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Zionist War on Gaza

By William James Martin | Dissident Voice | August 1, 2014

It is important to understand the genesis of the present round of violence between Israel and Hamas, really between Israel and the people of Gaza.

Both President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and the American news media have consistently described the conflict as Israel justifiably responding to the firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and protecting their citizens, as if world history only began at this moment and that prior context did not exists.

More thoughtful and better informed observers than Obama and Kerry have more correctly noted that the present waves of Hamas rockets were preceded by a sequence of events which left Hamas with little choice except to resist with their only available means, which is firing rockets into Israel.

Let us recall: On June 2, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas announced the completion of an agreement unifying the two governments and to be led by the moderate Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and with ministries run mostly by technocrats, a process worked out with input from the American government which included terms that would not automatically trigger a US ban.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, however vowed never to work with a government that included Hamas which he described, as is normal for him, as a ‘terrorist’ organization and also admonished western governments including the US not to conduct discussions with them, a call that went mostly unheeded, to Mr Netanyahu’s great frustration.

The abduction and murder of three Israeli youths was met by Mr Netanyahu’s response: “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.” This was his chance to wreck the unity government.

Thus a ‘search and destroy’ operation was initiated consisting of 18 days of Israeli army rampages which targeted anything affiliated with Hamas on the West Bank. Hundreds were arrested, about 500 total, and about a dozen Palestinians killed, Hamas offices and clinics were ransacked and destroyed, with computers confiscated, hundreds of Palestinian homes were invaded, usually in the middle of the night with the homes ransacked and contents destroyed or damaged, guns were pointed at women and children and people terrorized, and many arrested. Homes of so-called suspected persons were blown up and destroyed.

In addition, Mr. Netanyahu’s rhetoric contributed to an atmosphere of anger and vengeance which resulted in the abduction and burning alive of a Palestinian teenager by several Israelis.

As of almost three weeks later, there has been no evidence what so ever that the Hamas leadership was involved or even knew in advance about the kidnapping.

Furthermore Max Blumenthal has reported, based on his sources inside Israeli intelligence, Shin Bet, that they knew, with high probability, within hours of the kidnapping that the three abducted youths had been killed. This news was not released to the public thus permitting the ‘search and destroy’ operation to continue.

The rampage of Israeli soldiers in the west Bank was quickly followed by aerial attacks by Israel into Gaza which killed seven Hamas members.

Thus the charge, by Mr Netanyahu, of Hamas responsibility in the abduction and killing of the three Israelis, and the suppression of information to the effect that the Israeli government knew the three Israeli youths had been killed were disingenuous techniques of Mr Netanyahu to destroy or seriously degrade Hamas and destroy the unity government which Mr Netanyahu so despised.

Obama, Kerry, and Netanyahu and their minions constantly repeat the question. “What would you do if your country were attacked by rocket fire?” And, of course, there is the ever present refrain, “Israel has a right to defend itself”

A far less trite question is, “What would you do if you were Hamas, and your offices were being ransacked and destroyed, and your people killed.? And what would you do if the population of Gaza were living under a brutal siege, unable to export their agriculture or the products so their labors, with foodstuffs embargoed allowing only a bare subsistence, with electricity and fuel limited, and potable water in short supply, and with building and rebuilding of destroyed structure from two previous wars with Israel, as well as this one when it ends, impossible because of the Israeli siege?

All this is taking place in the political-diplomatic space created by the multiple failures of the Obama conflict resolution efforts which included sending Kerry to the Middle East with the instructions to ‘solve the problem’, as he had George Mitchell before, without any presidential directive or program toward a solution. Further, the efforts of Kerry were undermined, as were those of Mitchell’s earlier, by President Obama’s failure to apply any pressure at all to Israel and even to echo the narrative and talking points of the Israeli government and to repeat the Israeli-Zionist interpretation of Jewish-Zionist history and its justification for the Zionism project.

And, of course, there is the ever present refrain which Obama, like his predecessor George Bush, never tires of repeating: “Israel has a right to defend itself”, thus justifying Israel’s violent operation, both in 2012 and at present, which has been interpreted by the President as a ‘response’. Obama has advanced the argument that no nation could tolerate rocket fire aimed toward its citizens further justifying Israel’s air, land and sea attack on the people of Gaza, and implying that the cause of the present conflagration began with the Hamas launched rocket fire – that Hamas is responsible for the present round of violence.

Obama has never hinted at the slightest discomfort of the siege of Gaza in which at least half of Gaza’s 1.7 million people are food insecure and almost all are impoverished unable to export the products of their labors, nor to import enough of their material needs, including the need to upgrade their water and sanitation facilities. Though Obama is a constitutional lawyer, he seems not to have noticed that collective punishment as well as using food as a weapon of war violates the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Obama’s vetoes of all Palestinian sponsored UN Security Council resolutions which were critical of Israel or its occupation, his efforts to join Israel in quashing the Goldstone Report and rendering it ineffective, and his efforts to pressure the Palestinians not to seek memberships in UN Agencies or join international conventions, certainly undermined any possibility of Israel making an effort at compromise. Why should Israel compromise when the President of the United States as well as the US Congress will protect it from the pressures or constraints of international law, and also echo its talking points for general popular consumption.

Obama has sought to confine the possible avenues of potential resolution to the so-call ‘peace process’ and to the principle that any resolution must be one mutually agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians, which means that any constraints potentially imposed by international law will not be applied to Israel which occupies the land captured in the ’67 War and has a large and very well equipped military making it capable of occupying the land against the will of the Palestinian people for an indefinitely long period in to the future.

Everyday Israel seizes more Palestinian land, adds new settlers to the East Jerusalem and the West Bank population, and its leaders, particularly Prime Minister Netanyahu, has indicated very many times that the state of Israel has absolutely no intention of relinquishing any substantial amount of West Bank territory or any of East Jerusalem. Such indications includes a meeting of Mr Netanyahu with President Obama in the Oval Office in which Netanyahu told Obama to his face that Israel would never withdraw from ‘Judea and Samaria’, the Jewish nationalist designation of the West Bank. And that Israel must maintain an indefinite military presence in the Jordan Valley.

Obama acts as though he did not hear him, or doesn’t care. And his response to Mr Netanyahu, on that afternoon in the Oval Office, was complete silence.

Obama has done nothing but reinforce Mr Netanyahu’s argument that the occupied territories are not illegally occupied but are “disputed areas” subject only to negotiations between parties in to which Israel has as much right as anyone else. He has certainly never attempted to counter Mr Netanyahu’s frequent claim that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews by virtue of ‘the Jewish historical right’.

During Obama’s five and half years in office, Obama has never displayed any insight at all in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nothing beyond the echoing of the Israeli-Zionist narrative. He has never used the term Nakbah, nor recognized that there was an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in 1948, though he did use the term “dispossession” in his (overrated) Cairo speech. I have never heard him use the term “occupation”.

His only insight into the Zionist movement is to echo the false claim that Jews dreamed and hoped for 2000 years to return to the Land of Israel. This mythology has been thoroughly debunked by Shlomo Sand and by any careful reading of the history of the Zionist movement – a movement which only became a project of Jews, and a small subset of Jews at that, in the 1880’s though it was preceded by four centuries by Christian Zionism, mostly in England, which set the parameters of Jewish Zionist thinking and introduced the term return to describe the migration of Jews into Palestine.

