The commander of the Iraqi volunteer forces fighting the ISIL Takfiri group says there is no evidence that Turkey has altered its stance against the terrorist group and is still supporting the militants.
“Turkey has not changed its stance; it carried out operations against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which is fighting with the Kurds against ISIL in Syria,” Hadi al-Ameri said on Monday.
Ameri made the remarks after a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Turkey launched a military campaign against what it claims to be ISIL targets in Syria and PKK positions in northern Iraq last week, after an ISIL attack in the southwestern Turkish town of Suruç claimed the lives of at least 32 people on July 20.
“Turkey still supports ISIL right now,” said Ameri, adding “I think [the strikes] Turkey carried out were to support ISIL and not what some had imagined,” said Ameri.
Ankara blames the PKK for a string of attacks against its security forces in recent days and has vowed to continue fighting ISIL, which has taken over parts of land in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Turkey’s pledge to confront ISIL Takfiris comes despite its longtime support for the militancy against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with reports showing that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri extremists operating in Syria, and also facilitates the safe passage of foreign terrorists into the Arab country.
Iraq’s army has been joined by Kurdish forces, Shia volunteers and Sunni tribesmen in operations to drive the ISIL terrorists out of the areas the Takfiri militants have seized.
We should expect conflicts in which adversaries, because of cultural affinities different from our own, will resort to forms and levels of violence shocking to our sensibilities.
— Department of Defense, 1999, with thanks to William Blum
One quote has reverberated throughout the United States decades of decimations of the lands of others. Journalist Peter Arnett, reporting from Vietnam, in a piece published on 7 July 1968, quoted an American officer saying of the provincial capital Bến Tre: “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” He was referring to the decision to bomb and shell the town no matter what the cost of civilian lives, in order to rout the Vietcong.
The US led “coalitions” of recent years have, it seems, moved on from destroying towns, now entire sovereign nations are laid to waste to free, liberate, and democratize them. The cemeteries and ruins of much of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya are recent silent witness to this munificence, with Syria set to be the latest centre of the eye of the storm.
ISIS/ISIL/IS has replaced the Vietcong and the “town” is where ever the liberating bombs, missiles, drone strikes blast homes and humanity across the entire country and of course in neighbouring Iraq, bombed in the name of protection and salvation for 24 years — approaching a quarter of a century.
In context, prior to the illegal invasion of 2003, from 1993 onwards, wrote John Pilger (7 August 2000):
The Royal Air Force, together with the US, bombs Iraq almost every day. Since December 1998, the Ministry of Defence has admitted dropping 780 tonnes of bombs on a country with which Britain is not at war. During the same period, the United States has conducted 24,000 combat missions over southern Iraq alone, mostly in populated areas. In one five-month period, forty one per cent of casualties were civilians: farmers, fishermen, shepherds, their children and their sheep – the circumstances of their killing were documented by the United Nations Security Sector”, it was: “the longest such campaign since the Second World War.”
The Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain in a breathtaking lie, even by UK Minister’s standards told Parliament on 2 May 2000: “As I have told the House on many occasions, we are not conducting a bombing campaign against Iraq …”
On 6 July 2000, commentator Jonathan Power pointed out that: “the Pentagon says more than 280,000 sorties have been flown in the near decade since no-flight zones were imposed on Saddam in the north and south of the country.”
Turkey has now given permission for the US to use the country’s Incirlik air base “after months of negotiations”, according to the BBC. Since the US also used the base during the 1991 Iraq war and in 2001 at the start of the attack on Afghanistan, it has to be wondered what further horror is planned for Syria.
In the last forty eight hours Turkey has enjoined in bombing Syria and has also bombed northern Iraq. There are unconfirmed reports of Turkish troops in Aleppo.
In spite of the UK Parliament voting not to become militarily involved in Syria, it transpired this week that British Air Force pilots have anyway been bombarding Syria in defiance of Parliament. They simply swopped their uniforms and fighter jets for those of countries who were involved in the attacks.
Although the US has been terrorizing Iraq and Syria since 8 August 2014, they took until 15 of October to dream up another silly name for another mass slaughter and announced that “Operation Inherent Resolve” was: “officially designated as the name given to US military operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.” The name is intended: “to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the US and partner nations … to eliminate ISIL …” Heaven help the people of Syria and Iraq.
The US military is clearly not a superstitious body; 15 of October was not an auspicious day for Empire. On that day in 1793, Queen Marie Antoinette of France was condemned to death and executed the following day; Napoleon 1st began his exile on St Helena.
In 1863, following his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War, General Robert E Lee proffered his resignation to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The population of Syria is just 22.85 million; it is being assaulted by the US, population 318.9 million, Turkey population 74.93 million, the UK with a population of 64.1 million, plus a few other less visible and enthusiastic members of the “coalition”: Jordan, Canada, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UAE stopped flying in December, reportedly after a dispute over the US not providing sufficient combat air rescue. By 6 February the US had mounted 946 air strikes in Syria, with Jordan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia completing just 79. (News, websites.)
The number of weapons rained down on Syria between August 2014 and June 30th 2015 is staggering. According to the US Department of Defence:
December: Unaccounted for
The average cost, August 8 2014 to June 18 2015 is $9.2 million a day for the 315 killing days. To 22 June this year “Targets Damaged or Destroyed” in Syria and Iraq include 98 tanks, 325 trucks, 472 staging areas (these are illustrated with a tent, so presumably could be displaced families mistaken for “terrorists”) 2,045 buildings, 1,859 “fighting positions” (again, as Iraq, how many people gathered for a wedding, funeral, waiting for transport were designated “fighters” from the safety of 35,000 ft?) 154 oil infrastructures and “other targets” 2,702. Total 7,655.
The carnage is ongoing. The most recent are on 21 July with ten airstrikes on Syria and 15 on Iraq, on 24 July eight on Syria and 19 in Iraq, and 25 July, nine air strikes on Syria and 22 on Iraq with drones also being used. The “assessments” of that destroyed is tragic and sometimes farcical. In Iraq “an ISIS excavator” for example, could it not just be some soul mending a road? Two “ISIS bridges” near mortally damaged Fallujah — Iraq is divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers — the great soaring engineering triumphs that are the country’s bridges are the arteries of the nation’s body. Now they are designated “ISIS bridges” and destroyed – again.
