is friendly.
Maybe there is something to learn from the Chechen saga. Stop the oppression of Palestine. Stop the Crusade. Stop postulating the clash of civilizations. Stop regime change. Stop supplying arms for Muslims to fight Muslims. It may take time but slowly the jihadists, will have no incentive to fight.
Allah has ordained that the enemy of the Muslims are those who fight and oppress them. Muslims must not war against those who have not attacked them (in any way). That is the way of Islam – peace unless you declare war against Islam.
Muslims who adhere strictly to these tenets and wish to live at peace with non-Muslims can only have credibility and be listened to if the oppression of the Muslims ceases.
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.
The Obama administration, working through the Russian government, has secured an agreement from the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to permit U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in parts of Syria, according to a source briefed on the secret arrangements.
The reported agreement would clear away one of the chief obstacles to President Barack Obama’s plan to authorize U.S. warplanes to cross into Syria to attack Islamic State forces – the concern that entering Syrian territory might prompt anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian government’s missile batteries.
The usual protocol for the U.S. military – when operating in territory without a government’s permission – is to destroy the air defenses prior to conducting airstrikes so as to protect American pilots and aircraft, as was done with Libya in 2011. However, in other cases, U.S. intelligence agencies have arranged for secret permission from governments for such attacks, creating a public ambiguity usually for the benefit of the foreign leaders while gaining the necessary U.S. military assurances.
In essence, that appears to be what is happening behind the scenes in Syria despite the hostility between the Obama administration and the Assad government. Obama has called for the removal of Assad but the two leaders find themselves on the same side in the fight against the Islamic State terrorists who have battled Assad’s forces while also attacking the U.S.-supported Iraqi government and beheading two American journalists.
In a national address last week, Obama vowed to order U.S. air attacks across Syria’s border without any coordination with the Syrian government, a proposition that Damascus denounced as a violation of its sovereignty. So, in this case, Syria’s behind-the-scenes acquiescence also might provide some politically useful ambiguity for Obama as well as Assad.
Yet, this secret collaboration may go even further and include Syrian government assistance in the targeting of the U.S. attacks, according to the source who spoke on condition of anonymity. That is another feature of U.S. military protocol in conducting air strikes – to have some on-the-ground help in pinpointing the attacks.
As part of its public pronouncements about the future Syrian attacks, the Obama administration sought $500 million to train “vetted” Syrian rebels to handle the targeting tasks inside Syria as well as to carry out military ground attacks. But that approach – while popular on Capitol Hill – could delay any U.S. airstrikes into Syria for months and could possibly negate Assad’s quiet acceptance of the U.S. attacks, since the U.S.-backed rebels share one key goal of the Islamic State, the overthrow of Assad’s relatively secular regime.
Just last month, Obama himself termed the strategy of arming supposedly “moderate” Syrian rebels “a fantasy.” He told the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman: “This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”
Obama’s point would seem to apply at least as much to having the “moderate” rebels face down the ruthless Islamic State jihadists who engage in suicide bombings and slaughter their captives without mercy. But this “fantasy” of the “moderate” rebels has a big following in Congress and on the major U.S. op-ed pages, so Obama has included the $500 million in his war plan despite the risk it poses to Assad’s acquiescence to American air attacks.
Neocon Wish List
Without Assad’s consent, the U.S. airstrikes might require a much wider U.S. bombing campaign to first target Syrian government defenses, a development long sought by Official Washington’s influential neoconservatives who have kept “regime change” in Syria near the top of their international wish list.
For the past several years, the Israeli government also has sought the overthrow of Assad, even at the risk of Islamic extremists gaining power. The Israeli thinking had been that Assad, as an ally of Iran, represented a greater threat to Israel because his government was at the center of the so-called Shiite crescent reaching from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut and southern Lebanon, the base for Hezbollah.
