In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”. As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.
As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.
According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck.
The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told… That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.”
A Finnish Government Commission of Enquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the “first stage in a decade of genocide”. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed. Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.
ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of some 700,000 people – in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.
Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda – like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” – seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed. “Rebel” Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote recently, “The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”
ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington and London who, in destroying Iraq as both a state and a society, conspired to commit an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in “our” societies.
It is 23 years since this holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive “sanctions” on the Iraqi population – ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, “blocked” – from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium.
Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. “The children’s vaccines”, he said, “were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”. The British Government could get away with such an outrage because media reporting of Iraq – much of it manipulated by the Foreign Office – blamed Saddam Hussein for everything.
Under a bogus “humanitarian” Oil for Food Programme, $100 was allotted for each Iraqi to live on for a year. This figure had to pay for the entire society’s infrastructure and essential services, such as power and water. “Imagine,” the UN Assistant Secretary General, Hans Von Sponeck, told me, “setting that pittance against the lack of clean water, and the fact that the majority of sick people cannot afford treatment, and the sheer trauma of getting from day to day, and you have a glimpse of the nightmare. And make no mistake, this is deliberate. I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable.”
Disgusted, Von Sponeck resigned as UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. His predecessor, Denis Halliday, an equally distinguished senior UN official, had also resigned. “I was instructed,” Halliday said, “to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.”
A study by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, the height of the blockade, there were 500,000 “excess” deaths of Iraqi infants under the age of five. An American TV reporter put this to Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, asking her, “Is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.”
In 2007, the senior British official responsible for the sanctions, Carne Ross, known as “Mr. Iraq”, told a parliamentary selection committee, “[The US and UK governments] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.” When I interviewed Carne Ross three years later, he was consumed by regret and contrition. “I feel ashamed,” he said. He is today a rare truth-teller of how governments deceive and how a compliant media plays a critical role in disseminating and maintaining the deception. “We would feed [journalists] factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he said, “or we’d freeze them out.”
On 25 September, a headline in the Guardian read: “Faced with the horror of Isis we must act.” The “we must act” is a ghost risen, a warning of the suppression of informed memory, facts, lessons learned and regrets or shame. The author of the article was Peter Hain, the former Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair. In 1998, when Denis Halliday revealed the extent of the suffering in Iraq for which the Blair Government shared primary responsibility, Hain abused him on the BBC’s Newsnight as an “apologist for Saddam”. In 2003, Hain backed Blair’s invasion of stricken Iraq on the basis of transparent lies. At a subsequent Labour Party conference, he dismissed the invasion as a “fringe issue”.
Now Hain is demanding “air strikes, drones, military equipment and other support” for those “facing genocide” in Iraq and Syria. This will further “the imperative of a political solution”. Obama has the same in mind as he lifts what he calls the “restrictions” on US bombing and drone attacks. This means that missiles and 500-pound bombs can smash the homes of peasant people, as they are doing without restriction in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia – as they did in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. On 23 September, a Tomahawk cruise missile hit a village in Idlib Province in Syria, killing as many as a dozen civilians, including women and children. None waved a black flag.
The day Hain’s article appeared, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck happened to be in London and came to visit me. They were not shocked by the lethal hypocrisy of a politician, but lamented the enduring, almost inexplicable absence of intelligent diplomacy in negotiating a semblance of truce. Across the world, from Northern Ireland to Nepal, those regarding each other as terrorists and heretics have faced each other across a table. Why not now in Iraq and Syria.
Like Ebola from West Africa, a bacteria called “perpetual war” has crossed the Atlantic. Lord Richards, until recently head of the British military, wants “boots on the ground” now. There is a vapid, almost sociopathic verboseness from Cameron, Obama and their “coalition of the willing” – notably Australia’s aggressively weird Tony Abbott – as they prescribe more violence delivered from 30,000 feet on places where the blood of previous adventures never dried. They have never seen bombing and they apparently love it so much they want it to overthrow their one potentially valuable ally, Syria. This is nothing new, as the following leaked UK-US intelligence file illustrates:
“In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces… a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals… a necessary degree of fear… frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS should use… capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”
That was written in 1957, though it could have been written yesterday. In the imperial world, nothing essentially changes. Last year, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that “two years before the Arab spring”, he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned. “I am going to tell you something,” he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria… Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate… This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.”
The only effective opponents of ISIS are accredited demons of the west – Syria, Iran, Hezbollah. The obstacle is Turkey, an “ally” and a member of NATO, which has conspired with the CIA, MI6 and the Gulf medievalists to channel support to the Syrian “rebels”, including those now calling themselves ISIS. Supporting Turkey in its long-held ambition for regional dominance by overthrowing the Assad government beckons a major conventional war and the horrific dismemberment of the most ethnically diverse state in the Middle East.
A truce – however difficult to achieve – is the only way out of this imperial maze; otherwise, the beheadings will continue. That genuine negotiations with Syria should be seen as “morally questionable” (the Guardian ) suggests that the assumptions of moral superiority among those who supported the war criminal Blair remain not only absurd, but dangerous.
Together with a truce, there should be an immediate cessation of all shipments of war materials to Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine. The issue of Palestine is the region’s most festering open wound, and the oft-stated justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.
More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger’s latest self-serving tome has just been released with its satirical title, “World Order”. In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a “key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century”. Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his “statecraft”. Only when “we” recognise the war criminals in our midst will the blood begin to dry.
Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger
A Dead Statesman
I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
– Rudyard Kipling, “Epitaphs of the War”
How can a just peace be achieved between the Israelis and the Palestinians? The answer is simply to appoint as peace envoy a war criminal who — like former French President Nicolas Sarkozy — also happens to be an Israeli sayan. Before qualifying as a fully fledged war criminal, Blair started out as a lawyer whose cosy, potentially corrupt, and now war criminal connection with Israel began in earnest in 1994 when he first met Michael Levy — an encounter that was calculated rather than fortuitous — at a dinner party hosted by Israeli diplomat Gideon Meir who, like Blair was friendly with Eldred Tabachnik, a senior barrister and Queens Council at 11 King’s Bench Walk, the chambers founded by Derry Irvine where Blair had been a junior tenant on its foundation in 1981. Tabachnik was also a former president (1994-2000) of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Following their initial meeting Blair and Levy became friends, tennis partners, and political cohorts with Levy running the Labour Leader’s Office Fund to finance Blair’s 1997 general election campaign which received substantial contributions from notables such as Alex Bernstein (Granada Group Chairman 1979-1996) and Robert Gavron (publishing). Generally referred to as “Lord Cashpoint” in media and political circles, Levy was the Labour Party’s leading fundraiser with over £100m raised between 1994 to 2007. After becoming Prime Minister, Blair ennobled Bernstein and Gavron and made Levy a life peer whom the Jerusalem Post — owned by the subsequently convicted felon Canadian newspaper publisher Conrad Black — described as “undoubtedly the notional leader of British Jewry.”
