By Felicity Arbuthnot | Global Research | March 5, 2015
“If justice and truth take place,
If he is rewarded according to his just desert,
His name will stink to all generations.” (William Wesley, 1703-1791.)
On the evening of 19th November 2014, the charity Save the Children (STC), with a gala event in New York, “recognized” Tony Blair – whose government enjoined in the ending of the fledgling lives of children on an industrial scale in Afghanistan and Iraq – with their “Global Legacy Award.”
In Iraq’s decimation of course, Blair’s regime was responsible for the dodgy dossier alleging Saddam Hussein’s ability to annihilate in “forty five minutes”, thus persuading for war, but had also enjoined with the US between 1997 and 2003 in ensuring, via the United Nations Sanction Committee that Iraq’s infants and children were denied all normality from the womb to their young deaths at an average of 6,000 a month.
Blocked were scanners to check the developing foetus, incubators for the frail newly arrived, paediatric oxygen, paediatric syringes, tracheal suction tubes to clear airway obstructions and all needed to combat a challenging start to life in order to become a healthy toddler and enter happy childhood.
For those who survived to childhood, reading and exercise books, paper, pens, pencils, blackboards, toys, tricycles, bicycles, scooters, all juvenile joys and normality were vetoed. When they suffered what are normally relatively simply treated ailments, infections, asthma, the antibiotics, inhalers needed were invariably also vetoed or fatally delayed. All policies endorsed by Blair’s government.
Then Iraq’s deprived, traumatized children were bombed and invaded in an action largely publicly justified by his government’s documented lies.
Yet Save the Children honoured Blair – to immediate condemnation. In the UK a petition on site “38 Degrees” quickly garnered nearly 125,000 signatures in protest (UK only, world wide it would certainly have been in orders of magnitude more.)
Judging by the uproar on blogs, Twitter, social media sites, it has been a spectacular own goal for Save the Children with countless supporters cancelling their subscriptions or donations.
At a meeting with Brendan Cox, the charity’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, a small delegation with Robin Priestley of 38 Degrees, handed in the petition and in a meeting: “ … all had to agree that it was impossible to remove the Award from Tony Blair now …” (1) Given the damage caused by this insane honour, Mr Cox should surely have committed to moving heaven and earth to doing exactly that.
However, now he has a chance. Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s UK Chief Executive, who personally delivered the invitation to Tony Blair and was a former aide to him as Prime Minister, apologized on 3rd March (sort of) on BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” programme.
He was sorry for the offence caused and that it had become an “unnecessary distraction” (2) from the organization’s work. Given Blair’s record in endorsing child deaths and resultant uproar the Award caused and the redesign of their logo to “Kill the Children” found across social media, it was not a “distraction” but an outrage.
Upsetting people, said Mr Forsyth: “ … is not really what we do at Save the Children.” Really? After this so close to home, can their judgement in differing global cultures possibly be trusted?
There was some verbal footwork about the Award being for Blair’s work in Africa, however this is defined as a “Global Legacy Award.” The former Prime Minister’s “legacy” is mass graves of dead children from Kandahar to Falluja.
Moreover, according to Blair’s Faith Foundation website: “Mr. Blair was recognised for his work … in 2005 to pledge to double aid to Africa and provide 100 per cent debt relief to eligible countries, as well as his work in partnership with African governments through the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI).” It might be worth trawling the potentially “double aided” and “100 per cent debt relief” countries to see if and how many of the beneficiaries he might have one of his many lucrative advisory roles with. Politics is hardly known for lack of back scratching.
The Daily Mail on line also quotes Mr. Forsyth as stating: “I know that many of our supporters and volunteers were very upset and our staff, several of our staff too, and I’m very sorry for that.” Another verbal sleight of hand and it was not “several staff.” By 28thNovember, The Guardian reported: “An internal petition circulated among Save the Children employees around the word is to be presented to head office.” Describing the award as “morally reprehensible” and calling for it to be rescinded, the petition has gathered more than 500 staff signatures.”(3)
The letter accused Save the Children of “a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values.”
Their ”Vision, Mission and Values” (4) include:
* “We aspire to live to the highest standards of personal honesty and behaviour; we never compromise our reputation and always act in the best interests of children.” Tell that to Iraq’s five million orphans and their uncounted counterparts in Afghanistan, to the bombed, orphaned, traumatized children of Gaza who the “Middle East Peace Envoy” has ignored.
* ”A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.” Think about it, Save the Children. Were words ever more hollow after the honouring of a man mired in the destruction of every aspiration in that sentence.
* “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.” Endorsed is seemingly one to whom “breakthrough” and “immediate and lasting change” is deprival of life, childhood, parents, home, healing, freedom from fear and all semblance of normality. “Lasting change” indeed.
On 5th December 2014, a letter (5) was sent to Save the Children by Inder Comar of the legal firm Comar Law, San Francisco. outlining starkly the enormity of the illegality of the attack on Iraq in which Mr Blair had been so integral. It pointed out that Save the Children’s hero’s name is entered at the International Criminal Court at the Hague in its “Register of War Criminals.”
The correspondence, in which I declare an interest, was sent on behalf of Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and myself included:
‘As you may be aware, in March 2003, Mr. Blair, while Prime Minister, likely participated with several high-ranking United States leaders in committing the crime of aggression against Iraq. The crime of aggression is the “supreme international crime,” as declared by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946. In addition to being prohibited by international law, the crime of aggression is a crime also defined by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, over which it may have the opportunity to exercise jurisdiction in the coming years. “Resort to a war of aggression is not merely illegal, but is criminal.” United States v. Hermann Goering, et al., 41 AM. J. INT’L L. 172, 186, 218-220 (1946); see also Charter Int’l Military Tribunal, art. 6(a), Aug. 8, 1945, 59 Stat. 1546, 82 U.N.T.S. 279.
‘As you may also be aware, in 2004, Secretary General Kofi Annan declared the Iraq War illegal and in contravention of the United Nations Charter.1
‘In 2006, a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Benjamin Ferencz, stated that the Iraq War was a “clear breach of law.”2 “There’s no such thing as a war without atrocities, but war-making is the biggest atrocity of law.”
‘In 2010, a Dutch inquiry concluded that the Iraq War had no basis in international law.3
‘In 2010, Hans Blix, the former chief weapons inspector for the United Nations, stated that it was his “firm view” that the Iraq War was illegal.4
‘In 2012, judges empanelled before the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, an independent commission headed by former judges and involving input from several international law scholars, concluded that a prima facie case existed that Mr. Blair committed the crime of aggression against Iraq. The tribunal reported its findings to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and entered the name of Mr. Blair in its “Register of War Criminals.” ‘
“Was there any consideration to the optics of giving this Award to Mr. Blair in light of the fact that many of Save the Children’s current management – including Jonathan Forsyth, Jonathan Powell, Sam Sharpe and Fergus Drake – have intimate ties with Mr. Blair and his government? Was there any consideration to the moral paradox of providing this Award to a person whose destitute victims are concurrently succored by Save the Children staff?”
It demands: “Please confirm that Save the Children will rescind the Global Legacy Award forthwith.”
There has been no reply. That action however, would a gesture of, albeit belated, tangible apology and might be a start at repairing Save the Children’s tattered image.
If State Honours, Knighthoods and Peerages can be withdrawn from those subsequently deemed unworthy of their bestowal, surely so can Save the Children’s woefully misplaced Global Award.
“Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries.”—Ray Lewis, Retired Philadelphia Police Captain
It’s one thing to know and exercise your rights when a police officer pulls you over, but what rights do you have when a private cop—entrusted with all of the powers of a government cop but not held to the same legal standards—pulls you over and subjects you to a stop-and-frisk or, worse, causes you to “disappear” into a Gitmo-esque detention center not unlike the one employed by Chicago police at Homan Square?
For that matter, how do you even begin to know who you’re dealing with, given that these private cops often wear police uniforms, carry police-grade weapons, and perform many of the same duties as public cops, including carrying out SWAT team raids, issuing tickets and firing their weapons.
This is the growing dilemma we now face as private police officers outnumber public officers (more than two to one), and the corporate elite transforms the face of policing in America into a privatized affair that operates beyond the reach of the Fourth Amendment.
Mind you, it’s not as if we had many rights to speak of, anyhow.
Owing to the general complacency of the courts and legislatures, the Fourth Amendment has already been so watered down, battered and bruised as to provide little practical protection against police abuses. Indeed, as I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we’re already operating in a police state in which police have carte blanche authority to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance. Expanding on these police powers, the U.S. Supreme Court recently gave law enforcement officials tacit approval to collect DNA from any person, at any time.