It is doubtful anyone would use the term “return” if the Egyptians decided to conquer Palestine though they ruled it a millennium before there was a Jewish city state in Jerusalem.

This war belongs to Obama as much as to anyone because it emerged in the vacuum created by Obama’s laziness and lack of courage in standing up to Netanyahu and the Zionist supporters in the US and in Congress.

Obama ignored the seven year long siege of Gaza. Now it has come back to bite him. His legacy will include that.

Given Obama’s limited shallow understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its history, there may have been little else he could have done. Imagining Obama conducting a 13 day debate with Netanyahu, as Jimmy Carter did in 1978 at Camp David with Menachem Begin, is completely unimaginable.

Hamas and the people of Gaza can give up and let Israel slowly strangle them to death under a siege that stands in clear violation of international law which prohibits collective punishment. Or they can fight back with their only means available.

Hamas’s fight, which is mainly a struggle to lift the siege of Gaza, is an honorable one. Hamas’s fight possess the dignity with the Israeli brutalizers cannot not even imagine. In fact, the Zionists gave up any hope of dignity long before they ethnically cleansed Palestine of most of its indigenous population in 1948.

William James Martin can be reached at wjm20@caa.columbia.edu.

August 1, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 97% ‘consensus’: Part II

By Judith Curry | July 27, 2013

My, the Cook et al. 97% consensus paper is a gift to the climate blogosphere that keeps on giving.  Some insightful new posts provide fodder for additional discussion on this.

Ben Pile

Ben Pile has a new post Tom Curtis doesn’t understand the 97% paper.  Here are a few excerpts that raise some interesting points:

We see now why many environmentalists are so hostile to debate. Permitting debate — even giving the possibility of debate a moment’s thought — shatters the binary opposing categories that have been established in lieu of an actual debate of substance on climate change and what to do about it. The division of the debate into scientists versus deniers is a strategy, but one which has worn thin, as Davey’s performance on The Sunday Politics show revealed, and which Hulme alludes to.

It has been somewhat gratifying that almost all of the criticism of my post I have seen so far is from angry trolls, mostly on twitter, but one or two popped up to comment on the post. From what I can tell their argument is circular: it is irresponsible to give air/blog time to sceptics because there’s a strong scientific consensus that says they’re wrong.

Tom Curtis (who is, as far as I can tell, a partner in the Skeptical Science blog enterprise) obliges, with archetypal green invective.

There is a large measure of idiocy in Ben Pile’s post, and in Mike Hulme’s endorsement of it.

The architects of the new consensus — Cook et al and their pals — really ought to understand the dynamics of a consensus. If you begin your defence of a consensus by calling those who might belong to it ‘idiots’, the only possible outcome is that the consensus will diminish.

I certainly do know for a fact that some people’s estimates of climate sensitivity are so low as to at least imply, contrary to the IPCC statement, natural variability might account for more than 50% of the warming in the second half of the C20th. My argument, however, was that the Consensus Project is too clumsy to capture such a position.

It’s all about endorsing with these guys, isn’t it… Endorsement and rejection. Hulme should have rejected Pile and endorsed Cook et al, because Pile rejects the consensus, whereas Cook et al endorse it, as do most climate scientists. They want agreements and disagreements to be black and white, yes and no, true and false, science and denier.

But as I explain in the post, in the case of Davey, the science is being ignored by a politician, it having been displaced from the debate by the 97% figure.

JC comment:  This is an important point.  In my No consensus paper, I argue “the consensus building process employed by the IPCC does not lend intellectual substance to their conclusions. “

Moreover, as we have seen in Davey, his predecessors, and his superiors, you can say anything you like about climate change, as long as it doesn’t contradict this view of sides. You could say, for instance, that there will be 10 metres of sea level rise by 2100 and that therefore climate policies are necessary. This claim would exist far away from ‘The Science’. But it would seem to be correct according to the tests applied to it by the Consensus Project. This is disappointing, because Curtis is nearly on to something…

Further, he appears to have picked up that strange censorial attitude noteworthy also in von Storch which presumes that because they do not believe that AGW will lead to catastrophe (which is a respectable position inside the consensus), that therefore scientists who do believe that it will (also a respectable position inside the consensus) must not state that belief in public.

Surely this is a frank admission that there is no consensus on catastrophic climate change? If so, then Curtis is now in a real bind, because this deprives the ‘warmist’ crowd of their moral imperatives. Moreover, most complaints from sceptics are that the catastrophism we are all too familiar with is undue — not that there is no such thing as climate change.

Dan Kahan

Dan Kahan has chimed in with a post The distracting counterproductive 97% consensus debate drags on.   Some points that caught my eye:

But it is demonstrably the case (I’m talking real-world evidence here) that the regular issuance of these studies, and the steady drum beat of “climate skeptics are ignoring scientific consensus!” that accompany them, have had no—zero, zilch—net effect on professions of public “belief” in human-caused climate change in the U.S.

On the contrary, there’s good reason to believe that the self-righteous and contemptuous tone with which the “scientific consensus” point is typically advanced (“assault on reason,” “the debate is over” etc.) deepens polarization.  That’s because “scientific consensus,” when used as a rhetorical bludgeon, predictably excites reciprocally contemptuous and recriminatory responses by those who are being beaten about the head and neck with it.

Such a mode of discourse doesn’t help the public to figure out what scientists believe. But it makes it as clear as day to them that climate change is an “us-vs.-them” cultural conflict, in which those who stray from the position that dominates in their group will be stigmatized as traitors within their communities.

Nevertheless, the authors of the most recent study announced (in a press release issued by the lead author’s university) that “when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they’re more likely support politics that take action on it,” a conclusion from which the authors inferred that “making the results of our paper widely-known is an important step toward closing the consensus gap and increasing public support for meaningful climate change.”

Unsurprisingly, the study has in the months since its publication supplied a focal target for climate skeptics, who have challenged the methods the authors employ.

The debate over the latest “97%” paper multiplies the stock of cues that climate change is an issue that defines people as members of opposing cultural groups. It thus deepens the wellsprings of motivation that they have to engage evidence in a way that reinforces what they already believe. The recklessness  that the authors displayed in fanning the flames of unreason that fuels this dynamic is what motivated me to express dismay over the new study.

Members of the public are not experts on scientific matters. Rather they are experts in figuring out who the experts are, and in discerning what the practical importance of expert opinion is for the decisions they have to make as individuals and citizens.

JC comment:  In my post Climategate essay  On the credibility of climate research Part II rebuilding trust,  I wrote:  Credibility is a combination of expertise and trust.  While scientists persist in thinking that they should be trusted because of their expertise, climategate has made it clear that expertise itself is not a sufficient basis for public trust. Recent disclosures about the IPCC have brought up a host of concerns about the IPCC that had been festering in the background: involvement of IPCC scientists in explicit climate policy advocacy; tribalism that excluded skeptics; hubris of scientists with regards to a noble (Nobel) cause; alarmism; and inadequate attention to the statistics of uncertainty and the complexity of alternative interpretations. The experts do their science and ’cause’ a disservice by engaging in these behaviors.

