The ten worst acts of the Nuclear Age described below have set the tone for our time. They have caused immense death and suffering; been tremendously expensive; have encouraged nuclear proliferation; have opened the door to nuclear terrorism, nuclear accidents and nuclear war; and are leading the world back into a second Cold War. These “ten worst acts” are important information for anyone attempting to understand the time in which we live, and how the nuclear dangers that confront us have been intensified by the leadership and policy choices made by the United States and the other eight nuclear-armed countries.
1. Bombing Hiroshima (August 6, 1945). The first atomic bomb was dropped by the United States on the largely civilian population of Hiroshima, killing some 70,000 people instantly and 140,000 people by the end of 1945. The bombing demonstrated the willingness of the US to use its new weapon of mass destruction on cities.
2. Bombing Nagasaki (August 9, 1945). The second atomic bomb was dropped on the largely civilian population of Nagasaki before Japanese leaders had time to assess the death and injury caused by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier. The atomic bombing of Nagasaki took another 70,000 lives by the end of 1945.
3. Pursuing a unilateral nuclear arms race (1945 – 1949). The first nuclear weapon test was conducted by the US on July 16, 1945, just three weeks before the first use of an atomic weapon on Hiroshima. As the only nuclear-armed country in the world in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the US continued to expand its nuclear arsenal and began testing nuclear weapons in 1946 in the Marshall Islands, a trust territory the US was asked to administer on behalf of the United Nations. Altogether the US tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958, with the equivalent explosive power of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs daily for that 12 year period.
4. Initiating Atoms for Peace (1953). President Dwight Eisenhower put forward an Atoms for Peace proposal in a speech delivered on December 8, 1953. This proposal opened the door to the spread of nuclear reactors and nuclear materials for purposes of research and power generation. This resulted in the later proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional countries, including Israel, South Africa, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
5. Engaging in a Cold War bilateral nuclear arms race (1949 – 1991). The nuclear arms race became bilateral when the Soviet Union tested its first atomic weapon on August 29, 1949. This bilateral nuclear arms race between the US and USSR reached its apogee in 1986 with some 70,000 nuclear weapons in the world, enough to destroy civilization many times over and possibly result in the extinction of the human species.
6. Atmospheric Nuclear Testing (1945 – 1980). Altogether there have been 528 atmospheric nuclear tests. The US, UK and USSR ceased atmospheric nuclear testing in 1963, when they signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty. France continued atmospheric nuclear testing until 1974 and China continued until 1980. Atmospheric nuclear testing has placed large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere, causing cancers and leukemia in human populations.
7. Breaching the disarmament provisions of the NPT (1968 – present). Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) states, “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament….” The five nuclear weapons-states parties to the NPT (US, Russia, UK, France and China) remain in breach of these obligations. The other four nuclear-armed states (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) are in breach of these same obligations under customary international law.
8. Treating nuclear power as an “inalienable right” in the NPT (1968 – present). This language of “inalienable right” contained in Article IV of the NPT encourages the development and spread of nuclear power plants and thereby makes the proliferation of nuclear weapons more likely. Nuclear power plants are also attractive targets for terrorists. As yet, there are no good plans for long-term storage of radioactive wastes created by these plants. Government subsidies for nuclear power plants also take needed funding away from the development of renewable energy sources.
9. Failing to cut a deal with North Korea (1992 to present). During the Clinton administration, the US was close to a deal with North Korea to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. This deal was never fully implemented and negotiations for it were abandoned under the George W. Bush administration. Consequently, North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and conducted its first nuclear weapon test in 2006.
10. Abrogating the ABM Treaty (2002). Under the George W. Bush administration, the US unilaterally abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. This allowed the US, in combination with expanding NATO to the east, to place missile defense installations near the Russian border. It has also led to emplacement of US missile defenses in East Asia. Missile defenses in Europe and East Asia have spurred new nuclear arms races in these regions.
David Krieger is a founder and president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
The prospect of Hillary Clinton being President of the United States of America is one to fill our minds with dread concerning the likely posture of Washington in foreign affairs should she ever attain the Oval Office. There is no doubt she would continue or even increase the intensity of Washington’s military confrontations with China and Russia — and enjoy smacking the wrists of smaller countries whose actions might displease her. Indeed her castigation might go further, even to the extent of rejoicing in the murder of national leaders such as President Gaddafi of Libya, about whom she laughed “We came. We saw. He died.”
Who might be next, with Hillary at the helm?
Under her reign the US military presence around the world would be maintained or expanded — but no matter who is in the White House, the hundreds of military bases surrounding China and Russia will continue operations and the US nuclear-armed fleets that roam the seas and oceans will maintain their aggressive posture.
Drone assassinations will also continue and more innocent people like that poor taxi driver in Pakistan will be killed by US Hellfire missiles guided by gleeful techno-cretins who move control sticks and prod buttons while playing barbaric video games from their comfortable killing couches in drone-control bases.
That taxi driver?
To remind you: on May 21 a taxi driver called Mohammad Azam was earning his tiny daily wage by picking up passengers who crossed the Iranian border into Pakistan. Sometimes he would take them only to nearby villages, but that day he picked up a client who wanted to go to the city of Quetta, eight hours drive away. He drove off in his Toyota Corolla, and a few hours later, when he stopped for a rest, Obama’s Hellfires struck and blasted the car to twisted shards of metal — and reduced Azam and his customer to smoking corpses.
Another case of “We came. We saw. He died.”
Azam’s passenger was the evil Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, travelling under a false name. His sought-for anonymity didn’t do him much good, because he had been traced and tracked, and while he was in Iran or when he was going through border crossing examination on the Pakistan side it’s likely that a US-paid agent planted a chip on him or in his baggage that signaled his whereabouts to the drone-controlling video-gamers.
Azam the taxi-driver didn’t know Mullah Mansour and was not associated with the Taliban or any such organization. He was an entirely innocent man trying to earn enough money to feed his family — his wife, four small children and a crippled brother who stayed with them.
But Azam was killed by the same US Hellfire missiles that killed Mullah Mansoor.
The Pentagon stated that “Mansur has been an obstacle to peace and reconciliation between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, prohibiting Taliban leaders from participating in peace talks with the Afghan government that could lead to an end to the conflict.” So they killed him. And without the slightest hesitation they also killed the taxi driver Mohammad Azam.
If a person in a foreign country that can’t retaliate to drone strikes is considered an enemy of the United States there is no question of arrest, charge and trial. When it can be done they are killed by drone missile strikes, personally authorized by President Obama who stressed that there must be “near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed,” and that “the United States respects national sovereignty and international law.”
But the US president ordered the assassination of two people in a country whose prime minister said that the US drone attack was a gross violation of national sovereignty. And although the White House and the Pentagon might — just might — be able to convince a War Crimes Tribunal that their killing of Mullah Mansur was in some fashion reasonable, how could they possibly claim that their murder of the taxi driver Azam was justified? When did it become “respectful of international law” to deliberately slaughter a taxi driver?
The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, declared that Mansoor’s obliteration “sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.” Which was no doubt solace to Azam’s widow and her two little boys and two little girls when his hideously charred fragmented corpse arrived next day.
People like Obama and Kerry and Clinton and countless millions of others simply don’t care about the smashing, flashing, hideously agonizing death of the innocent taxi driver Azam.
The US President’s professional video-gamers had killed yet another totally innocent non-combatant, but no doubt they all slept soundly on the night that Azam’s children began to realize their terrible loss.
Three weeks after the drone murder of taxi driver Azam there was a massacre of 49 people in the US city of Orlando. It was horrible. Much of the world was aghast, and there was emotion displayed in Europe and North America, with candle-lit vigils, solemn silences of respect in parliaments and other demonstrations of sympathy and solidarity. And when a British female Member of Parliament was killed by a lunatic on June 16 there was an amazing outpouring of grief in the country. Her husband said after her murder that “the two things that I’ve been very focused on is how do we support and protect the children.”
Quite right. And understandable and most admirable.
But who is going to support and protect the children of the US drone-killed taxi driver Azam?
The slaughter of innocent human beings is an everyday occurrence in Iraq and Libya and Afghanistan, where countless thousands have died — without a single western candle being lit in sorrowful commemoration of any Iraqis, Libyans or Afghans who have died in the savage chaos caused by the catastrophic military fandangos in their countries by US-led western powers.
Western countries are highly selective in displaying disapproval and grief following killings, be they mass or individual, and it could hardly be expected that the US assassination of a Pakistani taxi driver would attract the slightest sympathy or censure.
The murder-by drone of taxi driver Azam by the Pentagon’s video-gamers could be summed up by Hillary Clinton’s happy rejoicing about the murder of President Gaddafi during the US-NATO blitz on Libya, when she laughingly declared that “We came. We saw. He died.”
And thinking about the future . . . Would you be surprised if in twenty years or so one of the children of taxi driver Azam were to take up a gun and kill Americans?
Defense spending will most likely be a major topic at NATO’s upcoming summit in Warsaw. The United States has already indicated that it will renew its efforts to convince the bloc’s European allies to boost their contributions to the budget, but these calls might largely fall “upon deaf ears,” as defense analyst Dave Majumdar described it.
“Convincing America’s NATO allies to meet minimum defense spending targets remains a vexing problem and solving it has eluded previous US administrations – Republican and Democratic alike,” he observed.
True, only five countries, the US, Greece, Poland, the UK and Estonia, met the 2-percent threshold last year. France, Turkey, Germany and Canada spent between 1 and 1.8 percent of their GDP on defense, with Italy spending 0.95 percent.