However, whatever scant protection the weakened Fourth Amendment provides us dissipates in the face of privatized police, who are paid by corporations working in partnership with the government. Talk about a diabolical end run around the Constitution.
We’ve been so busy worrying about militarized police, police who shoot citizens first and ask questions later, police who shoot unarmed people, etc., that we failed to take notice of the corporate army that was being assembled under our very noses. Looks like we’ve been outfoxed, outmaneuvered and we’re about to be out of luck.
Indeed, if militarized police have become the government’s standing army, privatized police are its private army—guns for hire, if you will. This phenomenon can be seen from California to New York, and in almost every state in between. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the private security industry is undergoing a boom right now, with most of the growth coming about due to private police doing the jobs once held by public police. For instance, Foley, Minnesota, population 2600, replaced its police force with private guards.
Technically, a private police force is one that is owned or controlled by a non-governmental body such as a corporation. Those who advocate for privatized services and limited government hail the shift towards private police as a step in the right direction by getting the government out of the business of policing and allow market principles to dictate an officer’s success, i.e., if an officer abuses his authority, he can easily be fired.
Read the fine print, however, and you’ll find that these private police aka guns-for-hire a.k.a. private armies a.k.a. company police officers a.k.a. secret police a.k.a. conservators of the police a.k.a. rent-a-cops don’t exactly remove the government from the equation. Instead, they merely allow them to work behind the scenes, conveniently insulated from any accusations of wrongdoing or demands for transparency. Indeed, most private police officers are either working for private security firms that are contracted by the government or are government workers moonlighting on their time off.
What began as a job detail for wealthy communities and businesses looking to discourage burglaries has snowballed into a lucrative enterprise for private corporations. Today these private police can be found wherever extra security is “needed”: at hospitals, universities, banks, shopping malls, gated communities, you name it.
As historian Heather Ann Thompson notes, “private security firms have come substantially to supplement, if not completely to replace, the publicly-funded public safety presence of troubled inner cities ranging from Oakland, to New Orleans, to small towns in states such Minnesota, to entire neighborhoods—sometimes extremely rich, sometimes desperately poor—in urban centers such as Atlanta and Baltimore.”
For example, in New Orleans, a 50-person private police squad funded by a “voluntary” hotel tax is being charged with enforcing traffic, zoning and other non-emergency laws in the French Quarter.
In Seattle, off-duty Seattle Police officers moonlighting as a private security force patrol wealthy neighborhoods “approximately six nights/days a week for five hours each shift. Officers are in uniform, carry police radios and their police firearms and drive unmarked personal vehicles.”
In California, private mercenaries—many of them ex-U.S. Special Forces, Army Rangers and other combat veterans—equipped with AR-15 rifles use unmarked helicopters to police cannabis farms and cut down private gardens without a warrant.
Yet while these private police firms enjoy the trappings of government agencies—the weaponry, the arrest and shoot authority, even the ability to ticket and frisk— they’re often poorly trained, inadequately screened, poorly regulated and heavily armed. Now if that sounds a lot like public police officers, you wouldn’t be far wrong.
First off, the label of “private” is dubious at best. Mind you, this is a far cry from a privatization of police. These are guns for hire, answerable to corporations who are already in bed with the government. They are extensions of the government without even the pretense of public accountability. One security consultant likened the relationship between public and private police to public healthcare: “It’s basically, the government provides a certain base level. If you want more than that, you pay for it yourself.”
The University of Chicago’s police department (UCPD) is a prime example of how private security firms are being entrusted with the legal status of private police forces (which sets them beyond the reach of the rule of law) and the powers of public ones. With a jurisdiction that covers a six-square-mile area and is home to 65,000 individuals, the majority of whom are not students, UCPD is one of the largest private security forces in America.
The private police agency, modeled after the tactics of NYPD chief William Bratton, criminalizes nonviolent activities such as loitering, vandalism, smoking marijuana, and dancing “recklessly” and punishes minor infractions severely in order to “discourage” violent crime. To this end, the UCPD can search, ticket, arrest, and detain anyone they choose without being required to disclose to the public its reasons for doing so. Not surprisingly, the UCPD has been accused of using racial profiling to target individuals for stop-and-frisks.
Second, these private contractors are operating beyond the reach of the law. For example, although private police in Ohio are “authorized by the state to carry handguns, use deadly force and detain, search and arrest people,” they are permitted to keep their arrest and incident reports under wraps. Moreover, the public is not permitted to “check the officers’ background or conduct records, including their use-of-force and discipline histories.” As attorney Fred Gittes remarked, “There is no accountability. They have the greatest power that society can invest in people — the power to use deadly force and make arrests. Yet, the public and public entities have no practical access to information about their behavior, eluding the ability to hold anyone accountable.”
So what happens when the government hires out its dirty deeds to contractors who aren’t quite so discriminating about abiding by constitutional safeguards, especially as they relate to searches and heavy-handed tactics? If you think police abuses are worrisome, security expert Bruce Schneier warns that “abuses of power, brutality, and illegal behavior are much more common among private security guards than real police.”
As Schneier points out, “Many of the laws that protect us from police abuse do not apply to the private sector. Constitutional safeguards that regulate police conduct, interrogation and evidence collection do not apply to private individuals. Information that is illegal for the government to collect about you can be collected by commercial data brokers, then purchased by the police. We’ve all seen policemen ‘reading people their rights’ on television cop shows. If you’re detained by a private security guard, you don’t have nearly as many rights.”
Third, more often than not, the same individuals are serving in both capacities, first on the government payroll, then moonlighting for the corporations. Not surprisingly, given the demand for private police, you’ll find that police in most cities work privately while they are off-duty. Some private officers started off as public officers, then made the switch once they saw how lucrative the field could be.
This gives rise to another interesting phenomenon, a schism, if you will, between what is permissible in the private sector versus and what is allowed in the public sector, and how it affects those who travel between both worlds. We saw this played out in St. Louis, Missouri, when an off-duty police officer, working a secondary shift for a private security firm, shot and killed a teenager.
Fourth, what few realize is that these private police agencies are actually given their police powers by state courts and legislatures, which do not require them to act in accordance with the Constitution’s strictures or be accountable to “we the people.” As legal analyst Timothy Geigner observes, “They’re hiding from public scrutiny behind the veil of incorporation, which may rank right up there among the most cynical things a government organization has ever done. It’s a move one might find in the corporate republic of some dystopian novel. I say that because it’s truly not as though the police departments in question are attempting to claim some kind of exemption within public records law. They’re just putting up a stone wall.”
It’s not as if we have much in the way of local, publicly accountable police forces now; they all answer to the militarized agencies that provide their equipment and training. These private cops simply swell the government’s ranks and serve as the private arm of the law.
In fact, the Department of Justice has been one of the most vocal advocates for the benefits that private security—which has twice the budget and manpower as their government counterparts—can provide in partnership with public police. These so-called “benefits” are outlined in the DOJ’s guidebook entitled “Operation Partnership: Practices and Trends in Law Enforcement and Private Security Collaborations,” which focuses on how both sectors can share cutting-edge technology, information, and personnel resources. Sounds cozy, doesn’t it?
As history shows, we’re not forging a new path with these private police agencies, either. In fact, we’re simply following a model established long ago, not only by Hitler and Mussolini, who relied on private guards to do their bidding, but also by the likes of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, who relied on their own private police force, the Pinkertons, who had broad authority to “harass or hurt anyone their employers deemed a threat—be they a worker trying to get a fair wage or a poor person begging near the doorstep of a mansion.”
Nevertheless as historian Heather Ann Thompson points out, “despite countless historical accounts of why private policing of public spaces is a bad idea in a democracy, ordinary Americans have raised little ruckus today when, once again, only those Americans with money are assured access to security and protection.” Thompson continues:
Worse, astonishing faith has been expressed in the much-touted proposition that private police forces, in fact, act in the best interests of the public. Where is the concern, if not the outrage, that there is virtually no regulation when it comes to private policing in America’s inner cities? Not only can individuals with little if any training police public spaces, but in various locales they are even authorized to make arrests and wield firearms. What is more, unlike public police, private security officers are not required by law to read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights and, more incredibly, they are allowed to use force, in some circumstances even deadly force, if they deem it necessary to do so.
What we’re finding ourselves faced with is a government of mercenaries, bought and paid for with our tax dollars, all the while claiming to be beyond the reach of the Constitution’s dictates.
When all is said and done, privatization in the American police state amounts to little more than the corporate elite providing cover for government wrong-doing.
Either way, the American citizen loses.
The World Health Organization recommends consuming less than 50 grams of sugar a day for the sake of preventing obesity and tooth decay.
