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Strengthening Biological Weapons Convention requires constructive approach

Dr Alexander Yakovenko | RT | April 30, 2016

Recently, the US Department of State has submitted to Congress its annual Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments.

Among other things, Washington has chosen Moscow as the target for unsubstantiated insinuations and lies on the issue of Russia’s compliance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC). It is becoming ever more obvious that regular verbal attacks against Russia are used to distract attention from the unseemly role that the US plays within the BWC context.

The reality is that it is the US who seriously damaged the BWC regime by single-handedly ruining the long-lasting multilateral talks on the supplementary BWC protocol that were about to come to an end. The microbiological activity of the member states under the developed protocol would have been subject to on-site inspections by an independent authority. Having derailed the protocol, the US now complains of having no possibility to verify compliance with the BWC.

However, it has nobody to blame but itself for this, including the fact that it has blocked any constructive attempts to step up specific work within the framework of the BWC since 2001.

Against this background, the international community witnesses the Pentagon’s dangerous microbiological activities.

The US Department of Defense has been mailing live anthrax spores all over the world for years. Far from being accidental, this occurred on 195 occasions and reached 12 different countries. As a result, not only US citizens but also populations in other countries were exposed to lethal danger. Until now, the scale of these violations has not been revealed or explained, including the real purpose of the Defense Department’s spore-producing “industrial facilities” and the reason for distributing them to US military bases overseas.

For a further example, the Defense Department has been continuously expanding worldwide its military biological infrastructure. These facilities have sprung up in many countries, and in recent years they are being created increasingly closer to Russian borders. For instance, a high-level bio-safety laboratory was built in Georgia, with Washington and Tbilisi making efforts to conceal the true content and focus of this military unit’s activities. The Pentagon is also trying to introduce similar undercover military medical-biological facilities to other CIS countries.

While accusing developing countries of a lack of progress in implementing the BWC at the national level, the US has consistently kept intact its own laws, which run counter to its international commitments. These include, in particular, reserving the right, in the 1925 Geneva Protocol, to retaliate with chemical or toxin weapons and presidential Executive Order 11850 enabling US armed forces to use “nonlethal” chemical or toxin weapons as warfare agents. Particularly flagrant is applying the 2001 Patriot Act to actually endorse the development of biological weapons with governmental assent.

In the meantime, Russia, along with a few other states, is busy trying to launch multilateral negotiations aimed at strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention as a tool of mutual security. Our US partners should constructively engage in these efforts, instead of judging others and making unsubstantiated allegations.

Dr Alexander Yakovenko is Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko

April 30, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hiding the Indonesia Massacre Files

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | April 29, 2016

Now that the Indonesian government has officially opened a probe into what the CIA called “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century,” it’s time for the U.S. government to come clean about its own involvement in the orchestrated killing of hundreds of thousands of Communists, ethnic Chinese, intellectuals, union activists and other victims during the mid-1960s.

President Joko Widodo this week instructed one of his senior ministers to begin investigating mass graves that could shed light on the slaughter of more than half a million innocents by soldiers, paramilitary forces and anti-Communist gangs.

That orgy of violence followed the killing of six generals on Sept. 30, 1965, which the Indonesian military blamed on an attempted coup by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). It marked the beginning of several decades of military dictatorship and further mass murders in East Timor and West Papua.

The PKI, which had some three million members, and millions more sympathizers, was by the early 1960s the strongest political force in the country aside from the military and the revered father of Indonesia’s independence, President Sukarno.

As one CIA adviser warned in 1963, “If the PKI is able to maintain its legal existence . . . Indonesia may be the first Southeast Asia country to be taken over by a popularly based, legally elected communist government.” Two years later, the military-led bloodbath put an end to that threat.

Indonesia’s government, whose leaders include military veterans of that era, still refuses to open criminal investigations into the mass murder, as called for in 2012 by Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights.

But some survivors nonetheless welcome the chance to expose truths that have been vigorously suppressed over the years by mass political arrests, press censorship, and pervasive indoctrination programs in the country’s schools.

Hiding Secrets

To help tell the whole story, Indonesia’s human rights commission and major international human rights organizations have called on the Obama administration to declassify U.S. government documents related to the massacres, as it did recently with respect to Argentina’s “dirty war” from 1976-83.

But President Obama, like his predecessors, has so far been reluctant to shed light on tragic events in Indonesia more than half a century ago.

“The extent of America’s role remains hidden behind a wall of secrecy,” complained Joshua Oppenheimer, maker of two acclaimed documentaries about the massacres: “The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence.”

“C.I.A. documents and U.S. defense attaché papers remain classified. Numerous Freedom of Information Act requests for these documents have been denied,” he observed. “If the U.S. government recognizes the genocide publicly, acknowledges its role in the crimes, and releases all documents pertaining to the issue, it will encourage the Indonesian government to do the same.”

It’s easy to guess why Washington is so reluctant to bare the truth. The limited number of documents that have been released suggest that U.S. officials goaded Indonesia’s military into seizing power in 1965 and then liquidating PKI supporters throughout the archipelago. The full record could look even uglier.

Indonesia became a focus of U.S. strategic concerns as far back as 1940, when Imperial Japan threatened its immensely valuable rubber plantations, tin mines, and oil wells. President Franklin Roosevelt’s showdown with Tokyo, which culminated in the Pearl Harbor attack, stemmed from his determination to resist the loss of the islands’ strategic resources. Years later, Richard Nixon would call Indonesia “by far the greatest prize in the South-East Asian area.”

Prompted by its appreciation of Indonesia’s value, the Eisenhower administration financed a full-scale but unsuccessful military rebellion in 1958 against the neutralist Sukarno government. The Kennedy administration tried to patch up relations, but President Lyndon Johnson — angered at the regime’s threat to U.S. rubber and oil companies as well as Sukarno’s friendly relations with the PKI — cut off economic aid while continuing training and assistance to the anti-Communist military.

As one senior State Department official testified in executive session before Congress just a few months before the 1965 coup, explaining the administration’s proposal to increase military aid, “When Sukarno leaves the scene, the military will probably take over. We want to keep the door open.”

Prompting the Slaughter

To prompt the army to act against Sukarno, U.S., British, and Australian intelligence operatives planted phony stories about PKI plots to assassinate army leaders and import weapons from Communist China to launch a revolt — elements of a “strategy of tension” that would later be used in Chile.

Indonesian President Sukarno.

Indonesian President Sukarno.

According to former CIA officer Ralph McGehee, the CIA “was extremely proud” of its campaign and “recommended it as a model for future operations.”

Months after the bloodbath began, the well-connected associate editor of the New York Times, James Reston, would write, “Washington is being careful not to claim any credit” for the coup “but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it.”

The events that triggered the military takeover remain murky even today, thanks to the regime’s systematic suppression of evidence. What seems clear, however, is that the PKI was largely caught unprepared when a group of junior officers — acting either on their own or as part of a “false flag” operation mounted by the anti-Communist General Suharto — killed six generals in the name of stopping a right-wing coup against Sukarno.

Suharto and his colleagues quickly arrested the killers, blamed the PKI for the atrocity, and aroused popular outrage by spreading false stories that the murdered generals had been sexually mutilated.