This is not the whole story. In absolute terms, the US spent more than 665 billion in 2015, more than all the other NATO members combined. The next largest contribution came from Great Britain, whose defense budget amounted to nearly 60 billion last year. For comparison: France spent nearly 44 billion, while Germany – 39.7 billion.
Needless to say, Washington has not been happy with its allies for not sharing the burden.In June 2011, Robert Gates, who served as the US defense chief at the time, famously called NATO a “two-tiered alliance” that comprises those, who provide funds and conduct combat missions, and those, who enjoy the benefits, but do not contribute. For Gates, this situation was unacceptable.
Although it might look like nothing has changed since then, NATO’s 2014 summit in Wales became a watershed moment for the bloc when leaders and not only defense ministers said they were committed to the 2-percent goal.
“Many European states – as of last year – have stopped cutting their defense outlays and have started to slowly boost their spending,” Majumdar noted, citing an unnamed senior NATO diplomat. “After more than two decades of defense cutbacks, NATO’s defense budgets stopped shrinking last year and have started to increase with 1.5 percent growth per annum.”
It follows then that the bloc’s officials have finally found a tactic that works, namely over-hyping the non-existent threat emanating from Russia. For its part, Moscow has expressed concerns with NATO’s increasingly aggressive behavior that is detrimental to European security and stability.
The US Congress has proposed a bill seeking to re-establish a Cold War-era body to counter Russian espionage. Patrick Armstrong, former political counselor at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, and long-time analyst of the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, detailed the reasons why the US seeks to restart the Cold War.
New York-based internet media website BuzzFeed recently reported, citing an unnamed source in the US intelligence service, that the legislation in question calls to revive a presidentially-appointed group to counter “Russian spies and Russian-sponsored assassinations,” in the United States. The group would also investigate the funding of Russian “covert broadcasting” and “media manipulation.”
“One should never forget that all these kinds of bills actually put money into some people’s pocket,” Armstrong told Radio Sputnik.
The analyst asserts that there is money behind the invention and constant promotion of a “Russian threat.” The US military is currently committed to “fabulously” expensive projects that “never really come to an end but everybody makes a pile of money out of.” Playing the “bad Russians” card is a good way to stimulate business, he suggests.
“My favorite one was the Panama papers. ‘Ha! Finally we have proof that Putin is stealing money and hiding it abroad’, [although] Putin’s name doesn’t appear anywhere in the papers [but] today we have the theory that obviously it’s Putin behind the leak of the Panama papers,” Armstrong observed. “There is no limit to this ridiculousness.”
“What are the current stories now?” he asked. “Oh yes, Russia hacks into the DNC (Democratic National Committee) computer. No, it’s some guy in a basement in Romania, just like the last guy who hacked into Hillary Clinton’s stuff.”
“Nobody’s going to come out and say ‘Oh Gee, I guess we’re just plain lying about Russians in Syria, invasion in Ukraine and the coming collapse of Russia… What they’re going to say is that…’Putin has somehow cleverly got into people’s minds, we need more money.'”
Another motive, Armstrong suggests, is US determination to expand NATO, in an attempt to get “better control of things.”
“Somewhere,” he asserted, “along the line, [the US] realized that expanding NATO — when all NATO membership meant was that you blew up Libya, or you joined in to celebrate the third decade of a losing war in Afghanistan — wasn’t going to pull in new members. So it’s trying to revive the old Russian threat.”
A so-called 2017 Intelligence Authorization Bill was passed by the US Senate Intelligence Committee in May, and awaits Senate approval. Armstrong predicts that the bill will most likely be approved, but noted that the idea of a “big enemy” is not really selling. He cited a recent Pew poll showing that no more than 1/3 of EU nationals consider Russia to be a threat to anything.
As for the Moscow’s reaction to such moves, Armstrong said that Russia doesn’t want war and, along with China, is playing an “intelligent” hand.
“[Russia] is playing a much more intelligent game than anybody in the West,” he said. “The problem is managing the downfall of the American empire. 20 to 30 years from now, when China, Russia, Iran, India are much more important than they are today, and the US is definitely declining, the trick is, how do you get to there, from here, without blowing everything up? The last days of a declining empire are always very dangerous.”
The analyst shared his thoughts on America’s next president.
“We’ve got to get through the next 25-30 years without the US blowing the […] out of all of us, so what I would like to have for the next four years is a president good at negotiating. What we’ve had until now is, ‘do what we want or we bomb you.'”
9/11 Cover-Up Unraveling: 28 pages, JASTA bill, KSM trial fiasco a “perfect storm” – But Beware of Limited Hang-outs
The Warren Commission summarized its conclusion in three words: “Oswald acted alone.”
In support of its assertion that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman, the Commission—steered by Kennedy’s worst enemy, former CIA Director Allen Dulles, whose expertise lay in deceptions, regime change operations and murders of heads of state—produced 28 volumes as well as an unnumbered summary report volume. Virtually all of the 18,803 pages totaling 10.4 million words consisted of irrelevancies, distractions and red herrings, famously including such monumentally non-essential information as Lee Harvey Oswald’s dental records.
The 9/11 Commission, following the Warren Commission template, claimed that “19 Arab hijackers with box-cutters, alongside a handful of al-Qaeda operatives, acted alone.” Like the Warren Commission, the 9/11 Commission began with its conclusion already inscribed in stone; the so-called investigation merely lined up support for a pre-ordained script. According to New York Times journalist Philip Shenon, 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow had written the entire report in chapter outline before the Commission even convened. Sen. Max Cleland, refusing to participate in the cover-up, resigned from the 9/11 Commission, comparing it to the long-discredited Warren Commission: “The Warren Report blew it. I’m not going to be part of that.” Later, even the co-chairs of the Commission, Kean and Hamilton, admitted that their Commission had been “set up to fail.”
Now, almost 12 years after the publication of the 9/11 Commission Report and more than half a century after the Warren Report, both official accounts have been thoroughly discredited. Polls show that since at least the 1990s, two-thirds of Americans do not believe the official version of the JFK killing. Likewise, polling data reflects widespread suspicion about 9/11. A 2006 New York Times / CBS poll, for example, found that 81% of Americans believed their government was “hiding something” or “mostly lying” about 9/11, while only 16% thought it was “telling the truth.”
Today we are facing a potential re-opening of the 9/11 investigation, paralleling the way the JFK assassination investigation was re-opened by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) from 1976 to 1978. In both cases, public skepticism toward the official versions, alongside the work of independent researchers, has created a climate in which calls for a new investigation could fall on receptive ears. Unfortunately, if a new 9/11 investigation follows in the footsteps of the HSCA, it could destroy the official story — but in such a way as to prevent an aroused public from rising up and demanding that the full truth be revealed, the perpetrators punished, and the government restructured in such a way as to ensure that no such murderous coup d’état ever happens again. (The HSCA concluded that JFK was murdered by unknown conspirators, hinted that the mafia was involved, but offered no rousing call to uncover the full truth and prosecute the perpetrators.)
Calls for an HSCA-style re-opening of 9/11 could follow developments in three related legislative and judicial venues: The push for the release of the classified 28 pages of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11; the JASTA bill allowing survivors and victims’ family members to sue government sponsors of terrorism; and the imminent implosion of the military prosecutions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind, and his alleged co-conspirators.
The secret 28 pages, classified by President Bush, are said to implicate Saudi government officials and royal family members as co-conspirators of the 19 alleged hijackers. They also contain a footnote referencing Israel that has been the subject of much speculation, given the many converging lines of evidence pointing to a major Israeli role in 9/11. The movement to release the 28 pages has been garnering widespread mainstream coverage since the CBS flagship news show 60 Minutes featured it last month. Congressional bills urging the President to declassify the 28 pages have picked up more than 60 co-sponsors.
On April 24th, the AP ran a story headlined “White House poised to release secret pages from 9/11 inquiry.” But since then Obama has wavered, while a war of words has broken out between the forces of transparency and their opponents. On the opponents’ side, CIA Director John Brennan recently issued a pre-emptive salvo claiming that the secret pages contain “inaccurate information,” while 9/11 Commission co-chairs Kean and Hamilton chipped in that those pages contained “raw, unvetted material” with “no smoking gun.” These claims contrast sharply with statements by others who have read the 28 pages, including Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and Rep. Walter Jones, who have said that the secret pages completely overturn the official story of 9/11.
The push to release the 28 pages coincides with the House’s passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which now awaits Senate ratification and a likely White House veto. The JASTA bill would pave the way for lawsuits against foreign governments that sponsor terrorist attacks on American soil, and seems to have been written specifically to target Saudi Arabia for 9/11.
The Saudi government has responded with a two-pronged attack. Officially, it has threatened to sell off 750 billion dollars in US securities and other assets, thereby crashing the US economy, if Congress passes the JASTA bill. Meanwhile, an outline of the likely Saudi defense should it ever be prosecuted for 9/11 was published by Saudi legal expert Katib Al-Shammari. Writing in the Saudi-owned London newspaper al-Hayat, Al-Shammari argued that the US itself carried out the 9/11 attacks. (English translation here.) Citing the findings of architects and engineers that the World Trade Center was destroyed with explosives, not jet fuel fires, Al-Shammari asserts that the US government has blamed almost everyone except the true culprit – itself – in order to increase military budgets, launch wars, and pressure foreign governments.
The Saudis may even be holding evidence that could destroy the official version of 9/11 and prove US government complicity. Ten of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, all of them Saudis, were reliably reported to be alive after 9/11, as documented in Jay Kolar’s “What We Now Know About the Alleged 9-11 Hijackers.” Speculation on their current whereabouts focuses on three possibilities: (1) dead, presumably murdered by the orchestrators of 9/11; (2) alive and well and living under witness protection, possibly in Saudi Arabia; and/or (3) some of the hijackers may be “composite personalities” produced by forgery and identity theft.
