CIA torture victims are a big step closer to accountability.
A federal judge has ruled against two CIA contract psychologists, James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen, in their effort to dismiss a case brought against them on behalf of three victims of the torture program they designed and implemented for the agency.
Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush announced his decision rejecting the psychologists’ motion to dismiss during an argument last Friday in Spokane, Washington. Yesterday, the federal court issued its written opinion.
The ruling is an historic first. Those responsible for the CIA’s torture program never previously had to answer for their actions because no victim’s case has ever proceeded beyond a motion to dismiss. Thanks to this order, we now enter into the pretrial discovery phase of the litigation, an essential step before any trial of Mitchell and Jessen for their key role in the torture of our clients. During discovery our clients will be able to obtain evidence from Mitchell and Jessen to help prove their case at trial — although the Senate torture report already makes public many of Mitchell and Jessen’s actions in the CIA torture program.
The case was brought by Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ben Soud, two survivors of the CIA program, and the family of Gul Rahman, who died as a result of his torture. All three men were subjected to torture techniques and methods that Mitchell and Jessen designed and helped implement for the CIA. To this day, Salim and Ben Soud suffer psychologically and physically from the effects of their torture. Gul Rahman’s family has never been officially notified of his death, and his body never returned to them.
In their effort to evade accountability, lawyers for the two psychologists had argued that the decision to torture the three men was a political one and therefore not appropriate for determination by a judge. They also argued that they are entitled to the same legal immunity as government officials because they were government contractors.
As the court recognized, however, our judiciary is well equipped to handle claims of torture, and it does not turn a blind eye to prisoner abuse even in wartime. The court pointed out that years of case law “demonstrate the present fallacy of Defendants’ argument that the court must decline jurisdiction because the case falls within the realm of war and foreign policy.”
The court also explained that contractors do not qualify for immunity unless they “merely acted at the direction of the Government” in carrying out lawful government contracts. Mitchell and Jessen went far beyond carrying out orders. They designed, sold, and implemented an unlawful torture program (and earned tens of millions of dollars in the process).
After over a decade of trying, it looks like CIA torture survivors will finally have their day in court.
Aleppo now continues to be the focus of a renewed and nasty propaganda war, with US and Western officials claiming the Syrian regime has been bombing civilian or moderate opposition targets in breach of the ceasefire. Both points – firstly that these are ‘moderate’ opposition targets, and secondly that the Syrian regime has been breaching the cease fire agreement – are refuted, meaning essentially that there’s no real way to know the truth of the matter.
More than 200 civilians, including 35 children, are reported to have been killed as violence erupted again this week, apparently leaving the ceasefire agreement in doubt.
We all know the drill by now, however. When Western officials and corporate media report that an MSF hospital has been destroyed by unknown aircraft, this is basically code for ‘We Did It – But We’re Going to Blame Assad’. We’ve seen all of this strategy before, with the Houla massacre or with the chemical attacks in 2013.
The hospital bombing in recent days, which has sparked outrage, has been blamed on the Syrian government by most Western media, including the comedy act of the US State Department. Both Russian and Syrian officials have refuted this accusation, which in fact is a sequel to the bombing of hospitals that occurred in February, which Washington blamed on Russia, but which Russia accused the US of having carried out.
Just as previous instances, most Western media has fallen into line with the US State Department, running the by-now-familiar stories of ‘Assad, the Butcher’, etc. Even The Guardian, I am disappointed to see, has followed this line, providing a one-sided story and portraying events in Aleppo purely as a regime massacre. It’s worth nothing, however, that their main source appears to be the ‘White Helmets’ (see Vanessa Beeley’s analysis of White Helmets and war propaganda here).
What isn’t highlighted, however, is that for the last several days the government-held parts of Aleppo (and the 2,000,000 inhabitants and refugees there) seem to have been under bombardment with improvised gas-canister mortars and rockets from the al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda) side.
The idea that Aleppo is filled with ‘moderate’ opposition is generally refuted. And if you’re experiencing deja vu, it’s probably because you remember that the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and co have played this game before, like when they insisted the Libyan government forces under Gaddafi were carrying out ‘massacres’ in Tripoli and Benghazi when in fact they were simply attempting to retake territories that had been seized by Al-Qaeda and other foreign-backed jihadists/mercenaries.
And just as the much-referenced Benghazi massacre was in fact a Western government/media fiction, we would do well to question the Aleppo narrative now.
According to Russian officials on April 12th, some 10,000 al-Nusra militants were surrounding Aleppo, planning to blockade the city. Russian officials have confirmed that the rebels in Aleppo are primarily al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda – and exempt from the ceasefire) and have asked the United States to prove otherwise. Far from proving otherwise, even US government officials appear to have been acknowledging in recent days that Syrian Army targets in Aleppo are primarily Al-Qaeda – and therefore exempt from the ceasefire agreement.
A week and a half ago, Col. Steve Warren, the US military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon that it was “primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities”. This implied fairly clearly that the Syrian government would not be breaching the ceasefire agreement if it tried to attack them.
In February, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, had confirmed that “foreign terrorists” and not Syrians were trying to prolong the conflict, saying that “foreign jihadists have been given the green light to intensify the bombing of civilians.”
Mons. Georges Abou Khazen, reported “We have been under continuous bombardment in Aleppo with civilian deaths, injuries and destruction… and these attacks are being carried out by the so-called ‘moderate opposition groups’.” The prelate crucially pointed the finger at the front defended by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the West. Crucially, he also suggested that the escalation represented the desire to “derail the peace negotiations” by “regional forces” that he believed were trying to prevent Aleppo being liberated from terrorist control.
In all likelihood, it has been al-Nusra escalating the fighting, quite likely encouraged by their foreign backers, in the full expectation that government forces would have to retaliate – and that this retaliation could then be spun into a ‘vicious regime attack’ narrative.