The thinking was that if Assad’s government could be pulled down, Iran and Hezbollah – two of Israel’s principal “enemies” – would be badly damaged. A year ago, then-Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren articulated this geopolitical position in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
More recently, however, with the al-Qaeda-connected Nusra Front having seized Syrian territory adjacent to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – forcing the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers – the balance of Israeli interests may be tipping in favor of preferring Assad to having Islamic extremists possibly penetrating directly into Israeli territory.
Direct attacks on Israel would be a temptation to al-Nusra Front, which is competing for the allegiance of young jihadists with the Islamic State. While the Islamic State, known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, has captured the imaginations of many youthful extremists by declaring the creation of a “caliphate” with the goal of driving Western interests from the Middle East, al-Nusra could trump that appeal by actually going on the offensive against one of the jihadists’ principal targets, Israel.
Yet, despite Israel’s apparent rethinking of its priorities, America’s neocons appear focused still on their long-held strategy of using violent “regime change” in the Middle East to eliminate governments that have been major supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, i.e. Syria and Iran.
One reason why Obama may have opted for a secretive overture to the Assad regime, using intelligence channels with the Russians as the middlemen, is that otherwise the U.S. neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies would have howled in protest.
The Russian Hand
Besides the tactical significance of U.S. intelligence agencies arranging Assad’s tacit acceptance of U.S. airstrikes over Syrian territory, the reported arrangement is also significant because of the role of Russian intelligence serving as the intermediary.
That suggests that despite the U.S.-Russian estrangement over the Ukraine crisis, the cooperation between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin has not been extinguished; it has instead just gone further underground.
Last year, this growing behind-the-scenes collaboration between Obama and Putin represented a potential tectonic geopolitical shift in the Middle East. In the short term, their teamwork produced agreements that averted a U.S. military strike against Syria last September (by getting Assad to surrender his chemical weapons arsenal) and struck a tentative deal with Iran to constrain but not eliminate its nuclear program.
In the longer term, by working together to create political solutions to various Mideast crises, the Obama-Putin cooperation threatened to destroy the neocons’ preferred strategy of escalating U.S. military involvement in the region. There was the prospect, too, that the U.S.-Russian tag team might strong-arm Israel into a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
So, starting last September – almost immediately after Putin helped avert a U.S. air war against Syria – key neocons began taking aim at Ukraine as a potential sore point for Putin. A leading neocon, Carl Gershman, president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed pages of the neocon Washington Post to identify Ukraine as “the biggest prize” and explaining how its targeting could undermine Putin’s political standing inside Russia.
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” At the time, Gershman’s NED was funding scores of political and media projects inside Ukraine.
By early 2014, American neocons and their “liberal interventionist” pals were conspiring “to midwife” a coup to overthrow Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych, according to a phrase used by U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt in an intercepted phone conversation with Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who was busy handpicking leaders to replace Yanukovych.
A neocon holdover from George W. Bush’s administration, Nuland had been a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and is married to prominent neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for a New American Century which prepared the blueprint for the neocon strategy of “regime change” starting with the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The U.S.-backed coup ousted Yanukovych on Feb. 22 and sparked a bloody civil war, leaving thousands dead, mostly ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine. But the Gershman-Nuland strategy also drove a deep wedge between Obama and Putin, seeming to destroy the possibility that their peace-seeking collaboration would continue in the Middle East. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]
New Hope for ‘Regime Change’
The surprise success of Islamic State terrorists in striking deep inside Iraq during the summer revived neocon hopes that their “regime change” strategy in Syria might also be resurrected. By baiting Obama to react with military force not only in Iraq but across the border in Syria, neocons like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham put the ouster of Assad back in play.
In a New York Times op-ed on Aug. 29, McCain and Graham used vague language about resolving the Syrian civil war, but clearly implied that Assad must go. They wrote that thwarting ISIS “requires an end to the [civil] conflict in Syria, and a political transition there, because the regime of President Bashar al-Assad will never be a reliable partner against ISIS; in fact, it has abetted the rise of ISIS, just as it facilitated the terrorism of ISIS’ predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq.”