In 1998 Blair appointed Levy as his personal envoy to the Middle East and it is perhaps no coincidence that as a consequence of being financed and in effect controlled by Israeli interests, Blair — like the semi-illiterate President Bush in the U.S. — was inveigled into launching an illegal war against Iraq despite widespread opposition to such a conflict. The need for war was then “sold” to the British and American people on the basis of doctored intelligence reports backed by Blair’s now infamous claim to Parliament that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order to use them. Everyone now knows that the 45-minute claim was a blatant lie because Iraq had nothing even remotely resembling a weapon of mass destruction. So once again an AIPAC-controlled U.S.-led alliance was conned by Israel to wage war on Israel’s behalf against an “enemy” Arab neighbour. Other Israeli targets for Western alliance death and destruction included Iran and Syria.
“Lord Cashpoint” Levy, who praised Blair for his “solid and committed support of the State of Israel,” maintained close ties with Israel’s political leaders and kept a home in Herzliya, a city in the central coast of Israel. Daniel Levy, his son, was active in Israeli politics, and at one time served as an assistant to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and to Knesset member Yossi Beilin. Daniel — amongst other positions — is a senior research fellow of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation and director of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. It is the calculated placement of such dedicated, eager beaver people in strategic positions that exert influence over Western decision-making on the Middle East that favour Israel’s political purpose.
In March 2006 it was revealed that Tony Blair’s Labour Party had raised £14 million in loans from private individuals of whom some were later nominated for peerages. Levy was later arrested but released on bail pending Scotland Yard’s investigation into what came to be known as the “cash for honours” controversy. In July 2007 — one month after the Jewish Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith had stepped down at the same time as Blair — the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Levy would neither be prosecuted in connection with the affair nor face any other charges.
When Tony Blair and his disgraced Zionist “Lord Cashpoint” controller voluntarily decided to step down in June 2007, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the past decade, assumed the office of Prime Minister following the approval of Queen Elizabeth II. Having been for a long time Blair’s bitter competitor for residence at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Brown was not to be outdone and was himself bankrolled and influenced by Ronald Cohen who as the Labour Party’s fourth largest supporter was also ennobled. The Egyptian-born Lord Cohen was in 2002 an inaugural inductee into the Private Equity Hall of Fame, at the British Venture Capital Association and Real Deals’ Private Equity Awards. So long as money — corporate, Jewish or otherwise — is permitted by the majority of the people to influence and control the governance of a nation, then there can be no democracy because the people become conditioned subjects rather than citizens.
In June 2007 Blair was appointed Middle East envoy working on behalf of the U.S., Russia, the UN and the EU quartet with his sterling peace efforts resulting in Israel’s 2008 Operation Cast Lead. Being an Israeli stooge, however, has its rewards and in May 2009 Blair received the $1 million Dan David prize at a Tel Aviv university ceremony. Blair’s office stated that 90 percent of the money from the prize — which is named after Dan David, the Jewish-born Romanian international businessman who made his millions by setting up Photo-Me booths in shopping malls around the world — would be donated to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that promotes religious understanding by bringing together young people (excluding young Palestinian “beasts”) of different faiths.
This was followed up in September 2010 with the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal and $100,000 (£65,000) prize being awarded by former President Bill Clinton to Blair. The Center is an independent, non-profit organisation that promotes understanding of the U.S. constitution and its relevance. The $100,000 was to be donated to Blair’s charitable foundations. Officials acknowledged that Blair, who had just been forced to cancel promotional events for a new autobiography amid protests by critics of his role in the U.S.-led Iraq war, was a contentious choice. The Center’s Jewish (surprise, surprise) president David Eisner, said that “There is always an element of controversy when you pick people at the forefront of change. They are usually very controversial figures. We understand … how differently Tony Blair appears to be viewed by many people in the UK as compared with many people in the US.” That is probably because the British people had not forgotten how he deliberately involved Britain in a war on the strength of a barefaced Blair lie.
Following the September 2014 much criticised GQ glossy magazine’s “Philanthropist of the Year” award” to Blair, the Charity Commission has just announced that it will meet representatives of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) over concerns brought to its attention by former senior employee turned whistleblower, Martin Bright. Bright, who as editor of the TBFF website for the charity analysed religious conflict, has complained about Blair’s interference and effectively accused him of abusing his role as patron to use the charity as a think tank for his private office which allegedly spent large sums of money on a sizeable communications team whose priority appeared to be the protection Mr Blair’s image, rather than the promotion of the charity. Bright further maintained that “the Faith Foundation is an independent charity with Tony Blair as its patron. He is not supposed to have any executive role … But it was clear from the outset that … his [Mr Blair’s] reputation was to be protected at all costs.”
Though other Labour Party leaders have since endeavoured to jettison the pernicious legacy of the illegal Iraq war, Blair has steadfastly continued to maintain that he made the right decision . . . “If we hadn’t removed Saddam from power just think, for example, what would be happening if these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam, who’s probably 20 times as bad as Assad in Syria, was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq? Think of the consequences of leaving that regime in power.” Anyone thinking about it — taking into account how Iraq’s entire infrastructure has since been destroyed, its communities divided, and its people devastated with millions killed — would have to honestly conclude Iraq and its people were much better off under Saddam Hussein who as a war criminal was strictly an amateur compared to leaders like Blair, Bush Jr., and Barack Obama.
Apart from all the blood on his hands, Blair has also been busy stuffing his pockets with filthy lucre to the extent that his approximate earnings of £150,000 as Prime Minister are now dwarfed by varied estimates of tens of millions. Finally, Israeli stooge and war criminal Blair is to be given a knighthood — one of the Catholic church’s top awards — for “services to peace” by a gutless and hypocritical Pope who failed to condemn the recent butchery in Gaza while presiding over a Church that has always condemned the use of contraception so as to protect the the sanctity of human life.
William Hanna can be reached at: email@example.com.
There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.
The government of European country A launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists tell us that ‘something must be done.’ And something is done: NATO launches a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention to stop the government of country A. Country A is bombed for 78 days and nights. The country’s leader (who is labeled ‘The New Hitler’) is indicted for war crimes – and is later arrested and sent in an RAF plane to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, where he dies, un-convicted, in his prison cell.
The government of European country B launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. Western television doesn’t show pictures or at least not many) of people’s homes being shelled and people fleeing, although other television stations do. But here the US, UK and other NATO powers do not condemn the government, or accuse it of committing ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists do not tell us that ‘something must be done’ to stop the government of country B killing people. On the contrary, the same powers who supported action against country A, support the military offensive of the government in country B. The leader of country B is not indicted for war crimes, nor is he labeled ‘The New Hitler’ despite the support the government has got from far-right, extreme nationalist groups, but in fact, receives generous amounts of aid.