The ‘50 gram’ amount is equal to 12 teaspoons of sugar. If that sounds like a lot, bear in mind that a single can of soda already contains around 10 teaspoons.
The WHO recommendations that this limit include all types of free sugars such as glucose, fructose, table sugar added to processed foods and drinks and those naturally present in fruit juices, honey and syrups.
A recent WHO survey showed, predictably, that people around the globe eat much more sugar than they really need. Both kids and adults in North America and Central America sweeten their lives with more than 95 grams of sugar every day. To reach overall average, this figure should be halved.
In some areas the figure is even higher. For example an average resident in South America gets 130 grams of sugar on daily basis.
The WHO insists that free sugar should cover less than 10 percent of an individual’s daily energy intake.
“We have solid evidence that keeping the intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of [being] overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development said in a statement.
Current results differ a lot depending on the area. In Hungary and Norway sugar covers less than 8 percent of daily intake, while Spanish and British people get 17 percent of their daily energy from sugar. Portugal is among the worst performers as data showed rates among children there were as high as 25 percent.
On March 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an impassioned plea to Congress to protect Israel by opposing diplomacy with Iran. Referring to “the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States” which includes “generous military assistance and missile defense,” Netanyahu failed to mention that Israel has an arsenal of 100 or 200 nuclear weapons.
The Six-Day War
The day before he delivered that controversial address, Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments to AIPAC, Israel’s powerful U.S. lobby. He reiterated the claim that Israel acted in the 1967 Six-Day War “to defend itself.” The narrative that Israel attacked Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in self-defense, seizing the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967, has remained largely unquestioned in the public discourse. Israel relies on that narrative to continue occupying those Palestinian lands. And the powerful film “Censored Voices,” which premiered at Sundance in February, does not challenge that narrative.
But declassified high-level documents from Britain, France, Russia and the United States reveal that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were not going to attack Israel and Israel knew it. In fact, they did not attack Israel. Instead, Israel mounted the first attack in order to decimate the Egyptian army and take the West Bank.
Censored voices uncensored
For two weeks following the Six Day War, Amos Oz and Avrahim Shapira visited Israeli kibbutzim and recorded interviews with several Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who had just returned from that war. Largely censored by the Israeli government for many years, those reels have finally been made public. “Censored Voices” features the taped voices of young IDF soldiers, as the aging, former soldiers sit silently beside the tape recorder, listening to their own voices.
The testimonies documented in the tapes reveal evidence of targeting civilians and summarily executing prisoners, which constitute war crimes. A soldier asks himself, “They’re civilians – should I kill them or not?” He replies, “I didn’t even think about it. Just kill! Kill everyone you see.” Likewise, one voice notes, “Several times we captured guys, positioned them and just killed them.” Another reveals, “In the war, we all became murderers.” Still another says, “Not only did this war not solve the state’s problems, but it complicated them in a way that’ll be very hard to solve.” One soldier likens evacuating Arab villages to what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe. As a soldier watched an Arab man being taken from his home, the soldier states, “I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil.”
In what proved to be a prescient question, one soldier asks, “Are we doomed to bomb villages every decade for defensive purposes?” Indeed, Israel justifies all of its assaults on Gaza as self-defense, even though Israel invariably attacks first, and kills overwhelming numbers of Palestinians – mostly civilians. Each time, many fewer Israelis are killed by Palestinian rockets.
Israel’s false self-defense claim
The film begins by showing a map of Israel surrounded by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, with arrows from each country aimed at Israel. The IDF soldiers felt those Arab countries posed an existential threat to Israel. “There was a feeling it would be a Holocaust,” one soldier observed. The Israeli media claimed at the time that Egypt had attacked Israel by land and by air on June 5, 1967. According to British journalist Patrick Seale, “Israel’s preparation of opinion” was “brilliantly managed,” a “remarkable exercise in psychological warfare.”
In his book, “The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War,” published by Cambridge University Press, Ohio State University law professor John Quigley documents conversations by high government officials in Israel, the United States, Egypt, the Soviet Union, France, and Britain leading up to the Six-Day War. He draws on minutes of British cabinet meetings, a French government publication, U.S. documents in “Foreign Relations of the United States,” and Russian national archives. Those conversations make clear that Israel knew Egypt, Syria and Jordan would not and did not attack Israel, and that Israel initiated the attacks.
Egypt was the only one of the three Arab countries that had a military of any consequence. Israeli General Yitzhak Rabin told the Israeli cabinet that the Egyptian forces maintained a defensive posture, and Israeli General Meir Amit, head of Mossad (Israeli’s intelligence agency), informed U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that Egypt was not poised to attack Israel. Both the United States and the Soviet Union urged Israel not to attack. Nevertheless, Israel’s cabinet voted on June 4 to authorize the IDF to invade Egypt.
“After the cabinet vote,” Quigley writes, “informal discussion turned to ways to make it appear that Israel was not starting a war when in fact that was precisely what it was doing.” Moshe Dayan, who would soon become Israel’s Minister of Defense, ordered military censorship, saying, “For the first twenty-four hours, we have to be the victims.” Dayan admitted in his memoirs, “We had taken the first step in the war with Egypt.” Nevertheless, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gideon Rafael reported to the Security Council that Israel had acted in self-defense.
“The hostilities were attacks by the Israeli air force on multiple Egyptian airfields, aimed at demolishing Egyptian aircraft on the ground,” according to Quigley. On June 5, the CIA told President Lyndon B. Johnson, “Israel fired the first shots today.”
Article 51 of the UN Charter authorizes states to act in collective self-defense after another member state suffers an armed attack. Although Jordan and Syria responded to the Israeli attacks on Egypt, they – and Egypt – inflicted little damage to Israel. By the afternoon of June 5, Israel “had virtually destroyed the air war capacity of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria,” Quigley notes. “The IDF achieved the ‘utter defeat’ of the Egyptian army on June 7 and 8.”
The United States empowers Israel
U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk said that U.S. officials were “angry as hell, when the Israelis launched their surprise offensive.” Yet, Quigley notes, “Israel’s gamble paid off in that the United States would not challenge Israel’s story about how the fighting started. Even though it quickly saw through the story, the White House kept its analysis to itself.”
Although Security Council resolution 242, passed in 1967, refers to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories it acquired in the Six-Day War.
Israel has abandoned its claim that Egypt attacked first. Yet the international community considers that Israel acted in lawful anticipatory self-defense. Quigley explains how the UN Charter only permits the use of armed force after an armed attack on a UN member state; it does not authorize anticipatory, preventive, or preemptive self-defense.
“The UN did not condemn Israel in 1967 for its attack on Egypt,” Antonio Cassese of the University of Florence explained. Quigley attributes this to Cold War politics, as the USSR supported Egypt. “For the United States in particular, Israel’s success was a Cold War defeat for the USSR. The United States was hardly prepared to condemn Israel after it performed this service.”
The United States continues to support Israel by sending it $3 billion per year in military aid, even when Israel attacks Gaza with overwhelming firepower, as it did in the summer of 2014, killing 2,100 Palestinians (mostly civilians). Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and seven civilians were killed.
If Israel were to mount an attack on Iran, the United States would invariably support Israel against Iran and any Arab country that goes to Iran’s defense. Indeed, Netanyahu intoned to Congress, “may Israel and America always stand together.”
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.”
Uruguay’s president, Jose “Pepe” Mujica, a former guerrilla who lives on a farm and gives most of his salary to charity, is stepping down after five years in office, ending his term as one of the world’s most popular leaders ever.
Mujica, 79, is leaving office with a 65 percent approval rating. He is constitutionally prohibited from serving consecutive terms.
“I became president filled with idealism, but then reality hit,” Mujica said in an interview with a local newspaper earlier this week, according to AFP.
Some call him “the world’s poorest president.” Others the “president every other country would like to have.” But Mujica says “there’s still so much to do” and hopes that the next government, led by Tabare Vazquez (who was elected president for a second time last November) will be “better than mine and will have greater success.”
Mujica said he succeeded in putting Uruguay on the world map. He managed to turn the cattle-ranching country, home to 3,4 million people, into an energy-exporting nation, Brazil being Uruguay’s top export market (followed by China, Argentina, Venezuela and the US.)
Uruguay’s $55 billion economy has grown an average 5.7 percent annually since 2005, according to the World Bank. Uruguay has maintained its decreasing trend in public debt-to-GDP ratio – from 100 percent in 2003 to 60 percent by 2014. It has also managed to decrease the cost of its debt, and reduce dollarization – from 80 percent in 2002 to 50 percent in 2014.