As Syria’s President Assad said today (26 July) in an address to the nation: “The West calls it ‘terrorism’ when it hits them, and ‘revolution, freedom, democracy and human rights’ when it hits us.’”
Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger’s Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.)
The US Defense Department has awarded major weapons maker Raytheon to provide the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 355 air-to-ground missiles amid its persisting campaign of aerial strikes against civilian and economic targets in neighboring Yemen.
According to a Pentagon announcement cited Saturday by the Russia-based Sputnik News, in a $180-million contract assigned to the arms manufacturer, Raytheon is to deliver the AGM-154 series missiles to the Saudi regime in a move clearly regarded as a bid to support the aerial strikes against Yemen.
The AGM-154 is described as a Global Positioning System and infrared guided air-to-ground missile with stand-off capability.
The contract, the report adds, also includes the delivery of 200 AGM-154C-1 missiles to the US Navy.
Washington, the report adds, has justified the missile sales to Riyadh as part of an agreement by Persian Gulf Arab dictatorships to expand their military cooperation with Washington amid “concerns” over the recent nuclear talks conclusion with Iran as well as the Islamic Republic’s persisting influence as a major power and the most stable nation in the strategic region.
Meanwhile, the oil-rich Saudi Arabia, widely regarded as a US client in the Persian Gulf region, has been among the world’s largest importers of lethal weaponry over the years and has significantly expanded its purchase of armaments in recent months, becoming the world’s top importer in 2015 so far.
This is while Riyadh signed major arms deals worth billions of dollars with France last month for the purchase of patrol ships, border guard helicopters and aircraft as it escalated its war effort against Yemen.
The announcement of the deals came during a visit by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to Paris.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius defended the selling of French patrol boats to Riyadh, claiming that they are meant “to enhance the capability of the Saudi Coast Guard, which is today facing growing threats.”
Saudi Arabia has been carrying out airstrikes against Yemen since March 26 without a UN mandate. The strikes are meant to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of the Al Saud regime.
Thousands have been killed and at least 11,000 more injured in the airstrikes.
After Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared the Philippines a second front in the war on terror (“Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines”). The Philippine government used this as an opportunity to escalate its war against Muslim separatists and other individuals and organizations opposing the policies of the government. The egregious human rights violations committed by the Philippine military and paramilitary forces are some of the most underreported atrocities in the media today.
The International Peoples’ Tribunal on Crimes Against the Filipino People, held July 16-18 in Washington, D.C., drew upward of 300 people. An international panel of seven jurors heard two days of testimony from 32 witnesses, many of whom had been tortured, arbitrarily detained and forcibly evicted from their land.
Some testified to being present when their loved ones, including children, were gunned down by the Philippine military or paramilitary. I testified as an expert witness on international human rights violations in the Philippines, many of which were aided and abetted by the U.S. government.
Thirty-one-year-old Melissa Roxas was a community health adviser who went to the Philippines in 2009 to conduct health surveys in central Luzon, where people were dying from cholera and diarrhea. In May of that year, 15 men in civilian clothes with high-powered rifles and wearing bonnets and ski masks forced her into a van and handcuffed and blindfolded her. They beat her, suffocated her and used other forms of torture on her until releasing her six days later. Roxas was continually interrogated and even threatened with death during her horrific torture. She was likely released because she is a U.S. citizen (she has dual citizenship).
But WikiLeaks revealed that although the U.S. Embassy was aware of Roxas’s torture and abduction, it did nothing to secure her release. Roxas convinced the Philippines Court of Appeals to grant her petition for writ of amparo, which confirmed she had been abducted and tortured. Nevertheless, the Philippine government refuses to mount an investigation into her ordeal. And although she lives in the United States, Roxas remains under surveillance.
“Whenever you work with communities,” Roxas testified, “[the Philippine government] vilifies you as a member of the New Peoples Army [NPA].” Ironically, the Philippine military claimed it was the NPA, the armed wing of the Philippine Communist Party, that abducted Roxas. Her physical and emotional scars remain. But, Roxas told the tribunal, “I have the privilege of being in the United States,” unlike many other Filipino victims of human rights violations.
People and groups have been labeled “terrorists” by the Philippine government, the U.S. government and other countries at the behest of the U.S. government. The Philippine government engages in “red tagging” — political vilification. Targets are frequently human rights activists and advocates, political opponents, community organizers or groups struggling for national liberation. Those targeted for assassination are placed on the “order of battle” list.
The tribunal documented 262 cases of extrajudicial killings, 27 cases of forced disappearances, 125 cases of torture, 1,016 cases of illegal arrest, and 60,155 incidents of forced evacuation — many to make way for extraction by mining companies — from July 2010 to June 30 of this year by Philippine police, military, paramilitary or other state agents operating within the chain of command.
As part of the U.S. “war on terror,” in 2002 the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government created the Oplan Bantay Laya, a counterinsurgency program modeled on U.S. strategies, ostensibly to fight communist guerrillas. After 9/11, the Bush administration gave Arroyo $100 million to fund the campaign in the Philippines.
The government of Benigno Aquino III continued the program in 2011 under the name Oplan Bayanihan. It does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, which is considered a war crime under the Rome Statute and the Geneva Conventions.
Oplan Bayanihan has led to tremendous repression, including large numbers of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and cruel treatment. Many civilians, including children, have been killed. Hundreds of members of progressive organizations were murdered by Philippine military and paramilitary death squads. Communities and leaders opposed to large-scale and invasive mining have been targeted. Even ordinary people with no political affiliation have not escaped the government’s campaign of terror.
One witness testified that although the counterinsurgency program was presented in the guise of “peace and development,” it was really an “operational guide to crush any resistance by those who work for social justice and support the poor and oppressed.”
Philippine military and paramilitary forces apparently rationalize their harsh treatment as necessary to maintain national security against people and organizations that seek to challenge, or even overthrow, the government.
However, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) says, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as justification for torture.” Both the Philippines and the United States are parties to the convention on torture.