Anyone defending the policies of the government in country A, or in any way challenging the dominant narrative in the West is labeled a “genocide denier” or an “apologist for mass murder.” But no such opprobrium awaits those defending the military offensive of the government in country B. It’s those who oppose its policies who are smeared.
What makes the double standards even worse, is that by any objective assessment, the behavior of the government in country B, has been far worse than that of country A and that more human suffering has been caused by their aggressive actions.
In case you haven’t guessed it yet – country A is Yugoslavia, country B is Ukraine.
Yugoslavia, a different case
In 1998/9 Yugoslavian authorities were faced with a campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials by the pro-separatist and Western-backed Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA). The Yugoslav government responded by trying to defeat the KLA militarily, but their claims to be fighting against ’terrorism’ were haughtily dismissed by Western leaders. As the British Defence Secretary George Robertson and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook acknowledged in the period from 1998 to January 1999, the KLA had been responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Yugoslav authorities had been.
In the lead-up to the NATO action and during it, lurid claims were made about the numbers of people who had been killed or ‘disappeared’ by the Yugoslav forces. “Hysterical NATO and KLA estimates of the missing and presumably slaughtered Kosovan Albanians at times ran upwards of one hundred thousand, reaching 500, 000 in one State Department release. German officials leaked ‘intelligence’ about an alleged Serb plan called Operation Horseshoe to depopulate the province of its ethnic Albanians, and to resettle it with Serbs, which turned out to be an intelligence fabrication,” Edward Herman and David Peterson noted in their book The Politics of Genocide.
“We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe – from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing from a brutal dictatorship,” a solemn-faced Prime Minister Tony Blair told the British Parliament – just four years before an equally sombre Tony Blair told the British Parliament that we must act over the ‘threat’ posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.
Taking their cue from Tony Blair and Co., the media played their part in hyping up what was going on in Kosovo. Herman and Peterson found that newspapers used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Yugoslav actions in Kosovo 323 times compared to just 13 times for the invasion/occupation of Iraq despite the death toll in the latter surpassing that of Kosovo by 250 times.
In the same way we were expected to forget about the claims from Western politicians and their media marionettes about Iraq possessing WMDs in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, we are now expected to forget about the outlandish claims made about Kosovo in 1999.
But as the award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster John Pilger wrote in his article Reminders of Kosovo in 2004, “Lies as great as those told by Bush and Blair were deployed by Clinton and Blair in grooming of public opinion for an illegal, unprovoked attack on a European country.”
The overall death toll of the Kosovo conflict is thought to be between 3,000 and 4,000, but that figure includes Yugoslav army casualties, and Serbs and Roma and Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA. In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross listed the names of 1,754 people from all communities in Kosovo who were reported missing by their families.
The number of people killed by Yugoslav military at the time NATO launched its ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign, which itself killed between 400-600 people, is thought to be around 500, a tragic death toll but hardly “genocide.”
“Like Iraq’s fabled weapons of mass destruction, the figures used by the US and British governments and echoed by journalists were inventions- along with Serbian ‘rape camps’ and Clinton and Blair’s claims that NATO never deliberately bombed civilians,” says Pilger.
No matter what happens in Ukraine…
In Ukraine by contrast, the number of people killed by government forces and those supporting them has been deliberately played down, despite UN figures highlighting the terrible human cost of the Ukrainian government’s ‘anti-terrorist’ operation.
Last week, the UN’s Human Rights Office said that the death toll in the conflict in eastern Ukraine had doubled in the previous fortnight. Saying that they were “very conservative estimates,” the UN stated that 2,086 people (from all sides) had been killed and 5,000 injured. Regarding refugees, the UN says that around 1,000 people have been leaving the combat zone every day and that over 100,000 people have fled the region. Yet despite these very high figures, there have been no calls from leading Western politicians for ‘urgent action’ to stop the Ukrainian government’s military offensive. Articles from faux-left ‘humanitarian interventionists’ saying that ‘something must be done’ to end what is a clearly a genuine humanitarian crisis, have been noticeable by their absence.
There is, it seems, no “responsibility to protect” civilians being killed by government forces in the east of Ukraine, as there was in Kosovo, even though the situation in Ukraine, from a humanitarian angle, is worse than that in Kosovo in March 1999.
To add insult to injury, efforts have been made to prevent a Russian humanitarian aid convoy from entering Ukraine.
The convoy we are told is ‘controversial’ and could be part of a sinister plot by Russia to invade. This from the same people who supported a NATO bombing campaign on a sovereign state for “humanitarian” reasons fifteen years ago!
For these Western ‘humanitarians’ who cheer on the actions of the Ukrainian government, the citizens of eastern Ukraine are “non-people”: not only are they unworthy of our support or compassion, or indeed aid convoys, they are also blamed for their own predicament.
There are, of course, other conflicts which also highlight Western double standards towards ‘humanitarian intervention’. Israeli forces have killed over 2,000 Palestinians in their latest ruthless ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Gaza, which is far more people than Yugoslav forces had killed in Kosovo by the time of the 1999 NATO ‘intervention’. But there are no calls at this time for a NATO bombing campaign against Israel.
In fact, neocons and faux-left Zionists who have defended and supported Israel’s “anti-terrorist” Operation Protective Edge, and Operation Cast Lead before it, were among the most enthusiastic supporters of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Israel it seems is allowed to kill large numbers of people, including women and children, in its “anti-terrorist” campaigns, but Yugoslavia had no such “right” to fight an “anti-terrorist” campaign on its own soil.
In 2011, NATO went to war against Libya to prevent a “hypothetical” massacre in Benghazi, and to stop Gaddafi ‘killing his own people’; in 2014 Ukrainian government forces are killing their own people in large numbers, and there have been actual massacres like the appalling Odessa arson attack carried out by pro-government ‘radicals’, but the West hasn’t launched bombing raids on Kiev in response.
The very different approaches from the Western elite to ‘anti-terrorist’ operations in Kosovo and Ukraine (and indeed elsewhere) shows us that what matters most is not the numbers killed, or the amount of human suffering involved, but whether or not the government in question helps or hinders Western economic and military hegemonic aspirations.
In the eyes of the rapacious Western elites, the great ‘crime’ of the Yugoslav government in 1999 was that it was still operating, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an unreconstructed socialist economy, with very high levels of social ownership – as I highlighted here.