They also charged that Indonesia’s Communists were targeting Islamic leaders. In response, the country’s largest Muslim organization issued an order to “eliminate all Communists.”

On Oct. 5, 1965, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Marshall Green informed Washington that Muslin groups were “lined up behind” the army, which “now has opportunity to move against PKI if it acts quickly. . . Momentum is now at peak with discovery of bodies of murdered army leaders. In short, it’s now or never.”

Green was hopeful: “Much remains in doubt, but it seems almost certain that agony of ridding Indonesia of effects of Sukarno . . . has begun.” To help make sure that came to pass, Green advised telling coup leaders of “our desire to be of assistance where we can,” while remaining in the shadows.

Fanning Flames

Green proposed fanning the flames of popular anger through covert propaganda: “Spread the story of PKI’s guilt, treachery and brutality (this priority effort is perhaps most-needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it as solely or largely US effort).”

To that end, he later instructed to U.S. Information Agency to use all its resources to “link this horror and tragedy with Peking and its brand of communism; associate diabolical murder and mutilation of the generals with similar methods used against village headmen in Vietnam.”

By mid-October, Green reported that the embassy had discussed strategy with Army and Muslim contacts for a “step-by-step campaign not only against PKI but against whole communist/Sukarno clique.”

Soon he was reporting the good news: the army had executed hundreds of Communists and arrested thousands of PKI cadre, with help from Muslim death squads.

“I, for one, have increasing respect for [the army’s] determination and organization in carrying out this crucial assignment,” he wrote.

To help the army succeed, Green endorsed Washington’s decision to bankroll the military’s clean-up operations against the PKI, adding that “the chances of detection or subsequent revelation of our support . . . are as minimal as any black bag operation can be.”

In addition, by December 1965 the U.S. embassy began sending the Indonesian military lists of PKI leaders — facilitating their liquidation.

“It really was a big help to the army,” said Robert J. Martens, a former member of the U.S. Embassy’s political section. “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad. There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.”

In a December 1965 story, Time magazine offered the first significant account in the American media of the scope of the killing:

“Communists, red sympathizers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of Communists after interrogation in remote jails. Armed with wide-bladed knives called ‘parangs,’ Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families and burying the bodies in shallow graves.

“The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java, that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh.

“Travelers from these areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies. River transportation has at places been seriously impeded.”

By February 1996, the U.S. embassy was estimating that at least 400,000 people had already been killed across the country — more than died from the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Media Approval

C.L. Sulzberger of The New York Times remarked in April that “the killing attained a volume impressive even in violent Asia, where life is cheap.”

Speaking for official Washington, in a column titled “A Gleam of Light in Asia,” the New York Times’ James Reston called this bloodbath one of “the more hopeful political developments” in Asia, one that could not have “been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.”

The full extent of that clandestine aid remains a contested question, but historian Bradley Simpson, in a 2008 study of U.S. relations with Indonesia in the 1960s, observed that “declassification of just a fraction of the CIA’s records demonstrates that the agency’s covert operations in Indonesia were more widespread and insidious than previous acknowledged. These records also reveal that the Johnson administration was a direct and willing accomplice to one of the great bloodbaths of twentieth-century history.”

New Mexico’s Tom Udall declared last year as he introduced a Senate resolution to promote reconciliation on the 50th anniversary of the Indonesian massacres, “the United States and Indonesia must work to close this terrible chapter by declassifying information and officially recognizing the atrocities that occurred. . .

“The United States should stand in favor of continued democratic progress for our vital ally Indonesia and allow these historical documents to be disclosed. Only by recognizing the past can we continue to work to improve human rights across the globe.”

The world is still waiting on President Obama to heed that call.



Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012).

April 29, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

President Obama: The Race for the Imperial Legacy

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By James Petras :: 04.29.2016

President Obama is racing forward to establish his imperial legacy throughout Russia, Asia and Latin America. In the last two years he has accelerated the buildup of his military nuclear arsenal on the frontiers of Russia. The Pentagon has designed a high tech anti-missile system to undermine Russian defenses.

In Latin America, Obama has shed his shallow pretense of tolerating the center–left electoral regimes. Instead he is has joined with rabid authoritarian neo-liberals in Argentina; met with the judges and politicians engineering the overthrow of the current Brazilian government; and encouraged the emerging far-rightwing regimes in Peru under Keiko Fujimori and Colombia under President Santos.

In Asia, Obama has clearly escalated a military build-up threatening China’s principle waterways in the South China Sea. Obama encouraged aggressive and violent separatist groupings in Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjian and Taiwan. Obama invites Beijing billionaires to relocate a trillion dollars in assets to the ‘laundry machines’ of North America, Europe and Asia. Meanwhile he has actively blocked China’s long-planned commercial ’silk route’ across Myanmar and west Asia.

In the Middle East, President Obama joined with Saudi Arabia as Riyadh escalated its brutal war and blockade in Yemen. He directed Kenya and other African predator states to attack Somalia. He has continued to back mercenary armies invading Syria while collaborating with the Turkish dictator, Erdogan, as Turkish troops bomb Kurdish, Syrian and Iraqi fighters who are engaged on the front lines against Islamist terrorism.

President Obama and his minions have consistently groveled before the Jewish State and its US Fifth Column, massively increasing US ‘tribute’ to Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Israel continues to seize thousands of acres of Palestinian land murdering and arresting thousands of Palestinians, from young children to aged grandparents.

The Obama regime is desperate to overcome the consequences of his political, military and economic failures of the past six years and establish the US as the uncontested global economic and military power.

At this stage, Obama’s supreme goal is to leave an enduring legacy, where he will have: (1) surrounded and weakened Russia and China; (2) re-converted Latin America into an authoritarian free-trade backyard for US plunder; (3) turned the Middle East and North Africa into a bloody playpen for Arab and Jewish dictators bent on brutalizing whole nations and turning millions into refugees to flood Europe and elsewhere.

Once this ‘legacy’ is established, our ‘Historic Black President’ can boast that he has dragged our ‘great nation’ into more wars for longer periods of time, costing more diverse human lives and creating more desperate refugees than any previous US President, all the while polarizing and impoverishing the great mass of working Americans. He will, indeed, set a ‘high bar’ for his incumbent replacement, Madame Hilary Clinton to leap over and even expand.

To examine the promise of an Obama legacy and avoid premature judgements, it is best to briefly recall the failures of his first 6 years and reflect on his current inspired quest for a ‘place in history’.

Fear, Loathing and Retreat

Obama’s shameless bailout of Wall Street contrasted sharply with the desires and sentiments of the vast majority of Americans who had elected him. This was a historic moment of great fear and loathing where scores of millions of Americans demanded the federal government reign in the financial criminals, stop the downward spiral of household bankruptcies and home foreclosures and recover America’s working economy. After a brief honeymoon following his ‘historic election’, the ‘historic’ President Obama turned his back on the wishes of the people and transferred trillions of public money to ‘bailout’ the banks and financial centers on Wall Street.

Not satisfied with betraying the American workers and the beleaguered middle class, Obama reneged on his campaign promises to end the war(s) in the Middle East by increasing the US troop presence and expanding his drone-assassination warfare against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Syria.

