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Oppose Force to Save Starving Syrians

By David Swanson | FDL | February 27, 2014

I’ve been asked to debate Danny Postel on the question of Syria, and so have read the op-ed he co-authored with Nader Hashemi, “Use Force to Save Starving Syrians.”

Excellent responses have been published by Coleen Rowley and Rob Prince and probably others. And my basic thinking on Syria has not changed fundamentally since I wrote down my top 10 reasons not to attack Syria and lots and lots of other writing on Syria over the years. But replying to Postel’s op-ed might be helpful to people who’ve read it and found it convincing or at least disturbing. It might also allow Postel to most efficiently find out where I’m coming from prior to our debate.

So, here’s where I’m coming from. Postel’s op-ed proposes the use of force as if force hadn’t been tried yet, as if force were not in fact the very problem waiting to be solved. What he is proposing is increased force. The arming and funding and training of one side in Syria by the CIA, Saudi Arabia, et al, and the other side by Russia, et al, is not enough; more is needed, Postel believes. But “force” is a very non-descriptive term, as are all the other terms Postel uses to refer to what he wants: “air cover,” “coercive measures,” “Mr. Assad … [should] be left behind.”

I find it hard to imagine people on the ground while NATO dropped thousands of bombs on Libya pointing to the sky and remarking “Check out the air cover!”

Or this: “What happened to your children, Ma’am?” “They experienced some coercive measures.”

Or this: “What became of Gaddafi?” “Oh, him? He was left behind.”

When people who experience modern wars that wealthy nations launch against poor ones talk about them, they describe detailed horror, terror, and trauma. They recount what it’s like to try to hold a loved one’s guts into their mutilated body as they gasp their last. Even the accounts of recovering and regretful drone pilots in the US have much more humanity and reality in them than do Postel’s euphemisms.

I’m not questioning the sincerity of Postel’s belief that, despite it’s long record of abysmal failure, humanitarian war would find success in a nation as divided as Syria, of all unlikely places. But Postel should trust his readers to share his conclusion after being presented with the full facts of the case. If Postel believes that the people whose lives would be ended or devastated by “air cover” are out-weighed by the people who he believes would be thereby saved from starvation, he should say so. He should at the very least acknowledge that people would be killed in the process and guesstimate how many they would be.

Postel claims Somalia as a past example of a “humanitarian intervention,” without dwelling on the chaos and violence aggravated and ongoing there. This seems another shortcoming to me. If you are going to make a moral decision, not only should it include the negative side of the ledger, but it should include the likely medium-term and long-term results, good and bad. Looking at Somalia with a broader view hurts Postel’s case, but so does looking at Libya, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Studies by Erica Chenoweth and others have documented that violent solutions to oppression and tyranny are not only less likely to succeed, but if they succeed their success is shorter lived. Violence breeds violence. “Force,” translated into the reality of killing people’s loved ones, breeds resentment, not reconciliation.

So, I think Postel’s case for dropping tons of deadly “coercive measures” on Syria would be a weak one even if it were likely to resemble his outline. Sadly, it isn’t. The war on Libya three years ago was sold as an emergency use of “force” to protect supposedly threatened people in Benghazi. It was immediately, illegally, predictably, cynically, and disastrously turned into a campaign of bombing the nation to overthrow its government — a government that, like Syria’s, had long been on a Pentagon list to be overthrown for anything but humanitarian reasons. Postel presents a quick and antiseptic “leaving behind” operation to provide food to the starving, but surely he knows that is not what it would remain for any longer than it takes to say “R2P.” Why else does Postel refer so vaguely to leaving Assad behind?

It may be worth noting that it’s not aid workers advocating for “coercion” strikes on Syria. I spoke with a US government aid worker in Syria some months back who had this to say:

“Before we contemplate military strikes against the Syrian regime, we would do well to carefully consider what impact such strikes would have on our ongoing humanitarian programs, both those funded by the US and by other countries and international organizations. These programs currently reach hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people throughout Syria, in areas controlled both by the regime and the opposition. We know from past military interventions, such as in Yugoslavia and Iraq that airstrikes launched for humanitarian reasons often result in the unintended deaths of many civilians. The destruction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, which such airstrikes may entail, would significantly hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.

“The provision of this assistance in regime controlled areas requires the agreement, and in many cases the cooperation, of the Assad government. Were the Assad regime, in response to US military operations, to suspend this cooperation, and prohibit the UN and nongovernmental organizations from operating in territory under its control, hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians would be denied access to food, shelter, and medical care. In such a scenario, we would be sacrificing programs of proven effectiveness in helping the people of Syria, in favor of ill considered actions that may or may not prevent the future use of chemical weapons, or otherwise contribute to U.S. objectives in any meaningful way.”

Let’s grant that the crisis has continued for months and worsened. It remains the fact that it is advocates of war advocating war, not aid workers advocating war. The option of ceasing to arm both sides, and of pursuing a negotiated settlement, is simply ignored by the war advocates. The option of nonviolent efforts to deliver aid is avoided entirely. The failure to provide adequate aid to refugees who where that can be reached seems far less pressing than the failure to provide aid where that failure can become a justification for an escalated war.

“Humanitarian interventions,” Postel writes, “typically occur when moral principles overlap with political interests.” This seems to be an acknowledgment that political interests are something other than moral. So, there’s no cry for “humanitarian intervention” in Bahrain or Palestine or Egypt because it doesn’t fit “political interests.” That seems like an accurate analysis. And presumably some interventions that do fit political interests are not moral and humanitarian. The question is which are which. Postel believes there have been enough humanitarian interventions to describe something as being typical of them, but he doesn’t list them. In fact, the record of US military and CIA interventions is a unbroken string of anti-humanitarian horrors. And in most cases, if not every case, actual aid would have served humanity better than guns and bombs, and so would have ceasing pre-existing involvement rather than escalating it and calling that an intervention.

But once you’ve accepted that the tool of war should be encouraged in certain cases, even though it’s misused in other cases, then something else has to be added to your moral calculation, namely the propagation of war and preparations for war. Those of us who cannot find a single war worth supporting differ only slightly perhaps from those who find one war in a hundred worth backing. But it’s a difference that shifts opposition to support for an investment that costs the world some $2 trillion a year. The United Nations believes that $30 billion a year could end serious starvation around the world. Imagine what, say, $300 billion could do for food, water, medicine, education, and green energy. Imagine if the United States were to offer that kind of aid to every nation able to peacefully and democratically accept it. Would polls continue to find the US viewed as the greatest threat to peace on earth? Would the title of most beloved nation on earth begin to look plausible?

Members of the nonviolent peace force, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire, and other advocates of de-escalation in Syria traveled freely around Syria some months back. How were they able to do that? What might trainers in creative nonviolent action offer Syria that CIA and military trainers aren’t offering? The alternative is never even considered by advocates of war-or-nothing. Postel wants to back “democratically oriented” rebel groups, but is violence clearly democratically oriented? Turning our eyes back on ourselves suggests a rather disturbing answer. In September 2013, President Obama gave us the hard sell. Watch these videos of suffering children, he said, and support striking their nation with missiles or support their ongoing suffering. And a huge majority in the US rejected the idea that those were the only two choices. A majority opposed the strikes. An even larger majority opposed arming the rebels. And a large majority favored humanitarian aid. There is a case to be made that democracy would be better spread by example than by defying the will of the US people in order to bomb yet another nation in democracy’s name.

Postel, to his credit, calls the “Responsibility to Protect” a “principle.” Some have called it a “law.” But it cannot undo the UN Charter. War being illegal, its use damages the rule of law. That result must also be factored into a full moral calculation of how to act. Act we must, as Postel says repeatedly. The question is how. Rob Prince presents a useful plan of action in the article linked above.