A 14-year-old boy testified that as he was walking with family members to harvest their crops, “We were fired upon” by soldiers. “We said, ‘We are children, sir.’ ” But the soldiers killed his 8-year-old brother. “I embraced him. The soldier said we were enemies. He was bleeding, the bullet exited in the back. He was dead when my mother saw him. We made an affidavit against the soldiers but it was dismissed by the prosecutor.”
Raymond Manalo was an eyewitness to kidnapping, torture, rape and forced disappearances. He testified that he saw civilians burned alive by soldiers and paramilitary forces. Two women were hit with wooden sticks and burned with a cigarette. Sticks were inserted into their genitals. The two women disappeared and have not been seen since. Although a case was filed, there has been no resolution.
Cynthia Jaramillo testified that her husband, Arnold, was one of nine unarmed men killed in a massive military operation that lasted almost a month. Although Arnold was a member of the NPA, “They were not killed during a legitimate running battle,” she said. “The state of their bodies when recovered clearly indicated the torture, willful killing and desecration of the remains.”
Arnold was taken alive and killed at close range by multiple gunshot wounds, his internal organs lacerated, his jaws and teeth shattered. This violates the Geneva Conventions and constitutes illegal extrajudicial killing off the battlefield.
Continuing the Bush policy of the pivot to Asia-Pacific, as a counterweight to China, President Barack Obama enlisted the Aquino government last year to negotiate the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. While paying lip service to the Philippines’ maintaining sovereignty over the military bases in their country, it actually grants tremendous powers to U.S. forces.
The United States also wants to return to its two former military bases at Subic Bay and Clark, which it left in 1992. Those bases were critical to the U.S. imperial war in Vietnam. A U.S. return would violate the well-established right of peoples to self-determination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) includes a prohibition on aiding and abetting liability for war crimes. An individual can be convicted of a war crime in the ICC if he or she “aids, abets or otherwise assists” in the commission or attempted commission of the crime. This includes “providing the means for its commission.”
Between 2001 and 2010, the U.S. government furnished more than $507 million in military aid to the Philippine government, enabling it to commit war crimes. U.S. political and military leaders could be liable in the ICC for war crimes as aiders and abettors.
The United States planned and helped carry out the botched Mamasapano raid on Jan. 25, 2015. Dozens died when commandos from the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police entered Mamasapano, where the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front had a stronghold.
The Obama administration had put a $5 million bounty on terror suspect Marwan’s head. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, U.S. drones identified Marwan’s hiding place, led the commandos to it, and provided real-time management capacity for the operation off the battlefield. Marwan was killed but his finger was severed and disappeared. It then appeared at an FBI lab in the United States a few days later. DNA tests on the finger confirmed it was Marwan who had been killed.
Murder, torture and cruel treatment constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute and the Geneva Conventions. Both the United States and the Philippines are parties to the Geneva Conventions. But although the Philippines is a party to the Rome Statute, the United States is not. In fact, the U.S. government offered the Philippine government $30 million in additional military aid to secure an agreement that U.S. soldiers in the Philippines would not be turned over to the ICC.
The jury in the tribunal found defendant Aquino and defendant Government of the United States of America, represented by Obama, guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. “Indeed,” the panel wrote, “the Prosecution has satisfied the burden of proving satisfactorily that the Defendants, in concert with each other, willfully and feloniously committed gross and systematic violations of Filipino people’s basic human rights.”
The jurors decided, “The killings and disappearances follow a pattern. The victims are vilified as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and subjected to red tagging … after vilification, the victims are subjected to surveillance and then later killed or abducted.”
The panel noted, “These are not random violations.” They are “not isolated, but state-sponsored, part of a policy deliberately adopted to silence the critics of the government.” The jurors called it “state terror,” drawing an analogy with the military and authoritarian regimes in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, which were also supported by the United States.
“Terrorist tagging,” according to the jurors, is not just intended to define military targets but also to “sabotage the peace process between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Philippine government.”
In fact, Jose Maria Sison, the NDF’s chief political consultant, has been classified by the United States as a “person supporting terrorism.” Sison’s assets have been frozen and he is forbidden to travel, in violation of the ICCPR. The European Union’s second-highest court ruled to delist Sison as a “person supporting terrorism” and reversed a decision by member governments to freeze assets. Yet he remains on the U.S. terrorism list.
Moreover, the jury determined, “the failure of the Philippine government through Defendant Aquino to identify, investigate and/or prosecute the perpetrators of these violations is among the contributing factors to the prevailing impunity in the Philippines.”
The jury urged the defendants to undertake “proper remedial measures to prevent the commission or continuance of such illegal and criminal acts, to repair the damages done to the Filipino people and their environment, compensate the victims and their families for their atrocities, and to rehabilitate the communities, especially indigenous communities that have been destroyed by the criminal acts of the Defendants.”
The panel concluded, “We also encourage the peoples of the world to seek redress, to pursue justice [under universal jurisdiction], and to transform this oppressive, exploitative and repressive global state of affairs exemplified by the experience and plight of the Filipino people, to challenge the international ‘rule of law,’ and to construct a global order founded on full respect for the rights of all peoples, everywhere.”
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.
Occasionally, this writer will read an article from an Israel publication. Often, there is a survey which pops up when he clicks on the article, and the question often is this: ‘Do you believe Israel has the right to defend itself?’
The question is not a valid one. Any nation, one supposes, has such a right, but Israel has not had to defend itself for decades, if ever. Responding to ineffective ‘rocket’ fire from the Gaza Strip is not defense. An occupied nation has the internationally-recognized right to resist with violence the occupation. The occupier is not ‘defending’ itself; it is merely enforcing the occupation.
So why ask the question? Let’s look at the two possible answers that may shed light upon that reason.
A ‘yes’ response indicates that Israel is justified in its periodic carpet-bombing of the Palestinians. The publication issuing the survey can proclaim, therefore, that X% of its survey respondents support Israel.
A ‘no’ response, on the other hand, will be seen as anti-Semitic, denying Israel its basic right of existence. Why, the publication can ask, do Y% of respondents deny Israel its right to self-defense? People would only respond in this way if they hate Jews.
The question, in many ways, is reminiscent of the old political question, ‘Do you still beat your wife?’ ‘Yes,’ is wrong for obvious reasons. ‘No’, however, is still wrong, since it would indicate that spousal abuse was, at one time in the past, something the responder did, but no longer does. So a man who never beat his wife would have no right answer for that question.
