Raúl Castro, President of Cuba, said that he wants to start relations with the U.S., but first the U.S. must provide health insurance to all 46 million people who lack it; stop extrajudicial assassinations in sovereign countries through drone attacks; make higher education affordable for all; reform the prison system which has by far the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, with a drastically disproportionate amount of prisoners being minorities; grant Puerto Rico its sovereignty as required by the U.N. Charter, U.N. Declaration on Decolonization, and the popular referendum in Puerto Rico in 2012; halt the economic blockade, which has been ruled illegal for 22 straight years in the U.N.; close the detention facility and return the land to Cuba; turn over terrorists living freely in Miami who have bombed Cuban civilian airplanes, hotels and fishing boats; and free the three political prisoners who were investigating these groups to prevent further attacks.
Actually, he said: “We don’t demand that the U.S. change its political or social system and we don’t accept negotiations over ours. If we really want to move our bilateral relations forward, we’ll have to learn to respect our differences, if not, we’re ready to take another 55 years in the same situation.”
President Barack Obama has said Cuba: ”Has not yet observed basic human rights … I and the American people will welcome the time when the Cuban people have the freedom to live their lives, choose their leaders, and fully participate in this global economy and international institutions.” But he added: “We haven’t gotten there yet.”
Presumably Obama means when Cuba agrees to relinquish their right to self-determination, as guaranteed in the U.N. Charter, to join the U.S.-imposed neoliberal order. When Cuba agrees to gives up state control over industries like banking and telecommunications and opens them up to foreign investment, so more money can be shipped off the island instead of staying in the local economy and invested in the Cuban people. When Cuba agrees to “free trade” agreements, which would prevent labor and environmental safeguards while forcing local businesses to compete on an uneven playing field with multinational corporations that receive government subsidies, allowing them to undercut the price of local products. In short, when Cuba decides to respect private profit over the social welfare of its population.
U.S. calls for “democracy” and “human rights” in Cuba have an important historical connotation, which in reality has nothing to do with representative government nor human rights. The term is nothing more than a propaganda tool, instantly elevating the accuser to a superior moral status and subjecting the accused to an indefensible position regardless of the real facts, history and context.
The U.S. is not suggesting that Cuba should be judged by established human rights and international humanitarian laws — The Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which the U.S. has never ratified); and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which the U.S. took more than 20 years to ratify); the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the U.S. has never ratified; and many others. It is suggesting Cuba abide by the criteria the U.S. sets out for them and sees fit to interpret itself.
The reality is that the United States does not get to serve as judge and jury for other countries’ internal affairs, just as they would laugh in the face of anyone who tried to do the same to them. To pretend that your demands are more important than the law that governs the international system is beyond condescending.
Incidentally, there is a United Nations Committee that impartially reviews compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of the few treaties which the U.S. has both signed and ratified. The committee, in its most recent annual report, found the U.S. non-compliant in many areas.
To start, they found that the U.S. “has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification,” which serves to “limit the legal reach and practical relevance of the Covenant.”
Among the many matters of concern is accountability for “unlawful killings during its international operations, the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in United States custody.”
The committee also noted numerous domestic problems, including “racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” “racial profiling,” “excessive use of force by law enforcement officials,” “criminalization of homelessness,” “National Security Agency surveillance,” and even “voting rights.”
Obama’s sanctimonious remarks about Cuba demonstrate his disregard for the law that applies to both countries equally, and his unwillingness to be held to the same standard that he preaches to others.
Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy, and Latin America. You can follow him on twitter.
Now that the dust has settled on the mutilated bodies of Palestinian men, women and children, the world seems able to ignore the desperate plight of those that survived. Apartheid Israel has accomplished its periodic ‘mowing of the grass’, the leveling of Gaza’s infrastructure, the destruction of schools, hospitals and mosques, and the killing of over 2,000 innocent, unarmed and defenseless Palestinians. Business for Israel now continues as usual, with IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) terrorists focusing their murders on innocent Palestinians in the West Bank. There, with complete impunity, they bulldoze homes, shoot unarmed teenagers, arrest and detain children, establish arbitrary checkpoints and steal land, all in violation of international law, law the international community doesn’t seem particularly interested in enforcing.