Postel’s most persuasive argument is probably, for many readers, his contention that only threatening to act will save the day. He claims that Syria has responded positively to threats of force. But this is not true. Syria was always willing to give up its chemical weapons and had long since proposed a WMD-free Middle East — a proposal that ran up against the lack of “political interest” in eliminating Israel’s illegal weapons. Also false, of course, were claims by the Obama administration to know that Assad had used chemical weapons. See Coleen Rowley’s summary of how that case has collapsed in the article linked above.

Granted, there can be a good honest case for an action for which misguided, false, and fraudulent cases have been offered. But I haven’t seen such a case yet for taking an action in Syria that would, to be sure, dramatically declare that action was being taken, release a lot of pent-up tension, and enrich Raytheon’s owners, but almost certainly leave Syrians, Americans, and the world worse off.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

The Libyan Bedlam: General Hifter, the CIA and the Unfinished Coup

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | February 19, 2014

On Friday, Feb 14, 92 prisoners escaped from their prison in the Libyan town of Zliten. 19 of them were eventually recaptured, two of whom were wounded in clashes with the guards. It was just another daily episode highlighting the utter chaos which has engulfed Libya since the overthrow of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.

Much of this is often reported with cliché explanations as in the country’s ‘security vacuum’, or Libya’s lack of a true national identity. Indeed, tribe and region seem to supersede any other affiliation, but it is hardly that simple.

On that same Friday, Feb 14, Maj. Gen. Khalifa Hifter announced a coup in Libya. “The national command of the Libyan Army is declaring a movement for a new road map” (to rescue the country), Hifter declared through a video post. Oddly enough, little followed by way of a major military deployment in any part of the country. The country’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan described the attempted coup as “ridiculous”.

Others in the military called it a “lie.” One of those who attended a meeting with Hifter prior to the announcement told Al Jazeera that they simply attempted to enforce the national agenda of bringing order, not staging a coup.

Hifter’s efforts were a farce. It generated nothing but more attention to Libya’s fractious reality, following NATO’s war, branded a humanitarian intervention to prevent imminent massacres in Benghazi and elsewhere. “Libya is stable,” Zeidan told Reuters. “(The parliament) is doing its work, and so is the government.”

But Zedian is not correct. His assessment is a clear contradiction to reality, where hundreds of militias rule the country with an iron fist. In fact, the prime minister was himself kidnapped by one militia last October. Hours later, he was released by another militia. Although both, like the rest of the militias, are operating outside government confines, many are directly or loosely affiliated with government officials. In Libya, to have sway over a militia is to have influence over local, regional or national agendas. Unfortunate as it may be, this is the ‘new Libya.’

Some will find most convenient ways to explain the chaos: ‘East Libya is inherently unruly’, some would say; ‘it took a strong leader like Ghaddafi to maintain the national cohesion of a country made of tribes, not citizens,’ others would opine. But the truth is oftentimes inconvenient and requires more than mere platitudes.

Libya is in a state of chaos, not because of some intrinsic tendency to shun order. Libyans, like people all over the world, seek security and stability in their lives. However, other parties, Arab and western, are desperate to ensure that the ‘new Libya’ is consistent with their own interests, even if such interests are obtained at the expense of millions of people.

The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick reported on the coup from Cairo. In his report, “In Libya, a Coup. Or Perhaps Not,” he drew similarities between Libya and Egypt; in the case of Egypt, the military succeeded in consolidating its powers starting on July 3, whereas in Libya a strong military institution never existed in the first place, even during Ghaddafi’s rule. In order for Hifter to stage a coup, he would need to rely on more than a weak and splintered military.

Nonetheless, it is quite interesting that the NYT chose to place Hifter’s ‘ridiculous’ coup within an Egyptian context, while there is a more immediate and far more relevant context at hand, one of which the newspaper and its veteran correspondents should know very well. It is no secret that Hifter has had strong backing from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for nearly three decades.

The man has been branded and rebranded throughout his colorful and sometimes mysterious history more times than one can summarize in a single article. He fought as an officer in the Chadian-Libyan conflict, and was captured alongside his entire unit of 600 men. During his time in prison, Chad experienced a regime change (both regimes were backed by French and US intelligence) and Hifter and his men were released per US request to another African country, then a third. While some chose to return home, others knew well what would await them in Libya, for reasons explained by the Times on May 17, 1991.

“For two years, United States officials have been shopping around for a home for about 350 Libyan soldiers who cannot return to their country because American intelligence officials had mobilized them into a commando force to overthrow Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader,” NYT reported. “Now, the Administration has given up trying to find another country that will accept the Libyans and has decided to bring them to the United States.”

Hifter was then relocated to a Virginia suburb in the early 1990’s and settled there. The news is murky about his exact activities living near Washington D.C., except for his ties to Libyan opposition forces, which of course, operated within a US agenda.

In his thorough report, published in the Business Insider, Russ Baker traced much of Hifter’s activities since his split from Ghaddafi and adoption by the CIA. “A Congressional Research Service report of December 1996 named Hifter as the head of the NFSL’s military wing, the Libyan National Army. After he joined the exile group, the CRS report added, Hifter began ‘preparing an army to march on Libya’. The NFSL, the CSR said, is in exile ‘with many of its members in the United States.”

It took nearly 15 years for Hifter to march on Libya. It also took a massive war that was purported to support a popular uprising. Hifter, as Baker described, is the Libyan equivalent of Iraq’s Ahmed Chalabi, a discredited figure with strong allies in Washington D.C. Chalabi was sent to post-Saddam Iraq to lead the ‘democratization’ process. Instead, he helped set the stage of the calamity underway in that Arab country.

It is no wonder why Hifter’s return was a major source of controversy. Since the news of his CIA affiliation was no big secret, his return to Libya to join the rebels in March caused much confusion. Almost immediately, he was announced by a military spokesman as the rebels’ new commander, only for the announcement to be dismissed by the National Transitional Council as false. The NTC was largely a composition of mysterious characters that had little presence within Libya’s national consciousness. Hifter found himself as the third man in the military ladder, which he accepted but apparently grudgingly so.

Despite the coup failure, Libya will subsist on uncertainty. Arab and Western media speak of illegal shipments of weapons arriving into various Libyan airports. The militias are growing in size. The central government is growing irrelevant. Jail breaks are reported regularly. And Libyans find safety in holding on tighter to their tribal and clan affiliations. What future awaits Libya is hard to predict, but with western and Arab intelligence fingerprints found all over the Libyan bedlam, the future is uninviting.

~

Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).

February 19, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

US-NATO War Crimes against Libya

By Ludwig Watzal | Dissident Voice | January 25, 2014 

All the wars and attacks, which were started by the U. S. and its so-called allies in the wake of 9/11, have wreaked havoc. You name it, you got it: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and perhaps even Iran. The Islamic Republic is not yet off the hook. There are strong forces in the U. S. and in the Middle East that prefer war to peace at the expense of the U. S. Right now, there is a war going on in Libya against the Western installed puppet government, without notice of the corporate media.

Cynthia McKinney, a former African-American Congresswoman has edited a book, The Illegal War on Libya (Clarity Press, Atlanta 2012), on the illegal war on Libya fought by NATO members with the support of the Arab League and some despotic Arab regimes. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms in the House of Representatives before she was defeated by Denise Majette in the 2002 Democratic primary. McKinney’s loss was attributed to her support of Arab causes and to her suggestion that George W. Bush had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

Those whom the Western powers and their fawning media wish to destroy must first be demonised. This was exactly what happened to Libya’s leader Muammar al Gaddafi. Just before France, Great Britain and the U.S. started the war against Libya, Nikolas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi and other Western politicians courted Gaddafi. When the Libyan leader visited Paris in 2007, he struck his tent in front of the guest house of the French government. His bizarre conduct and much more were accepted by Sarkozy in order to promote lucrative business with Libya. A few years later, he rewarded him with and his country with a bombing spree.