Ordinary citizens are amazingly good at this.  Their use of this ability, moreover, is not a substitute for rational thought; it is an exercise rational thought of the most impressive sort. But in a science communication environment polluted with toxic partisan meanings, the faculties they use to discern what most scientists believe are impaired.

JC comment: In my paper No consensus on consensus, I wrote: While the public may not understand the complexity of the science or be predisposed culturally to accept the consensus, they can certainly understand the vociferous debates over the science portrayed by the media.   Further, they can judge the social facts surrounding the consensus building process, including those revealed by the so-called “Climategate” episode, and decide whether to trust the experts whose opinion comprises the consensus.  Beck argues that “in a public debate, the social practices of knowledge-making matter as much as the substance of the knowledge itself.”

The problem with the suggestion of the authors’ of the latest “97%” study that the key is to “mak[e] the results of [their] paper widely-known” is that it diverts serious, well-intentioned people from efforts to clear the air of the toxic meanings that impede the processes that usually result in public convergence on the best available (and of course always revisable!) scientific conclusions about people can protect themselves from serious risks.

Indeed, as I indicated, the particular manner in which the “scientific consensus” trope is used by partisan advocates tends only to deepen the toxic fog of cultural conflict that makes it impossible for ordinary citizens to figure out what the best scientific evidence is.

JC comment:  with the advent of the ‘pause’ in dominating the public debate on climate change,  deepening of the fog may be the objective of the  shriller perveyors of consensus.

But from what I see, it is becoming clearer and clearer that those who have dedicated themselves to promoting public engagement with the best available scientific evidence on climate change are not dealing with the admittedly sensitive and challenging task of explaining why it is normal, in this sort of process, to encounter discrepancies between forecasting models and subsequent observations and to adjust the models based on them.  And why such adjustment in the context of climate change is cause for concluding neither that “the science was flawed” nor that “there is in fact nothing for anyone to be concerned about.”

 JC comment:  Too many defenders of the consensus have become either ‘pause’ deniers or ‘pause’ dismissers.  A while back, I recommended that they ‘own’ the pause, and work on explaining it. Belatedly, we see a little bit of this happening, but of course it does not lead them to challenge the main IPCC conclusion on 20th century attribution.

JC summary:  It is really good to see this discussion about the role of consensus in the public debate on climate change and the problems this has caused for the science, the policy, and increasingly for the proponents of consensus.  It is however dismaying to see that continued influence that the existence of a ‘consensus’ has on the politics (especially President Obama’s citing of the Cook et al. study).

July 27, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Another ‘Saigon': US Evacuates From Libya

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | July 26, 2014

One month ago today, President Obama was congratulating Libya on a “milestone” election — even though the disintegration of the country after the 2011 US invasion was ongoing.

Said Obama in June:

I congratulate the Libyan people on the conclusion of the elections for a new Council of Representatives, a milestone in their courageous efforts to transition from four decades of dictatorship toward a full democracy.

Today, the US announced it has evacuated all US personnel from Libya. They piled into vehicles and escaped to Tunisia.

The only thing left behind was the hollow words of hollow State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf:

Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya.. …We reiterate that Libyans must immediately cease hostilities and begin negotiations to resolve their grievances.

Nothing better demonstrates the enormous disconnect between Washington’s rhetoric and actual reality than this, an emergency evacuation of the entire US diplomatic and military presence in Libya just weeks after a “milestone” election and just over three years after a US/NATO attack that was to bring democracy and prosperity to the country.

As the US and NATO attacked Libya in March, 2011, President Obama addressed the American people to explain his decision to attack.

Gaddafi was killing his own people, Obama claimed. That was a lie. He was fighting the very insurgents whose ongoing violence has forced the United States to flee the country.

US intervention would stop the violence, Obama claimed. That was a lie.

“Qaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous,” said Obama.

But Gaddafi was forced from power — sodomized and murdered by US allies in Libya. The country is more dangerous than ever. The US has been forced to evacuate.

Obama claimed that the US/NATO invasion would end the violence in Libya:

[W]e were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.  We had a unique ability to stop that violence:  an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.

That was a lie. The violence worsened.

America was exceptional, claimed Obama in his 2011 speech. That is why we had to invade Libya:

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.  Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries.  The United States of America is different.

Libya was supposed to be the next “domino” in the fantasy of an “Arab Spring” pushed so hard by the US administration and its compliant media. Instead, Egypt is ruled by a US-backed dictator who overthrew an elected government and Libya is a completely destroyed no-go zone.

Reality caught up with Obama and the murderous rhetoric of the interventionists and neocons.

Moscow is next on their target list. Those in the US who push back against the lies designed to provoke a war with Russia are called “Putin’s best friend” and “Russian agents.” Just like they were called “Saddam’s best friend” and “Iraqi agents” just like they were called “Gaddafi’s best friend” and “Libyan agents.” The lies are the same, the results are always a disaster.

Will Americans notice what failures their leaders are? Will Americans demand an end to the disastrous interventions?

Let this sink in: three years after the US invasion of Libya that would “free” the country, the US has been forced to have a Saigon moment.

July 27, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Obama is a Direct Accomplice in Israeli War Crimes

353262_obama netanyahu

By Shamus Cooke | Workers Action | July 21, 2014

To assist in a crime makes one a criminal by any legal standard. And the biggest crimes of all are war crimes, since they kill en masse and showcase the cruelest form of human behavior.

The fact that Israel is actively committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip is not open to debate, since a cursory glance at the conflict obviously exposes them in practice.

The two most glaring war crimes Israel is committing — as defined by the Geneva Convention — are the concepts of “collective punishment” and “necessity and proportionality.”

Under collective punishment, a warring party cannot respond to an attack by waging war on the attacker’s community, as is clearly happening in Gaza. The clearest proof that collective punishment is being used is that a 1,000 Gaza homes have been destroyed and the majority of the casualties are civilians.

Under “necessity and proportionality” a warring party must only use the amount of force necessary to defeat the opponent; disproportional force is a crime. So, for example, if Hamas fires wimpy rockets that kill virtually no Israelis, then it is “disproportionate” for Israel to rain massive bombs, missiles, and artillery to reduce large sections of Gaza to rubble. Even Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called the Israel attack a “deliberately disproportiate form of collective punishment.”

It is also a specific war crime to deliberately attack civilians, and especially to attack facilities treating the wounded. But Israel has attacked al-Aqsa hospital in Gaza four times, according to Reuters. The latest shelling of al-Aqsa killed 4 and wounded 70.

Even the pro-western Human Rights Watch has denounced Israel for committing war crimes:

“Israeli air attacks in Gaza investigated by Human Rights Watch have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war.”

Obama’s aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes is also closed to debate, since his administration stands guilty from the very beginning of the conflict by shielding Israel from international political pressure, hiding its war crimes by deliberately misrepresenting what is happening, and giving political space for the war to continue by not intervening directly.

It was a blatantly laughable lie when Obama said that his government was “using all means” to achieve a ceasefire early in the conflict.

The U.S. influence over Israel is tremendous, and Obama could have ended the conflict in the first hour by simply declaring, “If Israel does not stop its attack on Gaza, the U.S. will refuse further military and financial assistance and sever all diplomatic and political ties.” War over.

Instead of taking this action, or any action for that matter, Obama sat on the sidelines. In fact, Obama deliberately waited until the end of the second week of the war to even send his Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a ceasefire deal. Of course, Obama could have come himself.