This latest round of propaganda is presumably attempting to derail the peace initiative, so that the much-talked-about ‘Plan B’ can be initiated – ‘Plan B’ (which is essentially ‘Plan A, Part 2’) is basically to resume arming and backing rebel groups. Which seems to have been going on anyway – even during the ceasefire – with the US recently allegedly delivering 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition to anti-regime fighters (including al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda), most of who aren’t Syrians anyway.
And so on it goes.
America considers civilians legitimate targets in all its wars of aggression. Fundamental laws of war prohibit attacking them – ignored in all US combat operations.
CENTCOM lied, calling its October 3, 2015 bombing of the Kunduz, Afghanistan Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital a “tragic incident.”
It turned truth on its head, claiming “personnel involved did not know that they were striking a medical facility. The intended target was an insurgent-controlled site which was approximately 400 meters away…”
CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel willfully lied, claiming US forces “had no idea” they were attacking a medical facility.
False! CENTCOM knew it was an MSF hospital, yet ordered the attack anyway, falsely claiming it was used as a Taliban command and control center – before acknowledging otherwise.
Dozens of doctors, other medical staff and patients were massacred in cold blood, many others injured, victims of US imperial viciousness.
MSF provided CENTCOM and Afghan authorities with precise hospital coordinates several times. While under attack, it informed their authorities about what was happening, the facility struck multiple times for over an hour with precision weapons – a war crime by any standard.
MSF called the attack an “abhorrent and a grave violation of international humanitarian law. (A) war crime (was) committed.”
The Pentagon denied MSF’s demand for an independent investigation into what happened – conducted its own to whitewash mass murder.
CENTCOM’s report acknowledged violations of rules of engagement and laws of war breaches, while at the same time denying culpability for an indisputable high crime.
Votel said more than a dozen US servicemen were disciplined for what happened, meaningless wrist slaps at most. None face criminal charges for deliberate mass murder. Coverup and denial reflect longstanding Pentagon practice.
CENTCOM’s commander willfully lied, saying “(t)he investigation found that the incident resulted from a combination of unintentional human errors, process errors and equipment failures, and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a hospital.”
“The trauma center was a protected facility but it was misidentified during this engagement.” It was on a “no strike” list, its precise location known, yet willfully attacked anyway without just cause.
In response to CENTCOM’s whitewash, MSF’s Meinie Nicolai called Votel’s briefing “an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area.”
“It is incomprehensible that, under the circumstances described by the US, the attack was not called off.”
“The threshold that must be crossed for this deadly incident to amount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law is not whether it was intentional or not.”
“(A)rmed groups cannot escape their responsibilities on the battlefield simply by ruling out the intent to attack a protected structure such as a hospital.”
“(V)ictims and their families have neither the option to pursue legal action (for justice) nor claim compensation for loss of life and livelihood.”
America commits war crimes with impunity in all its theaters of conflict. US warplanes destroyed or damaged several Syrian and Iraqi hospitals along with numerous nonmilitary related sites, these actions continuing on a regular basis.
Pentagon coverup and denial doesn’t wash. Repeated high crimes go unpunished – naked aggression without mercy most of all, attacking nonbelligerent nations threatening no one, raping and destroying them, the highest of high crimes.
NYT editors disgracefully called mass murdering and injuring dozens of MSF doctors, medical staff and patients a mistake, a catastrophe, “gross negligence,” and war zone blunder – failing to condemn a willful war crime and demand full accountability.
They ludicrously cited Pentagon officials claiming “they acted promptly to retrain all troops in Afghanistan about the rules for using deadly force and… have taken precautions” to avoid repeat incidents.
They continue on a regular basis in all US war theaters. Mass civilian casualties don’t matter, considered a small price to pay to advance America’s imperium – an agenda the NYT wholeheartedly endorses.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
By Brandon Turbeville | Activist Post | April 28, 2016
As Saudi war crimes and crimes against humanity continue apace in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is now apparently attempting to gain public support and better reception from the viewing audience by painting itself as an enemy of al-Qaeda and ISIS, despite the fact that the feudal monarchy’s reputation for supporting these very same terror organizations has been documented time and again. From Syria and Libya to Yemen, Saudi Arabia has proven itself repeatedly as a funder, organizer, and supporter of ISIS and al-Qaeda while, at home, it has demonstrated that its own government and ISIS are more alike than they are different.
Still, Saudi Arabia is attempting to show that it is, in fact, the enemy of al-Qaeda by issuing claims that the Saudi “coalition” in Yemen has recently fought a large scale battle against the terror organization and that it was able to capture the city of Mukalla after killing around 800 terrorists.
As AFP reports,
Yemeni troops backed by Arab coalition air strikes killed more than 800 members of al-Qaida in an attack on a southeastern provincial capital held by the group for the past year, the coalition said Monday.
Pro-government forces recaptured an oil terminal as well as the city of Mukalla, which was considered a jihadist stronghold, military sources said.
“The operation resulted… in the death of more than 800 al-Qaida members and some of their leaders, while some others fled,” Arab coalition commanders said in a statement published by SPA, the official Saudi news agency.
AFP notes, however, that the death toll cannot be independently verified and pointed out that no civilian deaths were reported. This latter detail is most questionable to say the least.
What is interesting is that the alleged operation is part of another alleged operation “aimed at securing parts of the country captured by jihadist militants who have exploited a 13-month war between Gulf-backed loyalists and rebels supported by Iran.” The operation itself takes place alongside the UN-brokered ceasefire was enacted on April 11 where jihadist groups are excluded.
What is even more interesting, however, is the description provided by “military officer” sources quoted by the AFP as to the nature of the battle for Mukalla.
As AFP reports,
“We entered the city centre (of Mukalla) and were met by no resistance from Al-Qaeda militants who withdrew west” towards the vast desert in Hadramawt and Shabwa provinces, a military officer told AFP by phone from the city the jihadists seized last April.”