Though the McCain-Graham depiction of Assad’s relationship to ISIS and al-Qaeda was a distortion at best – in fact, Assad’s army has been the most effective force in pushing back against the Sunni terrorist groups that have come to dominate the Western-backed rebel movement – the op-ed’s underlying point is obvious: a necessary step in the U.S. military operation against ISIS must be “regime change” in Damascus.
That would get the neocons back on their original track of forcing “regime change” in countries seen as hostile to Israel. The first target was Iraq with Syria and Iran always meant to follow. The idea was to deprive Israel’s close-in enemies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, of crucial support. But the neocon vision got knocked off track when Bush’s Iraq War derailed and the American people balked at extending the conflict to Syria and Iran.
Still, the neocons retained their vision even after Bush and Cheney departed. They also remained influential by holding onto key positions inside Official Washington – at think tanks, within major news outlets and even inside the Obama administration. They also built a crucial alliance with “liberal interventionists” who had Obama’s ear. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Dangerous Neocon-R2P Alliance.”]
The neocons’ new hope arrived with the public outrage over ISIS’s atrocities. Yet, while pushing to get this new war going, the neocons have downplayed their “regime change” agenda, getting Obama to agree only to extend his anti-ISIS bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria. But it was hard to envision expanding the war into Syria without ousting Assad.
Now, however, if the source’s account is correct regarding Assad’s quiet assent to U.S. airstrikes, Obama may have devised a way around the need to bomb Assad’s military, an maneuver that might again frustrate the neocons’ beloved goal of “regime change.”
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Let us be clear, if that is possible, about President Obama’s plan to deal with ISIS, the boogeyman of America’s own making. The president last week swore that he would “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, after having spent three years providing weapons and money to jihadists fighters, including ISIS, in hopes that they would “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Syrian state of president Bashar Assad. So, the Americans set out to destroy one state, in Syria, whose government had never presented any danger to the U.S., and wind up creating another state, a caliphate astride the borders of Syria and Iraq, that openly declares its intention to do battle with the U.S.
Obama assures us that he is assembling a new coalition of the willing to join him in smashing ISIS. It turns out that every prospective member of the coalition was a co-conspirator with the United States in giving birth to ISIS – Britain and France and other Europeans, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates…ISIS has many, many fathers, all of whom now deny patrimony.
Obama appears to be leaving the natural gas-rich nation of Qatar out of his coalition, which doesn’t seem fair, since Qatar was a loyal ally of the United States and NATO just three years ago, when Obama was busy trying to degrade and destroy another state, Libya, which also posed no threat to the U.S. The emir of Qatar worked his gaseous little butt off for Obama, sending money and guns and mercenaries to help the Libyan jihadists that the U.S. wanted to install as the new government.
Once regime change had been accomplished in Libya, Qatar helped the Americans send hundreds of Libyan jihadists to Syria, to put that regime out of business. But, Libya never did get a new state, to replace the one that was destroyed in 2011. Instead, the country is wracked by civil war, that is also a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its friends and Qatar.
Wars Within Wars Within Regime Changes
It seems that Qatar backed the wrong side – the Muslim Brotherhood – after the regime change in Egypt in 2011. The Saudi Arabian royal family hates the Muslim Brotherhood, because the Brotherhood advocate elections, and kings don’t do elections. So, the Saudis bankrolled another regime change in Egypt, putting the military back in charge, and are now fighting a proxy war with Qatar in Libya. Which is why the Saudis blackballed Qatar from participating in Obama’s coalition of the willing against ISIS. (You do understand all this, right?)
Turkey, which is part of NATO, has been a wonderful father to ISIS, allowing the caliphate’s fighters free use of its long border with Syria and Iraq. In return, Turkey gets to buy the cheap oil from the fields that ISIS seized from Syria and Iraq, which makes the Turks somewhat reluctant to try to kill little baby ISIS.
It’s starting to look like Obama might have to take out the caliphate on his own, which is why the president’s top military advisor is talking about putting serious U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq, and maybe in Syria. Meanwhile, Obama is putting together a new army of rebels to continue the job of degrading and destroying the Syrian state – unless, of course, these new fighters just take the money and guns and join ISIS, too.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
A senior European Union official has revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from ISIL Takfiri militants despite their rhetoric against the group.