This is not meant to imply that Israel is ignoring Gaza. No, in violation of the cease-fire agreement, an agreement that apparently only the Palestinians have to abide by, IDF terrorists shoot Palestinian fishermen fishing within the very limited zone that Israel, again in violation of international law, permits them.
Not all countries of the world seem oblivious to Palestinian suffering. Cuba, Venezuela and Turkey have all sent aid to assist people deprived of food, water and shelter. But the U.S., which traditionally showers all kinds of aid on countries that do its bidding, but ignores or terrorizes those, such as Palestine, that don’t, has not responded.
A recent quotation by U.S. President Barack Obama is interesting: “… we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people affected, with profound economic, political and security implications for all of us.” This seems to fit the situation in Palestine. At least hundreds of thousands, and, realistically, millions of people have been affected by Israel’s most recent genocidal activities, and the continued financial aid to that apartheid, racist nation has ‘economic, political and security implications’ for the U.S. A total of $3 billion is sent to Israel annually; Detroit, in bankruptcy, is scrambling to find one third of that amount to get through the year. Yet it receives no taxpayer money from the Federal government, as Israel gets $3 billion.
The political implications are beginning to be felt; more and more of the U.S.’s elected officials (this writer simply cannot bring himself to refer to them as ‘representatives’) are being pressured to look away from the money the Israel lobby grants them for their re-elections campaigns, and focus instead on human rights. This is not easy for these officials to do; such a view does not come naturally to them. Yet the political reverberations are beginning to be felt, and can only increase.
In terms of security implications, hatred for and hostility towards the U.S. grows with every bomb Israel drops on Palestine, with every home demolished, with every checkpoint established, with every unarmed youth shot to death. The U.S.’s elected officials ignore this at their peril.
Unfortunately, the quotation shown above was not said by Mr. Obama in reference to Palestine; it was said about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The president is right on top of this, because doing so in no way offends a powerful U.S. lobby. One can always take the high road when the bottom line isn’t negatively impacted.
Why, one might reasonably ask, does the U.S. ignore the political, economic and security implications of financing a regime that makes South Africa of a generation ago look almost benign? Why ignore some of the most horrific human rights violations being committed on the planet today? What benefit is there in parroting the blatant lie that Israeli oppression of a nation it illegally and brutally occupies is done for its ‘national security’?
The U.S. continues to proclaim that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. This is not surprising, since the U.S. has a very skewed idea of democracy, a concept it has never actually practiced. Yet it is a favorite buzz word, along with ‘freedom’, ‘liberty’ and a few others that officials love to toss around, knowing the lemming-citizens go wild for it. Say them in front of an American flag, with the hand on the heart, and the jingoistic tears will flow. Never mind looking at reality. Ignore the abject poverty in many parts of the U.S.; the suicides (an average of 22 per day) of veterans who have, ostensibly, fought for that ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ (what they were actually fighting for is a topic for another essay); the racism that is so obvious, and occasionally cannot be completely ignored, as in Ferguson, Missouri. Forget about the poor performance of U.S. students compared with those of any other industrialized nation, as schools struggle to hold onto qualified teachers in the face of increasing class sizes and reduced budgets, as military contractors make billions by producing more powerful tools to kill.
So, let us summarize. Israel, a country born through genocide, continues to commit this horrific crime, financed mainly by the U.S., the world’s self-proclaimed beacon of peace and freedom. With one of the most powerful military systems on the planet, it periodically bombs, in the name of its ‘national security’, a nation it occupies, that has no army, navy or air force. When this happens, elected officials of its main financier, the U.S., all echo Israeli talking points, disregarding completely the horrific human rights violations that are perpetrated on a daily basis, and those that are exponentially worse with carpet bombing. Additionally, the U.S. press, with few exceptions, ignores Palestinian suffering and focuses on Israeli inconvenience.
This is the work of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ as financed by the largest pseudo-democracy operating in the west. Both are criminal regimes, looking only for power and wealth, at the expense of common decency. Both must be stopped, and it won’t be their governments, the United Nations or other governments that will stop them. As with all movements for human rights, it will be the will of the people around the world that, eventually, will no longer be able to be ignored.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
If ever there was any need to prove that the US — not just under Bush but also under Obama — is using the “Iranian nuclear threat” as a manufactured pretext and cover for an entirely different policy of imposing regime-change on Iran, one only need remember the Turkey/Brazil nuclear deal with Iran, and how Obama pulled the rug out from under its own allies after they had gotten a “Yes” from Iran to terms that the Obama administration itself had endorsed in a letter just 1 week earlier — thus again moving the goalpost to ensure that the nuclear threat pretext would be kept alive.