So in answering the question about Israel’s right to defend itself, the thoughtful respondent has no right answer. ‘Yes’, gives Israel more ammunition to say that the world supports it, and ‘no’ is dismissed as the response of an anti-Semitic bigot, showing again, in Israel’s view, the great existential threat that it faces.
Israel and the people and publications that support it must resort to such deceitful tactics, since they are without a moral leg to stand on. Reviewing a few facts of international law relating to occupation, and Israel’s blatant and constant violations of them, may be helpful:
Law: An occupying power must not move its own citizens permanently onto the occupied nation’s land. Temporarily housing soldiers on a short-term basis there to maintain peace and the safety of the occupied people is allowed.
Israeli violations: Israel has moved over half a million Israelis into the West Bank, and Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has stated categorically that not one of them will be removed.
Law: The people of the occupied lands must not be displaced permanently.
Israeli violations: Millions of Palestinians have been forced from their homes to make room for illegal Israeli settlers.
Law: The culture of the occupied land must be respected.
Israeli violations: Israel has done much to destroy and obliterate the culture of Palestine. The destruction of entire towns and villages, mosques and historical sites is ongoing. In one particularly egregious example, Israel bulldozed the ancient Ma’man Allah cemetery, dating at least to the 12th century and possibly earlier, and constructed a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ on the site.
Law: The occupying power must ensure the safety of the occupied peoples.
Israeli violations: Bombing the Gaza Strip, breaking into the homes of Palestinians in the West Bank at all hours of the day and night, arresting men, women and children without charge, shooting peaceful protesters in the back, cannot be seen as ensuring their safety, and protesting these atrocious crimes does not make one anti-Semitic.
The list is long; a short, representative sample is all that has been given here.
In addition to this, Israel refuses to cooperate with any investigation into its ‘alleged’ war crimes. If, as Israel continually proclaims, it has the most moral army in the world, why would it not welcome such investigations, to prove the falsehood of such allegations? Why not assist the United Nations, and the International Criminal Court, in thoroughly examining each charge, if Israel is confident that each is false?
Of course, Israel knows it is guilty of war crimes, and labors under the mistaken belief that it can continue to commit them, because the United States will always protect it.
Although it can’t be said that anyone has neglected to advise Israel that the rules of the game have changed, for some reason, the information has not been received. Transmission, obviously, does not equate to reception. Today, Israel continues to destroy entire Palestinian villages to make room for illegal settlements; IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) terrorists continue to shoot and kill innocent men, women and children in the West Bank, and arrest without charge men, women and children. None of this is new; what is new is that the world is now aware of it. The news media, which now actually gets paid by organizations and individuals to run ‘news’ stories that are written by lobbyists, corporations, and other major advertisers, has not seen fit to report this information. Massive demonstrations in support of Palestinians in major cities in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East are not seen on the evening news, but that is no longer the only venue for information. Social media gives everyone with a camera and an internet connection a worldwide audience, and that audience is seeing atrocities it never knew existed. As a result, the ostracization of the rogue state of Israel is ever growing, as more churches and businesses divest from Israeli companies, and performers and academics refuse to appear in that apartheid nation.
This writer always ignores the question, ‘Does Israel have a right to defend itself’, and will continue to do so. A ‘yes’ only gives Israeli atrocities a false veneer of legitimacy which is untenable.
Apartheid Israel is a world power in decline, and therefore very dangerous. Yet despite the mad behaviors it may still indulge it, its decline is snowballing, and cannot be stopped by anything but justice for the Palestinians, and the Arabs, Africans and other people living within its much-disputed borders. That day cannot come soon enough.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
The New York Times has finally done the right thing and informed readers of Israel’s plan to destroy an entire village in the West Bank. This is good to see, but the move exposes a significant fault line in the newspaper: The foreign desk and Jerusalem bureau have been the gatekeepers here, avoiding their responsibilities in reporting the story.
The piece appears on the op-ed page under the byline of one of the threatened villagers—Nasser Nawaja, community organizer and a researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. It’s a good article, summarizing the sad history of Susiya and the resistance to Israel’s plan, which comes from local and international supporters.
Nawaja’s article includes a quote from U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby made during a press briefing last week. Kirby was clearly prepared to address the issue and ask Israel to back off. This in itself should have prompted the news section of the paper to address the story, but the Times remained silent. (See TimesWarp 7-20-15.)
Until today the only mention of Susiya’s plight came in a Reuters story that the Times published earlier this week without posting it on the Middle East or World pages. Readers had no way to find it unless they specifically searched for it, by typing in the key word “Susiya,” for instance.
The story of Susiya and its struggle to survive has been reported in news outlets since 2013. The United Nations and other groups, such as Rabbis for Human Rights, have issued statements and press releases on Susiya; the European Union, and now the State Department, have spoken out; but none of this prompted the Times to do what good journalism demands and assign a reporter to the story.
The Times’ treatment of Susiya is reminiscent of a similar story, which emerged during the attacks on Gaza in 2012: In one day Israel targeted and killed three journalists traveling in marked cars, but the Times article describing events that day simply said that “a bomb” had killed two men, even though an officer confirmed the army’s responsibility.
Times readers learned the full story only when columnist David Carr wrote of the journalists’ deaths days later in the Business section. He titled his piece “Using War As a Cover to Target Journalists,” and he did the reporting that was missing in the news section. (See TimesWarp 2-17-15.)
Carr gave the details of the killings, and quoted the lieutenant colonel who affirmed the attacks on the journalists. He then wrote, “So it has come to this: killing members of the media can be justified by a phrase as amorphous as ‘relevance to terror activity.’”
When Carr died earlier this year, the Times was filled with tributes to his work, but none of the articles mentioned this fine moment of his career. The story of the assassinated journalists never again emerged in the newspaper.
Susiya may have a different fate, however. Now that its name has appeared in the back pages of the newspaper, we may find that the story flickers to life in the news section as well. All things are possible, even in the Times.