In 2008, I traveled to Morocco to investigate the strange case of alleged hijacker Waleed al-Shehri, who had supposedly died when Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. On September 22nd, 2001, the BBC reported that al-Shehri was alive and well in Morocco:
A Saudi-Arabian aircraft pilot who was named as one of five suspects on board one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre, has turned up alive and well in Morocco. The man, Waleed Al-Shehri, has told Saudi journalists in Casablanca that he had nothing to do with the attacks on New York and Washington, and had been in Morocco at the time.
The FBI named five men with Arab names who they say were responsible for deliberately crashing American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. One of those five names was Waleed Al-Shehri, a Saudi pilot who had trained in the United States. His photograph was released by the FBI, and has been shown in newspapers and on television around the world.
That same Mr Al-Shehri has turned up in Morocco, proving clearly that he was not a member of the suicide attack. He told Saudi journalists in Casablanca that he has contacted both the Saudi and American authorities to advise them that he had nothing to do with the attack. He acknowledges that he attended flight training school at Dayton Beach in the United States, and is indeed the same Waleed Al-Shehri to whom the FBI has been referring.
But, he says, he left the United States in September last year, and became a pilot with Saudi Arabian Airlines, and is currently on a further training course in Morocco. He says he was in Marrekesh when the attack took place.
I spoke to people at the US Embassy in Rabat, who said that nobody currently working there remembered al-Shehri showing up in 2001 and proclaiming his innocence. They said that diplomatic personnel rotate in and out every few years, so none of the current (2008) embassy employees would have worked there in 2001. (I personally know the man who, I am told, was CIA station chief in Rabat in the late 1990s and early 2000s – he certainly was not rotating in and out every few years – but he has not responded to my communications about 9/11.)
Stonewalled by the US Embassy, confused by conflicting reports about al-Shehri’s history in Morocco (did he work for RAM or Saudia Airlines? etc.) I contacted Saudia Airlines requesting information about Waleed al-Shehri’s employment there as a pilot. A higher-up sounded very defensive as he implied that he knew things he could not tell be because “we do not want trouble.”
If the JASTA bill passes and Saudi Arabia is sued for 9/11, perhaps its leaders will decide it is less “trouble” to spill the beans, possibly by telling the truth about some of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, than to accept the blame for the worst mass murder ever committed on American soil. If the Saudis ever decide to tell the truth, we might learn that some of the alleged hijackers did not even exist, but were fictional cutouts created by intelligence services, with intelligence agents role-playing with forged and/or stolen identification. We know that this is the case for some of the alleged hijackers, including “Ziad Jarrah,” a cut-out impersonated by at least three different intelligence agents, as explained by Jay Kolar. It may also be the case for the al-Shehri brothers; Wail al-Shehri (allegedly Waleed’s brother, supposedly a 9/11 hijacker but still alive and well and flying for Saudia Airlines out of Morocco) has claimed to be the victim of identity theft, suggesting that his ID was used to create the “Wail al-Shehri” named as a 9/11 hijacker.
Some US authorities have admitted that these problems are real. Less than two weeks after 9/11, FBI Director Mueller was forced to admit that “hijackers” turning up alive had cast doubt over those identifications; then in 2002 he admitted that there is “no legal proof” of the hijackers’ real identities. A former high-level intelligence official told Seymour Hersh that the whole story of the alleged hijackers was fabricated: “Many of the investigators believe that some of the initial clues that were uncovered about the terrorists’ identities and preparations, such as flight manuals, were meant to be found. A former high-level intelligence official told me, ‘Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the F.B.I. to chase.’” The 9/11 Commission made no effort whatsoever to resolve any of these issues.
In addition to the 28 pages and JASTA affairs targeting Saudi Arabia, there is a third legal venue from which a mandate for a new 9/11 investigation could and should arise: The military tribunal show trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and co-defendants. There, in the kangaroo courts of Guantanamo, a destruction-of-evidence scandal is brewing that could blow 9/11 wide open. The Guardian (May 31, 2016) reports:
The judge overseeing the premiere military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay effectively conspired with the prosecution to destroy evidence relevant to defending the accused architect of the 9/11 attacks, according to a scathing court document.
Army Col James Pohl, who this week at Guantánamo is presiding over a resumption of pretrial hearings in the already troubled case, “in concert with the prosecution, manipulated secret proceedings and the use of secret orders”, the document alleges, preventing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s defense team from learning Pohl had permitted the Obama administration to destroy the evidence.
This latest scandal relates to evidence destroyed in 2013 and 2014 after the judge had ordered the prosecution to preserve it. That same judge, Col James Pohl, then secretly conspired with the Administration to destroy the very evidence he had ordered preserved, while lying to the defense by claiming the order had been followed and the evidence preserved.
This is not the first such KSM-related destruction-of-evidence scandal. In 2005, CIA Director General Michael Hayden admitted that the CIA destroyed videotapes of interrogations of al-Qaeda prisoners related to the 9/11 investigation. Earlier, in 2004, the CIA had denied to the 9/11 Commission that any such videotapes existed. That is why the 9/11 Commission built its official story (or, rather, filled in the details of Philip Zelikow’s pre-conceived official narrative) by relying on third-hand hearsay reports about what KSM, the mentally retarded “terror mastermind” Abu Zubaydah, and other alleged al-Qaeda operatives supposedly told their torturers.
Robert Baer, formerly the CIA’s best on-the-ground Mideast operative, vented his shock and displeasure in the pages of Time Magazine:
I would find it very difficult to believe the CIA would deliberately destroy evidence material to the 9/11 investigation, evidence that would cover up a core truth, such as who really was behind 9/11. On the other hand I have to wonder what space-time continuum the CIA exists in, if they weren’t able to grasp what a field day the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are going to have with this — especially at a time when trust for the government is plumbing new depths … If this sounds like paranoia, it is. But the CIA certainly is not helping by destroying evidence. And they should know better than to destroy evidence in the biggest criminal case in American history. More than anything what we need right now is complete and total transparency on 9/11.
It is hard to overstate the magnitude of the 9/11 destruction-of-evidence scandal. Essentially what we have is Zelikow’s pre-scripted official 9/11 story getting its after-the-fact “verification” through massive torture of such obviously innocent “masterminds” as the simple-minded Abu Zubaydah, an utterly incompetent individual tortured into what can only have been a series of false confessions during 83 waterboarding sessions in August, 2002. Amidst those false confessions, which must have consisted of Abu Zubaydah blubbering back to his torturers whatever they told him to say, was the claim that KSM was the mastermind of 9/11.
KSM, for his part, was waterboarded 183 times in March, 2003. Under torture, he confessed to more than 30 different crimes and attempted crimes, most of which he could not possibly have committed. Among those crimes were the murder of Daniel Pearl and various attempts to recruit terrorists in Montana and Washington that happened after he was already incarcerated.
The official story of 9/11, as mythologized in the 9/11 Commission Report, relies almost entirely on hearsay reports of what KSM supposedly said under torture, as close attention to its footnotes shows. The torturers lied to the Commission by asserting that no records of the interrogations existed; they later destroyed those very records. And these same torturers refused to allow the Commissioners any access to the alleged 9/11 suspects. Obviously it is not KSM himself, but his captors and torturers, who need to be arrested and interrogated not only for torture and obstruction of justice, but also as 9/11 suspects. For when torture, which is largely useless for any purpose except eliciting false confessions, is used to cover up a crime, the torturers may be assumed to be complicit in the crime they are covering up.
Conclusion: The American People Must Demand the Whole Truth – And Treason Trials
The JFK truth movement succeed in getting a “new investigation” – the 1976-1978 HSCA investigation. It succeeded in establishing that President John F. Kennedy died as the result of a conspiracy – the official conclusion of the HSCA probe. But it did not succeed in bringing anyone to justice, because it shied away from stating the obvious: that the JKF killing was a coup d’état, an act of high treason by elements of America’s deep state. Indeed, it did not even seriously consider that unspeakable possibility. Facing the truth would require subjecting the country to treason trials, a clash between the official and deep states, and potential instability, perhaps even revolution.
Today, the same taboo could hamstring any new 9/11 investigation. In the event of any such investigation, tremendous pressure will be brought to bear to keep the official narrative largely intact, even if a few Saudi government officials have to be thrown under the bus.
Could a new investigation elicited by JASTA and the 28 pages movement, perhaps in conjunction with the Guantanamo destruction-of-evidence scandal, uncover the whole truth, or at least much of it, and achieve a modicum of justice? Some observers such as alternative journalist Brandon Martinez argue that the push to blame the Saudis is a limited hang-out; while others including Les Jamieson of the 28 pages movement argue that once the case is re-opened all hell is likely to break loose … especially if the people rise up and demand the truth.
We do know more about 9/11 today than was known about the JFK assassination in 1978. Reams of evidence, including the more than 40 smoking guns cited by David Ray Griffin in the second edition of The New Pearl Harbor, prove that 9/11 was a coup d’état staged by high-level US government officials with the help of one or more foreign governments. (The case that the main foreign government involved was Israel, and that the prime motive for 9/11 was to launch a permanent war on Israel’s Muslim enemies, is explored in Christopher Bollyn’s Solving 9/11.)
Any HSCA-style “new investigation” of 9/11 would take place under the gaze of hundreds of millions of people worldwide who know that 9/11 was a neoconservative coup d’état, and tens of millions who are familiar with the evidence, including such smoking guns as the obvious controlled demolition of World Trade Center Building 7. For that reason, it would be harder to neuter than the HSCA’s 1978 JFK investigation was. The publicity ensuing from the push for another 9/11 investigation, followed by the investigation itself, would provide the 9/11 truth community with its best-ever chance of cracking the case and bringing at least some of the real perpetrators to justice.