Obama further assisted in Israeli war crimes by repeatedly justifying Israel’s right to commit them, deceitfully placing all Israel’s actions under the big umbrella of “self-defense.” Again, war crimes are war crimes and were purposefully created to trump any excuse of self-defense.

After ten days of a brutal bombing campaign an Israeli ground invasion was announced, which everyone knew would intensify the bloodshed. This would have been a key moment for the U.S. government to finally intervene. But instead, as ABC News reports:

“President Barack Obama said Friday that he encouraged Israel’s leader to minimize civilian deaths in its ground push into Hamas-ruled Gaza, while letting him know that the U.S. supports Israel’s right to self defense.”

A statement like this can be interpreted to mean only one thing: a green light to continue the massacre.

When John Kerry was finally sent to the Middle East to broker a peace deal, he was still making excuses for Israeli’s war crimes. USA Today reports:

“Kerry also blamed the latest wave of violence on what he called Israel’s “legitimate” efforts to pursue and punish those who last month kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found in the West Bank.”

Again, bombing a whole city because three Israeli teens were killed is disproportional collective punishment — war crimes. There is also no evidence that Hamas is responsible for the death of three Israeli teens, which it has denied since day one.

The colossally disproportionate aspect of the war has been continually smoothed over by the Obama administration, which consistently lumps Palestinian and Israeli civilian deaths evenly together, as if they were happening with equal frequency. But in reality the 550 Palestinians that have been killed and 3,500 wounded are mostly civilians, while the few dozen Israeli’s who’ve died have been mostly soldiers.

How dangerous are the Hamas rockets that the Obama administration endlessly talks about? CBS news recently reported:

“Hamas also fired 50 more rockets at Israel, including two at Tel Aviv, causing no injuries or damage.”

This has been the story of the conflict in which Obama has justified the complete destruction of the Gaza Strip by continually saying “no nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders.”

Obama’s muted language about Israel’s aggression can be compared to the recently shot down Malaysian jet, for which Obama summoned his “outrage” while instantly blaming the pro-Russian Ukrainians, though without a shred of evidence.

But most of the world believes Israel’s actions are outrageous, an opinion not allowed to be expressed at the United Nations, thanks again to the Obama administration, which used its clout to sterilize Israel’s actions by limiting the UN’s statement on the conflict.

Specifically, the Obama administration used its influence over the UN Security Council to limit its statement to “serious concern” about civilian casualties on “both sides” of the conflict, thus white washing the nature of events and providing the aggressor with invaluable political breathing space.

The Obama administration has also assisted Israeli War Crimes by continually blaming Hamas for not agreeing to the Egyptian brokered ceasefire agreement. Hamas is the elected government of the Gaza Strip, and thus has a right to not agree to a ceasefire agreement. But of course Hamas’ not agreeing to the Egyptian agreement does not justify a continual Israeli blitzkrieg of the Gaza Strip, though the Obama administration’s logic implies exactly this.

Lastly, the Obama administration has consistently lied about the origins of this bloodbath. The three dead Israeli teens were not the cause of this conflict, but the pretext, which the Israeli government consciously exploited to promote war among the Israeli population.

The real cause of the war was the recent alliance between the Palestinian Authority — which governs the West Bank — and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. This alliance gave the Palestinians their strongest hand in bargaining with Israel in perhaps decades, which was enough to spark a new round of massacres from the Israeli government in an effort to re-balance the bargaining table.

This ongoing bloody dynamic continues in large part because the U.S. government allows it. The vast majority of people across the world are denouncing Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians, and so too must U.S. citizens denounce their government’s criminal actions in assisting Israeli war crimes.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action. He can be reached at portland@workerscompass.org

July 22, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Airline Horror Spurs New Rush to Judgment

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 19, 2014

Despite doubts within the U.S. intelligence community, the Obama administration and the mainstream U.S. news media are charging off toward another rush to judgment blaming Ukrainian rebels and the Russian government for the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane, much as occurred last summer regarding a still-mysterious sarin gas attack in Syria.

In both cases, rather than let independent investigators sort out the facts, President Barack Obama’s ever-aggressive State Department and the major U.S. media simply accepted that the designated villains of those two crises – Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine – were the guilty parties. Yet, some U.S. intelligence analysts dissented from both snap conventional wisdoms.

Regarding the shoot-down of the Malaysian jetliner on Thursday, I’m told that some CIA analysts cite U.S. satellite reconnaissance photos suggesting that the anti-aircraft missile that brought down Flight 17 was fired by Ukrainian troops from a government battery, not by ethnic Russian rebels who have been resisting the regime in Kiev since elected President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown on Feb. 22.

According to a source briefed on the tentative findings, the soldiers manning the battery appeared to be wearing Ukrainian uniforms and may have been drinking, since what looked like beer bottles were scattered around the site. But the source added that the information was still incomplete and the analysts did not rule out the possibility of rebel responsibility.

A contrary emphasis has been given to the Washington Post and other mainstream U.S. outlets. On Saturday, the Post reported that “on Friday, U.S. officials said a preliminary intelligence assessment indicated the airliner was blown up by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by the separatists.” But the objectivity of the Obama administration, which has staunchly supported the coup regime, is in question as are the precise reasons for its judgments.

Even before the Feb. 22 coup, senior administration officials, including Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, were openly encouraging protesters seeking the overthrow of Yanukovych. Nuland went so far as to pass out cookies to the demonstrators and discuss with Pyatt who should be appointed once Yanukovych was removed.

After Yanukovych and his officials were forced to flee in the face of mass protests and violent attacks by neo-Nazi militias, the State Department was quick to declare the new government “legitimate” and welcomed Nuland’s favorite, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, as the new prime minister.

As events have unfolded since then, including Crimea’s secession to join Russia and bloody attacks directed at ethnic Russians in Odessa and elsewhere, the Obama administration has consistently taken the side of the Kiev regime and bashed Moscow.

And, since Thursday, when the Malaysian plane was shot down killing 298 people, the Ukrainian government and the Obama administration have pointed the finger of blame at the rebels and the Russian government, albeit without the benefit of a serious investigation that is only now beginning.

One of the administration’s points has been that the Buk anti-aircraft missile system, which was apparently used to shoot down the plane, was “Russian made.” But the point is rather silly since nearly all Ukrainian military weaponry is “Russian made.” Ukraine, after all, was part of the Soviet Union until 1991 and has continued to use mostly Russian military equipment.

It’s also not clear how the U.S. government ascertained that the missile was an SA-11 as opposed to other versions of the Buk missile system.

Slanting the Case

Virtually everything that U.S. officials have said appears designed to tilt suspicions toward the Russians and the rebels – and away from government forces. Referring ominously to the sophistication of the SA-11, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power declared, “We cannot rule out Russian technical assistance.” But that phrasing supposedly means that the administration can’t rule it in either.

Still, in reading between the lines of the mainstream U.S. press accounts, it’s possible to see where some of the gaps are regarding the supposed Russian hand in Thursday’s tragedy. For instance, the Post’s Craig Whitlock reported that Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe, said last month that “We have not seen any of the [Russian] air-defense vehicles across the border yet.”

Since these Buk missile systems are large and must be transported on trucks, it would be difficult to conceal their presence from U.S. aerial surveillance which has been concentrating intensely on the Ukraine-Russia border in recent months.