As a candidate for the U.S. Presidency, Barack Hussein Obama had nice things to say in December 2007: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” After he became U.S. President, he expanded drone attacks to an unprecedented scale. “As the U.S. fires its drones killing innocent Somalis, Pakistanis, Yemenis, Afghanis, and others around the world, it is my hope that this book will provide a rare prism of truth through which to view NATO’s illegal war in Libya, current and future events, and US foreign relations as a whole,” so McKinney in her introductory remarks.

In her book, Cynthia McKinney has gathered a large number of renowned authors who offer an alternative perspective of the events in Libya. Some authors even risked their life by reporting live during the war. Among them are Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Julien Teil, Stephen Lendman, Christof Lehman, Sara Flounders, Wayne Madsen, Bob Fitrakis, and many others. All of them illuminate the dark machinations of the U.S. in Libya and elsewhere. Their narrative reminds the readers of the overthrow of the Iranian, Guatemalan or Chilean democracy by the U.S. for corporate benefit. The same apparently held true for Libya.

The essays in McKinney’s anthology describe the horrors caused by the Western bombing campaign and the distorted picture of the events painted by mainstream media. Lizzie Phelan refers to a “full blown media war” and to the silence of Western journalists while Libya was “being bombed into extermination.” Although they witnessed these horrors, they found “all manner of justifications for their self and collective delusion.” Their behavior reminded the author of the riddle: “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” The Western media pundits played down the horrendous crimes against the Libyan people by cartooning Gaddafi as a “mad dog.”

Stephen Lendman designated the crimes committed by NATO against Libya as amounting to “a Nuremberg Level.” He added: “The US-led NATO war on Libya will be remembered as one of history’s greatest crimes, violating the letter and spirit of international law and America’s Constitution.” Whereas the “Third Reich criminals were hanged for their crimes. America’s are still free to commit greater ones.” Lendman invokes General Wesley Clark who was told at the Pentagon a few days after 9/11, that the Bush administration had already decided to attack seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq and finishing off with Iran. According to Lendman, the U.S. won’t tolerate democratic rule in Libya, for it needs a puppet regime that would follow the dictates of Washington. Beyond that, the U.S. generously used terror weapons in all its wars. Weapons of mass destruction, including depleted and enriched uranium munitions were widely used in the different Iraq wars, leading to miscarriages and severe deformities by newborn babies.

The anthology also reveals that Gaddafi bore no responsibility for the Lockerbie incident. Although he took the blame and had Libya pay millions of U.S. Dollars to the families of the victims in order to have sanctions lifted against his country, the west thanked him by overthrowing his regime. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya suggests that Libya’s main “crimes” – as seen by the West – were “how (Libya L.W.) distributed and used its wealth, its lack of external debts, and the key role it was attempting to play in continental development and curtailing of external influence in Africa. Tripoli was a spoiler that ef­fectively undermined the interests of the former colonial powers.”

Already at the International Security Conference in Munich, 2007, then President of The Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, used the strongest possible language to warn the U.S., saying that “its aggressive expansionism has brought the world closer to a third world war than it has ever been before.” So far, Putin’s diplomacy prevented U.S. aggression against Syria and Iran.
The book contains, inter alia, a scathing speech by Gaddafi, delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2009. A chronology of the NATO-led assault on Libya completes the book.

This book is a must-read. It gives its readers a premonition of things that are yet to come.

Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog “Between the lines.” He can be reached at: www.watzal.com.

January 25, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Book Review, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

So when will international justice save Palestine?

By Stuart Littlewood | Intifada Palestine | January 21, 2014

Eighteen months ago UK foreign secretary William Hague delivered an important speech at the Hague, home of the International Criminal Court . He was saying all the right things, for example:

“The rule of law is critical to the preservation of the rights of individuals and the protection of the interests of all states.”

“You cannot have lasting peace without justice and accountability.”

“International laws and agreements are the only durable framework to address problems without borders.”

“Such agreements – if they are upheld – are a unifying force in a divided world.”

He spoke of a growing reliance on a rules-based international system. “We depend more and more on other countries abiding by international laws…. We need to strengthen the international awareness and observance of laws and rules….” 

Some emerging powers, he said, didn’t agree with us about how to act when human rights are violated on a colossal scale, while others didn’t subscribe to the basic values and principles of human rights in the first place. He was talking about Syria although many in the audience must have had Israel in mind.

“The international community came together in an unprecedented way to address the crisis in Libya last year,” said Hague. “The Arab League, the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, the European Union, NATO and the International Criminal Court all stepped forward and played their part to protect a civilian population.”

Yeah. Funny how they have never come together for crisis-torn Palestine these last 65 years.

We pledge to fight impunity for grave international crimes wherever they occur’

Hague, positively overflowing with fine words and sentiments, chuntered on.

“We have to ensure that when we are trying to build peace, we don’t overlook the need for justice…. Our coalition Government is firmly of the view that leaders who are responsible for atrocities should be held to account…. Institutions of international justice are not foreign policy tools to be switched on and off at will.”

He said referring leaders in Libya and Sudan to the ICC showed that not signing up to the Rome Statute was no guarantee for escaping accountability. “If you commit war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide you will not be able to rest easily in your bed: the reach of international justice is long and patient…. There is no expiry date for these crimes….”

Woweee! Had he told Netanyahu this? Was this tough talking really from the man who watered down Britain’s laws of Universal Jurisdiction to protect Israel’s war criminals from arrest while shopping in London’s Bond Street? Israel and the US, after signing up to the Rome Statute, had second thoughts and ‘unsigned’ in order to escape the long reach of international justice.  At last it was beginning to sound like bad news for TelAviv’s and Washington’s thugs.

At the time of the Libya fiasco Hague announced he had signed a directive revoking Gaddafi’s diplomatic immunity and also that of his sons, his family and entire household. He bragged how the UK “drove” through a Security Council resolution referring what was happening in Libya to the ICC Prosecutor, saying it “sends a clear message to all involved, in the regime and any other groups that if they commit crimes and atrocities there will be a day of reckoning for them.”

Bravo! What a splendidly high-principled chap Hague suddenly seemed to be. And how swiftly he managed to get the International Criminal Court’s attention when he wanted to. But we didn’t hear Hague and his friends call for a reckoning with the psychopaths of the Israeli regime when they committed mega-atrocities against Gaza’s civilians just two years earlier. Instead they tinkered with our laws of universal jurisdiction to enable suspected war criminals to walk free. Gaddafi wasn’t welcome in London but the Foreign Office happily rolled out the red carpet for Livni, Lieberman, Barak and Netanyahu, while Hague conducted the brass band.

Our foreign secretary rounded off his speech by saying:

“There is no doubt where Britain stands: we are with those who say that international law is universal and that all nations are accountable to it…. We are a country that believes in and upholds the Responsibility to Protect, and that is prepared to act to save lives – including through military action as a last resort. We actively support a rules-based international system…. We pledge to recommit to the importance of fighting impunity for grave international crimes wherever they occur…. We will be a robust supporter of the International Criminal Court in its investigations.”

Trampled Palestinians dispossessed by a brutal military occupier and sitting among the smoking ruins of their homes, or eking out a squalid existence in their refugee camp, must have been impressed.

 gaza105

January 22, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unwelcome Return of Navi Pillay

Navi Pillay

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | December 3, 2013

You could very well say that Navi Pillay was more than anyone else the person responsible for NATO’s disastrous invasion of Libya. As UN Human Rights Commissioner she chaired that fateful meeting in February, 2011 where Libyan NGO leader Soliman Bouchuiguir was allowed to repeat incredible tales about the “massacres” taking place in Libya – tales he openly admitted after the NATO invasion he had just made up. “There is no evidence,” he exclaimed when asked after the invasion to back up his claims, which were the basis of the chain of events that led to NATO bombing.