The officer, who requested anonymity, said residents of Mukalla, home to an estimated 200,000 people, had appealed to the jihadists to spare the city the destruction of fighting and to withdraw. Yemeni military sources said Emirati military vehicles were used in the operation and that troops from the Gulf country, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition, were among the forces that entered Mukalla.
AFP could not immediately confirm these reports from officials in the United Arab Emirates.
While it was reported that the coalition members had conducted airstrikes against “AQAP positions” in Yemen, it is important to note that coalition forces admittedly met no resistance when entering Mukalla. Putting aside the fact that the Yemeni people would scarcely be able to tell the difference between AQAP and Saudi Arabian control of their country to begin with, at what point did the Saudis kill 800 AQAP members? Was it in the alleged and unconfirmed airstrikes which apparently kill only terrorists but no civilians?
Is it not extremely convenient that Saudi forces would bomb Yemen back into the Stone Age, allow AQAP to gain vast amounts of territory against Houthi, rebel, and government forces in the process and then retake it from them “without any resistance” shortly after a ceasefire agreement is made that does not include AQAP?
Was the Saudi bombing merely an act of death squad herding or was the Saudi bombing never aimed at AQAP at all? Were the casualties actually civilians simply labeled as terrorists for propaganda purposes? Was there actually a bombing campaign?
What kind of military operation kills 800 militants while, at the same time, faces no resistance from those militants?
All of these questions are relevant and must be asked of any reports suggesting Saudi military action against AQAP in Yemen. While it is impossible to draw concrete conclusions based on the reports currently circulating throughout Western media, considering the nature of the Saudi involvement and their history of supporting terrorism across the world, one must question their motives as well as any claims made by the Saudi government.
Al-Mukalla is a strategic city in the Abyan Governate, a very important territorial gain since it provides access to the coast.
In his first public comments on the US drone campaign in Pakistan, President Obama described it as “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases, and so on.” In 2011, then-national security advisor to the president John Brennan said of the CIA drone campaign that “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” Popular American mythology in the Obama era has held that drones are the surgeon’s tool in the endless, global war on terror. American soldiers and spies can knock off terrorists without bogging down the military in ground occupations, or killing civilians.
So says the myth. The reality is starkly different, according to scholar Micah Zenko.
Zenko examined civilian deaths from US military operations and found that drones kill more civilians than do piloted US aircraft—not fewer. “Drones are far less precise than airstrikes conducted by piloted aircraft, which themselves also conduct “precision strikes.” Drones result in far more civilian fatalities per each bomb dropped,” Zenko writes.
Zenko’s analysis shows us that the claims officials have long made about the supposed accuracy of drone strikes are dead wrong. But we don’t know why, in part because the US government refuses to disclose basic information about how it designates drone targets, or under what circumstances commanders order killings. It could be, as Zenko posits, “that the standards that need to be met before authorizing a [drone] strike are less rigid than Obama’s purported principle of “near certainty that the terrorist target is present.” This wouldn’t be surprising given that Obama continued the George W. Bush administration’s practice of “signature strikes” — killing anonymous suspected militants who appear to be associated with terrorists based upon their observable activity.”
If that’s the case, the US public and the victims of drone strikes have a right to know. But government secrecy and judicial evasiveness have conspired to keep us all in the dark about even the most basic legal theories upon which the CIA and military base their drone programs.
That secrecy has recently been reified. Just last week, a Washington D.C. federal appeals court tossed an ACLU lawsuit against the CIA seeking information about its drone operations. The court sided with the government, holding that releasing information about the drone program “could reasonably be expected to damage national security.”
As ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer said, “Secret law is always invidious, but it’s particularly so here because of the subject matter.” Now we know the stories officials have been telling us for years about the laser-like accuracy of drone strikes are false. But thanks to secret law, we don’t know why.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
— Albert Camus, 1913-1960
On May 1st, 2003, George W. Bush stood in a dinky little flying suit on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and in a super stage managed appearance told the lie of the century:
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
The illegal occupation and decimation of Iraq continued until December 2011. In June 2014 they returned to bomb again in the guise of combating ISIS. As the thirteenth anniversary of Bush’s ridiculous appearance with a vast “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, Iraq is largely in ruins, Iraqis have fled the murderous “liberation” and its aftermath in millions, and there are over three million internally displaced.
The nation is pinned between a tyrannical, corrupt US puppet government, a homicidal, head chopping, raping, organ eating, history erasing, US-spawned ISIS – and a renewed, relentless US bombardment. So much for the 2008 US-Iraq State of Forces agreement, which stated that by 31st December 2011 “all United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory.”
On the USS Abraham Lincoln Bush stated:
In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world … Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.
In what has transpired to be monumental irony, he continued:
The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.
There was, of course, no al-Qaida in Iraq, no funding of fundamentalist terrorism under Saddam Hussein. It is the invasion’s conception, birth, now reached maturity from Baghdad to Brussels, Mosul to the Maghreb, Latakia to London.
In Iraq, US terrorism from the air is back in all its genocidal force.
Incredibly on April 23rd, the Independent reported another staggering piece of either disinformation or childish naivety, in a predictably familiar script: “A spokesperson for the US military said all possible precautions were taken to avoid ‘collateral damage’”, but in approaching 7,000 airstrikes the number of confirmed civilian deaths had risen on Planet Pentagon to just – forty one.
In another past its sell by date mantra:
Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for Central Command, said the casualties were “deeply regretted” but maintained that the campaign was the “the most precise air campaign in the history of warfare.”
And here’s another familiar one:
In this type of armed conflict, particularly with an enemy who hides among the civilian population, there are going to be, unfortunately, civilian casualties at times.
The Geneva Convention, amongst other Treaties, Principles and Conventions, is specific on the protections of populations in conflict, Colonel Ryder should familiarize himself with the texts.
So another onslaught in a quarter of a century of bombing Iraq is underway – another mass murder with a silly name “Operation Inherent Resolve.”
Here is reality from Dr Souad Al-Azzawi, Award winning environmental scientist who gained her Ph.D from the Colorado School of Mines.