A delayed trial of two Berkut police members in the Maidan Massacre case  have produced striking new revelations providing further confirmations of major findings of my Maidan “snipers’ massacre” study about Maidan snipers killing both police and protesters and subsequent cover up and falsification of the official investigation. But these striking revelations have not been reported by the Ukrainian and Western media, even though the trial proceedings were open to the media, were streamed live over the Internet and their recordings were posted on YouTube.
On July 15, 2015, the prosecution made public in court for the first time its charges alleging that two arrested members of the Berkut special company massacred 39 out of 49 killed protesters on February 20, 2014.
However, the prosecution’s case unraveled on July 17 when the brother of one of the victims stated during his questioning by the prosecutors that Andrii Saienko was killed not from Berkut positions but from a top floor of the Maidan-controlled Hotel Ukraina. He made this conclusion on the basis of his brother’s position as shown in a video at the moment of his killing and an entry wound location in upper right chest area and a steep wound channel to the backbone. The prosecutors and relatives of some of the victims reported during the trial that technical expert reports in the investigative file established that Saienko and at least 9 other protesters were killed from the same exact 7.62mm caliber weapon.
This revelation alone means that a significant proportion of the protesters were shot from this Maidan-controlled hotel, since this caliber bullets were extracted from bodies of 16 protesters. But the prosecution charged two Berkut members with their killings, even though Saienko’s brother and his lawyer officially handed to investigators the aforementioned video file in October 2014.
His brother identified the moment when Saienko was killed on Instytutska Street, at 9:08:34am in the video, which was initially filmed from the Hotel Ukraina by Radio Svoboda and then synchronized and time-stamped: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IQkB0jZ39k. This video also shows the moment when Bohdan Solchanyk was killed at 9:08:16am, less than 20 seconds before Saienko in the same area, reportedly with a 7.62mm bullet. His apparent position, the blood on the right side of the neck, and louder and different sounds of several shots in rapid succession, compared to the AKMS shots fired by Berkut at the same time, indicate that Solchanyk was most likely shot dead from the Hotel Ukraina. At that time, the Berkut policemen were in front and somewhat to the left from Solchanyk and the other protesters; and a specific shot, which was presented in the video synchronization, made by his acquaintance, as the evidence of his killing by Berkut, was from a 12mm caliber Fort pump rifle.
In the same video, Ihor Zastavnyi is seen in a yellow helmet falling nearby several seconds after Solchanyk was killed. Zastavnyi said in various interviews that he fell to the ground after he was wounded there third time and his leg was severed. He stated that the prosecution informed him earlier this year that they lost a bullet extracted from his body: http://hromadskeradio.org/…/slidchi-prokuraturi-zagubili-ku….
The analysis of the content of the same video and photo compilation indicates that Maksym Shymko was killed in the same area at about the same time, since he was last seen alive at 9:07:15am and by 9:07:46am he was shot and his stick was on the pavement near a wooden shield. Although the exact moment of his killing is missing from the video, his mother in her court testimony confirmed this location and indicated that the investigation found that he was killed from the same weapon as 9 other protesters, including Saienko.
Another bullet, which was stuck in Shymko’s neck and which was publicized as evidence of government snipers, was not of 7.62mm caliber. His mother supported the prosecution charges that Berkut killed her son, but she stated that he was wounded in his neck with an exit wound below his shoulder blade. This indicates a sharp angle, which is consistent with the similar location of the Saienko’s killer and an announcement from the Maidan stage at 9:10am about two or three “snipers” on the pendulum floor of the Hotel Ukraina. This announcement relayed reports of Maidan protesters concerning the killings of Shymko, Solchanyk, and Saienko, since they were a part of the first group of the protesters that came under deadly live ammunition fire. One of the charged Berkut members indicated during the trial that the investigative file contained testimonies of protesters about Maidan “snipers” at the Hotel Ukraina.
The list of the 39 protesters whose killing the prosecution attributed to Berkut was only released nearly one and a half years after the massacre. The killings of the other 10 protesters were simply omitted from the charges, even though 8 of them were shot dead at the same time and place as these 39 protesters. The special Council of Europe investigative panel reported that the Ukrainian investigation had evidence that ten protesters were killed by “snipers” from top of the buildings, but that investigation did not found any evidence that these were snipers from the Security Service of Ukraine Alf unit and other government units. [See here for an April 2015 news report. And here is the 188-page report of the panel, dated March 31, 2015.]
The omitted list confirmed information that the investigation omitted the killings of Oleh Unshnevych, Evhen Kotliar, Ustym Holodniuk and Oleksander Kharchenko because of clear evidence they were killed from the Maidan-controlled locations, such as Hotel Ukraina. In addition, the prosecution charges also omitted the killings of Vasyl Aksenyn, Vladyslav Zubenko, Volodymyr Chaplynsky and Volodymyr Melnychuk. My study presents various evidence that these protesters were also killed from the Maidan-controlled buildings, mostly Hotel Ukraina, starting from about 9:18am till almost 5pm. For instance, the much publicized Zelenyi Front video shows at 10:26am (32:13) that Chaplynsky was shot dead when he was running away from the massacre area: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdFHNE8WxOA. A Spline TV recording of its live broadcast, which is now removed from a list of its videos on the Internet, shows sparks flying from the Hotel Ukraina when a loud gunshot killed this protestor. Zubenko was killed in the same area at 9:49am, reportedly with a 5.45 caliber bullet.
The prosecution charges confirmed earlier reports that the investigation did not find specific evidence linking specific Berkut members to specific killed protesters. But these charges also revealed that the prosecution did not specify the exact time of killing of specific protesters and policemen, although such information can be determined from live broadcasts and synchronized and time-stamped videos, and it is presented in my study. These charges deliberately omitted various evidence, including videos, interviews, and public admissions, of Maidan “shooters” of the police.
The prosecution case for the first time de facto admitted an absence of a specific top government order to massacre the protesters on February 20. The prosecution stated that after an unspecified escalation of the conflict around 8am on February 20, the Berkut commander himself ordered the commander of the special Berkut company to disperse the protesters on the Maidan and block them from advancing to the parliament and presidential administration. It would have been irrational for the Berkut commander to issue such an order on his own and use only about two dozen members of a special company. The prosecution itself stated that then-president Viktor Yanukovych and the Minister of Internal Affairs ordered to disperse the protesters on the Maidan by force close to midnight on February 18. The attempt to storm the parliament on February 18 was presented by the prosecution as a peaceful rally, and subsequent clashes, the killing of some 30 policemen and protesters and a computer technician at the office of the Party of Regions were omitted.