The first link in that chain was the UN Human Rights Commission hearing chaired by Pillay, where Bouchuiguir’s lies led to the suspension of Libya from that body and the referral of the Libya issue to the UN Security Council. At the hearing, Pillay took her cue from the falsifier Bouchuiguir, exclaiming that, “The Libyan leader must stop the violence now.” Eventually the Security Council passed Resolution 1973, cracking the interventionist door to Libya, which NATO very soon kicked open.

Commissioner Pillay wasted no time setting her “humanitarian interventionist” sights on another crisis just waiting for a military solution. As early as August, 2011 she began urging the International Criminal Court to take up the case against the Syrian government, which was fighting against a foreign-sponsored insurgency seeking its overthrow. Never mind the illegality of her position urging the overthrow of a sovereign state, Pillay has argued relentlessly from the beginning in favor of a Libya-style NATO invasion of Syria.

Now Pillay is back in the news, releasing an incredibly dubious “report” concluding that the Syria government is guilty of war crimes in its fight against a foreign-sponsored insurgency. Pillay’s methodology would be laughed out of any courtroom except perhaps those of Stalin’s show trials. Her “investigators” had no access to Syria, conducted no on-the-ground investigations, but instead conducted their interviews in neighboring countries or via Skype. As with her previously discredited Libya claims, there is no independent verification of her findings, no way of even knowing who she talked to in the collection of this “evidence.” In fact, she would not even reveal the names of the accused, a list of perpetrators which she claims was secretly handed to her. No, she prefers to keep her information secret in hopes that the International Criminal Court would finally take up her case against the Syrian government.

Pillay’s fanaticism and the religious fervor of her devotion to the doctrine of “humanitarian interventionism” harkens back to an earlier era where the murder of millions was justified in pursuit of the historical inevitability of utopia on earth. It is a dangerous and deadly philosophy, which justifies all manner of death and destruction. The oft-cited C.S. Lewis quote comes most often to mind when thoughts wander to the Navi Pillays of the world:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

December 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

On common causes and ethical compromises

Interventions Watch |  November 23, 2013 

Pulse Media have recently released an open letter, apparently authored and circulated by people associated with the Syrian opposition, addressing why they feel the inclusion of Mother Agnes Mariam at the upcoming Stop the War Conference should be ‘a “red line” for opponents of conflict’ (emphasis mine).

The letter is signed by 55 activists, journalists, politicians and academics, and I just want to review how ‘opposed’ to ‘conflict’ some of them actually are.

There’s no point in beating around the bush, so let’s get straight into it:

    1. Prof. Gilbert Achcar, SOAS

In March 2011, as the NATO bombing campaign against Libya was in full swing, Achcar wrote an article for Znet expressing how he thought ‘it was just morally and politically wrong for anyone on the left to oppose the no-fly zone’ – that is, the NATO bombing of Libya, given enforcing a ‘no-fly zone’ always entails bombing, because that is basic military doctrine for this kind of operation. Achcar continues to strenuously deny supporting the ‘no-fly zone’, but I’ll leave it for others to decide whether there is a great deal of difference between him supporting it, and calling on others not to oppose it/try and stop it. He wasn’t, in any case, an ‘opponent’ of that aspect of the ‘conflict’ in Libya.

Achcar also supports sending arms to the Syrian rebels, writing that ‘it is the duty of all those who claim to support the right of peoples to self-determination to help the Syrian people get the means of defending themselves’ (aid agencies, meanwhile, have argued that the further provision of arms will deepen the humanitarian disaster).

    2. Assaad al-Achi, Local Coordination Committees in Syria

The Local Coordination Committees have in the recent past issued press releases basically welcoming Western military intervention – as long as it’s not too limited, warning that ‘A limited strike to merely warn Assad will lead to nothing but increase in his violence’, and then arguing that ‘Any strike to the regime must aim to paralyze, with attention and precision, its Air Forces, artillery, and missiles arsenal’. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of their position, it is not one that is ‘opposed’ to ‘conflict’, but rather supports the escalation and further internationalization of the conflict.

    3. Rime Allaf, Syrian writer

Allaf recently wrote an article for The Guardian calling for ‘real friends of Syria’ to ‘break Assad’s siege’ and ‘neutralise his air power’. Which they could only do via a military strike, obviously, so her words are a non-too-subtle call for military intervention.

    4. Omar al-Assil, Syrian Non-Violence Movement

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    5. Hussam Ayloush, Chairman, Syrian American Council

In September 2013, Ayloush re-posted an article calling for military intervention in Syria on his blog, writing that ‘I agree with the message and decided to share it too’.

    6. Noor Barotchi, Bradford Syria Solidarity

When Israel bombed Syria in May 2013, Barotchi wrote that ‘I shall not condemn it’, and that she was ‘bothered by . . . people condemning the act’.

7. Mark Boothroyd, International Socialist Network

8. Kat Burdon-Manley, International Socialist Network

9. Clara Connolly, Human Rights lawyer

I could find nothing to indicate the three people above are pro-military intervention.

    10. Paul Conroy, photojournalist

Conroy has been calling for ‘no-fly zones and safe havens’ within Syria which, the Orwellian language aside, are both forms of military intervention.

    11. Donnacha DeLong, National Union of Journalists

In November 2011, DeLong wrote in Ceasefire magazine of the NATO bombing of Libya: ‘what was the alternative? . . . It was NATO or nothing and I’m glad it wasn’t the latter’, while decrying ‘The knee-jerk condemnation of NATO intervention’.

    12.Hannah Elsisi, Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    13. Raed Fares, Head of Kafranabel Media Centre

As reported by The New York Times, in September, when U.S. airstrikes against Syria were being seriously discussed, Fares sent a video to U.S. members of Congress to let them know ‘what the Syrian people inside Syria feel and think about the strike’. The article goes on to say that the video ‘aims directly at American skepticism about another war and recent protests that featured antiwar slogans’. From the context, it’s clear that the video was designed to drum up support among U.S. lawmakers for a U.S. military strike on Syria.

    14. Naomi Foyle, writer and co-ordinator of British Writers in Support of Palestine

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    15. Razan Ghazzawi, Syrian blogger and activist

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    16. Christine Gilmore, Leeds Friends of Syria

Here’s Christine Gilmore speaking in favour of military intervention in Syria on the BBC in August.

    17. Golan Haji, poet and translator

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    18. Marcus Halaby, staff writer, Workers Power

In August, Halaby – while renouncing overt military intervention – wrote that ‘we should be demanding aid without strings to the Syrian people’, including ‘the sort of heavy weaponry the fighters need’.

    19. Sam Charles Hamad, activist

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    20. Nebal Istanbouly, Office Manager of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) in the UK

When asked by The Egypt Independent whether the NCSROF supported military strikes against Syria, the head of the organisation, Ahmad Jarba, replied ‘Yes, but on the condition to preserve the lives of civilians whether supporters or opponents. This strike will be certain and directed against military sites under the control of the regime. We bless this strike as it will destroy the vehicles which kill the Syrian people mercilessly’.

    21. Tehmina Kazi, human rights activist

I could find nothing to indicate the two people above are pro-military intervention.

    22. Ghalia Kabbani, Syrian journalist and writer

I could find nothing to indicate the two people above are pro-military intervention.