She states of just the onslaught on Mosul, her home, the ancient university city of 1.5 million, that the stated figures from US spokespersons are: “either misinformed about the real situation on the ground, since they are using drones and guided missiles, or airstrikes blindly, intentionally not saying the truth.”
I would like to list SOME of what the Americans’ airstrikes have been targeting and killing in Mosul:
Destroyed are all state services buildings, including Municipalities in right and left sides of Mosul. When they bomb at night, all security personnel get killed or injured, also residents of close by areas, and adjacent properties are destroyed.
Bombed and destroyed all communication centers.
Destruction of Dairy Production Factories in both left and right sides of Mosul. Casualties of these two are one hundred deaths and two hundred injuries among civilians who gathered to receive milk and dairy products from the factories.
Dr Al-Azzawi reminds that this is reminiscent of the bombing of the baby milk factory outside Baghdad in 1991 with the claim it was a chemical weapons factory. This writer visited the factory ruins just months later. There were still charred containers of milk powder – the machinery was provided and maintained by a company in Birmingham, England which specialized in infant food production.
* Bombing of Mosul Pharmaceutical Industries.
* Mosul University was bombed with ninety two deaths and one hundred and thirty five injuries. Earlier estimates were higher, but many were pulled from the rubble alive. “They were students, faculty members, staff members, families of faculties, and restaurants workers.”
*Al Hadbaa and Al Khadraa Residential Apartment compounds. Fifty people killed (families) and one hundred injured.
* Hay al Dhubat residential area in the right side of Mosul, two days ago, five women women and four children killed and the whole house destroyed. The father is a respected pharmacist who has nothing to do with ISIL.
* Destruction of houses in front of the Medical College, killed twenty two civilians – eleven in one family.
* Bombing Sunni Waqif Building, twenty deaths and seventy injuries which included those in nearby commercial and residential buildings.
* Car maintenance industrial areas in both left and right sides of Mosul destroyed with civilian’s casualties.
* Bombing of flour factories in both sides of Mosul.
* Rafidain and Rasheed banks and all their branches in both sides of Mosul. Destruction of all commercial and residential areas in the vicinity of these places, with as yet unknown civilian casualties. (My emphasis.)
* Central Bank of Mosul in Ghazi Street, with nearby residential and commercial properties.
* Pepsi factory, currently producing ice cubes only. Three deaths and twelve injuries among the workers.
* The Governor’s house and close by guest house.
* Mosul’s old industrial compound destroyed, with parking area for fuel Tankers and cars. Three days ago, huge explosion of fuel tankers, one hundred and fifty deaths and injuries.
* Urban Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
* Engineering Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
* Food Storages in left side of Mosul bombed.
* Drinking water treatment plants bombed.
* All electrical generation and transformer stations in the left side of Mosul bombed.
* Domez land communications center in left side of Mosul destroyed.
*Al Hurairah Bridge – and many more.
There is a sickening familiarity to some of the targets – food, pharmaceuticals, water treatment plants, electricity generation, communications and educational facilities, bridges (the country, towns and cities are divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) have been favoured targets since 1991. Every time painstakingly and imaginatively restored they have been re-bombed for a quarter of a century.
During the 1990s a Canadian film crew captured footage of US ‘planes dropping flares on harvested wheat and barley, incinerating entire harvests in a country, which due to the strangulating embargo, there were near famine conditions in parts of society.
“When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength, and kindness, and good will”, said George W Bush in his “Mission Accomplished” speech.
No, they saw invaders destroying their lives, their families, their history, raping, pillaging. They saw Falluja’s destruction, Abu Ghraib’s horrors and the eleven other secret prisons and nightmares ever ongoing.
On April 25th, Dr Al-Azzawi added:
More war crimes have been committed by American Coalition, yesterday April 24, 2016. The coalition airplanes bombed Rashidiya water treatment plant left side of Mosul city and Yermouk electricity generation station in the right side of Mosul. Through targeting these populations’ life sustaining necessities, the coalition is committing genocidal action towards Mosul residents in the pretext of fighting ISIS.
Also on 25th April, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, on returning from a week in Iraq wrote starkly of the government:
Iraqis are crying out for fairness, recognition, justice, appreciation and meaningful participation in shaping their future – a process that goes forward and not backwards … We all have responsibilities towards the people of Iraq. While there is an international military coalition in place, a comparably resourced international coalition of practical compassion is also needed to help with the building blocks towards a sustained peace in Iraq.
In the US military lexicon it seems “compassion” has been replaced by their missiles of choice.
Ms Gilmore also stated that Iraq was being run by a failed government and warned foreign powers not to be “complicit” in its neglect of the plight of normal Iraqis.
Further: “The international community must not allow itself to be made complicit with the failed leadership of Iraq … There is political paralysis in Iraq. There is no government in Iraq”, she stated blisteringly of America and Britain’s illegal, abortive, parliamentary project.
“Our commitment to Liberty is America’s tradition … We stand for human liberty”, concluded Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Were mistruths ever bleaker? And when will George W. Bush, Charles Anthony Lynton Blair and their cohorts answer for their crimes in a Court of Law?
President Obama continues to play his three card monte game in Syria, pretending to wage an all-out war against ISIS, while at the same time helping al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s terrorist army in Syria, blend in with the other jihadists armed and financed by the United States and its allies. With Russian help, the Syrian Army may soon be in position to march against the ISIS capital, in Raqqah, and to drive al-Qaida from the country’s second largest city, Aleppo. If that happens, it would signal the final unraveling of a nearly four decades-long U.S. policy of using fundamentalist Islamic jihadists as foot soldiers for U.S. imperialism, in partnership with Saudi Arabia. That’s what is driving the Saudi monarchy crazy, because, if the jihadists are defeated in Syria, they are certain to turn on their Saudi paymasters and the other infinitely corrupt monarchies in the Persian Gulf. What goes around, eventually comes around.