US troops re-invaded Afghanistan, fought and retreated in defeat. The Taliban advanced. The US expanded its training of the puppet Iraqi army, which collapsed on its first encounters with the Islamic State. Washington retreated again. Regime change in Libya, Egypt and Somalia created predator-mercenary states without any semblance of US control and dominance.

Obama had become both a master of military defeats and financial swindles.

In the Western Hemisphere, a continent of independent Latin American governments had emerged to challenge US supremacy. The ‘Historic President’ Obama was dismissed as a clueless hack of the US Empire who lacked any rapport with governments south of the Panama Canal. While trade and investment flourished between Latin America and Asia; Washington fell behind. Regional political and economic agreements expanded, but Obama was left without allies.

Obama’s clumsy attempts at US-backed ‘regime change’ were defeated in Venezuela and elsewhere. Only the small, corrupt narco-state of Honduras fell into Obama’s orbit with the Hillary Clinton-engineered overthrow of its elected populist-nationalist president.

China and Russia expanded and flourished as commodities boomed, wealth expanded and demand for Chinese manufactures exploded.

By 2013 Obama had no legacy.

The Recovery: Obama’s Lost Legacy

Obama began the road to establishing his ‘legacy’ with the US-financed coup in Ukraine, spearheaded by the first bona fide Nazi militia since WWII. After celebrating the violent ‘regime change’ against Ukraine’s elected government, Obama’s new oligarch-puppet regime and its ethno-nationalist army have been a disaster, losing control of the industrialized Donbas region to ethnic Russian rebels and completely losing the strategic Crimea when the population overwhelmingly voted to re-join Russia after 50 years. Meanwhile, the oligarch-’president’ Poroshenko and his fellow puppets have pilfered several billion dollars in ‘aid’ from the EU… all in pursuit of the Obama legacy’.

Obama then slapped devastating economic sanctions against Russia for its role in the Crimean referendum and its support for the millions of Russian speakers in Donbas, and in the process forced the European Union to make major trade sacrifices. For their role in creating a real “American legacy” for Mr. Obama, the Germans, French and the other twenty-eight countries have sacrificed billions of Euros in trade and investments – alienating large sectors of their own agricultural and manufacturing economy.

The Obama regime placed nuclear weapons on the Polish border with Russia, pointed at the Russian heartland. Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians joined Obama’s military exercises stationing US ships and attack aircraft in the Baltic Sea threatening Russia’s security.

Obama’s Legacy in Latin America

The Obama regime intensified its efforts to re-establish supremacy with the demise of the center-left regimes following elections in late 2013 to the present.

Obama’s ‘legacy’ in Latin America is based on the return to power of neo-liberal elites in the region. Their successful elections were the result of several factors, including: (1) the rise of rightwing economic power in Latin America; (2) the decay and corruption of political power within the Left; 3) incapacity of the Left to develop its own independent mass media to challenge the media monopoly of the right; and (4) the failure of center-left regimes to diversify their economy and develop growth outside the boundaries defined by the dominant capitalist sectors.

The Obama regime worked closely with the political-business elite, organizing the political campaigns and controlling key economic policies even during the center-Left governments. The Left regimes had financed, subsidized and rewarded right-wing business interests in agro-mineral industries, banking, and the media as well as in manufacturing and imports.

As long as worldwide demand for primary materials was strong, the Center-Left governments had plenty of room to adjust their social spending for workers while accommodating business interests. When demand and prices fell, budget deficits forced the Center-Left to cut back on social spending for the masses as well as subsidies for the business elite. In response, the business sector organized a full-scale attack on the government – in defense of elite power. The Center-Left failed to counter the growing power and position of their business elite adversaries.

The business elite launched a full-scale propaganda war via its captive mass media – focusing on real or imagined corruption scandals discrediting Center-Left politicians. The Left lacked its own effective mass media to answer the Right’s accusations, having failed to democratize the corporate media monopolies.

The Center-Left parties adopted the elite’s technique of financing political campaigns – namely, through bribes, contract concessions, patronage other deal making with billionaire private and state contractors. The center-Left imagined it could compete with the free-market rightwing in financing campaigns and candidates via swindlers – and not through class struggle. This was a game they could never master.

The Right, however, mobilized their allies within police, judicial and public institutions to prosecute and disqualify the Center-Left for committing the same crimes the Right had evaded.

The Center-Left did not mobilize the workers and employees to establish even minimal controls over the elite and assume some managerial power. They thought they could compete with the Right on its own terms, through shady business and chicanery.

The Center-Left relied on financing its administration and policies through the commodity boom in demand for its natural resources – overlooking the fundamental instability and volatility of the global commodity market. While the Right openly condemned the ‘weakness of the Center-Left’ – in private, it pursued policies even more dependent on overseas speculators and narrow elites.

In Argentina, as the economy declined, the leadership of the rightwing, led by Mauricio Marci, launched a successful presidential campaign involving the mass media, banks, middle class voters and agro-mining elites. Immediately upon taking power, the Macri regime cut social services for workers and the lower middle class, slashing their living standards and lay off thousands of government employees. Obama saw Macri as his kind of legacy savior and viewed Argentina as the new center of US power in Latin America – with plans for more regime change in Brazil, Venezuela and throughout the region.

In Brazil, the Center-Left Workers’ Party (PT) faced a massive attack on its power base by the extreme rightwing parties. Corruption scandals rocked the entire spectrum of the political class, but the PT was most heavily implicated by massive fraud in Brazil’s huge national oil company, Petrobras. The PT regime’s troubles intensified as the country entered a recession with the drop in demand for its agro-mining exports. Growing fiscal deficits compounded the regime’s problems. The Brazilian hard Right mobilized its entire apparatus of elite power – the courts, judges, police and intelligence agencies – in a bid to overthrow the PT government and impose an authoritarian neo-liberal regime seizing all financial, business and productive assets.

The Center-Left had never been very left, if at all. Under Presidents Lula and Rousseff (2003-2016), the powerful mining and agricultural elites flourished; banking, investment and multi-national enterprises prospered. The Center-Left made some paternalistic concessions to the lowest income classes, and increased wages for labor and farm workers. But the PT relegated labor to the background while it signed business agreements and granted tax concessions to capital. It failed to engage Brazilian workers in class struggle.

The Right was never engaged in any struggle with a genuine leftist government pressing business for structural changes. Nevertheless, the Right sought to eliminate even the most superficial reforms. It would accept nothing short of total control, including: the privatization of the major national oil company, the reduction of wages, pensions and transport subsidies and a slashing of social programs. The Brazilian Rightwing coup – a fake impeachment organized by indicted crooks – is designed to vastly re-concentrate wealth, and re-establish the power of business, while plunging millions into poverty and repressing the principal organized mass movements. In Brazil, the elite-controlled media, courts and politicians act as judge, jury and jailers – against a center-left regime which had never taken control over the major institutions of elite power.

Obama and the Axis of his Legacy

Political rightists join police to control the multitudes and seize power, re-establishing deep ties among Brazil, Washington and Argentina. They will then move toward the neo-liberal re-conquest of all Latin America. Against this new wave, it must be understood that Obama’s Latin American legacy is too recent, too hasty and too disjointed – the new Right exhibits the same or even worse features of the recently deceased Left.