The charges stated that following the Berkut commander order, the Berkut special company commander ordered the use of AKMs and Fort 500 pump guns with lead pellets, although no evidence was presented as to why this elite police unit would start using hunting ammunition. Contrary to the prosecutor charges account, various evidence cited in my study and later confirmed by BBC and other sources show that the Maidan protesters forced Berkut and Internal troop units, which did not have then live ammunition, to flee from the Maidan around 8:50am by killing and wounding about 20 of them, specifically with pellets and 7.62mm bullets, from the Music Conservatory and Trade Union buildings. The Berkut special company was first filmed being deployed and shooting with live ammunition on Instytutska street at 9:05am and then briefly moving to Zhovtnevyi Palace to allow remaining policemen there to flee.
The prosecution claimed that around 9am on February 20, 2014, unidentified persons of unknown allegiance started to shoot at the police and that they killed from an unknown weapon one member of the Berkut special company and wounded another. In response to this, the accused from the Berkut company and unidentified members of this company and other law enforcement units became hostile to protesters and started to shoot in the direction of the unarmed protesters with AKMS and Fort 500 with lead pellets in order to kill them. This timeline is also deliberately misleading, because recordings of live broadcasts, time-stamped and synchronized videos, cited in my study, show that at least five protesters were killed starting at exactly 9:00 am before the member of the special Berkut company was shot dead with pellets at 9:16am: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYjEp1C4hzI.
The prosecution charged two Berkut members with being a part of an organized group that killed 39 protesters with 7.62mm caliber AKMS during the assault of the Maidan and from two barricades on Instytutska Street from 9am till 1pm. During the testimonies and cross-examination of relatives of six killed protesters, only one single direct witness of the killing of one of these protesters (Eduard Hrynevych) was identified. This witness now happens to serve in a paramilitary unit of the Right Sector, which was involved in the massacre. My study cited videos of protesters referring at 10:25am to the killing of Hrynevych by a shot to his head several meters from them and referring to “snipers” on the pendulum floor of the Hotel Ukraina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yUingq7eyI. This and other videos show many protesters and journalists witnessing and recording shooting of these protesters.
Remarkably, a recently posted video, which shows “snipers” on the top floors of the Hotel Ukraina shooting at the Maidan protesters was referred to during the trial as evidence of the killing of Ihor Kostenko by Berkut. This video shows Kostenko seconds before and after (0:59) when he was shot at 9:29am: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVXLbkJsX0. At least seven other protesters were killed within less than three minutes in the same area.
My study presents various evidence, such as videos and eyewitness testimonies, indicating that these and almost all other 39 protesters were also killed from the Hotel Ukraina and other Maidan-controlled buildings, and that the Right Sector, Svoboda, and Fatherland parties were involved in the “snipers” massacre. There are a few protesters whose location and time of the killing are still publicly undisclosed.
A Google News search shows that none of these revelations during the Maidan Massacre trial have been reported by the media in Ukraine and the West. In contrast, there were numerous reports in the Ukrainian media about each of these protesters. Similarly, The New York Times, The Telegraph, and Associated Press previously published articles, respectively, about the killings of Solchanyk and Saienko and wounding of Zastavnyi. The ‘Maidan’ documentary film by Sergei Loznitsa, shown at the Cannes Film Festival this year, included the above-mentioned excerpts of the Radio Svoboda live Internet video stream showing the killings of Shymko, Solchanyk, and Saienko. In media reports and in this documentary, these and other killings of the protesters were typically directly or indirectly attributed to Berkut or government snipers.
In contrast, the Maidan stage announcements concerning the “snipers” at the Hotel Ukraina and other various evidence of the concealed Maidan shooters there and in other Maidan-controlled areas were omitted. The failure to report the striking new revelations from the ongoing trial suggests that the misrepresentation in Ukraine and the West of the Maidan mass killing is driven not by lack of information but by politics.
 The two Berkut policemen currently on trial were arrested last year. Three other policemen were arrested on similar charges this year but their trial has not yet started.
 See: The “Snipers’ Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine (revised and updated version), by Ivan Katchanovski, Ph.D, published on Academia.edu, Feb. 20, 2015.
Investigation of Snipers Massacre on Maidan Square: Interview in Danish newspaper with Ivan Katchanovski, June 19, 2015
BBC reports on neo-Nazi rally in Kyiv on July 21. Its reporter fails to mention their role in the Sniper Massacre in Kyiv on February 20, 2014 and the Odessa Massacre (May 2, 2014). BBC News, ten minute video, July 22, 2015
Attempts at humor over bombing huge numbers of people, and inflicting death is increasingly considered acceptable and this has a subtle effect on the population, says David Swanson, blogger and activist, author of ‘War Is A Lie’.
US President Barack Obama made an appearance on America’s Daily Show hosted by Jon Stewart taking the chance for a bit of light-hearted foreign policy banter.
RT: The situation in Yemen and Iraq is no laughing matter. Is it acceptable for the President to be laughing about these subjects?
David Swanson: It really isn’t. Jon Stewart jokes “We still get to bomb people, right?” and there is no stern rebuke from the President as there is when he is accused of allowing Americans to be held hostage in Iran and not caring about them and so forth, there is no offense taken, it’s all for laughs. Who are we bombing? President Obama has no idea specifically who he’s bombing not even with drone strikes and the tangled mess that Jon Stewart points to is far beyond what he listed. Making peace with Iran in order to fight a war with Iran, going to war in Syria on the opposite side in 2014 as you were told, as you head into 2013, US weapons in the hands of Islamic State, US allies funding IS – it’s an incredible mess and Jon Stewart, although it’s his last chance, last interview with the president, makes jokes instead of asking questions. He makes a joke about trying diplomacy for once after bombs, proxies and arming and so forth, but it’s a joke, Obama doesn’t answer. Jon Stewart could have said “Why, if diplomacy is an option in one case do you not use it in all these other cases?” He didn’t ask the question.
RT: How do jokes about foreign policy influence the public?