Yugoslavia under Milosevic was a country which maintained its financial and military independence. It had no wishes to join the EU or NATO, or surrender its sovereignty to anyone. For that refusal to play by the rules of the globalists and to show deference to the powerful Western financial elites, the country (and its leader) had to be destroyed. In the words of George Kenney, former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US State Department: “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”
By contrast, the government of Ukraine, has been put in power by the West precisely in order to further its economic and military hegemonic aspirations. Poroshenko, unlike the much- demonized Milosevic, is an oligarch acting in the interests of Wall Street, the big banks and the Western military-industrial complex. He’s there to tie up Ukraine to IMF austerity programs, to hand over his country to Western capital and to lock Ukraine into ‘Euro-Atlantic’ structures- in other words to transform it into an EU/IMF/NATO colony- right on Russia’s doorstep.
This explains why an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign waged by the Yugoslav government against ‘separatists’ in 1999 is ‘rewarded’ with fierce condemnation, a 78-day bombing campaign, and the indictment of its leader for war crimes, while a government waging an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign against ‘separatists’ in Ukraine in 2014, is given carte blanche to carry on killing. In the end, it’s not about how many innocent people you kill, or how reprehensible your actions are, but about whose interests you serve.
Was it appropriate for the Middle East peace envoy to throw a lavish party for political cronies and minor celebrities as Israel slaughtered over 1000 Palestinian civilians?
WHERE was Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair last week as Israel invaded Gaza and committed horrific war crimes, killing over 1000 Palestinians, 80% of them civilians, 200 of them children?
Not at his official residence and office in the millionaires’ row of East Jerusalem, which costs £750,000 a year, and from where he directs his somewhat less than successful efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
And what was Tony Blair doing, as Israel bombed hospitals, schools, centres for the disabled, and UN shelters to which 180,000 civilians fled — as at least 1000 homes were turned to rubble by random bombardment? What was he doing as the people in 46% of Gaza were warned by Israel to evacuate — without any indication of where they could go — or face being slaughtered by the world’s fifth most powerful military force?
What has been the Middle East’s Peace Envoy’s only visible contribution to finding a peaceful resolution to the carnage we have witnessed since 6 July, when Israel escalated its merciless attack on 1.8 million defenceless people, held captive by an inhumane siege, which for seven years has left them starved of food, clean water and essential resources, including medical supplies?
The only sighting has been his appearances on television in which his one purpose seems to be to repeat endlessly that he supports “Israel’s right to defend itself”. By killing 200 childen? is never the repost by his interviewers, least of all on the BBC, which, like Tony Blair, is a fully signed up contributor to Israel’s propaganda campaign justifying crimes against humanity.
So has the peace envoy been active behind the scenes, working tirelessly to bring the carnage to an end?
As far as we know, his only behind the scenes activity has been to act as messenge-boy for the scam Egyptian “ceasefire proposal”, which was actually hatched in Washington, with the terms drafted by Israel. Tony Blair’s errand was to deliver the proposal to US-backed Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for him then to announce it as his initiative. The Middle East peace envoy, whose role is supposedly intended to mediate between warring parties in the region, didn’t consider showing the ceasefire proposal to Hamas, which only learnt of it from the media and understandably rejected it as a one-sided demand to surrender. As Israel based journalist Jonathan Cook wrote,
The corporate media swallowed the line of Israel accepting the “ceasefire proposal” and Hamas rejecting it. What Hamas did was reject a US-Israeli diktat to sign away the rights of the people of Gaza to end a siege that cuts them off from the rest of the world.
Tony Blair was the natural choice to be the US and Israeli emissary to the Egyptian dictator el-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup last year that toppled the democratically elected government of president Mohamed Morsi. The Sisi regime is estimated to have killed more than 2,500 protesters and jailed more than 20,000. But that didn’t stop Blair at the beginning of July agreeing to “advise” the Egyptian dictator in a deal which is said to promise huge “business opportunities”.
Not for the first time, Blair is blurring the lines between his public position as peace envoy and his private business dealings in the Middle East. Which is why a group of former British ambassadors and political figures joined a campaign to call for Blair to be sacked as Middle East envoy
So where was Tony Blair last week, as the world watched in horror as Israel invaded Gaza with complete disregard for international and humanitarian law?
He was in the United Kingdom.
And what was his prime activity last week? It was planning a surprise 60th birthday party for his wife Cherie. Why she needed one to coincide with the news that Israel’s mass murder in Gaza had passed 1000 is not clear, as her 60th birthday isn’t actually due till September.
But there was the Middle East peace envoy on Friday 25 July, partying at a cost of £50,000 in his £6 million mansion, with 150 political cronies, wealthy businessmen and minor celebrities.
The next day, over 60,000 protesters brought central London to a standstill calling for the Gaza massacre to stop. Many thousands more demonstrated in towns and cities throughout the UK. And across the world, from San Francisco to Tel Aviv, on every continent, demonstrations called for an end to the killing, the siege to be lifted and Palestine to be free.
There is an ever-growing worldwide outrage that Israel is allowed with impunity to get away with such barbarity. As the Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow put it: “Were any other country on Earth doing what is being done in Gaza, there would be worldwide uproar.”
And the response of Tony Blair, the Middle East peace envoy: “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Time to party.
As Israel buried Ariel Sharon amid eulogies from world figures, Tony Blair, a Butcher of Baghdad, paid a tribute to the Butcher of Beirut which included the line that Sharon: “didn’t think of peace as a dreamer, but did dream of peace.” Also that: “ … he sought peace with the same iron determination” as he had fought (read slaughtered, across the Middle East.) Re-writing history does not come more blatant, but Blair was ever good at fantasy, think “weapons of mass destruction” and “forty five minutes.”
Surgeon, Dr Swee Chai Ang went to help the wounded of Beirut after the 1982 Israeli invasion and witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacre of unarmed men woman and children, Palestinian and Lebanese, between the 15th-18th September,1982.
In her book “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, she describes the reality:
“As I walked through the camp alleys looking at the shattered homes (many of these houses had just been rebuilt following earlier bombardments by Israel) I wanted to cry aloud, but was too exhausted emotionally even to do that. How could little children come back to live in the room where their relatives were tortured and then killed? If the Palestinian Red Crescent Society could not function legally, who was going to look after the widows and orphans?
“Suddenly, someone threw his arms around me. It was Mahmoud, a little child who had broken his wrist while trying to help his father rebuild their broken home. He had survived and his wrist had mended, but now his father was dead. Mahmoud cried, but he was glad I was alive because, from his hiding place during the massacre, he had seen the soldiers taking us away. He thought they had killed me.
“Soon I was surrounded by a whole lot of children. Kids without homes, without parents, without futures. But they were the children of Sabra and the children of Shatila. One of them spotted my pocket camera, and wanted a picture taken. Then they all stood together, wanting their pictures taken. “They wanted me to show their picture to the people of the world. Even if they were killed and the camps were demolished, the world would know that they were the children of Sabra and Shatila, and were not afraid. As I focused my camera, they all held up their hands and made victory signs, right in front of their destroyed homes, where many had been killed. Dear little friends, you taught me what courage and struggle are about.”