Argentina’s Marci borrows $15 billion at 8% interest, when the economy is fracturing, employment is collapsing, exports and worldwide demand is declining. At the same time, President Mauricio Marci’s cabinet is plagued by major financial scandals ‘a la Panama Papers’. The entire political party-trade union-employed working class is profoundly disenchanted with Marci’s minority rule.

Argentina may not turn out to be Obama’s enduring Latin Legacy: While Macri may open the door for a brief Washington take-over, the results will be catastrophic and the future, given Argentina’s recent history of popular street uprisings, is uncertain.

Likewise in Brazil, the impeachment/coup will result in new and more numerous investigations with trials of post-impeachment politicians and a deepening economic crisis. Brazil’s Vice-President, who turned against Rouseff, now faces corruption charges, as do his supporters. The prolonged confrontation precludes any basic continuity. The rightwing regime’s policy of slashing wages, pensions and poverty ‘baskets’ will detonate large-scale confrontations with the polarized population. Obama’s ‘legacy’ will be a brief episode – celebrating the ouster of the Workers’ Party President followed by a long period of instability and disorder.

Rightist regimes in Venezuela, Colombia and Peru will be part of Obama’s ‘legacy’ but to what lasting end?

The Venezuelan rightwing congress – dubbed the MUD – seeks to overthrow the elected president. It demands the release of several right-wing assassins from prison, the privatization of the oil industry, and a deep cut in social programs (health and education). They would reduce employees’ wages and eliminate food subsidies. The MUD has no competent plan or capacity to grow the oil economy and overcome chronic food shortages. The MUD would merely replace the Left’s subsidized economy with massive price increases for basic commodities — reducing domestic consumption to a fraction of its current level. In other words, the right-wing offensive may defeat the Chavista left but it will not stabilize Venezuela or develop a viable neo-liberal alternative. Any new rightwing regime will deteriorate rapidly and the chronic problem of criminal violence will exceed the current levels. The alliance between Washington and Venezuela’s far right will hardly support Obama’s claim to a historic legacy. More likely, it will serve as another example of a failed right wing state unable to replace a weakening left regime.

Similar circumstances can be found among other ‘emerging’ rightist regimes.

In Colombia, the current rightwing President Santos talks to the FARC guerrillas, but also accommodates the paramilitary death squads. His talks of peace settlements and social reform are linked to the genocidal right, led by the former President Uribe. Meanwhile, the economy stagnates with oil and metal prices collapsing on the world market. Colombian living standards have declined and the promise of a rightwing revival grows dim. The US-Colombian alliance may undercut the FARC but the rightwing does not offer any prospect for modernizing the economy or stabilizing the society.

Similarly in Peru, the rightwing wins votes and embraces free markets, but growth declines, investments and profits dry up and mass disenchantment grows among the poor promising street conflicts.

The Obama ‘legacy’ in Latin America has followed a series of brutal victories, which have no capacity to re-impose a stable ‘new order’ of free markets and free elections. The initial wave of favorable investments and lucrative concessions will fail to revive and recalibrate a new growth dynamics.

More ominously, Obama relied on mass murder to replace an elected leftist-nationalist president in Honduras and imposed a regime of terror against the poor and indigenous population. Meanwhile, illicit offshore handouts reward speculators in Argentina.

Obama’s legacy in Latin America reflects an entire spectrum from illicit-rightwing coups to oust the elected governments in Brazil and Venezuela, to elected authoritarian presidents in Peru and Colombia with historic links to death squads and multi-million dollar overseas accounts.

Obama’s contemporary ‘Latin American legacy’ reeks of gross electoral manipulation preparing the ground for bloody class wars.

Obama’s Legacy in the Ukraine, Yemen and Syria

The Obama regime thought it could manage widespread conflicts, uprisings and wars to advance its global supremacy.

To that end, Obama spent billions of dollars in weapons and propaganda arming Neo-Nazi para-military troops to seize power in Ukraine. A grotesque, brutal gang of oligarchs (and disgraced, foreign fugitives – like the ousted Georgian leader, Mikhail Saakashvili) served Washington in the puppet Kiev regime. Critics, journalists, jurists and citizens are being assassinated. The economy has collapsed; prices skyrocket; incomes declined by half; unemployment tripled and millions have sought refuge abroad. Wars raged between Russian ethnic citizen armies in the Donbas and the puppet Kiev regime. The people of Crimea voted to rejoin Russia. Meanwhile, economic sanctions against trade with Russia have exacerbated shortages for the people of Ukraine.

Under Obama’s stewardship the Ukraine became a world-class… basket case: so much for his European legacy. He can rightly claim credit for imposing a thoroughly retrograde regime of Klepto-capitalism with no redeeming feature.

Obama embraced Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen – destroying the life and cities of the poorest nation in the Middle East. Obama’s ‘legacy’ in Yemen stands for the systematic obliteration of a sovereign people: Obama performs his tricks for billionaire Saudi despots while savaging the innocent. To the Israelis in Palestine and the Saudis in Yemen, Obama pays homage to the criminals responsible for millions of shattered lives.

What of the Obama ‘legacy’ in Syria and Libya? How many million Africans and Arabs have been murdered or fled on rotten boats in destitution. Only the rankest gang of corrupt media pundits in the US media can pretend this gangster President should evade a war crimes tribunal.

Conclusion

The Obama regime has pursued wars of unremitting destruction. It has forged partnerships with terrorists and death squads as it seeks short-term imperial victories, which end in dismal failures.

The imperial legacy of this ‘historic’ president is a mirage of pillage, squalor and destruction. The effect of his political lies has even begun register here among the American public: Who trusts the US Congress and the President? And in Europe, who trusts Obama’s European partners as they eagerly pushed for wars in the Middle East and North Africa and now fear and loathe the millions of their victims–refugees fleeing to the cities of Europe, with the drowned corpses of uprooted communities spoiling their beaches?

Obama pushed for wars and the Europeans receive the victims – with fear and disgust.

Obama’s victories are temporary, blighted and reversed.

Obama bombed Afghanistan yesterday and now flees renewed resistance.

Obama’s allies are again plundering Latin America but face imminent ouster via popular uprisings.

Obama terrorized and fragmented Syria yesterday but lost elections the day after.

Obama threatens China’s economy while eagerly buying China’s products.

The Obama legacy began as a failed military and economic offensive accompanying a profound social crisis. During his final year in office, Obama tries to forge alliances with the dregs of the hard right to save his legacy. His brief advance into this sordid world of neo-liberals, neo-Nazis and Saudi despots is a prelude to more retreat and chaos.

Obama’s public celebration of the right turn in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East applauds the most retrograde alignment of forces in modern times: Saudis and Israelis; Egyptian generals and Libyan jihadis; neo-Ottoman Turks with Ukrainian gangster-oligarchs. Regime changes in Argentina and Brazil encourage Obama to claim vindication of his imperial legacy.

His ‘moment’ of imperial truth is brief, all too brief. Everywhere, we witness the rapid rise of imperial success followed by a series of debacles.

Throughout Latin America capitalist profiteers plunge into wild financial adventures, theft and chaos. In the Middle East, the US stands on the crumbling palaces of a moribund Saudi regime. The much-proclaimed imperial advances are based on grand theft everywhere, from Egypt and Turkey to the Ukraine.