The Post also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.”

In other words, the mystery is still not solved. It may be that the rebels – facing heavy bombardment from the Ukrainian air force – convinced the Russians to provide more advanced anti-aircraft weapons than the shoulder-fired missiles that the rebels have used to bring down some Ukrainian military planes.

It’s possible, too, that a rebel detachment mistook the civilian airliner for a military plane or even that someone in the Russian military launched the fateful rocket at the plane heading toward Russian airspace.

But both the Russian government and the rebels dispute those scenarios. The rebels say they don’t have missiles that can reach the 33,000-foot altitude of the Malaysian airliner. Besides denying a hand in the tragedy, the Russians claim that the Ukrainian military did have Buk anti-aircraft systems in eastern Ukraine and that the radar of one battery was active on the day of the crash.

The Russian Defense Ministry stated that “The Russian equipment detected throughout July 17 the activity of a Kupol radar, deployed as part of a Buk-M1 battery near Styla [a village some 30 kilometers south of Donetsk],” according to an RT report.

So, the other alternative remains in play, that a Ukrainian military unit – possibly a poorly supervised bunch – fired the missile intentionally or by accident. Why the Ukrainian military would intentionally have aimed at a plane flying eastward toward Russia is hard to comprehend, however.

A Propaganda Replay?

But perhaps the larger point is that both the Obama administration and the U.S. press corps should stop this pattern of rushing to judgments. It’s as if they’re obsessed with waging “information warfare” – i.e., justifying hostilities toward some adversarial nation – rather than responsibly informing the American people.

We saw this phenomenon in 2002-03 as nearly the entire Washington press corps clambered onboard President George W. Bush’s propaganda bandwagon into an aggressive war against Iraq. That pattern almost repeated itself last summer when a similar rush to judgment occurred around a sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21.

Though the evidence was murky, there was a stampede to assume that the Assad government was behind the attack. While blaming the Syrian army, the U.S. press ignored the possibility that the attack was a provocation committed by radical jihadist rebels who were hoping that U.S. air power could turn the tide of the war in their favor.

Rather than carefully weigh the complex evidence, the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry tried to spur President Obama into a quick decision to bomb Syrian government targets. Kerry delivered a belligerent speech on Aug. 30 and the administration released what it called a “Government Assessment” supposedly proving the case.

But this four-page white paper contained no verifiable evidence supporting its accusations and it soon became clear that the report had excluded dissents that some U.S. intelligence analysts would have attached to a more formal paper prepared by the intelligence community.

Despite the war hysteria then gripping Official Washington, President Obama rejected war at the last moment and – with the help of Russian President Putin – was able to negotiate a resolution of the crisis in which Assad surrendered Syria’s chemical weapons while still denying a hand in the sarin gas attack.

The mainstream U.S. press, especially the New York Times, and some non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, continued pushing the theme of the Syrian government’s guilt. HRW and the Times teamed up for a major story that purported to show the flight paths of two sarin-laden missiles vectoring back to a Syrian military base 9.5 kilometers away.

For a time, this report was treated as the slam-dunk evidence proving the case against Assad, until it turned out that only one of the rockets carried sarin and the maximum range of the one that did have sarin was only about two kilometers.

Despite knowing these weaknesses in the case, President Obama stood by his State Department hawks by reading a speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24 in which he declared: “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

In watching Obama’s address, I was struck by how casually he lied. He knew better than almost anyone that some of his senior intelligence analysts were among those doubting the Syrian government’s guilt. Yet, he suggested that anyone who wasn’t onboard the propaganda train was crazy.

Since then, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed other evidence indicating that the sarin attack may indeed have been a rebel provocation meant to push Obama over the “red line” that he had drawn about not tolerating chemical weapons use.

Now, we are seeing a repeat performance in which Obama understands the doubts about the identity of who fired the missile that brought down the Malaysian airliner but is pushing the suspicions in a way designed to whip up animosity toward Russia and President Putin.

Obama may think this is a smart play because he can posture as tough when many of his political enemies portray him as weak. He also buys himself some P.R. protection in case it turns out that the ethnic Russian rebels and/or the Russian military do share the blame for the tragedy. He can claim to have been out front in making the accusations.

But there is a dangerous downside to creating a public hysteria about nuclear-armed Russia. As we have seen already in Ukraine, events can spiral out of control in unpredictable ways.

Assistant Secretary Nuland and other State Department hawks probably thought they were building their careers when they encouraged the Feb. 22 coup – and they may well be right about advancing their status in Official Washington at least. But they also thawed out long-frozen animosities between the “ethnically pure” Ukrainians in the west and the ethnic Russians in the east.

Those tensions – many dating back to World War II and before – have now become searing hatreds with hundreds of dead on both sides. The nasty, little Ukrainian civil war also made Thursday’s horror possible.

But even greater calamities could lie ahead if the State Department’s “anti-diplomats” succeed in reigniting the Cold War. The crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 should be a warning about the dangers of international brinkmanship.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

White House Spokesperson Insists Obama Is The Most Transparent President In History, Because… Visitor Logs!

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Jul 15, 2014

The rather astoundingly named Josh Earnest is the recently appointed press secretary of President Obama, and he’s kicked off his tenure with quite a whopper: insisting that, despite complaints from basically every corner, President Obama really is “the most transparent President in history.” As you may recall, President Obama promised upon election that he would be “the most open and transparent” President, and one of his first orders of business in the White House was to promise the same.

Of course, as many folks have been documenting for years, the reality has been anything but. The Obama administration has been ridiculously secretive for years, when it comes to FOIA requests, literally setting records in denying them. The NYT’s former executive editor, who has covered many administrations, has directly noted that the Obama administration was the most secretive she could recall. Even federal judges have regularly dinged the administration for refusing to hand over documents required by law. As Stephen Colbert has noted, the administration is really only good at the most transparent bullshit legally allowed.

In fact, just as Mr. Earnest was insisting that the Obama administration was so damn transparent, Mother Jones had a good article about how often the Obama administration was making use of the “state secrets privilege” to get lawsuits tossed out, such as in various no fly list challenges. In 2008, then candidate Obama insisted that the use of the state secrets privilege by the government was dangerous. But, now that he’s in charge, he’s quick to use it himself:

In 2008, Obama griped that the Bush administration invoked the state secrets privilege “more than any other previous administration” and used it to get entire lawsuits thrown out of court. Critics noted that deploying the state secrets privilege allowed the Bush administration to shut down cases that might have revealed government misconduct or caused embarrassment, including those regarding constitutionally dubious warrantless wiretapping and the CIA’s kidnapping and torture of Khaled el-Masri, a German car salesman the government had mistaken for an alleged Al Qaeda leader with the same name. After Obama took office, his attorney general, Eric Holder, promised to significantly limit the use of this controversial legal doctrine. Holder vowed never to use it to “conceal violations of the law, inefficiency, or administrative error” or “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency of the United States Government.”

Despite this promise, Obama continued to assert the privilege to squelch cases about Bush-era abuses. In one instance, the Justice Department scuttled a lawsuit brought by a man who claimed he had been kidnapped by the CIA and had his penis and testicles cut with a scalpel in a Moroccan prison. And now Obama is broadening the use of this legal maneuver: In the past 18 months, the Obama administration has twice cited state secrets to prevent federal courts from considering lawsuits challenging its use of the no-fly list.