Dr Swee Chai Ang founded Medical Aid for Palestine as a result of her experiences in Beirut and Sabra and Shatila. On the eve of Ariel Sharon’s burial, she wrote the following. It is published with her permission:
The passing of Ariel Sharon brought back the memories of the horrors of the Sabra Shatilla massacre of September,’82. I arrived in August that year as a volunteer surgeon to help the war victims of Lebanon. The people in Lebanon were wounded, made homeless and lost precious friends and families as the result of ten weeks of ruthless bombardment. That was the “Operation Peace for Galilee”, launched by Sharon who was then the Defence Minister of Israel in June 1982.
No one knew how many were killed as the result of that offensive – the London newspapers estimated a thirty thousand with many times more made homeless. When a ceasefire was agreed with the evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Sharon broke that ceasefire and drove tanks under air-cover launching a land invasion into Lebanon’s capitol Beirut. Part of the tanks sealed Sabra Shatilla and prevented the helpless civilian victims from escaping, while sending in Israel’s allies into the camps to carry out the most brutal massacre of defenceless women, children and old people under Israel’s watch. The blame was quickly and deliberately shifted to the Lebanese as perpetrators of the massacres, so that today no one can mention that massacre without blaming the Lebanese Phalange, yet forgetting the Israeli organisers of that event.
I worked in Gaza Hospital in Sabra Shatilla during the massacre trying to save the lives of a few dozen people, but outside the hospital hundreds were killed. My patients and I knew that Sharon and his officers were in control, and without them the massacre would not be possible. The residents of Sabra Shatilla could at least have escaped. Now more than 30 years later, we know that the killers were brought in by Israeli armoured cars and tanks, obeyed Israeli commands, their paths lit by Israeli military flares, and some of them also wore Israeli uniforms. The mutilated bodies of the victims were thrown into mass graves by Israeli bulldozers.
This Sharon continued on to be Israeli Prime Minister, and built the Wall which imprisoned the Palestinians in the West Bank. Sharon’s Wall cut through their lands, separating people from their homes, children from their schools, farmers from their orchards, patients from hospitals, husbands from wives, and children from parents. He marched into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem 2000 with fully armed Israeli soldiers and tried to have the West believe that his intention was for peace.
He was responsible for other massacres such as in Jenin, Qibya and Khan Yunis just to name a few. The older generation in Khan Yunis in Gaza remembers that he killed all the grown men in the massacre of 1956 and left only the women and children to bury the dead.
I thought these facts should be publicised. Those who eulogise Sharon in his role of building Israel should also remember that he built his nation over the dead bodies of the Palestinian people, and the continued dispossession of those who are still alive.
- Dr Ang Swee Chai is the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, Published by International Librarie, Beirut12 January 2014.
- Felicity Arbuthnot. is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq.
The US government has explicitly ordered Britain not to publish the contents of the four-year-long inquiry into the Iraq War carried out by Sir John Chilcot.
The administration of US President Barack Obama insists that certain parts of the Iraq Inquiry, known as the Chilcot Inquiry, could not be released as it is focused on the pre-war conspiracy hatched by the former US president George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, The Independent has revealed.
Tony Blair led Britain into the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 on the false pretext that the country’s Ba’athist regime possessed ready-to-use weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). No such arms were ever found in Iraq, but hundreds of thousands lost their lives following the invasion.
According to some leaks from the inquiry, Bush and Blair began conspiring for the Iraq War only weeks after Bush was inaugurated as the US president in 2001.
Now, the US government claims that Bush-Blair conversations and even those comments made by Blair to the inquiry are the property of the US government and has therefore decided to keep them classified.
“The US are highly possessive when documents relate to the presence of the President or anyone close to him. Tony Blair is involved in a dialogue in many of these documents, and naturally someone else is at the other end – the [US] President. Therefore this is not Tony Blair’s or the UK government’s property to disclose,” said one high-placed diplomatic source.
According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “Chilcot, or anyone in London, does not decide what documents relating to a US President are published.”
This comes as Prime Minister David Cameron has told Chilcot in a letter that some documents needed to be “handled sensitively.”
Elaborating on Cameron’s statements, the Cabinet Office told The Independent: “It is in the public’s interests that exchanges between the UK Prime Minister and the US President are privileged. The whole premise about withholding them [from publication] is to ensure that we do not prejudice our relations with the United States.”
Therefore, the authors of the inquiry’s final report, including Chilcot and his team, are under heavy pressure not to hurt the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and the US.
It’s also expected that they will publish a neutral report in spring next year which will lack evidence to charge Blair with serious policy failures, and it may also be such a redacted report as to be meaningless and a waste of almost £8 million of British taxpayers’ money.
- Lord Owen calls for release of Blair and Bush Iraq evidence (theguardian.com)
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?
We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as “plausible denial.”
We have been down this road before – with President George W. Bush, to whom we addressed our first VIPS memorandum immediately after Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. speech, in which he peddled fraudulent “intelligence” to support attacking Iraq. Then, also, we chose to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt, thinking he was being misled – or, at the least, very poorly advised.
The fraudulent nature of Powell’s speech was a no-brainer. And so, that very afternoon we strongly urged your predecessor to “widen the discussion beyond … the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.” We offer you the same advice today.
Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you.
We have observed John Brennan closely over recent years and, sadly, we find what our former colleagues are now telling us easy to believe. Sadder still, this goes in spades for those of us who have worked with him personally; we give him zero credence. And that goes, as well, for his titular boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has admitted he gave “clearly erroneous” sworn testimony to Congress denying NSA eavesdropping on Americans.
Intelligence Summary or Political Ploy?
That Secretary of State John Kerry would invoke Clapper’s name this week in Congressional testimony, in an apparent attempt to enhance the credibility of the four-page “Government Assessment” strikes us as odd. The more so, since it was, for some unexplained reason, not Clapper but the White House that released the “assessment.”
This is not a fine point. We know how these things are done. Although the “Government Assessment” is being sold to the media as an “intelligence summary,” it is a political, not an intelligence document. The drafters, massagers, and fixers avoided presenting essential detail. Moreover, they conceded upfront that, though they pinned “high confidence” on the assessment, it still fell “short of confirmation.”
Déjà Fraud: This brings a flashback to the famous Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002, on Iraq, The minutes record that Richard Dearlove, then head of British intelligence, reporting to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior officials that President Bush had decided to remove Saddam Hussein through military action that would be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” Dearlove had gotten the word from then-CIA Director George Tenet whom he visited at CIA headquarters on July 20.
The discussion that followed centered on the ephemeral nature of the evidence, prompting Dearlove to explain: “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” We are concerned that this is precisely what has happened with the “intelligence” on Syria.
There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.
According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.
We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.
In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.
Senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development,” which, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.