Simply stated: the US formula for a successful legacy is failing at the precise moment that it claims success! Obama and the Right have created a world of chaos and disintegration. Obama and his legions, the US and Europe have no future in peace or war, election or defeats.

There is no imperial legacy for the ‘historic’ President Obama!

April 29, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Corruption, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Plans to Spend $38Bln on Missile Defense Over Next Five Years

Sputnik — 29.04.2016

President Barack Obama has approved $38 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) through 2020 despite it only conducting one successful test against an intercontinental ballistic missile in eight years, a Government Accountability office (GAO) report revealed.

An earlier GAO report on US missile defense on February 17, 2016 stated that the MDA had failed to demonstrate through flight testing that it could defend the US homeland against the current missile defense threat.

It also noted that a full assessment of the system’s effectiveness was currently not possible.

“MDA plans to spend around $38 billion through fiscal year 2020 to continue its efforts to develop, integrate, and field BMDS [ballistic missile defense systems] elements and targets necessary for testing,” the report said on Thursday.

The MDA has claimed only one successful interception of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-like target in the past eight years of tests.

“Since 2002, MDA has received approximately $123 billion to develop and deploy the BMDS, which is a highly complex group of systems,” the GAO report stated.

April 29, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Worldview: Old Wine in New Bottles

By Stephen Lendman | April 28, 2016

Believe nothing politicians say. They all lie. Trump sent mixed messages in delivering his first foreign policy address. His worldview is more nightmarish than visionary.

His America first agenda features uni-polarity, nativism and US military supremacy while claiming to “want to live peacefully with Russia and China.”

Absent was urging respect for and adherence to rule of law principles along with wanting mutual cooperation among all nations.

He failed to denounce America’s imperial agenda, its phony war on terrorism as a pretext for endless aggression against nonbelligerent states threatening no others.

On the one hand, he called “(o)ur foreign policy… a complete and total disaster.” On the other, his “administration will lead a free world (sic) that is properly armed and funded…”

He lied about the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “disastrous.” In earlier comments, he vowed to rescind it, ignoring the obligation of P5+1 countries to observe agreed on principles – Iran in full compliance.

Saying Tehran “ignor(ed) its terms even before the ink was dry” was willful deception. America alone continues violating terms it agreed to observe.

Stressing “Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon” ignores its peaceful program with no military component or indication it seeks one – along with failing to denounce Israel as the region’s sole nuclear armed and dangerous regional state, threatening its peace and stability.

Trump shamelessly called the Jewish state “the one true democracy in the Middle East… a force for peace and justice” – ignoring its longstanding anti-Palestinian genocidal agenda, ongoing viciousness as he spoke.

His address was a litany of misinformation, distortions and Big Lies.

Obama “watches helplessly as North Korea increases its aggression,” he blustered.

“China… continue(s) its economic assault on American jobs and wealth…” It’s waging cyberwar “to steal government secrets…”

“If President Obama’s goal had been to weaken America, he could not have done a better job.”

“We’re a humanitarian nation… (T)he legacy of the Obama-Clinton interventions will be weakness, confusion and disarray, a mess… We left Christians subject to intense persecution and even genocide.”

All of the above twists reality demagogically. North Korea threatens no one. For decades, Washington spurned its efforts to normalize relations with the West.

China doesn’t steal US jobs. Corporate America offshores them to numerous low-wage countries, bipartisan US policy doing nothing to stop the transformation of industrial America into a third world nation.

Trump conveniently ignored post-9/11 Bush wars of aggression, bipartisan complicity supporting them.

Clinton’s 1990s Balkan wars preceded them, raping and dismembering the former Yugoslavia.

Obama’s imperial agenda is more of the same, exceeding the worst of George Bush – Hillary Clinton as secretary of state orchestrating naked aggression on Libya and Syria.

Muslims, not Christians and Jews, are at risk in today’s dangerous world. Post-9/11, US foreign policy left millions dead, endless carnage continuing, Congress permitting it with outsized military appropriations for permanent war on humanity.

Who knows what Trump means about everything changing if he becomes president. “America is going to be strong again,” he ranted.

Claiming he wants “radical Islam” halted ignores its US creation and support. Surely he knows, but won’t say, perpetuating the myth of war on terrorism – failing to explain ISIS and similar groups can’t exist without foreign support.

“(W)e have to rebuild our military and our economy,” he blustered. Annual defense authorizations should be greatly reduced at a time America has no enemies.

Billions saved should be invested domestically to create jobs for the one out of four working-age Americans without them – and better ones for the millions of underemployed.

Trump shamelessly calls increasing America’s military strength “the cheapest, single investment we can make…Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean…by anybody and everybody.”

At the same time, he stresses not wasting “one single dollar.” Pentagon policy is a longstanding sinkhole of waste, fraud and abuse. Trump bluster won’t change things.

Putting America first sounds like demanding other nations operate by US rules or else. Saying “I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative” is no different from current imperial policy.

Insisting he wants “peace and prosperity, not war and destruction” suggests a pledge to be breached straightaway in office, continuing dirty business as usual.

Trump differs from rival candidates largely in style. If elected to succeed Obama, expect deplorable continuity, not responsible change.



Stephen Lendman can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Drones kill more civilians than manned war planes. Why? That’s a state secret.

PrivacySOS | April 26, 2016

In his first public comments on the US drone campaign in Pakistan, President Obama described it as “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases, and so on.” In 2011, then-national security advisor to the president John Brennan said of the CIA drone campaign that “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” Popular American mythology in the Obama era has held that drones are the surgeon’s tool in the endless, global war on terror. American soldiers and spies can knock off terrorists without bogging down the military in ground occupations, or killing civilians.

So says the myth. The reality is starkly different, according to scholar Micah Zenko.

Zenko examined civilian deaths from US military operations and found that drones kill more civilians than do piloted US aircraft—not fewer. “Drones are far less precise than airstrikes conducted by piloted aircraft, which themselves also conduct “precision strikes.” Drones result in far more civilian fatalities per each bomb dropped,” Zenko writes.

Zenko’s analysis shows us that the claims officials have long made about the supposed accuracy of drone strikes are dead wrong. But we don’t know why, in part because the US government refuses to disclose basic information about how it designates drone targets, or under what circumstances commanders order killings. It could be, as Zenko posits, “that the standards that need to be met before authorizing a [drone] strike are less rigid than Obama’s purported principle of “near certainty that the terrorist target is present.” This wouldn’t be surprising given that Obama continued the George W. Bush administration’s practice of “signature strikes” — killing anonymous suspected militants who appear to be associated with terrorists based upon their observable activity.”

If that’s the case, the US public and the victims of drone strikes have a right to know. But government secrecy and judicial evasiveness have conspired to keep us all in the dark about even the most basic legal theories upon which the CIA and military base their drone programs.

That secrecy has recently been reified. Just last week, a Washington D.C. federal appeals court tossed an ACLU lawsuit against the CIA seeking information about its drone operations. The court sided with the government, holding that releasing information about the drone program “could reasonably be expected to damage national security.”

As ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer said, “Secret law is always invidious, but it’s particularly so here because of the subject matter.” Now we know the stories officials have been telling us for years about the laser-like accuracy of drone strikes are false. But thanks to secret law, we don’t know why.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", War Crimes, Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Legacy: al-Qaida’s Protector-in-Chief

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford | April 27, 2016

President Obama continues to play his three card monte game in Syria, pretending to wage an all-out war against ISIS, while at the same time helping al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s terrorist army in Syria, blend in with the other jihadists armed and financed by the United States and its allies. With Russian help, the Syrian Army may soon be in position to march against the ISIS capital, in Raqqah, and to drive al-Qaida from the country’s second largest city, Aleppo. If that happens, it would signal the final unraveling of a nearly four decades-long U.S. policy of using fundamentalist Islamic jihadists as foot soldiers for U.S. imperialism, in partnership with Saudi Arabia. That’s what is driving the Saudi monarchy crazy, because, if the jihadists are defeated in Syria, they are certain to turn on their Saudi paymasters and the other infinitely corrupt monarchies in the Persian Gulf. What goes around, eventually comes around.

And, that’s why President Obama is sending 250 more Special Forces troops into Syria, supposedly to train more of those phantom “moderate” rebels that the Pentagon last year admitted do not exist. The real number of U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq is certainly much higher than the U.S. is admitting. These U.S. soldiers are attempting to rearm and unite all of the smaller terrorist groups that are integrated with al-Qaida – that is, everyone except ISIS.

The Russians aren’t fooled one bit by Obama’s terrorist shell game. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has resisted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposals to carve Syria up into so-called “zones of interest,” a phony kind of cease-fire that would prevent the Syrian government from taking back its national territory. Lavrov is telling the U.S. that any so-called rebels that are caught fighting alongside al-Qaida will be killed, just like al-Qaida, and that the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria is not subject to negotiation.

The Russians and the Syrian government not only have international law firmly on their side, but also the relevant United Nations Security Council resolution, which calls on the entire world to fight against both ISIS and al-Qaida’s Nusra Front. The U.S. voted for the resolution, and President Obama has repeatedly stated that Washington respects Syria’s national sovereignty. Obama is lying, of course – but then, the U.S. war on terror is probably the greatest lie of the 21st century, and a big part of the 20th century, too.

The U.S. presence in Syria is totally illegal – which is why Obama has to cloak it in terms of American self-defense against ISIS, despite the fact that ISIS grew by leaps and bounds until the Russians intervened and forced the Americans to pretend to wage war against it. The U.S. troops’ main job is to arm the various brands of al-Qaida fighters with heavy weapons, and to act as a “trip wire,” daring the Russians to bomb areas of the country where American troops are active. In other words, he is prepared to go to war with Russia to defend the terrorist armies he has unleashed on Syria.

Obama will end his term in office as the protector-in-chief of al-Qaida. What a legacy for the First Black President.

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

April 27, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bernie Sanders Says US ‘Kill List’ Legal, Backs Troops in Syria

teleSUR – April 26, 2016

People in the United States have “a lot of right to defend ourselves,” presidential contender Bernie Sanders said at a town hall meeting Monday when asked if he too would have an extrajudicial “kill list” like President Barack Obama. The senator from Vermont also endorsed Obama’s recent deployment of another 250 soldiers to Syria as part of the war against the Islamic State group.

“Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves.” However, the senator added, “it has to be done in a constitutional, legal way.”

The New York Times revealed in 2012 that President Obama hosts a meeting every Tuesday at the White House where he decides which suspected terrorists will be added to a so-called “kill list.” Those on the list can then be targeted for killing, typically with an unmanned drone.

“Do you think what’s being done now is constitutional and legal?” Hayes asked Sanders, noting the existence of “a list of people that the U.S. government wants to kill.”

“In general I do, yes,” Sanders replied.

Sanders, locked in a tight race with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, was also asked about President Obama’s decision to deploy another 250 U.S. Special Forces to Syria, where they are expected to help largely Kurdish militias fight the Islamic State group.

“Here’s the bottom line,” said Sanders. “ISIS has got to be destroyed, and the way that ISIS must be destroyed is not through American troops fighting on the ground.” However, “I think what the president is talking about is having American troops training Muslim troops, helping to supply the military equipment they need, and I do support that effort.”

“We need a broad coalition of Muslim troops on the ground,” Sanders continued. “We have had some success in the last year or so putting ISIS on the defensive, we’ve got to continue that effort.”

Sanders’ comments on the eve of primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connnecticut and Rhode Island demonstrate that while he may be less inclined to deploy the U.S. military than Clinton, who he has knocked for backing the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he is no dove himself.

In addition to the the use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and troop deployments in Syria, Sanders also supports extending the presence of roughly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and continuing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that have likely killed more than 1,000 civilians, according to the independent monitoring group Airwars.org.

April 27, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

#FeelTheBern Goes #UpInSmoke

By John Stauber | CounterPunch | April 27, 2016

From the moment he announced, it was obvious what newly christened Democrat Bernie Sanders would become: The Great Progressive Hope who would fight to slay Wall Street’s champions and reclaim the party for some long ago or long imagined liberal greatness. And it was obvious how his campaign would end, as it is now wrapping up, with Bernie begrudgingly conceding that he cannot win against Hillary’s oligarchy backing and the rigged process of establishment SuperDelegates designed to make sure no self-proclaimed democratic socialist-type ever wins the nomination.

It’s the Democrat’s political equivalent of the Bill Murray movie classic Groundhog Day, except the progressive candidate never wins the girlfriend, er, nomination, in the end. Instead, the Sanders, Deans, Browns, and Jacksons, the progressive champions of their election cycle, only change themselves from watchdogs and guard dogs to lap dogs, ensuring that cynical and outraged progressives follow their champion-cum-Pied Piper to become advocates for defeating the Republicans in November.

This is the death spiral the Feel the Bern movement, the 2 million who have forked over time and money, has now entered. The Democratic apparatchiks who run Bernie’s campaign are preparing their masses for the inevitable, pulling them into the ceremony that, not unlike a religious grieving event, prepares them for death and eventual resurrection, post-convention, to transform them into a saintly rationalizing army of supporters for, in this case, Hillary.

All this I predicted (as could any objective fool) the day of Bernie’s announcement. Yes, it has been heartening to see the extent of his support as he attacks the banks and the Democratic establishment. But, of course, it is all for naught. In four months Hillary’s army will command Bernie’s list of 2 million, and Bernie and his loyal Democratic minions will be weaving memes of how the Party will soon be in the hands of the FeelTheBern rebellion. Not this year, not next, but soon, brothers and sisters, soon, the revolution will occur!

As frustrated nationalist populism tears apart the Republican Party, the co-opting power of the Democrats ensures that there will be no similar rebellion from the true believing Progressives in the Democratic Party.

Bernie is an old man. He has lived a fine and worthy public life, but unfortunately he will fade into the sunset without taking the brave step of leading his supporters into finally forming a viable left party in the United States. That would be a true legacy and accomplishment. Even the right wing oligarchs of the Republican Party have realized that the shared monopoly both corporate parties wield over the political process makes a viable third party almost impossible.

Yet, for all the noble tirades of the Progressives from Bill Moyers to Bernie Sanders about the power of money and how it must be removed from the process, it is the process itself that is the problem. Two parties, both pro Wall Street and pro military-industrial complex, control the political system. A majority of voters opted out of this farce democracy long ago, so only a minority votes for these parties. Big money has ensured ever tighter domination by the super rich, but even with the dream of meaningful finance reform, the shared monopoly that corporate oligarchs control with their phony two-party system is the real problem.