In a briefing to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, EU Ambassador to Iraq Jana Hybas-kova said some European countries have purchased crude from the ISIL.
She, however, refused to disclose any names despite pressure by some Parliament members to do so.
The EU official also warned against any support by the West for separatist Kurdish groups who, she said, would destabilize the Middle East.
Earlier reports accused Turkey of buying and transporting oil from both the ISIL and Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. According to the reports, Western intelligence agencies could track ISIL oil shipments as they moved across Iraq and Turkey.
ISIL reportedly controls eleven oil fields in northern Iraq as well as Syria’s Raqqa province.
US intelligence officials estimate that the Takfiri militants earn more than USD 3 million a day from oil profit, theft, human trafficking and ransom. They say the militants sell oil and other products via established networks in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Turkey has denied reports of involvement in ISIL’s oil smuggling operations.
While the United States, United Kingdom and NATO are pushing for war with Russia, it behooves people and their governments around the world to take a clear stand for peace and against violence and war, no matter where it comes from. We are at a dangerous point in our history of the human family and it would be the greatest of tragedies for ourselves and our children if we simply allowed the war profiteers to take us into a third world war, resulting in the death of untold millions of people.
NATO’s decision at its summit in Wales (September 4-5) to create a new 4,000 strong rapid reaction force for initial deployment in the Baltics is a dangerous path for us all to be forced down, and could well lead to a third world war if not stopped. What is needed now are cool heads and people of wisdom and not more guns, more weapons, more war.
NATO is the leadership which has been causing the ongoing wars from the present conflict in the Ukraine, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and others.
NATO’s latest move commits its 28 member states to spend two percent of their gross domestic product on the military, and to establish a series of three to five bases in Eastern Europe where equipment and supplies will be pre-positioned to help speed deployments, among other measures.
This decision by the United States/NATO to create a high readiness force with the alleged purpose of countering an alleged Russian threat reminds me of the war propaganda of lies, half-truths, insinuations and rumors to which we were all subjected in order to try to soften us all up for the Iraq war and subsequent horrific wars of terror which were carried out by NATO allied forces.
According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) observation team, NATO’s reports, including its satellite photos which show Russian combat forces engaged in military operations inside sovereign territory of Ukraine, were based on false evidence.
While NATO is busy announcing a counter-invasion to the non-existent Russian invasion of Ukraine, people in Ukraine are calling out for peace and negotiations, for political leadership which will bring them peace, not weapons and war.
This spearhead military force will be provided by allies in rotation and will involve also air, sea and special forces. We are also informed by a NATO spokesperson that this force will be trained to deal with unconventional actions, from the funding of separatist groups to the use of social media, intimidation and black propaganda.
No doubt the current Western media’s demonization of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian people, by trying to inculcate fear and hatred of them, is part of the black propaganda campaign.
NATO’s latest proposals of 4,000 soldiers, and a separate force of 10,000 strong British-led joint expeditionary force also proposed, is a highly aggressive and totally irresponsible move by the United States, United Kingdom and NATO. It is breaches the 1997 agreement with Moscow under which NATO pledged not to base substantial numbers of soldiers in Eastern Europe on a permanent basis.
NATO should have been disbanded when the Warsaw Pact disintegrated but it was not and is now controlled by the United States for its own agenda. When speaking of NATO, one of President Bill Clinton’s officials said “America is NATO”. Today NATO, instead of being abolished, is re-inventing itself in re-arming and militarizing European states and justifying its new role by creating enemy images – be they Russians, IS (the Islamic State), and so on.
In an interdependent, interconnected world, struggling to build fraternity, economic cooperation and human security, there is no place for the Cold War policies of killing and threats to kill and policies of exceptionalism and superiority. The world has changed. People do not want to be divided and they want to see an end to violence, militarism and war.