And, that’s why President Obama is sending 250 more Special Forces troops into Syria, supposedly to train more of those phantom “moderate” rebels that the Pentagon last year admitted do not exist. The real number of U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq is certainly much higher than the U.S. is admitting. These U.S. soldiers are attempting to rearm and unite all of the smaller terrorist groups that are integrated with al-Qaida – that is, everyone except ISIS.
The Russians aren’t fooled one bit by Obama’s terrorist shell game. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has resisted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposals to carve Syria up into so-called “zones of interest,” a phony kind of cease-fire that would prevent the Syrian government from taking back its national territory. Lavrov is telling the U.S. that any so-called rebels that are caught fighting alongside al-Qaida will be killed, just like al-Qaida, and that the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria is not subject to negotiation.
The Russians and the Syrian government not only have international law firmly on their side, but also the relevant United Nations Security Council resolution, which calls on the entire world to fight against both ISIS and al-Qaida’s Nusra Front. The U.S. voted for the resolution, and President Obama has repeatedly stated that Washington respects Syria’s national sovereignty. Obama is lying, of course – but then, the U.S. war on terror is probably the greatest lie of the 21st century, and a big part of the 20th century, too.
The U.S. presence in Syria is totally illegal – which is why Obama has to cloak it in terms of American self-defense against ISIS, despite the fact that ISIS grew by leaps and bounds until the Russians intervened and forced the Americans to pretend to wage war against it. The U.S. troops’ main job is to arm the various brands of al-Qaida fighters with heavy weapons, and to act as a “trip wire,” daring the Russians to bomb areas of the country where American troops are active. In other words, he is prepared to go to war with Russia to defend the terrorist armies he has unleashed on Syria.
Obama will end his term in office as the protector-in-chief of al-Qaida. What a legacy for the First Black President.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
US Secretary of State John Kerry wants to draw “absolute” lines across Syria to create the Western “areas of influence” there. Such an approach resembles nothing so much as neo-colonialism, experts say.
The idea to create spheres of influence in Syria voiced recently by US Secretary of State John Kerry clearly indicates that Washington continues to pursue its Plan B in Syria.
In his interview with The New York Times editorial board Kerry narrated that the White House proposed to draw clear lines in Syria to the Kremlin.
“We’ve even proposed drawing a line, an absolute line, and saying, ‘You don’t go over there, we don’t go over here, and anything in between is fair game.’ And they are considering that, and I think we will get there in the next week or so,” Kerry told the editorial board.
However, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, such an approach is oversimplified.
“This approach is slightly simplistic. The principal goal is to fight against terrorism [in Syria],” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a press conference on Monday, as quoted by RIA Novosti.
It should be noted that Kerry’s ‘offer’ followed the Saudi-backed High Negotiations’ Committee (HNC) decision to suspend its participation in the Geneva talks on April 21.
On that day most HNC members left Geneva in protest against the ongoing violence in Syria which they blindly blame on Damascus.
The HNC is well-known for its anti-Assad stance. However, by no means the entity represents the Syrian opposition as a whole. The HNC brought together Saudi-backed rebels in Syria, including notorious Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam groups which actually share the same Islamist ideology as Daesh and al-Qaeda’s affiliate al-Nusra Front.
A day after the HNC demarche Lavrov called attention to the fact that besides the HNC there are also the Moscow and Cairo groups, Hmeymim group and the group of independent opposition members which express their willingness to continue the dialogue with Damascus over the situation in Syria.”Some people have already left [the Syrian opposition’s] High Negotiations Committee [HNC]. They disagreed that radicals ruled the committee, including Jaysh al-Islam leaders. This fact confirms that we were right while proposing to include it in the list of terrorist groups… This group, as well as Ahrar ash-Sham are actively proving in action that they fully support those anti-humane, brutal approaches used by Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra [al-Nusra Front],” the Russian Foreign Minister underscored.
According to Elena Suponina, President of the Center for Asia and the Middle East at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, John Kerry’s offer to divide Syria into spheres of influence with Russia means that Washington now regards Moscow as an equal player in the Middle East.
In her Op-Ed for RIA Novosti Suponina recalls, that four years ago the Obama administration did not even bother to take Russia’s interests in the region into consideration.
However, in general, the White House continues to demonstrate a double-standard approach toward Syria and other regional players, according to the expert.
“It looks as if the colonial epoch and the times of re-division of the world by global powers have returned” Suponina writes, calling attention to the fact that Western policy-makers (most notably John Kerry himself) have repeatedly claimed that it is highly inappropriate to behave “in 19th-century fashion” in the 21st century.
And now Kerry proposes to draw “absolute lines” across the Middle Eastern region, she remarks, warning that Syria is “only the beginning.”
Kerry’s “fair game” in Syria will most likely prompt more destruction and devastation. Is Washington ready to take responsibility for chaos in the region?
On the other hand, Kerry’s proposal looks rather controversial since it was Russia, not the US that was invited to Syria by the legitimate Syrian government.
In his interview with Radio Sputnik political scientist Alexander Kamkin echoed Suponina’s stance.”Genuine peace still looks a way off and it looks like the Western nations still hope to implement the Libyan scenario in Syria… They use the war with Daesh as just a means of building large coalitions, but if you look at the previous such campaigns you will see that our American ‘partners’ rarely practice what they preach,” Kamkin told Radio Sputnik.
Hans-Christof Von Sponeck, former UN Assistant Secretary-General, expressed his concerns regarding the fact that Washington continues to conduct a “series of experiments” in Syria.
“The Americans are never short of experiment, never short of trying something new… It is jumping from one laboratory test to another, and in the meantime the country continues to go further towards a destroyed nation,” Sponeck told Russia Today.
Interestingly enough, it seems that there is no concordance in Washington regarding what to do next in Syria.
US President Barack Obama said Sunday that he does not support the idea of creating so-called “safe” or “buffer” zones in Syria as it would need Washington’s deeper military involvement in the region.