At operations coordinating meetings at Antakya, attended by senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials as well as senior commanders of the Syrian opposition, the Syrians were told that the bombing would start in a few days. Opposition leaders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the U.S. bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Bashar al-Assad government
The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. And they were. A weapons distribution operation unprecedented in scope began in all opposition camps on August 21-23. The weapons were distributed from storehouses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of U.S. intelligence officers.
That the various groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have ample incentive to get the U.S. more deeply involved in support of that effort is clear. Until now, it has not been quite as clear that the Netanyahu government in Israel has an equally powerful incentive to get Washington more deeply engaged in yet another war in the area. But with outspoken urging coming from Israel and those Americans who lobby for Israeli interests, this priority Israeli objective is becoming crystal clear.
Reporter Judi Rudoren, writing from Jerusalem in an important article in Friday’s New York Times addresses Israeli motivation in an uncommonly candid way. Her article, titled “Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria,” notes that the Israelis have argued, quietly, that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome. Rudoren continues:
“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.
“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”
We think this is the way Israel’s current leaders look at the situation in Syria, and that deeper U.S. involvement – albeit, initially, by “limited” military strikes – is likely to ensure that there is no early resolution of the conflict in Syria. The longer Sunni and Shia are at each other’s throats in Syria and in the wider region, the safer Israel calculates that it is.
That Syria’s main ally is Iran, with whom it has a mutual defense treaty, also plays a role in Israeli calculations. Iran’s leaders are not likely to be able to have much military impact in Syria, and Israel can highlight that as an embarrassment for Tehran.
Iran can readily be blamed by association and charged with all manner of provocation, real and imagined. Some have seen Israel’s hand in the provenance of the most damaging charges against Assad regarding chemical weapons and our experience suggests to us that such is supremely possible.
Possible also is a false-flag attack by an interested party resulting in the sinking or damaging, say, of one of the five U.S. destroyers now on patrol just west of Syria. Our mainstream media could be counted on to milk that for all it’s worth, and you would find yourself under still more pressure to widen U.S. military involvement in Syria – and perhaps beyond, against Iran.
Iran has joined those who blame the Syrian rebels for the August 21 chemical incident, and has been quick to warn the U.S. not to get more deeply involved. According to the Iranian English-channel Press TV, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif has claimed: “The Syria crisis is a trap set by Zionist pressure groups for [the United States].”
Actually, he may be not far off the mark. But we think your advisers may be chary of entertaining this notion. Thus, we see as our continuing responsibility to try to get word to you so as to ensure that you and other decision makers are given the full picture.
We hope your advisers have warned you that retaliation for attacks on Syrian are not a matter of IF, but rather WHERE and WHEN. Retaliation is inevitable. For example, terrorist strikes on U.S. embassies and other installations are likely to make what happened to the U.S. “Mission” in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, look like a minor dust-up by comparison. One of us addressed this key consideration directly a week ago in an article titled “Possible Consequences of a U.S. Military Attack on Syria – Remembering the U.S. Marine Barracks Destruction in Beirut, 1983.”
For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Thomas Drake, Senior Executive, NSA (former)
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan
Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
W. Patrick Lang, Senior Executive and Defense Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.)
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)
Todd Pierce, US Army Judge Advocate General (ret.)
Sam Provance, former Sgt., US Army, Iraq
Coleen Rowley, Division Council & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)
Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret); Foreign Service Officer (ret.)
Now that Prime Minister David Cameron has sought parliamentary approval for “military action” against Syria and President Barack Obama has announced his intention to seek congressional approval, can President François Hollande, as a political if not a strictly constitutional matter, afford not to do likewise?
A parliamentary session devoted to Syria is already scheduled for September 4, although no formal vote had been planned.
Hollande’s Socialist Party has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly and a razor-thin majority in the Senate. Party discipline in France tends to be more rigid and dependable than in the U.S. and the U.K., but the most recent poll showed 64% of the French people opposed to French involvement in any “military action” against Syria.
It would therefore be both highly interesting and encouraging for the future of democracy in France if Hollande were to permit a free and open debate and vote on this important issue.
However, there is another important issue which Hollande should keep in mind or factor into his thinking if no one has yet alerted to it.
When the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court was being negotiated, certain Western states insisted on a seven-year moratorium before the “crime of aggression” was added to the crimes over which the ICC would have jurisdiction if they were committed either by a State Party of the ICC or on the territory a State Party. This effectively gave habitual and potential aggressors a window of opportunity to continue committing acts of aggression, which was very fortunate for former British prime minister Tony Blair, whose country is a State Party but who therefore enjoys immunity and impunity (at least insofar as ICC jurisdiction is concerned) with respect to his role in the crime of aggression against Iraq in 2003.
However, that window of opportunity was closed on June 11, 2010, when the crime of aggression was inserted into the Rome Statute as one of the crimes over which the ICC now has jurisdiction.
While neither Syria nor the United States is among the 122 States Parties of the ICC (so that only a referral by the UN Security Council can give the ICC jurisdiction over their citizens or over crimes committed on their territory), France is a State Party of the ICC.
Article 8bis (1) of the Rome Statute, as added in 2010, reads: “For the purposes of this Statute, ‘crime of aggression’ means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.” Included in the subsequent listing of acts constituting “aggression” is, at Article 8bis (2)(b): “Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State.”
In the absence of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing “military action” against Syria, these provisions fit the aggression being planned by Presidents Obama and Hollande “like a glove”. Even the most imaginative defense lawyer would struggle to imagine a defense.
The ICC is understandably uncomfortable with the awkward fact that, in over a decade of existence, it has indicted only Africans. If for no other reason than the institutional imperative of the court’s own credibility, there is a compelling need to indict some non-African as soon as the court’s restricted jurisdiction and the gravity and exemplarity of a crime permit.
Nothing could enhance the credibility of the court more than the indictment of the head of state or government of one of the major Western powers.
At the same time, nothing else could so constructively enhance the concept and stature of international law, the belief that international law is not simply (as it has tended to be) a stick with which the rich and powerful beat the poor and weak and the idea that even the rich and powerful do not enjoy immunity and impunity before the rules of international law.
Indeed, nothing else could so effectively enhance the chances for a more peaceful world.
For any number of good reasons, it is to be fervently hoped that, in the end, François Hollande will not choose to participate in the “planning, preparation, initiation or execution” of the crime of aggression against Syria. However, should he do so, his transfer to The Hague could be the only good result of this folly.
John V. Whitbeck is a Paris-based international lawyer.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on London and Washington to go to war in Syria to end what he claimed to be attacks on civilians “not seen since the dark days of Saddam”.
“People wince at the thought of intervention. But contemplate the future consequence of inaction and shudder,” said Blair who took Britain to the war in Iraq based on fabricated claims that Saddam had ready-to-launch weapons of mass destruction.