DS: A certain segment of the public including myself is not laughing about war and doesn’t think it’s a laughing matter, but I think it influences the public very subtly that jokes about war are acceptable. I heard a weapon’s contractor on national public radio in the US joke about wanting a big new invasion and occupation when another one might be ending – ha-ha. When jokes about things like sexual abuse or racism or all kinds of cruelty, anti-morality are absolutely not acceptable, absolutely excluded from public discussion in US media, but jokes about war, about bombing huge numbers of people to death, injury and trauma are acceptable and that does have an impact.
RT: Obama had previously joked about predator drones. Does that make the matter more mundane, perhaps more acceptable? Politically, how intentional are such jokes?
DS: It points to this huge contrast in the US between the immorality of war and any other kind of immorality. President Obama this week said that jokes about rape in US prisons are absolutely offensive and unacceptable; it’s not something that should ever be joked about. The US, I believe, is the first society in the history of the world where the majority of rape victims are male and it’s in prison and it’s an epidemic. He is absolutely right, don’t you joke about it. But when it comes to war, to murder with weapons of war, spying, massive surveillance and the whole package of militarism, jokes seem to be totally acceptable – even for the President speaking to the journalists and reporters who are actually supposed to know the horror and suffering of war.
Recent findings of the independent report into the American Psychological Association ‘collusion’ in torture are not shocking. This is a symptom of a larger infestation that is eating away at the independence of social science. Think tanks played an important role in pulling senior academics into supportive relations with the defense establishment and must not be able to slink off into the shadows. The report indicates that Stephen Behnke, a DOD contractor and APA ethics director helped ensure the APA rules did not restrict psychologists from collaborating with interrogations and made changes to ‘curry favour with the DOD’.
But some think tanks also act as the pseudo-academic sirens of the DOD tasked with luring academic associations into increased cooperation. Think tanks played a key intermediary role after 9/11, reassuring academics who initially felt uncomfortable with military involvement. No strangers to ‘influence’, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies are a think tank who were contracted in the propaganda effort to the Office of Strategic Influence, a propaganda office of the DOD in the early ‘War on Terror’. In interviews for my book Propaganda and Counter-terrorism: Strategies for Global Change Potomac Institute Director Dennis McBride complained to me about academics’ concern saying,
things’ve changed a little bit but there’s still this attitude that … we get from academic social science in particular that comes across as they’re above, they’re better than soldiers and … they’re not gonna participate in what we call here ‘baby-killing’. (Interview: 5th June 2009)
When I met McBride in 2009 he told me about a meeting he arranged ‘a few years ago’ to deepen military involvement luring in key figures from Social Science Discipline Associations including ‘the American Anthropological Association … Executive Director’ and Lee Herring who is now Director of Public Affairs at the American Sociological Association. McBride’s allegiances lie firmly with the US military but he got himself ‘deputised by the American Psychological Society to be in this meeting’ to enhance his credibility (Interview: 5th June 2009).
He described the pitch that he said pulled them in:
I basically said, look … the Pentagon’s … number 1 mission, is to prevent war, by being so damn strong, so smart, that no one would dare, mission number 2 is that if we fail that one, to get it over with, OK? I said, your communities have a role to play in mission number 1 … The Pentagon is engineering, it doesn’t understand other cultures … We’re not good at that. We wanna be good at it and we don’t know how, absent your help. And I went through this and they said, absolutely, you know what? We’re changing our minds, we’re gonna support this. (Interview: 5th June 2009)
The conditions of funding for academic research preference research governments deem ‘useful’, preferencing uncritical research and the think tank culture which fed the blurring of academic boundaries. There has been a proliferation of well-funded ‘yes-men’ factories. McBride described how heavily involved Potomac were in ‘War on Terror’ planning, work that went beyond propaganda – for example he disclosed that Dan Gallant ‘yet another Potomac person who was working for Rumsfeld’ came up with the idea for using Guantanamo Bay for detainees (Interview: 5th June 2009). Perhaps unsurprisingly then, McBride was dismissive of public distrust of the military on the topic of torture:
‘so-called torture … this is I think the most overblown thing I think I have experienced. People need to do their research and find out that enhanced interrogation techniques, as they are being called, are done as any coercion, or any interrogation is done, with the presence of the Inspector General. … no nation can stand next to the United States in terms of its torture rules and regulations. Do you honestly think in Somalia when one faction grabs another they don’t torture the hell out of ’em? I mean I’m not justifying it, I’m just saying … We’ve got a process of self-inspection that is, is er, so motivated and everything is on video … at Guantanamo and so the [laughs] I’ve talked to people a lot who do that and … the [chuckles] waterboarding … I’m sure you know what it is … and noone’s ever drowned, there’s never been any tissue damage but I guess it could scare the hell out of them … but I’m told that the mode number of dunks is one … ‘mmm, OK, whaddya wanna know!’ (original emphasis)
This flies in the face of independent evidence, and international legal judgements condemning torture practices. Of course, as a former military public servant, McBride was confident that ‘it’s not my job to evaluate that sort of thing’, but in his view it did mean that ‘it’s important the Strategic Communication thing here is very big’ – spinning an unpalatable story.
McBride calls himself a social scientist and yet dismissed the notion that anyone outside the institutions of government can make sound value judgements on torture, since those on the military’s ‘list’ are officially ethical, determined through ‘the fastidiousness of the five-sided building’ This McBride felt was a more scientific approach to torture ‘Whereas civilian reaction has been all about being judgemental as opposed to critical’. (Interview: 5th June 2009). An unquestioning faith in the Pentagon of course leaves little room for personal responsibility and critical judgement.
A primary responsibility of social science should be to critically evaluate the practices used by government and facilitate fuller debate of policy and practice. It is crucial that there is a dialogue between industry and academia, but this must be a dialogue that allows for criticism and is not solely aimed at recruiting academics to ‘enable’ already-determined strategies or unethical practises. The sacking of the APA’s leadership is welcome, but what needs to happen now is not just a redrawing of ethical boundaries at APA but a rethink of the government manufacture of supportive ‘expertise’. Rather than shackling research funding to pre-determined government objectives and reinforcing programmes of questionable worth, if independent academic work is to be ‘impactful’ or ‘relevant’ government needs simply to acknowledge its existing relevance and allow critical academic research to have impact on policy.