This is what IAEA director Elbaradei wrote about that deal in his book, Age of Deception:
On May 17, 2010, in a joint declaration, Iran, Brazil, and Turkey announced they had reached an agreement on a fuel swap. Iran would send twelve hundred kilograms of LEU to Turkey, in a single shipment, to be held in escrow while Iran’s research reactor fuel was being fabricated. It was a leap forward-particularly because it signaled the willingness of new players, Turkey and Brazil, to take an active role in resolving the diplomatic impasse.
But the very next day, in a masterstroke of diplomatic futility, the P-5+1 announced that they had reached agreement on a fourth Security Council resolution to escalate sanctions on Iran for not bringing its enrichment program to a halt. Hillary Clinton called the fuel swap deal with Turkey and Brazil a “transparent ploy” on Iran’s part to avoid new sanctions.
I was dumbstruck and, to say the least, grievously disappointed. Once again, as I noted in an interview with Jornal do Brasil, the West had refused to take yes for an answer. Brazil and Turkey were outraged. Ahmadinejad urged the United States to accept the fuel swap as a move toward openness and dialogue. At the Security Council, Brazil voted against the sanctions-to no avail. The Western powers once more had touched a solution with their fingertips, only to brush it away.
When I had first proposed the fuel swap, Iran had produced about fifteen hundred kilograms of enriched uranium, so the agreement would have removed most of Iran’s inventory from the country. By the time of the agreement with Turkey and Brazil, the stock had risen to about twenty-five hundred kilograms, which of course made the agreement less attractive to the Americans as a diplomatic point of entry, since Iran would be retaining a “significant quantity.” Iran also had not committed, in the agreement, to stop enriching to 20 percent, although Ahmadinejad had hinted that they would do so.
The Western powers were not happy about these aspects of the deal, but it was obvious to me that they could easily and successfully have addressed these issues in the early stages of negotiation. It was incomprehensible and somewhat naïve to ask Iran-or any country, for that matter-to give up everything before the start of talks and expect a positive response. But the pattern was familiar: nothing would satisfy, short of Iran coming to the table completely undressed.
Demanding that Iran give up her rights before entering into negotiations was the same tactic that the Bush administration had been using in order to prevent any peaceful resolution to the standoff. These ‘excess demands’ — including that Iran give up enrichment entirely (“zero enrichment) before any negotiations — are imposed on Iran by the US precisely for that reason. In fact, Iran has long been making compromise offers that would address any real nuclear-weapons concerns, only to see them ignored or deliberately undermined by the US making illegal demands on Iran:
In 2005 Iran was ready to discuss an upper limit for the number of its centrifuges and to maintain its rate of enrichment far below the high levels necessary for weapons. Tehran also expressed its readiness to allow intrusive inspections, even in non-declared sites. But at that time Europe and the US wanted to compel Iran to ditch its enrichment programme entirely.
Iranians assume that this is still the European and US goal, and that for this reason the security council insists on suspension of all Iranian enrichment activities. But the goal of “zero centrifuges operating in Iran, permanently or temporarily” is unrealistic, and has contributed greatly to the present standoff.
Among the justifications provided later for the rejection of the Turkey/Brazil deal by Obama was that since Iran had continued to enrich uranium, the 1200 lbs that were to be exported did not constitute a significant-enough amount of Iran’s stockpile of enriched Uranium.
However, actual nuclear scientists pointed out too that even if Iran had agreed earlier to the same deal, the actual difference in the amount of enriched uranium in its stockpile would not have been significantly different:
“We have calculated just what the differences in the proposed sequences and timing of the swap really amounted to. The answer is: very little… Indeed, if the swap had been agreed when it was first proposed last October, by the time the fuel rods would have been ready the following October, there would be no difference between the two positions.”