“We’ve had positive years for equality. Ten years ago, about 39 percent of Uruguayans lived below the poverty line; we’ve brought that down to under 11 percent and we’ve reduced extreme poverty from 5 percent to only 0.5 percent,” Mujica told the Guardian in November.
After Latin America’s anti-drug war proved a failure, the South American country became the first in the world to fully legalize marijuana, with Mujica arguing that drug trafficking is in fact more dangerous than marijuana itself.
One of the most progressive leaders in Latin America. Muijica also legalized abortion and same-sex marriage and agreed to take in detainees once held at the notorious Guantanamo Bay. Six former US detainees, who were never charged with a crime, came to Uruguay in December as refugees. The six included four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian. Although they were cleared for release back in 2009, the US was not able to discharge them until Uruguayan President offered to receive them.
Mujica, a former leftist Tupamaro guerrilla leader, spent 13 years in jail during the years of Uruguay’s military dictatorship. He survived torture and endless months of solitary confinement. Majica said he never regretted his time in jail, which he believes helped shape his character.
Mujica’s kindness speaks volumes: He refused to move to Uruguay’s luxurious presidential mansion to live in a farm outside Montevideo with his wife and a three-legged dog named Manuela. Pepe gives away about 90 percent of his salary to charity, saying he simply doesn’t need it. He drives an 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.
Last year, Mujica turned down a $1 million offer from an Arab sheik who offered to buy his blue car. Pepe refused to sell the vehicle, saying it would offend “all those friends who pooled together to buy it for us.”
In January, a young Uruguayan man posted a message on his Facebook page recounting how Mujica and his wife picked him up while he was hitchhiking.
“On Monday, I was looking for a ride from Conchilla and guess who picked me up on the road?” Gerhald Acosta wrote on his Facebook post January 7. “They were the only ones who would stop!”
“When I got out, I thanked them profusely because not everyone helps someone out on the road, and much less a president,” the man told Uruguay’s El Observador newspaper.
Commentators marked World War I’s centenary last year with cloudy references to its “dreadful lessons” and “emotional legacies.” And the victor countries’ leaders stressed the “profound sacrifice” (Barack Obama) the conflict’s “generation…made for us” (David Cameron). But if these recollections are any guide, one of the war’s dark chapters has been largely forgotten.
George Bernard Shaw discussed this episode nearly a century ago, in July 1919. “We are at present at a climax of national exultation over the most magnificent military triumph in our long record of victory,” he observed. “But the splendour of the end,” he added, “had better not blind us to the grimness of the means, which were the work of our hands.” Shaw meant that England had “starved the children of Germany, and of many other lands as well.”
The starvation campaign’s centenary is next month. It was on March 1, 1915, that “Britain and France announced that they intended to expand the objectives of the naval blockade of the Central Powers to include the interdiction of food,” Alexander Downes writes in Targeting Civilians in War. This declaration followed Germany’s, on February 4, signaling the start of submarine warfare, but merely exploited the Kaiser’s pronouncement as “an excellent pretext to interdict German food imports in a way that avoided offending neutral opinion,” Downes explains.
Depicting the blockade as a response to German aggression deflected attention from British criminality. Ralph Raico writes that, “according to everyone’s interpretation of international law except Britain’s,” the expanded blockade “was illegal,” and Downes argues that “the reigning norms and laws of naval warfare—codified in the Declaration of London, negotiated by the leading naval powers in 1908-9”—forbade it. But the law proved as great an obstacle to British officials as moral concerns. Winston Churchill clarified in 1914, while First Lord of the Admiralty, that the goal with Germany was “to starve the whole population—men, women, and children, young and old, wounded and sound—into submission.” Top defense official Maurice Hankey agreed, writing in 1915 that there was no “hope to starve Germany out this year,” though “next year” looked better.
Hankey’s forecast was accurate. The war was devastating, writes Matthew Stibbe, since “Germany depended on foreign imports for around one-third of its food needs” before 1914. “Without access to imported fertilizers,” Downes notes, “the yields of German harvests declined over the course of the conflict,” falling from “4.4 million tons of wheat in 1913” to “2.5 million tons in 1918.” Furthermore, “German consumption of meat products plummeted from 1,050 grams per week in 1913 to 135 in 1918.” Exacerbating the problem, according to Hans-Jürgen Teuteberg, was that the German “state did virtually nothing to reduce the dependence on food imports.”
German suffering sharpened during the 1916-17 winter, Stibbe explains, when “ordinary civilian rations had fallen below 1,000 calories a day”—“barely sufficient for a child of two or three years old,” Britain’s official historian of the blockade elaborated. C. Paul Vincent relates the story of one Dr. Neumann, who in 1916 “performed an experiment in which he limited himself to the legally allowed food ration for an average person. After six months on this regimen, the professor had lost a third of his weight and his capacity for work had been destroyed.”
But hunger and illness brought the most ruin to women and children. Downes writes that “by 1918 the female death rate in Germany had increased 50 percent over the rate in 1913, and was also 50 percent higher than the corresponding rate in England.” “The death rate of children between the ages of one and five” jumped 50% during the war, with a 55% rise for children aged five to fifteen, according to Vincent. “The infanticide in Bethlehem was child’s play compared with the starvation of German children as a result of the three years of economic blockade,” a Berlin priest and anti-war activist remarked, surveying the wasteland. One wonders how he would have ranked President Clinton’s Iraq sanctions, estimated to have killed 500,000 children by 1995—“worth it,” in Madeleine Albright’s view.
For German survivors, withered by hunger, life reduced to a series of grim alternatives. Lina Richter told of a 16-year-old who “attempted to destroy her life by suffocation with gas, owing to despair over the home conditions,” and was then hospitalized. Evelyn, Princess Blücher conversed with a woman for whom living “on the minimum of food still possible under the circumstances was so dreadful, that she thought it would be the most sensible thing to go with her child and try to get shot in one of the numerous street-fights;” a second woman considered “turning on the gas on herself and her two small children, and putting an end to the horrors of living.”
The blockade continued after the armistice, lifting only in July 1919, by which point the excess civilian death toll was somewhere between 475,800, in historian Jay Winter’s estimate, and the official German figure of 763,000. And the U.S. had backed the starvation campaign upon entering the war. “Not given to half-measures, Wilson ensured that every loophole left open by the Allies for the potential reprovisioning of Germany was closed,” Vincent argues. Critiquing Wilson-style diplomacy, George Kennan cited its “legalistic-moralistic approach” as a chief weakness. His assertion, weighed next to Washington’s support for illegal and murderous British policy, describes the exact opposite of Wilson’s method—worth bearing in mind, given Kennan’s reputation as a “first-class strategic thinker” (John J. Mearsheimer).
Wilson’s standing as an incurable dreamer also rests on dubious assumptions. It seems obvious that his actions, publicly justified by the looming “German menace,” were the greatest wartime threat to U.S. citizens. He oversaw “one of the worst suppressions of civil liberties in the history of the United States” (Richard Striner) while taking the country into “a holy war to redeem the Old World” (Lloyd Ambrosius). “Because there had been no direct attack on the United States,” Geoffrey R. Stone adds, “the Wilson administration needed to create an ‘outraged public’ to arouse Americans to enlist,” and to this end “established the Committee on Public Information (CPI) under the direction of George Creel, a progressive journalist and public relations expert. Creel’s goal was to generate enthusiasm for the war”—to convince young men to enter a slaughterhouse, in other words.
Wade Davis details the front’s butchery with bleak poeticism, describing victims “caught on the barbed wire, drowned in mud, choked by the oily slime of gas, reduced to a spray of red mist,” their “quartered limbs hanging from shattered branches of burnt trees, bodies swollen and blackened with flies, skulls gnawed by rats, corpses stuck in the sides of trenches….” Both there and in Germany, Wilson’s liberal idealist path dead-ended at a graveyard—one of the war’s “dreadful lessons” recent commentary ignores.
Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC. He can be reached at: email@example.com
The following email was sent to me by a Global Research reader, widow of an American serviceman, an unspoken victim of America’s wars.
Her response shows how effective war propaganda has become, in turning concepts up side down.
Western civilization is threatened, the ISIS bogeyman seeks World domination. Our American way of life is threatened.
She blames the enemy for the death of her husband, rather than the US government.
I offered to send her my book regarding the impacts of nuclear war. I signed my email with the words “For Peace”.
She responded by saying: ”How dare you think peace is the answer.”
War is the solution, she says. “total annihilation is the answer. .. What we have to do is to teach nations to fear us” :
Have we become so complacent of fear that we will not use mass destruction against the Middle East. We did it against Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end all threats from those who have no regard for other humans? [first email]
In response to your email, I am a military brat and have good experience with war.