    23. Khaled Khalifa, Syrian writer

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    24. Malik Little, blogger

When the threat of U.S. lead military action against Syria began to subside in October, Little wrote a blog post lamenting what he called the ‘victory’ of the anti-war movement, describing the U.S. military as ‘the only force capable of ending the bloody stalemate’, and ending with ‘The movement to stop U.S. military action failed in 2003 and succeeded in 2013. In both cases, the result was needless bloodshed and brutality borne by people far from our shores’.

    25. Amer Scott Masri, Scotland4Syria

On 5th September, at the height of the debate over whether the U.S. et al should bomb Syria, the Scotland4Syria Facebook page published a post arguing that ‘War is an evil thing, BUT it becomes necessary when a fascist and criminal dictator like Assad of Syria commits genocide on innocent men, women and children’.

    26. Margaret McAdam, Unite Casa Branch NW567 (pc)

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    27. Yassir Munif, sociologist and activist

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    28. Tom Mycock, Unite shop steward (pc)

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    29. Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    30. Tim Nelson, Unison Shop Steward (pc)

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    31. Louis Proyect, Counterpunch contributor

Wrote in June 2013 that he was ‘buoyed by the knowledge that most Arabs and Muslims are sickened by Bashar al-Assad and would like to see him overthrown by any means necessary, even with weapons procured from Satan’s grandmother’. Which implies that he wouldn’t be too bothered to see the U.S. et all supplying weapons to the opposition. Polls published at roughly the same time, incidentally, showed majority opposition in the middle east to ‘the West’ supplying arms.

    32. Martin Ralph, VP Liverpool TUC (pc)

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    33. Ruth Riegler, co-founder of Radio Free Syria, Syrian International Media Alliance

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention, but she has been extremely critical of the anti-war movement since long before this Agnes controversy.

    34. Mary Rizzo, activist, translator and blogger

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention. [Aletho News - Mary Rizzo maintains a blog dedicated to western military interventions. The blog was initiated during the campaign for bombing Libya. Mary writes original content promoting R2P as well as aggregating and disseminating the work of others.]

    35. Christopher Roche and Dima Albadra, Bath Solidarity

Around about the time that the British parliament voted not to military intervene in Syria, Roche re-tweeted a number of things which strongly suggested he was in favour of the intervention.

    36. Walid Saffour, Representative of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) in the UK

When asked by The Egypt Independent whether the NCSROF supported military strikes against Syria, the head of the organisation, Ahmad Jarba, replied ‘Yes, but on the condition to preserve the lives of civilians whether supporters or opponents. This strike will be certain and directed against military sites under the control of the regime. We bless this strike as it will destroy the vehicles which kill the Syrian people mercilessly’.

    37. Gita Sahgal, Centre for Secular Space

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    38. David St Vincent, contributing writer and editor, National Geographic Books

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    39. Reem Salahi, civil rights lawyer

Has written that while she is ‘ambivalent about U.S. intervention’ in Syria given the U.S. track record, she thinks ‘There is something to be said when Syrians in Syria are calling for the U.S. to intervene’.

    40. Salim Salamah, Palestinian blogger

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    41. Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Syrian writer

Wrote in a New York Times editorial in September, when the debate over whether to directly militarily intervene in Syria or not was raging, that ‘A half-hearted intervention will not be enough. The United States and those who join it must not simply “discipline” the regime for its use of chemical weapons alone, without making a decisive impact on events in Syria. To do so would be a waste of effort and send the wrong message’.

    42. Richard Seymour, author

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    43. Bina Shah, author and contributor to the International New York Times

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    44. Leila Shrooms, founding member of Tahrir-ICN

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    45. Luke Staunton, International Socialist Network

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    46. KD Tait, National Secretary, Workers Power

Has written that her organisation is calling ‘for weapons for the revolutionaries’ (see 6th comment down).

    47. Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

Tatchell has been calling for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Syria for months, including at anti-war demos. He denies that he is pro-war in regards to Syria, but the imposition of a ‘no-fly zone’ is an inescapably pro-war demand.

    48. Paris Thompson, International Socialist Network

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    49. Hassan Walid, Anas el-Khani and Abdulwahab Sayyed Omar, British Solidarity for Syria

When the U.K. Parliament voted against taking military action against Syria, Sayed Omar, spokesman for BBS, described it as ‘a celebration of brutal dictatorship’. He attacked the ‘excuses’ that some MPs used to justify voting against the the the intervention, and described calls for a diplomatic solution as ‘naive’. He goes on to lament that ‘when Syrians ask you for arms in order to fight him you refuse’. He finishes by saying that ‘Your vote last night means that this nation cannot call itself “Great” any longer’. Which is all strongly indicative that he was in favour of military intervention (see post dated August 31st).

    50. Robin Yassin-Kassab, author and co-editor of Critical Muslim

Yassin-Kassab was an outspoken supporter of the NATO intervention in Libya. He has also written in regards to Syria that ‘At some point . . . key sections of the military and the Alawi community will realize they have no hope of victory, and will either flee or switch sides. I would prefer this moment to come in a year’s time or sooner, not in another decade. Arming Syria’s guerrillas is the only way to bring about that result’.

    51. Qusai Zakariya, activist from Moadamiyeh, Syria

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    52. Nisreen al-Zaraee and Wisam al-Hamoui, Freedom Days

I could find nothing to indicate the above are pro-military intervention.

    53. Tasneem al-Zeer, activist

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

    54. Razan Zeitouneh, human rights lawyer

Has lamented the fact that the West is refusing ‘to do what it should do under the pretext of not turning Syria into a second Iraq’, and their refusal to ‘to deliver effective weapons or to create a no-fly zone and safe areas for civilians’.

    55. Ziauddin Sardar, writer, journalist and editor of the Critical Muslim

I could find nothing to indicate the above is pro-military intervention.

So of the 55 signatories, I’d say around 20 of them either openly favour direct or indirect military intervention in Syria; have made comments strongly suggesting they do; or are on the fence somewhat.

My intention here absolutely isn’t to ‘name and shame’.

I’m sure many of the people on the list above who are in favour of military intervention in Syria – direct or indirect, overt or covert, arms or airstrikes – are so because they sincerely believe that it is the best way to ease the suffering in the country, and bring about a freer and more just political order. Especially those who are Syrian themselves.

I disagree with them that this is the best way, of course, given the track records of those who would likely be doing the ‘intervening’ (it’s 99.99% certain that it’d be U.S. lead) – they’ve tended to leave a trail of corpses and carnage behind them wherever they’ve bombed, invaded or subverted, rather than flourishing, peaceful democracies. Perhaps because encouraging peace and democracy isn’t their aim. I also don’t believe there is any such thing as a ‘humanitarian’ bomb or bullet, and am of the opinion that the attempt to re-brand predatory war as a humanitarian endeavor is one of the Big Lies of the age.

But I do think there’s a double standard in play when supporters of military intervention in Syria are accusing others of ‘greasing the skids of the regime’s war machine’, while they grease the skids of the U.S. et al war machine, and implicitly present themselves as ‘opponents of conflict’. Clearly, many of them aren’t.

And are not the supporters of military intervention in Syria in effect playing a role in minimising the dangers posed by the U.S./et al, by arguing like the aforementioned’s predatory, self-interested militarism and ultra violence – which has historically killed far more people than the Assad regime’s – is somehow more acceptable, more morally and politically tolerable, than Assad’s is, even if they recognise the dangers?

I also think there’s somewhat of a double standard in play when opponents of any military intervention can come together with supporters of such an intervention to, despite their differences, denounce the fact that Mother Agnes was invited to speak at the Stop the War conference.

Are we to believe that it’s fine for opponents and supporters of military intervention to put their differences to one side to pursue a common goal (in this case, trying to get Mother Agnes removed from the Stop the War platform), but not fine for opponents of the Assad regime to put aside their differences with an with alleged supporter of the Assad regime to pursue theirs (in this case, preventing a U.S. lead military strike on Syria, a far worse scenario than Mother Agnes being allowed to speak)?