Additionally, any actual investigation with sufficient funding and subpoena power would quickly penetrate the blame-the-Saudis smokescreen. The same alleged hijackers who were funded by the Saudi royals, to take one example, were living with an FBI asset during the run-up to 9/11. And if Bandar Bin Sultan, AKA “Bandar Bush,” gets fingered for 9/11, what will the American people make of Bandar smoking a celebratory cigar with George W. Bush on the White House balcony immediately following the mass murders of September 11th? Finally, one would expect the Saudis to vigorously defend themselves in court, and it seems likely that their best defense would be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. (That may be a lot to expect from the polished liars of the House of Saud; but if the truth serves their interests, they might choose to depart from habitual behavior patterns.)
Conclusion: The current “perfect storm” of JASTA, the 28 pages, and the imploding KSM trial offer an unprecedented opportunity to re-open the crime of the century. Everyone who opposes the 9/11 wars, wishes to revive constitutional rule in the so-called Western democracies, and recognizes that the current planetary path of militarization, debt slavery and environmental devastation is unsustainable, should be pushing for a new 9/11 investigation … while recognizing, and screaming from the rooftops, that an HSCA-style limited hangout is unacceptable.
In an internal “dissent channel cable,” 51 State Department officers called for “targeted military strikes” against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, a proposal that President Barack Obama has thus far resisted. However, were he to accept the cable’s advice, he would risk a dangerous – possibly catastrophic – confrontation with Russia. And, such a use of military force in Syria would violate U.S. and international law.
While the cable decries “the Russian and Iranian governments’ cynical and destabilizing deployment of significant military power to bolster the Assad regime,” the cable calls for the United States to protect and empower “the moderate Syrian opposition,” seeking to overthrow the Syrian government.
However, Assad’s government is the only legitimate government in Syria and, as the sovereign, has the legal right to seek international support as it has from Russia and Iran. There is no such legal right for the United States and other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to arm Syrian rebels to attack Assad’s government.
The dissent cable advocates what it calls “the judicious use of stand-off and air weapons,” which, the signatories write, “would undergird and drive a more focused and hardnosed US-led diplomatic process.”
Inside Syria, both the United States and Russia are battling the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) as ISIS and other jihadist groups seek to overthrow the Assad government. But while the U.S. is supporting rebel forces (including some fighting ISIS and some fighting Assad), Russia is backing Assad (and waging a broader fight against “terrorists,” including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front). Reuters reports the U.S. has about 300 special operations forces in Syria for its “counter-terrorism mission against Islamic State militants but is not targeting the Assad government.”
The policy outlined in the dissent cable would change that balance, by having the U.S. military bomb Syrian soldiers who have been at the forefront of the fight against both ISIS and Nusra. But that policy shift “would lead to a war with Russia, would kill greater numbers of civilians, would sunder the Geneva peace process, and would result in greater gains for the radical Sunni ‘rebels’ who are the principal opponents of the Assad regime,” analyst James Carden wrote at Consortiumnews.com.
Journalist Robert Parry added that the authors of the cable came from the State Department’s “den of armchair warriors possessed of imperial delusions,” looking toward a Hillary Clinton administration which will likely pursue “no-fly-zones” and “safe zones” leading to more slaughter in Syria and risking a confrontation with Russia.
As we should have learned from the “no-fly zone” that preceded the Libyan “regime change” that the U.S. government engineered in 2011, a similar strategy in Syria would create a vacuum in which ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front would flourish.
Violating U.S. and International Law
The strategy set forth in the cable would also violate both U.S. and international law.
Under the War Powers Resolution (WPR), the President can introduce U.S. troops into hostilities, or into situations “where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances,” only (1) after a Congressional declaration of war, (2) with “specific statutory authorization,” or (3) in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”
None of three conditions that would allow the president to use military force in Syria is present at this time. First, Congress has not declared war. Second, neither the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which George W. Bush used to invade Afghanistan, nor the 2002 AUMF, which Bush used to invade Iraq would provide a legal basis for an attack on Syria at the present time. Third, there has been no attack on the United States or U.S. armed forces. Thus, an armed attack on Syria would violate the WPR.
Even if a military attack on Syria did not run afoul of the WPR, it would violate the United Nations Charter, a treaty the U.S. has ratified, making it part of U.S. law under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Article 2(4) of the Charter says that states “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”
The Charter only allows a military attack on another country in the case of self-defense or when the Security Council authorizes it; neither has occurred in this case. Assad’s government has not attacked the United States, and the Council has not approved military strikes on Syria.
Indeed, Security Council Resolution 2254, to which the cable refers, nowhere authorizes the use of military force, and ends with the words, “[The Security Council] decides to remain actively seized of the matter.” This means that the Council has not delegated the power to attack Syria to any entity other than itself.
If the U.S. were to mount an armed attack on Syria, the Charter would give Assad a valid self-defense claim, and Russia could legally assist Assad in collective self-defense under Article 51 of the Charter. Moreover, forcible “regime change” would violate Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the U.S. has also ratified.
Although it’s true that the “dissent” cable eschews the use of U.S. “ground forces,” its recommendation that the U.S. should bomb Assad’s government would involve U.S. military personnel who would fly the bombers or fire off the missiles. And, such an operation would invariably necessitate at least a limited number of U.S. support troops on the ground.
Opposition to Violent ‘Regime Change’
Many commentators have warned of dangers from a U.S. military attack on Syria, risks that are either ignored or breezily dismissed by the “dissent” cable.
Jean Aziz cautions in Al-Monitor, “the recommendation of military strikes against the Syrian government – no matter how well intentioned – is, in the end, escalatory, and would likely result in more war, killing, refugees, less humanitarian aid reaching civilians, the empowerment of jihadis and so on.”
The United States is already empowering jihadis, “going out of its way to protect the interests of al-Qaeda’s closest and most powerful ally in Syria, Ahrar al-Sham,” Gareth Porter wrote in Truthout. Porter reported that Ahrar al-Sham, which works closely with the Nusra Front, “is believed to be the largest military force seeking to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, with at least 15,000 troops.”
So, in seeking Assad’s ouster, the U.S. has terrorist bedfellows. So much for the “global war on terror.”
As CIA Director John Brennan recently told the Senate Intelligence Committee, “Our efforts have not reduced [Islamic State’s] terrorism capability and global reach,” adding, “The branch in Libya is probably the most developed and the most dangerous.”
No wonder President Obama told Fox News “the worst mistake” of his presidency was not planning for the aftermath of U.S. regime change in Libya, although he stubbornly maintains that ousting President Muammar Gaddafi was “the right thing to do.”
The Center for Citizen Initiatives, a group of U.S. citizens currently on a delegation to Russia in order to increase understanding and reduce international tension and conflict, issued a statement in strong opposition to the “dissent” cable. Retired Col. Ann Wright, anti-war activist Kathy Kelly and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern are part of the group.
“It is not the right of the USA or any other foreign country to determine who should lead the Syrian government,” the statement says. “That decision should be made by the Syrian people.”
The statement urges the State Department “to seek non-military solutions in conformity with the UN Charter and international law.” It also urges the Obama administration to “stop funding and supplying weapons to armed ‘rebels’ in violation of international law and end the policy of forced ‘regime change’.” Finally, the statement calls for “an urgent nation-wide public debate on the U.S. policy of ‘regime change’.”
This is sage advice in light of the disasters created by the U.S. government’s forcible regime change in Iraq and Libya, which destabilized those countries, facilitating the rise of ISIS and other terrorist groups. There is no reason to believe the situation in Syria would be any different.
Instead of saber-rattling against Assad, Russia and Iran, the Obama administration should include them all in pursuing diplomacy toward a political, non-military settlement to the Syrian crisis.
Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. A member of the national advisory board of Veterans for Peace, Cohn’s latest book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.
Michele Flournoy, the US civil official predicted by many to head the Pentagon if Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton wins the US presidency in November, said she would alter American strategy to battle Daesh by assisting armed militias, called by Washington “moderate rebels,” to crush the legitimate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking at a Center for New American Security (CNAS) think tank conference on Monday, Flournoy, a senior fellow of the organization, urged the US military to put boots on the ground in Syria to assist in toppling the al-Assad government, recently successful in reclaiming large areas of the country from Daesh.
To accelerate the defeat of the legitimate Syrian government, Flournoy introduced the notion of a “no bombing” zone for the moderate rebels. These so-called moderates are widely accepted as being, in reality, the US-backed armed militias that have been tearing the country apart since the beginning of the civil war in 2011.
To justify her hawkish proposals, Flournoy took the traditional path, resorting to the Russian factor. She claimed that Moscow’s engagement since September 2015 in the war, at the invitation of the Syrian government, does not “support the kind of negotiated conditions we would like to get to.”
The “conditions” she was talking about remain unclear, especially in light of positive results brought about by the contribution of international militaries, including Russia, in stripping Daesh in recent months of 45 percent of the Iraqi territories and 20 percent of the Syrian lands it seized in 2014. Currently, the liberation of the crucial cities of Raqqah and Mosul from Daesh is being prepared, and is expected to inflict extensive damage on the extremists, according to Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Jamal.
The Pentagon, however, appears to have other plans in mind for Syria and Iraq. According to a CNAS report, prepared in cooperation with an “ISIS Study Group” co-chaired by Flournoy, Washington must “go beyond the current Cessation of Hostilities.” By that, the paper means a so-called no-bomb-zone, which suggests US retaliation against the Assad government, if Damascus continues to resist the American-backed militants. Proposed retaliation measures include airstrikes on “security apparatus facilities in Damascus.”