Dr Emma L Briant is a Lecturer in Journalism Studies from University of Sheffield in the UK. She completed her PhD in Sociology at University of Glasgow, Scotland in 2012 which examined Anglo-American counter-terrorism propaganda since 2001, which is now the subject of her new book. Her other recent published research includes analyses of media coverage of disability and also asylum in the UK with the Glasgow Media Group where she worked and studied prior to moving to Sheffield in 2013. She is the author of Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism: Strategies for Global Change (Manchester University Press) and co-author of Bad News for Refugees (Pluto Press).
Fresh controversy has emerged about RAF airmen embedded in an American drone unit, which is known to be carrying out airstrikes in Syria after the charity Reprieve gained access to a joint US-UK memo.
Responding to Reprieve’s request in November, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said there were “currently” no RAF personnel embedded with the United States Air Force’s (USAF) 432nd unit based at Creech airbase in Nevada.
It now appears that the response was not given in good faith – while there may have been no personnel at Creech in November, RAF airmen have been embedded there since 2008 and are there presently.
The MoD confirmed on Wednesday there were indeed UK armed forces personnel currently at the base.
If UK personnel are involved in strikes in countries like Pakistan and Yemen, with whom the UK is not ‘legally’ at war, there may be legal issues.
Strikes on Syria would also be illegal given a 2013 parliamentary vote on bombing within the borders of the war-ravaged nation.
The memo concerns the embedding of UK personnel in US units in order to make up for manning shortfalls. It referred to them as “a gift of services to fulfill US air force operational requirements.”
The three-year postings for pilot and sensor operators for both Reaper and Predator drones are described as involving a role in “worldwide operations” and taking part in operations that determine and hit viable targets “in conjunction with the combined air operations center rules of engagement, but always adhering to the legal framework for the operation in question.”
Concerns over the activities of embedded personnel have been under the spotlight over the last two weeks since they emerged after a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, also by Reprieve, that UK pilots had been bombing targets in Syria despite the 2013 vote and resulting democratic ban on doing so.
It was later confirmed that each mission, reportedly carried out by Royal Navy pilots operating from US aircraft carriers in the Gulf, received specific parliamentary authorization.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has since defended the operations, saying that UK personnel embedded with allied forces were effectively “foreign troops.”
The West violates international law by plunging the world into chaos, Russia’s onetime envoy to Rome wrote in an article carried by an Italian magazine.
“Those who accuse Russia of annexing Crimea are destroying the rules of peaceful coexistence countries stuck to even during the Cold War era,” Felix Stanevsky wrote in his think piece, titled “Who breaks international law? Russia and wars of the West”, that appeared in the July 2, 2015 issue of Limes magazine.
Stanevsky mentioned the wars in Yugoslavia and Iraq and the breakup of Libya as examples of Washington’s aggressive policy.
By meddling in the internal affairs of Syria, European and North American countries also resorted to the use of force instead of trying to seek diplomatic solutions to regional problems as called for by international law, thus making war part of everyday Western reality, Stanevsky noted.
The United States has used military force ten times over the past 25 years, and it does not look like this practice is going to end anytime soon, the ex-envoy wrote, adding that examples of Western noncompliance with internationally-recognized norms of peaceful coexistence are too many to ignore.
“Given all these breaches of international law that have been going on for so long, who can really believe all these Western accusations against Russia regarding Crimea and Donbass?”
Stanevsky continued by saying that it is the West which is “waging war after war, killing and destroying, plunging whole regions into chaos and destroying international law.”
Europeans are losing faith in their governments’ declared adherence to peace, demonization of Vladimir Putin and accusations being brought against Russia, Felix Stanevsky wrote in conclusion.
See if you can spot the mistake in this activist email I received recently:
“In 2001, the Clinton Administration handed George Bush peace, prosperity, and record budget surpluses. Eight years later, Bush handed Barack Obama two disastrous wars and a global economic crash that destroyed over 8 million American jobs. Now that President Obama has finally brought those jobs back – in the face of vicious GOP opposition – Bush’s brother Jeb is now blaming American workers for not working hard enough. If you’re as outraged as we are, please click here to sign Hillary Clinton’s petition telling Jeb Bush that Americans need a raise, not a lecture.”
OK, it was a trick; there’s more than one mistake. Let’s list a few:
Here are things Bill Clinton is now apologizing for: mass incarceration, Wall Street deregulation, the drug war, and corporate trade agreements. Here are a few of the things he should also be apologizing for: destroying welfare, creating media monopolies, expanding NATO toward Russia, creating a precedent for illegal NATO wars without Congressional or UN authorizations, and 500,000 children killed by sanctions in Iraq.
Here are a few little-known facts about President Barack Obama: the war on Afghanistan is more his than Bush’s by any measure, he had regularly voted to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a senator, he broke his promised schedule for ending the war on Iraq and never fully ended it and soon revived it, he’s supported coups in Honduras and Egypt and Ukraine, he’s claimed the power to murder anyone anywhere by drone, he’s expanded the military into numerous nations laying the groundwork for future hostilities, and his war on Libya followed the Clinton model of blatant illegality rather than the Bush Jr. approach of at least bothering to lie to Congress and the United Nations.
Another activist group sent me an email this week reading, in part: “The truth is, Republicans don’t want diplomacy to work. They want another costly war like the one they started in Iraq in 2003.” In reality, a Republican House and a Democratic Senate voted for the war on Iraq in 2002. The same parties hold the same branches now. There’s a wise saying that goes something like this: those who convince themselves of a bullshit version of history may be condemned to repeat what actually happened.
Those who study what actually happened may be less shocked to discover how grotesquely corrupt Hillary Clinton is, how murderous, how fervently she promoted that war on Iraq, how very long she has been so disastrous, how she out-hawks almost any hawk, how awful she is for feminism, how brutal she can be, how close she is to Wall Street Republicans and oil barons and Henry Kissinger, how hard it would be to actually elect her, how she used the State Department to market weapons and fracking and pushed weapons on governments she called soft on terrorism while waiving restrictions on sales to brutal governments that donated to her foundation, how she backs mass surveillance, how she believes in representing banks, and how greedy she is.