The old consciousness is dysfunctional and a new consciousness based on an ethic of non-killing and respect and cooperation is spreading. It is time for NATO to recognize that its violent policies are counterproductive. The Ukraine crisis, groups such as the Islamic State, etc., will not be solved with guns, but with justice and through dialogue.
Above all, the world needs hope. It needs inspirational political leadership and this could be given if President Barack Obama and President Putin sat down together to solve the Ukraine conflict through dialogue and negotiation and in a non-violent way.
We live in dangerous times, but all things are possible, all things are changing … and peace is possible.
Beyond conspiracy theories – which are often justified in an era where everything appears as though it is part of a plan or a scheme – we have the right to ask why the majority of the leaders of the Islamic State (IS), formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), had all been incarcerated in the same prison at Camp Bucca, which was run by the US occupation forces near Omm Qasr in southeastern Iraq.
In the context of conspiracy theories, there are a lot of rumors about links between IS and the US intelligence or affiliated organizations. But to what extent are these theories credible? Is there evidence that corroborate them?
These questions seem legitimate, provided that ready-made answers are not accepted without convincing evidence. However, it is difficult to get this kind of evidence, and we might need another Edward Snowden or WikiLeaks to learn the real truth about the relationship between IS and US intelligence.
Yet not having this evidence should not prevent us from trying to gather some clues that may not amount to definitive evidence, but which will no doubt question the narrative that fully exonerates US intelligence from involvement with the jihadis.
First of all, most IS leaders had passed through the former U.S. detention facility at Camp Bucca in Iraq. So who were the most prominent of these detainees?
The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, tops the list. He was detained from 2004 until mid-2006. After he was released, he formed the Army of Sunnis, which later merged with the so-called Mujahideen Shura Council.
What happened during Baghdadi’s detention in Bucca remains a mystery. Some press reports said he had been detained as a “civilian” in prison for 10 months in 2004, while other reports stated he was captured by the US forces in 2005 and held for four years at Camp Bucca. This latter possibility is unlikely, given that Baghdadi had formed the Army of Sunnis and joined the Mujahideen Shura Council shortly before the assassination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June 2006. This is while bearing in mind that this council was established in January 2006, which makes it more likely that Baghdadi had been released either in late 2005 or early 2006.
It should be noted that after the Army of the Sunnis merged with the Mujahideen Shura Council, the Americans were able to successfully hunt down the leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq, starting with Zarqawi in 2006, and not ending with Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir in 2010, the death of the former being the event that paved the way for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to become the organization’s leader.
Another prominent IS leader today is Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, who was a former officer in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. This man also “graduated” from Camp Bucca, and currently serves as a member on IS’ military council.
Another member of the military council who was in Bucca is Adnan Ismail Najm. He was known as Osama al-Bilawi (Abu Abdul_Rahman al-Bilawi). IS named the operation for the “invasion of Mosul” after him. He was detained on January 2005 in Bucca, and was also a former officer in Saddam’s army. He was the head of a shura council in IS, before he was killed by the Iraqi army near Mosul on June 4, 2014.
Camp Bucca was also home to Haji Samir, aka Haji Bakr, whose real name is Samir Abed Hamad al-Obeidi al-Dulaimi. He was a colonel in the army of the former Iraqi regime. He was detained in Bucca, and after his release, he joined al-Qaeda. He was the top man in ISIS in Syria, but was killed in Aleppo in the first week of January 2014.
According to the testimonies of US officers who worked in the prison, the administration of Camp Bucca had taken measures including the segregation of prisoners on the basis of their ideology. This, according to experts, made it possible to recruit people directly and indirectly.
Former detainees had said in documented television interviews that Bucca, which was closed down in September 2009, was akin to an “al-Qaeda school,” where senior extremists gave lessons on explosives and suicide attacks to younger prisoners. A former prisoner named Adel Jassem Mohammed said that one of the extremists remained in the prison for two weeks only, but even so was able to recruit 25 out of 34 inmates who were there. Mohammed also said that U.S. military officials did nothing to stop the extremists from mentoring the other detainees.