Have you ever been to a little place called Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, or Iraq. I had 6 very good friends, drafted to Vietnam, who never returned.
I am a war widow and raised an 18 month old son, alone!!
How dare you think peace is the answer.
For countries, that threaten our way of life, war is not good enough to slap hands, total annihilation is the answer.
If we had done that, ISIS would not be beheading people.
They are encouraging our own people to join ISIS to retaliate against America.
Are you ready to live under ISIS world domination? Remincent of a little man named Adolf Hitler, who annihilated 6 million Jews.
If we can teach nations to fear us, then we wouldn’t need war, then our precious military would not die on foreign soil, leaving families devastated.
Think about that. Peace, Fear is a much better alternative. [second email]
(minor editing by M.Ch.)
The Victims of War Propaganda
Her response is the product of a propaganda campaign within the US Armed Forces.
She is the victim of America’s wars, the widow of an American serviceman. She is also the victim of war propaganda which instills hatred and upholds war as the solution.
Upon reading her message, I felt that the most important thing to do was to reach out to her, and the victims of war propaganda, provide them with concepts and information, which will enable them to know the truth about US led wars.
More broadly Americans are misinformed as to the true nature of America’s wars. “Wipe out the rest of the world to ensure the security of the American homeland.”
Going after “Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “protect the Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda. This has become a consensus shared by millions of people. In turn, “The Global War on Terrorism” is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”.
Evil folks are lurking. A good versus evil duality prevails, which instills in the minds of millions of people the notion that war is a humanitarian undertaking.
What is required is counter-propaganda to sensitize our fellow-citizens, with a view to confronting the stream of lies emanating from the US government and the mainstream media. This campaign should be extended to members of the Armed Forces and their families.
Spread the word far and wide. Reverse the Tide. Obama’s “Global War on Terrorism” is Fake, it’s a criminal undertaking.
The fundamental issue, which is obfuscated by the media is that the Islamic State (ISIS) is a creation of US intelligence, which is used to destabilize and destroy sovereign countries as part of a global war of conquest.
200 Years of US Interventionism
The U.S. and Cuba are meeting again this week for their second round of normalization talks. When asked by the media what she expected from the first round, Roberta Jacobson, the senior diplomat leading the U.S. team, said that she was “not oblivious to the weight of history.” She was right on target: There is a very long history that begins well before the Revolution, deserves careful analysis, and will impact the talks.
As far back as 1809, Jefferson tried to purchase Cuba. In 1820 he went further; he told Secretary of War J.C. Calhoun that the U.S. “ought, at the first possible opportunity, to take Cuba.” As President, John Quincy Adams predicted that Cuba would fall “like a ripening plum into the lap of the union.” These are but two of many prominent examples of a widespread ambition to annex Cuba, or at least to control its destiny, from very early in U.S. history. After “the West,” Cuba figured as a prominent second place in U.S. expansionist aims from the beginning of the Republic.
In subsequent decades, support for annexing Cuba shifted tactically to Southerners who saw Cuba as a potential new slave state, though “manifest destiny” continued to be the fundamental driving force. Presidents Polk, in 1848, and Pierce, in 1854, offered unsuccessfully to buy Cuba. John Louis O’Sullivan, the newspaper editor who coined the phrase “Manifest Destiny” in 1845, supported Cuba’s best known “annexationist,” taking him to Polk’s White House in search of support for his armed expeditions. And even Walt Whitman—no advocate of slavery—wrote in 1871 that, “‘manifest destiny’ certainly points to the speedy annexation of Cuba by the United States.”
President McKinley again unsuccessfully offered to buy Cuba in 1898, shortly before declaring war on Spain. Only a year before, his Undersecretary of War, I.C. Breckenridge, had reflected the annexationist thinking in a memo arguing that: “We must impose a harsh blockade so that hunger and its constant companion, disease, undermine the peaceful population and decimate the Cuban Army….in order to annex the Pearl of the Antilles [Cuba].” He meant the Cuban independence army, who had all but defeated the Spanish well before Roosevelt with his Rough Riders arrived to clean up. It was advocacy of a policy to starve the Cuban population and its army, just to make sure that the U.S. alone could determine the future of the island. The push for annexation eventually failed, in no small part because its supporters realized that Cubans would likely continue their war if the U.S. tried to impose it. Yet those who favored annexation were able to impose the Platt Amendment on the new Cuban Constitution in 1904, in effect granting the US the right to intervene in Cuba for practically any reason the US saw fit. Cuba’s independence was brutally truncated, and the U.S. intervened on the island again in 1906, 1912, 1917 and 1920.
During the 1930’s and 40’s, the ambition to control Cuba’s destiny continued—if somewhat more subtly and without troops. The U.S. sent Sumner Welles as a special envoy to Cuba in the 1930’s to ensure that the outcome of a populist insurrection against Gerardo Machado, then Cuba’s dictator, did not steer the island away from U.S. tutelage. This intervention gave rise to the U.S. support for Fulgencio Batista, which lasted until his overthrow in 1959 by the Revolution. As our ambassador to Cuba at the time, Earl T. Smith, asserted during a Senate hearing in 1960: “Until Castro, the U.S. was so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that the American ambassador was the second most important man, sometimes even more important than the Cuban president.”
The ambition to control Cuba, in other words, already had a long and complex history by the time of the victory of the Revolution in 1959. The list of U.S. interventions seeking regime change that followed is too long to detail here. The Bay of Pigs, assassination efforts, hundreds of acts of sabotage and terrorism, and, of course, the embargo since 1960. And what did the embargo seek? Well, President Eisenhower said that “if the [Cuban people] are hungry they will throw Castro out,” a view that President Kennedy reiterated when he asserted that the end of the Revolution would come from “rising discomfort among hungry Cubans.” Arguably, a policy with the same goal of maintaining Cuba as a client state as the Breckenridge memo of half a century before. The embargo was then codified in the so-called Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws of 1992 and 1996, both supposedly granting the U.S. the right to decide what kind of government the island could have, and laws that were passed well after the Soviet Union had collapsed, the Cold War ended, and Cuba had stopped its revolutionary activities in both Africa and Latin America. In effect, these laws are modern versions of the Platt Amendment, no longer “justified” even by the Cold War fig leaf.
So the history of U.S. policy towards Cuba shows a continuity that is hard to deny. Even those who might disagree with this interpretation should not find it hard to imagine how the Cuban government, and Cubans as a whole, would react with profound skepticism and distrust of the intentions of the most powerful country in the world, as reflected by these kinds of pressures and policies for more than two centuries. Beyond the immediate issues, such as the irrational listing of Cuba in the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, Ms. Jacobson will certainly have a very heavy weight of history to consider in her discussions with her Cuban counterparts. If the President directs her, however, she, on behalf of our country, will have a unique opportunity to break clear from the interventionist thrust of our past interventionist policies, and seek agreements that nurture common interests and respect the obvious differences between the U.S. and the island.
Manuel R. Gomez is a Cuban-American public health professional who resides in Washington, DC.
Solving 9-11: The Deception That Changed the World
By Christopher Bollyn, 2012, paperback, 325 pp.
As terrified workers jumped from the burning towers on 9/11, five Mossad agents celebrated the event across the river in New Jersey. They high-fived each other, danced and took photos of themselves in obvious delight. Notified, the police apprehended them. They had Palestinian clothing in their truck. They failed lie detector tests, but were released. Back home they admitted on Israeli television they had come to New York “to record the event.”
Two hours before the first plane struck the World Trade Center, the Mossad-owned Odigo messaging system advised its members “to the precise minute” the time of the attack.
These events in particular caused Christopher Bollyn, an independent journalist, to suspect that Israel was a key player behind 9/11.
In his book Bollyn proposes that “9-11 was an elaborate false-flag deception carried out by Israeli military intelligence and Zionist agents” in the United States. He states that “Israeli nationals or dedicated Zionists [can be found] at every key point of the 9-11 matrix.”
The author begins with a short review of Israel’s successful false flag operations. He then traces the germ of the 9/11 project to Mossad head Isser Harel, who informed an American visitor in 1979 that “your tallest building will be the…symbol they [the terrorists] will hit.”
The next step was getting control of security for the World Trade Center, which the Mossad actually did—briefly—in 1987, under the name of Atwell Security. This company soon lost its contract due to the criminal past of one of its officers.
Thereafter, according to Bollyn, the Mossad worked through dual-allegiance Americans like Jeremy Kroll and Maurice Greenberg. Indeed, Kroll Associates was in charge of security at the World Trade Center from the early 1990s until after 9/11. The first plane hit the security rooms of a Greenberg company in the North Tower. This truly was, says Bollyn, “an amazing coincidence.”