“If you bomb the folks we support, we will retaliate using standoff means to destroy [Russian] proxy forces, or, in this case, Syrian assets,” Flournoy told Defense One.
At the same time, the report sensibly cautioned against hitting Russian airbases in Syria.
Flournoy, who served as undersecretary of defense for policy during Obama’s first term in office, has consistently criticized the current US-anti Daesh policy, claiming that using an “under-resourced” military to battle extremists in the Middle East, and offering “underdeveloped” political solutions for the crisis has been ineffective, at best.Earlier, she called for increasing the number of combat missions against Daesh, sending more advisors to train Iraqi soldiers and allocating more weapons to Sunni tribes and the Kurds in Iraq. She also called for maintaining the infamously inadequate train-and-equip program that graduated just five moderate rebels, and cost US taxpayers over $500 million.
According to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Flournoy is now on the “short, short” list for the job of US Secretary of Defense.
Why is it that many people who consider themselves left-wing have such difficulty grasping that the EU is a deeply reactionary institution? The mere fact that those running the EU present it as an internationalist venture dedicated to the creation of a world free of nationalist enmities does not make it so. If we want to examine the EU in its proper light, then we should ignore the high-flown rhetoric in which its supporters indulge, and consider its actual record. And what is the record of the EU, once we penetrate the obfuscatory rhetoric about ‘internationalism’ that surrounds EU policy? Without a doubt, that record is one that should cause those on the left now defending it acute embarrassment, as it starkly contradicts the ideals that the left has always claimed to uphold.
Across the Continent, the unelected officials who have usurped the power of national governments and asserted their right to determine the fates of countless millions, through their adherence to the damaging creed of neoliberalism, have wrought suffering on an unimaginable scale, casting millions into poverty and removing the last vestige of dignity people cling to in an economy that has fallen prey to the voracious claims of big business. They have foisted austerity on unwilling populations, creating a cycle of endless unemployment and ever increasing woe, compelling ordinary workers struggling to eke out an existence in the wake of the most painful recession in living memory to shoulder the burden of repaying a debt which was originally incurred as a result of the criminal behaviour of Europe’s financiers. With brazen contempt for the views of the peoples of Europe they claim to serve, they have connived to topple left-wing governments and deny the citizens of the countries most affected by austerity their one remaining means – their inalienable right to elect a government subservient to their will – of resisting the vicious policies that have reduced them to their present abject state.
It is worth detailing the ways in which the actual practice of the EU diverges sharply from the propagandistic image endorsed by elements of the left.
The Crushing of Greece
One word should be engraved on the minds of those who, despite all the evidence to the contrary, persist in believing that the EU is an inherently progressive body: ‘GREECE.’ What the EU did to Greece should have dispelled forever the fanciful idea that such an institution has as its fundamental aim the material welfare of ordinary Europeans. But such is the power of the delusional thinking which holds sway amongst the ‘liberal’ apologists for ‘internationalism’ that nothing it seems, not even the destruction of an entire country, the decimation of its industries, and the despoliation of its people, can shake their belief in the manifest virtues of the EU.
After five years in which Greece was forced to undergo the most far-reaching programme of austerity ever implemented by any European government, selling off its public infrastructure and slashing spending on social services to please its creditors, even the economists at whose insistence this policy had been carried out were grudgingly admitting that it had been an unmitigated disaster. By 2015 Greece had seen its economy contract by 27% as a result of the government’s futile efforts to meet the continually mounting debt repayments demanded of it by the troika. As GDP fell and Greece’s ability to repay the debt was further reduced, rather than provide relief the ECB chose to extend fresh loans to the Greek government to enable it to service the interest on its existing liabilities, thereby adding to its overall level of debt and enmeshing the country in an interminable process of austerity from which it could never hope to extricate itself. The needless suffering caused by the single-minded pursuit of austerity had resulted in scenes of poverty and despair more appropriate to the 1930s than 21st century Europe. Entire families were starving on the streets, deprived of even the bare minimum they required to survive; thousands of people, reduced to absolute despair by the unrelenting attacks on their living standards, had committed suicide. The IMF, in an extraordinary departure from its long-standing commitment to free market dogma, published a report bluntly stating what had become apparent to all well-informed experts on the matter, which was that Greece would never be able to rid itself of the debt, not unless it was significantly reduced and a 30-year moratorium on repayments was imposed.
What was the response of the managers of the eurozone to the tragedy unfolding before their very eyes, to the unbearable spectacles of suffering for which they, as the economic masters of Greece, bore responsibility? The response was callous indifference. When in desperation the Greek people elected the far-left party Syriza to power, on a platform of ending austerity and negotiating a debt restructuring, the EU steadfastly refused to treat with such a government on terms of equality and outright rejected the democratic mandate with which it had been recently invested at the polls, insisting that, regardless of the outcome of elections, Greece had no right to seek a change in rules which had been autocratically decided upon by the bureaucratic elites in Brussels. There would be no substantive negotiations leading to an end to austerity; there would be no concessions to the democratically expressed will of the population. When Syriza attempted to resist the diktats of Brussels, calling a referendum on its negotiating stance, which it won resoundingly, the EU bullied and cajoled little Greece, threatening to punish the refractory population of this wayward country, which had dared to question the entire basis on which the eurozone was run, by cutting off the money supply and rendering even more people destitute if Syriza should refuse to acquiesce in the harsh financial terms of the proposed deal, which mandated yet more spending cuts to service a debt that everyone knew to be unsustainable. Under extreme duress Syriza surrendered to these demands and the worsening cycle of unemployment and declining wages, in which Greece has been trapped for at least the last 6 years, was resumed, inflicting a historic defeat on the people of Greece who had misguidedly believed that, by exercising their democratic rights, they could decide the future of their own country.
Greece illustrates the failings of an economic policy that is being implemented over the objections of the great majority of Europe’s citizens. Indeed, in its unwavering support for neoliberalism the EU represents nothing less than an attempt to perpetuate an economic model which advantages European businesses, whilst eroding the living standards of most Europeans. Particularly in the countries of the eurozone, democracy has been eviscerated by the adamant insistence of the EU on more cuts to government spending. The Growth and Stability Pact effectively prevents large-scale public spending on vital social services to alleviate the effects of a recession, limiting deficits to 3% of GDP. As part of this neoliberal model, national governments are also required each year to submit their budgets to the Commission for its approval, which has increasingly demanded that the rights of workers take second place to paying off the debts accumulated by the financial sector. Whilst the desperate scenes in Greece are an extreme case, high unemployment and chronic poverty have become fixed features of the eurozone, with the number of jobless in Spain, for example, amounting to over 20% of the workforce. Moreover, employers have been given the freedom to disregard the rights of their employees in a bid to raise productivity, sparking a series of labour revolts by workers driven to the edge of despair. In France, to cite the most recent instance, the much hated El-Khomri law, which seeks to increase the working week to 46 hours and is currently being contested by striking unions, was originally based on the recommendations of the Commission.
Thus, it is transparent that the hardships experienced by workers across Europe are an inescapable product of the economic policies enforced by the EU.
The myth of a pacifist EU
It is difficult to fathom how anyone save the wilfully blind could continue to view the EU as a progressive force in light of the destruction it visited upon Greece. But to understand the mindset that leads otherwise enlightened people to extol the benefits of an institution which is the cause of so much distress throughout Europe it is necessary for the moment to ignore facts. Faith in the EU is not grounded in any rational analysis of reality, but rests on a series of founding myths the truth of which its defenders have never paused to consider. They are regarded as unquestionably true and are never scrutinised, much as devout Christians in centuries past would never have thought to examine the articles of faith on which their belief in God was based.
The myth from which the EU derives much of its strength is that of an organisation which has overcome the bitter divisions of the past to fashion a new identity for the once warlike people of Europe. The narrative goes something like this: for millennia Europe was plagued by nationalist rivalries which produced wars of unparalleled violence. In the twentieth century, as a result of these rivalries the entire world was plunged into two conflicts which witnessed bloodletting on a scale never seen before, and following the second and most devastating of these wars, a band of far-seeing European statesmen resolved that never again would the nations of Europe battle against one another and be a cause of such misery to the rest of the planet. In a spirit of high-minded idealism they took the first steps toward the establishment of a supranational body which would bring countries together in harmony and peace, consigning to history the internecine feuding and jingoistic war-mongering that had rent the political fabric of Europe apart. Henceforth, the people of this war-torn continent, divided though they might be by borders, were to consider themselves Europeans in the truest sense, part of an organic union that would only grow in strength with the passage of the years.
To any serious student of history this account of the EU’s origins must appear as a gross distortion of the facts. But such is the comforting myth that underpins the faith many people, who should know better, exhibit in relation to an organisation they credit with having maintained the peace in Europe and prevented another plunge into barbarism for more than half a century. This romanticised view of history explains why in 2012 the Nobel Committee was able to award the Peace Prize to the EU, and also why in a poll conducted on the same occasion it was found that 75% of Europeans agreed with the Nobel Committee that ‘peace and democracy were the most important achievements of the EU’. The people who believe this are prepared to forgive the EU anything, because its failings in their eyes are as nothing when set against its tremendous success in averting another world war.