“Thus, at very little actual, technical cost, Iran has appeared to make a significant concession. The US and its allies should have beaten Iran to it, but they didn’t. The question now is whether we could accept Iran’s “yes” as an answer.“
Ceasing enrichment was in fact never part of the original conditions to a deal that Obama endorsed just weeks earlier as the Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim pointed out:
“It wasn’t on the agenda. Nobody told us, ‘Hey if you don’t stop 20 percent enrichment, forget the deal.’
In fact Iran would never have accepted such a demand and had consistently refused this precondition on talks for a while. After all, this entire deal was meant to be a “confidence-building” measure, not a permanent end to the standoff, and Iran had been demanding that their enriched uranium go to a third, neutral country to be held in escrow until Iran actually received the promised nuclear fuel in exchange, precisely because it didn’t trust the US to come through on its promises.
Nor was this the first time that the US killed-off a potential peaceful resolution to the standoff: the same happened in the EU-3 negotiations with Iran during the Paris Agreement affair of 2005, in which the Europeans and Iranians were engaged in negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program — limits that were supposed to recognize Iran’s right to enrichment — but apparently the EU negotiators themselves didn’t know that the Brits and Americans had already agreed not to recognize Iran’s right to enrichment, regardless of what they had been telling the Iranians.
Ultimately, and Peter Jenkins stated in an interview with Scott Horton in 2012
The Israelis don’t want to see peace between the US and Iran.
And that has not changed. The fact is, the Obama administration can’t make a deal with Iran, even if it wanted, because Obama can’t lift the sanctions on Iran due to the influence of Israel in Congress, and Congressional action would be required to lift the US sanctions on Iran – -without which there can be no deal.
Officials in Washington are inadvertently providing some insight into the strange logic of their nebulous war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, in contradictory and puerile statements about whether the military action should be called a war, or perhaps something else.
Backtracking on an earlier statement that the action against ISIS is simply a “counterterrorism operation,” Secretary of State John Kerry clarified in an interview on Sunday that it is, in fact, a “war.”
“In terms of al-Qaeda, which we have used the word ‘war’ with, yeah, we are at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” Kerry said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense. But I think it’s a waste of time to focus on that,” Kerry said, adding that there’s “kind of tortured debate going on about terminology.”
On one hand, Kerry may be right that these semantic arguments are something of a distraction, since the debate should be more properly focused on whether the policies of airstrikes are effective, legal, moral and justified, not whether they are called a “war” or a “counterterrorism operation.”
On the other hand, the very fact that we are having this public dispute about which of our military actions qualify as “wars,” which ones are “counterterrorism operations,” and which ones are just run-of-the-mill bombing campaigns should sound the alarm that our political culture of perpetual war is out of control, having reached a bizarre and perilous point about which Americans are increasingly confused and the Constitution is ill-equipped to handle.
Indicative of this strange new normal was a poll released Sept. 4 revealing that few Americans actually know which countries the U.S. is currently bombing. Only about one third of Americans, according to the YouGov survey, knew that the U.S. has not yet conducted strikes in Syria, while 30 percent thought that it has, and the remainder admitted they were unsure.
At the same time, just a quarter of Americans knew that the U.S. military has carried out strikes in Somalia and Pakistan during the past six months, and only 16 percent were aware of strikes in Yemen.
It’s hard to imagine another country on earth in which the citizens could be so confused about which countries were currently being bombed by their government, but then again, no other country on earth is bombing so many other countries so regularly.
When it comes to the strikes targeting ISIS, when administration officials are not arguing about what to call the operation, they seem to be crafting flimsy legal foundations for the strikes by dusting off the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force.
These rationales have not been terribly convincing, with the New York Times pointing out that the 2001 law applied specifically to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and al-Qaeda more broadly, but since ISIS is not affiliated with al-Qaeda, the law clearly doesn’t apply to the current situation.
“The fact that al-Qaeda has disavowed ISIS, deeming it too radical, does not seem to prevent the administration from ignoring the logic of the law,” the Times noted.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has not even bothered to provide a justification for the strikes under international law.
It has instead asserted without elaboration that borders present no constraints to U.S. military action. “We are lifting the restrictions on our air campaigns,” a senior administration official told reporters during a recent background briefing. “We are dealing with an organization that operates freely across a border, and we will not be constrained by that border.”