“Western policy is at a crossroads: commentary or action …. After the long and painful campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand every impulse to stay clear of the turmoil …. But we have collectively to understand the consequences of wringing our hands instead of putting them to work,” he wrote in an article for The Times on Tuesday.
Blair’s comments come as there are serious qualms that the claims, led by Britain, the US and France, of Syrian government having carried out the chemical attack that allegedly killed hundreds of people on Wednesday are nothing but another deception to justify war, as was the case in Iraq.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama have been rattling sabers since Wednesday, saying they should intervene to end what Washington described as a “moral obscenity”.
However, Britain and its western allies have so far offered no evidence to support their claims against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.
The Conservative British PM will also have a hard time to persuade MPs to start a war after he was forced to promise to put any military action in Syria to parliamentary vote earlier this year after 82 Conservatives MPs signed a letter to demand such a process.
The opposition Labour party has also demanded the coalition government to ask for MPs’ approval before taking any military action.
Cameron has indicated he will consult the parliament with his office saying he could recall the parliament from a summer recess before it ends on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria.
Opposition to a possible military intervention in Syria has intensified in Britain with the Labour party demanding that the government “make their case” before the parliament.
An alleged chemical attack hit parts of the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday killing hundreds of people.
Foreign-backed terrorists in the country claimed that the government forces were behind the assault in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar while medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, which treated those affected in the attack, said it cannot even “scientifically confirm” the use of chemical weapons.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander said on Monday that the cabinet has to “make their case” in the parliament before they can make a decision whether to go to a new war, if any such decision is to be made.
“Given both the seriousness of the reported chemical weapons strikes in Syria, and the enduring and complex nature of the conflict itself, ahead of any action being taken I would fully expect the Prime Minister to make his case to Parliament,” Alexander said.
“[The Prime Minister must be] open about the objectives, the legal basis, and the anticipated effect of any [British military action],” he added.
Meanwhile, British Conservative MP John Baron, who is leading MPs’ demands for a parliamentary session on the matter, expressed serious concerns about Britain going to war without the approval of the UN Security Council because of a Russian opposition to military intervention in Syria.
“Essentially, it is a civil war. If the West intervenes without a UN resolution … I think there is a more serious risk of this escalating beyond Syrian boundaries,” he said.
This comes as legal experts have seriously questioned the legality of a military move against Syria, saying it would create a “controversial situation”.
“The difficulty here is there’s no threat as I understand it to the security of this country or the United States and therefore on what basis can we intervene?” Michael Caplan, an international lawyer, asked during an interview on BBC Radio 4.
Following the alleged chemical attack in Syria, which government forces say was a false flag attack by foreign-backed militants, Britain, the US and France have been beating drums of war to punish what Washington described as a “moral obscenity” by Bashar al-Asad government in Syria.
Russia has demanded evidence from the three on their claims but no proof has yet been presented or even announced to exist.
The situation has sparked fears that Britain is assisting the US to justify another war based on totally unfounded claims after former British PM Tony Blair tampered with evidence related to Iraq weapons of mass destruction to facilitate the invasion of the country in 2003.
The fears are especially strong because the Syrian government cannot have sensibly carried out a large-scale attack when UN weapons inspectors were stationed almost 20 kilometers away from the site of the attack, waiting to probe earlier claims of poisonous gas strikes.
Qualms are also fueled by sporadic reporting of Syrian foreign-backed militants being in possession of chemical weapons, including a Twitter post by Abdola Al-Jaledi, a former high-ranking member of the Jabaht al-Nusra militant group, which said his colleagues were in possession of chemical weapons.
- Syrian war drums beat ever louder (morningstaronline.co.uk)
Prime Minister David Cameron shaking hands with Israeli regime’s agent in Britain, Daniel Taub.
Ten years ago Tam Dalyell, the ‘Father of the House’ (the most senior member of the House of Commons in the British Parliament), sparked a huge row by accusing the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, of “being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers.”
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dalyell named Lord Levy (Blair’s personal envoy on the Middle East), Peter Mandelson (whose father was Jewish), and Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary (who has Jewish ancestry), as three of the leading figures who had influenced Blair’s policies on the Middle East.
He told The Telegraph: “If it is a question of launching an assault on Syria or Iran…. then one has to be candid.” Blair, he said, was also indirectly influenced by Jewish people in the Bush administration, including Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, and Ari Fleischer, the President’s press secretary.
Dalyell’s remarks were sad and unfounded, said Lord Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Education Trust. “Tony Blair is his own man. He will follow advice if he considers it correct and not otherwise. He has been a good friend of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”
Dalyell was misguided, said Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for Britain’s Reform Synagogues. “Concerning Iraq it was crystal clear that Tony Blair was not swayed by popularity or anyone else but by his own deep convictions. It is also obvious that the majority of President Bush’s circle are Christian Evangelicals rather than Jews.”
Ned Temko, the American-born editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said: “I just think these sort of comments are offensive and are a profound misunderstanding of the way foreign policy is made in the United States or here.”
Dalyell also told The Scotsman on Sunday: “Blair and Straw have become far too close to these people and Lord Levy, who is an unaccountable ambassador in the Middle East, is part of this group. They are acting on an extremely Zionist, Likud-nik agenda. In particular I am concerned that some of them are pushing for an attack on Syria, for reasons of Israeli security. ”
MP Louise Ellman, a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism, said: “This absurd proposition implies a Jewish plot in high places…”
Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a senior member of Scotland’s Jewish community, was rudely dismissive: “We all know that Tam gets bees in his bonnet and eight times out of 10 they are nuts but the other two are brilliant. This is, I’m afraid, one of the nutty ones.”
Next day the Guardian reported that Dalyell could face an investigation for inciting racial hatred. Eric Moonman, president of the Zionist Federation, was seeking advice on whether there was a case for referral. “I believe there is,” he said.
Today it is obvious that old Tam was neither nutty nor misguided. He joined the dots and saw the danger, as did many others.
‘The Torah party’
Meanwhile the Jewish cabal flourishes. A few weeks ago Ian Livingston was handpicked by Prime Minister David Cameron for the trade minister job. Cameron, who had previously broken with traditional wisdom and appointed the first Jewish ambassador to Israel, was reported by an ecstatic Times of Israel as having now decided to bring into the government possibly its most committed Jew yet, and certainly its most outspoken supporter of Israel, which Livingston called “the most amazing state in the world.”
Livingston is not elected. He’s appointed. The newspaper went on to name other top Jewish figures in the Conservative party such as co-chairs Lord Feldman and Grant Shapps MP, senior treasurer Howard Leigh, a member of the Jewish Leadership Council; and former party treasurers Richard Harrington MP and Lord Fink, another member of the JLC.
“There are so many Jews at the top of Britain’s Conservative party, Prime Minister David Cameron once quipped, that it should be known as the Torah party rather than the Tory party,” crowed the paper.