At this crucial point, however, Bollyn’s storyline breaks down. He may infer, but does not even suggest, that Kroll Associates allowed Mossad agents into the buildings to rig them for demolition. He merely states that the residue of the detonating material thermite was scientifically proved to be in the dust. He does not speculate how it got there.
The author makes a very strong case in identifying numerous private companies in America dealing in information and technology with roots either directly to Mossad-founded companies or companies officered by committed partisans of Israel. These companies proved to be the “Achilles’ heel” of U.S. defense.
Companies, often small, such as Ptech, Mitre, and U.S. Aviation, provided or had access to highly important defense information. Such companies helped develop the software to control hijacking—and well before 9/11. Passenger planes, like drones, could, and can, be controlled by “ground pilots.” Obviously this software alone could have stopped the airplanes of 9/11.
Further, facility with this new software was used to foil “a military response to the emergency as it developed.”
The author concludes with the issues of the hasty clean-up of the crime scene and appointments to the Justice Department. Again committed Israelists turn up in these areas.
Hugo Neu-Schnitzer Corporation and one of Israeli Marc Rich’s companies took part in shipping off the crime scene evidence from Ground Zero. An interesting aspect of the clean-up was the dredging of the two-mile long Claremont Channel in August 2001—the month before the attacks—from shallows of only 10 feet deep to a depth of 35 feet so that ocean-going vessels could quickly haul the steel away.
The appointments of Michael Chertoff, Michael Mukasey and Alvin Hellerstein to the Justice Department were keys in preventing court cases of the 76 victim families who refused to take the government’s compensation money from proceeding to trial.
Bollyn is often meandering and difficult to follow; nonetheless, he opens a path that needs to be pursued. The author is to be complimented for pursuing an idea that many people have long suspected but have wished to avoid.
James G. Smart is professor emeritus, Keene State College, and a member of PEN (Palestine Education Network), a project of NH Peace Action.
I am an atheist, but I am not Charlie Hebdo!
My disgust with Western imperialism and fascism is much stronger than my aversion towards religions. And I don’t think that “all religions are equally evil.” I mainly hold Christianity responsible for most of the crimes committed in modern human history. I hold it responsible for “derailing” and radicalizing traditionally much more peaceful religions, like Buddhism and yes, like Islam.
Therefore, I am definitely not Charlie!
I don’t want to quarrel with dead people. Journalists at Charlie Hebdo should have never died in that terrible way. I actually don’t know exactly who is responsible for their demise, although I am well aware of the fact that there are many sound theories, not only the official one.
What is clear and absolutely certain is that for almost two months, their deaths have been politicized by the Western regime, by the Empire. Politicized to a sickening extreme.
Their deaths became a rallying cry of the “liberals,” of apologists who are once again ready to forget and forgive all the crimes committed by Western nations for those long centuries, all over the world.
Apologists are ready to forgive their own crimes, the crimes committed by their own states, crimes of their own religion, and of their own dogma. For many years the simple logic of Western liberals was: we are all human and humans are all equally violent. Which is thorough, absolute nonsense! The death of 12 people is not the same as death of one million! 2,000 victims are not the same as several hundreds of millions! Car brakes that fail 10 times are much, much safer for people to use than those that fail several millions of times, and only a total idiot would claim otherwise!
These liberals, and Charlie Hebdo was one of them, have been extremely selective in their criticisms of the world. We hardly hear from them about the terror their Empire (consisting mainly of North America and the European nations) is spreading everywhere. They don’t poke jokes at Western style “democracy” too often, or at the barbarity of Christianity, or at European colonialism, which has been enslaving almost the entire planet for hundreds of years, virtually destroying almost all alternatives for humanity.
We hardly hear them poking upsetting jokes at Zionism and Israeli apartheid. And where are their brave witty and provocative puns exposing genocides that are being committed by the Empire’s allies: India and Indonesia? Why are we not rolling on the floor, laughing at those corrupt bandits in Jakarta and New Delhi, when their servile, twisted regimes are called – “democracies”? And where are Charlie Hebdo and others, confronting the funniest lies: those about so-called Western democracy itself?
Or are Charlie and his cohorts only brave where it pays and where it is not really risky at all?
I did some research, and realized that there was not one single essay or cartoon by Charlie Hebdo exposing Western responsibility for radicalizing Islam. Not one! And this is one of the main stories of the 20th and 21st centuries; the story about how Brits endorsed and helped to spread Wahhabism, the most appalling form of Islam, which is metastasizing radicalism all over the world. Or how the West literally liquidated all forms of socialist, secular, tolerant Islam!
That is exactly what Islam was becoming, at least after the WWII – secular, tolerant and socialist: in Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, and Afghanistan (allied to the Soviet Union) and in many other places.
Socialist Muslim countries: that would be, of course, thoroughly unacceptable to the West. The Empire needed yet another Rottweiler to fight socialism and Communism. A Rottweiler that could go, periodically, bananas, and would “have to be fought” by the West and its Christian fundamentalism, justifying insane and out of control “defense” budgets.
The Empire and its “brave satirists” like Charlie Hebdo saw (or were ordered to see) socially oriented, secular and tolerant Islam as a tremendous threat!
Eventually, all secular Muslim governments were overthrown directly by the West, at the cost of millions of human lives. And when great rulers of the Muslim world were murdered or sidelined, the common logic in the West proclaimed: “You see, these Arab niggers cannot rule themselves!”
And the brainwashed Western public ate up all these lies, that “intellectual shit,” about the Muslim world, about Africa, Asia and Latin America – before Latin America rose again and broke its shackles!
What I have written about the Muslim world – that was, of course only the first, post-WWII wave. What followed decades later was total horror, genocide, in Iraq, Libya, Syria…
There were a few half-hearted protests in several European public parks, but no decisive wave of resistance by the Western intellectuals, including the comedians and satirists.
Not a word from Charlie Hebdo on that account.
And that is why I am not Charlie!
To piss on Islam is an extremely safe undertaking. To do it, in the West, is unmistakable sign of “coolness” and “secularity.” But deep down, it is nothing more than ignorance, bigotry and collaboration with the regime, a sign of cowardice!
If the trend continues, I will soon stop calling myself “atheist,” because I do not want to be in “that” company.
True internationalists and sensible atheists want to liberate people from oppression, not to hurt, not to harm defenseless beings! And not to cover up crimes of the real villains and bandits!
Islam has already been ruined, humiliated, stripped of its socially oriented essence. Western demagogues, propagandists and academics usurped its achievements: from great accomplishments in medicine, science, and architecture, to enormous efforts to build egalitarian societies. Yes, the first free and public hospitals in the world were in the Muslim world, and the first universities were there as well. Now, most of them are for a fee, and have ‘American’ in their name – in Cairo, Amman, Beirut, everywhere!
Cultural Islam had been defeated: not in some open intellectual duel, but by brutal force and by the most effective weapons of Western “civilization” – by filthy tricks, by deceit!
As a result, all of humanity lost!
Of course, if you go “too far” in urinating on Islam, frustrated followers may chop you to pieces. But still, you will enjoy a great martyrdom after your death. You will be admired and commemorated by millions of brainwashed fellow Christian fundamentalists (yes, that is what most of them really are, even if they call themselves “secular,” or even “atheists”). And if you are not killed (the great majority is not), you will be respected and embraced by the majority of your “oh so free countrymen” and glorified by mass media!
And that is why I am not Charlie! I don’t want to be a collaborator. I don’t want to be an official clown serving the fascist Empire. Forgive me, but no, seriously, fuck you!
Je Suis Chavez! Je Suis Lumumba! Je suis Salvador Allende, bordel! Not Charlie, oh no, not Charlie!
As I saw those multitudes marching in Paris, and as I saw their tears, I felt embarrassed and nauseated: yes, these people were Charlie! Yes, they were crying over their fallen men.
Those uncritical, brainwashed masses, are still reigning over the world. Not only the politicians and business tycoons (I don’t buy the claim that Europeans and North Americans are “also victims”) but also these people!
A few of their men falling evokes total national outrage, hysteria.
Millions that are being slaughtered because of French business interests, all over the world, particularly those millions in Africa, don’t produce even one tear, or one major protest!
Hundreds of millions of Muslims who are forced to live under the yoke of the worst regimes imaginable, the shittiest rulers money can buy; rulers who are fully maintained by the Empire (of which France is an integral part) are of no interest to that selfish, horrifying crowd.
The crowd is naturally and fully responsible for its rulers. It is benefiting from global plunder; not as much as before the late 80’s, but it is still benefiting, nevertheless!