Under international law, however, borders most certainly do pose constraints. The sanctity of borders is enshrined in the UN Charter in fact, which states, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
One reason for the administration’s silence regarding the international legal basis for the possible use of force against ISIS in Syria is that none exists, since the Bashar al-Assad regime has not consented to the use of force in its territory.
As John Bellinger writes at Lawfare, “This will leave the administration to cobble together a variety of international legal rationales.” Some of these might include the argument that ISIS is part of al-Qaeda and therefore part of the U.S. armed conflict, or perhaps some sort of co-belligerency theory, or perhaps collective self-defense.
“Ultimately,” Bellinger speculates, “the administration may choose not to articulate an international legal basis at all, and instead to cite a variety of factual ‘factors’ that ‘justify’ the use of force, as the Clinton administration did for the Kosovo war. But it would be much preferable for the administration to provide legal reasons.”
This is especially true considering the fact that the administration has recently been waving around “international law” as a rallying cry to confront and isolate Russia over its alleged meddling in eastern Ukraine in recent months. As Secretary of State John Kerry said following the Russian annexation of Crimea last spring, “What has already happened is a brazen act of aggression, in violation of international law and violation of the UN Charter.”
President Obama touted principles of international law in a speech last May at West Point at which he emphasized the importance of the U.S. setting the standard for upholding legal principles and international norms. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example,” he said. “We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”
Now that international law is being cast aside by the United States, it is Russia who is emerging as one of the strongest critics of the threatened actions against the territorial integrity of Syria. Moscow said Thursday that air strikes against militants in Syria without a UN Security Council mandate would be an act of aggression.
“The U.S. president has spoken directly about the possibility of strikes by the U.S. armed forces against [ISIS] positions in Syria without the consent of the legitimate government,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
“This step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law.”
Then there is the fundamental issue of whether the war – or counterterrorism operation – would even achieve its stated goals of degrading ISIS and eliminating the threat that it allegedly poses to U.S. security.
The morning after President Obama made his case to the American people as to why the nation’s security depends on decisive military action against ISIS, the New York Times again called into question the administration’s strange logic with a front-page story announcing that “American intelligence agencies have concluded that [ISIS] poses no immediate threat to the United States,” but that attacking the group could lead to substantial blowback.
“Some American officials,” according to the Times, “warn of the potential danger of a prolonged military campaign in the Middle East, led by the United States, and say there are risks that escalating airstrikes could do the opposite of what they are intended to do and fan the threat of terrorism on American soil.”
As Andrew Liepman, a former deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center who is now a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, explained: “It’s pretty clear that upping our involvement in Iraq and Syria makes it more likely that we will be targeted by the people we are attacking.”
So, on just about every front, the case for war seems to defy all logic. But at the same time, so too does the entire premise of perpetual war. Perhaps that is what the administration hopes we forget as we debate the proper terminology for this particular operation.
The US has rejected an initiative set out by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to set a timeframe to end the Israeli occupation, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported diplomatic sources as saying today.
The sources said the US’ Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Bauer informed the group that her country “does not welcome the initiative”.
Representatives of Abbas’ government are in the process of conducting consultations on the initiative as a prelude to the formulation of a draft resolution to the UN Security Council for a vote after listening to the feedback of all the states prior to the annual session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York this month.
The sources added that permanent members of the Security Council lead by the United States “told us that they do not support the idea. Some permanent members also said they are undecided about the initiative, especially after the US’ refusal of it.”
Abbas’ initiative set out plans to resume negotiations with Israel within nine months and for the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories in no more than three years.
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.
The decision by US President Barack Obama to dispatch 3,000 troops to West Africa to fight the Ebola epidemic has sparked reactions in Liberia.
“We don’t need guns to protect us for now. What we need now is drugs. We need vaccine to curtail the spread of this virus. So it is unfortunate to hear that America is sending over 3,000 troops,” one Liberian citizen said.
“If it is an armed troop then I will start to question myself whether this virus can be fought by guns or so,” said another Liberian.
On Tuesday, Obama described the Ebola epidemic in West Africa as a threat to the entire world.
In an address from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, Obama called the US effort to fight the virus being part of “the largest international response in the history of the CDC”
“This is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security. It’s a potential threat to global security, if these countries break down, if their economies break down, if people panic,” he said.