While Camp Bucca is the common denominator among most IS leaders, another one is the fact that a majority of them were officers in the Baathist army, which explains the ease with which the radical group has been able to infiltrate the clans and coax some of their leaders into joining its ranks.
Another noteworthy point is that none of the leaders who had emerged out of Bucca and who were subsequently killed, were killed in U.S. airstrikes, but rather at the hands of the Iraqi army, the Syrian army, or in fighting with other armed groups.
What had happened in Bucca then? What were the circumstances that made all those former detainees subsequent leaders in the extremist group? These questions require answers and serious investigations. No doubt, we will one day discover that many more leaders in the group had been detained in Bucca as well, which seems to have been more of a “terrorist academy” than a prison.
The final point that cannot be ignored is that the creation of ISIS has greatly weakened al-Qaeda.
Obama took to the airwaves yesterday, oh so coincidentally, on the eve of September 11, to roll out his latest “smart war.” And it comes, oh so coincidentally, just before Congressional midterms when every member of Congress fears like the plague to be painted as a dove, just as happened in 2002 before Bush II took us to war.
Whatever role ISIS plays in this, Syria is certainly the target. It is telling that when it comes to money, Obama is asking Congress only for funding to train the Syrian “moderate rebels” in that bastion of Sunni moderation, Saudi Arabia.
The rationales that Obama is peddling make no sense. If the barbarity of beheading were the actual trigger of this latest onslaught on the Middle East, then the U.S. would not be sending our “moderate” trainees to Saudi Arabia where beheading is a well respected national past time – far more popular than allowing women to drive automobiles.
And if the barbarity that has motivated Obama were the wanton taking of American life, then we would be training Jewish “moderates” to overthrow the Apartheid State of Israel. For let us remember that the IDF bulldozed the American Rachel Corrie into the ground when she stood in the way of the destruction of Palestinian housing. And it was Israel that killed the American citizen living in Turkey, Furkan Dogan, who was on the Mavi Marmara in the Gaza Flotilla. And it was Israel that tried to blow the USS Liberty out of the water killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171.
No, it is not the beheadings nor the loss of American life that move Obama. Syria is now to be bombed. That is an act of war. In fact, arming rebels to overthrow a government is an act of war but there will be no declaration of war – just a vote to supply the funds for the mythical “moderate” rebels.
We are told that only ISIS leaders will be targeted in Syria. But Syria has not approved bombing its territory so it does not believe that story. And let us suppose that U.S. planes are overhead when Assad’s forces are attacking “moderate” rebels that the U.S. is arming and training. Is it credible that there will be no bombing of the Syrian forces?
And ISIS remains a mysterious entity, springing up out of nowhere and carrying arms that are supplied by American and Saudi agencies. In Iran, as was reported in the NYT yesterday on the front page, the great majority of “the street” believes it is an American/Israeli/Saudi creation. It may be true that ISIS has got out of control and that Saudi Arabia now fears it, but that could also be another fiction. All we know for sure is that Syria and Iraq are to be bombed again. And also that ISIS emerged only after our invasion, bombing and continuing presence in Iraq.
Syria, of course, was on the list of targets that General Wesley Clarke revealed to us stating that there was a hit list in the Middle East and North Africa of seven countries, “starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” And miraculously the schedule has been modified only slightly perhaps because Assad has put up such fierce resistance.
And other lies are in the air. Obama tells us that there will be not “boots on the ground,” but he also admits that he has sent over a thousand additional troops to Iraq. Are they barefoot? In fact, the lies will only grow more intense and be repeated more frequently in the days to come as the war propaganda machine swings into ever higher gear.
As far as the election of 2008 goes, Obama promised peace, and Hillary war. But so far Obama has been in perfect synch with his hawkish adversary who has been especially keen to assault Syria. The election debate was a sham.
So we may expect Syria to be targeted and Iran next. But Iran is supported by Russia already under attack in its West via Ukraine. Can Russia allow Iran to be the next target? Can Iran allow Syria to fall to the U.S. Empire? It is quite clear where this is going. The dream of the U.S. Empire to dominate the Eurasian land mass is being implemented: Damascus, Tehran, Moscow and finally Beijing unless nuclear war breaks out first. Obama and the rest of the imperial elite are flirting with Armageddon.