So, given all this evidence that the Obama administration is incredibly secretive, what could Earnest’s reasoning possibly be? Well, you see, President Obama has released his visitor logs at the White House. Because, you know, that’s what everyone really means when they talk about White House transparency.

Earnest noted that previous administrations had “gone to the Supreme Court” to prevent the release of White House visitor information, but that the Obama administration “releases it voluntarily on the Internet on a quarterly basis.”

“Reporters for years clamored to get access to fundraisers the president hosted or attended that were hosted in private homes,” Earnest continued. “Reporters now have access to those when this president goes to a private home.”

So, the President has made a few tiny concessions to transparency on issues that really don’t matter at all, but has doubled down on secrecy on the things that do actually matter.

Sure, I know that the Press Secretary’s job is to basically cover for the President and do whatever possible to defend the White House’s claims, no matter how bogus, but wouldn’t the world be better off if there were actually a tiny bit of honesty from such folks? They could admit that they’ve tried and failed. They could say that transparency promises seemed easier from the outside, but turned out to be more difficult in reality. They could admit that it’s still a work in progress. Any of those would at least acknowledge reality. Pretending reality isn’t reality doesn’t convince anyone. In fact, it just appears to be yet another example of the very non-transparency that everyone’s complaining about in the first place.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception | , | Leave a comment

Journalism groups blast Obama admin for ‘politically driven suppression of news’

RT | July 10, 2014

In a letter to President Obama, 38 journalism groups criticized his administration for severely limiting access to federal agencies and a general politically-motivated suppression of information despite the president’s pledge of historic transparency.

Led by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the groups said that efforts by government officials to curb free-flow of news and information to the public has reached a peak during the Obama administration following a similarly stifling culture during prior president George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House.

“Over the past two decades, public agencies have increasingly prohibited staff from communicating with journalists unless they go through public affairs offices or through political appointees,” wrote SPJ president David Cuillier. “This trend has been especially pronounced in the federal government. We consider these restrictions a form of censorship — an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear.”

Cuillier added that while agency personnel are kept mostly off limits to journalists, they are ”free [to] speak to others — lobbyists, special-interest representatives, people with money — without these controls and without public oversight.”

The groups said that Obama’s recent lamentations of a growing cynicism of government were peculiar given his administration’s broad efforts to shroud official action and policy maneuvers in secrecy, all of which “undermines public understanding of, and trust in, government,” the letter reads.

“You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in,” wrote Cuillier.

The administration has previously dismissed similar sentiment from other journalism and watchdog groups, including the White House Correspondents’ Association.

The letter cites examples of alleged information censorship, including officials repeatedly blocking reporters’ requests to talk with specific agency staff, long delays in answering questions that disregard reporters’ deadlines, officials’ proclivity for offering information anonymously or “on background,” and federal agencies completely blackballing of certain journalists who write critically of them.

“In many cases, this is clearly being done to control what information journalists — and the audience they serve — have access to. A survey found 40 percent of public affairs officers admitted they blocked certain reporters because they did not like what they wrote,” the letter stated.

The groups recommended that the president should encourage all federal agencies and their public employees to speak freely with reporters. In addition, they called for an ombudsman to keep track of any suppression efforts.

“Create an ombudsman to monitor and enforce your stated goal of restoring transparency to government and giving the public the unvarnished truth about its workings,” the letter said. “That will go a long way toward dispelling Americans’ frustration and cynicism before it further poisons our democracy.”

In March, journalists at the Associated Press reported that their research indicated that the US government has withheld more information than ever under the authority of President Obama. Their findings were based mainly on how difficult it is to successfully request documents from the White House through the US Freedom of Information Act.

In addition, the Obama administration has been criticized for using the punitive, World War I-era Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers who leak classified government information to journalists, in effect chilling press freedoms.

July 10, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Prosecution of Public Officials for Corruption Declines under Obama

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | July 9, 2014

Going after government officials for corruption has not been a priority of the U.S. Department of Justice under President Barack Obama, compared with his predecessors.

Cases of public corruption that have been prosecuted are down this year versus what they were last year, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

TRAC also reports that the number of public corruption prosecutions is noticeably down during the Obama administration when compared to those pursued under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

As of July 2014, the Justice Department has filed 302 corruption prosecutions, putting the agency on a pace of 518 for this year.

If this rate holds up, the total would represent an 18.6% decline from 2013, when there were 636 prosecutions.

The drop is even sharper when the Justice Department numbers are put up alongside those from 2004 (down 32% when there were 760 cases under Bush) and 1994 (down 27% when 711 were reported under Clinton).

TRAC says public corruption referrals sent from federal agencies to Justice have averaged 1,674 during the past five years. This total is about the same as under Bush (1,663 referrals).

“The number of prosecutions, however, has fallen under Obama because a smaller percentage of these referrals (39.5%) ends up being pursued by prosecutors,” TRAC states. “So far during FY 2014 only about one out of every three (34.0%) were prosecuted. During the Bush years, 41.6 percent of the official corruption referrals resulted in prosecution.”

To Learn More:

Official Corruption Prosecutions Decline Under Obama (TRAC Reports)

July 9, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Corruption | , | Leave a comment

US defends Kiev’s use of airstrikes

RT | July 8, 2014

The US State Department has defended Kiev’s right to use airstrikes against civilians in eastern Ukraine explaining that it is defending the country.

“The government of Ukraine is defending the country of Ukraine and I think they have every right to do that as does the international community,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in response to RT’s Gayane Chichakyan’s question about Ukrainian air force strikes in eastern Ukraine.

“The people of Ukraine have the right to live in peace and security without Russian-backed separatists attacking their homes and going into buildings and I think that is where the root cause of this is and we shouldn’t forget that fact,” Psaki added during the briefing on Monday.

Despite the horrific footage of eastern Ukrainian villages and towns being shelled by the Ukrainian air force, the State Department continues to stand behind Kiev’s actions, saying that all those killings are the fault of anti-Kiev forces.

“To be clear, on the ground the reports that we’ve seen and the vast majority of people who are reporting from the ground are reporting that the Russian-backed separatists are the ones who are not only engaged in violence and efforts to take over buildings and attack people and innocent civilians and they have no place doing that in a country that is a sovereign country like Ukraine.”

Just last week, 12 civilians were killed including a five-year old in the eastern Ukrainian village of Kondrashovka, which was shelled by Kiev troops. At least five shells hit the settlement, destroying an entire street in the peaceful Lugansk region community, 25km from the city of Lugansk.

Aside from approving Kiev’s actions, the US State Department denied reports on the number of refugees fleeing the conflict in eastern Ukraine to Russia, including UN’s statistics.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that the number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia has reached 110,000 people, while 54,400 others have been internally displaced. In response, the State Department’s spokesperson Maria Harf said she cannot confirm this data, and thus can’t consider it reliable.

July 8, 2014 Posted by | Video, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

An Eye for An Eye

By Missie Beattie | CounterPunch | July 4, 2014

A broad moral gulf separates us from our enemies. They sanctify death; we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty, and we mercy and compassion. That is the secret of our strength. -Benjamin Netanyahu, at the funeral of three slain Israeli teenagers.