Because that appears to be the message.

Ultimately, if the question is ‘Should Agnes have been invited to address the Stop the War conference?’, then I can see that there is a principled argument against it.

But if the question is ‘Should people be withdrawing just because she was?’, then not in my book. Not unless they’re going to be consistent in applying those principles, by refusing to participate in any campaign or on any platform that might be patronised by any person whose views they otherwise don’t like or approve of.

And for a start, that certainly hasn’t been the case in regards to the literary platform that Pulses’ letter provides.

November 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bernard Henri-Levy and the Destruction of Libya

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | November 20, 2013

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “the world’s most influential Jew”, Bernard Henri Levy is number 45, according to an article published in the Israeli rightwing newspaper the Jerusalem Post, on May 21, 2010.

Levy, per the Post’s standards, came only two spots behind Irving Moskowitz, a “Florida-based tycoon (who) is considered the leading supporter of Jewish construction in east Jerusalem and hands out a prize for Zionism to settler leaders.”

To claim that at best Levy is an intellectual fraud is to miss a clear logic that seems to unite much of the man’s activities, work and writings. He seems to be obsessed with ‘liberating’ Muslims from Bosnia to Pakistan, to Libya and elsewhere. However, it is not the kind that one could qualify as a healthy obsession, stemming from for instance, overt love and fascination of their religion, culture and myriad ways of life. It is unhealthy obsession. Throughout his oddly defined career, he has done so much harm, as he at times served the role of lackey for those in power, and at others, seemed to lead his own crusades. He is a big fan of military intervention, and his profile is dotted with references to Muslim countries and military intervention from Afghanistan to Sudan … and finally to Libya.

Writing in the New York Magazine on Dec 26, 2011, Benjamin Wallace-Wells spoke of the French ‘philosopher’ as if he were referencing a messiah that was not afraid to promote violence for the greater good of mankind. In “European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator,” Wallace-Wells wrote of the “philosopher (who) managed to goad the world into vanquishing an evil villain.” The ‘evil villain’ in question is, of course, Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan leader who was ousted and brutally murdered after reportedly being sodomized by rebels following his capture in October 2011. The detailed analysis by Global Post of the sexual assault of the leader of one of Africa’s most prominent countries was published in CBS news and other media. Cases of rape have sharply increased in Libya as 1,700 militia (per BBC estimation) groups now operate in that shattered Arab country.

Levy, who at times appeared to be the West’s most visible war-on-Libya advocate, has largely disappeared from view within the Libyan context. He is perhaps off stirring trouble in some other place in the name of his dubious philosophy. His mission in Libya, which is now in a much worse state than it has ever reached during the reign of Qaddafi, has been accomplished. ‘The evil dictator’ has been defeated, and that’s that. Never mind that the country is now divided between tribes and militias, and that the ‘post-democracy’ Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was recently kidnapped by one unruly militia to be freed by another.

In March 2011, Levy took it upon himself to fly to Benghazi to ‘engage’ Libya’s insurgents. It was a defining moment, for it was that type of mediation that empowered armed groups to transform a regional uprising into an all-out war involving NATO. Armed with what was a willful misinterpretation of UN resolution 1973, of March 17, 2011, NATO led a major military offensive on a country armed with primitive air-defensives and a poorly equipped army. Western countries channeled massive shipments of weapons to Libyan groups in the name of preventing massacres allegedly about to be carried out by Qaddafi’s loyalists. Massacres were indeed carried out but not in the way western ‘humanitarian interventionists’ suggested. The last of which was merely days ago (Nov 15) when 31 people were reportedly killed and 235 were wounded as trigger happy militiamen opened fire on peaceful protesters in Tripoli that were simply demanding Misrata militants leave their city.

These are the very people that Levy and his ilk spent numerous hours lobbying in support of. One of Levy’s greatest achievements in Libya was to muster international recognition of the National Transitional Council (NTC). France and other countries lead a campaign to promote the NTC as an alternative to Qaddafi’s state institution, which NATO had systematically destroyed.

In his New York Magazine interview, Levy was quoted as saying “sometimes you are inhabited by intuitions that are not clear to you.” The statement was sourced in reference to the supposed epiphany the ‘philosopher’ had on Feb 23, 2011, watching TV images of Qaddafi’s forces threatening to drown Benghazi with ‘rivers of blood.’

Far from unclear intuitions, Levy’s agenda is that of the calculated politician-ideologue, more like a French version of the US’s neoconservatives who packaged their country’s devastating war on Iraq with all sorts of moral, philosophical and other fraudulent reasoning. For them, it was first and foremost a war for Israel’s ‘security’, with supposed other practical perks, little of which has actualized. Levy’s legacy is indeed loaded with unmistakable references to that same agenda.

Israel’s right-wingers are fascinated with Levy. The Post’s celebration of his global influence was summed up in this quote: “A French philosopher and one of the leaders of the Nouvelle Philosophie movement who said that Jews ought to provide a unique moral voice in the world.” But morality has nothing to do with it. The man’s philosophical exploits seem to exclusively target Muslims and their cultures. “The veil is an invitation to rape”, he told the Jewish Chronicle in 2006.

Philosophy for Levy seems to be perfectly tailored to fit a political agenda promoting military interventions. His advocacy helped destroy Libya, but still didn’t stop him from writing a book on Libya’s ‘spring.’ He spoke of the veil as an invitation for rape, while saying nothing of the numerous cases of rape reported in Libya after the NATO war. In May 2011, he was one of few people who defended IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, when the latter was accused of raping a chambermaid in New York City. It was a ‘conspiracy’ he said, in which the maid was taking part.

One could perhaps understand Levy’s hate for dictators and war criminals; after all, Qaddafi was no human rights champion. But Levy is no philosopher. A fundamental element of any genuine philosophy is moral consistency. Levy has none. A week after the Jerusalem Post celebrated Levy’s world influence, the Israeli daily Haaretz wrote of his support of the Israeli army.

“Bernard Henri Levy: I have never seen an army as democratic as the IDF” was the title of an article on May 30, 2010, reporting on the “Democracy and Its Challenges” Conference in Tel Aviv. “I have never seen such a democratic army, which asks itself so many moral questions. There is something unusually vital about Israeli democracy.” Considering the wars and massacres conducted by the Israeli army against Gaza in 2008-9 and 2012, one cannot find appropriate phrases to describe Levy’s moral blindness and misguided philosophy. In fact, it is safe to argue that neither morality nor philosophy has much to do with Levy and his unending quest for war.

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US denies lawyer for abducted al-Libi

Press TV – October 12, 2013

329017_al-LibyA federal judge refused on Friday to allow a court-appointed attorney to represent Abu Anas al-Libi, a Libyan man who was abducted by US military forces in Tripoli on October 5.

The refusal came after some US defense lawyers from the Federal Defenders of New York demanded to be allowed to represent al-Libi, arguing there is no legal basis for holding him “offshore” on a navy vessel.

However, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan claimed it was premature because the Libyan man has not apparently been formally arrested.

“The government denies that any federal criminal arrest has taken place, and there is no evidence to the contrary,” wrote Kaplan.

Kaplan also said even if an arrest is made, the appropriate time to assign counsel would depend on the first court appearance.

Al-Libi was abducted over his alleged involvement in the 1998 twin bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and is believed to be held in military custody and interrogated on board a navy ship, the USS Antonio, in the Mediterranean.

According to a law enforcement source, authorities in New York have not indicated when or if he might be brought to the US.

Kaplan said that the Federal Defenders have expressed concerns about the legality of the man’s detention but added that the matter is outside his jurisdiction.