The reason this myth should cause offence to campaigners for peace everywhere is that it is based on a version of events which is utterly contradicted by the known facts about how the EU came into being. That there has not been another conflict to compare with WW2 in the seventy years following its end owes not to the moral vision of the politicians who presided over the birth of the EEC, the precursor to the EU, but is purely a result of shifting power dynamics. By 1945 the great powers of Europe had been so reduced in strength by the most savage war in human history that they soon realised they would never be able to recover their former status as global hegemons in a world the US had come to dominate. Indeed, such was the overwhelming preponderance of power enjoyed by the US, the only state to emerge from the war with its standing massively enhanced, that the idea of opposing its designs for Europe was swiftly set aside, and to retain what small measure of influence they could hope to wield in this unipolar world the formerly great powers agreed to be integrated into a military and economic alliance headed by the US. The creation of pan-European institutions that would foster the growth of a single European market, which would trade freely with US corporations, was made a condition of Marshall Aid by the American architects of the new economic order, who greeted every significant move in the direction of greater European unity with satisfaction. In the military sphere, membership of NATO, the armed alliance of states that the US established to further its imperialist interests, required Western European countries to devote a significant part of their budgets to military expenditure and maintain an armed truce with the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites, effectively dividing the Continent into two hostile camps, constantly teetering on the edge of nuclear war, for much of the latter half of the twentieth century.
The roots of the EU are therefore to be sought not in the sentimental desire for peace felt by leading statesmen in the wake of war, though this was undoubtedly a desire expressed by masses of ordinary people, but in the essential fact of the post-1945 world that the US displaced Europe as the centre of global power and influence. Power politics not pacifism explains why there has not been another war between the major European states. Anyone who doubts the truth of this need only consider the foreign policy of Europe during the period when the basis for the EU was being laid. For most of the inhabitants of the third world these years were not ones distinguished by peace but by a series of brutal wars to free themselves from the yoke of imperialism. The founding members of the EEC, at the same time they were joining together in a spirit of ‘harmony’ and ‘peace’, unleashed a torrent of blood in their colonial possessions, obstinately clinging to the remnants of empire and crushing demands for liberty with shocking violence. In Algeria the French prosecuted a terrorist campaign against the population that resulted in 1.5 million deaths, the effects of which are still felt acutely by France’s Muslims, treated as second class citizens by the Republic, and are a source of deeply-felt divisions even now. In Vietnam, with funding from the US, the French also sought to retain control over their colony and defeat the Vietminh, eventually handing over to the Americans when they could no longer sustain the cost of such a military campaign. In the Congo, Belgium initially met demands for independence with violence and continued to interfere in the politics of the region following independence, playing a role in the assassination of the elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. In Kenya, the British, who were to join the EEC in 1973, waged a brutal war against the native Kikuyu throughout the 1950s in order to uphold the rule of the white settler elite, interning many Africans in concentration camps where they were subjected to torture.
The danger of peddling a false narrative of the growth of European unity in which base geopolitical considerations do not figure is the immunity granted the EU against criticism for its actions in the present. Far from waning, the attachment of European states to militarism remains as strong as ever, and has continued to find an outlet during the 21st century in a number of wars of aggression across the Middle-East and Africa, which differ little from the hey-day of 19th century imperialism, when great powers bestrode the world looting defenceless countries with utter abandon. There is, however, one significant difference between these past exploits and European imperialism in its modern guise. In recent years the EU has arrogated to itself an increasing array of powers in the field of foreign policy, establishing the office of High Representative for Foreign Affairs with a view to eventually dictating the relations of European nations with the outside world. Given fully 22 of the 28 member states that comprise the EU are members of NATO, it is unsurprising that the policy followed by this fledgling branch of the Commission is little more than an extension of the goals that Europe’s political leaders have long held in common with the US.
Through vesting power, however, in an unaccountable body of bureaucrats who cannot be voted from office, unlike elected politicians in member states, the EU seeks to make it all but impossible for the citizens of Europe to alter the foreign policy trajectories of their respective governments, and draw back from the reckless path of unabashed war-mongering upon which we are embarked. A case in point, and one that the former MP George Galloway cited in a recent speech, is Syria. Although most of the people who argued for Britain to intervene against ISIS towards the end of last year have effaced it from their memory, barely three years ago Cameron’s government, supported by much of the media class, favoured military intervention on the opposite side of the Syrian civil war, calling for air strikes against the Syrian army and support for those jihadist elements which subsequently morphed into ISIS. Thankfully, to the dismay of Cameron, this move was narrowly voted down in the Commons, but had this question fallen within the purview of the EU’s High Representative, it is unlikely that Britain’s Parliament would have even been permitted a vote on the matter.
The crowning achievement of the EU in the arena of foreign affairs has undoubtedly been its contribution to resurrecting the Cold War, fomenting a civil war in the Ukraine that still rages along the historically fraught border region that stretches between the EU and Russia. Few people in the West know of the EU’s role in igniting this conflict, or of the policy, drafted by the Commission, and relentlessly pursued during the last twenty years, of expanding the influence of the EU into Eastern Europe so as to isolate Russia behind a ring of hostile states. The degree of ignorance that the media has fostered regarding the crisis in Ukraine has reached the point that the supporters of remain even cite, with positive pride, the aggressive posturing of the EU during the recent crisis as a reason to vote against Brexit, contending that only as part of a larger entity can we stand up to the Russian bear, which is engaged in an attempt to subjugate its neighbours and reconstitute the Soviet Empire. If anything, the reverse is true, and the perilous brinksmanship of the EU with respect to Russia, its unceasing efforts to provoke an escalation in tensions between the two, should be considered grounds enough to vote leave.
For in reality Ukraine is merely the latest in a long line of countries which the EU has sought to annex to a Western alliance controlled by the US, with EU membership proceeding hand in hand with membership of NATO. This military organisation, formed in 1949 with the supposed aim of defending Western Europe against the USSR, has since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than doubled in size, with many of the new additions former Communist countries situated on Russia’s periphery, revealing its true character as an alliance that exists to extend the global reach of the US. The EU, by incorporating these countries into a political union closely linked to NATO, and in some cases laying the ground-work for their eventual accession to NATO through the Eastern Partnerships, a proto-form of EU membership, has in many ways acted to reinforce the bonds linking the various members of this alliance.
In the case of Ukraine, the action that set in motion the chain of events leading to civil war was the offer by the EU of an Association Agreement. This has frequently been depicted as a generous arrangement under which Ukraine would have benefited from most of the advantages enjoyed by EU member states, without, however, formally becoming a member. In actual fact the agreement would have required Ukraine to sever economic relations with Russia, a country to which it was intimately bound by a shared history, and was linked to a package of swingeing austerity measures that would have resulted in the ruination of Ukraine’s economy. Moreover, despite the outraged denials of its framers, the deal also mandated military cooperation between the EU and Ukraine and was clearly intended as a prelude to NATO membership. Given the fact that approximately half of Ukrainians, mainly living in the East of the country, were opposed to NATO and favoured better relations with Russia, it was hardly likely that the Ukrainian President, Victor Yanukovych, who by all accounts had pro-EU leanings, would ever have been able to implement the terms of such a deal without splitting the country in two. When at the end of 2013 he therefore rejected the Agreement, prompting protests in Kiev’s Maidan Square, in which Ukraine’s fascist parties, which are driven by a racist hatred of the country’s ethnic Russian population, played a prominent part, both the EU and the US chose to back the protesters agitating for his removal. After Yanukovch was overthrown in a putsch in February 2014, spearheaded by those same fascist elements within the opposition, instead of spurning the interim government that was installed following his ouster the EU immediately proceeded to signal their approval by securing its assent to the Association Agreement that Yanukovych had originally refused to sign. When Eastern Ukrainians rose in revolt against the putschist government, which had removed the democratically elected President from office and concluded an Association Agreement in spite of their objections, the EU disingenuously attributed Ukraine’s descent into civil war to Russian interference.
The defenders of the EU refuse to acknowledge its contribution to the turmoil that has engulfed Ukraine, or its part in bringing about a new cold war, even arguing that Russia’s opposition to the European project stems from a distaste for democracy and human rights, rather than simple geopolitics. Some, indulgently, recognise that Russia is genuinely fearful about the threat to its position from the extension of NATO eastwards, but claim that these fears derive from a 19th century habit of mind whereby the world is divided up into spheres of interest between competing powers, which vie with each other for global domination. Unfortunately, they argue, the EU is hampered in its relations with Russia by the failure of Europe’s leaders to grasp that they are a 21st century power dealing with a country that has still not freed itself from old modes of thinking about international affairs. But the chronology of the crisis is clear, as is the role the EU played in prompting it, and few who have studied the matter would deny that the actions of the EU with respect to Ukraine appear in the grand tradition of imperialist politics.
The question confronting Britain
The question of whether to remain or leave will likely not be decided on the basis of what is being done on the Continent in the name of ‘internationalism’. But a broader perspective is needed to refute the contorted arguments of many liberals who all too often give too much credence to the rhetoric of the European project, whilst paying little heed to its record. The current debate in Britain suffers from the entrenched tendency of the mainstream left to identify support for remain with opposition to petty-minded nationalism, and to chide Brexiters for being too insular and self-interested to appreciate the sense of high moral purpose that drives the EU. The briefest look, however, at the destructive polices that have been imposed on the countries of the eurozone, and the chaos that has ensued from imperialist meddling in foreign affairs, is enough to counter the baseless assertion, constantly repeated by those in the remain camp, that in opposing Brexit people will be voting for a worthy attempt to replace nationalist discords with a shared identity based on a commitment to democracy and human rights. The EU is not internationalist in any sense that a genuine member of the left would support. It exists to advance the interests of the business class as against workers, and in its zeal to enrich corporations at the expense of ordinary people it has succeeded in creating such disaffection with the political establishment that fascism, the very phenomenon the EU was in theory designed to prevent, has once more become a formidable force in countries languishing in the grip of high unemployment and low wages.