So thanks Bernie, you ran a good race, and now you can hop onto Hillary’s pant suit and become the latest kept progressive champion, the Pied Piper, trying to convince the left and progressives that real change is possible within the Democratic Party. And the tragedy is that 95% of your supporters, the Feel the Bern Movement, will follow you down that Blue Brick Road past the intoxicating poppies on to celebrate the great achievement that electing Hillary shall be deemed.

And so the same damned movie script plays out again, and the bipartisan oligarchy wins again, as brilliantly planned. Just ask Charles Koch if he can live with Hillary, because he already has said he can. A neoliberal neocon in the White House may not be the Koch Brothers’s favorite choice, but they and their money can live with it very well!

April 27, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change" | , , | 2 Comments

The U.S. has aided Israel in denying human rights to Palestinians for decades

By Robert Fantina | Mint Press | April 26, 2016

The establishment of the state of Israel is known throughout Palestine as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” As the British Mandate of Palestine ended throughout 1947 and 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homeland, and another 100,000 or more were massacred.

Although the United States wasn’t an active party to the circumstances that led to the Nakba, the country’s long history with Israel has only been supportive of that nation’s barbarity — and that support has grown exponentially over the years.

In the U.S., the press framed Palestinian resistance as opposition to the Jewish state rather than an assertion of their own human rights. Scholar Michael A. Dohse wrote in “American Periodicals and the Palestine Triangle, April, 1936 to February, 1947”:

“Despite the fact that there was considerable evidence of the extreme nationalistic drive behind the Zionist movement, which was its motivating force, American journals gave a good press to the Zionists’ alleged goal of building a democratic commonwealth in Palestine. How this would be possible when the Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population and were opposed to Zionism, did not seem to be a relevant question to many of the magazines.”

This, of course, was in complete contravention of U.S. doctrine, even as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and “[t]hat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The consent of the governed — in this case, the Palestinians — was not to be considered.

Pre-WWII, pre-state of Israel

Months before the Balfour Declaration was made in November of 1917, declaring British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commented on the absolute need for self-determination. On May 27, 1916, he said: “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.”

Mr. Wilson continued his lofty rhetoric, telling Congress on Feb. 11, 1918: “National aspirations must be respected; peoples may not be dominated and governed only by their own consent.” Further, in the same speech on German-Austrian “peace utterances,” he declared: “Self-determination is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.”

These and subsequent speeches by Mr. Wilson were troubling to his secretary of state, Robert Lansing. In his private journals, according to Frank Edward Manuel in his book “The Realities of American Palestine Relations,” Lansing wrote that such concepts were “‘… loaded with dynamite, might breed disorder, discontent and rebellion’. His neat, logical mind saw it leading the president into strange contradictions: ‘Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed?’”

If the Palestinians ever relied on U.S. rhetoric to assist them in achieving the basic human rights that all people are entitled to, they were certainly to be disappointed.

Truman, Eisenhower

Following World War II, the world was anxious to make some kind of reparation to the Jewish people for the Holocaust. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, passed on Nov. 29, 1947, effectively partitioned Palestine into two states.

It is difficult to properly quantify the degree of injustice that this entailed. “Although Jews owned only about seven percent of the land in Palestine and constituted about 33 percent of the population, Israel was established on 78 percent of Palestine,” according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no voice in the decision that evicted them, no reparation for the loss of their homes and lands, and nowhere to go but refugee camps.

By this time, Harry S. Truman was president, and he offered full consent for this plan for reasons that will be familiar to readers today: He was subjected to intense lobbying by the Zionist lobby. He also felt that by supporting the establishment of Israel, he would be in a better position to be elected to a full term as president, having ascended to that office upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lobbying and political considerations then, as now, trump human rights every time.

Mr. Truman was elected president in his own right in 1948, and was succeeded four years later by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who named John Foster Dulles as his secretary of state.

Mr. Dulles was familiar with the Palestine-Israel situation, and his sympathies clearly rested with Israel. In 1944, he played an active role in seeing that the platform of the Republican Party included support for a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine, and also that the platform called for the protection of Jewish political rights. Years later, he exerted a strong influence on the president under whom he served, setting the tone for the Eisenhower administration’s attitude toward Israel and Palestine.

Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter

Things appeared to take a turn with the administration of John F. Kennedy, who showed support for the right of return for refugees, as described in Paragraph 11 of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of Dec. 11, 1948. That resolution affirms that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Government or authorities responsible.”

Israel, under David Ben-Gurion, used what has become a tried and true method to oppose this measure: The state’s founder and first prime minister called it a threat to Israel’s national security.

Ultimately, Resolution 194 passed, but has yet to have any effect.

Despite his apparent support for Palestinian refugees, Mr. Kennedy was the first president to elevate the U.S.-Israel relationship from that of simply two allies to a more enhanced bond. Speaking to the Zionist Organization of America three months before his election, he said, “Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter, it is a national commitment.”

Following Mr. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, he was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson, who did not share his predecessor’s interest in resolving the refugee problem. The Democratic Party Platform of 1964, the year Mr. Johnson was elected president, included a provision to “encourage the resettlement of Arab refugees in lands where there is room and opportunity.” All talk of the right of return ceased.

The Johnson administration ended in January of 1968, when former Vice President Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president. Nixon had less obligation to Israel, having earned only about 15 percent of the Jewish vote. In his memoirs, he commented on Israeli arrogance after the Six-Day War of 1967, describing “an attitude of total intransigence on negotiating any peace agreement that would involve the return of any of the territories they had occupied.”

Unfortunately for Palestine, however, Mr. Nixon’s closest advisor was Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor and, later, his secretary of state. Mr. Kissinger’s parents had fled Nazi Germany shortly before the start of the Holocaust, and he had visited Israel multiple times but had never set foot in an Arab country. With Mr. Nixon’s preoccupation with what he considered the “Communist threat,” Mr. Kissinger was perfectly content with the Israel-Palestine status quo. “Rather than make any effort toward the Arab states, much less the Palestinians, Kissinger felt the United States should let them stew until they came begging to Washington,” according to “U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton,” edited by Michael W. Suleiman. With this attitude, nothing was done to further the cause of justice under this president’s terms in office.

When Mr. Nixon resigned in a fog of controversy and scandal, his vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. He served as a caretaker president until the next election, when he was defeated by Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.

Although Mr. Carter has recently become a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, this was not the case during his single term as president. He presided over the Camp David Accords, a two-track agreement that was supposed to bring peace to the Middle East. The first of the two dealt with Palestine, and nothing in it was ever achieved. The second led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

Reagan, Bush

After one term, Mr. Carter was defeated by former actor and California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Like Mr. Nixon before him, Mr. Reagan saw Communist threats everywhere. Fearing a Soviet stronghold on the Middle East, he determined that strengthening ties with Israel would be an excellent deterrent. In 1982, he declared that the U.S. would not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, nor would it “support annexation or permanent control by Israel.”