At the same time, Obama has signaled that 250 US Special Operation Forces troops will be soon deployed in the war-torn country.
Syrian Parliament Election: Washington Unable to Strangle Assad’s Legitimacy
Déjà Vu? ‘West Prepares Libyan Scenario for Syria’
An Israeli journalist has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exploit the readiness of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi to concede Egyptian land in return for money to solve the conflict with the Palestinians, Arabi21 reported yesterday.
Haggai Segal, the editor of the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, wrote: “Al-Sisi’s concession of Tiran and Sanafir islands shows that Arabs do not revere the land. Al-Sisi conceded the two islands for money.”
The journalist, who is very close to Netanyahu, added: “Two years ago, Al-Sisi showed his willingness to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in Sinai. This makes us expect reaching an agreement with Al-Sisi and the Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding this in return for a respectable sum of money.”
“We have to measure the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Sinai based on the equation: land for shekels.”
Segal was a member of a terrorist Jewish organisation that planned to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque in the 1980s. He also carried out a number of explosions that killed and wounded scores of Palestinians, including heads of West Bank municipalities.
Two years ago, Israeli Army Radio revealed that Al-Sisi suggested the creation of a Palestinian state in Sinai in return for Palestinian concession of the West Bank.
Both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority denied the report, however many Israeli officials, including the Education Minister Naftali Bennett, confirmed the proposal had been put forward.
Meanwhile, former Israeli ambassador to Cairo Zvi Mazel said Al-Sisi recognises the size of the economic crisis his regime is currently facing and is therefore “ready to concede Egypt’s respect and dignity and ignore the constitution for financial support.”
People in the United States have “a lot of right to defend ourselves,” presidential contender Bernie Sanders said at a town hall meeting Monday when asked if he too would have an extrajudicial “kill list” like President Barack Obama. The senator from Vermont also endorsed Obama’s recent deployment of another 250 soldiers to Syria as part of the war against the Islamic State group.
“Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves.” However, the senator added, “it has to be done in a constitutional, legal way.”
The New York Times revealed in 2012 that President Obama hosts a meeting every Tuesday at the White House where he decides which suspected terrorists will be added to a so-called “kill list.” Those on the list can then be targeted for killing, typically with an unmanned drone.
“Do you think what’s being done now is constitutional and legal?” Hayes asked Sanders, noting the existence of “a list of people that the U.S. government wants to kill.”
“In general I do, yes,” Sanders replied.
Sanders, locked in a tight race with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, was also asked about President Obama’s decision to deploy another 250 U.S. Special Forces to Syria, where they are expected to help largely Kurdish militias fight the Islamic State group.
“Here’s the bottom line,” said Sanders. “ISIS has got to be destroyed, and the way that ISIS must be destroyed is not through American troops fighting on the ground.” However, “I think what the president is talking about is having American troops training Muslim troops, helping to supply the military equipment they need, and I do support that effort.”
“We need a broad coalition of Muslim troops on the ground,” Sanders continued. “We have had some success in the last year or so putting ISIS on the defensive, we’ve got to continue that effort.”
Sanders’ comments on the eve of primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connnecticut and Rhode Island demonstrate that while he may be less inclined to deploy the U.S. military than Clinton, who he has knocked for backing the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he is no dove himself.
In addition to the the use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and troop deployments in Syria, Sanders also supports extending the presence of roughly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and continuing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that have likely killed more than 1,000 civilians, according to the independent monitoring group Airwars.org.
Well-documented facts pertaining to the 9/11 wars, all supported by sustainable evidence, have barely made inroads into the collective consciousness of Western media consumers.
The War on Syria is no exception. Despite the presence of five years of sustainable evidence that contradicts the Western narratives, people still believe the “official” lies.
The consensus of ignorance is sustained by what Michel Chossudovsky describes as an “American Inquisition”. Beneath the protection of this psychological operation, the engineered enemy is Islam, and the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) has become a brand to disguise imperial wars of aggression as “humanitarian”.
Thus, huge sums of public monies are diverted from worthwhile domestic projects such as healthcare, schools, and roads to support a criminal Project for a New American Century (PNAC) that is globalizing death, poverty, and destruction as the U.S. led empire tries to impose a unilateral model of control over the world.
The U.S. is said to be “exceptional”, and therefore the rightful ruler. Manifest Destiny writ large.
Dissent is suppressed within the framework of corporate media monopolies. Predominant narratives are supported by corrupt “NGOs” – totally bereft of objectivity — and intelligence agency “fronts”. Real investigative journalism offering historical context and legitimate evidence are relegated to the fringes, far outside the domain of the broad-based “consensus of misunderstanding.”
The “Progressive Left” has been co-opted. So-called “progressives” (presumably unwittingly) support Canada’s close relationships with Wahabbi Saudi Arabia, Apartheid Israel, and even the foreign mercenaries currently invading Syria (ie ISIS and al Nursra Front/al Qaeda).
The source upon which the pretexts for war are built and perpetrated are taboo topics, despite longstanding evidence that the official narratives explaining the crimes of 9/11 – and the subsequent “Gladio B” operations — are flawed. The truth is seen as “heresy”, and fact-based narratives are derided as “conspiracy theories”.
Thus, a firm foundation of lies that serves as a sanctified justification for global war and terror, remains strong.
But the stakes are high, as Western hegemony presses us closer and closer to a real prospect of widespread nuclear war. Already, the use of nuclear weapons is being “normalized” through the introduction of “mini-nukes” into the equation, and the blurring of lines between conventional and nuclear war.
Michel Chossudovsky explains in “Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust?|Will the US launch ‘Mini-nukes’ against Iran in Retaliation for Tehran’s ‘Non-compliance’?” that
“The Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations outlines the procedures governing the use of nuclear weapons and the nature of the relationship between nuclear and conventional war operations.