“That has profound effects on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease,” he added. This outbreak is already “spiraling out of control.”
Earlier, the World Health Organization said the number of Ebola cases in West Africa could start doubling every three weeks and the crisis could end up costing nearly $1 billion to contain.
Ebola has claimed over 2,400 lives so far and nearly 5,000 people have been infected.
Eric Worrall writes: The imminent climate summit in New York is rapidly turning into an utter embarrassment for President Obama and UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon, in addition to becoming a bit of a punishment round for national deputy leaders.
Aussie PM Tony Abbott today defended his decision not to hop on an earlier flight to America, so he could attend the UN climate conference in New York, because he has more important matters to attend to, such as running the country.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they likely won’t attend the summit.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated he will not be attending.
Even Angela Merkel, President of über green Germany, will not be attending the UN climate summit.
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.
In his address to the nation outlining his strategy to defeat ISIS last week, President Obama made three important points regarding Syria:
1) He would not hesitate to bomb ISIS on Syrian territory even without permission from Syria, a UN resolution, or Congressional authorization.
2) He would not coordinate his attacks on Syrian territory with the Syrian government because, as the State Department claimed, that government has no legitimacy.
And, most importantly:
3) He vowed to increase US support for the “moderate” rebels in Syria, which have been fighting, with US backing, to overthrow the Syrian government for three years.
Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its own people — a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost.
This, certainly not by accident, creates the false impression that ISIS and the Assad government in Syria are on the same side and that only the “moderate” rebels in Syria can defeat both ISIS and Assad.
The fantasy of Obama’s plan to fund, arm, and train the “moderates” in Syria to be the leading edge in the US war on ISIS was completely laid bare just days after his speech, as the Syrian “moderates” signed a non-aggression pact with ISIS at a meeting just outside Damascus.
They agreed they would not fight each other until they defeat the Assad government, which, strangely enough, is the US goal as well.
There’s nothing like a war and the bombing of a foreign bogeyman to unite Americans. Since President Barack Obama made his nationwide announcement last week of open-ended war to destroy the militant ISIS network in Iraq and Syria – a terror network covertly set up by the US in the first place – the polls show a majority of American public now supporting the call for all-out air strikes.
And American politicians on both sides of Congress are also united in their support for the president’s burnished war effort. House Republican leader John Boehner has opposed Obama on all manners of domestic policies, but when it comes to going on a foreign blitzkrieg, well, that’s a “compelling case.”
Republicans and Democrats can’t seem to finalize on how much budget cuts to slash ordinary American citizens with, but they sure can close ranks on drumming up an extra $500 million to pour more weapons into war-torn Syria. It must be the “smell of napalm in the morning” that stimulates their erogenous zones.
Beyond the US, however, the newly formed “international coalition” for the American-led fight against ISIS, also known as IS or ISIL, is far from united. Indeed, early signs are that Anti-Terror Team USA is self-imploding from its own internal contradictions and dubious criminal nature.
Earlier this week, on the day before Obama’s 9/11 reminder speech for expanding the fraudulent war on terror, his secretary of state John Kerry was scouring the Middle East soliciting allies to bomb extremists in Iraq and Syria. On Wednesday, Kerry was telling CNN that such a coalition would involve “40 participating nations.”
After tours of Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Kerry was able to dragoon just 10 Arab states into joining the US bombing manifest.
‘Arab States Give Tepid Support To US Fight Against ISIS,’ reported the New York Times on September 12. These states include Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf medieval oil sheikhdoms of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman, plus Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. That’s hardly a constellation of legal probity and virtue; more like a rogue’s gallery of serial human rights violators.
A joint communiqué signed in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah stated a “shared commitment to stand united against the threat posed by all terrorism”. But the NYT noted: “The underlying tone was one of reluctance.” Even two of the signatories, Egypt and Jordan, expressed uneasy reservations about US plans to bomb ISIS into oblivion, despite signing up to the communiqué.
The Magnificent Ten in Jeddah vowed to: end financing of extremist groups; prevent the flow of weapons to such groups; halt the supply of fighters; curb the spread of extremist ideology; and increase humanitarian aid to Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia also promised to set up training camps for “moderate rebels” who would allegedly counteract the extremist ISIS network.