There are both altruistic and more self-interested considerations that should be factored into any decision on how to vote in the upcoming referendum. Both kinds of analysis, however, dictate a vote for Brexit. The supporters of remain commonly react to the argument that Britain has much to gain from leaving by speaking vaguely of showing solidarity with the many millions of people in the eurozone to whom that option is not available. They seem not to understand that by voting to remain, far from showing solidarity with the rest of Europe, Britain would be electing to prolong the life of an institution which is conducting a bizarre neoliberal experiment in how far it can push Europeans before they lose all hope. There is a moral case for leaving, based on the fact that Brexit would probably result in the dissolution of the EU and ease the suffering of nations currently held captive by neoliberal economics. The evidence for this is compelling. It is doubtful, for example, that the EU could long survive the withdrawal of one of its principal sources of funding. Far more worrisome from the point of view of those running Europe than the financial repercussions of Brexit, however, would be the example that it would set for the stricken populations of the Continent, especially in the southern countries, who have been led to believe that escape from the economic straitjacket of the eurozone is impossible. Presented with the spectacle of a people freely choosing to exit the EU, it is conceivable that workers suffering the consequences of EU-enforced austerity in countries like Spain and Italy would place pressure on their representatives to grant a referendum.
There is also an argument for leaving based on the benefits that Britain is currently well-placed to reap from such a move. The landslide election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party last year has indicated the widespread support that exists for a socialist alternative to the centre-ground politics which has held sway in Britain for the last thirty years, showing that the Blairites, who were roundly defeated in the election, were wrong to dismiss socialism as a spent force and place their faith in the free market. Consequently, a reforming Labour government may well assume the reins of government in the very near future. If it takes power in the context of a vote to remain, however, such a government would face real obstacles to implementing its programme in the form of the capitalist safeguards against reform that the EU has established. It would not be able to nationalise the railways, despite the overwhelming support of the public, because the EU has made public ownership of the railways illegal. A Labour government would find it difficult to increase expenditure on the NHS and other much needed public services because of the strict economies that the EU pressures member states to adopt by limiting the budget deficit to 3% of GDP. Furthermore, a social-democratic government of the kind that Corbyn could potentially head, with its commitment to decoupling the economy from its damaging dependence on financial services, would soon discover that competition rules forbid us from subsidising our manufacturing sector or even protecting our steel industry from Chinese dumping through raising tariffs on imports. In short, any government that seeks to overturn the neoliberal consensus will find that, within the confines of the EU, even limited reforms toward that end are a practical impossibility, liable to be struck down by the European Court of Justice as incompatible with EU law at any time.
It is regrettable that, instead of focussing on the impediments Labour would face in the event of a vote to remain, the mainstream left has chosen to fix its attention on the perceived boost that Brexit would give the current Conservative government. A myth has gained ground amongst large sections of the left that the rights which British workers have come to take for granted, such as maternity leave and paid holidays, were gifted to Britain by the EU, and that Brexit would free the Conservatives to intensify their assault on the working class, uninhibited by a social Europe which at present exercises a restraining influence over neoliberal governments. Even supposing that the remain camp is right in assuming that the Conservatives will hold onto power until the next general election in four years time, a questionable assumption in light of the fact the Conservatives are deeply split over the referendum, it is simply false to claim that we owe whatever rights we enjoy to the EU, As others have documented, most of the rights that are invoked by the mainstream left as a reason to vote remain were already in place when we joined the EEC in 1973, and they owe not to a beneficent bureaucracy of Eurocrats but to Britain’s working classes, who won these rights over the course of many years and after a series of hard-fought struggles with the capitalist class. Likewise, the retention of these rights will depend not on the good-will of a remote bureaucracy, which is actively undermining those same rights elsewhere, but on the determination of workers to band together in defence of their standard of living.
Unfortunately, many of the left apologists for the EU have been aided in their efforts to paint their opponents as backward nationalists by the fact that the Brexit campaign is largely dominated by the right. Almost all of the political figures who favour Brexit that the British public are regularly exposed to on TV are drawn from the far right of the Conservative Party, such as the former Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the current justice minister Michael Gove. (The noteworthy exception is Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP – a right-wing party formed for the sole purpose of taking Britain out of the EU.) At times the debate has resembled, and has often been reported as, an internal squabble between factions of the Conservative Party over the direction Britain should take as well as, on a more personal level, a battle between Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of the remain group, and Boris Johnson, who is widely believed to be the most likely successor of Cameron in the event of Brexit. The left-wing case for leaving, which has been eloquently articulated by a number of prominent intellectuals and activists, has been given relatively little attention by the media, with the result that many voters have been kept in ignorance of the existence of such arguments, and various Blairite MPs on the right of the Labour Party have been able to assert that they alone represent what the left’s position should be in the debate over Britain’s attitude to the EU.
Paradoxically, however, the near monopoly of the right over the Brexit campaign is not proof that opposition to the EU is intrinsically right-wing, but testifies instead to the weakness of a left which has been steadily stripped of its commitment to economic justice. Thirty years ago the most forceful advocates of Brexit were to be found among the members of the Labour Party, not on the right, and calls for Britain to withdraw from the EU, or the EEC as it was then called, were considered a standard feature of Labour’s policy platforms. The great left-wing MP Tony Benn campaigned in the 1975 referendum for Labour to leave the EEC on the grounds that such an arrangement was contrary to the basic democratic principle that people should be allowed to vote on the policies affecting them. Events since 1975 have only proved the truth of Benn’s original argument, made all those years ago, that these undemocratic tendencies were destined to grow with time, posing a grave risk to our ability to decide the most basic of policy issues. Moreover, unlike the MPs campaigning for remain today, politicians like Benn understood that the lack of democracy at the heart of the EU was not an oversight on the part of its founders, but an essential component of a project which sought to supplant national governments with a supranational authority divorced from the concerns of ordinary people. So long as power was vested in national assemblies, these institutions, however imperfect, were at least answerable to their voters, but once power over economic policy was ceded to bureaucrats then the business elites which effectively governed Europe were easily able to overcome popular resistance to their policies by dispensing with the need for elections.
Unfortunately, this basic point has been forgotten by the members of the Labour Party now campaigning to remain. Thus, the left-wing opponents of Brexit frequently give the impression that they regard the EU’s democratic deficit as a minor flaw, something that could easily be rectified if only Britain stays within the EU and works with other countries to reform it. Not a few even deny that the EU is undemocratic, reasoning that because the Council of Ministers, which concludes the treaties which form the basis for the EU, is composed of elected government figures from the member states this amounts to an indirect form of democratic accountability. These supporters of remain seem oblivious to the fact that the whole purpose of enshrining in various treaties the neoliberal principles on which the EU rests, treaties which once concluded cannot be repealed except through the agreement of all 28 member states, is to ensure that such weighty questions are forever removed from the sphere of democratic debate. The electorate of a particular country can vote their government out, but they cannot revoke the set of laws that this government agreed to, nor exercise any control over the unappointed Commission which is granted broad discretion to implement these laws.
The referendum is perhaps the one chance that this generation will ever have to vote on our membership of an institution which now wields an inordinate amount of power. It is the only opportunity we will be given to affirm our democratic right to rule on the fundamental questions with which we are confronted, and at the same time administer a blow to the undemocratic vision of a corporate Europe, rooted in neoliberal economics and a disdain for workers, that has crushed underfoot the aspirations of so many Europeans who were never even offered the choice of agreeing to such a project. A vote to leave will not usher in an age of socialist egalitarianism, but it is nonetheless, as socialists agitating for Brexit have observed, a necessary steppingstone without which the fairer society we are striving to achieve will be rendered a more distant prospect.
Members of the mainstream left who are campaigning to remain have only been able to maintain their enthusiasm for the EU by averting their eyes from its shameful record, adhering instead to an exalted image of a progressive body which has never existed outside of their imaginations. Ordinary voters must spurn such consoling myths, and recognise the EU for what it is: a deeply reactionary institution that is holding back progress throughout Europe.
The next US president should order a comprehensive evaluation of the capabilities of high-altitude missile-defense programs with a view to scraping them as useless, ex-US Chief of Naval Operations science advisor Theodore Postol told Sputnik.
“The emphasis of the review should be to determine if these systems have any capability to discriminate between warheads and decoys,” Postol, emeritus professor of science, technology and security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated on Monday.
Postol noted the review should be comprised of people who have actual technical expertise, rather than people who are political appointees and do not have the technical credentials to contribute to the scientific merit of the study.
“The review would show, based on competent scientific review, that the current missile defense systems (that is, the Navy Aegis system, the ground-based missile defense system, and the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) will be incapable of dealing with the most simple decoys.”
This finding is based in the fundamental physics of infrared phenomena that show improvements in sensors can never change the outcome of the conclusions, Postol pointed out.
“This means that the United States is simply wasting its money on these systems.”
If the next US administration commits itself to using fundamental science to determine whether or not taxpayer monies are properly being spent, the result will be the cancellation of these systems that are creating fundamental problems between the United States, Russia, and China, Postol added.
“The bottom line is that these systems give us the worst of both worlds. They provide us with no reliable defense capabilities, and they are antagonizing and creating fear in Russia and China that is counterproductive and is ending all efforts at future arms reductions.”
Postol recalled that that successive US administrations were investing scores of billions of dollars in missile defense systems that had no capabilities, but inspire fear.
“The pursuit of these systems by the United States raises questions in the minds of potential adversaries about what the United States leadership believes it can do. Does it believe that it can attack Russia or China and use these missile defenses to defend against a ragged retaliation?”
Continued enormous US investment in systems that could not work was bound to make other nations fear that eventually they might have some level of effectiveness, Postol noted.
“Contrary to popular belief, the pursuit of these missile-defense systems is much more than a waste of money. It is quickly foreclosing any future reductions in nuclear weapons, which are the greatest danger to the United States and the rest of the countries in the world.”