The crowd desperately needs Charlies! It is insecure, intellectually and morally fucked, therefore it is longing for “symbols.” It needs to feel that it is Charlie! It is cowardly, and therefore it needs heroes and martyrs.
The heads, dictators of the Empire, need Charlie, too. The crowd and the Empire are, on most accounts, one single entity, with similar goals: to fuck the world and do very little while living materially “great” – although arguably empty – lives.
That is why the Empire manufactures individuals like those who are willing to run bigoted magazines. That is why it is canonizing them, if they fall. That is why it makes sure that some of them do occasionally fall, in order to become martyrs…
This way the crowd can have its symbols, its “heroes.”
And that is why I am not Charlie!
Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His critically acclaimed political revolutionary novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear” (Pluto). He just completed feature documentary “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website.
With some recent, high-profile crimes committed by people purporting to follow the religion of Islam, the image of Muslims around the globe has largely been manipulated to project extremism, violence and intolerance. This manufactured image was long in the making, beginning as early as the 1980s, and reached epic proportions following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, irrespective of whether or not Muslim individuals, either by faith or birth, were behind it as executors or plotters. The negative propaganda which Muslims found themselves subjected to was done with the intention and precise objective, as the days following 9/11 have proven, to justify war against two predominantly Muslim countries. If the negative portrayal of Muslims was for reasons related to Islam, and not for other motives, then it would be difficult to explain the protective and shielded media coverage of several Middle Eastern monarchies with histories of violence and intolerance not only towards non-Muslims but also Muslims and those monarchies own citizens. Many Muslims throughout the world found themselves defending an unjust campaign portraying Muslims in negative stereotypes and associating Islam with violence and savagery. Mysterious groups alleged to be part of a global Islamic movement emerged with no objective but beheading Westerners and Christians, and distributing the gruesome savagery on YouTube and other media for the world to see.
While it cannot be ascertained who is the mastermind behind the illusive, ghostly and mercurial global al-Qaida organization (if it qualifies for such designation), it is highly likely that it has roots in Saudi and US intelligence establishments. ‘Islamic’ extremism was perceived favorably by Western media during the fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and during the Chechen wars of independence. Nevertheless, evidence points to a concerted campaign initiated and financed by the West (including think-tanks and media corporations) to portray Muslims as extremists and terrorists. The motives are abundant, most prominent of which are justification for the ill-conceived invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and, by extension, further legitimization of Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies and occupation of Palestinian territories that fall within dominantly Muslim-populated geographical areas.
The West found in al-Qaeda, and its self-replicating derivatives, individuals who can be used to further the West’s geo-political interests. But what made the West cultivate and harbor a group with a highly controversial and extremist doctrine that views the world with a binary lens: right vs. wrong. Halal (sanctioned by Islam) vs. haram (not sanctioned by Islam), Sharia (Islamic legislation) vs. Kufr (disbelieving), dar al-Islam (the house of Islam) vs. dar al-Harb (the house of disbelievers)? Solid evidence is not yet available to prove the link between al-Qaeda and Western and Saudi intelligence, at least in the public domain; however, a preponderance of evidence shows that al-Qaeda morphed out of direct Saudi government patronage. The conflict in Syria that started in 2011 indicates complicity between a host of governments, NATO member countries and al-Qaida. With the massive worldwide manhunt for al-Qaida, one would expect that any alleged al-Qaeda operative would be under heavy surveillance and most likely would not be able to cross international borders, at least with ease; such border crossing would be clandestine and rare. Yet a large influx of al-Qaeda operatives took place from the Horn of Africa, Northern Africa, Afghanistan, and the Arabian Peninsula into Syria through neighboring Turkey. That such movement of high-grade radicals could take place without the knowledge of Turkey, a NATO member country, seems highly unlikely. A recent German documentary produced by DW television uncovered the movement of goods from Turkey to ISIS territory with full knowledge of Turkish authorities.
In the pursuit of global geo-political plans, the West found in the religious doctrine of the Wahhabi-Salafi sect a highly extremist and exclusionist philosophy to advance its objectives. ‘’Philosophy’’ may be too grand a word to describe it; perhaps ‘outlook’ is more appropriate. The Wahhabi-Salafi sect is highly susceptible to manipulation because of its fundamental unspoken doctrine of imitation and largely succumbing to the wishes of the Amir (English: leader).
Wahhabism is attributed to Muhammad Ibn AbdulWahaab (1703–1792), a religious figure who was a staunch follower of Ibn Taymiyah (1263–1328). Salafism, derived from Salaf (English: forefathers) refers to the doctrine of imitating the companions of Prophet Mohammed in practically everything that is known about them. These two unlikely philosophies merge and bring about the violence that is wrongly attributed to Islam today.
Wahhabism is a dangerous sect (or cult) that interprets Islam primarily from narrations attributed to Prophet Muhammad, irrespective of their authenticity and their contextual time-space applicability. Wahhabis believe that everything the Salaf (English: companions of the prophet and their successors and the successors of the successors) did was perfect, and that the emulation of the Salaf is a religious duty, and their edicts are binding on all Muslims. In their understanding of Islam, the Wahhabis consider the Qur’an to be supplementary to alleged prophetic narrations rather than the primary source of guidance and legislation. The Wahhabis believe that wars waged by Arabs under the banner of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties were religiously mandated and thus were fundamentally Islamic. Amongst their beliefs is to invade non-Muslims’ land and force non-Muslims to convert, pay tax, or face execution. They do not believe that non-Muslims should have places of worship on Muslim land (surprisingly, they don’t provide a definition for ‘Muslim land’). Most alarming and dangerous of their doctrines is the ease by which a person can be killed. Their religious doctrine is replete with stories of people executed for offenses such as adultery, insulting Prophet Muhammad, interpreting the Qur’an in a way different from theirs, drug smuggling, theft, abandoning the daily prayer rituals, leaving Islam and converting to a different religion among others. The threshold for killing in their doctrine is exceptionally low; this reflects their disdain for human life. Their dress code is binary: black for women and white for men. In the narratives of their doctrine, the black color resembles evil and darkness while white is associated with goodness; thus their dress code for women reflects their opinion of women. Their interpretation of the Qur’an groups women with animals and material objects.
For Western governments with heavy interests in the Middle East, violence in the name of Islam justifies their geopolitical penetration into the region. The higher the level of violence by the ‘Islamic’ extremists, the higher the justification for intervention; the more objectives achieved, the higher the violence, and so on. The feedback loop, self-serving to both ‘terrorists’ and the governments that ostensibly oppose them, but in reality need them to further their geo-political goals, goes on until the objectives change. This is followed by new instructions to the Salafi leaders to focus on a new ‘jihad’. In looking at the history of the Arabian Peninsula over the past century, one finds al-Qaeda and the seemingly modern jihadi movements to be nothing but repackaging of older ones.
The founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia brilliantly and effectively used the same Wahhabi-Salafi doctrine to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula under his command. But his conquest could have never been possible without the British financial and intelligence support and, most critically, Orientalists’ understanding of the Salafi doctrine. The British directed the shots since they were the financiers of the then exiled and fragmented clan of Ibn Saud. The British financial support for Ibn Saud was not a charitable or benevolent gesture. The British Empire was at work chiseling the remains of the Ottoman Empire. The transformation from coal to oil to fuel the fleets of the British Empire, needed access to the Persian Gulf and its abundant fuel reserves. Ibn Saud found in the diehard Wahhabi-Salafis marauders, known then as the Ikhwan (English: brothers), zeal and fervor that could conquer mountains in the name of Islam, or more accurately in the name of the rewards promised by concocted Prophetic sayings for those who achieve ‘martyrdom’ during such allegedly God-sanctioned campaigns. The Wahhabi-Salafi brand of violence could have been known to the British from the time of their occupation of Egypt. It was Mohammad Ali of the Ottoman Empire who first had to deal with the Wahhabis and the first Saudi Kingdom. Ali suppressed the revolt of Mohammad Ibn Saud against the Ottomans and in the process, destroyed Der’eya, the seat of the government of the first Saudi dynasty, in 1818.