Following First Intifada in 1987, Mr. Reagan sent his secretary of state, George Shultz, to solve the problem. Mr. Shultz proposed a three-pronged strategy: convening an international conference; a six-month negotiation period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip; talks between Israel and Palestine to start in December 1988 to achieve the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, claiming that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel and accelerating the delivery of 75 F-16 fighter jets. This was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. As Suleiman’s work noted: “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”

When Mr. Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, succeeded him for one term, the bonus to Israel continued unabated. Yet this was still not enough for Israel. Writing in The New York Times in 1991, Thomas Friedman commented on the state of relations between the U.S. and Israel during the Bush administration: “Although the Bush Administration’s whole approach to peacemaking is almost entirely based on terms dictated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Israelis nevertheless see the Bush Administration as hostile.”

Clinton, another Bush, Obama

Following one term, Mr. Bush was succeeded by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who surrounded himself with Zionists, including CIA Director James Woolsey and Pentagon Chief Les Aspin.

In March of 1993, following clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in both Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin closed the borders between Israel and Palestine. This had a drastic detrimental effect on the lives and basic subsistence for at least tens of thousands of Palestinians. The Clinton administration chose to look the other way as Israel perpetrated this unspeakable act of collective punishment.

The administration of George W. Bush differed little in its treatment of matters related to Israel and Palestine from those who came before it. When Hamas was elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, Mr. Bush ordered a near-total ban on aid to Palestine. Noam Chomsky commented on this situation:

“You are not allowed to vote the wrong way in a free election. That’s our concept of democracy. Democracy is fine as long as you do what we say, but not if you vote for someone we don’t like.”

Coming into office chanting the appealing mantra of “Change we can believe in,” current President Barack Obama proved to be another in a long line of disappointments. Like his predecessors, he’s vetoed any resolutions presented at the U.N. Security Council that were critical of Israel. Incredibly, after one such veto, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice made this statement:

”We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”

Meanwhile, military aid to Israel from the U.S. continued unabated. This aid has reached nearly $4 billion annually under the Obama administration, and is likely to get another boost before Mr. Obama leaves office.

This is not unusual. According to conservative estimates, the U.S. has given Israel a staggering $138 billion in military and other aid since 1949. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the first 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, granting billions to Israel every year. Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu are currently negotiating the new deal, which the prime minister hopes will guarantee even more to the apartheid regime.

Change that can’t come soon enough

Even if it didn’t come with Mr. Obama, change does seem to be on the horizon. With the explosive growth of social media, the general public no longer relies solely on the corporate-owned media for information. The horrors that Israel inflicts daily on the Palestinians are becoming more common knowledge. This includes the periodic bombing of the Gaza Strip, a total blockade that prevents basic supplies from being imported, and the checkpoint stops and verbal and physical harassment that Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis in the West Bank.

It’s even entered the current U.S. presidential election. Sen. Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, skipped the annual American Israel Political Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, convention in March. Additionally, he said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t always right and that Israel uses disproportionate force against the Palestinians, and Mr. Sanders recognized that Palestinians have rights. Like skipping the AIPAC conference, these statements are all in violation of some unspoken U.S. code of conduct for politicians.

Yet the ugly history of the U.S., in its unspeakably unjust dealings with Palestine, created a stain that generations will be unable to cleanse. Total disdain for the human rights of an entire nation, and the complicity in the violation of international law and in the war crimes of Israel, are not easy to expunge. Mr. Sanders’ words and actions are only the manifestation of a larger change occurring in U.S. attitudes toward Israel and Palestine. Once that change is sufficiently great to impact the U.S. power brokers, real change will occur. For Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid, it cannot come soon enough.

April 26, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

US deploys F-22 stealth fighter jets to Romanian base on Black Sea

RT | April 25, 2016

Two American F-22 Raptor 5G stealth fighter jets and a refueling aircraft have been deployed to an airfield in Romania as manifestation of NATO’s support to its Eastern European members against “Russian aggression.”

The US Air Force aircraft arrived at the air base on the Black Sea, less than 400km from the Russian military stronghold of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula.

“For the first time in Romania, the next-generation combat aircraft F-22 Raptor, part of the US Air Force Europe mission, arrived today at Mihail Kogalniceanu military base,” the US Embassy said on its Facebook page Monday.

A KC-135 refueling plane accompanied two F-22 Raptor fighters on their way from the UK, where Washington has deployed 12 F-22s at Lakenheath, a British air base in eastern England, Reuters reports.

After citizens of the Crimean Peninsula voted in favor of reuniting with Russia in 2014, European countries and the US introduced economic and political sanctions against Moscow. US President Barack Obama further promised in 2014 to bolster military capabilities of NATO’s eastern members. The bloc has been conducting a large number of military training near the Russia’s western borders over the last two years, though without permanently stationing large forces on the territory of alliance’s new member states.

In August 2015, US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the F-22 deployment to Europe as part of the “European Reassurance Initiative,” would occur “very soon.”

By the end of August 2015, four F-22 Raptors assigned to the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany as part of Pentagon’s continued “push to deter Russia.”

The alliance’s warships are maintaining constant presence in the Black and Baltic Seas as part of intelligence and containment purposes, which has already led to a rise of tensions.

In its national security strategy for 2016, Russia proclaimed NATO’s expansion to the east a threat. Moscow also held several wide-scale military drills all across Russia, including its western borders, in the past year.

Most recently, Russian pilots on Sukhoi Su-24 bombers buzzed the destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea in mid-April, when the US destroyer was around 70km away from a Russian naval base.

With a reported price tag of $190 million, F-22 Raptor fighter jet developed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin remains the most expensive fighter jet in the world. The aircraft was introduced into service in 2005 and its production was halted in 2009 because of the price.

Altogether 187 aircraft have been constructed though initially production of 749 planes was planned.

The first military deployment of the aircraft took place in 2014 in military operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

April 25, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Obama dismisses Pyongyang’s bid to halt nuclear tests

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Press TV – April 25, 2016

US President Barack Obama has rejected an offer by North Korea to ditch its nuclear tests in exchange for Washington’s suspension of joint annual war games with South Korea.

Obama, who was speaking Sunday at a presser in Hanover with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said, “We don’t take seriously a promise to simply halt until the next time they decide to do a test these kinds of activities.”

“What we’ve said consistently… is that if North Korea shows seriousness in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, then we’ll be prepared to enter into some serious conversations with them about reducing tensions and our approach to protecting our allies in the region. But that’s not something that happens based on a press release in the wake of a series of provocative behaviors. They’re going to have to do better than that.”

The remarks come on the heels of a Saturday interview by The Associated Press with North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong who told the US news agency that his country was ready to stop its nuclear tests if Washington halted its annual military drills with Seoul.

“Stop the nuclear war exercises in the Korean Peninsula, then we should also cease our nuclear tests,” Ri told AP.

He also maintained that the US drove his country to develop nuclear devices as an act of self-defense.

“If we continue on this path of confrontation, this will lead to very catastrophic results, not only for the two countries but for the whole entire world as well,” he said.

“It is really crucial for the United States government to withdraw its hostile policy against the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and as an expression of this stop the military exercises, war exercises, in the Korean Peninsula. Then we will respond likewise.”

On January 6, North Korea said it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb, its fourth nuclear test, vowing to build up its nuclear program as deterrence against potential aggression from the US and its regional allies.

Pyongyang accuses the US of plotting with regional allies to topple its government, saying it will not relinquish its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward Pyongyang and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

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