John V. Walsh can be reached at email@example.com.
It takes a professional trauma, I suspect, for a journalist to awaken from the slumber that is their role as news entertainer. Then, like Neo in the Matrix finally seeing the binary code that is the basis of what he assumes to be reality, the reasons for the media’s dismal performance become unavoidably clear.
Andrew MacGregor Marshall has grounds to be disillusioned. Despite a long and successful career, including a stretch covering Iraq as bureau chief, he was abandoned by the Reuters news agency in 2011 when he took possession of classified documents about the Thai monarchy. Reuters showed what a news organisation does when one of its reporters provokes the fury of a US ally: it quickly loses its backbone and sides with the power elites against its own reporter.
Only a few journalists find themselves coming up against their news organisation in such dramatic fashion. And of those, an even smaller number decide to act on principle and resign. An even tinier number choose to speak out, based on their own experiences, about the failures of journalism. Doing so is likely to be a form of career suicide. So bravo to Marshall for this interview with RT that offers many great insights into the role of journalists.
I came to believe that what we’d done in Iraq had been fairly useless, because we covered the day-to-day bloodshed and killing, but we failed to give the proper context that would allow readers to understand what was going on. It was almost like bloodthirsty entertainment. It makes headlines, but I don’t think mainstream media coverage of these conflicts really produces understanding. In fact I say it does the opposite, it prevents understanding. There is a focus on blood and gore and there is no attempt to really explain what the geopolitical forces behind it are. …
Nobody ever told me that I should lie, and if they ever had I would refuse. I think most of my colleagues in the mainstream media are similar.
But what was interesting is that it’s more insidious than that. There is a certain discourse that becomes normalized, in which certain views are acceptable and others not. And if you make obvious statements, you know, like about the role of banks or global superpowers, and about the disaster that’s befallen the world in many areas in recent years, you are often marginalized as some sort of loony figure. And there is a “cult of moderation,” of being “neutral”’ in the media. Being neutral is normally held to be that if there is a crazy right-winger or left-winger, you are somewhere in the middle. But obviously, truth is not always in the middle. …
I think it is through this process that the mainstream media basically becomes a tool of misinforming people, rather than informing people. It’s not so much deliberate lies, although some clearly do engage in deliberate lies, but it’s just the sense that there are some things that are safe to say that we become conditioned that they are safe to say, and there are other things that we probably know them to be true, but if we say them we are mocked or delegitimised. …
We have seen Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib and Bagram, and many other US detention centers. We have seen torture, and sexual torture became normalized. But when I was trying to report any story like this for Reuters, my editors would demand enormous evidence. I had to jump over innumerable hurdles to prove that my staff had been tortured. And I knew these men very well and I knew they were telling me the truth.
But if we wanted to report on atrocities by a militant group in Baqubah or Fallujah, we would just write “that it had been reported,” and there would be no attempt to ask us to prove what happened, because it was just assumed that this is what the militants do – they do bad things, and the Westerners do good things. …
I think that there is tendency for the Western media to claim that it is neutral and unbiased, when in fact it’s clearly propagating a one-sided, quiet nationalistic and selfish view of its own interventions in these countries. If I’d ever been told by any of my bosses to lie, I would have quit. And I ended up quitting, because I was told to lie about Thailand. But it’s done more subtly. If you want to accuse the US military of an atrocity, you have to make sure that every last element of your story is absolutely accurate, because if you make one mistake, you will be vilified and your career will be over. And we have seen that happen to some people in recent years. But if you want to say that some group of militants in Yemen or Afghanistan or Iraq have committed an atrocity, your story might be completely wrong, but nobody will vilify you and nobody will ever really check it out….
I think it is our responsibility to dig deeper and talk about causes. Why are these conflicts happening? So rather than focus on the froth and the atrocities, and the horror on the top, which are important, we have to also try and provide the framework that allows people to understand why this is happening.