Officials say al-Libi has not been Mirandized, and is facing open-ended interrogation on the ship without access to a lawyer.

Even US Secretary of State John Kerry last week defended al-Libi’s abduction as “legal” and “appropriate.”

Dr. Randy Short, an American human rights activist, who talked Thursday to Press TV on the arrest of al-Libi, said “I am just intrigued that the same government that funded al-Qaeda to destroy Libya” and “the same government [that] funds and supports al-Qaeda which is fighting and killing people in Lebanon and in Syria now goes back retroactively and attack someone who may have even been in their service”.

October 12, 2013 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli agents operating in “many” Arab countries, especially Egypt

MEMO | October 3, 2013

Yadlin is the current head of the Institute of National Security Studies at the University of Tel Aviv and still has strong links with the security and political authorities in the Zionist state.

The former director of Israeli military intelligence, General Amos Yadlin, has revealed that its operatives have penetrated a number of Arab countries, notably Egypt. Yadlin also named Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon, Iran, Libya, Palestine and Syria as places where Israeli agents are active.

Speaking to Israel’s Channel Seven, he claimed that the Military Intelligence Division has established networks for collecting information in Tunisia, Libya and Morocco which are able to have a positive or negative influence on the political, economic and social scenes in the countries.

The retired General did not give details of the exact nature of such networks but he did say that Israeli agents are most active in Egypt where they have been established since 1979. Yadlin is the current head of the Institute of National Security Studies at the University of Tel Aviv and still has strong links with the security and political authorities in the Zionist state. He confirmed that Israeli agents are working deep within Egyptian governmental institutions.

He said that the Military Intelligence Division’s work against the “enemy” has succeeded in escalating unrest and sectarian and social tensions wherever they are operating, especially in Egypt.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When It Comes to State Violence, Too Much Is Never Enough

By Jim Naureckas | FAIR | August 30, 2013

Time magazine’s Michael Crowley (9/9/13) offers an analysis of how the Syrian situation reflects on Barack Obama’s presidency:

Whatever comes of Obama’s confrontation with Assad, an even more dangerous confrontation lies in wait–the one with Iran. If another round of negotiations with Tehran should fail, Obama may soon be obliged to make good on his vow to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. “I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests,” Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March 2012.

But to his critics, Obama does hesitate, and trouble follows as a result. With more than three years left in his presidency, he has the opportunity to reverse that impression. Success in Syria and then Iran could vindicate him, and failure could be crushing. “The risk is that, if things in the Middle East continue to spiral, that will become his legacy,” says Brian Katulis, a former Obama campaign adviser now with the Center for American Progress.

Obama does “hesitate to use force”–is that his problem? Since 2009, US drone strikes have killed more than 2000 people in Pakistan, including 240 civilians, 62 of them children. Since Obama took office, they’ve killed more than 400 in Yemen; drone deaths in Somalia are harder to quantify.

Obama roughly tripled the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, from 33,000 to 98,000 (Think Progress, 6/22/11). In 2011, he sent naval and air forces into battle to overthrow the government of Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi. In Iraq, Obama tried and failed to keep tens of thousands of troops in the country beyond the withdrawal deadline negotiated by the Bush administration (New York Times, 10/22/11).

This is a record that would not seem to indicate a particular hesitancy to use force. Oddly, Crowley acknowledges much of this: “Obama …sent more troops to Afghanistan, escalated drone strikes against Al-Qaeda terrorists,” he writes. But his military actions are presented as a sign of his unwillingness to take military action: “In Libya, he at first stood by as rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi’s forces found themselves outgunned and on the run.”

No matter how many wars you engage in–Obama has had six so far–there are always wars you could have started but didn’t. Crowley seems to be suggesting that those unfought wars ought to take the blame for any problems Obama leaves behind.

September 7, 2013 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria: the Case for Peace

An Open Letter by Former UN Officials

THE CASE FOR PEACE

The drums of war are beating once more in the Middle East, this time with the possibility of an imminent attack on Syria, after the alleged use of chemical weapons by its government. It is precisely in times of crisis such as now that the case for peace can be made in the clearest and most obvious manner.

First of all, we have no proof that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. Even if proofs were provided by Western governments, we have to remain skeptical, remembering the Tonkin Gulf incident and the Vietnam war, the incubator baby massacre in Kuwait and the first Gulf war, the Racak massacre and the Kosovo war, the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the second Gulf war, the threat of massacre in Benghazi and the Libyan war. All these justifications for previous wars were fabricated or dubious. We may also notice that evidence for the use of chemical weapons was provided to the U.S. by Israeli intelligence  which is not exactly a neutral actor.

Even if, this time, proofs were genuine, it would not legitimate unilateral action from anyone. That still needs an authorization of the Security Council. People who accuse the Security Council of inaction should remember how Western powers abused a Security Council resolution to stage a full-fledged attack on Libya in order to perform “regime change” in that country — this is what motivates Russia and China’s opposition to any Security Council motion that may lead to intervention in Syria.

What is called in the West the “international community” willing to attack Syria is reduced to essentially two major countries (US and France), out of almost two hundred in the world. No respect for international law is possible without respect for the decent opinions of the rest of mankind.

Even if a military action was allowed and carried on, what could it accomplish? Nobody can seriously control chemical weapons without putting “boots on the grounds”, which is not considered by anyone a realistic option after the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan. The West has no real ally in Syria. The jihadists fighting the government have no more love for the West than those who assassinated the U.S. Ambassador in Libya. It is one thing to take money and weapons from some country, but quite another to be its genuine ally.

There have been offers of negotiations coming from the Syrian, Iranian and Russian governments, which have been treated with contempt by the West. People who say “we cannot talk or negotiate with Assad” forget that this has been said about the National Liberation Front in Algeria, Ho Chi Minh, Mao, the Soviet Union, the PLO, the IRA, the ETA, Mandela and the ANC, and many guerillas in Latin America. The issue is not whether one talks to the other side, but after how many unnecessary deaths one accepts to do so.

The time when the U.S. and its few remaining allies acted as global policemen and national sovereignty was considered passé is actually behind us. The world becomes more multi-polar, not less, and the people of the world want more sovereignty not less. The greatest social transformation of the twentieth century has been decolonization and the West should adapt itself to the fact that it has neither the right, nor the competence, nor the means to rule the world.

There is no place where the strategy of permanent wars has failed more miserably than the Middle East, starting with the creation of Israel and the fateful decision to refuse the right of return to the Palestinian refugees. Then came the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran, the Suez canal adventure, the many Israeli wars, the two Gulf wars, combined with the murderous sanctions against Iraq, the constant threats against Iran and now the war in Syria.

True courage does not consist in launching cruise missiles once more but  in breaking radically with that deadly logic: force Israel to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians, convene the Geneva II conference on Syria and discuss with the Iranian their nuclear program by taking honestly into account the legitimate security and economic interests of that country.

The recent vote against the war in the British Parliament, as well as reactions on social media, reflects a massive shift of public opinion in the West. We are getting tired of wars, and ready to join the real international community in demanding a world based on the U.N. Charter, demilitarization, respect for national sovereignty and equality of all nations.

The people of the West also demand to exercise their right of self-determination: if wars have to be made, they have to be based on open debates and direct concerns for our national security and not on some ill-defined and easily manipulable notion of “right to intervene”.

It remains to force our politicians to respect that right.

Dr. Hans Christof von Sponeck, UN Assistant Secretary General and United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (1998 -2000)

Dr. Denis J. Halliday, UN Assistant Secretary General (1994-1998)

Dr. Saïd Zulficar, UNESCO official (1967-1996). Director of Operational Activities, Division of Cultural Heritage (1992 -1996)

Dr. Samir Radwan, Adviser on Development Policies to the Director-General of ILO (2001-2003). Egyptian Finance Minister (January-July 2011).