That chore list sounds rather more like a confession of past crimes that some of these US allies have been up to over the past three years: financing, arming, manning and promoting ISIS and its ilk to create a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and Iraq. As for Wahhabi head-chopping Saudi Arabia setting up training camps to counteract its very own Wahhabi-sponsored head-chopping extremists in ISIS that’s just a risible joke.
Kerry tried to put a brave face on his dysfunctional regional posse. “Arab nations play a critical role, indeed a leading role,” he said in Jeddah, with a bravado that belied the fact that this proposed bombing campaign against ISIS is a US-led operation to give itself a license to bomb Syria for its long-held regime-change objective; the only critical role that these Arab puppets have is to give the covert campaign a veneer of Arab consent so that it doesn’t look like American imperialism on another criminal, murderous rampage – which it is.
NATO member Turkey, although non-Arab, dealt a blow from the outset to the US coalition by refusing to sign up. The Ankara government said it would not allow American warplanes to use its territory for air strikes against ISIS either in Iraq or Syria. Turkey has nearly 50 of its citizens currently held in captivity by the extremist groups in Syria and said that its “hands were tied.”
Ankara has also been a covert arms supplier of ISIS and other extremists, such as Jabhat al Nusra, along with the US and other NATO members, in a bid to oust the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad since mid-March 2011. That regime-change plan in Syria has failed miserably, with Assad winning overwhelmingly a presidential election last June, thus disproving the Western propaganda campaign of a popular revolution rising up against a tyrant.
Where the covert Western-backed terrorist campaign has failed on the ground, now Washington wants to add air power under the guise of “destroying” the ISIS terror network – a network that it in fact has spawned for the purpose of regime change in Syria. What are the bets that any US-led bombing of ISIS in Iraq and Syria will soon morph into US air strikes on Assad government forces, which is the main target for Washington, not its CIA-sponsored mercenaries in ISIS?
Turkey is mindful of blowback terrorism if it were to publicly join in US-led air strikes against ISIS. All of the Arab bombing coalition are no doubt mindful of the same treacherous contradiction, hence their reported reluctance to sign up to the scheme, as the New York Times noted.
Meanwhile, Russia, Syria and Iran immediately warned of the legal consequences of Obama’s bombing strategy. The Iraqi government has approved, so that gives Washington a claim on legality for continuing its strikes against ISIS in the north of that country. But not so the Syrian government.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that without the consent of the Syrian government in Damascus or a UN Security Council mandate, any US-led air strikes on ISIS inside Syrian territory would amount to “a gross violation of international law”. The Syrian authorities added that any such US intervention would be “an act of aggression on a sovereign country.”
Obama claims that he has “executive war powers” to bomb and kill whomever he wants, under the fascistic post-9/11 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF). But this White House Murder Inc. policy is increasingly threadbare and morally abhorrent. All the more so because Washington is exhorting the European Union to slap tougher economic sanctions on Russia for allegedly intervening militarily in Ukraine – which Moscow adamantly says it is not and moreover points out that there is no evidence of.
The dubious legality, not to mention logistical viability, of Washington’s latest bomb-first-ask-questions-later proposals to defeat the Frankenstein monster of its own creation in Iraq and Syria is cause for pause among even America’s pathetic European lackeys.
The French are balking at the prospect of bombing its former Syrian colony. French President Francois Hollande said: “France is ready to act, but once the political accord is there and in respect of international law.” That’s French diplomacy-speak for: “Don’t count on us being caught complicit in American war crimes.”
Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was even more categorical in spurning the US-led coalition. Speaking in Berlin the day after Obama’s bravura televised speech to his nation, Germany’s top diplomat said of possible air strikes: “To be quite clear, we have not been asked to do so and neither will we do so.”
Britain’s Foreign Minister Philip Hammond also ruled out British involvement in US-led air strikes inside Syria. Hammond said his government supported the US-led coalition – placating the megalomaniac Yanks – but he told Reuters : “Let me be clear: Britain will not be taking part in any air strikes in Syria. We have already had that discussion in our parliament last year and we won’t be revisiting that position.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to quickly snub Hammond later on Friday when he said that “nothing was being ruled out” as far as British warplanes are concerned in possible Syria operations with the Americans.