And to make the Prime Minister feel thoroughly at home in his Torah party a Jewish scholar, after tracing Cameron’s ancestry, claimed he could be “a direct descendant of Moses or, at least, a cousin”.
In case our American friends are puzzled by this Torah/Tory business, ‘Tory’ is an old 17th century name for the modern Conservative party founded in the 1830s.
Three years ago The Jewish Chronicle published a list of Jewish MPs in Britain’s parliament, naming 24. The Jewish population in the UK at that time was – and probably still is – around 280,000 or just under 0.5%. There are 650 seats in the House of Commons so, on a proportional basis, Jews could expect 3 seats. But with 24 they were 8 times over-represented. Which meant, of course, that other groups were under-represented.
The UK’s Muslim population is about 2.4 million or nearly 4%. Similarly, their quota would be 25 seats but they had only 8 – a serious shortfall. If Muslims were over-represented to the same extent as Jews (i.e. 8 times) they’d have 200 seats. Imagine the hullabaloo.
Over-representation in the House of Commons is only part of the picture. Many more Jews have been inserted into the House of Lords and other non-elected and unaccountable positions. An even bigger worry is the huge number of non-Jewish Zionists that have infiltrated every level of political and institutional life. They swell the pro-Israel lobby to such an extent that it is believed to account for 80% of the Parliamentary Conservative Party, which now rules with the Liberal Democrats as their junior coalition partner.
Too many pro-Israel MPs speak and act as if they’d rather wave the Israeli flag than the Union Jack. These ‘Israel-firsters’ never condemn the regime’s illegal occupation, apartheid-style policies, war crimes and refusal to sign up to nuclear non-proliferation, inspection and safeguards. They lock Britain (and British foreign policy) into Israel’s sickening ambitions and immorality. Defending the indefensible, as they do, inevitably raises questions for our national security, a deadly serious issue given the sheer number of Zionists now in British public life and the enemies they have made across the world, and continually provoke.
The Jewish Chronicle, in its 2006 special report ‘Team Cameron’s big Jewish backers’, revealed the support that enabled Cameron to suddenly burst into the political limelight, almost unknown, to take the Conservative leadership. With no significant achievement under his belt he was then able to manoeuvre, with the help of his backers, into Britain’s PM slot.
He is also a self-declared Zionist and voted for the war in Iraq, so how trustworthy does that make him? In a speech to Jewish fundraisers in London last year he declared: “There is no contradiction between being a proud Jew, a committed Zionist and a loyal British citizen.” How can someone who so closely aligns himself with a belligerent foreign military power like Israel hope to convince us that he’s 100 percent loyal to Britain and her interests, while once again drawing us unwillingly into conflict with Israel’s enemies, this time Iran and Syria, with whom we have no quarrel?
Cameron’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has been a member of Conservative Friends of Israel since he was 15. Hague once said: “The unbroken thread of Conservative Party support for Israel that has run for nearly a century from the Balfour Declaration to the present day will continue.”
Alistair Burt, a former officer of the Parliamentary group of Conservative Friends of Israel, is Foreign Office minister for the Middle East. And David Lidington, who has spoken of being a “staunch defender” of the State of Israel, is Foreign Office minister for Europe.
So the key stooges are safely installed and activated.
Powerless to deliver justice
It is said that becoming a Friend of Israel is a necessary stepping-stone to high office. Consequently fans of Israel are embedded at all levels in the fabric of British political life and at the heart of the Government.
When a group of concerned academics wrote to the Committee on Standards in Public Life complaining about Israel’s “deep penetration”, they were told it was not something the committee could investigate. A closer look revealed that some members of the committee had close links with Friends of Israel.
How do these Israeli flag wavers think it looks, standing shoulder to shoulder with religious fanatics and psychopaths who horribly persecute the Christian and Muslim communities of the Holy Land? It is especially offensive to see them endorsing a pseudo democracy that dishes out thuggish treatment even to children who, says the UN, are arrested by Israeli military and police and systematically subjected to degrading treatment, and often tortured. Read the report and weep.
Thanks to its misplaced admiration for Israel, the British government fails to intervene and stand up for justice. The disgrace is unbearable. Here is just one of many appalling examples. Right now Christians in that once beautiful country are under imminent threat of losing their land, their livelihood, and their way of life because an emergency law cooked up by the illegal occupier Israel, and upheld by an Israeli court, allows the Israelis to seize territory in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem. This brazen land-grab opens the way for the hated separation wall (ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice) to be extended across the valley, connecting two Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land in the eastern suburbs of Jerusalem.
The onward construction of the barrier will divide a Salesian Catholic monastery from the neighbouring Salesian Catholic convent, confiscate most of the convent’s property, and cut off 58 Palestinian families from their agricultural lands – including vineyards, olive groves, and pastures. The barrier will also separate families and surround an elementary school on three sides, forcing young children to pass through a checkpoint to go to class.
The ICJ required the wall to be dismantled, not extended. And it reminded all States party to the Fourth Geneva Convention that they are under an obligation “to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention”. That was 9 years ago. The world is still waiting. The States never act. Compliance never happens. Non-compliance is rife, and highly profitable to Israel.
And Israel’s allies, including Britain, perversely reward its non-compliance. Across the West Bank, continuing restrictions on Palestinian access to agricultural lands have led to the slow abandonment and eventual confiscation of those lands by Israeli authorities.
Israel’s Knesset has approved the first reading of the Prawer Plan to remove 40,000 indigenous Bedouin people from their ancestral homeland in the Negev. This evil scheme clears the way for the $4 billion “Blueprint Negev” project intended to transform the Negev into a majority-Jewish area even though the Bedouin have lived there for thousands of years.
At the same time one of Israel’s most dangerous lunatics, Avigdor Lieberman (chairman of the foreign affairs and defence committee), is calling for Israel, after imposing a vicious 7-year blockade, to conquer the Gaza Strip and carry out “a thorough cleansing”, just because Hamas still hasn’t succumbed to Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian homeland.
Britain could, at a stroke, bring Israel to heel and force the regime to conform to international law or face massive trade penalties.
The Telegraph reported today that “Tony Blair has hired a former Israeli army intelligence officer to work in his private office, despite his role as Middle East peace envoy.”
Lianne Pollak, who has led intelligence teams in the Israel Defence Forces, was recruited as a private consultant between October 2012 and April this year.
The 30-year-old Israel was previously a policy adviser to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, working with security agencies and senior officials.
The former British prime minister is the envoy to the Middle East for the Quartet – the group that represents the US, Russia, the United Nations and Europe.
His role includes encouraging development in Gaza and the West Bank and helping to forge a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, having been appointed when he left Downing Street in June 2007.
- Tony Blair: Egypt’s army had no choice (thestate.com)