The next US president should determine whether or not these systems can be expected to provide any reasonable defensive capability and scrap them if they do not, Postol concluded.
Israel, which is widely believed to possess hundreds of atomic bombs, says it is not yet ready to ratify a UN pact on banning nuclear tests adopted nearly 20 years ago.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization, on Monday that Tel Aviv’s ratification of the pact is dependent on regional developments.
The treaty, which will ban all nuclear explosions, was signed in 1996, but will only go into effect when it has been ratified by all parties that possessed a nuclear reactor or some nuclear technology.
Israel is widely believed to have between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads, though it refuses to confirm or deny its existence under a policy of deliberate ambiguity.
The regime has also refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), denying international access to its atomic arsenal.
The issue of ratification “is dependent on the regional context and on the appropriate timing,” the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying.
By Brandon Turbeville – Activist Post – June 20, 2016
As the recent standoff between Russian and American jet fighters over Syria still simmers in the headlines, both sides are claiming a loss of patience with the other regarding the support and opposition for Western-backed terrorist forces and the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Not even a week before the standoff, the United States via war criminal and Skull and Bones member John Kerry warned the Russians, Iranians, and the Syrians that U.S. patience is “not infinite.” Notably, Kerry’s comments were more heavily directed at Russia than any other power.
“Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite. In fact it is very limited with whether or not [Bashar] al-Assad is going to be held accountable,” Kerry said.
But while the United States claims that its patience is “not infinite,” an interesting point to make since the entire crisis in Syria was the handiwork of the U.S. (perhaps Kerry means “patience with obstructing the U.S. plans for the destruction of Syria?”), Russia is now warning the U.S. that it too is running out of patience.
“It is us, not Americans who are losing patience concerning the situation in Syria. We are fully meeting our commitments and agreements on securing the ceasefire and national reconciliation in Syria,” Head of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov told reporters on Monday.
Gerasimov claims that Russia has been sending coordinates of Russian bombing targets but said that the United States has yet to determine which groups are “moderate” terrorists (aka Syrian “opposition”) and which are extremist terrorists.
“As a result, terrorists are actively restoring their strength and the situation is escalating again,” he said.
In the aftermath of the recent aerial standoff between two nuclear world powers, the rhetoric suggesting patience coming to an end is concerning to say the least. This is particularly the case when one of the parties to hostilities is the initiator of the aggression and the crisis to begin with and one that shows no signs of willingness to back away from its tragic and foolish foreign adventure.
It is time that the United States and NATO cease their obsession with the destruction of Syria not only on moral grounds but also out of self-preservation. If they do not, then it may well be the American people and the rest of the world that suffers the consequences.
Brandon Turbeville is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.
The US has recently accused Russia of bombing what it calls “US-backed rebels” in southern Syria. CBS News in their article, “Russia ignores warnings, bombs U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group,” would claim:
On Friday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called out Russia for bombing a Syrian rebel group that’s backed by the U.S.
The attack by Russian fighter bombers on American-backed opposition forces appeared to be deliberate and to ignore repeated U.S. warnings.
More alarming is what the US claimed happened next. CBS News would further claim:
Two American F-18 jet fighters were dispatched to provide air cover for the troops on the ground as they tried to evacuate their casualties. By the time the F-18s arrived, the Russian planes were headed away, but were still close enough to see.
But when the F-18s broke away to refuel, the Russians returned for a second bombing run. Another call went out to the Russian command center in Syria, demanding that the planes wave off.
The crew of an airborne command post tried to contact the Russian pilots directly but got no response. The Su-34s conducted another bombing run, leaving a small number of opposition fighters dead on the ground.
Neither CBS News nor the US Department of Defense ever explained why the US believes it is entitled to send armed militants over the borders and into a sovereign nation, or why it believes a sovereign nation and its allies are not entitled to confront and neutralize them or why US aircraft are entitled to fly over Syrian airspace without the authorization of the Syrian government.
In other words, the US is vocally complaining about its serial violations of international law and norms finally (allegedly) being confronted and put to an end by Russian military forces.
But Did Russia Even Attack America’s Armed Invaders?
Russia however, has denied US accusations. CNN’s article, “Russia denies bombing U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near Jordan border,” states:
Russia’s Defense Ministry denied bombing U.S.-backed Syrian opposition forces in a recent military operation near the Jordanian border, according to a statement released on Sunday.
The Kremlin response comes after U.S. and Russian military officials held a video conference to discuss Thursday’s strikes.
As is characteristic of all US claims regarding its multiple, ongoing foreign acts of military aggression, the most recent row in Syria is heavy on rhetoric and light on evidence. Had Russia attacked armed militants invading Syrian territory, it would have been well within its rights to do so, however it has claimed it hasn’t. The burden of proof is on the US.
Why Would the US Lie About This?
But when one considers a recent US State Department “internal memo” calling for more direct US military action to oust the Syrian government from power, it is clear such a call cannot be answered without an accompanying justification or provocation. It appears that the US-Russian row in southern Syria conveniently constitutes just such a provocation.
CNN’s article, “State Department officials call for U.S. military action against Assad regime,” claims:
More than 50 State Department officials signed an internal memo protesting U.S. policy in Syria, calling for targeted U.S. military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and urging regime change as the only way to defeat ISIS.
Claiming that US military strikes against the Syrian government, or that “regime change” is the only way to defeat the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) is indeed far fetched and is in and of itself a fabricated justification for an otherwise entirely self-serving geopolitical objective the US has set for itself in Syria.
It was US-led “regime change” in Libya in 2011 that has led to the country becoming a bastion for, not against IS and other notorious terrorist groups. Libya, it should be mentioned, has existed in a perpetual state of failure since the 2011 US military intervention, triggering one half of a massive refugee crisis facing the European continent, with no signs of abating any time in the foreseeable future.
In other words, the US desire for “regime change” in Syria will create another Libya, but on a scale larger than that in North Africa, all while compounding the chaos in North Africa further.
Therefore, justifying greater military aggression by the US in Syria appears to be a “hard sell” for American policymakers, media and politicians. Militants in southern Syria were likely designated for this ploy specifically because they have the greatest chance of being separated and distinguished from US-backed militants in northern Syria.
US-backed militants in Syria’s north are described even by the US itself as “intermingled” with extremists including Al Qaeda and even IS and have become increasingly difficult to defend diplomatically and politically as Syrian and Russian forces work on rolling them back.
Undoubtedly US-backed militants in Syria’s south are likewise”intermingled” with overt terrorist groups, but because the conflict in the south has been neglected by not only US and European news agencies, but also Russian and other Eastern news services, there lingers an unwarranted “benefit of the doubt.”
Can Anything Stop US Military Escalation?
Many in America’s foreign policy circles are nostalgic for the days of NATO’s intervention in Yugoslavia where inferior Russian forces were unable to deter NATO aggression and were eventually relegated to a subordinate role in “peacekeeping operations.” At one point, NATO even contemplated striking Russian forces as a means of neutralizing any obstacle to NATO ambitions during the conflict.
It is therefore possible that these same US policymakers envision using what CNN’s article called “stand-off and air weapons” to induce a similar stand-down from Russia before proceeding with and accomplishing their much desired “regime change” in Syria.
However, the Russian military of the 1990’s is not the Russian military of today. The fact that Russia is present and operating in Syria, far beyond the confines of Eastern Europe and its traditional sphere of influence is proof enough of that.
Russia’s performance in Syria alongside Syrian forces is the primary factor in what is now clearly IS’ decline and retreat. Russian air defenses have been deployed across the country and capabilities to confront US and US-allied aggression are clear and present. Since IS had no air forces of any kind, it is clear that Russian air defenses placed in Syria were one part of deterring the sort of US aggression characterized in the recent alleged US State Department memo.
The US would have to rely entirely on the assumption that Russia would rather concede Syria in the face of US military aggression than escalate toward a direct war with the United States.
Creating the conditions both diplomatically and on the ground in Syria to deter US military commanders from following any order to essentially attempt to trigger a war with nuclear-armed Russia is now essential. Raising the stakes for any sort of escalation of US aggression in Syria is also essential.
While the UN seems content with ignoring the serial international crimes of the US as it flaunts sovereign Syrian airspace, violates its borders by sending armed militants over them intent on destabilizing, destroying and overthrowing the Syrian state and presiding over the dismemberment of not only Syria, but the region itself, other international organizations could fill this expanding void.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), for example, could conceivably put together “peacekeeping” forces of its own, placed along Syria’s borders deterring the transit of armed militants and forcing the hands of both Jordan and Turkey to be exposed in the backing of some of the most toxic militant organizations engaged in Syria’s conflict.
The presence of Chinese, Russian, and even Iranian troops in this capacity could make it clear that no matter what act of aggression the US commits to, Syria’s fate would remain in the hands of its government, its people, and its allies. Tying these efforts into the distribution of aid would hamstring US attempts to hide its war-making behind “humanitarianism.”
Such a move, however, by the SCO would be unprecedented, costly and difficult to coordinate. And because of its unprecedented nature, unforeseen challenges may even make this option a complication rather than an asset toward fending off US aggression and the resolution of the costly ongoing Syrian conflict.
Regardless, it is clear that as IS and other terrorist organizations who have constituted the bulk of what the US regularly refers to as “opposition” beings to collapse, US desperation to conclude the Syrian conflict in its favor (not in favor of Syria or its people) is becoming increasingly palpable.
Another point opponents of US aggression must focus on is the ongoing chaos in Libya, a burning example of where US’s suggested “regime change” in Syria will inevitably lead. US success in Syria will essentially be an extension of Libya’s chaos, bolstering, not serving to “defeat” IS.