Abdulaziz Ibn Saud (the father of Salman, the present king of Saudi Arabia) struck a strategic alliance with the Wahhabis, who were led by the AlSheikh clan to divide the influence and booty of his conquest. The AlSheikh would control religious affairs and supply Ibn Saud with a new generation of Ikhwan fighters, whereas the control of everything else would belong to Ibn Saud. Whether it was Ibn Saud or the British behind this brilliant scheme remains unclear. Most likely the British were aware of the fervor of the Wahhabis; and both, Ibn Saud and the British used them with high efficiency and devastating effectiveness. The British grand plans were at work and Ibn Saud was given financial rewards and rule over vast tracts of land. The Hijaz had no strategic interest to the British who considered it a liability had they occupied it (potentially raising the wrath of millions of already agitated Muslim subjects under their colonial domain), so it was strategically given as a reward with consequent enormous financial benefits to Ibn Saud. The financial benefits of Hijaz come from the tax and economic activities associated with the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the cities of Medina and Mecca. Most interestingly, Ibn Saud with his extremist and fanatic fighters could have wiped clean all the scattered fishing Arab villages dotting the western side of the Persian Gulf cost. In fact, he could have sent a small crowd, not even a battalion, to spread the domain of his nascent kingdom, but the British had to draw a line in the sand, figuratively and literally. The British global strategic scheming was in full execution. The tiny remote fishing villages, in the British grand geo-political framework, had to be reinvented as little kingdoms and sheikdoms (the latest reinvention was the Kingdom of Bahrain with an area of only 305 square miles). The First and Second Gulf wars of 1991 and 2003 were the fruits of the British Empire’s machinations in those early days.
Fast forward to 2011. A global coalition started to unseat the Assad regime under the guise of the Arab Spring. The start of the insurrection in Syria can be traced to Der’aa, a small town close to the southern Syrian border with Jordan. The insurrection in Der’aa was met with severe repression by the Assad regime; a response that the regime later deeply regretted. Who was behind that Der’aa insurrection is engulfed in mystery. The partnership between the Jordanian and US intelligence dates back to the 1950s and surfaced very prominently when a Jordanian intelligence agent, Humam al-Balawi went on a rampage, killing 6 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents and a high-ranking Jordanian intelligence officer in Afghanistan in 2009. Jordan is highly valuable to US intelligence for several reasons:
1) The entire country, the army and the king are all underwritten by US money. Jordan has been a perfect model of a US satellite country since the transition from British to American control in the early 1950.
2) Jordan has a very diverse mixture of Arabs from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia; therefore, recruiting agent provocateurs is easy, especially considering the perpetual dire economic conditions of Jordan.
3) Jordan has a strong presence of Wahhabism that had been well tolerated by the regime (Abu-Musa’b al-Zarqawi, the mysterious al-Qaida figure that was killed by US forces in Iraq, was a product of the Jordanian flavor of Wahhabism). Using Jordan as a spring board to foment insurrection in Syria was highly probable considering that the Syrian regime was practically the last nuisance to Israeli’s efforts to neutralize the Arabs and force them to acquiesce to its own ‘peace’ terms which include the annexation of the West Bank and tracts of Lebanon and Syria. Of course, Syria is the strongest and strategic link between Lebanon and Hezbollah.
The insurrection in Syria that started in Der’aa was suppressed ruthlessly by the Assad regime, but the transformation into an armed insurrection was in sharp contrast to all other expressions of the Arab Spring, excluding Libya, which had a NATO intervention rather than a peaceful one. One cannot find armed components to any of the uprisings that occurred in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, or even Yemen. The armed insurrection in Syria needed money and men. The intelligence services who understood well how the Saudi regime came to power used the same process: direct appeal to the culture of extremism amongst the Wahhabis and much more broadly to the Salafis across the globe. The Saudi regime opened the door to many clergy under their tutelage and direct patronage to articulate the virtues of Jihad, especially on Syrian land. The Jihad sermons reached pitch fever in 2013 when the Saudi clergy even started reinterpreting alleged Prophetic Sayings (attributed to Prophet Muhammad), putting the Jihad in Syria as the pinnacle of all Jihads, even eclipsing any Jihad needed to liberate occupied religious sanctuaries such as the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem. Many of the Syrian Jihad sermons by Saudi clergy are available on YouTube. One notable example is Mohammad Al-Arifi, who used to be a darling of the Saudi regime until recently; his inexcusable sin of mere criticism of the inefficiency of a recently-installed train service in Mecca netted him a short jail term. The result of these passionate, highly-charged sermons was a huge influx of fighters from Saudi Arabia, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, Afghanistan, even Europe. Considering the regional governments’ paranoia with security and especially for the slightest form of dissent, facilitating such a massive influx must have occurred under the full view of all governments in the region, most prominently, Jordan and Turkey. Financing of fighters, whether through the governments or individuals or organizations, came from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, since money laundering in those countries is easy. The US committed to providing logistics but the term ‘logistics’ can be interpreted broadly and expansively as America’s many imperial adventures around the world have proven.
During the early days of the present Saudi Kingdom, Wahhabis wanted to go beyond the Arabian Peninsula to spread their Wahhabism and zeal to the north (Trans-Jordan and Basra regions). They believed that Ibn Saud was a true Islamic Caliph. The British had to bomb the advancing Ikhwan, while at the same time bankrolling their king to the tune of 5,000 Sterling pounds per month (this could easily classify Ibn Saud as a former agent of the British Empire).
While ISIS is now the target of international outrage, and U.S. bombs, it is possible that this will not always be the case; history does tend to repeat itself, and if so, the change could be dramatic.
ISIS recruits believed in the Khilafa (an Arabic term used historically to describe an Islamically-sanctioned state) and expanding the domain of Islam as much as the Ikhwan did in the early years of the 20th century. ISIS expansion, however, had to curbed by the US and NATO. The similarity between the history of the Ikhwan and ISIS is truly striking. Based on these similarities, it is probable that ISIS will establish a new country over oil-rich swaths of lands taken from Syria and Iraq. The new ISIS nation will eventually soften its Jihadi zeal and receive international recognition. International corporate-controlled media can whitewash the new ISIS state as it has done most effectively for many other nations-states.
The top leadership of ISIS is shrouded in mystery. ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, who was also declared, by ISIS of course, an Islamic (if not the only) Caliph, was jailed by the Americans during their occupation of Iraq then mysteriously released (a practice perfected by Israelis where ghost heroes are manufactured through short periods of imprisonment). The vast majority of ISIS members are thrilled at the thought of Caliphate being resurrected from the ashes and mayhem that has defined the Middle east since the British and French set foot there immediately after the end of WWI.
A very troubling doctrine of Wahhabism is the emphasis on allegiance to the Islamic Amir (English: leader), even if he were a tyrant, as long as the Amir allows people to perform the daily prayers. This doctrine, which has no foundation in either the Qur’an or Islam, helped Ibn Saud conquer Arabia as much as it helped al-Baghdadi conquer parts of Syria and Iraq. This very doctrine of allegiance to the Amir helps ISIS, Al-Qaida, or other offshoots to recruit individuals willing to execute orders of the Amir such as killings, bombings, etc. The executor of the Amir’s orders believes that he is executing God’s will. In summary, their doctrine is a carefully selected collection of narratives by controversial religious scholars who advocated extreme violence and land theft in the name of Islam.
The religious doctrine of the Wahhabis is so vast that one can always find in it alleged Prophetic narratives that justify and advocate for what is politically most expedient. The West, starting with the British Empire down to the American Empire, knew too well the Wahhabi extremist ideology and used it then and now, with high effectiveness and devastating consequences, to advance their geopolitical interests. The Wahhabis extreme violence at the beginning of the 20th century, most infamous of which was the Ta’if massacre , where between 300 and 400 Sunni Muslims were bludgeoned to death at the hands of the Ikhwan in 1924, is no different from their extreme violence that we are witnessing today. ISIS not only targeted non-Muslims such as Christians and Yazidi for killing, rape and forced conversion to Islam, but also savagely attacked Kurds. What the mainstream media failed to highlight was that Kurds are staunch Sunnis, neither ‘infidels’ nor Shias.
Justification for killing a cartoonist who depicts Prophet Mohammad disfavorably, along with any bystander who comes in between, can be found in Wahhabi doctrine as easily as killing 132 children in a school in Pakistan for no fault but being children of military personnel. It is the same doctrine that justifies blowing up 37 innocent Yemani men lining up to apply for a police job in one of the poorest countries in the world . The extremist and violent doctrine of the Wahhabi sect makes it easy for intelligence agencies to recruit suicide bombers. It is not possible at this time to confirm the identity of the plotters of grand-scale terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and the massacre in Charlie Hebdo; however, many indications point to Western intelligence. Acts of major terrorism amongst Muslims, such as the brutality of ISIS against so many Muslims, are heavily influenced by the doctrine of violence in the Wahhabi sect. Muslims can help in so many ways by taking a deep look at their religion and having the courage, mandated by Islam itself, to reject what is foreign and contradictory to their religion, such as the Wahhabi sect that fosters and breeds extreme violence, and embracing Islam from its undisputed sources. The stakes have never been higher for Muslims.