WTF?

Israel shows no morality, no mercy, and no compassion for Palestinians. Israel’s strength is not a mystery. Their power is dependent on their belief that they are God’s Chosen, on sophisticated weaponry, US tax dollars, and bipartisan Congressional support of Zionism that renders any “peace process” a charade.

During the funeral, right-wing protestors screamed for blood, “Death to Arabs.”

“There is no forgiveness for murderers of children,” said Israeli Economy Minister Naphtali Bennett. “Now is a time for actions, not words.” And action it was, has been for years, and is. Without due process, the Israeli military exploded family homes of two suspects—an uncivilized reaction that continues a cycle of retribution. Go door-to-door, terrorizing men, women, and children. Destroy homes. Bomb them. Strike Gaza. Don’t investigate to determine who’s responsible for the kidnapping and deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel, and Gilad Shaar. And announce with chutzpa, as Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Avalon just did, that settlements will be built to memorialize the three slain teens. Yes, they’d have taken this measure regardless, any excuse, but now it’s exceedingly opportune—exploiting the deaths of the young as a sacrosanct right to seize more land.

Of course Barack Obama issued a statement:

As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.

Interesting. Seems Obama’s forgotten Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the teenager and US citizen on his Kill List, incinerated in a CIA-led drone strike. Obama can’t imagine the indescribable pain that this young man’s parent (singular) feels. That’s singular because the boy’s father, Anwar al-Awlaki also was on Obama’s Kill List and droned two weeks before the death of his son. The attack in Yemen on Oct 14, 2011 that killed the young al-Awalaki also killed his teenage cousin and at least five other civilians as they sat in a restaurant. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was 16, the same age as two of the Israelis, but the murder of al-Awlaki was, well, sensible, to Obama.

Earlier today, Tuesday, I was in the lobby of my building where a TV is tuned daily to CNN. I stopped to view the faces of the three Israeli teenagers.

In May, two Palestinian teenagers were shot and killed in separate incidents by Israeli troops. Later, film from a surveillance camera was examined, providing evidence that neither teen posed a threat. Did world leaders speak to this horror? Call for justice? Of course not. Never do we see the faces of Palestinian children kidnapped and killed by the IDF—at least not on mainstream news networks. Nor do we see the wretchedness, the inhumanity, of Gaza.

Identical to American exceptionalism’s sadism, Israel’s violent acts are legitimized by righteousness and a response to the aggressor’s (?) viciousness.

The message is hypocritically clear: Some lives are more valuable than others. We hear the cries of the Jewish parents, the family members, their friends, and we feel their suffering. But let us understand that mothers and fathers, whether they’re Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan, Syrian, Yemini, in the lands ravaged by US greed, anywhere, love their children as much as we love ours. Let us love not only the children of those we call our allies and our own but all children. Let us value all life.

Let us value all life was supposed to be the closing sentence in this piece. I should start over, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just add more paragraphs.

The death of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian, has been reported by US mainstream news venues. On Wednesday morning, the teenager was kidnapped, his burned body found a couple of hours later—apparently a reprisal killing. His cousin has demanded that the Israeli police and Israeli government do what they did in Hebron: “Demolish and blow the settler houses who have done this crime.”

Netanyahu, fearful of individual retaliations, this time has called for an investigation, issuing a statement that Israel is a country of laws and “Everyone is ordered to act according to the law”—despite the lawlessness unleashed after the kidnapping of the Israeli teens and further lawlessness after their bodies were discovered. Despite no inquiry to determine who killed them but instead a rampage of terror against the Palestinians.

Reading a New York Times article, I gasped that a Facebook group was created to promote revenge for the deaths of the Israeli teens. A photo was posted of two girls, holding a sign: “Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s values!”

This is eye for an eye. And everyone will be blind.

 

July 6, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 8 Comments

Cuba: US Fine Against BNP Paribas is Outrageous

Prensa Latina | July 3, 2014

Havana – The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) denounced the U.S.-imposed fine against the French bank BNP Paribas as an outrage against state sovereignty and the rules of free trade and international law.

A MINREX statement warns that with this new fine, the government of President Barack Obama has gone further than all his predecessors, accumulating penalties that exceed $11 billion USD against scores of entities, applied under many different sanctions regimes.

According to the statement, the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Justice and the state of New York imposed a record fine on June 30 of $8.97 billion USD against the French bank BNP Paribas, for disobeying Washington’s unilateral sanctions regimes against many countries.

In the specific case of Cuba, this bank institution is accused, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, of having processed thousands of transactions with the island’s entities, totaling more than $1.7 billion USD.

This fine, the largest imposed in history by the U.S. government for violations of its blockade on Cuba and current sanctions against third countries, violates the rules of International Law, and is described as an extraterritorial and illegal application of U.S. legislation against a foreign entity.

MINREX said that as a Free Trade Agreement between the United States and the European Union is being negotiated, it might be asked whether this is how the U.S. government intends to continue treating its allies.

BNP Paribas joins a long list of U.S. and foreign financial, trade, economic and other entities that have been the object of punitive measures, in the context of the worsening of the blockade and, especially, the financial persecution of Cuba.

Once again, the U.S. government has ignored the overwhelming international rejection of this criminal and failed policy against our nation, the Ministry said, qualifying the fine as an outrage against state sovereignty, and the rules of free trade and international law.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change" | , , , | Leave a comment

Francis Fukuyama to the Box

By Patrick Foy | CounterPunch | June 30, 2014

On Wednesday, June 25th, the Financial Times published an essay by Francis Fukuyama. He is the famed US political scientist, a “neoconservative” apostate and author of The End of History and the Last Man in 1992. The title of his op-ed is “ISIS risks distracting US from more menacing foes”. I first read it in the middle of the night on my “smartphone” and found it confusing. What was the writer getting at? I did not notice the byline. Then I did, and was less confused. Fukuyama is conflicted and his ideas are sometimes contradictory. So you factor that in. No problem. He has had a checkered past, but haven’t we all?

Fukuyama started out as a “neoconservative” during the Reagan Presidency, working alongside such disturbing characters as Paul Wolfowitz and I. Scooter Libby, who were later to become famous, wild-eyed propagandists in the G.W. Bush Administration, aka the Cheney Regency. In the aftermath of 9/11, Fukuyama–like all true blue Neocons and “liberal interventionists”–promoted the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq on bogus grounds. The purported aim was to depose Saddam Hussein and install “democracy” in his place.

You may recall that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks and possessed no WMD at the time of those attacks. There were no al-Qaeda, no terrorism, and no terrorists inside Iraq prior to “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Later, when the occupational phase of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” became an instant fiasco–and the whole rotten enterprise was revealed to be a scam based upon breathtaking lies emanating from the very top–Fukuyama broke with his fellow Neocons. He became a critic of the Regency and the Neocons, and has since then taken a more nuanced approach to world affairs.

Although he no longer communicates with Dr. Paul “Mass Destruction” Wolfowitz, Fukuyama was on the steering committee of the legal defense fund for I. Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and top “national security” adviser, when Libby got mixed up in the Regent’s campaign to smear Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband of CIA agent Valerie Plame whose undercover assignment was WMD. Wilson had the temerity to point out in a July 2003 New York Times op-ed that Iraq had not, in fact, imported “yellow cake” uranium from Niger to build an A-bomb. Ergo, there was no mushroom cloud on the horizon. Ergo, Dick Cheney’s biggest WMD whopper was clarified and exposed to the light of day. At that point Fukuyama must have figured that his friend Libby, the factotum, was falling on his sword for his all-powerful boss, and deserved a break.