The DJNO states that the:
‘use of nuclear weapons within a [war] theater requires that nuclear and conventional plans be integrated to the greatest extent possible’
(DJNO, p 47. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 )
The implications of this ‘integration’ are far-reaching because once the decision is taken by the Commander in Chief, namely the President of the United States, to launch a joint conventional-nuclear military operation, there is a risk that tactical nuclear weapons could be used without requesting subsequent presidential approval. In this regard, execution procedures under the jurisdiction of the theater commanders pertaining to nuclear weapons are as ‘flexible and allow for changes in the situation …’ ”
The taboos need to be lifted, and the repeated lies contradicted.
Some of the more pernicious lies covering the escalating war on the democratic republic of Syria include unsubstantiated memes that fit neatly into the propagandists’ toolbox of false representations, and of projecting the West’s crimes onto the victims (Syria and Syrians).
The War on Syria is not a “civil” war; the “uprising” was not “democratic”; Assad does not “starve his own people”; Assad, does not “bomb his own people”; Assad is the democratically-elected president of Syria, and not a “brutal dictator”.
Conclusive evidence demonstrates, and has demonstrated for years, that the war is an invasion by Western proxies, which include ISIS and al Qaeda/al Nursra Front, and that there are no “moderates”.
The initial uprisings were marred by foreign-backed violence perpetrated against innocent people, soldiers, and police. Peaceful grassroots protests were hijacked by these murderous foreign-backed elements (as was the case in Ukraine) – all consistent with “hybrid war” as elaborated by Andrew Korybko.
The illegal sanctions imposed by the West – including Canada – coupled with terrorist practices of theft and hoarding of humanitarian aid – are responsible for the starvation.
Assad is a democratically elected reformer, and hugely popular with Syrians, not a brutal dictator. Claims that he “kills his own people” were further debunked when the so-called “Caesar photos” evidence was proven to be a fraud.
Many Syrians criticize Assad for not carpet bombing terrorist occupied areas (as US occupiers did in Fallujah, for example). Syrians sometimes refer to Assad as “Mr. Soft Heart”.
Unfortunately, though, the well-documented truth is not widely accepted. We need to shatter the “Inquisition” which serves to protect the criminal cabal perpetrating and orchestrating this global catastrophe. Truth and justice must prevail over lies and crimes. Currently, the opposite is the case.
The establishment of the state of Israel is known throughout Palestine as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” As the British Mandate of Palestine ended throughout 1947 and 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homeland, and another 100,000 or more were massacred.
Although the United States wasn’t an active party to the circumstances that led to the Nakba, the country’s long history with Israel has only been supportive of that nation’s barbarity — and that support has grown exponentially over the years.
In the U.S., the press framed Palestinian resistance as opposition to the Jewish state rather than an assertion of their own human rights. Scholar Michael A. Dohse wrote in “American Periodicals and the Palestine Triangle, April, 1936 to February, 1947”:
“Despite the fact that there was considerable evidence of the extreme nationalistic drive behind the Zionist movement, which was its motivating force, American journals gave a good press to the Zionists’ alleged goal of building a democratic commonwealth in Palestine. How this would be possible when the Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population and were opposed to Zionism, did not seem to be a relevant question to many of the magazines.”
This, of course, was in complete contravention of U.S. doctrine, even as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and “[t]hat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The consent of the governed — in this case, the Palestinians — was not to be considered.
Pre-WWII, pre-state of Israel
Months before the Balfour Declaration was made in November of 1917, declaring British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commented on the absolute need for self-determination. On May 27, 1916, he said: “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.”
Mr. Wilson continued his lofty rhetoric, telling Congress on Feb. 11, 1918: “National aspirations must be respected; peoples may not be dominated and governed only by their own consent.” Further, in the same speech on German-Austrian “peace utterances,” he declared: “Self-determination is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.”
These and subsequent speeches by Mr. Wilson were troubling to his secretary of state, Robert Lansing. In his private journals, according to Frank Edward Manuel in his book “The Realities of American Palestine Relations,” Lansing wrote that such concepts were “‘… loaded with dynamite, might breed disorder, discontent and rebellion’. His neat, logical mind saw it leading the president into strange contradictions: ‘Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed?’”
If the Palestinians ever relied on U.S. rhetoric to assist them in achieving the basic human rights that all people are entitled to, they were certainly to be disappointed.
Following World War II, the world was anxious to make some kind of reparation to the Jewish people for the Holocaust. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, passed on Nov. 29, 1947, effectively partitioned Palestine into two states.
It is difficult to properly quantify the degree of injustice that this entailed. “Although Jews owned only about seven percent of the land in Palestine and constituted about 33 percent of the population, Israel was established on 78 percent of Palestine,” according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no voice in the decision that evicted them, no reparation for the loss of their homes and lands, and nowhere to go but refugee camps.
By this time, Harry S. Truman was president, and he offered full consent for this plan for reasons that will be familiar to readers today: He was subjected to intense lobbying by the Zionist lobby. He also felt that by supporting the establishment of Israel, he would be in a better position to be elected to a full term as president, having ascended to that office upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lobbying and political considerations then, as now, trump human rights every time.
Mr. Truman was elected president in his own right in 1948, and was succeeded four years later by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who named John Foster Dulles as his secretary of state.
Mr. Dulles was familiar with the Palestine-Israel situation, and his sympathies clearly rested with Israel. In 1944, he played an active role in seeing that the platform of the Republican Party included support for a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine, and also that the platform called for the protection of Jewish political rights. Years later, he exerted a strong influence on the president under whom he served, setting the tone for the Eisenhower administration’s attitude toward Israel and Palestine.
Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter
Things appeared to take a turn with the administration of John F. Kennedy, who showed support for the right of return for refugees, as described in Paragraph 11 of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of Dec. 11, 1948. That resolution affirms that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Government or authorities responsible.”
Israel, under David Ben-Gurion, used what has become a tried and true method to oppose this measure: The state’s founder and first prime minister called it a threat to Israel’s national security.
Ultimately, Resolution 194 passed, but has yet to have any effect.