Nevertheless, despite Cameron’s obviously compensatory bluster, it seems clear that the US-led campaign to “destroy ISIS” is already running out of commitment, even among Washington’s most dutiful, pathetically servile allies; and no wonder, too. This US-led anti-terror bombing coalition is such a barrel of volatile lies, unstable contradictions and inflammatory expediency it is bound to implode before it even starts to roll.
Obama’s ISIS speech would have provoked outrage if Bush gave it. Now, however, Democrats and Republicans are united over foreign war to such an extent that a prolonged military campaign without congressional approval barely raises an eyebrow. So one year after an attack on Syria was rejected by the American public bombs will be dropping after all.
More surprising than the bi-partisan escalation of Middle East war is the complete absence of strategy. Obama’s speech ignored the fundamental causes of ISIS’ rise, while putting forth a military strategy of pure fantasy. The only guarantee of Obama’s war strategy is the unnecessary prolonging of the Syrian conflict and the further growth of Islamic extremism. It’s as if President Obama hasn’t figured out the ABC’s of terrorism: the more you bomb, the more extremists you create. It isn’t rocket science.
The 13-year “war on terror” has fundamentally failed, creating an exponential growth in Islamic extremism, now sprawling across the very epicenter of the Middle East where its presence before was miniscule.
The president’s speech ignored how his strategy to fight the secular Syrian government — funding, training, and arming the Syrian rebels — has directly contributed to creating giant militias of Islamic extremists, filled with money and jihadists from Obama’s Gulf state allies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. If not for the U.S.-backed rebels in Syria, the conflict would have ended long ago, and ISIS would have remained marginal.
But instead of admitting that this failed approach helped create ISIS, Obama has doubled down on his ludicrous plan to further arm and finance the “moderate” opposition in Syria. The New York Times discussed the holes in Obama’s strategy:
“… Mr. Obama is still wrestling with a series of challenges, including how to train and equip a viable ground force to fight ISIS inside Syria, how to intervene without aiding President Bashar al-Assad, and how to enlist potentially reluctant partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.”
None of these issues are to be resolved, only compounded. Of course President Assad will benefit if Obama attacks his enemy ISIS, in the same way that ISIS has been benefitting the last two years from the U.S.-backed proxy war against President Assad.
Further exposing these issues is the highly regarded Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn, who predicted Obama’s foolish speech with precision:
“So far it looks as if Mr. Obama will dodge the main problem facing his campaign against Isis. He will not want to carry out a U-turn in U.S. policy by allying himself with President Assad, though the Damascus government is the main armed opposition to Isis in Syria. He will instead step up a pretense that there is a potent “moderate” armed opposition in Syria, capable of fighting both Isis and the Syrian government at once. Unfortunately, this force scarcely exists in any strength and the most important rebel movements opposed to Isis are themselves jihadis such as Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and the Islamic Front. Their violent sectarianism is not very different to that of Isis.”
Later in the article Cockburn explains that the negligible moderate force is dominated by the CIA.
Obama dared not say explicitly that his plan to fight ISIS included a plan to fight the Syrian government, but that’s exactly what he implied by continuing to arm, fund, and train a “moderate” Syrian opposition that is fighting both ISIS and Assad.
Obama’s bombing campaign against ISIS can thus rapidly transition into a regime change bombing of the Syrian Government, as happened in the U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign in Libya that began as “humanitarian intervention” and veered into regime change after the first bomb dropped.
Before he announced the expansion of the war Obama claimed legal authorization to bomb without Congressional approval. The U.S. House Judiciary Chair issued a different opinion. And Democrats, too, had a different opinion when Bush was in office.
But now many congressmen from both parties would like Obama to act without Congress, since midterm elections are nearing and no congressman wants to be on record voting for war, since Americans are fed up with it. Better to skip democracy and have the president declare war unilaterally, war weary voters be damned.
Lastly, Obama failed to mention that perpetual war is the new normal for the U.S. government, no matter which party is elected. By not addressing any of the above-mentioned issues, a serious analysis was shelved in favor of the Bush Jr. circular logic that can be used to rationalize war forever, creating new generations of Islamic extremists that will justify permanent war. There can be only one real solution: remove the U.S. military from the Middle East.
Shamus Cooke can be reached at email@example.com