Like most big-picture essays, especially those aimed at the general public, Fukuyama’s present effort in the FT is predicated upon hallowed and widely accepted assumptions about American history and America’s place in the world. Many of these assumptions are dubious, fictive and, in some cases, ridiculous. Accordingly, Fukuyama’s conclusions are necessarily suspect. Since he is a savant, he should know better. Perhaps he does know better, but has not the time nor the inclination to correct the authorized version of history and current events. It might upset certain people or further confuse them. Better to embrace the received, conventional wisdom, and use it whenever possible to advance one’s own ideas.

Fukuyama’s first mistake, in my view, is taking the foreign policy pronouncements of Barack Obama seriously, at face value, and worthy of analysis. Certainly at this stage, it does not matter what Obama says. In truth, it never has. Yes, I realize that Obama presides over the lone surviving superpower, but this outlandish circumstance by itself is a red flag and requires that all issues relating to US foreign policy be considered with a jaundiced eye. White House credibility in world affairs is shot, and has been shot for decades. Dishonesty and wholesale deception did not start with Barack Obama. He has simply continued the trend, and taken it to the next level, like G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton did before him.

What the current occupant of the White House brings to the table is salesmanship and fantasies. Obama is a master at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Whatever sounds good, go with it. He’s a talker. I recall in particular his 2008 US presidential campaign sortie through Israel and Europe, and especially his enraptured, grandiose speech at Tiergarten Park Berlin on July 24th of that year. That speech boils down to flapdoodle, and its messianic quality is all the more remarkable, because Obama was still a private citizen. The day before, his idealism ran in a different direction. He was shamelessly pandering to Ariel Sharon’s successor, PM Ehud Olmert, in Tel Aviv, while giving the Palestinians short shrift and the shaft. John McCain had performed a similar routine four months previously.

In the article in question, Fukuyama critiques Obama’s recent commencement address at West Point on May 28th. The White House hyped it as a major foreign policy speech. It fell flat with Fukuyama. He calls Obama’s approach “wrong-headed”. Too much concern about terrorism and the Middle East and not enough focus on the authentic “menacing foes”–Russia and China. He states, “The extremism of ISIS will in the end prove self-defeating. By contrast, allies the US is sworn to defend are now threatened by industrialized nations with sophisticated militaries.” Say what?!

Fukuyama appears to imply that America needs real enemies to confront, not phantoms. Yet it was a phantom threat that he and his cohorts were hot to confront when it came to Saddam Hussein. The blowback from that misadventure is incalculable. Fukuyama goes on to conclude, “The poles established by the neoconservatives on the one hand and isolationists on the other present false choices. Real strategy always has to lie somewhere in between.” In sum, Fukuyama does not want Washington to get sidetracked. Hmm. May I humbly suggest that the US has been hopelessly sidetracked for at least a century.

Fukuyama begins by paying homage to World War II, which global bloodbath remains the primary justification for all US foreign policy initiatives since 1945. It is the holy grail for the Neocons, along with their flamboyant hero, Winston Churchill. It is key to the modern-day, bipartisan attitude of American exceptionalism. Colonel Andrew Bacevich makes the central importance of the Second World War clear in a recent fascinating interview with Bill Moyers.

Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power, does not fault America’s entry and success in the Second World War, but he does deplore the use to which it has been put to empower a host of ill-advised US foreign policy adventures in the aftermath. My problem, on the other hand, is with the Second World War itself and with its progenitor, the Great War of 1914-18. If we accept them as sacrosanct, legitimate undertakings by Washington, then we lend credence to the myth of American exceptionalism, which has turned out to be a dangerous, self-destructive idea.

Consider an alternative narrative in which America’s entry into both world wars was unnecessary, ill-advised, and brought about by chicanery in service to a private agenda. The idea of American exceptionalism began with Woodrow Wilson, not with creepy neoconservative ideologues. Wilson ran for a second term in 1916 on the slogan, “He kept us out of war!” Yet, Wilson appears to have already decided to join England on the western front in France. Washington’s official neutrality was a sham from the start. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned in protest to Wilson’s hypocrisy in June 1915.

In the background, English propaganda was beating the drums to drag America into the war. America’s official entry into the Great War in April 1917 meant that the British Empire was saved from near-certain defeat at the hands of the German army and the Central Powers. It meant the rise of fascism and the success of communism in Russia. It meant the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and the execution of the Balfour Declaration in Palestine. It meant, inevitably, a second European conflict on a grander scale, caused by the injustices of the first conflict, as embodied in the Paris peace treaty. In short, it was a ghastly blunder.

Did Wilson make the right decision? In hindsight, absolutely not. He deceived the American people in 1916, and was then taken to the cleaners by Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau at the Paris peace conference in 1919. He then suffered a nervous breakdown, then a stroke, and died a broken man. Did Franklin Roosevelt act wisely when he hectored England, France and Poland in the summer of 1939 not to negotiate with Germany over Danzig, thereby assuring the outbreak of a European war? Probably not. He acted recklessly. Did Roosevelt do the right thing by provoking the Empire of Japan to attack US armed forces in the Pacific in 1941 so that he could jump into the war in Europe, a war he felt responsible for instigating behind the scenes? Again, no.  His conduct can easily be regarded as treason. It was certainly deceitful.

We can’t unwind history, of course, but we can see its consequences, set the record straight, and not live in a dream world. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, these were not unselfish wars to make the world safe for democracy. That was a cover story. These were wars for economic advantage on the part of Washington and London, and were fought to maintain the prestige of the near-bankrupt British Empire–and then replace it with the American empire. They were at variance with the dictum delivered by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1821 that America, “… goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

Fukuyama assumes, instead, that both global wars of the twentieth century were non-fraudulent and for a good cause, on which foundation Washington has built a better world. This is the conventional view. He believes the struggle to improve humanity should continue in the aftermath of the Cold War. He takes it for granted that the US is entitled–as the indispensable and exceptional nation–to intervene everywhere on earth at its discretion, and has a responsibility plus the resources to do so. To imagine otherwise is isolationism. This vagary constitutes in large measure the mindset of Washington’s foreign policy establishment. It is delusional and grounded in hubris.

Overlaying this Wilsonian mistake is the self-evident, post Cold War fact that Washington–the White House, the Senate, the Congress and both political parties–have, for all intents and purposes, been hijacked by agents of the Israel Lobby, to wit, the Neocons and their “liberal interventionist” fellow travelers. It is a perfect storm. We are witnessing the bloody results today in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the Ukraine. The fake nuclear crisis with Iran is another dangerous byproduct. Humanity has not profited thereby. Now Fukuyama proposes what amounts to a new crusade against Russia and China, leaving the “war on terror” behind. Alas, he appears not to be joking.

PATRICK FOY is an essayist and short story writer. He graduated from Columbia University, where he studied English literature, European history and American diplomatic history. His work can be found at www.PatrickFoyDossier.com.

Copyright 2014 Patrick Foy.

 

June 30, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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