Despite his apparent support for Palestinian refugees, Mr. Kennedy was the first president to elevate the U.S.-Israel relationship from that of simply two allies to a more enhanced bond. Speaking to the Zionist Organization of America three months before his election, he said, “Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter, it is a national commitment.”
Following Mr. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, he was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson, who did not share his predecessor’s interest in resolving the refugee problem. The Democratic Party Platform of 1964, the year Mr. Johnson was elected president, included a provision to “encourage the resettlement of Arab refugees in lands where there is room and opportunity.” All talk of the right of return ceased.
The Johnson administration ended in January of 1968, when former Vice President Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president. Nixon had less obligation to Israel, having earned only about 15 percent of the Jewish vote. In his memoirs, he commented on Israeli arrogance after the Six-Day War of 1967, describing “an attitude of total intransigence on negotiating any peace agreement that would involve the return of any of the territories they had occupied.”
Unfortunately for Palestine, however, Mr. Nixon’s closest advisor was Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor and, later, his secretary of state. Mr. Kissinger’s parents had fled Nazi Germany shortly before the start of the Holocaust, and he had visited Israel multiple times but had never set foot in an Arab country. With Mr. Nixon’s preoccupation with what he considered the “Communist threat,” Mr. Kissinger was perfectly content with the Israel-Palestine status quo. “Rather than make any effort toward the Arab states, much less the Palestinians, Kissinger felt the United States should let them stew until they came begging to Washington,” according to “U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton,” edited by Michael W. Suleiman. With this attitude, nothing was done to further the cause of justice under this president’s terms in office.
When Mr. Nixon resigned in a fog of controversy and scandal, his vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. He served as a caretaker president until the next election, when he was defeated by Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.
Although Mr. Carter has recently become a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, this was not the case during his single term as president. He presided over the Camp David Accords, a two-track agreement that was supposed to bring peace to the Middle East. The first of the two dealt with Palestine, and nothing in it was ever achieved. The second led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
After one term, Mr. Carter was defeated by former actor and California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Like Mr. Nixon before him, Mr. Reagan saw Communist threats everywhere. Fearing a Soviet stronghold on the Middle East, he determined that strengthening ties with Israel would be an excellent deterrent. In 1982, he declared that the U.S. would not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, nor would it “support annexation or permanent control by Israel.”
Following First Intifada in 1987, Mr. Reagan sent his secretary of state, George Shultz, to solve the problem. Mr. Shultz proposed a three-pronged strategy: convening an international conference; a six-month negotiation period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip; talks between Israel and Palestine to start in December 1988 to achieve the final resolution of the conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, claiming that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel and accelerating the delivery of 75 F-16 fighter jets. This was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. As Suleiman’s work noted: “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”
When Mr. Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, succeeded him for one term, the bonus to Israel continued unabated. Yet this was still not enough for Israel. Writing in The New York Times in 1991, Thomas Friedman commented on the state of relations between the U.S. and Israel during the Bush administration: “Although the Bush Administration’s whole approach to peacemaking is almost entirely based on terms dictated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Israelis nevertheless see the Bush Administration as hostile.”
Clinton, another Bush, Obama
Following one term, Mr. Bush was succeeded by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who surrounded himself with Zionists, including CIA Director James Woolsey and Pentagon Chief Les Aspin.
In March of 1993, following clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in both Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin closed the borders between Israel and Palestine. This had a drastic detrimental effect on the lives and basic subsistence for at least tens of thousands of Palestinians. The Clinton administration chose to look the other way as Israel perpetrated this unspeakable act of collective punishment.
The administration of George W. Bush differed little in its treatment of matters related to Israel and Palestine from those who came before it. When Hamas was elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, Mr. Bush ordered a near-total ban on aid to Palestine. Noam Chomsky commented on this situation:
“You are not allowed to vote the wrong way in a free election. That’s our concept of democracy. Democracy is fine as long as you do what we say, but not if you vote for someone we don’t like.”
Coming into office chanting the appealing mantra of “Change we can believe in,” current President Barack Obama proved to be another in a long line of disappointments. Like his predecessors, he’s vetoed any resolutions presented at the U.N. Security Council that were critical of Israel. Incredibly, after one such veto, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice made this statement:
”We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”
Meanwhile, military aid to Israel from the U.S. continued unabated. This aid has reached nearly $4 billion annually under the Obama administration, and is likely to get another boost before Mr. Obama leaves office.
This is not unusual. According to conservative estimates, the U.S. has given Israel a staggering $138 billion in military and other aid since 1949. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the first 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, granting billions to Israel every year. Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu are currently negotiating the new deal, which the prime minister hopes will guarantee even more to the apartheid regime.
Change that can’t come soon enough
Even if it didn’t come with Mr. Obama, change does seem to be on the horizon. With the explosive growth of social media, the general public no longer relies solely on the corporate-owned media for information. The horrors that Israel inflicts daily on the Palestinians are becoming more common knowledge. This includes the periodic bombing of the Gaza Strip, a total blockade that prevents basic supplies from being imported, and the checkpoint stops and verbal and physical harassment that Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis in the West Bank.
It’s even entered the current U.S. presidential election. Sen. Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, skipped the annual American Israel Political Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, convention in March. Additionally, he said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t always right and that Israel uses disproportionate force against the Palestinians, and Mr. Sanders recognized that Palestinians have rights. Like skipping the AIPAC conference, these statements are all in violation of some unspoken U.S. code of conduct for politicians.
Yet the ugly history of the U.S., in its unspeakably unjust dealings with Palestine, created a stain that generations will be unable to cleanse. Total disdain for the human rights of an entire nation, and the complicity in the violation of international law and in the war crimes of Israel, are not easy to expunge. Mr. Sanders’ words and actions are only the manifestation of a larger change occurring in U.S. attitudes toward Israel and Palestine. Once that change is sufficiently great to impact the U.S. power brokers, real change will occur. For Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid, it cannot come soon enough.