Dr. Samir Basta, Director of UNICEF’s Regional Office for Europe (1990-1995). Director of UNICEF’s Evaluation Office (1985-1990)

Miguel d´Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly (2008-2009). Nicaraguan Foreign Minister (1979-1990).

José L. Gómez del Prado, Former Senior Officer at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Member of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries (2005-2011).

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holding Them to the Promise of Responsibility to Protect: Contemplating the Paradox of R2P

By Jovanni Reyes  ·  NYTX  ·  August 20, 2013

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Who Will Stand Up for Responsibility to Protect? (August 1, 2013), Mike Abramowitz makes the case for coercive humanitarian intervention under the mantra Responsibility to Protect, or R2P.  Mr. Abramowitz is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum where he currently holds the position of Director for Center for the Prevention of Genocide. He works in promoting R2P with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who as Secretary promoted the un-humanitarian sanctions on Iraq which—according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization—provoked the deaths of 567,000 Iraqi children (Mahajan, 2001).

Abramowitz writes in reaction to the Obama Administration’s appointment of Samantha Power to the U.S. ambassadorship and her confirmation hearing by the Senate on August 1. In the article, Abramowitz quotes Power as saying when asked about R2P that “there is no one size fits all solution, no algorithm, nor should there be. If confirmed to this position, I will act in the interests of the American people and in accordance with our values”. He understands Power’s ambiguity and the politics behind it, but suggests that since every country in the world has agreed to the principles of R2P, it is “our” job to hold them up to that promise; by “our” I assume he means the American people. Abramowitz forgets that Samantha Power is a liberal interventionist who, along with former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, was instrumental in pushing the U.S. to intervene in Libya, resulting in the overthrow of the government, killing many people in the process, including the assassination of the country’s leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi (Cooper & Myers, 2011).

R2P is the “newest” and “coolest” addition to international relations. This is not a new concept, however, but a rebranding of an old concept named humanitarian intervention, kin to an even older concept in international affairs referred to as Jus ad bellum.  Yet, the way in which R2P is being interpreted and applied by Western powers implies that there is an overt attempt by Western powers to overrule state sovereignty as understood in international affairs since the Peace of Westphalia of 1648.  Furthermore, it undermines the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928, which practically outlawed war, and it ignores the U.N. Charter’s insistence that only the United Nations can sanction war, via Security Council resolution. Libya was the first test for R2P.  It has left an unsavory legacy in the eyes of many U.N. member states, however. Many wanted to believe that the new doctrine was indeed genuine and not just another fancy term to justify military intervention.

When the U.N. authorized R2P to protect the people of Benghazi against a hypothetical bloodbath, it sanctioned intervention because Gaddafi’s forces were quickly regaining territory lost to the armed insurgents and marching fast to the rebel held coastal city (Rieff, 2011).  Sanguinary statements made by Gaddafi about going from house to house showing no mercy to the Benghazi rebels made the case too easy for the U.N. to approve intervention and NATO to execute.

The U.N. authorization for intervention was only to protect the people of Benghazi and to coerce the government to cease fire and sit with the rebels for negotiations, which the African Union was already negotiating, to the annoyance of the West. The authorization was not to overthrow the regime, recognize a de facto government and facilitate the assassination of the Libyan head of state (Dewaal, 2012). That was a Western initiative. Today, the people in Libya are worse off than they were before the uprising, and what’s worse, the destabilizing situation in Libya is no longer an urgent matter to the intervening powers the way it was when Gaddafi was in power (Smirnov, 2013).

Abramowitz mentions the civil war in Syria as justification for R2P, but fails to point to Bahrain (a U.S. client) and the government’s brutal crackdown on protestors. He also mentions the 1999 Kosovo War—implying that humanitarian intervention helped stop genocide, but fails to acknowledge that most of the ethnic cleansing took place during the 78-day NATO bombing (Chomsky, 2001); that most of the cleansing was done by the Kosovo Liberation Army, the group that NATO was backing; and that shortly after the war ended reports revealed that the war’s death toll was largely exaggerated (Marden, 1999). He fails to bring up how humanitarian intervention didn’t get to the people of East Timor, who in 1999 were invaded and slaughtered by the Western-friendly Indonesian military, along with their paramilitary proxies at a rate higher than the killings that took place in Kosovo (Powell, 2006). Apparently, the friendly nation of Indonesia was not a state targeted by the West; it seems that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was.

The stated purpose of the R2P doctrine is to “adequately respond to the most heinous crimes known to humankind” (International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, n.d. ) such as the mass murder of civilians, gross human rights violations, war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing.  Proponents of R2P see the doctrine as altruistic—a tool to commit all states to the effort of stopping atrocities, war crimes, and human rights violations. Detractors see it as opportunistic, inconsistent and hypocritical—an excuse for the West to project power in order to pursue its political interest. It is not that critics of R2P do not think that stopping war crimes and genocide is undesirable, it’s just that in practice R2P is applied arbitrarily on a weaker state by the powerful who are then never held accountable for their own crimes during the intervention. These same critics often claim that those in government who are most gung-ho about R2P and humanitarian intervention, often forget history and do not consider past policies imposed by their own countries and their undesirable effects leading to the present situation (Fenton, 2009).

One of the stated principles of R2P is to find the root cause of a conflict and engage in conflict resolution to resolve it and avoid further conflict. R2P as it is applied has been an entirely Western enterprise, a tool to project power and advance goals and policies, only to forget their own political meddling and its aftermath. In the interest of accuracy, the Responsibility to Protect should be renamed the Right to Intervene. There are many people who are genuine humanitarians in the West, and who truly want to see an end to armed conflict and atrocities. Unfortunately, none of them make policies.

Jovanni Reyes is a member of Iraq Veterans Against War, holds a Master’s in International Relations, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Instructional Technology.

References

Chomsky, N. (2001, April-May). A Review of NATO’s War over Kosovo. Retrieved from Chomsky.info: http://www.chomsky.info/articles/200005–.htm

Cooper, H., & Myers, S. L. (2011, March 18). Obama Takes Hard Line With Libya After Shift by Clinton. Retrieved from New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/19/world/africa/19policy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Dewaal, A. (2012, December 19). The African Union and the Libya Conflict of 2011. Retrieved from World Peace Foundation: http://sites.tufts.edu/reinventingpeace/2012/12/19/the-african-union-and-the-libya-conflict-of-2011/

Fenton, A. (2009, July 26). The Responsibility to Protect. Retrieved from Global Research : http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-responsibility-to-protect/14537

International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. (n.d. ). An Introduction to the Responsibility to Protect. Retrieved from International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect: http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/index.php/about-rtop

Mahajan, R. (2001, November 1). ‘We Think the Price Is Worth It’. Retrieved from Fairness & Accuracy on in Reporting: http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/we-think-the-price-is-worth-it/

Marden, C. (1999, November 13). UN war crimes prosecutor confirms much-reduced Kosovo death toll. Retrieved from World Socialist Web Site : http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1999/11/koso-n13.html

Powell, S. (2006, January 19). UN verdict on East Timor. Retrieved from Genocide Studies Program: http://www.yale.edu/gsp/east_timor/unverdict.html

Rieff, D. (2011, November 7). R2P, R.I.P. . Retrieved from The New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/opinion/r2p-rip.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Smirnov, A. (2013, February 17 ). Absolute Lawlessness: Libyan “Democracy” Two Years After NATO Air War. Retrieved from Global Research: http://www.globalresearch.ca/absolute-lawlessness-libyan-democracy-two-years-after-nato-air-war/5323093

August 20, 2013 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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